psyllium, which resembles a flea



psyllium, which resembles a flea;

Original French:  Pſylion, qui ſemble a la Puſſe:

Modern French:  Psylion, qui semble à la Pusse:

Among the plants named by similitude.



Plantago. Meydenbach, Ortus Sanitatis (1491).

Meydenbach, Jacob, Ortus Sanitatis. Mainz, Germany: 1491. 151v. University of Cambridge Digital Library


Psyllion alii cynoides, alii crystallion, alii sicelicon, alii cynomyiam appellant, radice tenui supervacua, sarmentosum, fabae granis in cacuminibus, foliis canino capiti non dissimilibus, semine autem pulici, unde et nomen. hoc in bacis, ipsa herba in vineis invenitur. vis ad refrigerandum et discutiendum ingens. semen in usu. fronti inponitur in dolore et temporibus ex aceto et rosaceo aut posca. ad cetera inlinitur. acetabuli mensura sextarium aquae densat ac contrahit; tunc terere oportet et crassitudinem inlinere cuicumque dolori et collectioni inflammationique. vulneribus capitis medetur aristolochia, fracta extrahens ossa et in alia quidem parte corporis sed maxime capite, similiter plistolochia. thryselinum est non dissimile apio. huius radix commanducata purgat capitis pituitas.

Psyllion is called by some cynoides, by others chrystallion, by others sicelicon, and by others cynomyia; it has a slender root of no use in medicine, numerous twigs with grains like beans [This is a very strange phrase, and Fée calls the description absurd] at the point, leaves not unlike a dog’s head and seed not unlike a flea: hence too its name. The seed is in berries, and the plant itself is to be found in vineyards. Its cooling and dispersing properties are very strong. The part used is the seed. For headache it is applied to the forehead and temples in vinegar and rose oil or in vinegar and water. For other purposes it is used as liniment. An acetabulum thickens and coagulates a sextarius of water; then it should be beaten up and the paste applied as liniment to any pain, gathering or inflammation. Wounds in the head are healed by aristolochia, which also brings away fragments of bone in other parts of the body, but especially in the head; the same with plistolochia. Thryselinum is not unlike celery. The root of it chewed clears away catarrhs of the head.

Pliny the Elder (23–79 AD), The Natural History. Volume 7: Books 24–27. William Henry Samuel Jones (1876–1963), translator. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press, 1956. 25.090. Loeb Classical Library


Herbe aux puces; de φύλοζ, puce

Rabelais, François (ca. 1483–1553), Œuvres de Rabelais (Edition Variorum). Tome Cinquième. Charles Esmangart (1736–1793), editor. Paris: Chez Dalibon, 1823. p. 270. Google Books


Pliny xxv. 11, § 90.

Rabelais, François (ca. 1483–1553), The Five Books and Minor Writings. Volume 1: Books I-III. William Francis Smith (1842–1919), translator. London: Alexader P. Watt, 1893. Internet Archive


Ψυλλιον, psyllium, herbe aux puces, de ψνλλα, puce, allusion à la forme des graines. «Psyllion… semine autem pulici unde et nomen», Pline XXV, 90. C’est Plantago psylllium, L.

Rabelais, François (ca. 1483–1553), Oeuvres. Édition critique. Tome Cinquieme: Tiers Livre. Abel Lefranc (1863-1952), editor. Paris: Librairie Ancienne Honoré Champion, 1931. p. 355. Internet Archive

pas similitude

Toutes ces plantes, dans De latinis nominibus, sauf pour le delphinium.

Rabelais, François (ca. 1483–1553), Le Tiers Livre. Edition critique. Michael Andrew Screech (1926-2018), editor. Paris-Genève: Librarie Droz, 1964.


De φὑλλα, «puce» (Pline, XXV, xc).

Rabelais, François (ca. 1483–1553), Œuvres complètes. Mireille Huchon, editor. Paris: Gallimard, 1994. p. 505, n. 3.


psyllium. [Latin psyllium, adopted from Greek yullion, formed on yulla flea.]

The herb Plantago psyllium = fleawort; also, (a preparation of) the seeds of this plant or of Psillium ovata or P. indica, used as a laxative.

1598 Joshuah Sylvester, translator Du Bartas his divine weekes and workes ii. i. iii. Furies 176 The dropsie-breeding, sorrow-bringing psylly, Here called fleawort.

1601 Philemon Holland, translator Pliny’s History of the world, commonly called the Natural historie II. 239 Psyllium, Fleawort, is good for the vlcers thereof.

1706 Phillips, Psyllium, the Herb Flea-bane or Flea-wort.



Posted 27 January 2013. Modified 20 January 2019.

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