(updated 12th Oct 2017)
I have recently come across a translated excerpt by the Greek botanist Theophrastus. Theophrastrus ( 371 – 287 BC), a Greek native of Eresos in Lesbos, was the successor to Aristotle in the Peripatetic school. I find it fascinating that the subject of friction fire was being written about like this over 2000 years ago!
Theophrastrus references Menestor - A Pythagorean from Sybaris, contemporary of Empedocles (5th cent. BC i.e. 500BC to 401BC) thought to be one of the earliest Greek botanists!
In the below, Theophrastrus refers to Travellers Joy. In the UK this is Clematis Vitalba (also referred to as Old Man's Beard.) The Latin clematis is thought to derive from the Greek word for shoot as it is a climbing plant, he also reccomends Ivy and Bay as the best fire sticks.
Clematis Vitalba works well as a hearth board as does Ivy. I have not yet tested Bay - I'm still on the look out for some!
The below is from a translation of Theophrastus work Enquiry into Plants by Sir Arthur Hort published in 1916 and thought to be the first English translation