Herbs & Oils
~ D ~
graveolens) Uniquely flavored, Dill offers culinary "seeds" and
leaves, but the choicest flavor is in the fresh immature green seed
heads. They give character to dill pickles, vinegar and potato
salad. Distilled seed oil is colorless to pale yellow, with a
light, fresh, warm-spicey scent and flavors drinks, food and infant
gripe water for colic. The seeds aid digestion, and their infusion
reduces flatulence, hiccups, stomach pains, and insomnia. A seed
decoction gives a nail-strengthening bath.
Parts Used: Flower, leaf,
stem, fruit, seeds, and essential oil.
Magical Uses: Seeds draw
money, Leaves for protection, Flowers for love and defense.
Protective when hung at the door, no one ill-disposed or envious of
you can enter your house. Smell Dill to cure hiccups.
Aromatherapy Uses: (Oil)
Colic; Constipation; Dyspepsia; Flatulence; Headaches; Indigestion;
DRAGONS BLOOD: (Draceana
draco spp.) Dragon's blood is the resin of the Draceana draco
species. The common name of this plant is "dragon tree" hence the
Magical Uses: Burn for love,
protection, exorcism, and sexual potency. Use for Courage; Magical
Power; Energy; Strength; Purification; Changes; Determination;
Cleansing. A pinch of Dragon's blood added to other incenses
increases their potency and power.
Medicinal Action and Uses
Poison and Antidotes
---Synonyms---Narcissus. Porillon. Daffy-down-dilly. Fleur de
coucou. Lent Lily.
Used---Bulb, leaves, flowers.
---Habitat---Europe, including Britain.
Common Daffodil, a representative of the Ajax group, grows wild in
most European countries. Its green, linear leaves about a foot
long, and golden, terminal flowers, are familiar in moist woods and
should be gathered during the winter, and the flowers when in full
bloom, in dry weather, and dried quickly. The bulbs and not the
flowers of other species are used.
---Constituents---Professor Barger has given the following
notes on the alkaloid of Narcissus Pseudo-narcissus. 'In 1910 Ewins
obtained from the bulbs a crystalline alkaloid, to which he gave
the name of narcissine, and on analysis found the formula to be
C16H17ON.' He notes that the alkaloid is characterized by great
stability and cannot easily be decomposed. Ringer and Morshead
found the alkaloid from resting bulbs acted like pilocarpine, while
that from the flowering bulbs resembled atropine. Laidlaw tested
Ewins' alkaloid on frogs and cats, but found no action similar to
pilocarpine or atropine. 0.125 gram given by mouth to a cat caused
vomiting, salivation and purgation. In 1920 Asahtna, Professor of
Chemistry in the Tokyo College of Pharmacy, showed that narcissine
is identical with Iycorine isolated from Lycoris radiata in 1899.
The name narcissine has therefore been dropped. Lycorine is quite
common in the N.O. Amaryllidaceae. It was found in Buphane disticha
by Tutin in the Mellome Research Laboratory in 1911 (Journ. Chem.
Soc. Transactions 99, page 1,240). It is generally present in quite
small quantities, at most 0.1 to 0.18 per cent of the fresh
material. Chemically, Iycorine or narcissine has some resemblance
to hydrastine, and like it, contains a dioxymethylene
---Medicinal Action and Uses---The
following is a quotation from Culpepper:
'Yellow Daffodils are under the dominion
of Mars, and the roots thereof are hot and dry in the third degree.
The roots boiled and taken in posset drink cause vomiting and are
used with good success at the appearance of approaching agues,
especially the tertian ague, which is frequently caught in the
springtime. A plaster made of the roots with parched barley meal
dissolves hard swellings and imposthumes, being applied thereto;
the juice mingled with honey, frankincense wine, and myrrh, and
dropped into the ears is good against the corrupt and running
matter of the ears, the roots made hollow and boiled in oil help
raw ribed heels; the juice of the root is good for the morphew and
the discolouring of the skin.'
It is said
by Galen to have astringent properties. It has been used as an
application to wounds. For hard imposthumes, for burns, for
strained sinews, stiff or painful joints, and other local ailments,
and for 'drawing forth thorns or stubs from any part of the body'
it was highly esteemed.
Daffodil was the basis of an ancient ointment called
powdered flowers have been used as an emetic in place of the bulbs,
and in the form of infusion or syrup, in pulmonary
powder, from 20 grains to 2 drachms as an emetic. Of extract, 2 to
Antidotes---It may be noted that Henry states that Iycorine or
narcissine in warm-blooded animals acts as an emetic causing
eventually collapse and death by paralysis of the central nervous
been several cases of poisoning by Daffodil bulbs which have been
eaten in mistake for onions. In one case the points observed were:
(1) the speedy action of the poison; (2) the fact that the high
temperature did not destroy the toxicity of the poison; and (3) the
relatively small quantity of Daffodil bulbs which caused the
of N. poeticus, N. odorus, and N. jonquilla possess similar acrid
and emetic properties.
is named after Dr. Dahl, a pupil of Linnaeus, but is also known,
especially on the Continent, by the name 'Georgina.' It is a native
of Mexico, where it grows in sandy meadows at an elevation of 5,000
feet above the sea, and from whence the first plants introduced to
England were brought by way of Madrid, in 1789, by the Marchioness
of Bute. These having been lost, others were introduced, in 1804,
by Lady Holland. These, too, perished, so fresh ones were obtained
from France, when the Continent was thrown open by the Peace of
---Constituents---The Inulin obtained in Dandelion and Chicory
is also present in Dahlia tubers under the name of Dahlin. After
undergoing a special treatment, Dahlia tubers and Chicory will
yield the pure Laevulose that is sometimes called Atlanta Starch or
Diabetic Sugar, which is frequently prescribed for diabetic and
consumptive patients, and has been given to children in cases of
a very considerable business done in this product before the War by
certain German firms. In a paper read at the Second International
Congress of the Sugar Industry, held at Paris in 1908, it was
stated that pure Laevulose is preferably made by the inversion of
Inulin with dilute acids, and that the older process of preparation
from invert sugar or molasses does not yield a pure product. The
first step in the technical production of Laevulose is in the
preparation of Inulin, and Dahlia tubers or Chicory root, which
contain 6 to 12 per cent of Inulin are the most suitable material.
Chicory root can readily be obtained in quantity, and Dahlia
plants, if cultivated for the purpose, should yield in a few years
a plentiful supply of cheap raw material.
extraction of the Inulin, the roots or tubers are sliced, treated
with milk of lime and steamed. The juice is then expressed and
clarified by subsidence and filtration, the clear liquid being run
into a revolving cooler until flakes are produced. These flakes are
separated by a centrifugal machine, washed and decolorized, and the
thus purified product finally treated with diluted acid, and so
converted into Laevulose. This solution of Laevulose is neutralized
and evaporated to a syrup in a vacuum pan.
can be produced in this manner from Chicory roots and Dahlia tubers
at an enormous reduction of price from the older methods of
preparing it from molasses or sugar, the resultant product being
moreover of absolute purity. Its sweet and pleasant taste are
likely to make it used not only for diabetic patients, but also in
making confectionery and for retarding crystallization of sugar
products. It can also readily be utilized in the brewing and
mineral water industries.
research staff of one of the Scottish Universities during the War
developed a process of extracting a valuable and much needed drug
for the Army from Dahlia tubers, and was using as much material for
the purpose as could be spared by growers.
Bellis perennis (LINN.)
---Synonyms---Bruisewort. (Scotch) Bairnwort. (Welsh) Llygad y
Dydd (Eye of the Day).
Daisy, which flowers from the earliest days of spring till late in
the autumn, and covers the ground with its flat leaves so closely
that nothing can grow beneath them, needs no detailed
once, in common with the Ox-Eye Daisy, a great reputation as a cure
for fresh wounds, used as an ointment applied externally, and
against inflammatory disorders of the liver, taken internally in
the form of a distilled water of the plant.
flowers and leaves are found to afford a certain amount of oil and
mentions the Daisy, under the name of 'Bruisewort,' as an unfailing
remedy in 'all kinds of paines and aches,' besides curing fevers,
inflammation of the liver and 'alle the inwarde
Dr. Hill said that an infusion of the leaves was 'excellent against
Hectic Fevers.' The Daisy was an ingredient of an ointment much
used in the fourteenth century for wounds, gout and
decoction of the roots has been recommended as an excellent
medicine in scorbutic complaints, it being stated, however, that
the use of it must be continued for a considerable length of time
before its effects will appear.
of the leaves is somewhat acrid, notwithstanding which it has been
used in some countries as a pot-herb. On account of the acrid juice
contained in the leaves, no cattle will touch it, nor insects
too, have a penetrating pungency, containing some tannic acid, and
there was once a popular superstition (to which Bacon refers) that
if they be boiled in milk and the liquid given to puppies, the
animals will grow no bigger.
According to some old writers, the generic
name is derived from the Latin bellus (pretty or charming), though
others say its name is from a dryad named Belidis. The common name
is a corruption of the old English name 'day's-eye,' and is used by
Chaucer in that sense:
'Well by reason men it call
The Daisie, or else the Eye of the
Scotland it is the 'Bairnwort,' testifying to the joy of children
in gathering it for daisy-chains.
There is a
common proverb associated with the flower and its abundance in
spring and early summer: 'When you can put your foot on seven
daisies summer is come.'
Chrysanthemum leucanthemum (LINN.)
Part Used Medicinally
Medicinal Action and Uses
---Synonyms---Great Ox-eye. Goldens. Marguerite. Moon Daisy.
Horse Gowan. Maudlin Daisy. Field Daisy. Dun Daisy. Butter Daisy.
Horse Daisy. Maudlinwort. White. Weed. Leucanthemum vulgare.
Used---Whole herb, flowers, root.
Daisy is a familiar sight in fields. In Somersetshire there is an
old tradition connecting it with the Thunder God, and hence it is
sometimes spoken of as the 'Dun Daisy.'
It is to
be found throughout Europe and Russian Asia. The ancients dedicated
it to Artemis, the goddess of women, considering it useful in
women's complaints. In Christian days, it was transferred to St.
Mary Magdalen and called Maudelyn or Maudlin Daisy after her.
Gerard terms it Maudlinwort.
derives its name from the Greek words chrisos (golden) and anthos
(flower), and contains only two indigenous species this and the
Corn Marigold, in which the whole flower is yellow, not only the
central disc of florets, as in the Daisy. The specific name of the
Ox-Eye signifies 'white flower,' being like the generic name, Greek
in origin. The old northern name for the Daisy was Baldur's Brow,
and this, with many other species of Chrysanthemum became dedicated
to St. John.
plant generally grows from 1 to 2 feet high. The root is perennial
and somewhat creeping; the stems, hard and wiry, furrowed and only
very slightly branched. The leaves are small and coarsely toothed;
those near the root are somewhat rounder in form than those on the
stem, and are on long stalks, those on the stem are oblong and
middle of May, the familiar yellowcentred white flower-heads
commence to bloom, and are at their best till about the close of
June, though isolated specimens may be met with throughout the
summer, especially where undisturbed by the cutting of the hay, as
on railway banks, where the plant flourishes well. Beneath each
flower-head is a ring of green sheathing bracts, the involucre.
These not only protect and support the bloom, but doubtless
prevents insects trying to bite their way to the honey from below.
They, as well as the rest of the plant, are permeated with an acrid
juice that is obnoxious to insects.
leaves are said to be eaten in salads in Italy. According to
Linnaeus, horses, sheep and goats eat the plant, but cows and pigs
refuse it on account of its acridity.
Medicinally---The whole herb, collected in May and June, in the
wild state, and dried. Also the flowers.
of the dried herb is bitter and tingling, and the odour faintly
resembles that of valerian.
and Uses---Antispasmodic diuretic, tonic. Ox-Eye Daisy has been
successfully employed in whooping-cough, asthma and nervous
tonic, it acts similarly to Chamomile flowers, and has been
recommended for nightsweats. The flowers are balsamic and make a
useful infusion for relieving chronic coughs and for bronchial
catarrhs. Boiled with the leaves and stalks and sweetened with
honey, they make an excellent drink for the same purpose. In
America, the root is also employed successfully for checking the
night-sweats of pulmonary consumption, the fluid extract being
taken, 15 to 60 drops in water.
Externally, it is serviceable as a lotion for wounds, bruises,
ulcers and some cutaneous diseases.
'Dioscorides saith that the floures of
Oxeie made up in a seare cloth doe asswage and washe away cold hard
swellings, and it is reported that if they be drunke by and by
after bathing, they make them in a short time wellcoloured that
have been troubled with the yellow jaundice.'
