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

Field gladiolus (Gladiolus Italicus), f. 72r in Mattioli`s Dioscorides illustrated by Cibo, Add. Ms. 22332, c. 1564-1584.

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Field gladiolus (Gladiolus italicus), f. 72r

The xiphio is called gladiolus in Latin and this plant bears that name due to the sword shape of its leaves. It would be similar to an iris if its leaves were shorter and narrower, pointed like a knife and dense with ribs. It produces a stem one-cubit long, on top of which bloom violet flowers, each distinct one from the next and displayed in an orderly way. Its seeds are round, and it generates two roots, one overlapping the other, resembling small bulbs. Of the two, the one that is below is smaller, while the upper one is larger. It grows principally in fields. The root that is on top, when applied in a poultice with wine and incense, causes the body to expel wood splinters, thorns and arrows. Mixed with ryegrass flour and honeydew water, it dissolves warts, so it is generally put in that type of poultice; when applied, it can trigger menstruation. It is said the root that is above, when drunk with wine, has an aphrodisiac effect, and the one below causes sterility. It is also said the one that is above, when drunk with water, cures intestinal hernias in children (f. 71v).

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