Herbs & Oils
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ELDER (Sambucus canadensis or nigra) Also
known as Ellhorn, Elderberry, Lady Elder, and Black Berried Elder.
A Druid Sacred Tree. Sacred to the White Lady and Midsummer
Solstice. The Druids used it to both bless and curse. In Chinese
medicine, the leaves, stems, and roots are used to treat fractures
and muscle spasms. The flowers treat colds, sore throats, hay
fever, and arthritis, and act as a mild laxative. Named the
"country medicine chest" for its many health uses, the Elderberry
is also rich in European folklore.
elder (S. nigra) can be used as an insecticide in the garden
aor to repel insects fromt he face and body. A simple infusion of
the fresh leaf is made for this purpose. It can also be poured down
mouse and mole holes. The berries are used for jam, wine, pies, and
syrups. Medicinally, they help coughs, colic, diarrhea, sore
throats, asthma, and flu. A pinch of cinnamon makes the tea more
warming. The leaves are added to salves fro skin conditions. The
flowers are infused for fevers, eruptive skin conditions such as
measles, and severe bronchial and lung problems. A classic flu
remedy is a mixture of elderflower, yarrow and peppermint teas.
Keep the patient well covered, as the flowers promote sweating. Use
two teaspoons of the herbs per cup of water, steep for twenty
minutes, and take up to three cups a day.
Parts Used: Leaf, flower, and berry
Magical Uses: Elder wands can be used to drive
out evil spirits or thought forms. Music on panpipes or flutes made
of elder have the same power of the wands. A Dryad "Elder Mother"
is said to live in the tree; she will haunt anyone who cuts down
her wood. Stand or sleep under an elder on Midsummer Eve to see the
King of the Faeries and his retinue pass by. The flowers are used
in wish-fulfillment spells. The leaves , flowers, and berries ae
strewn on aperson, place or thing to bless it. Wood is
NOT to be burned as it is sacred to Hecate. Flowers
are used for altar offerings. Hung over doorways and windows, it
keeps evil from the house. Carry Elder to preserve against the
temptation to commit adultery.
Money; Riches; Love; Blessings; Banishing; Releasing; Consecration;
Cursing; Purification; Cleansing.
EUCALYPTUS: (Eucalyptus spp.) Perhaps the
ultimate healing oil. The Eucalyptus genus comprises over 500
species of aromatic trees and shrubs with deciduous bark. The most
common species, Tasmanian Blue Gum (Eucalyptus globulus) has
a blue-gray trunk, blue-green juvenile leaves, green adult leaves,
and white flower stamens. Eucalyptus leaves, scented of balsamic
camphor, are used by aboriginals to bind wounds; the flower nectar
gives honey; and the oil, distilled from the leaves and twigs, is
used in medicines, aromatherapy, and perfumes. Eucalyptus oil is
antiseptic, expectorant, and anti-viral, treats pulmonary
tuberculosis, lowers blood sugar levels, and is useful for burns,
catarrh and flu. The roots of Eucalyptus trees secrete a poisonous
chemical, inhibiting the growth of nearby plants.
Parts Used: Leaf, twigs, wood, sap and essential
Magical Uses: Add to all healing blends. Apply
(undiluted) to the body to relieve colds. Also used in purification
mixtures. For protection, carry the leaves.
Aromatherapy Uses: Blue Gum: Burns; Blisters;
Cuts; Herpes; Insect Bites; Lice; Skin Infections; Wounds; Muscular
Aches and Pains; Poor Circulation; Rheumatoid Arthritis, Sprains;
Asthma; Bronchitis; Catarrh; Cough; Sinusitis; Throat Infections;
Chicken Pox; Colds; Epidemics; Flu; Measles; Cystitis; Leukorrhea;
Nervous Debility; Headaches; Neuralgia; Insect Repellent. Key
Qualities: Stimulating; Refreshing; Clearing; Purifying; Balsamic;
Lemon Eucalyptus: (E. citriodora)
Athlete's Foot and other Fungal Infections (such as Candida); Cuts;
Dandruff; Herpes; Infectious Skin Conditions (such as Chicken Pox);
Asthma; Laryngitis; Sore Throat; Colds; Fevers; Infectious
Diseases; Insect Repellent. Key Qualities: Invigorating; Active;
EYEBRIGHT: (Euphrasia officionalis) A
Druid sacred herb. This semiparasitic annual extracts its nutrients
from the roots of certain grasses found in poor meadowland. It has
tiny oval leaves and small, scallop-edged, white flowers with
yellow spots and red veins, resembling a bloodshot eye. The
slightly bitter leaves have been used in salads. A whole plant
infusion or strained juice from crushed, fresh stems is a general
eye tonic treating strain and infections, and is a popular cosmetic
wash, giving sparkle to eyes. Its antiseptic, mildly astringent,
inflammation-and phlegm-reducing properties ease the irritated eyes
and runny nose of hay-fever and sinusitis.
Parts Used: Flower, leaf, and twigs
Magical Uses: In a tightly covered pot gently
brew a handful of the herb in a pint of boiling water. Allow to
stand overnight. Strain out the herb, squeezing as dry as possible.
Store the liquid in a tightly sealed container away from sunlight
and heat but not in the refrigerator. Drink a half teaspoon in a
half cup of spring water or psychic herb tea to promote
clairvoyance, clear the mind and improve memory.
incense for clairvoyance and divination. Carry when you need to see
the truth in a matter.
Echinacea angustifolia (DE CANDOLLE)
Medicinal Action and Uses
---Synonyms---Black Sampson. Coneflower. Niggerhead. Rudbeckia.
Brauneria pallida (Nutt.).
Used---Root, dried; also rhizome.
---Habitat---America, west of Ohio, and cultivated in
---Description---Named Echinacea by Linnaeus, and Rudbeckia,
after Rudbeck, father and son, who were his predecessors at
flowers are a rich purple and the florets are seated round a high
cone; seeds, four-sided achenes. Root tapering, cylindrical,
entire, slightly spiral, longitudinally furrowed; fracture short,
fibrous; bark thin; wood, thick, in alternate porous, yellowish and
black transverse wedges, and the rhizome has a circular pith. It
has a faint aromatic smell, with a sweetish taste, leaving a
tingling sensation in the mouth not unlike Aconitum napellus, but
without its lasting numbing effect.
---Constituents---Oil and resin both in wood and bark and
masses of inulin, inuloid, sucrose, vulose, betaine, two
phytosterols and fatty acids, oleic, cerotic, linolic and
and Uses---Echinacea increases bodily resistance to infection and
is used for boils, erysipelas, septicaemia, cancer, syphilis and
other impurities of the blood, its action being antiseptic. It has
also useful properties as a strong alterative and aphrodisiac. As
an injection, the extract has been used for haemorrhoids and a
tincture of the fresh root has been found beneficial in diphtheria
and putrid fevers.
purpurea has similar properties to E. angustifolia; the fresh root
of this is the part used.
See Cucumber (Squirting).
Sambucus nigra (LINN.)
Parts Used Medicinally
--Medicinal Action and Uses
---Synonyms---Black Elder. Common Elder. Pipe Tree. Bore Tree.
Bour Tree. (Fourteenth Century) Hylder, Hylantree. (Anglo-Saxon)
Eldrum. (Low Saxon). Ellhorn. (German) Hollunder. (French)
Used---Bark, leaves, flowers, berries.
with its flat-topped masses of creamy-white, fragrant blossoms,
followed by large drooping bunches of purplish-black, juicy
berries, is a familiar object in English countryside and gardens.
It has been said, with some truth, that our English summer is not
here until the Elder is fully in flower, and that it ends when the
berries are ripe.
'Elder' comes from the Anglo-Saxon word aeld. In Anglo-Saxon days
we find the tree called Eldrun, which becomes Hyldor and Hyllantree
in the fourteenth century. One of its names in modern German -
Hollunder - is clearly derived from the same origin. In Low-Saxon,
the name appears as Ellhorn. Æld meant 'fire,' the hollow stems of
the young branches having been used for blowing up a fire: the soft
pith pushes out easily and the tubes thus formed were used as pipes
- hence it was often called Pipe-Tree, or Bore-tree and Bour-tree,
the latter name remaining in Scotland and being traceable to the
Anglo-Saxon form, Burtre.
generic name Sambucus occurs in the writings of Pliny and other
ancient writers and is evidently adapted from the Greek word
Sambuca, the Sackbut, an ancient musical instrument in much use
among the Romans, in the construction of which, it is surmised, the
wood of this tree, on account of its hardness, was used. The
difficulty, however, of accepting this is that the Sambuca was a
stringed instrument, while anything made from the Elder would
doubtless be a wind instrument, something of the nature of a
Pan-pipe or flute. Pliny records the belief held by country folk
that the shrillest pipes and the most sonorous horns were made of
Elder trees which were grown out of reach of the sound of
cock-crow. At the present day, Italian peasants construct a simple
pipe, which they call sampogna, from the branches of this
popular pop-gun of small boys in the country has often been made of
Elder stems from which the pith has been removed, which moved
Culpepper to declare: 'It is needless to write any description of
this (Elder), since every boy that plays with a pop-gun will not
mistake another tree for the Elder.' Pliny's writings also testify
that pop-guns and whistles are manufactures many centuries
wealth of folk-lore, romance and superstition centre round this
English tree. Shakespeare, in Cymbeline, referring to it as a
symbol of grief, speaks slightingly of it as 'the stinking Elder,'
yet, although many people profess a strong dislike to the scent of
its blossom, the shrub is generally beloved by all who see it. In
countrysides where the Elder flourishes it is certainly one of the
most attractive features of the hedgerow, while its old-world
associations have created for it a place in the hearts of English
In Love's Labour Lost reference is made to
the common medieval belief that 'Judas was hanged on an Elder.' We
meet with this tradition as far back in English literature as
Langland's Vision of Piers Plowman (middle of the fourteenth
century, before Chaucer):
'Judas he japed with Jewen
And sithen an eller hanged
Elder should have been selected as a gallows for the traitor
Apostle is, considering the usual size of the tree, puzzling; but
Sir John Mandeville in his travels, written about the same time,
tells us that he was shown 'faste by' the Pool of Siloam, the
identical 'Tree of Eldre that Judas henge himself upon, for despeyr
that he hadde, when he solde and betrayed oure Lord.' Gerard scouts
the tradition and says that the Judas-tree (Cercis siliquastrum) is
'the tree whereon Judas did hange himselfe.'
Another old tradition was that the Cross
of Calvary was made of it, and an old couplet runs:
'Bour tree - Bour tree: crooked
Never straight and never
Ever bush and never tree
Since our Lord was nailed on
In consequence of these old traditions,
the Elder became the emblem of sorrow and death, and out of the
legends which linger round the tree there grew up a host of
superstitious fancies which still remain in the minds of simple
country folk. Even in these prosaic days, one sometimes comes
across a hedge-cutter who cannot bring himself to molest the
rampant growth of its spreading branches for fear of being pursued
by ill-luck. An old custom among gypsies forbade them using the
wood to kindle their camp fires and gleaners of firewood formerly
would look carefully through the faggots lest a stick of Elder
should have found its way into the bundle, perhaps because the Holy
Cross was believed to have been fashioned out of a giant elder
tree, though probably the superstitious awe of harming the Elder
descended from old heathen myths of northern Europe. In most
countries, especially in Denmark, the Elder was intimately
connected with magic. In its branches was supposed to dwell a
dryad, Hylde-Moer, the Elder-tree Mother, who lived in the tree and
watched over it. Should the tree be cut down and furniture be made
of the wood, Hylde-Moer was believed to follow her property and
haunt the owners. Lady Northcote, in The Book of Herbs,
'There is a tradition that once when a
child was put in a cradle of Elder-wood, HyldeMoer came and pulled
it by the legs and would give it no peace till it was lifted out
Permission to cut Elder wood must always be asked first and not
until Hylde-Moer has given consent by keeping silence, may the
'Our forefathers also held the Ellhorn
holy wherefore whoever need to hew it down (or cut its branches)
has first to make request "Lady Ellhorn, give me some of thy wood
and I will give thee some of mine when it grows in the forest" -
the which, with partly bended knees, bare head and folded arms was
ordinarily done, as I myself have often seen and heard in my
Mr. Jones (quoted in The Treasury of
Botany), in his Notes on Certain Superstitions in the Vale of
Gloucester, cites the following, said to be no unusual
'Some men were employed in removing an old
hedgerow, partially formed of Eldertrees. They had bound up all the
other wood into faggots for burning, but had set apart the elder
and enquired of their master how it was to be disposed of. Upon his
saying that he should of course burn it with the rest, one of the
men said with an air of undisguised alarm, that he had never heard
of such a thing as burning Ellan Wood, and in fact, so strongly did
he feel upon the subject, that he refused to participate in the act
of tying it up. The word Ellan (still common with us) indicates the
origin of the superstition.'
In earlier days, the Elder Tree was
supposed to ward off evil influence and give protection from
witches, a popular belief held in widely-distant countries. Lady
'The Russians believe that Elder-trees
drive away evil spirits, and the Bohemians go to it with a spell to
take away fever. The Sicilians think that sticks of its wood will
kill serpents and drive away robbers, and the Serbs introduce a
stick of Elder into their wedding ceremonies to bring good luck. In
England it was thought that the Elder was never struck by
lightning, and a twig of it tied into three or four knots and
carried in the pocket was a charm against rheumatism. A cross made
of Elder and fastened to cowhouses and stables was supposed to keep
all evil from the animals.'
In Cole's Art of Simpling (1656) we may
read how in the later part of the seventeenth century:
'in order to prevent witches from entering
their houses, the common people used to gather Elder leaves on the
last day of April and affix them to their doors and
and the tree was formerly much cultivated
near English cottages for protection against witches .