Culpepper tells us that it is 'a wound
herb of good respect, often used in those drinks and salves that
are for wounds, either inward or outward' . . . and that it is
'very fitting to be kept both in oils, ointments, plasters and
syrups.' He also tells us that the leaves bruised and applied
reduce swellings, and that
'a decoction thereof, with wall-wort and
agrimony, and places fomented or bathed therewith warm, giveth
great ease in palsy, sciatica or gout. An ointment made thereof
heals all wounds that have inflammation about them.'
people used formerly to take a decoction of the fresh herb in ale
for the cure of jaundice.
Turnera aphrodisiaca (WILLD.)
Medicinal Action and Uses
---Habitat---Mexico, South Arnerica, Texas, West
small shrub; leaves smooth and pale green on upper side, underneath
glabrous, with a few hairs on the ribs, ovolanceolate, shortly
petiolate with two small glands at base; flowers yellow, rising
singly from axils of the leaves, capsule one-celled splitting into
three pieces; smell aromatic, taste characteristic, bitterish,
aromatic and resinous.
greenish volatile oil, smelling like chamomile, amorhpous bitter
principle Damianin, resins and tannin.
and Uses---Mild purgative, diuretic, tonic, acting directly on the
reproductive organs, stimulant, hypochondriastic,
---Preparations---Fluid extract, 1/2 to 1 drachm. Solid
extract, 5 to 10 grains. Often combined with Nux Vomica,
opifera leaves are used as an infusion and given as an astringent
and tonic by the natives of Brazil, also T. ulmifolia for its tonic
and expectorant properties.
discoideus was formerly sold as Damiana, but can easily be
detected, as the leaves are distinctly lanceolate, with only two or
three teeth on either side.
Medicinal Action and Uses
Preparations and Dosages
---Synonyms---Aplopappus. Bigelovia Veneta.
U.S.D. refers to Aplopappus discoideus as False Damiana. Gray
refers to it as Bigelovia Veneta.
volatile oil, also a fatty oil which has the smell of the plant,
brown acid, resin, tannin. The resin is peculiar in containing
and Uses---It is used as a stimulant in flatulent dyspepsia and
chronic inflammation with haemorrhage of the lower bowel. It is
very useful in dysentery and in genito-urinary catarrh and as a
stimulant expectorant; the tincture is useful for slowly healing
Dosages---A strong decoction is made by 1 part to 5 of water. 1
tablespoonful as a dose every two hours. Dose of the fluid extract,
5 to 20 minims.
Taraxacum officinale (WEBER)
Parts Used Medicinally
Medicinal Action and Uses
Preparations and Dosages
---Synonyms---Priest's Crown. Swine's Snout.
Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale, Weber, T. Densleonis, Desf;
Leontodon taraxacum, Linn.), though not occurring in the Southern
Hemisphere, is at home in all parts of the north temperate zone, in
pastures, meadows and on waste ground, and is so plentiful that
farmers everywhere find it a troublesome weed, for though its
flowers are more conspicuous in the earlier months of the summer,
it may be found in bloom, and consequently also prolifically
dispersing its seeds, almost throughout the year.
---Description---From its thick tap root, dark brown, almost
black on the outside though white and milky within, the long jagged
leaves rise directly, radiating from it to form a rosette Iying
close upon the ground, each leaf being grooved and constructed so
that all the rain falling on it is conducted straight to the centre
of the rosette and thus to the root which is, therefore, always
kept well watered. The maximum amount of water is in this manner
directed towards the proper region for utilization by the root,
which but for this arrangement would not obtain sufficient
moisture, the leaves being spread too close to the ground for the
water to penetrate.
are shiny and without hairs, the margin of each leaf cut into great
jagged teeth, either upright or pointing somewhat backwards, and
these teeth are themselves cut here and there into lesser teeth. It
is this somewhat fanciful resemblance to the canine teeth of a lion
that (it is generally assumed) gives the plant its most familiar
name of Dandelion, which is a corruption of the French Dent de
Lion, an equivalent of this name being found not only in its former
specific Latin name Dens leonis and in the Greek name for the genus
to which Linnaeus assigned it, Leontodon, but also in nearly all
the languages of Europe.
There is some doubt, however, as to
whether it was really the shape of the leaves that provided the
original notion, as there is really no similarity between them, but
the leaves may perhaps be said to resemble the angular jaw of a
lion fully supplied with teeth. Some authorities have suggested
that the yellow flowers might be compared to the golden teeth of
the heraldic lion, while others say that the whiteness of the root
is the feature which provides the resemblance. Flückiger and
Hanbury in Pharmacographia, say that the name was conferred by
Wilhelm, a surgeon, who was so much impressed by the virtues of the
plant that he likened it to Dens leonis. In the Ortus Sanitatis,
1485, under 'Dens Leonis,' there is a monograph of half a page
(unaccompanied by any illustration) which concludes:
'The Herb was much employed by Master
Wilhelmus, a surgeon, who on account of its virtues, likened it to
"eynem lewen zan, genannt zu latin Dens leonis" (a lion's tooth,
called in Latin Dens leonis).'
pictures of the old herbals, for instance, the one in Brunfels'
Contrafayt Kreuterbuch, 1532, the leaves very much resemble a
lion's tooth. The root is not illustrated at all in the old
herbals, as only the herb was used at that time.
The name of the genus, Taraxacum, is
derived from the Greek taraxos (disorder), and akos (remedy), on
account of the curative action of the plant. A possible alternative
derivation of Taraxacum is suggested in The Treasury of
'The generic name is possibly derived from
the Greek taraxo ("I have excited" or "caused") and achos (pain),
in allusion to the medicinal effects of the plant.'
many varieties of Dandelion leaves; some are deeply cut into
segments, in others the segments or lobes form a much less
conspicuous feature, and are sometimes almost entire.
shining, purplish flower-stalks rise straight from the root, are
leafless, smooth and hollow and bear single heads of flowers. On
picking the flowers, a bitter, milky juice exudes from the broken
edges of the stem, which is present throughout the plant, and which
when it comes into contact with the hand, turns to a brown stain
that is rather difficult to remove.
is made up of numerous strapshaped florets of a bright golden
yellow. This strap-shaped corolla is notched at the edge into five
teeth, each tooth representing a petal, and lower down is narrowed
into a claw-like tube, which rests on the singlechambered ovary
containing a single ovule. In this tiny tube is a copious supply of
nectar, which more than half fills it, and the presence of which
provides the incentive for the visits of many insects, among whom
the bee takes first rank. The Dandelion takes an important place
among honey-producing plants, as it furnishes considerable
quantities of both pollen and nectar in the early spring, when the
bees' harvest from fruit trees is nearly over. It is also important
from the beekeeper's point of view, because not only does it flower
most in spring, no matter how cool the weather may be, but a small
succession of bloom is also kept up until late autumn, so that it
is a source of honey after the main flowers have ceased to bloom,
thus delaying the need for feeding the colonies of bees with
little flies also are to be found visiting the Dandelion to drink
the lavishly-supplied nectar. By carefully watching, it has been
ascertained that no less than ninety-three different kinds of
insects are in the habit of frequenting it. The stigma grows up
through the tube formed by the anthers, pushing the pollen before
it, and insects smearing themselves with this pollen carry it to
the stigmas of other flowers already expanded, thus insuring
cross-fertilization. At the base of each flower-head is a ring of
narrow, green bracts the involucre. Some of these stand up to
support the florets, others hang down to form a barricade against
such small insects as might crawl up the stem and injure the bloom
without taking a share in its fertilization, as the winged insects
are very sensitive to weather conditions: in fine weather, all the
parts are outstretched, but directly rain threatens the whole head
closes up at once. It closes against the dews of night, by five
o'clock in the evening, being prepared for its night's sleep,
opening again at seven in the morning though as this opening and
closing is largely dependent upon the intensity of the light, the
time differs somewhat in different latitudes and at different
whole head has matured, all the florets close up again within the
green sheathing bracts that lie beneath, and the bloom returns very
much to the appearance it had in the bud. Its shape being then
somewhat reminiscent of the snout of a pig, it is termed in some
districts 'Swine's Snout.' The withered, yellow petals are, however
soon pushed off in a bunch, as the seeds, crowned with their tufts
of hair, mature, and one day, under the influence of sun and wind
the 'Swine's Snout' becomes a large gossamer ball, from its silky
whiteness a very noticeable feature. It is made up of myriads of
plumed seeds or pappus, ready to be blown off when quite ripe by
the slightest breeze, and forms the 'clock' of the children, who by
blowing at it till all the seeds are released, love to tell
themselves the time of day by the number of puffs necessary to
disperse every seed. When all the seeds have flown, the receptacle
or disc on which they were placed remains bare, white, speckled and
surrounded by merely the drooping remnants of the sheathing bracts,
and we can see why the plant received another of its popular names,
'Priest's Crown,' common in the Middle Ages, when a priest's shorn
head was a familiar object.
birds are very fond of the seeds of the Dandelion and pigs devour
the whole plant greedily. Goats will eat it, but sheep and cattle
do not care for it, though it is said to increase the milk of cows
when eaten by them. Horses refuse to touch this plant, not
appreciating its bitter juice. It is valuable food for rabbits and
may be given them from April to September forming excellent food in
spring and at breeding seasons in particular.
leaves of the Dandelion make an agreeable and wholesome addition to
spring salads and are often eaten on the Continent, especially in
France. The full-grown leaves should not be taken, being too
bitter, but the young leaves, especially if blanched, make an
excellent salad, either alone or in combination with other plants,
lettuce, shallot tops or chives.
Dandelion leaves make delicious sandwiches, the tender leaves being
laid between slices of bread and butter and sprinkled with salt.
The addition of a little lemon-juice and pepper varies the flavour.
The leaves should always be torn to pieces, rather than cut, in
order to keep the flavour.
Evelyn, in his Acetana, says: 'With thie homely salley, Hecate
entertained Theseus.' In Wales, they grate or chop up Dandelion
roots, two years old, and mix them with the leaves in salad. The
seed of a special broad-leaved variety of Dandelion is sold by
seedsmen for cultivation for salad purposes. Dandelion can be
blanched in the same way as endive, and is then very delicate in
flavour. If covered with an ordinary flower-pot during the winter,
the pot being further buried under some rough stable litter, the
young leaves sprout when there is a dearth of saladings and prove a
welcome change in early spring. Cultivated thus, Dandelion is only
pleasantly bitter, and if eaten while the leaves are quite young,
the centre rib of the leaf is not at all unpleasant to the taste.
When older the rib is tough and not nice to eat. If the flower-buds
of plants reserved in a corner of the garden for salad purposes are
removed at once and the leaves carefully cut, the plants will last
through the whole winter.
leaves may also be boiled as a vegetable, spinach fashion,
thoroughly drained, sprinkled with pepper and salt, moistened with
soup or butter and served very hot. If considered a little too
bitter, use half spinach, but the Dandelion must be partly cooked
first in this case, as it takes longer than spinach. As a
variation, some grated nutmeg or garlic, a teaspoonful of chopped
onion or grated lemon peel can be added to the greens when they are
cooked. A simple vegetable soup may also be made with
Dandelion leaves are also employed as an ingredient in many
digestive or diet drinks and herb beers. Dandelion Beer is a rustic
fermented drink common in many parts of the country and made also
in Canada. Workmen in the furnaces and potteries of the industrial
towns of the Midlands have frequent resource to many of the tonic
Herb Beers, finding them cheaper and less intoxicating than
ordinary beer, and Dandelion stout ranks as a favourite. An
agreeable and wholesome fermented drink is made from Dandelions,
Nettles and Yellow Dock.
Berkshire and Worcestershire, the flowers are used in the
preparation of a beverage known as Dandelion Wine. This is made by
pouring a gallon of boiling water over a gallon of the flowers.
