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Balsamita sisimbrium menta aquatica idem apud quosdam arabes vero corrumpentes grecum sisnabar dicunt ubi vero exponitur nemen quod est sisimbrium falsum est ut infra in ne.


sisimbrium | .i. sisimbriũ ms. e | fisimbriũ B {"long s" misread as 'f'}
sisnabar ABC jp | sisuabar f | sinasbijr ms. e
nemen ABC fj | nomen ep
{est} sisimbrium | sfisimbriũ B ut infra in ne | quod pʒ {= patet} j͂ {=infra} in nemẽ j


Balsamita, sisimbrium, menta aquatica are the same according to some, and the Arabs say sisnabar, a corruption of the Greek word {i.e. σισύμβριον /sisýmbrion/}. But where it is said that Arabic nemen is Latin sisimbrium - that is false, as is made clear below in the entry Nemen.

Commentary and botanical identification:

Alphita {ed. Mowat (1887: 19)} [[1]] confirms the synonymy: Balsamita, …, sisimbrium, menta aquatica , [mentastrum] idem, crescit in pratis, anglice horsmint… "Balsamita, …, sisimbrium, menta aquatica , [mentastrum] are the same; the plant grows in meadows; in {Middle-) English it is called horsmint".

lit. "little balsam", is not mentioned in the literature of Antiquity but occurs first in glossaries and early medieval receptaries and gains acceptance in Medieval Latin; it has survived into botanical Latin. It is often identified as either "costmary, alecost" Tanacetum balsamita L. [[2]] or as "water mint" Mentha aquatica L. [[3]] and "horse mint" Mentha longifolia (L.) Huds. [[4]]; this latter identification is also assumed by the author of the Alphita entry.

more traditionally sisymbrium, is a loan from Greek σισύμβριον /sisýmbrion/, which LSJ identify as "bergamot-mint, Mentha aquatica L. [[5]] and "water-cress, Nasturtium officinale L." [[6]]. {n.b. The vernacular name "bergamot-mint" is not normally associated with Mentha aquatica, but it should read "water mint" instead.)

To reconcile all three synonyms with a single plant is difficult, but "costmary, alecost" Tanacetum balsamita is the most unlikely because it prefers a dry habitat contrary to all the other plants mentioned which seek damp meadows or the waterside.

For Arabic sisnabar see Sisnabar.

WilfGunther 19/10/2013

See also: Nemen, Sisambrium, [[7]] s.v. balsamita

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