Lionardo da Vinci

Botany

Botany 

 

'All seeds have the umbilical cord, which breads 

 

when the seed is ripe. And in lih^e mariner they 

 

have matrix and secundina, as is seen in herbs 

 

and all the seeds which grow in pods! 

 

When a tree has had part of its bark stripped off, nature in order tc 

provide for it supplies to the stripped portion a far greater quantity of 

nutritive moisture than to any other part; so that because of the first 

scarcity which has been referred to the bark there grows much more 

thickly than in any other place. And this moisture has such power of 

movement that after having reached the spot where its help is needed, 

it raises itself partly up like a ball rebounding, and makes various 

buddings and sproutings, somewhat after the manner of water when 

it boils. 

 

Many trees planted in such a way as to touch, by the second year 

will have learnt how to dispense with the bark which grows between 

them and become grafted together; and by this method you will make 

the walls of the gardens continuous, and in four years you will even 

have very wide boards. 

 

When many grains or seeds are sown so that they touch and are then 

covered by a board filled with holes the size of the seeds and left to 

grow underneath it, the seeds as they germinate will become fixed 

together and will form a beautiful clump. And if you mix seeds of 

different kinds together this clump will seem like jasper. 

 

c.a. 76 r. a 

 

The branches of plants are found in two different positions: either 

opposite to each other or not opposite. If they are opposite to each other 

the centre stem is not bent: if they are not opposite the centre stem 

is bent. c.a. 305 v. a 

 

2Q9 

 

 

 

3 oo BOTANY 

 

[Of barring trees] 

 

If you take away a ring of bark from the tree d it will wither from 

the ring upwards and all below will remain alive. 

 

If you make the said ring incompletely and then graft the plant near 

the foot deftly, the part that has been deftly treated will be preserved 

and the rest will be spoilt. b 17 v. 

 

 

 

OF THE RAMIFICATION OF PLANTS 

 

The plants which spread out very much have the angles of the divi- 

sions which separate their ramifications more obtuse in proportion as 

their point of origin is lower down, that is nearer to the thicker and 

older part of the tree; whereas in the newer part of the tree the angles 

of its ramifications are more acute. e 6 v. 

 

The trunks of the trees have a bulbous surface which is caused by 

their roots which carry nourishment to the tree; and these excrescences 

have their surface of bark containing few fissures, and their intervals 

are hollows where the bark has become dried because the nourishment 

comes to it less abundantly. g 1 r. 

 

The shadows on transparent leaves seen from beneath are the same 

as those on the right side of the leaf, for the shadow is visible in trans- 

parence on the under side as well as the part in light; but the lustre can 

never be seen in transparence. g 3 v. 

 

The lowest branches of the trees which have big leaves and heavy 

fruits such as coco-palms, figs and the like always bend towards the 

ground. 

 

The branches always start above the leaf. g 5 r. 

 

Young trees have more transparent leaves and smoother bark than 

old ones: the walnut especially is lighter in colour in May than in 

September. g 8 r. 

 

That plant will preserve its growth in the straightest line which 

produces the most minute ramification. g 13 r. 

 

 

 

BOTANY 301 

 

OF BRANCH STRUCTURE 

 

The beginning of the branch will always have the central line of its 

thickness taking its direction by the central line of the plant, g 14 r. 

 

 

 

OF THE BIRTH OF LEAVES UPON THEIR BRANCHES 

 

The thickness of a branch is never diminished in the space there is 

between one leaf and another except by as much as the thickness of the 

eye that is above the leaf, and this thickness is lacking in the branch 

up to the next leaf. 

 

Nature has arranged the leaves of the latest branches of many plants 

so that the sixth is always above the first, and so it follows in succession 

if the rule is not impeded. 

 

This serves two uses for the plants, the first being that as the branch 

or fruit springs in the following year from the bud or eye which is above 

it in contact with the attachment of the leaf, the water which wets this 

branch is able to descend to nourish the eye by the fact that the drops 

are caught in the axil where the leaf springs; and the second use is 

that when these branches grow in the succeeding year one will not 

cover the other, because the five branches come forth turned in five 

different directions and the sixth comes forth above the first but at a 

sufficient distance. g 16 v. 

 

[Of branch structure] 

 

Between one ramification and the other if there are no other par- 

ticular branches the tree will be of uniform thickness. And this takes 

place because the whole sum of the humour that feeds the beginning 

of this branch continues to feed it until it produces the next branch. 

And this nourishment or equal cause produces equal effect, g 17 r. 

 

Trees which divide near to the ground seldom put forth branches in 

the space that intervenes between them; and if however there should be 

one it will have but a short life and will not make much growth on 

account of the shadow that the one gives to the other. 

 

There are many bends in the branches where there are none of the 

six lesser branches that usually surround them; for these failed in their 

 

 

 

302 BOTANY 

 

youth, and death passed over their stumps and spread to the more vital 

parts. 

