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ambrosia (ămbrōˈzhə), in Greek mythology, food and drink with which the Olympian gods preserved their immortality. Extraordinarily fragrant, ambrosia was probably conceived of as a purified and idealized form of honey. It was accompanied by nectar, wine of the gods.

Ambrosian Library

Ambrosian Library, Milan, Italy; founded c.1605 by Cardinal Federigo Borromeo. Named for Milan's patron saint, it was one of the first libraries to be open to the public. Its earliest collection was a group of codices in Greek, Latin, Latin Vulgate, and various Asian languages that originated in a number of religious institutions. Other holdings came from prominent 16th–19th-century scholars and bibliophiles. Among its noted possessions are numerous classical manuscripts, e.g., Homer and Vergil; Asian texts; incunabula; palimpsests; the 5th-century Ilias picta manuscript; the Virgilio illustrated by Simone Martini; the Irish and the Provençal codices; the De prospectiva pingendi by Piero della Francesca; and da Vinci's Codex atlanticus. The Ambrosian Library also has a notable art gallery, est. 1618, housing more than 1,500 works of art.
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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



the sugary juice secreted by the nectaries of plants. Nectar is an aqueous solution of sugars (sucroses, glucoses, and fructoses), which contains small quantities of alcohols (for example, mannitol), mineral salts, acids, and enzymes, as well as dextrinlike, nitrogenous, and aromatic substances. It often contains the complex sugar melezitose. The sugar content varies in different plants: for example, the nectar of the horse chestnut contains only sucrose, and the nectar of rape only glucose and fructose. The nectar of many plants contains primarily sucrose and fructose. The sucrose content of nectar is 22–37 percent in black currants, 32–40 percent in red currants, 35–42 percent in gooseberries, 35–64 percent in raspberries, 46–49 percent in cherries, and 46–53 percent in apples.

For normal nectar secretion, all parts of the plant must be completely functional and contain a sufficient quantity of water. Otherwise the flow of nutrient matter to the flower is decreased and nectar production diminishes or, sometimes, ceases. The amount of nectar secreted by individual flowers varies for different species: for example, a lime blossom yields 0.15–7.46 mg of nectar, and a raspberry flower an average of 14 mg. Usually, the more flowers a plant has, the higher the plant’s nectar production per unit area (sweet clover has more than 1,700 billion flowers per hectare).

Nectar serves as food for honeybees and other insects (bumblebees, wasps, butterflies). It constitutes the most important part of the honey flow of honeybees, which gather nectar from nectaries with their proboscises and transport it to the hives in their crops. The nectar distributed in the cells of the honeycomb undergoes considerable changes, which begin in the crop of the bee. As a result of processing by hive bees, the nectar loses water. The enzymes in the bees’ saliva and in the nectar itself break down the sucrose into glucose and fructose, and the nectar is converted to honey.

Some plants (daphne, rhododendron, Korean rhododendron, azalea, false hellebore) secrete a poisonous nectar. Poisonous plants (henbane, hemlock, oleander, foxglove) elaborate nectars that do not transmit their toxic properties to the honey if no alkaloids permeate and no poisonous pollen falls into the nectars.


Glukhov, M. M. Medonosnye rasteniia, 6th ed. Moscow, 1955. Uchebnik pchelovoda, 4th ed. Moscow, 1970.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


A sugar-containing liquid secretion of the nectaries of many flowers.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific & Technical Terms, 6E, Copyright © 2003 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.


drink of gods; bestows eternal life. [Gk. and Rom. Myth.: Brewer Dictionary, 75)]
Allusions—Cultural, Literary, Biblical, and Historical: A Thematic Dictionary. Copyright 2008 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


1. a sugary fluid produced in the nectaries of plants and collected by bees and other animals
2. Classical myth the drink of the gods
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005