The use of the Elder for funeral purposes
was an old English custom referred to by Spenser,
'The Muses that were wont green Baies to
Now bringen bittre Eldre braunches
-------Shepheard's Calendar -
And Canon Ellacombe says that in the
'An Elder bush, trimmed into the form of a
cross, is planted on a new-made grave, and if it blossoms, the soul
of the person Iying beneath it is happy.'
Elder branches were also buried in a grave to protect the dead from
witches and evil spirits, and in some parts it was a custom for the
driver of the hearse to carry a whip made of Elder
In some of
the rural Midlands, it is believed that if a child is chastised
with an Elder switch, it will cease to grow, owing, in this
instance, to some supposed malign influence of the tree. On the
other hand, Lord Bacon commended the rubbing of warts with a green
Elder stick and then burying the stick to rot in the mud, and for
erysipelas, it was recommended to wear about the neck an amulet
made of Elder 'on which the sun had never shined.'
In Denmark we come across the old belief
that he who stood under an Elder tree on Midsummer Eve would see
the King of Fairyland ride by, attended by all his retinue.
Folkard, in Plant-Lore, Legends and Lyrics, relates:
'The pith of the branches when cut in
round, flat shapes, is dipped in oil, lighted, and then put to
float in a glass of water; its light on Christmas Eve is thought to
reveal to the owner all the witches and sorcerers in the
'On Bertha Night (6th January), the devil
goes about with special virulence. As a safeguard, persons are
recommended to make a magic circle, in the centre of which they
should stand, with Elderberries gathered on St. John's night. By
doing this, the mystic Fern-seed may be obtained, which possesses
the strength of thirty or forty men.'
This is a
tree has a narcotic smell, and it is not considered wise to sleep
under its shade. Perhaps the visions of fairyland were the result
of the drugged sleep! No plant will grow under the shadow of it,
being affected by its exhalations.
all these traditions, the Elder has had from the earliest days a
firm claim on the popular affection for its many sterling
are manifold and important. The wood of old trees is white and of a
fine, close grain, easily cut, and polishes well, hence it was used
for making skewers for butchers, shoemakers' pegs, and various
turned articles, such as tops for angling rods and needles for
weaving nets, also for making combs, mathematical instruments and
several different musical instruments, and the pith of the younger
stems, which is exceedingly light, is cut into balls and is used
for electrical experiments and for making small toys. It is also
considerably used for holding small objects for sectioning for
In a cutting of Worlidge's Mystery of
Husbandry (dated 1675) the Elder is included in the 'trees
necessary and proper for fencing and enclosing of
'A considerable Fence,' he writes, 'may be
made of Elder, set of reasonable hasty Truncheons, like the Willow
and may be laid with great curiosity: this makes a speedy shelter
for a garden from Winds, Beasts and suchlike
though he adds and emphasizes with
italics, 'rather than from rude Michers.'
The word 'micher' is now obsolete, but it
means a lurking thief, a skulking vagabond. By clipping two or
three times a year, an Elder hedge may, however, be made close and
compact in growth. There is an old tradition that an Elder stake
will last in the ground longer than an iron bar of the same size,
hence the old couplet:
'An eldern stake and a black thorn ether
Will make a hedge to last for
The leaves have an unpleasant odour when
bruised, which is supposed to be offensive to most insects, and a
decoction of the young leaves is sometimes employed by gardeners to
sprinkle over delicate plants and the buds of the flowers to keep
off the attacks of aphis and minute caterpillars. Moths are fond of
the blossoms, but it was stated by Christopher Gullet (Phil.
Trans., 1772, LXII) that if turnips, cabbages, fruit trees or corn
be whipped with bunches of the green leaves, they gain immunity
from blight. Though this does not sound a very practical procedure,
there is evidently some foundation for this statement, as the
following note which appeared in the Chemist and Druggist, January
6, 1923, would seem to prove:
'A liquid preparation for preventing, and
also curing, blight in fruit trees, wherein the base is a liquid
obtained by boiling the young shoots of the Elder tree or bush,
mixed with suitable proportions of copper sulphate, iron sulphate,
nicotine, soft soap, methylated spirit and slaked
leaves, bruised, if worn in the hat or rubbed on the face, prevent
flies settling on the person. In order to safeguard the skin from
the attacks of mosquitoes, midges and other troublesome flies, an
infusion of the leaves may be dabbed on with advantage. Gather a
few fresh leaves from the elder, tear them from their stalks and
place them in a jug, pouring boiling water on them and covering
them at once, leaving for a few hours. When the infusion is cold,
it is fit for use and should be at once poured off into a bottle
and kept tightly corked. It is desirable to make a fresh infusion
often. The leaves are said to be valued by the farmer for driving
mice away from granaries and moles from their usual
of the older branches has been used in the Scotch Highlands as an
ingredient in dyeing black, also the root. The leaves yield, with
alum, a green dye and the berries dye blue and purple, the Juice
yielding with alum, violet; with alum and salt, a lilac
botanist finds in this plant an object of considerable interest,
for if a twig is partially cut, then cautiously broken and the
divided portions are carefully drawn asunder, the spiral
air-vessels, resembling a screw, may be distinctly
observed that sheep eat the leaves, also cows, but that horses and
goats refuse it. If sheep that have the foot-rot can get at the
bark and young shoots, they will cure themselves. Elderberries are
eaten greedily by young birds and pigeons, but are said to have
serious effects on chickens: the flowers are reported to be fatal
to turkeys, and according to Linnaeus, also to
Flowers and Elder Berries have long been used in the English
countryside for making many home-made drinks and preserves that are
almost as great favourites now as in the time of our
great-grandmothers. The berries make an excellent home-made wine
and winter cordial, which improves with age, and taken hot with
sugar, just before going to bed, is an old-fashioned and
wellestablished cure for a cold.
there are entire orchards of Elder trees cultivated solely for the
sake of their fruit, which is brought regularly to market and sold
for the purpose of making wine. The berries are not only used
legitimately for making Elderberry Wine, but largely in the
manufacture of so-called British wines - they give a red colour to
raisin wine - and in the adulteration of foreign wines. Judiciously
flavoured with vinegar and sugar and small quantities of port wine,
Elder is often the basis of spurious 'clarets' and 'Bordeaux.' 'Men
of nice palates,' says Berkeley (Querist, 1735), 'have been imposed
on by Elder Wine for French Claret.' Cheap port is often faked to
resemble tawny port by the addition of Elderberry juice, which
forms one of the least injurious ingredients of factitious port
wines. Doctoring port wine with Elderberry juice seems to have
assumed such dimensions that in 1747 this practice was forbidden in
Portugal, even the cultivation of the Elder tree was forbidden on
this account. The practice proving so lucrative, however, is by no
means obsolete, but as the berries possess valuable medicinal
properties, this adulteration has no harmful results. The
circumstances under which this was proved are somewhat curious. In
1899 an American sailor informed a physician of Prague that getting
drunk on genuine, old, dark-red port was a sure remedy for
rheumatic pains. This unedifying observation started a long series
of investigations ending in the discovery that while genuine port
wine has practically no anti-neuralgic properties, the cheap stuff
faked to resemble tawny port by the addition of elderberry juice
often banishes the pain of sciatica and other forms of neuralgia,
though of no avail in genuine neuritis. Cases of cure have been
instanced after many tests carried out by leading doctors in Prague
and other centres abroad, the dose recommended being 30 grams of
Elderberry juice mixed with 10 grams of port wine.
Romans, as Pliny records, made use of it in medicine, as well as of
the Dwarf Elder (Sambucus Ebulus). Both kinds were employed in
Britain by the ancient English and Welsh leeches and in Italy in
the medicine of the School of Salernum. Elder still keeps its place
in the British Pharmacopoeia, the cooling effects of Elder flowers
being well known. In many parts of the country, Elder leaves and
buds are used in drinks, poultices and ointments.
It has been termed 'the medicine chest of
the country people' (Ettmueller) and 'a whole magazine of physic to
rustic practitioners,' and it is said the great physician Boerhaave
never passed an Elder without raising his hat, so great an opinion
had he of its curative properties. How great was the popular
estimation of it in Shakespeare's time may be gauged by the line in
the Merry Wives of Windsor, Act II, Sc. 3:
'What says my Æsculapius? my Galen? my
heart of Elder?'
John Evelyn, writing in praise of the
'If the medicinal properties of its
leaves, bark and berries were fully known, I cannot tell what our
countryman could ail for which he might not fetch a remedy from
every hedge, either for sickness, or wounds.'
'The buds boiled in water gruel have
effected wonders in a fever, the spring buds are excellently
wholesome in pattages; and small ale in which Elder flowers have
been infused is esteemed by many so salubrious that this is to be
had in most of the eatinghouses about our town.'
as we have seen, recommends Elder flowers infused in vinegar as an
ingredient of a salad, 'though the leaves are somewhat rank of
smell and so not commendable in sallet they are of the most
sovereign virtue,' and goes so far as to say, 'an extract composed
of the berries greatly assists longevity. Indeed this is a
catholicum against all infirmities whatever.'
twenty years before Evelyn's eulogy there had appeared in 1644 a
book entirely devoted to its praise: The Anatomie of the Elder,
translated from the Latin of Dr. Martin Blockwich by C. de Iryngio
(who seems to have been an army doctor), a treatise of some 230
pages, that in Latin and English went through several editions. It
deals very learnedly with the medicinal virtues of the tree - its
flowers, berries, leaves, 'middle bark,' pith, roots and 'Jew's
ears,' a large fungus often to be found on the Elder (Hirneola
auricula Judae), the name a corruption of 'Judas's ear,' from the
tradition, referred to above, that Judas hanged himself on the
Elder. It is of a purplish tint, resembling in shape and softness
the human ear, and though it occurs also on the Elm, it grows
almost exclusively on Elder trunks in damp, shady places. It is
curious that on account of this connexion with Judas, the fungus
should have (as Sir Thomas Browne says) 'become a famous medicine
in quinses, sore-throats, and strangulation ever since.' Gerard
says, 'the jelly of the Elder otherwise called Jew's ear, taketh
away inflammations of the mouth and throat if they be washed
therewith and doth in like manner help the uvula,' and Salmon,
writing in the early part of the eighteenth century, recommends an
oil of Jew's ears for throat affections. The fungus is edible and
allied species are eaten in China.
refers to this work (or rather to the original by 'Blockwitzius,'
as he calls him!) for the comprehensive statement in praise of the
Elder quoted above. It sets forth that as every part of the tree
was medicinal, so virtually every ailment of the body was curable
by it, from toothache to the plague. It was used externally and
internally, and in amulets (these were especially good for
epilepsy, and in popular belief also for rheumatism), and in every
kind of form - in rob and syrup, tincture, mixture, oil, spirit,
water, liniment, extract, salt, conserve, vinegar, oxymel, sugar,
decoction, bath, cataplasm and powder. Some of these were prepared
from one part of the plant only, others from several or from all.
Their properties are summed up as 'desiccating, conglutinating, and
digesting,' but are extended to include everything necessary to a
universal remedy. The book prescribes in more or less detail for
some seventy or more distinct diseases or classes of diseases, and
the writer is never at a loss for an authority - from Dioscorides
to the Pharmacopoeias of his own day-while the examples of cures he
adduces are drawn from all classes of people, from Emylia, Countess
of Isinburg, to the tradesmen of Heyna and their
interest in the Elder evinced about this period is also
demonstrated by a tract on 'Elder and Juniper Berries, showing how
useful they may be in our Coffee Houses,' which was published with
The Natural History of Coffee, in 1682.
Medicinally---The bark, leaves, flowers and berries.
Bark should be collected in autumn, from young trees. It is best
dried in a moderate sun-heat, being taken indoors at night. When
ready for use, it is a light grey, soft and corky externally, with
broad fissures; white and smooth on the inner surface. The taste of
the bark is sweetish at first, then slightly bitter and nauseous.
It is without odour.
Constituents---The active principle of the bark is a soft resin,
and an acidViburnic acid, which has been proved identical with
Valeric acid. Other constituents are traces of a volatile oil,
albumen, resin, fat, wax, chlorophyll, tannic acid, grape sugar,
gum, extractive, starch, pectin and various alkaline and earthy
salts. (According to an analysis by Kramer in 1881.)
and Uses---The bark is a strong purgative which may be employed
with advantage, an infusion of 1 OZ. in a pint of water being taken
in wineglassful doses; in large doses it is an emetic. Its use as a
purgative dates back to Hippocrates. It has been much employed as a
diuretic, an aqueous solution having been found very useful in
cardiac and renal dropsies. It has also been successfully employed
emollient ointment is made of the green inner bark, and a
homoeopathic tincture made from the fresh inner bark of the young
branches, in diluted form, relieves asthmatic symptoms and spurious
croup of children - dose, 4 or 5 drops in water.
'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 wortheth much
more violently; and the berries, either green or dry, expel the
same humour, and are often given with good success in dropsy; the
bark of the root boiled in wine, or the juice thereof drunk,
worketh the same effects, but more powerfully than either the
leaves or fruit. The juice of the root taken, causes vomitings and
purgeth the watery humours of the dropsy.'
use of the root is now obsolete, its juice was used from very
ancient times to promote both vomiting and purging, and taken, as
another old writer recommends, in doses of 1 to 2 tablespoonsful,
fasting, once in the week, was held to be 'the most excellent purge
of water humours in the world and very singular against dropsy.' A
tea was also made from the roots of Elder, which was considered an
effective preventative for incipient dropsy, in fact the very best
remedy for such cases .
leaves are used both fresh and dry.
the leaves in June and July. Gather only in fine weather, in the
morning, after the dew has been dried by the sun. Strip the leaves
off singly, rejecting any that are stained or insect-eaten. Drying
is then done in the usual manner.
