Original French:  Cheſnes,

Modern French:  Chesnes,

Among the plants that, like Pantagruelion, have two sexes.


two sexes in oak

Taking, as was said, all trees according to their kinds, we find a number of differences. Common to them all is that by which men distinguish the ‘male’ and the ‘female,’ the latter being fruit-bearing, the former barren in some kinds. In those kinds in which both forms are fruit-bearing the ‘female’ has fairer and more abundant fruit; however some call these the ‘male’ trees—for there are those who actually thus invert the names. This difference is of the same character as that which distinguishes the cultivated from the wild tree, while other differences distinguish different forms of the same kind; and these we must discuss, at the same time indicating the peculiar forms, where these are not obvious and easy to recognise.
Take then the various kinds of oak; for in this tree men recognise more differences than in any other. Some simply speak of a cultivated and a wild kind, not recognising any distinction made by the sweetness of the fruit; (for sweetest is that of the kind called Valonia oak, and this they make the wild kind), but distinguishing the cultivated kind by its growing more commonly on tilled land and having smoother timber, while the Valonia oak has rough wood and grows in mountain districts. Thus some make four kinds, others five. They also in some cases vary as to the names assigned; thus the kind which bears sweet fruit is called by some hemeris, by others ‘true oak.’ So too with other kinds. However, to take the classification given by the people of Mount Ida, these are the kinds: hemeris (gall-oak), aigilops (Turkey-oak), ‘broad-leaved’ oak (scrub oak), Valonia oak, sea-bark oak, which some call ‘straight-barked’ oak. All these bear fruit; but the fruits of Valonia oak are the sweetest, as has been said; second to these those of hemeris (gall-oak), third those of the ‘broad-leaved’ oak (scrub oak), fourth sea-bark oak, and last aigilops (Turkey-oak), whose fruits are very bitter. However the fruit is not always sweet in the kinds specified as such; sometimes it is bitter, that of the Valonia oak for instance. There are also differences in the size shape and colour of the acorns. Those of Valonia oak and sea-bark oak are peculiar; in both of these kinds on what are called the ‘male’ trees the acorns become stony at one end or the other; in one kind this hardening takes place in the end which is attached to the cup, in the other in the flesh itself. Wherefore, when the cups are taken off, we find a cavity like the visceral cavities in animals.

Theophrastus [c. 371-c. 287 BC]
Enquiry into Plants. Volume 1: Books 1 – 5
Arthur Hort [1864–1935], translator
Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press, 1916
Loeb Classical Library


Le chêne a des fleurs màle et femelles distinctes, mais portés sur le méme pied (monœcie). Pline, qui distingue à tort un chêne mâle et femelle, ecrit « In querna, aia [glans] dulcior molliorque feminæ ; mari spissior », XVI, 8. (Paul Delaunay)

François Rabelais [ca. 1483–1553]
Oeuvres. Tome Cinquieme: Tiers Livre. Édition critique
p. 342
Abel Lefranc [1863-1952], editor
Paris: Librairie Ancienne Honoré Champion, 1931


sed et in alia dulcior molliorque feminae, mari spissior. maxime autem probantur latifoliae ex argumento dictae: distant inter se magnitudine et cutis tenuitate, item quod aliis subest tunica robigine scabra aliis protinus candidum corpus

But also in the case of the oak in general the acorn of the female tree is sweeter and softer, while that of the male tree is more compact.

Pliny the Elder [23–79 AD]
The Natural History. Volume 4: Books 12–16
Harris Rackham [1868–1944], translator
Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press, 1945
Loeb Classical Library



Posted 10 February 2013. Modified 20 November 2020.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.