After being well stirred, it is covered with a blanket and allowed
to stand for three days, being stirred again at intervals, after
which it is strained and the liquor boiled for 30 minutes, with the
addition of 3 1/2 lb. of loaf sugar, a little ginger sliced, the
rind of 1 orange and 1 lemon sliced. When cold, a little yeast is
placed in it on a piece of toast, producing fermentation. It is
then covered over and allowed to stand two days until it has ceased
'working,' when it is placed in a cask, well bunged down for two
months before bottling. This wine is suggestive of sherry slightly
flat, and has the deserved reputation of being an excellent tonic,
extremely good for the blood.
roasted roots are largely used to form Dandelion Coffee, being
first thoroughly cleaned, then dried by artificial heat, and
slightly roasted till they are the tint of coffee, when they are
ground ready for use. The roots are taken up in the autumn, being
then most fitted for this purpose. The prepared powder is said to
be almost indistinguishable from real coffee, and is claimed to be
an improvement to inferior coffee, which is often an adulterated
product. Of late years, Dandelion Coffee has come more into use in
this country, being obtainable at most vegetarian restaurants and
stores. Formerly it used occasionally to be given for medicinal
purposes, generally mixed with true coffee to give it a better
flavour. The ground root was sometimes mixed with chocolate for a
similar purpose. Dandelion Coffee is a natural beverage without any
of the injurious effects that ordinary tea and coffee have on the
nerves and digestive organs. It exercises a stimulating influence
over the whole system, helping the liver and kidneys to do their
work and keeping the bowels in a healthy condition, so that it
offers great advantages to dyspeptics and does not cause
Medicinally---The root, fresh and dried, the young tops. All parts
of the plant contain a somewhat bitter, milky juice (latex), but
the juice of the root being still more powerful is the part of the
plant most used for medicinal purposes.
first mention of the Dandelion as a medicine is in the works of the
Arabian physicians of the tenth and eleventh centuries, who speak
of it as a sort of wild Endive, under the name of Taraxcacon. In
this country, we find allusion to it in the Welsh medicines of the
thirteenth century. Dandelion was much valued as a medicine in the
times of Gerard and Parkinson, and is still extensively
roots have long been largely used on the Continent, and the plant
is cultivated largely in India as a remedy for liver
is perennial and tapering, simple or more or less branched,
attaining in a good soil a length of a foot or more and 1/2 inch to
an inch in diameter. Old roots divide at the crown into several
heads. The root is fleshy and brittle, externally of a dark brown,
internally white and abounding in an inodorous milky juice of
bitter, but not disagreeable taste.
large, fleshy and well-formed roots should be collected, from
plants two years old, not slender, forked ones. Roots produced in
good soil are easier to dig up without breaking, and are thicker
and less forked than those growing on waste places and by the
roadside. Collectors should, therefore only dig in good, free soil,
in moisture and shade, from meadow-land. Dig up in wet weather, but
not during frost, which materially lessens the activity of the
roots. Avoid breaking the roots, using a long trowel or a fork,
lifting steadily and carefully. Shake off as much of the earth as
possible and then cleanse the roots, the easiest way being to leave
them in a basket in a running stream so that the water covers them,
for about an hour, or shake them, bunched, in a tank of clean
water. Cut off the crowns of leaves, but be careful in so doing not
to leave any scales on the top. Do not cut or slice the roots or
the valuable milky juice on which their medicinal value depends
will be wasted by bleeding.
only large, well-formed roots are worth collecting, some people
prefer to grow Dandelions as a crop, as by this means large roots
are insured and they are more easily dug, generally being ploughed
up. About 4 lb. of seed to the acre should be allowed, sown in
drills, 1 foot apart. The crops should be kept clean by hoeing, and
all flower-heads should be picked off as soon as they appear, as
otherwise the grower's own land and that of his neighbours will be
smothered with the weed when the seeds ripen. The yield should be 4
or 5 tons of fresh roots to the acre in the second year. Dandelion
roots shrink very much in drying, losing about 76 per cent of their
weight, so that 100 parts of fresh roots yield only about 22 parts
of dry material. Under favourable conditions, yields at the rate of
1,000 to 1,500 lb. of dry roots per acre have been obtained from
second-year plants cultivated.
root can only be economically collected when a meadow in which it
is abundant is ploughed up. Under such circumstances the roots are
necessarily of different ages and sizes, the seeds sowing
themselves in successive years. The roots then collected after
washing and drying, have to be sorted into different grades. The
largest, from the size of a lead pencil upwards, are cut into
straight pieces 2 to 3 inches long, the smaller side roots being
removed, these are sold at a higher price as the finest roots. The
smaller roots fetch a less price, and the trimmings are generally
cut small, sold at a lower price and used for making Dandelion
Coffee. Every part of the root is thus used. The root before being
dried should have every trace of the leaf-bases removed as their
presence lessens the value of the root.
collecting cultivated Dandelion advantage is obtained if the seeds
are all sown at one time, as greater uniformity in the size of the
root is obtainable, and in deep soil free from stones, the
seedlings will produce elongated, straight roots with few branches,
especially if allowed to be somewhat crowded on the same principles
that coppice trees produce straight trunks. Time is also saved in
digging up the roots which can thus be sold at prices competing
with those obtained as the result of cheaper labour on the
Continent. The edges of fields when room is allowed for the
plough-horses to turn, could easily be utilized if the soil is good
and free from stones for both Dandelion and Burdock, as the roots
are usually much branched in stony ground, and the roots are not
generally collected until October when the harvest is over. The
roots gathered in this month have stored up their food reserve of
Inulin, and when dried present a firm appearance, whilst if
collected in spring, when the food reserve in the root is used up
for the leaves and flowers, the dried root then presents a
shrivelled and porous appearance which renders it unsaleable. The
medicinal properties of the root are, therefore, necessarily
greater in proportion in the spring. Inulin being soluble in hot
water, the solid extract if made by boiling the root, often
contains a large quantity of it, which is deposited in the extract
as it cools.
are generally dried whole, but the largest ones may sometimes be
cut transversely into pieces 3 to 6 inches long. Collected wild
roots are, however, seldom large enough to necessitate cutting.
Drying will probably take about a fortnight. When finished, the
roots should be hard and brittle enough to snap, and the inside of
the roots white, not grey
should be kept in a dry place after drying, to avoid mould,
preferably in tins to prevent the attacks of moths and beetles.
Dried Dandelion is exceedingly liable to the attacks of maggots and
should not be kept beyond one season.
Dandelion root is 1/2 inch or less in thickness, dark brown,
shrivelled, with wrinkles running lengthwise, often in a spiral
direction; when quite dry, it breaks easily with a short, corky
fracture, showing a very thick, white bark, surrounding a wooden
column. The latter is yellowish, very porous, without pith or rays.
A rather broad but indistinct cambium zone separates the wood from
the bark, which latter exhibits numerous well-defined, concentric
layers, due to the milk vessels. This structure is quite
characteristic and serves to distinguish Dandelion roots from other
roots like it. There are several flowers easily mistaken for the
Dandelion when in blossom, but these have either hairy leaves or
branched flower-stems, and the roots differ either in structure or
Dandelion root somewhat resembles Pellitory and Liquorice roots,
but Pellitory differs in having oil glands and also a large radiate
wood, and Liquorice has also a large radiate wood and a sweet
of Hawkbit (Leontodon hispidus) is sometimes substituted for
Dandelion root. It is a plant with hairy, not smooth leaves, and
the fresh root is tough, breaking with difficulty and rarely
exuding much milky juice. Some kinds of Dock have also been
substituted, and also Chicory root. The latter is of a paler
colour, more bitter and has the laticiferous vessels in radiating
lines. In the United States it is often substituted for Dandelion.
Dock roots have a prevailing yellowish colour and an astringent
recent years, a small form of a Dandelion root has been offered by
Russian firms, who state that it is sold and used as Dandelion in
that country. This root is always smaller than the root of T.
officinale, has smaller flowers, and the crown of the root has
often a tuft of brown woolly hairs between the leaf bases at the
crown of the root, which are never seen in the Dandelion plant in
this country, and form a characteristic distinction, for the root
shows similar concentric, horny rings in the thick white bark as
well as a yellow porous woody centre. These woolly hairs are
mentioned in Greenish's Materia Medica, and also in the British
Pharmaceutical Codex, as a feature of Dandelion root, but no
mention is made of them in the Pharmacographia, nor in the British
Pharmacopceia or United States Pharmacopceia, and it is probable,
therefore, that Russian specimens have been used for describing the
root, and that the root with brown woolly hairs belongs to some
other species of Taraxacum.
Constituents---The chief constituents of Dandelion root are
Taraxacin, acrystalline, bitter substance, of which the yield
varies in roots collected at different seasons, and Taraxacerin, an
acrid resin, with Inulin (a sort of sugar which replaces starch in
many of the Dandelion family, Compositae), gluten, gum and potash.
The root contains no starch, but early in the year contains much
uncrystallizable sugar and laevulin, which differs from Inulin in
being soluble in cold water. This diminishes in quantity during the
summer and becomes Inulin in the autumn. The root may contain as
much as 24 per cent. In the fresh root, the Inulin is present in
the cell-sap, but in the dry root it occurs as an amorphodus,
transparent solid, which is only slightly soluble in cold water,
but soluble in hot water.
There is a
difference of opinion as to the best time for collecting the roots.
The British Pharmacopceia considers the autumn dug root more bitter
than the spring root, and that as it contains about 25 per cent
insoluble Inulin, it is to be preferred on this account to the
spring root, and it is, therefore, directed that in England the
root should be collected between September and February, it being
considered to be in perfection for Extract making in the month of
on the other hand, contended that it is more bitter in March and
most of all in July, but that as in the latter month it would
generally be inconvenient for digging it, it should be dug in the
spring, when the yield of Taraxacin, the bitter soluble principle,
of the variability of the constituents of the plant according to
the time of year when gathered, the yield and composition of the
extract are very variable. If gathered from roots collected in
autumn, the resulting product yields a turbid solution with water;
if from spring-collected roots, the aqueous solution will be clear
and yield but very little sediment on standing, because of the
conversion of the Inulin into Laevulose and sugar at this active
period of the plant's life.
days, Dandelion Juice was the favourite preparation both in
official and domestic medicine. Provincial druggists sent their
collectors for the roots and expressed the juice while these were
quite fresh. Many country druggists prided themselves on their
Dandelion Juice. The most active preparations of Dandelion, the
Juice (Succus Taraxaci) and the Extract (Extractum Taraxaci), are
made from the bruised fresh root. The Extract prepared from the
fresh root is sometimes almost devoid of bitterness. The dried root
alone was official in the United States Pharmacopoeia.
are not often used, except for making Herb-Beer, but a medicinal
tincture is sometimes made from the entire plant gathered in the
early summer. It is made with proof spirit.
collecting the seeds care should be taken when drying them in the
sun, to cover them with coarse muslin, as otherwise the down will
carry them away. They are best collected in the evening, towards
sunset, or when the damp air has caused the heads to close
should be cut on a dry day, when quite free of rain or dew, and all
insect-eaten or stained leaves rejected.
and Uses---Diuretic, tonic and slightly aperient. It is a general
stimulant to the system, but especially to the urinary organs, and
is chiefly used in kidney and liver disorders.
is not only official but is used in many patent medicines. Not
being poisonous, quite big doses of its preparations may be taken.
Its beneficial action is best obtained when combined with other
tincture made from the tops may be taken in doses of 10 to 15 drops
in a spoonful of water, three times daily.
It is said
that its use for liver complaints was assigned to the plant largely
on the doctrine of signatures, because of its bright yellow flowers
of a bilious hue.
hepatic complaints of persons long resident in warm climates,
Dandelion is said to afford very marked relief. A broth of
Dandelion roots, sliced and stewed in boiling water with some
leaves of Sorrel and the yolk of an egg, taken daily for some
months, has been known to cure seemingly intractable cases of
chronic liver congestion.
decoction is found serviceable in stone and gravel: the decoction
may be made by boiling 1 pint of the sliced root in 20 parts of
water for 15 minutes, straining this when cold and sweetening with
brown sugar or honey. A small teacupful may be taken once or twice
is used as a bitter tonic in atonic dyspepsia, and as a mild
laxative in habitual constipation. When the stomach is irritated
and where active treatment would be injurious, the decoction or
extract of Dandelion administered three or four times a day, will
often prove a valuable remedy. It has a good effect in increasing
the appetite and promoting digestion.
combined with other active remedies has been used in cases of
dropsy and for induration of the liver, and also on the Continent
for phthisis and some cutaneous diseases. A decoction of 2 OZ. of
the herb or root in 1 quart of water, boiled down to a pint, is
taken in doses of one wineglassful every three hours for scurvy,
scrofula, eczema and all eruptions on the surface of the
Dosages---Fluid extract, B.P., 1/2 to 2 drachms. Solid extract,
B.P. 5 to 15 grains. Juice, B.P., 1 to 2 drachms. Leontodin, 2 to 4
OZ. of Dandelion in a pint of boiling water for 10 minutes; decant,
sweeten with honey, and drink several glasses in the course of the
day. The use of this tea is efficacious in bilious affections, and
is also much approved of in the treatment of dropsy.