---Constituents---Elder Leaves contain an alkaloid Sambucine, a
purgative resin and the glucoside Sambunigrin, which crystallizes
in white, felted needles. Fresh Elder leaves yield about 0.16 per
cent of hydrocyanic acid. They also contain cane sugar, invertin, a
considerable quantity of potassium nitrate and a crystalline
substance, Eldrin, which has also been found in other white
claims to have isolated the alkaloid Coniine from the branches and
leaves of Sambucus nigra. Alpes (Proc. Amer. Pharm. Assoc., 1900)
found undoubted evidence of an alkaloid in the roots of the
American Elder (S. Canadensis), its odour being somewhat similar to
that of coniine and also suggesting nicotine. This alkaloid was
evidently volatile. It appeared to be much less abundant in the
dried roots after some months keeping. The fresh root of S.
Canadensis has been found extremely poisonous, producing death in
children within a short time after being eaten with symptoms very
similar to those of poisoning by Hemlock (Conium).
leaves are used in the preparation of an ointment, Unguentum
Sambuci Viride, Green Elder Ointment, which is a domestic remedy
for bruises, sprains, chilblains, for use as an emollient, and for
applying to wounds. It can be compounded as follows: Take 3 parts
of fresh Elder leaves, 4 parts of lard and 2 of prepared suet, heat
the Elder leaves with the melted lard and suet until the colour is
extracted, then strain through a linen cloth with pressure and
allow to cool.
Browne (1655) stated: 'The common people keep as a good secret in
curing wounds the leaves of the Elder, which they have gathered the
last day of April.' The leaves, boiled soft with a little linseed
oil, were used as a healing application to piles. An ointment
concocted from the green Elderberries, with camphor and lard, was
formerly ordered by the London College of Surgeons to relieve the
same complaint. The leaves are an ingredient of many cooling
ointments: Here is another recipe, not made from Elder leaves
alone, and very much recommended by modern herbalists as being very
cooling and softening and excellent for all kinds of tumours,
swellings and wounds: Take the Elder leaves 1/2 lb., Plantain
leaves 1/4 lb., Ground Ivy 2 oz., Wormwood 4 oz. (all green); cut
them small, and boil in 4 lb. of lard, in the oven, or over a slow
fire; stir them continually until the leaves become crisp, then
strain, and press out the ointment for use.
Elder Leaves (Oleum Viride), Green Oil, or Oil of Swallows, is
prepared by digesting 1 part of bruised fresh Elder leaves in 3
parts of linseed oil. In commerce, it is said to be generally
coloured with verdigris.
bark, the leaves are also purgative, but more nauseous than the
bark. Their action is likewise expectorant, diuretic and
diaphoretic. They are said to be very efficacious in dropsy. The
juice of Elder leaves is stated by the old herbalists to be good
for inflammation of the eyes, and 'snuffed up the nostrils,'
Culpepper declares, 'purgeth the brain.' Another old notion was
that if the green leaves were warmed between two hot tiles and
applied to the forehead, they would promptly relieve nervous
The use of
the leaves, bruised and in decoction to drive away flies and kill
aphides and other insect pests has already been referred
Flowers are chiefly used in pharmacy in the fresh state for the
distillation of Elder Flower Water, but as the flowering season
only lasts for about three weeks in June, the flowers are often
salted, so as to be available for distillation at a later season,
10 per cent of common salt being added, the flowers being them
termed 'pickled.' They are also dried, for making
flowers are collected when just in full bloom and thrown into
heaps, and after a few hours, during which they become slightly
heated the corollas become loosened and can then be removed by
sifting. The Elder 'flowers' of pharmacy consist of the small white
wheel-shaped, five-lobed, monopetalous corollas only, in the short
tube of which the five stamens with very short filaments and yellow
anthers are inserted. When fresh, the flowers have a slightly
bitter taste and an odour scarcely pleasant. The pickled flowers,
however, gradually acquire an agreeable fragrance and are therefore
generally used for the preparation of Elder Flower Water. A similar
change also takes place in the water distilled from the fresh
domestic herbal medicines, the dried flowers are largely used in
country districts and are sold by herbalists either in dried
bunches of flowers, or sifted free from flower stalks. The flowers
are not easily dried of good colour. If left too late exposed to
the sun before gathering, the flowers assume a brownish colour when
dried, and if the flower bunches are left too long in heaps, to
cause the flowers to fall off, these heaps turn black. If the
inflorescence is only partly open when gathered, the flower-heads
have to be sifted more than once, as the flowers do not open all at
the same time. The best and lightest coloured flowers are obtained
at the first sifting, when the flowers that have matured and fallen
naturally are free from stalks, and dried quickly in a heated
atmosphere. They may be very quickly dried in a heated copper pan,
being stirred about for a few minutes. They can also be dried
almost as quickly in a cool oven, with the door open. Quickness in
drying is essential.
flowers, which are so shrivelled that their details are quite
obscured, have a dingy, brownish-yellow colour and a faint, but
characteristic odour and mucilaginous taste. As a rule, imported
flowers have a duller yellow colour and inferior odour and are sold
at a cheaper rate. When the microscope does not reveal tufts of
short hairs in the sinuses of the calyx, the drug is not of this
species. Most pharmacopoeias specify that dark brown or blackish
flowers should be rejected. This appearance may be due to their
having been collected some time after opening, to carelessness in
drying, or to having been preserved too long.
flowers of the Dwarf Elder, a comparatively uncommon plant in this
country are distinguished from those of the Common Elder by having
dark red anthers.
flowers of the Yarrow (Achillea millefolium), and other composite
plants, which have been used as adulterants of Elder flowers differ
still more markedly in appearance and their presence in the drug is
---Constituents---The most important constituent of Elder
Flowers is a trace of semisolid volatile oil, present to the extent
only of 0.32, per cent possessing the odour of the flowers in a
high degree. It is obtained by distilling the fresh flowers with
water, saturating the distillate with salt and shaking it with
ether. On evaporating the ethereal solution, the oil is obtained as
a yellowish, buttery mass. Without ether, fresh Elder flowers yield
0.037 per cent of the volatile oil and the dried flowers 0.0027 per
Flower Water (Aqua Sambuci) is an official preparation of the
British Pharmacopoeia, which directs that it be made from 100 parts
of Elder Flowers distilled with 500 parts of water (about 10 lb. to
the gallon), and that if fresh Elder flowers are not obtainable, an
equivalent quantity of the flowers preserved with common salt be
used. The product has at first a distinctly unpleasant odour, but
gradually acquires an agreeably aromatic odour, and it is
preferable not to use it until this change has taken
Flower Water is employed in mixing medicines and chiefly as a
vehicle for eye and skin lotions. It is mildly astringent and a
gentle stimulant. It is the Eau de Sureau of the Continent, Sureau
being the French name of the Eider.
Here is a
recipe that can be carried out at home: Fill a large jar with Elder
blossoms, pressing them down, the stalks of course having been
removed previously. Pour on them 2 quarts of boiling water and when
slightly cooled, add 1 1/2 OZ. of rectified spirits. Cover with a
folded cloth, and stand the jar in a warm place for some hours.
Then allow it to get quite cold and strain through muslin. Put into
bottles and cork securely.
Elderflower Water in our great-grandmothers' days was a
household word for clearing the complexion of freckles and sunburn,
and keeping it in a good condition. Every lady's toilet table
possessed a bottle of the liquid, and she relied on this to keep
her skin fair and white and free from blemishes, and it has not
lost its reputation. Its use after sea-bathing has been
recommended, and if any eruption should appear on the face as the
effect of salt water, it is a good plan to use a mixture composed
of Elder Flower Water with glycerine and borax, and apply it night
Flowers, if placed in the water used for washing the hands and
face, will both whiten and soften the skin-a convenient way being
to place them in a small muslin bag. Such a bag steeped in the
bathwater makes a most refreshing bath and a wellknown French
doctor has stated that he considers it a fine aid in the bath in
cases of irritability of the skin and nerves.
flowers were used by our forefathers in bronchial and pulmonary
affections, and in scarlet fever, measles and other eruptive
diseases. An infusion of the dried flowers, Elder Flower Tea, is
said to promote expectoration in pleurisy; it is gently laxative
and aperient and is considered excellent for inducing free
perspiration. It is a good oldfashioned remedy for colds and throat
trouble, taken hot on going to bed. An almost infallible cure for
an attack of influenza in its first stage is a strong infusion of
dried Elder Blossoms and Peppermint. Put a handful of each in a
jug, pour over them a pint and a half of boiling water, allow to
steep, on the stove, for half an hour then strain and sweeten and
drink in bed as hot as possible. Heavy perspiration and refreshing
sleep will follow, and the patient will wake up well on the way to
recovery and the cold or influenza will probably be banished within
thirty-six hours. Yarrow may also be added.
Flower Tea, cold, was also considered almost as good for
inflammation of the eyes as the distilled Elder Flower
from Elder Flowers has also been recommended as a splendid spring
medicine, to be taken every morning before breakfast for some
weeks, being considered an excellent blood purifier.
Externally, Elder Flowers are used in
fomentations, to ease pain and abate inflammation. An old writer
'There be nothing more excellent to ease
the pains of the haemorrhoids than a fomentation made of the
flowers of the Elder and Verbusie, or Honeysuckle in water or milk
for a short time. It easeth the greatest pain. '
too, can be made by pouring boiling water on the dried blossoms,
which is healing, cooling and soothing. Add 2 1/2 drachms of Elder
Flowers to 1 quart of boiling water, infuse for an hour and then
strain. The liquor can be applied as a lotion by means of a linen
rag, for tumours boils, and affections of the skin, and is said to
be effective put on the temples against headache and also for
warding off the attacks of flies.
A salad of
young Elder buds, macerated a little in hot water and dressed with
oil, vinegar and salt, has been used as a remedy against skin
Vinegar made from the flowers is an old remedy for sore
ointment is also prepared from the flowers by infusion in warm
lard, useful for dressing wounds, burns and scalds, which is used,
also, as a basis for pomades and cosmetic ointments, Elder Flower
Ointment (Unguentum Sambuci) was largely used for wounded horses in
the War - the Blue Cross made a special appeal for supplies - but
it is also good for human use and is an old remedy for chapped
hands and chilblains. Equal quantities of the fresh flowers and of
lard are taken, the flowers are heated with the lard until they
become crisp, then strained through a linen cloth with pressure and
allowed to cool. For use as a Face Cream, (This preparation is
hardly suitable as a cosmetic, as lard induces the growth of hair.
- EDITOR.) the directions are a little more elaborate, but it is
essentially the same: Melt lard in a pan then add a small cup of
cold water and stir well. Simmer with the lid on for about an hour
and finally let the mixture boil with the lid off until all the
water has evaporated; this will have happened when, on stirring, no
steam arises. Place on one side to cool a little and then pass the
liquid fat through a piece of muslin so that it may be well
strained and free from impurities. Take a quantity of Elder Flowers
equal in weight to the lard and place these in the lard. Then boil
up the mixture again, keeping it simmering for a good hour. At the
end of that time, strain the whole through a coarse cloth and when
cool, the ointment will be ready for use.
Flowers, with their subtle sweet scent, entered into much delicate
cookery, in olden days. Formerly the creamy blossoms were beaten up
in the batter of flannel cakes and muffins, to which they gave a
more delicate texture. They were also boiled in gruel as a
fever-drink, and were added to the posset of the Christening
other parts of the Elder plant, except the wood and pith, are more
active than either the flowers or the fruit. Fresh Elder Berries
are found to contain sudorific properties similar to those of the
flowers, but weaker. Chemically, the berries furnish Viburnic acid,
with an odorous oil, combined with malates of potash and lime. The
fresh, ripe fruits contain Tyrosin.
colouring matter extracted from them has been considerably used as
an indication for alkalis, with which it gives a green colour,
being red with acids. (Alkalis redden some vegetable yellows and
change some vegetable blues to green.) According to Cowie this
colouring matter is best extracted in the form of a 20 per cent
tincture from the refuse remaining after the expression of the
first juice. The colouring matter is precipitated blue by lead
acetate (National Standard Dispensatory, 1909.)
made use of Elderberry juice as a hair-dye, and Culpepper tells us
that 'the hair of the head washed with the berries boiled in wine
is made black.'
English Elder Berries, as we have seen,
are extensively used for the preparation of Elder Wine. French and
other Continental Elder berries, when dried, are not liked for this
purpose, as they have a more unpleasant odour and flavour, and
English berries are preferred. Possibly this may be due to the
conditions of growth, or variety, or to the presence of the berries
of the Dwarf Elder. Aubrey (1626-97) tells us that:
'the apothecaries well know the use of the
berries, and so do the vintners, who buy vast quantities of them in
London, and some do make no inconsiderable profit by the sale of
held by our forefathers to be efficacious in rheumatism and
erysipelas. They have aperient, diuretic and emetic properties, and
the inspissated juice of the berries has been used as an alterative
in rheumatism and syphilis in doses of from one to two drachms,
also as a laxative in doses of half an ounce or more. It promotes
all fluid secretions and natural evacuations.
and diarrhoea, a tea made of the dried berries is said to be a good
Anatomie of the Elder, it is stated that the berries of the Elder
and Herb Paris are useful in epilepsy. Green Elderberry Ointment
has already been mentioned as curative of piles.
