from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License
- n. a plant, thought to be extinct, used in ancient Greece and Rome in cooking and as a contraceptive.
from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia
- n. An umbelliferous plant the juice of which was used by the ancient Greeks as a food and medicine: called in Latin laserpitium. (See laser, laserpitium.) It has been variously identified, as with Thapsia Garganica.
- n. [NL. (Linnæus, 1752).] A genus of composite plants, of the tribe Helianthoideæ and subtribe Melampodieæ.
from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.
- n. tall North American perennial herbs
Sorry, no etymologies found.
laserpicium A substance obtained from a north African shrub called silphium.
Further, Persia produced a coarse kind of silphium or assafoetida; it was famous for its walnuts, which were distinguished by the epithet of "royal"; and it supplied to the pharmacopeia of Greece and Rome a certain number of herbs.
The Seven Great Monarchies Of The Ancient Eastern World, Vol 5. (of 7): Persia The History, Geography, And Antiquities Of Chaldaea, Assyria, Babylon, Media, Persia, Parthia, And Sassanian or New Persian Empire; With Maps and Illustrations.
The town even stamped a stalk of silphium on its coinage.
Cyrene was famous for its horses and export of the valuable but pungent plant silphium, used in seasoning and many medicines, including contraceptives.
Wikipedia reports that the seed of the silphium plant, used in ancient times as an herbal contraceptive, might be the source of the heart symbol.
Some argue that the silphium seed pod, which is heart shaped, is where the design came from but the truth is lost in antiquity.
For instance, hemp apparently is funnier than the once prevalent and popular contraceptive silphium – go figure.
Battiades the First, in Libya where the silphium grows;
There is a magnificent 6th century Laconian cup thought to show King Arkesilas of Cyrene supervising the weighing of silphium...
The OED calls it "A gum-resin mentioned by Roman writers; obtained from an umbelliferous plant called lāserpīcium or silphium"; the OLD entry is again omitting citations: