On certain kinds of lilies to be found on the Mainland, and on the unique shape of their exceptional flowers.

Translated by Frederick Anderson ‘19

There are throughout Castilla del Oro, especially at the port of Nombre de Dios, right on the beach, by the sea, a great quantity of white lilies with exceptional flowers that are quite something to see, just as they are drawn here.[1] They grow in incredible profusion throughout the beach and look like bulrush, except that the greenness of their leaves is lighter than that of the bulrush of Castile. A stem or rod of about three palms or handspans in height, more or less, grows from its center, forming a sort of node in the middle from which three or four short leaves emerge, and subsequently three to five stems, each one with a bud. Each stem becomes whiter and whiter, and the type and whiteness are like those of a proper Madonna lily, and those six leaves hang down and are of the same type and complexion. And from between these six leaves emerges a thin white flower, and it rises, as depicted,[2] and it forms six points. Six sepals grow out of their center, and at the tip of each one there are some crossed stem-like filaments bearing the pollen-bearing anthers, and between them there is another green stamen whose tip is crowned with a round head or stigma. In short, it is a very exceptional flower and smells very good, and not with less subtlety than the lilies of Castile. The Christians call them sea onions because below, in their subterranean germination, all the stems and burst of leaves that look like bulrushes or lilies emerge from a white onion or bulb. But it is an error to call them sea onions, nor are they venomous. Instead, they are white lilies, as I have stated. Cows and other farm animals often eat these leaves; it does not kill them or make them sick, except that they burn, as the leaves of the lilies do, and for this reason, even if the cows and other animals eat some of these leaves, they stop eating because of the burning sensation. But they don’t die or come to harm.

[1] See Appendix 1 for illustrations from the 1535 edition of the Natural History. [EE]

[2] See Appendix 2 for illustration listed as Illus. 4, figure 6 in AR edition. [EE]