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Atriplex grece vocatur andrafaxis ut apud Dyascoridem et crisolacana, et est dictu aureum olus ut infra, sed arabice kataf et sarmech dicitur. Stephanus coatutum et sermach.


andrafaxis (ãdra- B) ABC | andrafraxis ef

ut (followed by apud} om. A

crisolacana AC | crisolahana (-hãa B) B f | crisolochana e

et ē (& est C; & ē A) dictu ABC | ē dictum f | et est dictum e

olus AC e | olus f) | holus B

sarmech B ef | sarmeth AC {'c' misread as 't'}

coatutum (-tutũ A) AC | cacitutũ B | caátutuʒ f | catafum Stephanus Breviarium {see Commentary below}

sermach AC f | sarmach B | sermacũ Stephanus Breviarium {see Commentary below}

Stephanus coatutum et sermach. om. e

hanc nõ inveni in dya. sub aliquo horuʒ nominuʒ add. e {see Commentary below}


Atriplex is called in Greek andrafaxis as in Dyascorides and crisolacana, and that means in Latin aureum olus {"golden garden vegetable"} as explained in the entry Crisolocanna below. In Arabic it is called kataf and sarmeth, for which Stephanus writes coatutum and sermach.


Latin atriplex, or in a more ancient form atriplexum, also atreplex in Oribasius, is the name of a kitchen vegetrable, "orach(e)". The Latin word is ultimately an adoption from Greek, distorted by folk etymologies like interpreting the first element as ater,atrum "black, dark" and the latter part as triplex "thrice", perhaps because its leaves can be seen as triangular. Under the name adripias it is mentioned in Charlemagne's Capitulare de villis.

The Greek form Simon mentions: andrafaxis is taken from Dyascorides alphabeticus, Bodmer f 7v, where the form andrafraxis is found, in Dioscorides Longobardus, book II, it is andrafraxin {from the Greek acc. sg.} and in the Paris ms. andrafaxis occurs.

In Greek this particular vegetable name of uncertain etymology has a great number of variants. Simon mentions andrafaxis < ἀνδράφαξυς,-ξις /andráphaxys, -xis/, but other forms occur, e.g. ἀνδράφραξυς /andráphraxys/, ἀτράφαξυς /atráphaxys/, ἀτράφαξις /atráphaxis/. Theophrastus was the first to describe aspects of the plant under the name ἀδράφαξυς /adráphaxys/.

In the Greek Dioscoridean text, 2, 119, ed. Wellmann (1906-14: I.192), ἀνδράφαξυς /andráphaxys/, the RV version mentions these synonyms: ἀνδράφαξις• οἱ δὲ ἀνδραφάξ, οἱ δὲ χρυσολάχανον Ῥωμαῖοι ἀτρίπλεκεμ … /andráphaxis hoi dè andrapháx, hoi dè khrysolákhanon Rhōmaîoi atríplekem …/ - "ἀνδράφαξις /andráphaxis/ has the synonyms ἀνδραφάξ /andrapháx/ and χρυσολάχανον /khrysolákhanon/, The Romans say ἀτρίπλεκεμ /atríplekem/ {i.e. accusative sg. atriplicem of atriplex}

Simon mentions the synonym χρυσολάχανον /khrysolákhanon/, which literally means "golden vegetable" or aureum olus in Latin, a translation offered by Simon, see the entry Crisolocanna. The expected transliteration would be chrysolachanon or in a medieval transcription chrisolachanon. Taking Simon's Italianate background into account his pronunciation – and that of many copyists – would have been */krisolákanon/. Simon's forms ending in '-a' reflect the plural χρυσολάχανα /khrysolákhana/.

The Arabic words are: Siggel (1950: 60): ﻗﻄﻒ /qaṭaf/ Atriplex hortensis (Chenopodiac.), Gartenmelde {i.e. "orache"} and (1950: 41): ﺳﺮﻣﺞ /sarmağ/, ﺳﺮﻣﻖ /sarmaq/ Atriplex hortensis (Chenopodiac.), Gartenmelde {i.e. "orache"}.

The Arabic forms quoted for Stephanus: - coatutum (-tutũ A) AC | cacitutũ B | caátutuʒ f - must be very early corruptions of catafum, cf. Stephanus' Breviarium: andrafaxis ... atriplex ... sermacũ ...catafum [[1]]. Possible misreadings could have occurred along the following lines: catafum > *catatum {'f' > 't'} > *catutum {'a' > 'u'}; folk-etymological interpretation of the first syllable as containing the prefix co-? > coatutum etc.

The remark at the end of ms. e: hanc nõ inveni in dya. sub aliquo horuʒ nominuʒ says "this {word} I have not encountered in Dyascorides under any of these names" and refers most likely to the Arabic plant names kataf and sarmech.

Botanical identification:

Atriplex is seen by most authors as Artiplex hortensis L. "orach(e)" [[2]]. It is a vegetable now found rarely growing in gardens but semi-wild all over Europe and the Mediterranean as well as in parts of Asia and China. Wild forms are mentioned by Dioscorides, some or one of which could well be ancestral to the garden vegetable. A. hortensis has had a long period of cultivation and was already known to the Greeks under various names, cf. the Commentary above. Theophrastus was the first to describe aspects of the plant under the name ἀδράφαξυς /adráphaxys/. The plant's popularity waned with the introduction of spinach in the 13th century.

According to Berendes (1902: 217), and André (1956: 46) Chenopodium species like Chenopodium bonus-henricus L. "good king Henry" were occasionally called atriplex.

See also: Andrafraxis, Crisolocanna, Lachana

For the Arabic entries see: Cathaf, Kataf (1), Sarmech, Sermacum

WilfGunther 23/02/13

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