PRICKLY-HEAT to PROME
PRICKLY-HEAT, s. A troublesome cutaneous rash (Lichen tropicus) in the form of small red pimples, which itch intolerably. It affects many Europeans in the hot weather. Fryer (pub. 1698) alludes to these fiery pimples, but gives the disease no specific name. Natives sometimes suffer from it, and (in the south) use a paste of sandal-wood to alleviate it. Sir Charles Napier in Sind used to suffer much from it, and we have heard him described as standing, when giving an interview during the hot weather, with his back against the edge of an open door, for the convenience of occasional friction against it. [See RED- DOG.]
1631.Quas Latinus Hippocrates Cornelius Celsus papulas, Plinius sudamina vocat ita crebra sunt, ut ego adhuc neminem noverim qui molestias has effugerit, non magis quam morsas culicum, quos Lusitani Mosquitas vocant. Sunt autem haec papulae rubentes, et asperae aliquantum, per sudorem in cutem ejectæ; plerumque a capite ad calcem usque, cum summo pruritu, et assiduo scalpendi desiderio erumpentes.Jac. Bontii, Hist., Nat. &c., ii. 18, p. 33.
PRICKLY-PEAR, s. The popular name, in both E. and W. Indies, of the Opuntia Dillenii, Haworth (Cactus
Indica, Roxb.), a plant spread all over India, and to which Roxburgh gave the latter name, apparently
in the belief of its being indigenous in that country. Undoubtedly, however, it came from America, wide
as has been its spread over Southern Europe and Asia. On some parts of the Mediterranean shores
(e.g. in Sicily) it has become so characteristic that it is hard to realize the fact that the plant had no
existence there before the 16th century. Indeed at Palermo we have heard this scouted, and evidence
quoted in the supposed circumstance that among the mosaics of the splendid Duomo of Monreale (12th
century) the fig-leaf garments of Adam and Eve are represented as of this uncompromising material.
The mosaic was examined by one of the present writers, with the impression that the belief has no good
foundation. [See 8th ser. Notes and Queries, viii. 254.] The cactus fruit, yellow, purple, and red, which
may be said to form an important article of diet in the Mediterranean, and which is now sometimes seen
in London shops, is, not, as far as we know, anywhere used in India, except in times of famine. No
cactus is named in Drurys Useful Plants of India. And whether the Mediterranean plants form a different
species, or varieties merely, as compared with the Indian Opuntia, is a matter for inquiry. The fruit of
the Indian plant is smaller and less succulent. There is a good description of the plant and fruit in Oviedo,
with a good cut (see Ramusios Ital. version, bk. viii. ch. xxv.). That author gives an amusing story
of his first making acquaintance with the fruit in S. Domingo, in the year 1515.
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