Allelopathy in the Classical World – Greece and Rome
The observation that certain animals were venomous to others, and that some plants were poisonous to livestock and even humans, likely led some individuals to wonder whether some plants were actually toxic to other plants. This concept is the core of allelopathy, that is, the chemical interaction of plants, although today we also acknowledge that many plants may benefit others through the chemicals they release. In any case, the concept that one plant could poison another plant was well known to the classical authors of Greece and Rome (see Figure 2.1 for a map of the Classical world). Furthermore, the idea that one plant was inimical to another fitted comfortably within the ancient concepts of antipathy and sympathy. The literature from ancient Greece and Rome, as it concerns antipathy (Pease 1927), or more specifically allelopathy, has been broached on a few occasions (Rice 1983, Willis 1985, Aliotta and Mallik 2004, Petriccione and Aliotta 2006); however, it is the intent of this chapter to investigate this matter more fully. What emerges is that the concept of allelopathy was well known to a wide range of classical authors, and not simply those remembered for their works on natural history.
KeywordsOlive Tree Juglans Regia Walnut Tree Classical Author Soil Sickness
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