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Napo vel napus, Plinius naporum duo sunt genera, unum angulosis foliis caulibus florentes quod bimio vocant greci alterum vero rafano et napo simile: quod putianda vocant et cetera. Item alibi .v. genera fecerunt quidam a nominibus regionum nominata.


napus B efjp | napis AC
naporum | naponũ p
foliis | om. f | foliorum Pliny
florentes | flore aneti Pliny
bunio? f | bimio ABC p {'un' misread as 'im'} | bimio or bumo j | vimio ms. e | bunion Pliny
alterum | altera j
{alterum} vero om. AC
rafano ABC e | raffano fp | raphano j
putinada B e {possible contamination with putidus "fetid", a name often associated with plants of disagreeable smell} | putĩanda AC | putinata j | pruinada? f | buniada Pliny
et napo ABC efjp | et rapo Pliny {confusion between rapo and napo}
alibi ABC f | alius ms. e
.v. AC | quinque B efp | queqʒ j
{nominata} etcetera add. B jp | dicunt etcetera add. f
Ms. j adds a reference written by a different hand: Bunias vide etiam Cardellũ, for which see entries Bumas, Cardellum


There are two kinds of napus {"rapeseed"}, one with angular leaves and stalks {but cf. Pliny: angulosis foliorum caulibus - "angular leaf stalks"}, flowering {but cf. Pliny "with a flower like anetum ('anise')"}, and which the Greeks call bimio.

There is another kind similar to raphanus {"radish"} and napo {better: rapo "turnip" as in Pliny}, which they call putinada, etc. And elsewhere some authors have established five kinds {sc. of napus} named after regions.


Napo vel napus:
Apart from the usual name for the plant napus, Simon uses a medieval collateral form napo, naponis; the latter also occurs e.g. in Albertus Magnus, Petrus de Crescentiis and the Tacuinum sanitatis.

Simon's quote consists of two short excerpts from two chapters in Pliny, 20, 11, 21, ed. W.H.S. Jones 1938-63: VI.14) and 19, 25, 75, (V.470). The text has undergone some corruption in the course of transmission.

misread for Greek βούνιον /boúnion/, which can refer to a number of plants, but here it is obviously the Greek name for napus. At face value it could be the diminutive of βουνός /bounós/ "hill", however the motive for the name is somewhat unclear, but cf. Carnoy (1959: 56) bunias and bunion. βούνιον /boúnion/ is glossed by LSJ as the name for the unrelated Bunium ferulaceum Sibth. & Sm. "earth-nut" as well as some unrelated Verbena species.

Greek βουνιάς /bouniás/ is a name for a variety of napus; the word bunias also occurs in the writing of Pliny's contemporary Columella. Simon's putinada is a corruption of the acc. βουνιάδα /bouniáda/.

varieties of napus:
Pliny's five {four according to some mss.} varieties of napus are Corinthius {i.e. from Corinth}, Cleonaeus {i.e from Cleonae, the name of two small towns, one in Argolis and the other in Macedonia}, Liothasius {perhaps "from Thasus", an island off the Thracian coast}, Boeotius {i.e. from Boeotia}, and finally one that was only known as the Green one.

Botanical identification:

As was said in the Commentary to the entry Rapa, Latin rapum/ rapa and napus are similar sounding names for two closely related species; this is a recipe for confusion. It seems that in antiquity in many cases a round form of either species was called rapum and a more elongated form napus.

Rapum/ rapa is identified by most authors as the "turnip", Brassica rapa L. (syn. B. rapa L. ssp. campestris (L.) Claph.) [[1]], and napus with "rapeseed or navew", a type of turnip, Brassica napus L. [[2]]. These two species often hybridise.

Brassica napus L. is believed to be the product of ancient interspecific crosses between B. oleracea L. [[3]] – although this is disputed by some - and B. rapa L. As for B. napus, it is found in its wild form [[4]] along the coasts of Sweden, the Netherlands and Britain, areas where it is thought the hybridisation must have taken place since the parent species also grow there. However, other places of origin, i.a. the Mediterranean, have been suggested. It was originally grown for human consumption and for animal fodder as a vegetable and for it tubers, but from the late Middle Ages onwards varieties were bred for oilseed, primarily for use in oil lamps, because some varieties were unsuitable for human consumption or animal fodder, because the oil contained in their seed can be rich in erucic acid, which is toxic.

Columella, offers a comparison of napus and rapum, 2, 10, 22-3, ed. Ash et al (2001: 170): Ab his leguminibus ratio est habenda naporum raporumque: nam utraque rusticos implent. Magis tamen utilia rapa sunt, quia et maiore incremento proveniunt, et non hominem solum, verum etiam boves pascunt, …. Solum putre et solutum res utraque desiderat, nec densa nascitur humo. Sed rapa campis et locis humidis laetantur; napus devexam amat et siccam tenuique propiorem terram. Itaque glareosis sabulosisque arvis melior exit, locique proprietas utriusque semen commutat. Namque in alio solo rapa biennio sata convertuntur in napum, in alio napus raporum accipit speciem." - which Harrison Boyd Ash (2001: 171) translates:

"After these legumes consideration must be given to the navew and the turnip, as both of them are filling food for country people. The turnips, however, are more profitable, because they yield a greater increase and serve as food, not only for mankind, but also for cattle … Both require a loamy, loose soil, and do not grow in heavy ground. Turnips, however, like level and moist places, while the navew prefers ground that is sloping and dry with more of a tendency to leanness; and so it grows better in gravelly and sandy lands. The nature of the situation changes the seed of both: thus, turnips sown in one soil are changed into navews in two years' time, while in the other the navew likewise takes on the appearance of the turnip".

The importance of napus and rapum as crops is borne out by the fact that they are mentioned by most relevant medieval authors, e.g. Isidore of Seville in his Etymologiae and the ones mentioned above in the Commentary concerning napo. Even Charlemagne in his Capitulare de villis gives instructions, XLIV, to plant napi on his estates for Lenten food supply to the palace.

For further reading see: Rakow (2004: 3-11). [[5]]

WilfGunther (talk) 15:00, 29 June 2016 (BST)

See also: Rapa, Left, Salgen, Scelgen, Putinada, Bumas, Cardellum

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