Mattioli’s Dioscorides illustrated by Cibo (Discorsi by Mattioli and Cibo)

Mattioli’s Dioscorides illustrated by Cibo (Discorsi by Mattioli and Cibo) Sea fennel (Crithmum maritimum), f. 168r

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Sea fennel (Crithmum maritimum), f. 168r

Sea fennel, or, samphire, as some call it, is a shrubby herb with thick foliage that grows almost as tall as one’s elbow. It grows in marshy and rocky coastal areas. Its many succulent, whitish leaves are savoury to the taste, similar to those of a purslane, although they are broader and longer. It produces white flowers. Its seed is tender, aromatic and round, like rosemary seeds. The seeds break when dry to reveal a little kernel inside, similar to a grain of wheat. The roots, sometimes three sometimes four, are as thick as a finger and give off a pleasant smell. Decoction of the roots, leaves and seeds drunk in wine is helpful for urine retention, excessive bile, and can induce the menstrual cycle. Sea fennel can be eaten raw or cooked, like all other vegetables, and can be preserved in brine (f. 167v).

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