 

The principal branches of the trees which rise the most are always 

nearer the centre of the plant than any of its brothers or sons. 

 

G 24 V. 

 

The small branches of the same year grow in all the parts of the 

tree only in those places where there were its old ramifications, pro- 

duced in the order of the birth of their leaves, that is to say each is 

produced the one above the other. 

 

The occasional dents in the big branches of trees are not in the same 

order as that of the inception of the leaves which are near to them. 

 

Because its lesser branches never traverse such dents in their infancy 

the chief branch as it carries more sap keeps its course straight for a 

long space. c 25 r. 

 

DESCRIPTION OF THE ELM 

 

This ramification of the elm has the largest branch in front, and its 

smallest are the first and the penultimate when the chief branch is 

straight. 

 

From the starting point of one leaf to the other is the half of the 

greatest length of the leaf; a little less because the leaves form an inter- 

val which is about a third the width of the leaf. 

 

The elm has the tips of its leaves nearer the extremity of the branch 

than its starting point, and in width they vary but little when looked 

at from the same side. g 27 r. 

 

The leaf always turns its upper side towards the sky so that it may 

be better able to receive over its whole surface the dew which drops 

down with the slow movement of the atmosphere; and these leaves are 

arranged on the plants in such a way that one covers another as little 

as possible, but they lie alternately one above the other as is seen with 

the ivy which covers the walls. And this alternation serves two ends; 

that is in order to leave spaces so that the air and the sun may penetrate 

between them, — and the second purpose of it is that the drops which 

fall from the first leaf may fall on to the fourth, or on to the sixth in 

the case of other trees. g 27 v. 

 

 

 

BOTANY 303 

 

[Structure of the walnut tree] 

 

The leaves of the walnut tree are distributed over the whole branch 

of that year, and they are so much farther away the one from the other, 

and in greater number, as the branch from which the shoot springs is 

younger. And they are so much nearer at their beginning and less in 

number, as the shoot that bears them springs from an older branch. 

 

Its fruits grow at the extremity of its shoot, and its largest branches 

are on the under side of the bough from which they spring. And this 

happens because the weight of its sap inclines it more to descend than 

to rise; and for this reason the branches that start above them and go 

toward the sky are small and thin. When the shoot looks towards the 

sky its leaves spread out from its extremity with equal distribution of 

their tips, and if the shoot looks towards the horizon the leaves remain 

spread out; this springs from the fact that the leaves invariably turn 

their underneath side towards the ground. 

 

The branches are proportionately smaller as they start nearer to the 

birth of the bough which produces them. g 28 r. 

 

[The elder] 

 

Observe on the lower branch of the elder which has its leaves in 

twos placing them crosswise one above the other, if the stem goes 

straight up towards the sky this order never fails, and its larger leaves 

occur on the thicker part of the stem and the smaller on the thinner 

part that is towards the top. But to come back to the branch below, I 

maintain that the leaves which are placed crosswise to those on the 

upper branch, being constrained by the law which causes the leaves to 

turn part of their surface towards the sky in order to catch the dew at 

night, must necessarily twist round when so placed and be no longer 

crosswise. g 29 r. 

 

 

 

OF THE RAMIFICATIONS OF TREES WITH THEIR LEAVES 

 

Of the ramifications of trees some such as the elm are wide and thin 

after the fashion of a hand open foreshortened, and these are visible in 

their whole mass. Below they are seen in their upper side, and those 

that are highest are seen from beneath; those of the centre show them- 

selves part below and part above, and the part above is at the end of the 

 

 

 

3 o 4 BOTANY 

 

ramification; and this part that is in the centre is more foreshortened 

than any other of those which are turned with their points towards 

you. Of these parts that are in the centre of the height of the tree the 

longest will be towards the extremities of these trees; and these make 

ramifications like the leaves of the common willow which grows upon 

the banks of rivers. 

 

Other ramifications are round, such as those of the trees that put 

forth their shoots and leaves so that the sixth is above the first. Others 

are thin and diaphanous as the willow and such like trees. g 30 v. 

 

 

 

OF THE BEGINNING OF THE BRANCHES IN TREES 

 

The beginning of the ramifications of trees upon their principal 

branches is the same as the beginning of the leaves upon the shoots of 

the same year as the leaves. And these leaves have three ways of pro- 

ceeding one higher than the other; the first and most usual is that the 

sixth on the upper side always is born above the sixth on the under 

side; the second is that the two thirds above are over the two thirds 

below; and the third way is that the third above is over the third below. 

 

 

 

WHY FREQUENTLY THE VEINS OF WOOD ARE 

NOT STRAIGHT 

 

When the branches which follow the second year above that of the 

previous year are not of equal thickness above the preceding branches 

but are one-sided, the strength of the branch below is bent to nourish 

that which is higher although it is somewhat on one side. 

