Dictionarium polygraphicum. Cochineal.

Dictionarium Polygraphicum:
Or, The Whole Body of Arts Regularly Digested.
Vol I.
London: Printed for C. Hitch and C. Davis in Pater-noster Row, and S. Austen in St. Paul's Church Yard. MDCCXXXV.
COCHINEAL, a drug us’d by dyers in giving red colours, especially crimsons and scarlets.

It is brought to us from the West-Indies, but authors are not agreed as to its nature; some taking it to be the grain of a tree, and others to be a kind of worm.

Of the first opinion is Pomet, and of the latter F. Plumier.

But it should seem that there is both a Cochineal that is a grain, and another that is a worm, tho' they have both been equally distant from the truth in the description they have given of it.

This opinion is founded on the account given by Dampier, who gives a precise description of each kind; which if be not true, ’tis at least more likely than any opinion yet propos'd. His description of each is as follows.

The Cochineal worm is an insect ingendred in a fruit, resembling a pear; the shrub which bears it is five or six foot high. At the top of the fruit grows a red flower, which when mature, falls on the fruit; and that opening discovers a cleft two or three inches in diameter. The first then appears full of little red insects, having wings of a surprizing smallness, and which would dye and rot there if not taken out.

The Indians therefore spreading cloths under the tree, shake it with Poles, till the insects are forc'd to quit their lodging, and fly about the tree; which they cannot do many moments, but tumble down dead into the cloth, where they are left until they be entirely dry. When the insect flies, it is red; when it is fallen, black; and when dry, white, though it afterwards changes its colour.

There are whole plantations of the Cochineal tree, or Tonna, as the natives call it, about Guatimala, Chepe, and Guexach in the kingdom of Mexico.

Cochineal grain, or as Dampier calls it, Sylvestris, is a red berry, growing in America, found in a fruit, resembling that of the Cochineal tree or Tonna.

The first shoots produce a yellow flower; then comes the fruit which is long, and when ripe, opens with a cleft of three or four inches. The fruit is full of pippins or grains, which fall on the least agitation, and which the Indians take care to gather. Eight or ten of these fruits may yield about an ounce of grain.

This berry yields a dye, almost as beautiful as that of the insect and a person may easily be deceived in them, though the first is the least esteem’d by much.

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