Or take 2
OZ. of freshly-sliced Dandelion root, and boil in 2 pints of water
until it comes to 1 pint; then add 1 OZ. of compound tincture of
Horseradish. Dose, from 2 to 4 OZ. Use in a sluggish state of the
Or 1 OZ.
Dandelion root, 1 OZ. Black Horehound herb, 1/2 OZ. Sweet Flag
root, 1/4 OZ. Mountain Flax. Simmer the whole in 3 pints of water
down to 1 1/2 pint, strain and take a wineglassful after meals for
biliousness and dizziness.
Dandelion root, 1 OZ. Parsley root, 1 OZ. Balm herb, 1/2 OZ. Ginger
root, 1/2 OZ. Liquorice root. Place in 2 quarts of water and gently
simmer down to 1 quart, strain and take a wineglassful every two
young child suffering from jaundice: 1 OZ. Dandelion root, 1/2 oz.
Ginger root, 1/2 oz. Caraway seed, 1/2 oz. Cinnamon bark, 1/4 oz.
Senna leaves. Gently boil in 3 pints of water down to 1 1/2 pint,
strain, dissolve 1/2 lb. sugar in hot liquid, bring to a boil
again, skim all impurities that come to the surface when clear, put
on one side to cool, and give frequently in teaspoonful
---A Liver and
Broom tops, 1/2 oz. Juniper berries, 1/2 oz. Dandelion root, 1 1/2
pint water. Boil in gredients for 10 minutes, then strain and adda
small quantity of cayenne. Dose, 1 tablespoonful, three times a
---A Medicine for
Long-leaved Plantain, 1 OZ. Dandelion root, 1/2 oz. Polypody root,
1 OZ. Shepherd's Purse. Add 3 pints of water, boil down to half the
quantity, strain, and add 1 OZ. of tincture of Rhubarb. Dose, a
wineglassful three times a day. Celandine ointment to be applied at
Derbyshire, the juice of the stalk is applied to remove
Liatris odoratissima (WILLD.)
Medicinal Action and Uses
---Synonyms---Vanilla Leaf. Wild Vanilla. Trilissia
---Habitat---North America: cultivated in England.
---Description---Herbaceous perennial plant, composite
distinguished by a naked receptacle, oblong, imbricated, involucre,
and a feathery pappus, fleshy basal leaves obolanceolate,
terminating in a flattened stalk. Leaves of stem clasping at base.
The leaves are used to flavour tobacco. Their perfume is largely
due to Coumarin, which can be seen in crystals on the upper side of
the smooth spatulate leaves. Most of the species are used
and Uses---Demulcent, febrifuge, diaphoretic.
spicata has a warm bitterish taste and used as a local application
for sore throat in the treatment of gonorrhoea.
squarrosa, called 'the rattlesnake' because the roots are used to
cure rattlesnake bite, a handsome plant with very long narrow
leaves, and large heads of lovely purple flowers.
scariosa also used for snake-bite and recognized by the involucral
scales which are margined with purple.
Peucedanum graveolens (BENTH.)
Medicinal Action and Uses
---Synonyms---Anethum graveolus. Fructus Anethi.
Used---Dried ripe fruit.
Dill is a
hardy annual, a native of the Mediterranean region and Southern
Russia. It grows wild among the corn in Spain and Portugal and upon
the coast of Italy, but rarely occurs as a cornfield weed in
is referred to in St. Matthew XXiii., 23, though the original Greek
name Anethon, was erroneously rendered Anise by English
translators, from Wicklif (1380) downwards.
commonly regarded as the Anethon of Dioscorides. It was well known
in Pliny's days and is often mentioned by writers in the Middle
Ages. As a drug it has been in use from very early times. It occurs
in the tenth-century vocabulary of Alfric, Archbishop of
is derived, according to Prior's Popular Names of English Plants,
from the old Norse word, dilla (to lull), in allusion to the
carminative properties of the drug.
(Dodoens, 1578) says Dill was sown in all gardens amongst worts and
Middle Ages, Dill was also one of the herbs used by magicians in
their spells, and charms against witchcraft.
In Drayton's Nymphidia are the
'Therewith her Vervain and her
That hindereth Witches of their
Culpepper tells us that:
'Mercury has the dominion of this plant,
and therefore to be sure it strengthens the brain.... It stays the
hiccough, being boiled in wine, and but smelled unto being tied in
a cloth. The seed is of more use than the leaves, and more
effectual to digest raw and vicious humours, and is used in
medicines that serve to expel wind, and the pains proceeding
plant grows ordinarily from 2 to 2 1/2 feet high and is very like
fennel, though smaller, having the same feathery leaves, which
stand on sheathing foot-stalks, with linear and pointed leaflets.
Unlike fennel, however, it has seldom more than one stalk and its
long, spindle-shaped root is only annual. It is of very upright
growth, its stems smooth, shiny and hollow, and in midsummer
bearing flat terminal umbels with numerous yellow flowers, whose
small petals are rolled inwards. The flat fruits, the so-called
seeds, are produced in great quantities. They are very pungent and
bitter in taste and very light, an ounce containing over 25,000
seeds. Their germinating capacity lasts for three years. The whole
plant is aromatic.
was placed by Linnaeus in a separate genus, Anethum, whence the
name Fructus Anethi, by which Dill fruit goes in medicine. It is
now included in the genus Peucedanum.
---Cultivation---This annual is of very easy culture. When
grown on a large scale for the sake of its fruits, it may be sown
in drills 10 inches apart, in March or April, 10 lb. of the seed
being drilled to the acre, and thinned out to leave 8 to 10 inches
room each way Sometimes the seed is sown in autumn as soon as ripe,
but it is not so advisable as spring sowing. Careful attention must
be given to the destruction of weeds. The crop is considered
somewhat exhaustive of soil fertility.
starts as the lower seeds begin, the others ripening on the straw.
In dry periods, cutting is best done in early morning or late
evening, care being taken to handle with the least possible shaking
to prevent loss. The loose sheaves are built into stacks of about
twenty sheaves, tied together. In hot weather, threshing may be
done in the field, spreading the sheaves on a large canvas sheet
and beating out. The average yield is about 7 cwt. of Dill fruits
The seeds are finally dried by spreading out on trays in the
sun, or for a short time over the moderate heat of a stove, shaking
Dill fruits are oval, compressed, winged about one-tenth inch
wide, with three longitudinal ridges on the back and three dark
lines or oil cells (vittae) between them and two on the flat
surface. The taste of the fruits somewhat resembles caraway. The
seeds are smaller, flatter and lighter than caraway and have a
pleasant aromatic odour. They contain a volatile oil (obtained by
distillation) on which the action of the fruit depends. The bruised
seeds impart their virtues to alcohol and to boiling
---Constituents---Oil of Dill is of a pale yellow
colour, darkening on keeping, with the odour of the fruit and a
hot, acrid taste. Its specific gravity varies between 0.895 and
0.915. The fruit yields about 3.5 per cent of the oil, which is a
mixture of a paraffin hydrocarbon and 40 to 60 per cent of
d-carvone, with d-limonene. Phellandrine is present in the English
and Spanish oils, but not to any appreciable extent in the German
In spite of the difference in odour between Dill and Caraway
oils, the composition of the two is almost identical, both
consisting nearly entirely of limonene and carvone. Dill oil,
however, contains less carvone than caraway oil.
English-distilled oils usually have the highest specific
gravity, from 0.910 to 0.916, and are consequently held in the
---Uses---As a sweet herb, Dill is not much used in this
country. When employed, it is for flavouring soups, sauces, etc.,
for which purpose the young leaves only are required. The leaves
added to fish, or mixed with pickled cucumbers give them a spicy
Dill vinegar, however, forms a popular household condiment. It
is made by soaking the seeds in vinegar for a few days before
The French use Dill seeds for flavouring cakes and pastry, as
well as for flavouring sauces.
Perhaps the chief culinary use of Dill seeds is in pickling
cucumbers: they are employed in this way chiefly in Germany where
pickled cucumbers are largely eaten.
---Medicinal Action and Uses---Like the other
umbelliferous fruits and volatile oils, both Dill fruit and oil of
Dill possess stimulant, aromatic, carminative and stomachic
properties, making them of considerable medicinal
Oil of Dill is used in mixtures, or administered in doses of 5
drops on sugar, but its most common use is in the preparation of
Dill Water, which is a common domestic remedy for the flatulence of
infants, and is a useful vehicle for children's medicine
---Preparations---Dill water, 1 to 8 drachms. Oil, 1 to
Oil of Dill is also employed for perfuming soaps.
The British Pharmacopoeia directs that only the fruits from
English-grown plants shall be employed pharmaceutically, and it is
grown in East Anglia for that purpose. The Dill fruits of commerce
are imported from central and southern Europe, the plant being
largely cultivated in Germany and Roumania.
Considerable quantities of Dill fruit are imported from India
and Japan - they are the fruits of a species of Peucedanum
that has been considered by some botanists entitled to rank as a
distinct species, P. Sowa (Kurz), but is included by others
in the species, P. graveolens. Indian dill is widely grown
in the Indies under the name of 'Soyah,' its fruit and leaves being
used for flavouring pickles. Its fruits are narrower and more
convex than European dill, with paler, more distinct ridges and
The oils from both Japanese and Indian dill differ from
European dill oil, in having a higher specific gravity (0.948 to
0.968), which is ascribed to the presence of dill apiol, and in
containing much less carvone than the European oil. It should not
be substituted for the official oil.
African dill oil is produced from plants grown from English
imported seed. The fruits are slightly larger than the English
fruits and a little paler in colour, their odour closely resembling
the English. The yield of oil is slightly larger than that of
English fruits, and it is considered that if the fruits can be
produced in Cape Colony, they should form a most useful source of
OLD-FASHIONED FENNEL AND DILL RECIPES
---A Sallet of Fennel---
'Take young Fennel, about a span long in the spring, tye it up
in bunches as you do Sparragrass; when your Skillet boyle, put in
enough to make a dish; when it is boyled and drained, dish it up as
you do Sparragrass, pour on butter and vinegar and send it up.'
(From The Whole Body of Cookery Dissected, 1675, by William
---Fennel and Gooseberry Sauce---
'Brown some butter in a saucepan with apinch of flour, then put
in a few cives shred small, add a little Irish broth to moisten it,
season with salt and pepper; make these boil, then put in two or
three sprigs of Fennel and some Gooseberries. Let all simmer
together till the Gooseberries are soft and then put in some
Cullis.' (From Receipt Book of Henry Howard, Cook to the
Duke of Ormond, 1710.)
---Dill and Collyflower Pickle---
'Boil the Collyflowers till they fall inpieces; then with some
of the stalk and worst of the flower boil it in a part of the
liquer till pretty strong. Then being taken off strain it- and when
settled, clean it from the bottom. Then with Dill, gross pepper, a
pretty quantity of salt, when cold add as much vinegar as will make
it sharp and pour all upon the Collyflower.' (From Acetaria,
a book about Sallets, 1680, by John Evelyn.)
---To Pickle Cucumbers in Dill---
'Gather the tops of the ripest dill and cover the bottom of the
vessel, and lay a layer of Cucumbers and another of Dill till you
have filled the vessel within a handful of the top. Then take as
much water as you think will fill the vessel and mix it with salt
and a quarter of a pound of allom to a gallon of water and poure it
on them and press them down with a stone on them and keep them
covered close. For that use I think the water will be best boyl'd
and cold, which will keep longer sweet, or if you like not this
pickle, doe it with water, salt and white wine vinegar, or (if you
please) pour the water and salt on them scalding hot which will
make them ready to use the sooner.' (From Receipt Book of
Joseph Cooper, Cook to Charles I, 1640.)
Botanical: Alstonia scholaris (R. BR,)
Family: N.O. Apocynaceae
Medicinal Action and Uses
---Synonyms---Devil's Bit. Pali-mara. Bitter Bark.
Australian Fever Bush. Devil Tree.
---Habitat---India. Moluccas. Philippines.
---Description---The genus of Alstonia takes its
name from Alston, a Professor of botany in Edinburgh. Grows 50 to
80 feet high, has a furrowed trunk, oblong stalked leaves 6 inches
long, 2 to 4 inches wide, in whorls round stem, upper surface
glossy, under one white, and marked with nerves running at
right-angles to midrib; taste bitter, but no odour. A.
constricta, belonging to the same order, is also recognized by
the British Pharmacopceia; the bark is quite dissimilar however,
and contains different alkaloids, slightly aromatic odour, taste
very bitter, used for same purposes, mainly as a febrifuge in
malarial fever, tonic and astringent, with much the same properties
as Peruvian bark.
