Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia
- n. A genus of polypetalous plants, of the order Onagrarieæ. It is characterized by an ovary with two cells, each with an elongated ovule pendulous from the partition; and by a nut-like spinescent fruit. There are 3, or as some esteem them only 2 (or even 1), species, natives of tropical and subtropical parts of the Old World, and extending to central Europe. They are aquatic plants with dimorphous leaves, one kind submerged, opposite, dissected, and root-like, the other a rosette of toothed rhombic leaves with inflated spongy petioles, floating on the surface. They bear axillary solitary whitish flowers with the parts in fours. The species are known as water-caltrop from the horns or spines of the singular fruit, which contains a single large seed with a sweet and edible embryo which abounds in starch and is composed of two unequal cotyledons and a radicle which perforates the apex of the fruit in germinating. T. natans, the best-known species, native from central Africa to Germany and central Asia, often cultivated elsewhere, and now naturalized in Massachusetts in the Concord river, is known as water-chestnut or water-nut, sometimes as Jesuits' nut. Its seeds are ground and made into bread in parts of the south of Europe. T. bicornis of China, there known as ling or leng, is cultivated in ponds by the Chinese for its fruit, which resembles a bullock's head with two blunt horns. T. bispinosa yields the Singharanut of Cashmere, where it forms a stanle food.
- n. small genus of Eurasian aquatic perennial herbs: water chestnut
“According to ancient authors, if a man pounds the seeds or roots of the trapa bispinosa, the kasurika, the tuscan jasmine, and liquorice, together with the kshirakapoli (a kind of onion), and puts the powder into milk mixed with sugar and ghee, and having boiled the whole mixture on a moderate fire, drinks the paste so formed, he will be able to enjoy innumerable women.”
“If a man takes the outer covering of sesamum seeds, and soaks them with the eggs of sparrows, and then, having boiled them in milk, mixed with sugar and ghee, along with the fruits of the trapa bispinosa and the kasurika plant, and adding to it the flour of wheat and beans, and then drinks this composition, he is said to be able to enjoy many women.”
“The men paddled madly; we sloped across the stream, and cannoned against a lot of boulders – two of the crew leapt out, hung on to a rope that was a long, dried trail of vine, swam in with it, hauled – the trapa swung round, grounded in a shallow, and we scrambled ashore.”
“The trapa, two very rough dug-outs lashed together with withies, and propelled with the rudest wooden ladles, was under the lee of a rocky promontory; the stream was swift and strong.”
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