After enumerating many uses of the Elder,
'The seeds contained within the berries,
dried, are good for such as have the dropsie, and such as are too
fat, and would faine be leaner, if they be taken in a morning to
the quantity of a dram with wine for a certain space. The green
leaves, pounded with Deeres suet or Bulls tallow are good to be
laid to hot swellings and tumors, and doth assuage the paine of the
physician to James I, also tells us of the same use of the seeds,
which he recommends to be taken powdered, in vinegar.
Wine has a curative power of established repute as a remedy, taken
hot, at night, for promoting perspiration in the early stages of
severe catarrh, accompanied by shivering, sore throat, etc. Like
Elderflower Tea, it is one of the best preventives known against
the advance of influenza and the ill effects of a chill. A little
cinnamon may be added. It has also a reputation as an excellent
remedy for asthma.
from time immemorial, a 'Rob' (a vegetable juice thickened by heat)
has been made from the juice of Elderberries simmered and thickened
with sugar, forming an invaluable cordial for colds and coughs, but
only of late years has science proved that Elderberries furnish
Viburnic acid, which induces perspiration, and is especially useful
in cases of bronchitis and similar troubles.
Elderberry Rob, 5 lb. of fresh ripe, crushed berries are simmered
with 1 lb. of loaf sugar and the juice evaporated to the thickness
of honey. It is cordial, aperient and diuretic. One or two
tablespoonsful mixed with a tumblerful of hot water, taken at
night, promotes perspiration and is demulcent to the chest. The Rob
when made can be bottled and stored for the winter. Herbalists sell
it ready for use.
Elderberries' is made as follows: Pick the berries when throughly
ripe from the stalks and stew with a little water in a jar in the
oven or pan. After straining, allow 1/2 oz. of whole ginger and 18
cloves to each gallon. Boil the ingredients an hour, strain again
and bottle. The syrup is an excellent cure for a cold. To about a
wineglassful of Elderberry syrup, add hot water, and if liked,
of Elderberries and the Rob were once official in this country (as
they are still in Holland), the rob being the older of of the two,
and the one that retained its place longer in our Pharmacopoeia. In
1788, its name was changed to Succus Sambuci spissatus, and in 1809
it disappeared altogether. Brookes in 1773 strongly recommended it
as a 'saponaceous Resolvent' promoting 'the natural secretions by
stool, urine and sweat,' and, diluted with water, for common colds.
John Wesley, in his Primitive Physick, directs it to be taken in
broth, and in Germany it is used as an ingredient in
six or seven robs in the old London Pharmacopceia, to most of which
sugar was added. They were thicker than syrups, but did not differ
materially from them; among them was a rob of Elderberries, and
both Quincy and Bates had a syrup of Elder.
prescription for sciatica (called the Duke of Monmouth's recipe)
was compounded of ripe haws and fennel roots, distilled in white
wine and taken with syrup of Elder.
The use of
the juicy berries, not as medicine, but as a pleasant article of
food, in jam, jelly, chutney and ketchup has already been
Preparations---Fluid extract of bark, 1/2 to 1 drachm. Water,
recipe for Elder Wine
quart of berries put 2 quarts of water; boil half an hour, run the
liquor and break the fruit through a hair sieve; then to every
quart of juice, put 3/4 of a pound of Lisbon sugar, coarse, but not
the very coarsest. Boil the whole a quarter of an hour with some
Jamaica peppers, ginger, and a few cloves. Pour it into a tub, and
when of a proper warmth, into the barrel, with toast and yeast to
work, which there is more difficulty to make it do than most other
liquors. When it ceases to hiss, put a quart of brandy to eight
gallons and stop up. Bottle in the spring, or at Christmas. The
liquor must be in a warm place to make it work.'
The following recipe for making Elder Wine
is given by Mrs. Hewlett in a work entitled Cottage
'If two gallons of wine are to be made,
get one gallon of Elderberries, and a quart of damsons, or sloes;
boil them together in six quarts of water, for half an hour,
breaking the fruit with a stick, flat at one end; run off the
liquor, and squeeze the pulp through a sieve, or straining cloth;
boil the liquor up again with six pounds of coarse sugar, two
ounces of ginger, two ounces of bruised allspice, and one ounce of
hops; (the spice had better be loosely tied in a bit of muslin);
let this boil above half an hour; then pour it off, when quite
cool, stir in a teacupful of yeast, and cover it up to work. After
two days, skim off the yeast, and put the wine into the barrel, and
when it ceases to hiss, which will be in about a fortnight, paste a
stiff brown paper over the bung-hole. After this, it will be fit
for use in about 8 weeks, but will keep 8 years, if required. The
bag of spice may be dropped in at the bung-hole, having a string
fastened outside, which shall keep it from reaching the bottom of
berries, which must be quite ripe, into a dry pan and pour 2
gallons of boiling water over 3 gallons of berries. Cover and leave
in a warm place for 24 hours; then strain, pressing the juice well
out. Measure it and allow 3 pounds of sugar, half an ounce of
ginger and 1/4 ounce of cloves to each gallon. Boil for 20 minutes
slowly, then strain it into a cask and ferment when lukewarm. Let
it remain until still, before bunging, and bottle in six
weaker wine is preferred, use 4 gallons of water to 3 gallons of
berries and leave for two days before straining.
'If a cask
be not available, large stone jars will answer: then the wine need
not be bottled.'
tells us that fresh Elder Flowers hung in a vessel of new wine and
pressed every evening for seven nights together, 'giveth to the
wine a very good relish and a smell like Muscadine.' Ale was also
infused with Elder flowers.
berries make good pies, if blended with spices, and formerly used
to be preserved with spice and kept for winter use in pies when
fruit was scarce. Quite a delicious jam can also be made of them,
mixed with apples, which has much the flavour of Blackberry jam.
They mix to very great advantage with Crab Apple, or with the hard
Catillac cooking Pear, or with Vegetable Marrow, and also with
Blackberries or Rhubarb.
Preserving Section of the Food Ministry issued during the War the
following recipe for Elderberry and Apple Jam: 6 lb. Elderberries,
6 lb. sliced apples, 12 lb. sugar. Make a pulp of the apples by
boiling in water till soft and passing through a coarse sieve to
remove any seeds or cores. The Elderberries should also be stewed
for half an hour to soften them. Combine the Apple pulp, berries
and sugar and return to the fire to boil till thick.
quantities of Elderberries and Apples, 3/4 lb. sugar and one lemon
to each pound of fruit. Strip the berries from the stalks, peel,
core and cut up the apples and weigh both fruits. Put the
Elderberries into a pan over low heat and bruise them with a wooden
spoon. When the juice begins to flow, add the Apples and one-third
of the sugar and bring slowly to the boil. When quite soft, rub all
through a hair sieve. Return the pulp to the pan, add the rest of
the sugar, the grated lemon rind and juice and boil for half an
hour, or until the jam sets when tested. Remove all scum, put into
pots and cover.
pound of berries add 1/4 pint ofwater, the juice of 2 lemons and 1
lb. of sugar. Boil from 30 to 45 minutes, until it sets when
tested. Put into jars and tie down when cold.
Elderberry will, of course, also make a jelly. As it is a juicy
fruit, it will not need the addition of any more liquid than,
perhaps, a squeeze of lemon. Equal quantities of Elderberry juice
and apple juice, and apple juice from peeling, will require 3/4 lb.
of sugar to a pint. Elderberry Jelly is firm and flavorous, with a
fruit is not quite ripe, it may be preserved in brine and used as a
substitute for capers.
from Elder Berries, too, was formerly distilled and mixed with
vinegar for salad dressings and flavouring sauces. Vinegars used in
former times frequently to be aromatized by steeping in them
barberries, rosemary, rose leaves, gilliflowers, lavender, violets
- in short, any scented flower or plant though tarragon is now
practically the only herb used in this manner to any large extent.
is made thus:
Take 2 lb.
of dried flowers of Elder. If you use your own flowers, pluck
carefully their stalks from them and dry them carefully and
thoroughly. This done, place in a large vessel and pour over them 2
pints of good vinegar. Close the vessel hermetically, keep it in a
very warm place and shake them from time to time. After 8 days,
strain the vinegar through a paper filter. Keep in well-stoppered
This is an
old-world simple, but rarely met with nowadays, but worth the
slight trouble of making. It was well-known and appreciated in
former days and often mentioned in old books; Steele, in The
Tatler, says: 'They had dissented about the preference of Elder to
has the chance of now tasting the old country pickle made from the
tender young shoots and flowers. John Evelyn, writing in 1664,
recommends Elder flowers infused in vinegar as an ingredient of a
salad. The pickled blossoms are said by those who have tried them
to be a welcome relish with boiled mutton, as a substitute for
capers. Clusters of the flowers are gathered in their unripened
green state, put into a stone jar and covered with boiling vinegar.
Spices are unnecessary. The jar is tied down directly the pickle is
cold. This pickle is very good and has the advantage of costing
next to nothing.
made from the tender young shoots - sometimes known as 'English
Bamboo' - is more elaborate. During May, in the middle of the Elder
bushes in the hedges, large young green shoots may be observed. Cut
these, selecting the greenest, peel off every vestige of the outer
skin and lay them in salt and water overnight. Each individual
length must be carefully chosen, for while they must not be too
immature, if the shoots are at all woody, they will not be worth
eating, The following morning, prepare the pickle for the Mock
Bamboo. To a quart of vinegar, add an ounce of white pepper, an
ounce of ginger, half a saltspoonful of mace and boil all well
together. Remove the Elder shoots from the salt and water, dry in a
cloth and slice up into suitable pieces, laying them in a stone
jar. Pour the boiling mixture over them and either place them in an
oven for 2 hours, or in a pan of boiling water on the stove. When
cold, the pickle should be green in colour. If not, strain the
liquor, boil it up again, pour over the shoots and repeat the
process. The great art of obtaining and retaining the essence of
the plant lies in excluding air from the tied-down jar as much as
shoots can also be boiled in salted water with a pinch of soda to
preserve the colour, they prove beautifully tender, resembling
spinach, and form quite a welcome addition to the dinner
can be made of the berries for Ketchup and Chutney, and the
following recipes will be found excellent.
Elderberries, 1 large Onion, 1 pint vinegar, 1 teaspoonful salt, 1
teaspoonful ground ginger, 2 tablespoonsful sugar, 1 saltspoonful
cayenne and mixed spices, 1 teaspoonful mustard seed.
weigh and wash the berries; put them into a pan and bruise with a
wooden spoon; chop the onion and add with the rest of the
ingredients and vinegar. Bring to the boil and simmer till it
becomes thick. Stir well, being careful not to let it burn as it
thickens. Put into jars and cover.
Rub 1 1/2
lb. of berries through a wire sieve, pound 1 onion, 6 cloves, 1/4
oz. ground ginger, 2 oz. Demerara sugar, 3 oz. stoned raisins, a
dust of cayenne and mace, 1 teaspoonful salt and 1 pint vinegar.
Put all in an enamelled saucepan and boil with the pulp of the
berries for 10 minutes. Take the pan from the fire and let it stand
till cold. Put the chutney into jars and cork
Elderberries, 1 OZ. shallots, 1 blade mace, 1/2 oz. peppercorns, 1
1/2 OZ. whole ginger, 1 pint vinegar.
berries (which must be ripe) from the stalks, weigh and wash them.
Put them into an unglazed crock or jar, pour over the boiling
vinegar and leave all night in a cool oven. Next day, strain the
liquor from the berries through a cloth tied on to the legs of an
inverted chair and put it into a pan, with the peeled and minced
shallots, the ginger peeled and cut up small, the mace and
peppercorns. Boil for 10 minutes, then put into bottles, dividing
the spices among the bottles. Cork well.
of the tree - bark, leaves, flowers and berries - have long enjoyed
a high reputation in domestic medicine. From the days of
Hippocrates, it has been famous for its medicinal
Sambucus Ebulus (LINN.)
Medicinal Action and Uses
---Synonyms---Danewort. Walewort. Blood Hilder.
---Habitat---This species is found less frequently in
hedges, but inclines to waste places, not infrequently among
rubbish and the ruined foundations of old buildings. Gerard speaks
of the 'dwarf Elder' growing 'in untoiled places plentifully in the
lane at Kilburne Abbey by London.' The celebrated natural historian
of Selborne speaks of the Dwarf Elder as growing among the rubbish
and ruined foundations of the Priory. Spots of equal interest with
that of Selborne might be cited as favourite haunts of the Dwarf
Elder. It grows profusely near Carisbrooke Castle, below the
timeworn walls of Scarborough Castle, beside the old Roman Watling
Street, where it is crossed by the footpath from Norton to Wilton,
Its old names, Danewort and Walewort (wal-slaughter) are
supposed to be traceable to an old belief that it sprang from the
blood of slain Danes - it grows near Slaughterford in Wilts, that
being the site of a great Danish battle. Another notion is that it
was brought to England by the Danes and planted on the battlefields
and graves of their slain countrymen. In Norfolk it still bears the
name of Danewort and Blood Hilder (Blood Elder). In accounting for
its English name, Sir J. E. Smith says: 'Our ancestors evinced a
just hatred of their brutal enemies, the Danes, in supposing the
nauseous, fetid and noxious plant before us to have sprung from
The Dwarf Elder differs from the Common Elder in being a
herbaceous plant seldom exceeding 3 feet in height and dying back
to the ground every year, spreading by underground shoots from the
---Description---In leaf, flower and subsequent berry it
bears a close resemblance to the Common Elder tree; the stem,
however, is not woody and the leaves are distinguished by having a
stipule, or small leaf, at the base of the finely-toothed leaflets,
which are more numerous than those of the Common Elder, usually
seven in number, larger and narrower and sometimes lobed. The
flowers are whiter than those of the Common Elder, the corollas
splashed with crimson on the outside and have dark red anthers.
