Page images

nevertheless as the herb may grow; and likewise with seeds that are of the weakest sort, and have least vigour. You shall do well, therefore, to take marshherbs, and plant them upon tops of hills and champaigns; and such plants as require much moisture, upon sandy and very dry grounds. As for example, marsh-mallows and sedge, upon hills; cucumber, and lettuce seeds, and coleworts, upon a sandy plot; so contrariwise, plant bushes, heath, ling, and brakes, upon a wet or marsh ground. This I conceive also, that all esculent and garden herbs, set upon the tops of hills, will prove more medicinal, though less esculent, than they were before. And it may be likewise, some wild herbs you may make sallad herbs. This is the first rule for transmutation of plants.

527. THE second rule shall be, to bury some few seeds of the herb you would change, amongst other seeds; and then you shall see whether the juice of those other seeds do not so qualify the earth, as it will alter the seed whereupon you work. As for example, put parsley seed amongst onion seed, or lettuce seed amongst parsley seed, or basil seed amongst thyme seed; and see the change of taste or otherwise. "But you shall do well to put the seed you would change into a little linen cloth, that it mingle not with the foreign seed.

528. THE third rule shall be, the making of some medley or mixture of earth with some other plants bruised or shaven either in leaf or root; as for example, make earth with a mixture of colewort leaves stamped, and set in it artichokes or parsnips; so take earth made with marjoram, or origanum, or wild thyme, bruised or stamped, and set in it fennel seed, etc. In which operation the process of nature still will be, as I conceive, not that the herb you work upon should draw the juice of the foreign herb, for that opinion we have formerly rejected, but that there will be a new confection of mold, which perhaps will alter the seed, and yet not to the kind of the former herb.

529. THE fourth rule shall be, to mark what herbs

some earths do put forth of themselves; and to take that earth, and to pot it, or to vessel it; and in that to set the seed you would change: as for example, take from under walls or the like, where nettles put forth in abundance, the earth which you shall there find, without any string or root of the nettles; and pot that earth, and set in it stock-gilly-flowers, or wall-flowers, etc. or sow in the seeds of them; and see what the event will be: or take earth that you have prepared to put forth mushrooms of itself, whereof you shall find some instances following, and sow in it purslane seed, or lettuce seed; for in these experiments, it is likely enough that the earth being accustomed to send forth one kind of nourishment, will alter the new seed.

530. THE fifth rule shall be, to make the herb grow contrary to its nature; as to make ground-herbs rise in height: as for example, carry camomile, or wild thyme, or the green strawberry, upon sticks, as you do hops upon poles; and see what the event will be.

531. THE sixth rule shall be, to make plants grow out of the sun or open air; for that is a great mutation in nature, and may induce a change in the seed: as barrel up earth, and sow some seed in it, and put it in the bottom of a pond; or put it in some great hollow tree; try also the sowing of seeds in the bottoms of caves; and pots with seeds sown, hanged up in wells some distance from the water, and see what the event will be.

Experiments in consort touching the procerity, and lowness, and artificial dwarfing of trees.

532. It is certain, that timber trees in coppice woods grow more upright, and more free from underboughs, than those that stand in the fields: the cause whereof is, for that plants have a natural motion to get to the sun; and besides, they are not glutted with too much nourishment; for that the coppice shareth with them; and repletion ever hindereth stature: lastly, they are kept warm; and that ever in plants helpeth mounting.

533. TREES that are of themselves full of heat, which heat appeareth by their inflammable gums, as firs and pines, mount of themselves in height without side-boughs, till they come towards the top. The cause is partly heat, and partly tenuity of juice, both which send the sap upwards. As for juniper, it is but a shrub, and groweth not big enough in body to maintain a tall tree.

534. IT is reported, that a good strong canvass, spread over a tree grafted low, soon after it putteth forth, will dwarf it, and make it spread. The cause is plain; for that all things that grow, will grow as they find room.

535. TREES are generally set of roots or kernels; but if you set them of slips, as of some trees you may, by name the mulberry, some of the slips will take; and those that take, as is reported, will be dwarf trees. The cause is, for that a slip draweth nourishment more weakly than either a root or kernel.