---Constituents---The strongest alkaloids in A.
scholaris bark are Ditamine, Echitanine, the latter in
character resembling ammonia other constituents are echierin,
echicaoutin echitin, and echitein - these are crystalline and
Constituents of A. constricta bark, alstonine and
porphyrine, is colourless and amorphous; also contains porphyrosine
---Medicinal Action and Uses---Though Alstonia is used
in India and Eastern Colonies for malarial conditions, its efficacy
in this respect is not to be compared with cinchona bark, though it
does not produce the bad effects cinchona does. It is also employed
as a bitter tonic, vermifuge, and as a cure for chronic diarrhoea
and bowel complaints, both varieties are used.
---Preparation---Dita bark: 1 part in 20 for B.P.
infusion, 1/2 to 1 fluid ounce; 1 part in 8 Alcohol Tinc., B.P.,
1/2 to 1 fluid drachm. Dose, 2 to 4 grains.
---Other Species---The A. spectabilis, a habitat
of Java, contains the same alkaloid as Dita bark, with the addition
of a crystalline alkaloid, Alstonamine.
Family: N.O. Polygonaceae
Great Water Dock
The name Dock is applied to a widespread tribe of
broad-leaved wayside weeds, having roots possessing astringent
qualities united in some with a cathartic principle, rendering them
valuable as substitutes for Rhubarb, a plant of the same
Although now, in common with the Sorrels, assigned to the genus
Rumex, the Docks were formerly ranked as members of the
genus Lapathum, this name being derived from the Greek word,
lapazein (to cleanse), an allusion to the medicinal virtues
of these plants as purgatives, the word still surviving in the name
of one of the species, Rumex Hydrolapathum.
All the Docks resemble our Garden Rhubarb more or less, both in
their general characteristics and in possessing much tannin.Most of
them furnish rumicin, or crysophanic acid, which is useful in
chronic scrofulous disorders.
The young leaves and shoots of several species of Dock may be
eaten as pot-herbs, but are not very palatable, and have a slight
laxative effect. 'Sour Docks' were considered formerly a good
accompaniment to boiled beef, either hot or cold, but this was a
popular name, not for the ordinary kinds of Docks, but for the
closely allied Sorrel or Sorrel Dock (Rumex acetosa), whose
herbage has a somewhat acid flavour. This, with its French variety,
R. scutatus, has been much cultivated as a
Botanical: Rumex alpinus
---Synonyms---Herb Patience. Monk's Rhubarb. Passion's
This, although not considered a native plant, grows wild in
some parts of the country, mostly by roadsides and near cottages,
being originally a garden escape. It is a large plant, about 6 feet
high, with very large, long, pointed leaves on thick hollow
footstalks. The long stout root was also formerly used medicinally
for its slight astringent qualities. It was considered good for
It has a gentle laxative action. There are about ten or eleven
kinds of native Docks.
Botanical: Rumex obtusifolius
---Synonyms---Common Wayside Dock. Butter
---Description---It is a large and spreading plant, its
stout stems 2 to 3 feet high, the leaves 6 to 12 inches long, with
rather slender foot-stalks, the margins waved and the end or apex
of the leaf rounded. The flowers are small, green and numerous,
arranged in whorled spikes at the ends of the stem. In this, as in
all the Docks, the flowers contain both stamens and pistils - the
nearly-related Sorrels, on the contrary, having their stamens and
pistils on different plants. This Dock is so coarse that cattle
refuse to touch it. It is a troublesome weed, all the more because
it prefers growing on good land, not thriving in poor soil. Its
broad foliage serves also to lodge the destructive turnip fly. The
leaves are often applied as a rustic remedy to burns and scalds and
used for dressing blisters, serving also as a popular cure for
The cure was accompanied by
Dock in, Nettle
Dock rub Nettle
and is the origin of the
saying: 'In Dock, out Nettle', to suggest inconstancy.
A tea made from the root was formerly given for the cure of
boils. The plant is frequently called Butter Dock, because its cool
leaves have often been used in the country for wrapping up butter
for the market.
Botanical: Rumex acetus
---Description---A common plant like the Common Dock,
but handsomer, and distinguished by its sharp-pointed leaves being
narrower and longer. It grows about 3 feet high, having erect,
round, striated stems and small greenish flowers, turning brown
when ripe. The root has been used in drinks and decoctions for
scurvy and as a general blood cleanser, and employed for outward
application to cutaneous eruptions, in the form of an ointment,
made by beating it up with lard.
Both the Round-leaved Dock and the Sharp-pointed Dock, together
with the BLOODY-VEINED DOCK (Rumex sanguineus) (which is
very conspicuous on account of its veins and footstalks abounding
in a bloodcoloured juice), make respectively with their astringent
roots a useful infusion against bleedings and fluxes, also with
their leaves, a decoction curative of several chronic skin
THE YELLOW DOCK (Rumex crispus), the RED DOCK (R.
aquaticus) and the GREAT WATER DOCK (R. Hydrolapathum)
are, however, the species more generally used
Botanical: Rumex crispus
Medicinal Action and Uses
---Description---The leaves are crisped at their edges.
It grows freely in our roadside ditches and waste places. The roots
are 8 to 12 inches long, about 1/2 inch thick, fleshy and usually
not forked. Externally they are of a rusty brown and internally
whitish, with fine, straight, medullary rays and a rather thick
bark. It has little or no smell and a rather bitter taste. The stem
is 1 to 3 feet high and branched, the leaves, 6 to 10 inches
---Medicinal Action and Uses---The Yellow Dock is
applicable to all the purposes for which the other species are
used. The root has laxative, alterative and mildly tonic action,
and can be freely used as a tonic and laxative in rheumatism,
bilious complaints and as an astringent in piles, bleedings of the
lungs, etc. It is largely prescribed for diseases of the blood,
from a spring eruption, to scurvy, scrofula and chronic skin
diseases. It is also useful in jaundice and as a tonic to the
stomach and the system generally. It has an action on the bowels
very similar to that of Rhubarb, being perhaps a little less
active, but operating without pain or uneasiness.
Rumicin is the active principle of the Yellow Dock, and from
the root, containing Chrysarobin, a dried extract is prepared
officially, of which from 1 to 4 grains may be given for a dose in
a pill. This is useful for relieving a congested liver, as well as
for scrofulous skin diseases.
A syrup can be made by boiling 1/2 lb. crushed root in a pint
of syrup, which is taken in teaspoonful doses. The infusion
administered in wineglassful doses - is made by pouring 1 pint of
boiling water on 1 OZ. of the powdered root. A useful homoeopathic
tincture is made from the plant before it flowers, which is of
particular service to an irritable tickling cough of the upper
air-tubes and the throat. It is likewise excellent for dispelling
any obstinate itching of the skin. It acts like Sarsaparilla for
curing scrofulous skin affections and glandular
To be applied externally for cutaneous affections, an ointment
may be made by boiling the root in vinegar until the fibre is
softened and then mixing the pulp with lard.
The seeds have been given with advantage in dysentery, for
their astringent action.
The Yellow Dock has also been considered to have a positive
effect in restraining the inroads made by cancer in the human
system, being used as an alterative and tonic to enfeebled
condition caused by necrosis, cancer, etc. It has been used in
---Preparations---Fluid extract, 30 to 60 drops. Solid
extract, 5 to 15 grains. Rumin, 3 grains.
The roots are collected in March, being generally ploughed
Botanical: Rumex aquaticus
Medicinal Action and Uses
The Red Dock, or Water Dock (Rumex aquaticus), has
properties very similar to those of the Yellow Dock. It is frequent
in fields, meadows and ditches. Its rootstock is top-shaped, the
outer surface blackish or dark brown, the bark porous and the pith
composed of honeycomb-like cells, with a short zone of woody
bundles separated by rays. It has an astringent and somewhat sweet
taste, but no odour. The stem is 1 to 3 feet high, very stout; the
leaves similar to those of the Yellow Dock, having also crisped
edges, but being broader, 3 to 4 inches across.
---Medicinal Action and Uses---This Dock has alterative,
deobstruent and detergent action. Its powers as a tonic are,
perhaps rather more marked than the previous species. For internal
use, it is given in an infusion, in wineglassful doses. Externally
it is used as an application for eruptive and scorbutic diseases,
ulcers and sores, being employed for cleansing ulcers in affections
of the mouth, etc. As a powder, it has cleansing and detergent
effect upon the teeth.
The root of this and all other Docks is dried in the same
manner as the Yellow Dock.
---Preparation---Fluid extract, 30 to 60
GREAT WATER DOC
Botanical: Rumex Hydrolapathum
The Great Water Dock (Rumex Hydrolapathum), the largest
of all the Docks, 5 to 6 feet high, is frequent on river banks. It
is a picturesque plant with several erect, furrowed stems arising
from its thick, blackish root, each of which are branched in the
upper part, and bear numerous green flowers in almost leafless
whorls. The leaves are exceedingly large - 1 to 3 feet long, dull
green, not shiny, lance-shaped and narrow, tapering at both ends,
the lower ones heart-shaped at the base. It is much like Rumex
acutus, but larger.
This Dock, also, has some reputation as an antiscorbutic, and
was used by the ancients. The root is strongly astringent, and
powdered makes a good dentifrice. It is this species that is said
to be the Herba Britannica of Pliny. This name does not
denote British origin - the plant not being confined to the British
Isles - but is said to be derived from three Teutonic words:
brit (to tighten), tan (a tooth), and ica
(loose), thus expressing its power of bracing up loose teeth and
Miss Rohde (Old English
'It is interesting to find
that Turner identifies the Herba Britannica of Dioscorides
and Pliny (famed for having cured the soldiers of Julius Caesar of
scurvy in the Rhine country) with Polygonum bistorta, which
he observed plentifully in Friesland, the scene of Pliny's
observations. This herb is held by modern authorities to be
Rumex aquaticus (Great Water Dock).'
As a stomach tonic the following decoction was formerly much in
use: 2 oz. of the root sliced were put into 3 pints of water, with
a little cinnamon or liquorice powder, and boiled down to a quart
and a wineglassful taken two or three times a day. The astringent
qualities of the root render it good in case of diarrhoea, the
seeds (as with the other Docks) having been used for the same
purpose. The green leaves are reputed to be an excellent
application for ulcers of the eyes.
Culpepper says of the
'All Docks are under Jupiter,
of which the Red Dock, which is commonly called Bloodwort,
cleanseth the blood and strengthens the liver, but the Yellow Dock
root is best to be taken when either the blood or liver is affected
by choler. All of them have a kind of cooling, drying quality: the
Sorrel being most cool and the Bloodworts most drying. The seed of
most kinds, whether garden or field, doth stay laxes and fluxes of
all sorts, and is helpful for those that spit blood. The roots
boiled in vinegar helpeth the itch, scabs and breaking out of the
skin, if it be bathed therewith. The distilled water of the herb
and roots have the same virtue and cleanseth the skin from
freckles.... All Docks being boiled with meat make it boil the
sooner; besides Bloodwort is exceeding strengthening to the liver
and procures good blood, being as wholesome a pot-herb as any
growing in a garden.'
Another species of Rumex may also be termed of indirect
medicinal use, for Turkey opium, as imported, comes in flattened
masses enveloped in poppy leaves and covered with the
reddish-brown, triangular winged fruit of a species of
Rumex, to prevent the cakes adhering to one
Botanical: Cuscuta Europaea
Family: N.O. Convolvulaceae
---Synonyms---Beggarweed. Hellweed. Strangle Tare.
Scaldweed. Devil's Guts.
Belonging to the same family as the Convolvulus is a small
group of plants, the genus Cuscuta, that at first glance seem to
have little in common with our common Bindweeds. All the members of
this genus are parasites, with branched, climbing cord-like and
thread-like stems, no leaves and globular heads of small
The seeds germinate in the ground in the normal manner and
throw up thready stems, which climb up adjoining plants and send
out from their inner surfaces a number of small vesicles, which
attach themselves to the bark of the plant on which they are
twining. As soon as the young Dodder stems have firmly fixed
themselves, the root from which they have at first drawn part of
their nourishment withers away, and the Dodder, entirely losing its
connection with the ground, lives completely on the sap of its
'host,' and participates of its nature.
One British species is very abundant on Furze, another on Flax,
others on Thistles and Nettles, etc.