They are in bloom in July and August, have a less aromatic smell
and do not always bring their fruit, a reddishpurple berry, to
perfect ripeness in this country. The berries are, however, often
present among imported Continental dried elderberries, the species
being much more common there than here. In France it is called
Hièble, in Germany Attichwurzel.
---Medicinal Action and Uses---Expectorant, diuretic,
The Dwarf Elder has more drastic therapeutic action than the
Common Elder, and it is only the leaves, or very occasionally the
berries, that are used medicinally. The leaves are probably more
used in herbal practice than those of Sambucus nigra, and
are ingredients in medicines for inflammation of both kidney and
liver. The drug is said to be very efficacious in dropsy. Dwarf
Elder Tea, which has been considered one of the best remedies for
dropsy, is prepared from the dried roots, cut up fine or ground to
powder; the drug was much used by Kneipp.
The root, which is white and fleshy, has a nauseous, bitter
taste and a decoction from it is a drastic purgative. Culpepper
states that the decoction cures the bites of mad dogs and adders.
The root-juice has been employed to dye hair black.
The leaves, bruised and laid on boils and scalds, have a
healing effect, and boiled in wine and made into a poultice were
employed in France to resolve swellings and relieve
A rob made from the berries is actively purgative.
An oil extracted from the seeds has been used as an application
to painful joints.
Mice and moles are said not to come near the leaves, and in
Silesia there is a belief that it prevents some of the diseases of
swine, being strewn in sties.
In the United States, the name of Dwarf Elder is given to an
entirely different plant, viz. Aralia hispida (N.O.
Araliaceae). In Homoeopathy, it is the American Dwarf Elder which
is employed. There it is also called Bristly Sarsaparilla and Wild
Elder. It is found growing in rocky places in North
The homoeopaths use a tincture from the fresh, root and a fluid
extract is also prepared from it. It has sudorific, diuretic and
alterative properties and is regarded as very valuable in dropsy,
gravel and in suppression of urine. It is particularly recommended
as a diuretic in dropsy, being more acceptable to the stomach than
other remedies of the same class.
The 'Prickly Elder' of America is a closely related species,
A. spinosa, also known as False Prickly Ash (the real
Prickly Ash being Xanthoxylum Americanum), which contains a
glucoside named Aralin. A decoction of the plant is used for the
same purposes as Sarsaparilla.
The 'Poison Elder' of America is again no Elder, but a Sumach,
its other name being Swamp Sumach, botanically Rhus verni
(Linn.). It is a handsome shrub or small tree, 10 to 15 feet high,
growing in swamps from Canada to California, with very small
greenish flowers and small greenish-white berries and is extremely
poisonous. It was confounded by the older botanists with R.
vernicifera (D.C.) of Japan, the Japanese lacquer tree, which
has similar poisonous properties. Its synonym is R. venenata
(D.C.) See SUMACH.
There is a tree called the 'Box Elder,' mentioned by W. J. Bean
in his Trees and Shrubs hardy in the British Isles; this is
not a true Elder, however, but one of the American maples that
There are about half a dozen species of Elder hardy in Great
Britain. The Common Elder (S. nigra), of which there are
many varieties in cultivation, several of which are very
ornamental, has leaves often very finely divided and jagged and
variegated both with golden and silver blotches, a specially
ornamental form being the 'golden cut-leaf Elder,' and another with
yellow berries; the American Elder (S. canadensis) (the
flowers of which, together with those of S. nigra are
official in the United States Pharmacopoeia) has berries smaller
and deep purple rather than black, the leaves broader and the
flowers more fragrant than our Common Elder, it never attains tree
size, but is a shrub of from 6 to 10 feet in height; the Blue Elder
(S. glauca), the intensely blue berries of which are used as
a food, when cooked, in California; the Red-berried Elder (S.
racemosa), a pretty species, native of Central and Southern
Europe, cultivated in shrubberies, which flowers in March and
towards the end of summer is highly ornamental, with large oval
clusters of bright scarlet berries, is so attractive to birds that
their beauty is rarely seen, except when cultivated close to a
house; the Red-berried American Elder (S. rubens and S.
---Cultivation---The Elders like moisture and a loamy
soil; given these, they are not difficult to accommodate. The
pruning of the sorts grown for their foliage should be done before
They can be easily propagated by cuttings or by seeds, but the
former being the most expeditious method is generally followed. The
season for planting the cuttings is any time from September to
March, and no more care is needed than to thrust the cuttings 6 to
8 inches into the ground. They will take root very quickly, and can
be afterwards transplanted where they are to remain. If their
berries are allowed to fall upon the ground, they will produce
abundance of plants in the following summer.
Herbaceous kinds like S. Ebulus may be increased by
dividing the rootstocks in early autumn or spring.
Elder, Dwarf, American
Botanical: Aralia hispida
Family: N.O. Araliaceae
Medicinal Action and Uses
---Habitat---New England to Virginia.
A perennial, stem 1 to 2 feet high, lower part woody and
shrubby, beset with sharp bristles, upper part leafy and branching.
Leaflets oblongovate, acute serrate, leaves bipinnate, many simple
umbels, globose, axillary and terminal on long peduncles, has
bunches of dark-coloured nauseous berries, flowers June to
September. The whole plant smells unpleasantly. Fruit, black,
round, one-celled, has three irregular-shaped seeds. The bark is
used medicinally, but the root is the more active.
This plant must not be confused with the English Dwarf Elder (Sambucus
---Medicinal Action and Uses---Sudorific in warm
infusion - bark diuretic and alterative and has a special action on
kidneys. Most valuable in urinary diseases, dropsy, gravel,
suppression of urine, etc. A decoction of the fresh roots and juice
are efficacious in dropsy, being a good hydragogue and also an
emetic. Dose, decoction, 2 to 4 oz. three times daily.
Aralia spinosa. The berries are used in an infusion of
wine or spirits, relieving violent colic and rheumatic pains. It
contains the glucoside Araliin.
See also GINSENG
Botanical: Inula Helenium (LINN.)
Family: N.O. Compositae
Part Used Medicinally
Medicinal Action and Uses
---Synonyms---Scabwort. Elf Dock. Wild Sunflower.
Horseheal. Velvet Dock.
---Habitat---Elecampane is one of our largest herbaceous
plants. It is found widely distributed throughout England, though
can scarcely be termed common, occurring only locally, in damp
pastures and shady ground. It is probably a true native plant in
southern England, but where found farther north may have originally
only been an escape from cultivation, as it was cultivated for
centuries as a medicinal plant, being a common remedy for
sicknesses in the Middle Ages. When present in Scotland, it is
considered to have been introduced. Culpepper says:
'It groweth in moist grounds and shadowy places oftener than in
the dry and open borders of field and lanes and other waste places,
almost in every county in this country, but it was probably more
common in his days, cultivation of it being still
It is found wild throughout continental Europe, from Gothland
southwards, and extends eastwards in temperate Asia as far as
Southern Siberia and North-West India. As a plant of cultivation,
it has wandered to North America, where it has become thoroughly
naturalized in the eastern United States, being found from Nova
Scotia to Northern Carolina, and westward as far as Missouri,
growing abundantly in pastures and along roadsides, preferring wet,
rocky ground at or near the base of eastern and southern
---Description---It is a striking and handsome plant.
The erect stem grows from 4 to 5 feet high, is very stout and
deeply furrowed, and near the top, branched. The whole plant is
downy. It produces a radical rosette of enormous, ovate, pointed
leaves, from 1 to 1 1/2 feet long and 4 inches broad in the middle
velvety beneath, with toothed margins an borne on long foot-stalks;
in general appearance the leaves are not unlike those of Mullein.
Those on the stem become shorter andrelatively broader and are
The plant is in bloom from June to August. The flowers are
bright yellow, in very large, terminal heads, 3 to 4 inches in
diameter, on long stalks, resembling a double sunflower. The broad
bracts of the leafy involucre under the head are velvety. After the
flowers have fallen, these involucral scales spread horizontally,
and the removal of the fruit shows the beautifully regular
arrangement of the little pits on the receptacle, which form a
pattern like the engine-turning of a watch. The fruit is
quadrangular and crowned by a ring of pale-reddish hairs - the
The plant springs from a perennial rootstock, which is large
and succulent, spindleshaped and branching, brown and aromatic,
with large, fleshy roots.
known to the ancient writers on agriculture and natural history,
and even the Roman poets were acquainted with it, and mention Inula
as affording a root used both as a medicine and a condiment.
Horace, in the Eighth Satire, relates how Fundanius first taught
the making of a delicate sauce by boiling in it the bitter Inula,
and how the Romans, after dining too richly, pined for turnips and
the appetizing Enulas acidas:
Atque acidas mavult
Inula, the Latin classical name for the plant, is
considered to be a corruption of the Greek word Helenion
which in its Latinized form, Helenium, is also now applied
to the same species. There are many fables about the origin of this
name. Gerard tells us: 'It took the name Helenium of Helena, wife
of Menelaus, who had her hands full of it when Paris stole her away
into Phrygia.' Another legend states that it sprang from her tears:
another that Helen first used it against venomous bites; a fourth,
that it took the name from the island Helena, where the best plants
Vegetius Renatus about the beginning of the fifth century,
calls it Inula campana, and St. Isidore, in the beginning of
the seventh, names it Inula, adding 'quam Alam rustici
vocant.' By the mediaeval writers it was often written
Enula. Elecampane is a corruption of the ante-Linnaean name
Enula campana, so called from its growing wild in
The herb is of ancient medicinal repute, having been described
by Dioscorides and Pliny. An old Latin distich celebrates its
virtues: Enula campana reddit praecordia sana (Elecampane
will the spirits sustain). 'Julia Augustus,' said Pliny, 'let no
day pass without eating some of the roots of Enula, considered to
help digestion and cause mirth.' The monks equally esteemed it as a
cordial. Pliny affirmed that the root 'being chewed fasting, doth
fasten the teeth,' and Galen that 'It is good for passions of the
hucklebone called sciatica.'
Dioscorides, in speaking of Castus root, related that it is
often mixed with that of Elecampane, from Kommagene (N.W. Syria)
(Castus, derived from Aplotaxis auriculata (D.C.), is
remarkably similar to Elecampane, both in external appearance and
structure. It is an important spice, incense and medicine in the
Elecampane is frequently mentioned in the Anglo-Saxon writings
on medicine current in England prior to the Norman Conquest; it is
also the 'Marchalan' of the Welsh physicians of the thirteenth
century, and was generally known during the Middle
It was formally cultivated in all private herb-gardens, as a
culinary and medicinal plant, and it is still to be found in old
cottage gardens. Not only was its root much employed as a medicine,
but it was also candied and eaten as a sweetmeat. Dr. Fernie tells
us, in Herbal Simples:
'Some fifty years ago, the
candy was sold commonly in London as flat, round cakes being
composed largely of sugar and coloured with cochineal. A piece was
eaten each night and morning for asthmatical complaints, whilst it
was customary when travelling by a river, to suck a bit of the root
against poisonous exalations and bad air. The candy may still be
had from our confectioners, but now containing no more of the plant
Elecampane than there is of barley in Barley Sugar.'
In Denmark, Elecampane is
sometimes called Elf-Doc. Here one sometimes comes across the name
Elf-Dock locally, also Elfwort.
---Cultivation---Although Elecampane is no longer grown
to any extent in England, it is still cultivated for medicinal use
on the Continent, mainly in Holland, Switzerland and Germany, most
largely near the German town of Colleda, not far from
It grows well in moist, shady positions, in ordinary garden
soil, though it flourishes best in a good, loamy soil, the ground
being damp, but fairly well-drained.
It is easily cultivated. Seeds may be sown, either when ripe,
in cold frames, or in spring in the open. It is best propagated,
however, by off-sets, taken in the autumn from the old root, with a
bud or eye to each. These will take root very readily, and should
be planted in rows about a foot asunder, and 9 or 10 inches distant
in the rows. In the following spring, the ground should be kept
clean from weeds, and if slightly dug in autumn, it will greatly
promote the growth of the roots, which will be fit for use after
two years' growth.
By cutting the root into pieces about 2 inches long, covering
with rich, light, sandy soil and keeping in gentle heat during the
winter, a good stock of plants can also be obtained.
---Part Used Medicinally---The drug, Elecampane
(Radix Inulae), consists of both rhizome or rootstock and
roots. It is official in most pharmacopoeias.
For pharmaceutical use, the root is taken from plants two to
three years old; when more advanced it becomes too woody. As a
rule, it is dug in autumn.
Elecampane root has at first a somewhat glutinous taste, but by
chewing, it becomes subsequently aromatic, and slightly bitter and
pungent; it has an agreeably aromatic somewhat camphoraceous
The distinguishing characteristics of Elecampane root to be
noted by a student are:
Its horny, not starchy nature.
The presence of oil-glands.
The absence of well-marked radiate structure in the
Most roots of similar appearance to Elecampane root, such as
Belladonna, Dandelion and Marsh Mallow, are devoid of oil-glands.
Belladonna, moreover, is distinguished from it by its starchy
fracture, Dandelion by its thick, ringed bark, and Marsh Mallow by
its radiate structure and fibrous, easily separated bark. Pellitory
root, which has oil-glands, is distinguished by its yellow,
radiate wood, distinctive odour and taste.
