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Keiri arabice est planta cuius sunt tres species una habet flores albos altera purpureos altera citrinos sive aureos qui habet odorem violarum plus tamen in nocte, apud Dyascoridem vocatur hec planta leucis, omnibus inquit est notus in floribus habet distantiam quia mellinum purpureum et album ostendit et cetera, ut infra in le, apud Avicennam in secundo nullum capitulum reperio de ipsa.


sunt tres species C | sũt tres spe͡s A | spe͡s sunt tres f | .iii. spe͡s B | sunt spe͡s ms. e

sunt om. B

tres om. e

{una} habet e | hēt AC | hʒ f | hñs B

{purpureos} altera om. f

{qui} habet AC e | ht̄ B | hñt f

odorem (-rẽ AB) ABC e | odores f

{floribus} hbʒ (hʒ A) AC {= habet} | hñs B ef

distãtiaʒ (-tiã AB) ABC | distanciaʒ (-ciã e) ef

mellinuʒ (-nũ e) A e | mellĩum C | melinũ B f

ostendit C e | on̄dit A | hēndit B | o͡ndat f

vt AC ef | & B

in secundo om. B

de ipsa (ip͡a A e) AC e | de ea B | de illa f


Arabic Keiri denotes a plant of which there are three different kinds, one has white flowers, the other purple ones and the third citron-yellow or gold-coloured ones, the latter having the scent of violae {"violets"} but more so at night. In Dyascorides this plant is called leucis, and he says it is known to everyone, but in its flowers there is variation: it produces a honey-coloured, a white and a purple flower, etc., as is described in the entry below Leucis (1). I have not found any special chapter on this plant in the second book of Avicenna's Canon.


Simon quotes from ultimately Dioscorides Longobardus, 3, 133, ed. Stadler (18991: III.431f.) De leucoyon {i.e. "stock"}. But Simon precedes the quote by introducing the Arabic lemma keiri and followed by an anticipatory rephrasing of the Dioscoridean quote, the latter also being offered in the related entry Leucis (1), q.v.

Simon's observation that there is no special chapter on this plant in Avicenna's Canon is correct. But Serapio in his Liber Aggregatus has a chapter on Keiri, consisting of a number of quotes starting with the Dioscoridean text, which is however differently worded since it was translated from Arabic into Latin. Cf. [Liber Aggregatus] De Simplicibus medicinis, Ulricher (1531: 144) [[1]].

Keiri: Cf. Wehr (1976): ﺧﻴﺮﻯ /ḫīrī/ "gillyflower (bot.)" {n.b. acc. to Encyc. Brit.: gillyflower can be any of several scented flowering plants, especially the clove pink (Dianthus caryophyllus), stock (Matthiola incana), and wallflower (Cheiranthus cheiri).} Siggel (1950: 34): ﺧﻴﺮﻯ /ḫīrī/ Matthiola (Crucif.), Levkoje; Cheiranthus cheiri (Crucif.), Goldlack. {i.e. "stock" and "wallflower"}.

Corominas (1980-91: I.166) mentions Spanish ALHELÍ {"wallflower" or "stock"}, which he derives from a Hispano-Arabic /ḫairī/ - against other Arabic dialects having /ḫīrī/. /ḫairī/ is a likely form which Simon's keiri is trying to portray. However Meyer-Lübke (1924: 808). 9670 derives alhelí - less likely - from Coptic hleli "flower, lily". Apart from Spanish alhelí the word can also be found in Galego alelí and Portuguese aleli.

Botanical identification:

Most authors, e.g. Berendes (1902: 345) and André (1985: 143) s.v. leucoïon, agree that the yellow flowered plant is Cheiranthus cheiri L. {"wallflower"} [[2]], [[3]] and the other flowered plants are Matthiola species [[4]], esp. Matthiola incana L. {"stock"} [[5]]. The explicit mention of night-scentedness seems also to point to Martthiola longipetala (Vent.) DC "night-scented stock" [[6]].

Cheiri, a common medieval transcription of /ḫīrī/, /ḫairī/, has survived into modern botanical terminology in the species epithet in Cheiranthus cheiri. There is also a different cheiri, derived from Greek χείρ /kheír/ "hand", which occurs as the first element in Cheiranthus or as the epithet in a number of plants whose flowers show a petal or sepal arrangement reminiscent of the human hand, e.g. Bulbophyllum cheiri Lindl. the "fruit fly orchid". Cf. Genaust (1996: 148), s.v. cheiránthos.

For further information see also Leucis (1).

Wilf Gunther 18/01/14

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