Cuscuta Epithymum, THE LESSER DODDER, is the species of
Dodder that formerly was much used medicinally, and which is the
commonest. It is parasitic on Thyme Heath, Milk Vetch, Potentilla
and other small plants, but most abundant on Furze, which it often
entirely conceals with its tangled masses of red, thread-like
stems. The flowers are in dense, round heads, each flower small,
light flesh-coloured and wax-like, the corolla bellshaped, four- to
five-cleft. Soon after flowering, the stems turn dark brown and in
The Dodder which grows on Thyme, C. Epithemum, was often
preferred to others.
The threads being boiled in water (preferably fresh gathered)
with ginger and allspice produced a decoction used in urinary
complaints, kidney, spleen and liver diseases for its laxative and
hepatic action. It was considered useful in jaundice, as well as in
sciatica and scorbutic complaints.
The juice of two Brazilian species of Dodder is given for
hoarseness and spitting of blood and their powder applied to
wounds, to hasten healing.
Other species of Dodder which more or less resemble the Lesser
Dodder are C. Europaea, THE GREATER OR COMMON DODDER which
is parasitical on Thistles and Nettles, and has stems as thick as
twine, reddish or yellow, with pale orange-coloured flowers 1/2 to
3/4 inch in diameter; C. Epilinum, FLAX DODDER, parasitical
on Flax, to crops of which it is sometimes very destructive, and
with seeds of which it is supposed to have been introduced, C.
Hassiaca, parasitical on Lucerne, and C. Trifolii,
CLOVER DODDER, parasitical on Clover.
Both the Greater Dodder and the Lesser Dodder have been
'All Dodders are under
Saturn. We confess Thyme is of the hottest herb it usually grows
upon, and therefore that which grows upon thyme is hotter than that
which grows upon colder herbs; for it draws nourishment from what
it grows upon, as well as from the earth where its root is, and
thus you see old Saturn is wise enough to have two strings to his
bow. This is accounted the most effectual for melancholy diseases,
and to purge black or burnt color, which is the cause of many
diseases of the head and brain, as also for the trembling of the
heart, faintings, and swoonings. It is helpful in all diseases and
griefs of the spleen and melancholy that arises from the windiness
of the hypochondria. It purges also the reins or kidneys by urine;
it openeth obstructions of the gall, whereby it profiteth them that
have the jaundice; as also the leaves, the spleen; purging the
veins of choleric and phlegmatic humours and cures children in
agues, a little wormseed being added.
'The other Dodders
participate of the nature of those plants whereon they grow: as
that which hath been found growing upon Nettles in the west
country, hath by experience been found very effectual to procure
plenty of urine, where it hath been stopped or
Many of its popular and local
names testify to the bad reputation it had among farmers, such as
Beggarweed, Hellweed, Strangle Tare, and Scaldweed, the latter from
the scalded appearance it gives to bean crops. The name 'Devil's
Guts' shows how much its strangling threads were detested. An old
'Hellweed grows upon tares
more abundantly in some places, where it destroyeth the pulse, or
at least maketh it much worse, and is called of the country people
Hellweed, because they know not how to destroy it.'
It was not only considered useful in jaundice but also in
sciatica and scorbutic complaints. Gathered fresh and applied
externally after being bruised, the plant has been found
efficacious in dispersing scrofulous tumours. The whole plant, of
whatever species, is very bitter, and an infusion acts as a brisk
Botanical: Piscidia erythrina (JACQ.)
Family: N.O. Leguminosae
Medicinal Action and Uses
Preparations and Dosages
---Habitat---West Indies, Florida, Texas, Mexico, the
northern part of South America.
---Description---A tree with very valuable wood and with
the foliage and habit of Lonchocarpus. The pods bear four
projecting longitudinal wings. The pounded leavesand young branches
are used to poison fish the method followed is to fill an open
crate with the branches, drop it into the water, and swill it about
till the water is impregnated with the liquid from the leaves,
etc.; this quickly stupefies the fish and enables the fishers to
catch them quickly. In commerce the bark is found in quilled pieces
1 or 2 inches long and 1 inch thick. The outer surface yellow or
greyish brown, inner surface lighter coloured or white, and if damp
a peculiar blue colour. Inside it is very fibrous and dark brown,
taste very acrid and bitter, and produces burning sensation in
mouth with a strong disagreeable smell like broken opium. In 1844
attention was called to its narcotic, analgesic and sudorific
properties which are uncertain.
---Constituents---Resin, fat, a crystallizable substance
called piscidin and in the aqueous extract of the bark piscidic
acid, and a bitter glucoside.
---Medicinal Action and Uses---In some subjects it cures
violent toothache, neuralgia and whooping-cough and promotes sleep,
and acts as an antispasmodic in asthma. It also dilates the pupil
and is useful in dysmenorrhoea and nervous debility. In other
subjects it only causes gastric distress and nausea; over doses
produce toxic effects.
---Preparations and Dosages---Fluid extract, 5 to 20
drops, which may be cautiously increased to 2 fluid drachms. Solid
extract, 1 to 5 grains.
Botanical: Daemomorops Draco (BLUME)
Family: N.O. Palmaceae
Medicinal Action and Uses
---Synonyms---Calamus Draco. Draconis Resina. Sanguis
draconis. Dragon's Blood Palm. Blume.
---Part Used---The resinous exudation of the
---Description---Dragon's Blood, as known in commerce,
has several origins, the substance so named being contributed by
widely differing species. Probably the best known is that from
Sumatra. Daemomorops Draco formerly known as Calamus
Draco, was transferred with many others of the species to
Daemomorops, the chief distinguishing mark being the placing
of the flowers along the branches instead of their being gathered
into catkins, as in those remaining under
The long, slender stems of the genus are flexible, and the
older trees develop climbing propensities. The leaves have prickly
stalks which often grow into long tails and the bark is provided
with many hundreds of flattened spines. The berries are about the
size of a cherry, and pointed. When ripe they are covered with a
reddish, resinous substance which is separated in several ways, the
most satisfactory being by steaming, or by shaking or rubbing in
coarse, canvas bags. An inferior kind is obtained by boiling the
fruits to obtain a decoction after they have undergone the second
process. The product may come to market in beads, joined as if
forming a necklace, and covered with leaves (Tear Dragon's Blood),
or in small, round sticks about 18 inches long, packed in leaves
and strips of cane. Other varieties are found in irregular lumps,
or in a reddish powder. They are known as lump, stick, reed, tear,
or saucer Dragon's Blood.
---Uses---It is used as a colouring matter for
varnishes, tooth-pastes, tinctures, plasters, for dyeing horn to
imitate tortoiseshell, etc. It is very brittle, and breaks with an
irregular, resinous fracture, is bright red and glossy inside, and
darker red sometimes powdered with crimson, externally. Small, thin
pieces are transparent.
---Constituents---Several analyses of Dragon's Blood
have been made with the following results:
(1) 50 to 70 per cent resinous compound of benzoic and
benzoyl-acetic acid, with dracoresinotannol, and also dracon alban
(2) 56.8 per cent of red resin compounded of the first three
mentioned above, 2.5 per cent of the white, amorphous dracoalban,
13.58 of the yellow, resinous dracoresene, 18.4 vegetable debris,
and 8.3 per cent. ash.
(3) 90.7 per cent of red resin, draconin, 2.0 of fixed oil, 3.0
of benzoic acid, 1.6 of calcium oxalate, and 3.7 of calcium
(4) 2.5 per cent of draco-alban, 13.58 of draco resen, 56.86 of
draco resin, benzoic dracoresinotannol ester and
benzoylaceticdracoresinotannol ester, with 18.4 of insoluble
Dragon's Blood is not acted upon by water, but most of it is
soluble in alcohol. It fuses by heat. The solution will stain
marble a deep red, penetrating in proportion to the heat of the
---Medicinal Action and Uses---Doses of 10 to 30 grains
were formerly given as an astringent in diarrhoea, etc., but
officially it is never at present used internally, being regarded
The following treatment is said to have cured cases of severe
syphilis. Mix 2 drachms of Dragon's Blood, 2 drachms of colocynth,
1/2 oz. of gamboge in a mortar, and add 3 gills of boiling water.
Stir for an hour, while keeping hot. Allow to cool, and add while
stirring a mixture of 2 OZ. each of sweet spirits of nitre and
---Dosage---1/2 oz. for catharsis, followed by 1 drachm
two or three times a day.
The Malay varieties are from D. didynophyllos, D.
micranthus and D. propinguus.
The Borneo variety is from D. draconcellus and others.
'Zanzibar Drop' or Socotrine Dragon's Blood is imported from
Bombay and Zanzibar, and is the product of D. cinnabari. It
has no scales, and like other nonSumatra varieties, is not soluble
in benzene and carbon disulphide.
Dracaena Draco is a giant tree of the East Indies and
Canary Islands, and shares with the baobab tree the distinction of
being the oldest living representative of the vegetable kingdom,
being much reverenced by the Guanches of the Canaries, who use its
product for embalming in the fashion of the Egyptians.
The trunk cracks and emits a red resin used as 'tear' Dragon's
Blood, now rarely seen in commerce.
Dracaena terminalis, or Chinese Colli, yields Chinese
Dragon's Blood, used in China for its famous red varnish. In some
countries a syrup, yielding sugar, is made from the roots (called
Tii roots). An intoxicating drink can be made from it, and it has
also been used in dysentery and diarrhoea, and as a
Pterocarpus Draco, of the East Indies and South America,
yields a resin found, as Guadaloupe Dragon's Blood, in small
Croton Draco or Mexican Dragon's Blood, is called Sangre
del Drago, and is used in Mexico as a vulnerary and astringent.
Others used are from:
Croton hibiscifolius of New Granada.
Croton sanguifolius of New Andalusia, and
Calamus rotang of the East Indies and Spanish
Dropwort, Hemlock Water
Botanical: Oenanthe crocata (LINN.)
Family: N.O. Umbelliferae
---Synonyms---Horsebane. Dead Tongue. Five-Fingered
Root. Water Lovage. Yellow Water Dropwort.
The name Water Hemlock is, though incorrectly, often popularly
applied to several species of Oenanthe, the genus of the
Water Dropworts, which of all the British umbelliferous plants are
the most poisonous.
The species most commonly termed Water Hemlock is Oenanthe
crocata, the Hemlock Water Dropwort, a common plant in England,
especially in the southern counties, in ditches and watering
places, but not occurring in Scandinavia, Holland, Germany, Russia,
Turkey or Greece.
---Description---It is a large, stout plant, 3 to 5 feet
high, the stems thick, erect, much branched above, furrowed,
hollow, tough, dark green and smooth.
The roots are perennial and fleshy, of a pale yellow colour.
They have a sweetish and not unpleasant taste, but are virulently
poisonous. Being often exposed by the action of running water near
which they grow, they are thus easily accessible to children and
cattle, and the plant should not be allowed to grow in places where
cattle are kept, as instances are numerous in which cows have been
poisoned by eating these roots. They have also occasionally been
eaten in mistake, either for wild celery or water parsnip, with
very serious results, great agony, sickness, convulsions, or even
death resulting. While the root of the Parsnip is single and
conical in form, that of Oenanthe crocata consists of
clusters of fleshy tubers similar to those of the Dahlia, hence,
perhaps, one of its popular names: Dead Tongue.
The author of Familiar Wild Flowers states that the name
'Dead Tongue' was given from the paralysing effect of this plant on
the organs of speech.
No British wild plant has been responsible for more fatal
accidents than the one in question: a party of workmen repairing a
breach in a towing-path dug up the plants and ate the roots,
mistaking them for parsnips; another party, working in a field,
thought that a few of the leaves with their bread and cheese would
prove a tasty relish: in each case death occurred within three
hours. On another occasion eight boys ate the roots, and five died
- and the other three had violent convulsions and lost their reason
for many hours.
The plant has been used to poison rats and moles.
Both stem and root, when cut, exude a yellowish juice, hence
the specific name of the plant and one of the common names (Yellow
Water Dropwort) by which it is known. The juice will stain the
hands yellow. The generic name, Oenanthe, is derived from
the Greek ainos (wine) and anthos (a flower), from
the wine-like scent of the flowers.
