Enquiry into Plants, Volume I: Books 1-5

Enquiry into Plants, Volume I: Books 1-5

Hardcover(5th printing/1st pub.1916)



Theophrastus of Eresus in Lesbos, born about 370 BCE, is the author of the most important botanical works that have survived from classical antiquity. He was in turn student, collaborator, and successor of Aristotle. Like his predecessor he was interested in all aspects of human knowledge and experience, especially natural science. His writings on plants form a counterpart to Aristotle's zoological works.

In the Enquiry into Plants Theophrastus classifies and describes varieties—covering trees, plants of particular regions, shrubs, herbaceous plants, and cereals; in the last of the nine books he focuses on plant juices and medicinal properties of herbs. The Loeb Classical Library edition is in two volumes; the second contains two additional treatises: On Odours and Weather Signs.

In De Causis Plantarum Theophrastus turns to plant physiology. Books One and Two are concerned with generation, sprouting, flowering and fruiting, and the effects of climate. In Books Three and Four Theophrastus studies cultivation and agricultural methods. In Books Five and Six he discusses plant breeding; diseases and other causes of death; and distinctive flavours and odours.

Theophrastus's celebrated Characters is of a quite different nature. This collection of descriptive sketches is the earliest known character-writing and a striking reflection of contemporary life.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780674990777
Publisher: Harvard
Publication date: 01/01/1916
Series: Loeb Classical Library , #70
Edition description: 5th printing/1st pub.1916
Pages: 512
Product dimensions: 4.25(w) x 6.38(h) x (d)

About the Author

Sir Arthur Fenton Hort (1864–1935) was a botanist and Master at Harrow School.

Table of Contents



Book I

Of The Parts Of Plants And Their Composition

Of Classification

Introductory: How plants are to be classified; difficulty of defining what are the essential ' parts' of a plant, especially if plants are assumed to correspond to animals

The essential parts of plants, and the materials of which they are made

Definitions of the various classes into which plants may be divided

Exact classification impracticable: other possible bases of classification

Differences as to appearance and habitat

Characteristic differences in the parts of plants, whether general, special, or seen in qualities and properties

Differences as to qualities and properties

Further special differences

Differences in root

Of trees (principally) and their characteristic special differences: as to knots

As to habit

As to shedding of leaves

Differences in leaves

Composition of the various parts of a plant

Differences in seeds

Differences in taste

Differences in flowers

Differences in fruits

General differences (affecting the whole plant)

Book II

Of Propagation, Especially of Trees

Of the ways in which trees and plants originate. Instances of degeneration from seed

Effects of situation, climate, tendance

Of spontaneous changes in the character of trees, and of certain marvels

Of spontaneous and other changes in other plants

Of methods of propagation, with notes on cultivation

Of the propagation of the date-palm; of palms in general

Further notes on the propagation of trees

Of the cultivation of trees

Of remedies for the shedding of the fruit: caprification

Book III

Of Wild Tubes

Of the ways in which wild trees originate

Of the differences between wild and cultivated trees

Of mountain trees: of the differences found in wild trees

Of the times of budding and fruiting of wild, as compared with cultivated, trees

Of the seasons of budding

Of the comparative rate of growth in trees, and of the length of their roots

Of the effects of cutting down the whole or part of a tree

Of other things borne by trees besides their leaves flowers and fruit

Of 'male' and 'female' in trees : the oak as an example of this and other differences

Of the differences in firs

Of beech, yew, hop-hornbeam, lime

Of maple and ash

Of cornelian cherry, cornel, 'cedars,' medlar, thorns, sorb

Of bird-cherry, elder, willow •

Of elm, poplars, alder, [semyda, bladder-senna]

Of filbert, terebinth, box, krataigos

Of certain other oaks, arbutus, andrachne, wig-tree

Of cork-oak, kolatea, koloitia, and of certain other trees peculiar to particular localities

Of the differences in various shrubs—buckthorn, withy, Christ's thorn, bramble, sumach, ivy, smilax, [spindle-tree]

Book IV

Of The Trees And Plants Special To Particular Districts And Positions

Of the importance of position and climate

Of the trees special to Egypt, and of the carob

Of the trees and shrubs special to Libya

Of the trees and herbs special to Asia

Of the plants special to northern regions

Of the aquatic plants of the Mediterranean

Of the aquatic plants of the 'outer sea' (i.e. Atlantic, Persian Gulf, etc.)

Of the plants of rivers, marshes, and lakes, especially in Egypt

Of the plants peculiar to the lake of Orchomenos (Lake Copaïs), especially its reeds, and of reeds in general

Of rushes

Of the length or shortness of the life of plants, and the causes

Of diseases and injuries done by weather conditions

Of the effects on trees of removing bark, head, heartwood, roots, etc.; of various causes of death

Book V

Of The Timber Of Various Trees And Its Uses

Of the seasons of cutting

Of the wood of silver-fir and fir

Of the effects on timber of climate

Of knots and 'coiling' in timber

Of differences in the texture of different woods

Of differences in timber as to hardness and heaviness

Of differences in the keeping quality of timber

Which kinds of wood are easy and which hard to work

Of the core and its effects

Which woods can best support weight

Of the woods best suited for the carpenter's various purposes

Of the woods used in ship-building

Of the woods used in house-building

Of the uses of the wood of particular trees

Of the localities in which the best timber grows

Of the uses of various woods in making fire: charcoal, fuel, fire-sticks

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