---Constituents---The substance most abundantly
contained in Elecampane root is Inulin, discovered by Valentine
Rose, of Berlin in 1804, who named it Alantin (the German name of
the plant is Alantwurzel; French, Aunée), but the
title, Inulin proposed by Thompson, has been generally adopted. It
has the same composition as starch, but stands to a certain extent
in opposition to that substance, which it replaces in the
rootsystem of Compositae. In living plants, Inulin is
dissolved in the watery juice, and on drying, is deposited within
the cells in amorphous masses, which in polarized light are
inactive. It resembles starch in appearance, but differs from it in
giving a yellow instead of a blue colour with iodine, in being
soluble in boiling water without forming a paste, and in being
deposited unchanged from the hot aqueous solution when it cools.
With nitric acid, Inula affords no explosive compound as starch
does. By prolonged heat or the action of dilute acids, it is
changed first to inulin then to levulin, and finally
to levulose. It is only slightly changed to sugar by
Sachs showed in 1864 that by immersing the roots of Elecampane
or Dahlia variabilis in alcohol and glycerine, Inulin may be
precipitated in globular aggregations of needleshaped crystalline
Elecampane is the richest source of inulin.
The amount of Inulin varies according to the season, but is
more abundant in the autumn. Dragendorff, who in 1870 made it the
subject of a very exhaustive treatise, obtained from the root in
October not less than 44 per cent, but in spring only 19 per cent,
its place being taken by levulin, mucilage, sugar and several
glucosides. Inulin is widely distributed in the perennial roots of
Compositae, and has been met with in the natural orders
Campanulacae, Goodeniaceae, Lobeliaceae, Stylidiaceae, and
in the root of the White Ipecacuanha of Brazil, belonging to the
Inulin is closely associated in Elecampane with
Inulenin, obtainable in microscopical needles, slightly
soluble in cold water and weak alcohol, and pseudo-inulin,
which occurs in irregular granules, very soluble in hot water and
weak, hot alcohol, but insoluble in cold alcohol.
It was observed by Le Febre as early as 1660 that when the root
of Elecampane is subjected to distillation with water, a
crystallizable substance collects in the head of the receiver, and
similar crystals may be observed after carefully heating a thin
slice of the root, and are often found as a natural efflorescence
on the surface of roots that have been long kept. This was
considered as a distinct body called Helenin, or Elecampane
camphor, but the researches of Kallen in 1874 showed that it was
resolvable into two crystallizable substances, which he named
Helenin, a body without taste or colour, and
Alantcamphor, with a peppermint odour and taste. As a result
of further research, it is considered that the crystalline mass
yielded by Elecampane root on distillation with water in the
proportion of 1 to 2 per cent, and associated with about 1 per cent
volatile oil, consists of Alantolactone, iso-alantolactone
and Alantolic acid, all of which are crystalline, nearly
colourless, and have but slight odour and taste. The oily portion,
Alantol, found in the distillate, a colourless liquid, has a
---Medicinal Action and Uses---Diuretic, tonic,
diaphoretic, expectorant, alterative, antiseptic, astringent and
gently stimulant. It was employed by the ancients in certain
diseases of women, also in phthisis, in dropsy and in skin
affections. Its name 'Scabwort' arose from the fact that a
decoction of it is said to cure sheep affected with the scab, and
the name 'Horse-heal' was given it from its reputed virtues in
curing the cutaneous diseases of horses.
In herbal medicine it is chiefly used for coughs, consumption
and other pulmonary complaints, being a favourite domestic remedy
for bronchitis. It has been employed for many years with good
results in chest affections, for which it is a valuable medicine as
it is in all chronic diseases of the lungs asthma and bronchitis.
It gives relief to the respiratory difficulties and assists
expectoration. Its principal employment as a separate remedy is in
acute catarrhal affections, and in dyspepsia attended with
relaxation and debility, given in small, warm and frequently
repeated doses. It is, however, seldom given alone, but most
frequently preferred in combination with other medicines of a
similar nature. It is best given in the form of decoction, the dose
being a small teaspoonful, three times a day.
The root used not only to be candied and eaten as a sweetmeat,
but lozenges were made of it. It has been employed in
whooping-cough. It is sometimes employed in the form of a
confection for piles, 1 OZ. of powdered root being mixed with 2 OZ.
In the United States, it has also been highly recommended, both
for external use and internal administration in diseases of the
skin, an old use of the root that has maintained its reputation for
Externally applied, it is somewhat rubefacient, and has been
employed as an embrocation in the treatment of sciatica, facial and
Of late years, modern scientific research has proved that the
claims of Elecampane to be a valuable remedy in pulmonary diseases
has a solid basis. One authority, Korab, showed in 1885 that the
active, bitter principle, Helenin, is such a powerful antiseptic
and bactericide, that a few drops of a solution of 1 part in 10,000
immediately kills the ordinary bacterial organisms, being
peculiarly destructive to the Tubercle bacillus. He gave it
successfully in tubercular and catarrhal diarrhoeas, and praised it
also as an antiseptic in surgery. In Spain it has been made use of
as a surgical dressing. Obiol, in 1886, stated it to be an
efficient local remedy in the treatment of diphtheria, the false
membrane being painted with a solution of Helenin in Oil of
---Medicinal Preparations---Powdered root 1/2 to 1
drachm. Fluid extract, 1/2 to 1 drachm. Inulin, 1 to 3
Gerard tells us: 'It is good
for shortnesse of breathe and an old cough, and for such as cannot
breathe unless they hold their neckes upright.' And
'The root of Elecampane is
with good success mixed with counterpoisons, it is a remedy against
the biting of serpents, it resisteth poison. It is good for them
that are bursten and troubled with cramps and
'The fresh roots of
Elecampane preserved with sugar or made into a conserve, or a
syrup, are very effectual to warm a cold windy stomach and stitches
in the side, caused by spleen and to relieve cough, shortness of
breath and wheezing in the lungs. The dried root made into powder
and mixed with sugar, and taken, serveth the same purpose.... It
cures putrid and pestilential fevers and even the plague. The roots
and herbes beaten and put into new ale or beer and daily drunk,
cleareth, strengtheneth and quickeneth the sight of the eyes. The
decoction of the roots in wine or the juice taken therein, destroys
worms in the stomach, and gargled in the mouth or the root chewed,
fasteneth loose teeth and keeps them from putrefaction, and being
drunk is good for spitting of blood, and it removes cramps or
convulsions, gout, sciatica, pains in the joints, applied outwardly
or inwardly, and is also good for those that are ruptured, or have
any inward bruise. The root boiled well in vinegar, beaten
afterwards and made into an ointment with hog's suet or oil of
trotters is a most excellent remedy for scabs or itch in young or
old the places also bathed and washed with the decoction doth the
same; it heals putrid sores or cankers. In the roots of this herb
lieth the chief effect for the remedies aforesaid. The distilled
water of the leaves and roots together is very good to cleanse the
skin of the face or other parts from any morphew, spots or
blemishes and make it clear.'
In Switzerland (Neufchâtel) Elecampane root is one of
the substances used in the preparation of Absinthe, and it was also
used for the same purpose in France. It furnishes the Vin
d'Aulnée of the French.
A blue dye has been extracted from the root, bruised and
macerated and mingled with ashes and whortleberries.
'The wine wherein the root of Elicampane hath steept,' says
Markham (Countrie Farme 1616), 'is singularly good against
the colicke.' A cordial was made from the plant by infusing
Elecampane roots with sugar and currants in white
Botanical: Ulmus campestris (LINN.)
Family: N.O. Urticaceae
Elm Tree Disease
Medicinal Action and Uses
---Synonyms---Ulmi cortex. Broad-leaved Elm. Ulmus
suberosa (var. Orme).
---Part Used---The dried inner bark.
---Habitat---Britain (not indigenous), Europe, Asia,
---Description---The Elms belong to the natural order
Ulmaceae and to the genus Ulmus, which contains sixteen species,
widely distributed throughout the north temperate zone, extending
southwards as far as Mexico in the New World and the Sikkim
Himalayas in the Old World.
The Common Elm (U. campestris, Linn.) is a doubtful
native of England, found throughout the greater part of Europe, in
North Africa, Asia Minor and eastwards to Japan.
It grows in woods and hedgerows, especially in the southern
part of Britain and on almost all soils, thriving even in the smoky
atmosphere of a city, but on a rich loam, in open, low-lying
situations, attaining a height of 60 to 100 feet, even rising to
130 and 150 feet. In the first ten years of its growth the tree
grows to 25 or 30 feet.
The branches are numerous and spreading, the bark rugged, the
leaves alternate, ovate rough, doubly toothed and unequal at the
base. The flowers are small and numerous appearing in March and
April before the leaves, in purplish-brown tufts. If one of these
tufts be examined, it will be found to be a short axis with a
number of leaves, beginning two-ranked at the base, and going over
to five-ranked above. There are no flowers in the axils of the
lowest ten or twelve, in the axils of the upper leaves are flowers
arranged in small cymes (in some species), but in U.
campestris reduced to the one central flower. Each flower has a
four-toothed, bell-shaped calyx surrounding four stamens and a
onecelled ovary bearing two spreading hairy styles.
The seed-vessels are green, membraneous, one-seeded and deeply
cleft, but the tree seldom perfects its seed in England, being
propagated by root-suckers from old trees, or by layers from
In age and size, the Elm closely approaches the Oak, but is
more varied, a large number of named varieties being
---Uses---All parts of the tree, including sapwood, are
used in carpentry. The wood is close-grained, free from knots, hard
and tough, and not subject to splitting, but it does not take a
high polish. It does not crack when once seasoned and is remarkably
durable under water, being specially adapted for any purpose which
requires exposure to wet. To prevent shrinking and warping in
drying, it may be preserved in water or mud, but is best worked up
soon after felling. In drying, the wood loses over 60 per cent of
Elm wood is used for keels and bilge planks, the blocks and
dead eyes of rigging and ship's pumps, for coffins, wheels,
furniture, turned articles and general carpenter's work. Elm boards
are largely used for lining the interior of carts, wagons and
wheelbarrows on account of the extreme toughness of the wood, and
it has been much employed in the past for making sheds, most of the
existing farm buildings being covered with elm. Previous to the
common employment of cast-iron, Elm was very much in use for
The inner bark is very tough and is made into mats and ropes.
The leaves and young shoots have been found a suitable food for
Tree Disease---Investigations are at present being carried on
as to the cause of a mysterious disease, known as the Dutch Elm
disease, which is killing trees on many parts of the Continent. It
first appeared in North Brabant in 1919, and spread until it is now
all over Holland. By 1921, the disease was rampant in Belgium and
in the same year it appeared in France, while in 1924 and 1925 it
spread widely in Germany and it is also working havoc in
The first sign of the disease in trees up to thirty years old
is a mass of dry twigs and leaves in the crown while the other
parts are still green. Within a week, all the leaves of the tree
may fall, or the leaves on one side of the tree may remain fresh,
while on the other side they fall off. No cure has yet been
discovered, and the tree eventually dies. Most investigators
consider that the disease is caused by a fungus (Graphium
ulmus), the infection being carried by spores blown from one
tree to another.
To prevent the importation into Britain of this mysterious
disease, the Ministry of Agriculture, early in 1927, prohibited
live elms from the European mainland from being landed in England
---Constituents---Analyses of Elm wood show 47.8 per
cent of lime, 21.9 of potash and 13.7 of soda.
A peculiar vegetable principle, called Ulmin or Ulmic Acid, was
first discovered in the gummy substance which spontaneously exudes
in summer from the bark of the Common Elm, becoming by the action
of the air a dark-brown, almost black substance, without smell or
taste, insoluble in cold sparingly soluble in boiling water, which
it colours yellowish-brown, soluble in alcohol and readily
dissolved by alkaline solutions.
The inner bark is very mucilaginous, and contains a
little tannic acid which gives it a somewhat bitter and slightly
astringent taste, it also contains a great deal of
---Medicinal Action and Uses---Tonic, demulcent,
astringent and diuretic. Wasformerly employed for the preparation
of an antiscorbutic decoction recommended in cutaneous diseases of
a leprous character, such as ringworm. It was applied both
externally and internally. Under the title of Ulmus the dried inner
bark was official in the British Pharmacopoeia of 1864 and 1867
directions for the preparation of Decoc. Ulmi being as
follows: Elm Bark 1 part, water 8 parts; boil for 10 minutes,
strain, make up to 8 parts.
A homoeopathic tincture is made of the inner bark, and used as
Fluid extract, dose 2 to 4 oz. three or four times
A medicinal tea was also formerly made from the
In Persia, Italy and the
south of France, galls, sometimes the size of a fist, are
frequently produced on the leaves. They contain a clear water
called eau d'orme, which is sweet and viscid, and has been
recommended to wash wounds, contusions and sore eyes. Culpepper
'the water that is found in
the bladders on the leaves of the elm-tree is very effectual to
cleanse the skin and make it fair.'
Towards autumn, these galls dry, the insects in them die and
there is found a residue in the form of a yellow or blackish
balsam, called beaume d'ormeau, which has been recommended
for diseases of the chest.
A variety of the Common Elm, the CORKBARKED ELM (U.
campestris, var. suberosa), is distinguished chiefly by
its thick, deeplyfissured bark, the corky excrescences along the
branchlets causing them to appear much thicker than they really
are. A North American species with this feature most pronounced is
U. alata, which well deserves its name of the WINGED
The SCOTCH ELM, or WYCH ELM (U. montana, With. -
formerly called U. glabra, Huds.), is indigenous to Britain
and is the common Elm of the northern part of the
It is a beautiful tree, both in form and foliage, usually
attaining a height of about 50 feet, though tall-growing specimens
have been known to attain 120 feet.