The leaves are somewhat celery-like in form, and the flowers
are in bloom in June and July, and are borne in large umbels. There
is considerable variety in the form of the leafsegments, the number
of rays in the umbel, and of the involucre bracts. The lower
leaves, with very short, sheathing footstalks, are large and
spreading, reaching more than a foot in length, broadly triangular
in outline and tripinnate. The leaflets are stalkless, 1 to 1 1/2
inch long, roundish, with a wedge-shaped base, deeply and
irregularly lobed, dark green, paler and shining beneath. The upper
leaves are much smaller, nearly stalkless, the segments narrower
This most poisonous of our indigenous plants is not official
and has never been used to any extent in medicine, though in some
cases it has been taken with effect in eruptive diseases of the
skin, being given at first in small doses, gradually
Great caution must be exercised in the use of the tincture. The
dose of the tincture is 1 to 5 drops. The roots have likewise been
used in poultices to whitlows and to foul ulcers, both in man and
Botanical: Oenanthe phellandrium (LANK.)
Family: N.O. Umbelliferae
Medicinal Action and Uses
---Synonyms---Water Fennel. Horsebane. Phellandrium
Oenanthe phellandrium (syn. Phellandrium
aquaticum), the Fine-leaved Water Dropwort, known popularly as
Water Fennel, is a common British plant in ditches and by the sides
It is a biennial, flowering from July to September in its
second year of growth.
---Description---The stems are 2 to 3 feet high, very
stout at the base, rising from fibrous roots. The leaves are
divided into many fine segments, the lower ones submerged. The
umbels are smaller than those of O. crocata and are on short
stalks, springing either from the forks of the branches or from
opposite the leaves.
The rootstock varies in appearance, according to the locality.
If growing in deep or running water the rootstock and stem are long
and slender; in other districts it is thicker and more erect. The
variety that grows in deep running water is often considered a
distinct species and is classed under O.
O. phellandrium is less poisonous than O.
crocata, but both produce ill-effects if eaten.
---Constituents---The fruits yield from 1 to 2 1/2 per
cent of an ethereal oil, known as Water Fennel Oil, a yellow liquid
of strong, pleasant, characteristic odour and burning taste, its
specific gravity 0.85 to 0.89, containing as its chief constituent
about 80 per cent of the terpene Phellandrene.
---Medicinal Action and Uses---The fruits have been used
in chronic pectoral affections such as bronchitis, pulmonary
consumption and asthma, also in dyspepsia, intermittent fever,
obstinate ulcers, etc. The dose when given in powdered form is 5 or
6 grains to commence with, so repeated as to amount to a drachm in
four hours. An alcoholic extract and essence of the fruits has also
been recommended as a very valuable and active remedy in the relief
of consumption and bronchitis.
In overdoses the fruits produce vertigo, intoxication and other
Externally applied, the root has sometimes been used as a local
remedy in piles. When eaten in mistake, like that of O.
crocata, the results have sometimes proved fatal. The symptoms
produced are those of irritation of the stomach, failure of
circulation and great cerebral disturbance, indicated by giddiness,
convulsions and coma.
The fresh leaves are injurious to cattle, producing a kind of
paralysis when eaten. When dried, they lose their deleterious
O. fistulosa, the Common Water Dropwort, is found in
watery places. This has a mixture of slender and fleshy roots, and
bears leaves with only a few narrow segments. It is also poisonous.
A peculiar resinous principle, called cenanthin, has been found in
Most of the other species of Oenanthe found both in
Great Britain and in the United States are poisonous, although none
appear to be as virulent as O. crocata. A few are, however,
innocuous, and their roots, especially those of O.
pimpinelloides, have been esteemed as food in certain
districts. Burnett (Medical Botany) states 'they are replete
with a bland farina and have something the flavour of a
See Greenweed (Greenweed,
so well known almost to every child, that I suppose it needless to
write any description of them. Take therefore the virtues of them
Government and virtues : The herb is under the
sign Cancer, and under the dominion of Venus, and therefore
excellently good for wounds in the breast, and very fitting to be
kept both in oils, ointments, and plaisters, as also in syrup. The
greater wild Daisy is a wound herb of good respect, often used in
those drinks or salves that are for wounds, either inward or
outward. The juice or distilled water of these, or the small Daisy,
doth much temper the heat of choler, and refresh the liver, and the
other inward parts. A decoction made of them and drank, helps to
cure the wounds made in the hollowness of the breast. The same also
cures all ulcers and pustules in the mouth or tongue, or in the
secret parts. The leaves bruised and applied to the privities, or
to any other parts that are swollen and hot, doth dissolve it, and
temper the heat. A decoction made thereof, of Wallwort and
Agrimony, and the places fomented and bathed therewith warm, gives
great ease to them that are troubled with the palsy, sciatica, or
the gout. The same also disperses and dissolves the knots or
kernels that grow in the flesh of any part of the body, and bruises
and hurts that come of falls and blows; they are also used for
ruptures, and other inward burnings, with very good success. An
ointment made thereof doth wonderfully help all wounds that have
inflammations about them, or by reason of moist humours having
access unto them, are kept long from healing, and such are those,
for the most part, that happen to joints of the arms or legs. The
juice of them dropped into the running eyes of any, doth much help
DANDELION, VULGARLY CALLED
Descript : It is well known to have many long and
deep gashed leaves, lying on the ground round about the head of the
roots; the ends of each gash or jag, on both sides looking
downwards towards the roots; the middle rib being white, which
being broken, yields abundance of bitter milk, but the root much
more; from among the leaves, which always abide green, arise many
slender, weak, naked, foot-stalks, every one of them bearing at the
top one large yellow flower, consisting of many rows of yellow
leaves, broad at the points, and nicked in with deep spots of
yellow in the middle, which growing ripe, the green husk wherein
the flowers stood turns itself down to the stalk, and the head of
down becomes as round as a ball: with long seed underneath, bearing
a part of the down on the head of every one, which together is
blown away with the wind, or may be at once blown away with one's
mouth. The root growing downwards exceedingly deep, which being
broken off within the ground, will yet shoot forth again, and will
hardly be destroyed where it hath once taken deep root in the
Place : It grows frequently in all meadows and
Time : It flowers in one place or other almost
all the year long.
Government and virtues : It is under the dominion
of Jupiter. It is of an opening and cleansing quality, and
therefore very effectual for the obstructions of the liver, gall
and spleen, and the diseases that arise from them, as the jaundice
and hypocondriac; it opens the passages of the urine both in young
and old; powerfully cleanses imposthumes and inward ulcers in the
urinary passage, and by its drying and temperate quality doth
afterwards heal them; for which purpose the decoction of the roots
or leaves in white wine, or the leaves chopped as pot-herbs, with a
few Alisanders, and boiled in their broth, are very effectual. And
whoever is drawing towards a consumption or an evil disposition of
the whole body, called Cachexia, by the use hereof for some time
together, shall find a wonderful help. It helps also to procure
rest and sleep to bodies distempered by the heat of ague fits, or
other wise. The distilled water is effectual to drink in
pestilential fevers, and to wash the sores.
here what virtues this common herb hath, and that is the reason the
French and Dutch so often eat them in the Spring; and now if you
look a little farther, you may see plainly without a pair of
spectacles, that foreign physicians are not so selfish as ours are,
but more communicative of the virtues of plants to
called Jam and Wray: in Sussex they call it Crop, it being a
pestilent enemy among corn.
Descript : This has all the winter long, sundry
long, flat, and rough leaves, which, when the stalk rises, which is
slender and jointed, are narrower, but rough still; on the top
grows a long spike, composed of many heads set one above another,
containing two or three husks, with a sharp but short beard of awns
at the end; the seed is easily shaken out of the ear, the husk
itself being somewhat rough.
Place : The country husbandmen do know this too
well to grow among their corn, or in the borders and pathways of
the other fields that are fallow.
Government and virtues : It is a malicious part
of sullen Saturn. As it is not without some vices, so hath it also
many virtues. The meal of Darnel is very good to stay gangrenes,
and other such like fretting and eating cankers, and putrid sores.
It also cleanses the skin of all leprosies, morphews, ringworms,
and the like, if it be used with salt and raddish roots. And being
used with quick brimstone and vinegar, it dissolves knots, and
kernels, and breaks those that are hard to be dissolved, being
boiled in wine with pigeon's dung and Linseed. A decoction thereof
made with water and honey, and the places bathed therewith, is
profitable for the sciatica. Darnel meal applied in a poultice
draws forth splinters and broken bones in the flesh. The red
Darnel, boiled in red wine and taken, stays the lask and all other
fluxes, and women's bloody issues; and restrains urine that passes
away too suddenly.
Descript : The common Dill grows up with seldom
more than one stalk, neither so high, nor so great usually as
Fennel, being round and fewer joints thereon, whose leaves are
sadder, and somewhat long, and so like Fennel that it deceives
many, but harder in handling, and somewhat thicker, and of a strong
unpleasant scent. The tops of the stalks have four branches and
smaller umbels of yellow flowers, which turn into small seed,
somewhat flatter and thinner than Fennel seed. The root is somewhat
small and woody, perishes every year after it hath borne seed: and
is also unprofitable, being never put to any use.
Place : It is most usually sown in gardens and
grounds for the purpose, and is also found wild in many
Government and virtues : Mercury has the dominion
of this plant, and therefore to be sure it strengthens the brain.
The Dill being boiled and drank, is good to ease swellings and
pains; it also stays the belly and stomach from casting. The
decoction therefore helps women that are troubled with the pains
and windiness of the mother, if they sit therein. It stays the
hiccough, being boiled in wine, and but smelled unto being tied in
a cloth. The seed is of more use than the leaves, and more
effectual to digest raw and vicious humours, and is used in
medicines that serve to expel wind, and the pains proceeding
therefrom. The seed, being roasted or fried, and used in oils or
plasters, dissolves the imposthumes in the fundament; and dries up
all moist ulcers, especially in the fundament; an oil made of Dill
is effectual to warm or dissolve humours and imposthumes, and the
pains, and to procure rest. The decoction of Dill, be it herb or
seed (only if you boil the seed you must bruise it) in white wine,
being drank, it is a gallant expeller of wind, and provoker of the
Descript : This rises up with a round green
smooth stalk, about two feet high, set with divers long and
somewhat narrow, smooth, dark green leaves, somewhat nipped about
the edges, for the most part, being else all whole, and not divided
at all, or but very seldom, even to the tops of the branches, which
yet are smaller than those below, with one rib only in the middle.
At the end of each branch stands a round head of many flowers set
together in the same manner, or more neatly than Scabious, and of a
bluish purple colour, which being past, there follows seed which
falls away. The root is somewhat thick, but short and blackish,
with many strings, abiding after seed time many years. This root
was longer, until the devil (as the friars say) bit away the rest
of it for spite, envying its usefulness to mankind; for sure he was
not troubled with any disease for which it is proper.
two other sorts hereof, in nothing unlike the former, save that the
one bears white, and the other bluish-coloured
Place : The first grows as well in dry meadows
and fields as moist, in many places of this land. But the other two
are more rare, and hard to be met with, yet they are both found
growing wild about Appledore, near Rye in Kent.
Time : They flower not usually until
Government and virtues : The plant is venereal,
pleasing, and harmless. The herb or the root (all that the devil
hath left of it) being boiled in wine, and drank, is very powerful
against the plague, and all pestilential diseases or fevers,
poisons also, and the bitings of venemous beasts. It helps also
those that are inwardly bruised by any casuality, or outwardly by
falls or blows, dissolving the clotted blood; and the herb or root
beaten and outwardly applied, takes away the black and blue marks
that remain in the skin. The decoction of the herb, with honey of
roses put therein, is very effectual to help the inveterate tumours
and swellings of the almonds and throat, by often gargling the
mouth therewith. It helps also to procure women's courses, and
eases all pains of the mother and to break and discuss wind
therein, and in the bowels. The powder of the root taken in drink,
drives forth the worms in the body. The juice or distilled water of
the herb, is effectual for green wounds, or old sores, and cleanses
the body inwardly, and the seed outwardly, from sores, scurf, itch,
pimples, freckles, morphew, or other deformities thereof,
especially if a little vitriol be dissolved therein.
of these are so well known, that I shall not trouble you with a
description of them. My book grows big too fast.
Government and virtues : All Docks are under
Jupiter, of which the Red Dock, which is commonly called Bloodwort,
cleanses the blood, and strengthens the liver; but the yellow
Dock-root is best to be taken when either the blood or liver is
affected by choler. All of them have a kind of cooling (but not all
alike) drying quality, the sorrel being most cold, and the
Blood-worts most drying. Of the Burdock, I have spoken already by
itself. The seed of most of the other kinds, whether the gardens or
fields, do stay lasks and fluxes of all sorts, the loathing of the
stomach through choler, and is helpful for those that spit blood.
