The Abraham Cowley Text and Image Archive

Hovia / Hobos: the tree that brings sleep (Cowley, Plantarum 5.836). This is a tree from Hispaniola variously described in the sources as yielding a fruit like a damson or myrobalane. Counterpointing its powers with the stimulant coca, Cowley very much bids up the tree's poppy-like, sleep-bringing powers, like the fabulous Upas of Eastern lore; chroniclers like Oviedo simply note that the hobos or hohi is a particularly nice tree to sleep under. Note the virtual identity between foliage and flower of the pineapple guava (= Feijoa sellowiana) and those of the hobos as pictured in Lopez de Gómara's Crónica de la Nueua España (Saragoza, 1554), reproduced with permission* from Ernst and Johanna Lehner, How They Saw the New World [New York, 1966], p. 136; here is Gómara's caption literally translated:
These sorts of plants, being the principal ones, and being unknown in Spain, among many others of which mention is made in this history, are placed here so that the reader may know and recognize the character of each one of them, and since they could not be placed in their proper locations where it would have made sense to place them.

*From the inner flap of the 1966 dust-jacket: "Notice to artists and designers: Permission is hereby granted to reproduce any individual items reprinted in this book (except for the Vinland Map) photographically or by other means."

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