Rapa agrestis

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Rapa agrestis Dyascorides nascitur locis siccis fructicem collectum faciens cubiti habens longitudinem habens multas virgas folia liviora et grossa in modum digiti et satis lata semen eius in folliculis conclusum nigrum et fragile est quod fractum album deintus habet colorem et cetera.


Dyascorides om. f
fructicem BC efp | fruticem A j
faciens ABC ep | fatiẽs j | facies f
{cubiti} habens | habet f | fatiẽs j
longitudinem | lũgitudinẽ B
habens multas ABC ep | multas hʒ f | et longas j
liuiora AC | leuiora j | leniora B efp
grossa AB ej | crossa C fp
folliculis AC p | foliculis B efj
conclusum | cõcluxũ B
fragile | frãgibile ms. e
{fragile} est | et B f
et cetera om. f
Ms. j has a cross-reference added written by a different later hand: vide bumas {i.e. “see entry Bumas”}.


Wild rapa {see Botanical identification below} grows in dry places, producing a narrow shrub of a cubit's length; it has many twigs and very smooth leaves as thick as a finger {see Commentary below} and rather wide. Its black and fragile seed is encased in husks, and when broken open it is white inside, etc.


Simon's excerpt is from Dyascorides alphabeticus f 63r s.v. Radix rape, which is ultimately from Dioscorides Longobardus, 2, 94, ed. Stadler (1899: II.217), De rapa agresti. The Greek original is in 2, 110, 2, ed. Wellmann (1906-14: I.185-6): ἀγρία γογγύλη /agría gongýlē/

The Latin text of this chapter differs at times from the Greek original, e.g.

- It is said, that the plant grows locis siccis - "in dry places", but the Greek text says ἐν ἀρούραις /en aroúrais/ "on tilled or arable land, fields".
- The shrub is described as collectum "narrow, contracted", a word that is not in the original.
- The Longobardic translator left out what is said of the shrub itself: θάμνος … ἐξ ἄκρου λεĩος /thámnos … ex ákrou leîos / "the shrub … is smooth on top".
- The Greek text describes the leaves: φύλλα ἔχων λεĩα /phýlla échōn leîa/ "it has smooth leaves", and continues: μεγάλου δακτύλου τὸ πάχος /megálou daktýlou tò pákhos/ "the thickness of a thumb". Obviously it is unlikely that leaves are as thick as that, which is why Wellmann "Saraceno duce" added <ῥίζαν> /rhízan/, thereby saying: "it has a root the thickness of a thumb". The Latin text would then have to be emended: et <radicem> grossa<m> in modum digiti.

Botanical identification:

The botanical identification of rapa agrestis is by no means unanimous, but the following three are the most commonly mentioned plants. They all have a wide distribution, are near invasive, and their greenery can be eaten in one way or another.

LSJ mention Erucaria aleppica Gaertn., "eastern cress". E. aleppica has a chequered taxonomic history and therefore runs under a number of synonyms: Erucaria myagroides (L.) Hal., Erucaria tenuifolia DC. The accepted name is Erucaria hispanica (L.) Druce. also known as "Spanish pink mustard",[[1]], [[2]]. The plant has a wide distribution: Southern Europe, North Africa, Arabia, Anatolia, Syria, Iraq, Iran and Western Pakistan. Its habitat is cultivated land and waste places, woodlands and shrub lands. Its leaves and shoots are eaten raw or cooked.

Berendes (1902: 213), following Fraas, mentions Bunias erucago L. "crested Bunias", "corn rocket" or "southern or crested warty cabbage". It is often described under the synonym Erucago campestris Desv. [[3]]. It is distributed over the Mediterranean region and parts of central Europe. Leaves and young stems are eaten raw or cooked.

André (1985: 216) s.v. rāpum, 2. rāpa agrestis identifies it as "Ravenelle" Raphanus raphanistrum L., "wild radish" or "jointed charlock" [[4]]. It is seen by some as the ancestor plant of Raphanus sativus L., the "edible radish". Although the plant is native to Asia and perhaps the Mediterranean basin it has over time been introduced to many parts of the world. It has a taproot comparable to the edible radish but it is somewhat smaller.

WilfGunther (talk) 23/01/2014


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