It has drooping branches and a smoother thinner bark than U.
campestris, its leaves equally rough on the upper surface,
though rather downy beneath, are longer, wider and more tapering
and more deeply notched. A further distinction is that whereas the
seeds of the Common Elm are placed near the end of their oblong
envelope, those of the Wych Elm are set in the centre of their
envelope. Moreover, the Common Elm has a profuse undergrowth of
young shoots round the base of the trunk and few are to be seen
round that of the Wych Elm. This is probably the 'French Elm' of
Evelyn. An upright form of it is called the 'Cornish
The wood, though more porous than that of the Common Elm, is
tough and hardy when properly seasoned, and being very flexible
when steamed, is well adapted for boat-building, though for the
purposes of the wheelwright and millwright is inferior to that of
the Common Elm. Branches of Wych Elm were formerly used for making
bows and when forked were employed as divining rods. The bark of
the young limbs is very tough and flexible, and is often stripped
off in long ribands and used in Wales for securing thatch and other
On the leaves of U. chenensis, a number of galls are
produced, which are used by the Chinese for tanning leather and
Botanical: Ulmus fulva (MICH.)
Family: N.O. Urticaceae
Medicinal Action and Uses
---Synonyms---Red Elm. Moose Elm. Indian
---Part Used---The inner bark.
---Habitat---The United States, Canada.
---Description---The Slippery Elm is a small tree
abundant in various parts of North America.
The branches are very rough, the leaves long, unequally
toothed, rough with hairs on both sides, the leaf-buds covered with
a dense yellow Wool. The flowers are stalkless.
The inner bark has important medicinal value and is an
official drug of the United States Pharmacopoeia.
The bark, which is the only part used, is collected in spring
from the bole and larger branches and dried. Large quantities are
collected, especially in the lower part of the state of Michigan.
As the wood has no commercial value, the tree is fully stripped and
The bark as it appears in commerce for use in medicine consists
only of the inner bark or bast and is sold in flat pieces 2 to 3
feet long and several inches wide, but only about 1/8 to 1/16 of an
inch in thickness. It is very tough and flexible, of a fine fibrous
texture, finely striated longitudinally on both surfaces, the outer
surface reddish-yellow, with patches of reddish brown, which are
part of the outer bark adhering to the inner bast. It has an odour
like Fenugreek and a very mucilaginous, insipid taste. The strips
can be bent double without breaking: if broken, the rough fracture
is mealy, strongly but finely fibrous. The clean transverse section
shows numerous medullary rays and altemate bands of bast
parenchyma, thus giving it a chequered appearance. A section
moistened and left for a few minutes, and again examined, shows
large swollen mucilage cells.
The powdered bark is sold in two forms: a coarse powder
for use as poultices and a fine powder for making a mucilaginous
drink. The disintegrated bark forms, when moistened, a flexible and
spongy tissue, which is easily moulded into pessaries, teats, and
It is recommended that ten-year-old bark should be
The powder should be greyish or fawncoloured. If dark or
reddish, good results will not be obtained. The powdered bark is
said to be often adulterated with damaged flour and other starchy
---Constituents---The principal constituent of the bark
is the mucilage contained in large cells in the bast. This mucilage
is very similar to that found in linseed. It is precipitated by
solutions of acetate and subacetate of lead, although not by
alcohol The mucilage does not dissolve, but only swells in water
and is so abundant that 10 grains of the powdered bark will make a
thick jelly with an ounce of water.
Microscopic examination of the tissue of the bark shows round
starch grains and very characteristic twin crystals of Calcium
---Medicinal Action and Uses---Demulcent, emollient,
expectorant, diuretic, nutritive. The bark of this American Elm,
though not in this country as in the United States an official
drug, is considered one of the most valuable remedies in herbal
practice, the abundant mucilage it contains having wonderfully
strengthening and healing qualities.
It not only has a most soothing and healing action on all the
parts it comes in contact with, but in addition possesses as much
nutrition as is contained in oatmeal, and when made into gruel
forms a wholesome and sustaining food for infants and invalids. It
forms the basis of many patent foods.
Slippery Elm Food is generally made by mixing a teaspoonful of
the powder into a thin and perfectly smooth paste with cold water
and then pouring on a pint of boiling water, steadily stirring
meanwhile. It can, if desired, be flavoured with cinnamon, nutmeg
or lemon rind.
This makes an excellent drink in cases of irritation of the
mucous membrane of the stomach and intestines, and taken at night
will induce sleep.
Another mode of preparation is to beat up an egg with a
teaspoonful of the powdered bark, pouring boiling milk over it and
Taken unsweetened, three times a day, Elm Food gives excellent
results in gastritis, gastric catarrh, mucous colitis and
enteritis, being tolerated by the stomach when all other foods
fail, and is of great value in bronchitis, bleeding from the lungs
and consumption (being most healing to the lungs), soothing a cough
and building up and preventing wasting.
A Slippery Elm compound excellent for coughs is made as
follows: Cut obliquely one or more ounces of bark into pieces about
the thickness of a match; add a pinch of Cayenne flavour with a
slice of lemon and sweeten, infusing the whole in a pint of boiling
water and letting it stand for 25 minutes. Take this frequently in
small doses: for a consumptive patient, about a pint a day is
recommended. It is considered one of the best remedies that can be
given as it combines both demulcent and stimulating properties.
Being mucilaginous, it rolls up the mucous material so troublesome
to the patient and passes it down through the
In typhoid fever, the Slippery Elm drink, prepared as for
coughs, is recommended, serving a threefold purpose, to cleanse,
heal and strengthen, the patient being allowed to drink as much as
desired until thirst has abated, and other remedies can be used. If
the patient is not thirsty, a dose of 2 large tablespoonfuls every
hour for an adult has been prescribed.
The bark is an ingredient in various lung medicines. A valuable
remedy for Bronchitis and all diseases of the throat and
lungs is compounded as follows: 1 teaspoonful Flax seed, 1 OZ.
Slippery Elm bark, 1 OZ. Thoroughwort, 1 stick Liquorice, 1 quart
water. Simmer slowly for 20 minutes. Strain and add 1 pint of the
best vinegar and 1/2 pint of sugar. When cold, bottle. Dose: 1
tablespoonful two or three times a day.
In Pleurisy, the following is also recommended: Take 2
oz. each of Pleurisy root, Marsh Mallow root, Liquorice root and
Slippery Elm bark. Boil in 3 pints of water down to 3 gills. Dose:
1/2 teaspoonful every half-hour, to be taken warm.
As a heart remedy, a pint of Slippery Elm drink has been
prescribed alternately with Bugleweed compound.
Slippery Elm bark possesses also great influence upon diseases
of the female organs.
It is particularly valuable both medicinally and as an
injection in dysentery and other diseases of the bowels,
cystitis and irritation of the urinary tract. The injection for
inflammation of the bowels is made from an infusion of 1 OZ. of the
powder to 1 pint of boiling water, strained and used lukewarm.
Other remedies should be given at the same time.
An injection for diarrhoea may also be made as follows: 1
drachm powdered Slippery Elm bark, 3 drachms powdered Bayberry, 1
drachm powdered Scullcap.
Pour on 1/2 pint of boiling water, infuse for half an hour,
strain, add a teaspoonful of tincture of myrrh and use
As an enema for constipation, 2 drachms of Slippery Elm
bark are mixed well with 1 OZ. of sugar, then 1/2 pint of warm milk
and water and an ounce of Olive Oil are gently stirred
Injection for worms (Ascarides): 1/2 drachm Aloes
powder, 1 drachm common salt, 1/2 drachm Slippery Elm powder
(fine). When well mixed, add 1/2 pint warm water and sweeten with
molasses, stirring well.
Slippery Elm mucilage is also prescribed to be mixed with Oil
of Male Fern (2 oz. of the mucilage to 1 drachm of the oil) as a
remedy for the expulsion of tapeworm
The Red Indians have long used this viscous inner bark to
prepare a healing salve, and in herbal medicine a Slippery Elm bark
powder is considered one of the best possible poultices for wounds,
boils, ulcers, burns and all inflamed surfaces, soothing, healing
and reducing pain and inflammation.
It is made as follows: Mix the powder with hot water to form
the required consistency, spread smoothly upon soft cotton cloth
and apply over the parts affected. It is unfailing in cases of
suppurations, abscesses, wounds of all kinds, congestion,
eruptions, swollen glands, etc. In simple inflammation, it may be
applied directly over the part affected; to abscesses and old
wounds, it should be placed between cloths. If applied to parts of
the body where there is hair, the face of the poultice should be
smeared with olive oil before applying.
In old gangrenous wounds, an excellent antiseptic poultice is
prepared by mixing with warm water or an infusion of Wormwood,
equal parts of Slippery Elm powder and very fine charcoal and
applying immediately over the part.
A very valuable poultice in cases where it is desirable to
hasten suppuration or arrest the tendency to gangrene is made by
mixing the Slippery Elm powder with brewer's yeast and new
Compound Bran poultice is made by mixing with hot
vinegar equal quantities of wheaten Bran with Slippery Elm powder.
This is an excellent poultice for severe rheumatic and gouty
affections, particularly of the joints, synovitis etc.
Herbal poultices, generally made from the bruised, fresh
leaves of special herbs, are frequently mixed with Slippery Elm and
boiling water sufficient to give the mass consistency.
Marshmallow Ointment, one of the principal ointments
used in herbal medicine, has a considerable proportion of Slippery
Elm bark in its composition. It is made as follows: 3 oz.
Marshmallow leaves, 2 OZ. Slippery Elm bark powder, 3 oz. Beeswax,
16 OZ. Lard. Boil the Marshmallow and Slippery Elm bark in 3 pints
of water for 15 minutes. Express, strain and reduce the liquor to
half a pint. Melt together the lard and wax by gentle heat, then
add the extract while still warm, shake constantly till all are
thoroughly incorporated and store in a cool place.
The bark of Slippery Elm is stated to preserve fatty substances
from becoming rancid.
It has been asserted that a pinch of the Slippery Elm powder
put into a hollow tooth stops the ache and greatly delays decay, if
used as soon as there is any sign of decay.
Lozenges or troches containing 3 grains of Elm flavoured with
methyl salicylate are used as a demulcent.
---Preparations---Mucilage, U.S.P., made by digesting 6
grams of bruised Slippery Elm in 100 c.c. and heated in a closed
vessel in a water-bath for 1 hour and then strained.
Fremontia Californica, or Californian Slippery Elm, has
bark with similar properties, and is used in the same way, but is
not botanically related.
Botanical: Embelia Ribes and robusta (BURM.)
Family: N.O. Myrsinaceae
Medicinal Action and Uses
---Part Used---Dried fruits.
---Habitat---India, Indian Archipelago, Tropical Asia,
Southern China, East Africa.
---Description---A straggling shrub, almost a climber.
The plant possesses petiolate leaves and has small, whity-pink
flowers in racemes at ends of the branches. The berries (the drug)
are minute, round, spherical fruits (not unlike peppercorns) and
vary in colour from red to black - those of E. Ribes have
ovate, lanceolate smooth leaves and warty fruits, and are often
sold to traders to adulterate pepper, which they so much resemble
as to render it almost impossible to distinguish them by sight, or
by any other means, as they possess a considerable degree of the
spice flavour. The fruits of E. robusta, however, are
longitudinally finely striated. Both fruit have often a short stalk
and calyx fivepartite, removing this, a small hole is found in the
fruit. The reddish seed, enclosed in a brittle pericarp, is covered
by a thin membrane; when this is taken off, the seed is seen
covered with light spots which disappear after immersion in water.
The seed is horny, depressed at the base and has a ruminated
endosperm. Taste, aromatic and astringent, with a slight pungency,
owing to a resinous substance present in them.
---Constituents---Embelic acid, found in golden-yellow
lamellar crystals (this acid is soluble in chloroform, alcohol and
benzene, but not in water) and a quinone, Embelia.
---Medicinal Action and Uses---Anthelmintic, specially
used to expel tapeworm, which are passed dead. In India and the
Eastern Colonies the drug is given in the early morning, fasting,
mixed with milk, and followed by a purgative. The dose is 1 to 4
drachms. The seeds are also made into an infusion, or ground to
powder and taken in water or syrup, and being almost tasteless are
not an unpleasant remedy.
Ammonium embelate is an effective taenicide for children: dose,
3 grains; adult dose, 6 or more grains.
The berries of E. robusta are considered
E. Basaal, an Indian variety, with larger elliptical
leaves, more or less downy, is useful in various ways. The young
leaves, in combination with ginger, are used as a gargle for sore
throats, the dried bark of the root as a remedy for toothache, and
the ground berries, mixed with butter or lard, made into an
ointment and laid on the forehead for pleuritis.
Botanical: Ephedra vulgaris (RICH.)
Family: N.O. Gnetaceae
Medicinal Action and Uses
---Synonyms---Ephedrine. Epitonin. Ma
---Habitat---West Central China, Southern Siberia,
---Description---It is found on sandy seashores and in
temperate climates of both hemispheres. The plant has stamens and
pistils on separate flowers--staminate flowers in catkins and a
membraneous perianth, pistillate flowers terminal on axillary
stalks, within a two-leaved involucre. Fruit has two carpels with a
single seed in each and is a succulent cone, branches slender and
erect, small leaves, scale-like, articulated and joined at the base
into a sheath.
---Constituents---Ephedrine is salt of an alkaloid and
is in shining white crystals very soluble in water.
---Medicinal Action and Uses---A sympathetic nerve
stimulant resembling adrenaline, its effect on the unstriped
muscular fibres is remarkable. It acts promptly in relieving
swellings of the mucous membrane. It has valuable antispasmodic
properties, acts on the air passages and is of benefit in asthma
and hay fever; it is also employed for rheumatism; a 5 to 10 per
cent solution has mydriatic properties, prophylactically used for
low blood pressure in influenza, pneumonia, etc. Used in tablet
form for oral or hypodermic administration and in ampuls for
hypodermic, intramuscular and intravenous use. It can
advantageously be used in solution with liquid paraffin, either
alone or in conjunction with methol camphor and oil of thyme. Dose,
1/2 to 1 grain.
