Plate Number: II 45
Vipera Fusca: The Brown Viper
This Viper is the Size of the precedent, in Length about two Feet, and large in Proportion. It is also a very slow moving and sluggish Reptile, advancing deliberately, even to escape Danger; yet will defend himself with much Fierceness when attacked, and its Bite is said to be as venomous as any: They retain their brown Colour in all Stages of Life. They are found in Virginia and Carolina, in the last of which Places they are called the Trunchion Snake. They prey on Lizards, Efts, and other Animals.
Arum maximum Aegyptiacum, quod vulgo Colocasia
The Roots of this Plant are tuberous, with many small Fibres growing from them; some of them weigh aix or eight Pound, of an irregular Form, the Outside of a rusty brown. Colour, the Inside white. The Leaves grow out of the Earth with only their Foot-stalks, to the Height of four or five Feet; they are shaped somewhat like a Heart, of a pale Green, very ample, some of them being two Feet wide, and more in Length. The Flower in Form resembles that of the common Arum, tho' in Colour different, the Hood is green without, and of a light yellow within; the Pistil is long and slender, of a light purple Colour.
Sir Hans Sloane, has so amply treated of this useful Plant that I shall ask Leave only to add a few Remarks more. It is Tropick Plant, not caring to encrease much in Carolina, and will grow no where North of that Colony; yet the Negro's there (who are very fond of them) by annually taking up the Roots to prevent rotting, get a small Encrease: They are of so acrimonious a Quality, that there is a Necessity of boiling them eight or ten Hours before they are eatable. A little before I left Carolina, there was introduced a new Kind, wholly without that bad Quality, and requiring no more than common Time to boil them, and may be eat raw, without offending the Throat or Palate; this was a welcome Improvement among the Negro's and was esteemed a Blessing; they being delighted with all their African Food, particularly this, which a great Part of Africa subsists much on.
The Subject of this Plate is as it appeared to me at a great Inundation, where by the Violence of the Current, Fish, Reptiles, with other Animals and Insects, were dislodged from their Heaps of Vegetable Refuse, where the voracious and larger Serpents were continually preying upon the smaller, as well those of their own Kind, as others, which in that Confusion were more easily suprized.