 

But if such ramifications are equal in their growth, the veins of their 

branch will be straight, and at an equal distance at every stage of the 

height of the plant. 

 

Do you therefore O painter who are not acquainted with these laws, 

if you would escape the censure of those who have studied them, be 

zealous to represent everything according to nature and not to dis- 

parage such study, as do those who work only for gain. g 33 r. 

 

Every branch and every fruit comes above the insertion of its leaf, 

which serves it as a mother by bringing it the water of the rains and the 

 

 

 

BOTANY 505 

 

moisture of the dew th.it tails there at night from above, and often 

 

takes from them the exeessive heat of the sun's rays. a J3 v. 

 

There is no protuberance on a branch except where there has been 

some branch which has failed. 

 

The lower shoots of the branches of trees increase more than the 

upper shoots, and this simply arises from the fact that the sap which 

feeds them having gravity moves downwards more readily than up- 

wards. And also because those which grow downwards separate them- 

selves from the shade which there is in the centre of the tree. 

 

The older the branches the greater the difference will be between 

their upper and lower shoots and between those of the same year or 

period. c 34 v. 

 

OF THE CICATRICES OF TREES 

 

The cicatrices of trees grow in thickness more than the sap that 

flows through them and nourishes them requires. c 35 r. 

 

The lower branches after they have formed the angle of their separa- 

tion from their trunk always bend down, so as not to press against 

the other branches which follow above them on the same trunk and to 

be better able to take the air which nourishes them. c 35 v. 

 

The elm always puts greater length into the latest branches of the 

year's growth than it does into those of the same year which are lower. 

Nature does this because the higher branches are those which are to 

increase the size of the tree; while those below tend to dry up because 

they remain in the shadow, and their growth would be a check to the 

entry of the solar rays and the air among the chief branches of the tree. 

 

The chief of the lower branches bend down more than the upper 

ones both in order to be more slanting than the upper ones and also 

because they are larger and older; and in order to seek the air and 

escape from the shade. g 36 r. 

 

[Branch structure and the sun] 

 

Universally almost all the upright parts of trees are found to bend 

somewhat turning their convex part towards the south. And the 

branches are longer thicker and more numerous towards the south 

 

 

 

 

 

 

306 BOTANY 

 

than towards the north. This arises from the fact that the sun draws 

the sap towards that part of the surface of the tree which is near- 

est to it. This is evident in the trees which are frequently pollarded, 

for they renew their growth every three years. And one notices this 

unless the sun is screened off by other trees. g 36 v. 

 

All the flowers which see the sun mature their seed, and not the 

others, that is those which see only the reflection of the sun. g 37 v. 

 

The cherry is of the same nature as the fir in that its ramification is 

made in steps round its stem; and its branches grow in fours fives or 

sixes opposite one another; and the sum of the extremities of the 

branches forms an equilateral pyramid from its centre upwards; and 

the walnut and the oak from the centre upwards form a half sphere. 

 

g 51 r. 

[Symmetry of nature — ramifications of trees and water] 

 

All the branches of trees at every stage of their height, united to- 

gether, are equal to the thickness of their trunk. 

 

All the ramifications of the waters at every stage of their length 

being of equal movement are equal to the size of their parent stream. 

 

1 12 v. 

[Laws as to growth of plants] 

 

Every year when the branches of the trees have completed their 

growth, they have attained when joined together to such thickness as 

the thickness of their trunk, and at each stage of their ramification you 

will find the thickness of the said trunk as in i\, gh, ef, cd, ab. They 

will all be equal to each other if the tree has not been pollarded; other- 

wise the rule will not fail. m 78 v. 

 

If the plant n grows to the thickness of m its branches will make the 

whole conjunction ab through the swelling of the branches within as 

well as outside. 

 

The branches of plants form a curve at every commencement of a 

tiny branch, and as this other branch is produced they bifurcate, and 

this bifurcation occurs in the middle of two angles the greater of which 

will be that on the side of the thicker branch, and this will be in pro- 

portion unless some accident has marred it. m 79 r. 

 

All the branches produced towards the centre of the tree wither and 

 

 

 

BOTANY 307 

 

fall on account of the excess of shade; only such part of the system of 

ramification endures as lies in the extremities of the tree. 

 

b.m. 180 v. 

[Unity in nature — all seeds have the umbilical cord] 

 

All seeds have the umbilical cord, which breaks when the seed is 

ripe. And in like manner they have matrix and secundina, as is seen in 

herbs and all the seeds which grow in pods. But those which grow in 

shells, such as hazel-nuts, pistachio-nuts and the like have the umbilical 

cord long, and this shows itself in their infancy. Quaderni in 9 v. 

 

A discourse concerning the herbs some of which have the first flower 

placed at the very top of the stalk, others have it at the bottom. 

 

Quaderni iv 15 r.