536. ALL plants that put forth their sap hastily, have their bodies not proportionable to their length; and therefore they are winders and creepers; as ivy, briony, hops, woodbine: whereas dwarfing requireth a slow putting forth, and less vigour of mounting.

Experiments in consort touching the rudiments of plants, and of the excrescences of plants, or super-plants.

THE Scripture saith, that Solomon wrote a Natural History, from the cedar of Libanus, to the moss growing upon the wall: for so the best translations have it. And it is true that moss is but the rudiment of a plant; and as it were, the mold of earth or bark.

537. Moss groweth chiefly upon ridges of houses tiled or thatched, and upon the crests of walls; and that moss is of a lightsome and pleasant green. The growing upon siopes is caused, for that moss, as on the one side it cometh of moisture and water, so on the other side the water must but slide, and not stand or pool. And the growing upon tiles, or walls, etc. is . caused, for that those dried earths, having not moisture

sufficient to put forth a plant, do practise germination by putting forth moss; though when, by age, or otherwise, they grow to relent and resolve, they sometimes put forth plants, as wall-flowers. And almost all moss hath here and there little stalks, besides the low thrum.

538. Moss groweth upon alleys, especially such as lie cold and upon the north; as in divers terraces ; and again, if they be much trodden; or if they were at the first gravelled; for wheresoever plants are kept down the earth putteth forth moss.

539. OLD ground, that hath been long unbroken up, gathereth moss: and therefore husbandmen use to cure their pasture grounds when they grow to moss, by tilling them for a year or two: which also dependeth upon the same cause; for that the more sparing and starving juice of the earth, insufficient for plants, doth breed moss.

540. OLD trees are more mossy far than young; for that the sap is not so frank as to rise all to the boughs, but tireth by the way, and putteth out moss. 541. FOUNTAINS have moss growing upon the ground about them;

Muscosi fontes :

The cause is, for that the fountains drain the water from the ground adjacent, and leave but sufficient moisture to breed moss and besides, the coldness of the water conduceth to the same.

542. THE Moss of trees is a kind of hair; for it is the juice of the tree that is excerned, and doth not assimilate. And upon great trees the moss gathereth a figure like a leaf.

543. THE moister sort of trees yield little moss; as we see in asps, poplars, willows, beeches, etc. which is partly caused for the reason that hath been given, of the frank putting up of the sap into the boughs; and partly for that the barks of those trees are more close and smooth than those of oaks and ashes; whereby the moss can the hardlier issue out.

544. IN clay-grounds all fruit-trees grow full of both upon body and boughs; which is caused


partly by the coldness of the ground, whereby the plants nourish less; and partly by the toughness of the earth, whereby the sap is shut in, and cannot get up to spread so frankly as it should do.

545. WE have said heretofore, that if trees be hidebound, they wax less fruitful, and gather moss; and that they are holpen by hacking, etc. And therefore, by the reason of contraries, if trees be bound in with cords, or some outward bands, they will put forth more moss: which, I think, happeneth to trees that stand bleak, and upon the cold winds. It would also be tried, whether, if you cover a tree somewhat thick upon the top after his polling, it will not gather more moss. I think also the watering of trees with cold fountain-water, will make them grow full of moss.

546. THERE is a moss the perfumers have, which cometh out of apple-trees, that hath an excellent scent. Query, particularly for the manner of the growth, and the nature of it. And for this experiment's sake, being a thing of price, I have set down the last experiments how to multiply and call on


NEXT unto moss, I will speak of mushrooms; which are likewise an imperfect plant. The mushrooms have two strange properties; the one, that they yield so delicious a meat; the other, that they come up so hastily, as in a night; and yet they are unsown. And therefore such as are upstarts in state, they call in reproach mushrooms. It must needs be, therefore, that they be made of much moisture; and that moisture fat, gross, and yet somewhat concocted. And, indeed, we find that mushrooms cause the accident which we call incubus, or the mare in the stomach. And therefore the surfeit of them may suffocate and empoison. And this sheweth that they are windy; and that windiness is gross and swelling, not sharp or griping. And upon the same reason mush

rooms are a venereous meat.

547. It is reported, that a bark of white or red poplar, which are of the moistest of trees, cut small, and cast into furrows well dunged, will cause the

« PreviousContinue »