The roots boiled in vinegar help the itch, scabs, and breaking out
of the skin, if it be bathed therewith. The distilled water of the
herb and roots have the same virtue, and cleanses the skin from
freckles, morphews, and all other spots and discolourings
being boiled with meat, make it boil the sooner. Besides Blood-wort
is exceeding strengthening to the liver, and procures good blood,
being as wholesome a pot herb as any growing in a garden; yet such
is the nicety of our times, forsooth, that women will not put it
into a pot, because it makes the pottage black; pride and ignorance
(a couple of monsters in the creation) preferring nicety before
DODDER OF THYME, EPITHYMUM, AND
Descript : This first from seed gives roots in
the ground, which shoot forth threads or strings, grosser or finer
as the property of the plant wherein it grows, and the climate doth
suffer, creeping and spreading on that plant whereon it fastens, be
it high or low. The strings have no leaves at all on them, but wind
and interlace themselves, so thick upon a small plant, that it
takes away all comfort of the sun from it; and is ready to choak or
strangle it. After these strings are risen to that height, that
they may draw nourishment from that plant, they seem to be broken
off from the ground, either by the strength of their rising, or
withered by the heat of the Sun. Upon these strings are found
clusters of small heads or husks, out of which shoot forth whitish
flowers, which afterwards give small pale white coloured seed,
somewhat flat, and twice as big as Poppyseed. It generally
participates of the nature of the plant which it climbs upon; but
the Dodder of Thyme is accounted the best, and is the only true
Government and virtues : All Dodders are under
Saturn. Tell not me of physicians crying up Epithymum, or that
Dodder which grows upon Thyme, (most of which comes from Hemetius
in Greece, or Hybla in Sicily, because those mountains abound with
Thyme,) he is a physician indeed, that hath wit enough to choose
the Dodder according to the nature of the disease and humour
peccant. We confess, Thyme is the hottest herb it usually grows
upon; and therefore that which grows upon Thyme is hotter than that
which grows upon cold herbs; for it draws nourishment from what it
grows upon as well as from the earth where its root is, and thus
you see old Saturn is wise enough to have two strings to his bow.
This is accounted the most effectual for melancholy diseases, and
to purge black or burnt choler, which is the cause of many diseases
of the head and brain, as also for the trembling of the heart,
faintings and swoonings. It is helpful in all diseases and griefs
of the spleen, and melancholy that arises from the windiness of the
hypochondria. It purges also the reins or kidneys by urine; it
opens obstructions of the gall, whereby it profits them that have
the jaundice; as also the leaves, the spleen. Purging the veins of
the choleric and phlegmatic humours, and helps children in agues, a
little worm seed being put thereto.
Dodders do, as I said before, participate of the nature of those
plants whereon they grow. As that which hath been found growing
upon nettles in the west-country, hath by experience been found
very effectual to procure plenty of urine where it hath been
stopped or hindered. And so of the rest.
and antipathy are two hinges upon which the whole mode of physic
turns; and that physician who minds them not, is like a door off
from the hooks, more like to do a man mischief, than to secure him.
Then all the diseases Saturn causes, this helps by sympathy, and
strengthens all the parts of the body he rules; such as be caused
by Sol, it helps by antipathy. What those diseases are, see my
judgment of diseases by astrology; and if you be pleased to look at
the herb Wormwood, you shall find a rational way for
DOG'S-GRASS, OR COUCH
Descript : It is well known, that the grass
creeps far about under ground, with long white joined roots, and
small fibres almost at every joint, very sweet in taste, as the
rest of the herb is, and interlacing one another, from whence shoot
forth many fair grassy leaves, small at the ends, and cutting or
sharp on the edges. The stalks are jointed like corn, with the like
leaves on them, and a large spiked head, with a long husk in them,
and hard rough seed in them. If you know it not by this
description, watch the dogs when they are sick, and they will
quickly lead you to it.
Place : It grows commonly through this land in
divers ploughed grounds to the no small trouble of the husbandmen,
as also of the gardeners, in gardens, to weed it out, if they can;
for it is a constant customer to the place it get footing
Government and virtues : 'Tis under the dominion
of Jupiter, and is the most medicinal of all the Quick-grasses.
Being boiled and drank, it opens obstructions of the liver and
gall, and the stopping of urine, and eases the griping pains of the
belly and inflammations; wastes the matter of the stone in the
bladder, and the ulcers thereof also. The roots bruised and
applied, do consolidate wounds. The seed doth more powerfully expel
urine, and stays the lask and vomiting. The distilled water alone,
or with a little wormseed, kills the worms in
The way of
use is to bruise the roots, and having well boiled them in white
wine, drink the decoction: 'Tis opening but not purging, very safe:
'Tis a remedy against all diseases coming of stopping, and such are
half those that are incident to the body of man; and although a
gardener be of another opinion, yet a physician holds half an acre
of them to be worth five acres of Carrots twice told
Descript : This has divers small, round,
pale-green leaves, cut in about the edges, much like mallow,
standing upon long, reddish, hairy stalks lying in a round compass
upon the ground; among which rise up two or three, or more,
reddish, jointed, slender, weak, hairy stalks, with some like
leaves thereon, but smaller, and more cut in up to the tops, where
grow many very small bright red flowers of five leaves a-piece;
after which follow small heads, with small short beaks pointed
forth, as all other sorts of those herbs do.
Place : It grows in pasture grounds, and by the
path-sides in many places, and will also be in
Time : It flowers in June, July, and August, some
earlier and some later; and the seed is ripe quickly
Government and virtues : It is a very gentle,
though martial plant. It is found by experience to be singularly
good for wind cholic, as also to expel the stone and gravel in the
kidneys. The decoction thereof in wine, is an excellent good cure
for those that have inward wounds, hurts, or bruises, both to stay
the bleeding, to dissolve and expel the congealed blood, and to
heal the parts, as also to cleanse and heal outward sores, ulcers
and fistulas; and for green wounds, many do only bruise the herb,
and apply it to the places, and it heals them quickly. The same
decoction in wine fomented to any place pained with the gout, or to
joint-aches, or pains of the sinews, gives much ease. The powder or
decoction of the herb sinews, gives much ease. The powder or
decoction of the herb taken for some time together, is found by
experience to be singularly good for ruptures and burstings in
people, either young or old.
This is so
well known to swim on the tops of standing waters, as ponds, pools,
and ditches, that it is needless further to describe
Government and virtues : Cancer claims the herb,
and the Moon will be Lady of it; a word is enough to a wise man. It
is effectual to help inflammations, and St. Anthony's Fire, as also
the gout, either applied by itself, or in a poultice with Barley
meal. The distilled water by some is highly esteemed against all
inward inflammations and pestilent fevers; as also to help the
redness of the eyes, and swellings of privities, and of the breasts
before they be grown too much. The fresh herb applied to the
forehead, eases the pains of the headache coming of
Descript : This has large leaves lying on the
ground, somewhat cut in, and as it were crumpled on the edges, of a
green colour on the upper side, but covered with long hairy wool,
or Cotton Down, set with most sharp and cruel pricks, from the
middle of whose head of flowers, thrust forth many purplish crimson
threads, and sometimes (although very seldom) white ones. The seed
that follows in the heads, lying in a great deal of white down, is
somewhat large, long, and round, like the seed of ladies thistle,
but paler. The root is great and thick, spreading much, yet it
usually dies after seed time.
Place : It grows in divers ditches, banks, and in
cornfields, and highways, generally everywhere throughout the
Time : It flowers and bears seed about the end of
Summer, when other thistles do flower and seed.
Government and virtues : Mars owns the plant, and
manifest to the world, that though it may hurt your finger, it will
help your body; for I fancy it much for the ensuing virtues. Pliny
and Dioscorides write, That the leaves and roots thereof taken in
drink, help those that have a crick in their neck; whereby taken in
drink, help those that have a crick in their neck; whereby they
cannot turn their neck but their whole body must turn also (sure
they do not mean those that have got a crick in their neck by being
under the hangman's hand.) Galen saith, that the root and leaves
hereof are of a healing quality, and good for such persons as have
their bodies drawn together by some spasm or convulsion, as it is
with children that have the rickets.
so well known to everyone that plants them in their gardens, they
need no description; if not, let them look down to the lower end of
the stalks, and see how like a snake they look.
Government and virtues : The plant is under the
dominion of Mars, and therefore it would be a wonder if it should
want some obnoxious quality or other. In all herbs of that quality,
the safest way is either to distil the herb in an alembick, in what
vehicle you please, or else to press out the juice, and distil that
in a glass still, in sand. It scours and cleanses the internal
parts of the body mightily, and it clears the external parts also,
being externally applied, from freckles, morphew, and sun-burning.
Your best way to use it externally, is to mix it with vinegar; an
ointment of it is held to be good in wounds and ulcers; it consumes
cankers, and that flesh growing in the nostrils, which they call
Polypus. Also the distilled water being dropped into the eyes,
takes away spots there, or the pin and web, and mends the dimness
of sight; it is excellently good against pestilence and poison.
Pliny and Dioscorides affirm, that no serpent will meddle with him
that carries this herb about him.
THE ELDER TREE
I Hold it
needless to write any description of this, since every boy that
plays with a pop-gun will not mistake another tree instead of
Elder. I shall therefore in this place only describe the
Dwarf-Elder, called also Dead-wort, and Wall-wort.
Descript : This is but an herb every year, dying
with his stalks to the ground, and rising afresh every Spring, and
is like unto the Elder both in form and quality, rising up with a
square, rough, hairy stalks, four feet high, or more sometimes. The
winged leaves are somewhat narrower than the Elder, but else like
them. The flowers are white with a dash of purple, standing in
umbels, very like the Elder also, but more sweet in scent, after
which come small blackish berries, full of juice while they are
fresh, wherein is small hard kernels, or seed. The root doth creep
under the upper crust of the ground, springing in divers places,
being of the bigness of one's finger or thumb
Place : The Elder-tree grows in hedges, being
planted there to strengthen the fences and partitions of ground,
and to hold the banks by ditches and water-courses.
Elder grows wild in many places of England, where being once gotten
into a ground, it is not easily gotten forth again.
Time : Most of the Elder Trees, flower in June,
and their fruit is ripe for the most part in August. But the Dwarf
Elder, or Wall-wort, flowers somewhat later, and his fruit is not
ripe until September.
Government and virtues : Both Elder and Dwarf
Tree are under the dominion of Venus. The first shoots of the
common Elder boiled like Asparagus, and the young leaves and stalks
boiled in fat broth, doth mightily carry forth phlegm and choler.
The middle or inward bark boiled in water, and given in drink,
works much more violently; and the berries, either green or dry,
expel the same humour, and are often given with good success to
help the dropsy; the bark of the root boiled in wine, or the juice
thereof drank, works the same effects, but more powerfully than
either the leaves or fruit. The juice of the root taken, doth
mightily procure vomitings, and purges the watery humours of the
dropsy. The decoction of the root taken, cures the biting of an
adder, and biting of mad dogs. It mollifies the hardness of the
mother, if women sit thereon, and opens their veins, and brings
down their courses. The berries boiled in wine perform the same
effect; and the hair of the head washed therewith is made black.
The juice of the green leaves applied to the hot inflammations of
the eyes, assuages them; the juice of the leaves snuffed up into
the nostrils, purges the tunicles of the brain; the juice of the
juice of the berries boiled with honey and dropped into the ears,
helps the pains of them; the decoction of the berries in wine,
being drank, provokes urine; the distilled water of the flowers is
of much use to clean the skin from sun-burning, freckles, morphew,
or the like; and takes away the head-ache, coming of a cold cause,
the head being bathed therewith. The leaves or flowers distilled in
the month of May, and the legs often washed with the said distilled
water, it takes away the ulcers and sores of them. The eyes washed
therewith, it takes away the redness and bloodshot; and the hands
washed morning and evening therewith, helps the palsy, and shaking
Elder is more powerful than the common Elder in opening and purging
choler, phlegm, and water; in helping the gout, piles, and women's
diseases, colours the hair black, helps the inflammations of the
eyes, and pains in the ears, the biting of serpents, or mad dogs,
burnings and scaldings, the wind cholic, cholic, and stone, the
difficulty of urine, the cure of old sores and fistulous ulcers.
Either leaves or bark of Elder, stripped upwards as you gather it,
causes vomiting. Also, Dr. Butler, in a manuscript of his, commends
Dwarf Elder to the sky of dropsies, viz. to drink it, being boiled
in white wine; to drink the decoction I mean, not the