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Morus.

The mulberry

Serior at Morus nunquam nisi frigore lapso
Germinat;[1] & sapiens nomina falsa[2] gerit.

On the other hand, the mulberry is late, and never until the frost is past does it shoot; though wise, it bears a false name.

Notes:

1.  See Pliny, Natural History, 16.25.102: “the mulberry is the last of domesticated trees to shoot, and only does so when the frosts are over; for that reason it is called the wisest of trees”.

2.  nomina falsa, ‘a false name’, reference to a supposed ‘etymology by opposites’: Latin morus ‘mulberry’ was equated with Greek μῶρος ‘fool’, but the tree was considered wise: see note 1.


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Amygdalus.

The almond

Cur properans foliis praemittis amygdale flores?
Odi pupillos praecocis ingenii.[1]

Almond tree, why are you in such a hurry to put out flowers before your leaves? I hate precocious pupils.

Notes:

1.  See Quintilian (Fabius Quintilianus), Institutio oratoria, 1.3.3: “the precocious type of intellect never easily comes to fruition”.


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