Steadman Shorter's Medical Dictionary, 1942, Poisons & Antidotes:
Botanical: Eucalyptus globulus (LABILLE.)
Family: N.O. Myrtaceae
Medicinal Action and Uses
---Synonyms---Blue Gum Tree. Stringy Bark
---Part Used---The oil of the leaves.
---Habitat---Australia. Now North and South Africa,
India, and Southern Europe.
The tree is indigenous with a few exceptions to Australia and
Tasmania. The genus contains about 300 species and is one of the
most characteristic genera of the Australian flora.
---Description---The leaves are leathery in texture,
hang obliquely or vertically, and are studded with glands
containing a fragrant volatile oil. The flowers in bud are covered
with a cup-like membrane (whence the name of the genus, derived
from the Greek eucalyptos well-covered), which is thrown off
as a lid when the flower expands. The fruit is surrounded by a
woody, cupshaped receptacle and contains numerous minute
Eucalyptus trees are quick growers and many species reach a
great height. Eucalyptus amygdalin (Labille ) is the tallest
known tree, specimens attaining as much as 480 feet, exceeding in
height even the Californian Big Tree (Sequoia gigantea).
Many species yield valuable timber, others oils, kino,
There are a great number of species of Eucalyptus trees
yielding essential oils, the foliage of some being more odorous
than that of others, and the oils from the various species
differing widely in character. It necessarily follows that the term
Eucalyptus oil is meaningless from a scientific point of view
unless the species from which it is derived is stated.
The Eucalyptus industry is becoming of economic importance to
Australia, especially in New South Wales and Victoria. Many of the
old species which give the oil of commerce have given way to other
species which have been found to gave larger yields or better oils.
About twenty-five species are at the present time being utilized
for their oil.
The oils may be roughly divided into three classes of
commercial importance: (1) the medicinal oils, which contain
substantial amounts of eucalyptol (also known as cineol); (2) the
industrial oils, containing terpenes, which are used for
flotation purposes in mining operations; (3) the aromatic
oils, such as E. citriodora, which are characterized by
The British Pharmacopoeia describes Eucalyptus Oil as the oil
distilled from the fresh leaves of E. globulus and other
E. globulus, the best-known variety (its name bestowed,
it is said, by the French botanist De Labillardière, on account of
the resemblance of its waxy fruit to a kind of button at that time
worn in France), is the Blue Gum Tree of Victoria and Tasmania,
where it attains a height of 375 feet, ranking as one of the
largest trees in the world. It is also called the Fever Tree, being
largely cultivated in unhealthy, low-lying or swampy districts for
its antiseptic qualities.
The first leaves are broad, without stalks, of a shining
whitish-green and are opposite and horizontal, but after four or
five years these are succeeded by others of a more ensiform or
sword-shaped form, 6 to 12 inches long, bluish-green in hue, which
are alternate and vertical, i.e. with the edges turned towards the
sky and earth, an arrangement more suited to the climate and
productive of peculiar effects of light and shade. The flowers are
single or in clusters, almost stalkless.
The Eucalyptus, especially E. globulus, has been
successfully introduced into the south of Europe, Algeria, Egypt,
Tahiti, South Africa and India, and has been extensively planted in
California and also, with the object of lessening liability to
droughts, along the line of the Central Pacific
It thrives in any situation, having a mean annual temperature
not below 60 degrees F., but will not endure a temperature of less
than 27 degrees F., and although many species of Eucalyptus will
flourish out-of-doors in the south of England, they are generally
grown, in this country, in pots as greenhouse plants.
It was Baron Ferdinand von Müller, the German botanist and
explorer (from 1857 to 1873 Director of the Botanical Gardens in
Melbourne), who made the qualities of this Eucalyptus known all
over the world, and so led to its introduction into Europe, North
and South Africa, California and the non-tropical districts of
South America. He was the first to suggest that the perfume of the
leaves resembling that of Cajaput oil, might be of use as a
disinfectant in fever districts, a suggestion which has been
justified by the results of the careful examination to which the
Eucalyptus has been subjected since its employment in medicine.
Some seeds, having been sent to France in 1857, were planted in
Algiers and thrived exceedingly well. Trottoir, the botanical
superintendent, found that the value of the fragrant antiseptic
exhalations of the leaves in fever or marshy districts was far
exceeded by the amazingly powerful drying action of the roots on
the soil. Five years after planting the Eucalyptus, one of the most
marshy and unhealthy districts of Algiers was converted into one of
the healthiest and driest. As a result, the rapidly growing
Eucalyptus trees are now largely cultivated in many temperate
regions with the view of preventing malarial fevers. A noteworthy
instance of this is the monastery of St. Paolo à la tre Fontana,
situated in one of the most fever-stricken districts of the Roman
Campagna. Since about 1870, when the tree was planted in its
cloisters, it has become habitable throughout the year. To the
remarkable drainage afforded by its roots is also ascribed the
gradual disappearance of mosquitoes in the neighbourhood of
plantations of this tree, as at Lake Fezara in
In Sicily, also, it is being extensively planted to combat
malaria, on account of its property of absorbing large quantities
of water from the soil. Recent investigations have shown that
Sicilian Eucalyptus oil obtained from leaves during the flowering
period can compete favourably with the Australian oil in regard to
its industrial and therapeutic applications. Oil has also been
distilled in Spain from the leaves of E. globulus, grown
In India, considerable plantations of E. globulus were
made in 1863 in the Nilgiris at Ootacamund, but though a certain
amount of oil is distilled there locally, under simple conditions,
little attempt has hitherto been made to develop the industry on a
commercial scale, Australia remaining the source of
A great increase in Euealyptus cultivation has recently taken
place in Brazil as a result of a decree published in 1919 awarding
premiums and free grants of land to planters of Eucalyptus and
other trees of recognized value for essence
---Constituents---The essential Oil of Eucalyptus used
in medicine is obtained by aqueous distillation of the fresh
leaves. It is a colourless or straw-coloured fluid when properly
prepared, with a characteristic odour and taste, soluble in its own
weight of alcohol. The most important constituent is Eucalyptol,
present in E. globulus up to 70 per cent of its volume. It
consists chiefly of a terpene and a cymene. Eucalyptus Oil contains
also, after exposure to the air, a crystallizable resin, derived
The British Pharmacopoeia requires Eucalyptus Oil to contain
not less than 55 per cent, by volume, of Eucalyptol, to have a
specific gravity 0.910 to 0.930 and optical rotation -10 degrees to
10 degrees. The official method for the determination of the
Eucalptol depends on the conversion of this body into a crystalline
phosphate, but numerous other methods have been suggested (see
Parry, Essential Oils,
A small amount of medicinal oil is still distilled from E.
globulus, but Its odour is less agreeable than those of many
others. Today, E. polybractea (Silver Malee Scrub which is
cultivated and the oil distilled near Bendigo in Victoria),
containing 85 per cent of Eucalyptol, and E. Smithii (Gully
Ash) are favourites for distillation. Among others frequently
employed, E. Australiana yields a valuable medicinal oil and
also E. Bakeri, a large shrub or pendulous willow-like tree,
about 30 to 50 feet high, with very narrow leaves, found from
northern New South Wales to central Queensland, known locally as
the 'Malee Box.' The oil from this species is of a bright
reddish-yellow and contains 70 to 77 per cent of Eucalyptol and
other aromatic substances identical with those found in E.
The oil used for flotation purposes in the extraction of ores
is known as that of E. amygdalina, and is probably derived
from this tree as well as from E. dives. It is an oil
containing little Eucalyptol and having a specific gravity from
0.866 to 0.885, and an optical rotation -59 to -75 degrees, its
chief constituent is phellandrene, which forms a crystalline
nitrate and is very irritating when inhaled. There is a
considerable demand in New South Wales for the cheap phellandrene
Eucalyptus oils for use in the mining industry in the separation of
metallic sulphides from ores.
Of the perfume-bearing oils, that of E. citriodora, the
CITRON-SCENTED GUM, whose leaves emit a delightful lemon scent,
contains up to 98 per cent of citronellol and is much used in
perfumery, fetching four times as much as the medicinal oils. E.
Macarthurii ('Paddy River Box') contains up to 75 per cent of
geranyl acetate, and as a source of geraniol this tree would
probably repay cultivation: it is now receiving special attention
in Australia, as it is a very rapid grower. E. odorata
yields also an odorous oil used by soapmakers in Australia. E.
Staigeriana, the Lemon-scented Iron Bark, has also a very
pleasing scent, and the fragrance of the leaves of E.
Sturtiana is similar to that of ripe apples.
There are a number of Eucalypts which contain a ketone known as
piperitone, such as E. piperita. This body can be used in
the synthesis of menthol, but it remains to be seen whether the
process can be made a commercial success. E. dives
(Peppermint Gum) and E. radiata (White Top Peppermint) yield
oils with a strong peppermint flavour.
Details of an enormous number of the oils of Eucalyptus can be
found in A Research on the Eucalypts, by Baker and
---Medicinal Action and Uses---Stimulant, antiseptic,
The medicinal Eucalyptus Oil is probably the most powerful
antiseptic of its class, especially when it is old, as ozone is
formed in it on exposure to the air. It has decided disinfectant
action, destroying the lower forms of life. Internally, it has the
typical actions of a volatile oil in a marked degree.
Eucalyptus Oil is used as a stimulant and antiseptic gargle.
Locally applied, it impairs sensibility. It increases cardiac
Its antiseptic properties confer some antimalarial action,
though it cannot take the place of Cinchona.
An emulsion made by shaking up equal parts of the oil and
powdered gum-arabic with water has been used as a urethral
injection, and has also been given internally in drachm doses in
pulmonary tuberculosis and other microbic diseases of the lungs and
In croup and spasmodic throat troubles, the oil may be freely
The oil is an ingredient of 'catheder oil,' used for
sterilizing and lubricating urethral catheters.
In large doses, it acts as an irritant to the kidneys, by which
it is largely excreted, and as a marked nervous depressant
ultimately arresting respiration by its action on the medullary
For some years Eucalyptus-chloroform was employed as one of the
remedies in the tropics for hookworm, but it has now been almost
universally abandoned as an inefficient anthelmintic, Chenopodium
Oil having become the recognized remedy.
In veterinary practice, Eucalyptus Oil is administered to
horses in influenza, to dogs in distemper, to all animals in
septicaemia. It is also used for parasitic skin
---Preparations---The dose of the oil is 1/2 to 3
minims. Eucalyptol may be given in similar doses and is preferable
for purposes of inhalation, for asthma, diphtheria, sore throat,
As a local application for ulcers and sores, 1 OZ. of the oil
is added to 1 pint of lukewarm water. For local injections, 1/2 OZ.
to the pint is taken.
The Fluid Extract is used internally, the dose 1/2 to 1 drachm,
in scarlet fever, typhoid and intermittent fever.
Eucalyptol, U.S.P.: dose, 5 drops. Ointment, B.P.
EUCALYPTUS GUM or KINO
E. nostrata and some other species ofEucalyptus yield
Eucalyptus or Red Gum, a ruby-coloured exudation from the bark (to
be distinguished from Botany Bay Kino).
Red Gum is a very powerful astringent and is given internally
in doses of 2 to 5 grains in cases of diarrhoea and pharyngeal
inflammations. It is prepared in the form of tinctures, syrups,
Red Gum is official in Great Britain, being imported from
Australia, though the Kino generally employed here as the official
drug is derived from Pterocarpus Marsupium, a member of the
order Leguminosae, East Indian, or Malabar Kino, and is
administered in doses of 5 to 20 grains powdered, or 1/2 to 1
drachm of the tincture.
In veterinary practice, Red Gum is occasionally prescribed for
diarrhoea in dogs and is used for superficial wounds.
E. globulus, E. resinifera and other species yield what
is known as Botany Bay Kino, an astringent, dark-reddish, amorphous
resin, which is obtained in a semi-fluid state by making incisions
in the trunk of the tree and is used for similar
J. H. Maiden (Useful Native Plants of Australia, 1889)
enumerates more than thirty species as Kino-yielding.
From the leaves and young bark of E. mannifera, E.
viminalis, E. Gunnii, var. rubida, E. pulverulenta,
etc., a hard, opaque sweet substance is procured, containing
melitose. The Lerp Manna of Australia is, however, of animal
origin. See KINOS.
Compound Resin Ointment, B.P.C. Resin 20; Oil of
Eucalyptus by weight, 15; Hard paraffin, 10; Soft paraffin,
Eucalyptus Ointment (Benn's Botanic Doctor's
Adviser). Elder Oil, 12 OZ.; White Wax, 2 OZ.; Spermaceti, 1
1/2 oz.; Eucalyptus Oil, 2 drachms; Wintergreen Oil, 20
A good ointment for the skin, containing antiseptic and healing
properties. It produces very satisfactory results in scurf, chapped
hands, chafes, dandruff, tender feet, enlargements of the glands,
spots on the chest, arms, back and legs, pains in the joints and
Apply a piece of clean cotton or lint to wounds after all dirt
is washed away. For aches and pains rub the part affected well and
then cover with lint. Repeat two or three times, taking a
blood-purifying mixture at the same time.
Family: N.O. Compositae
The Eupatoriums are some of the most important plants used in
Boneset, Hemp Agrimony and Gravel Root will be found described
under their specific names.
The following species are not so well known in Great Britain,
though they are familiar plants in different parts of America and
Eupatorium teucrifolium, or Wild Horehound (syn. E.
verbenaefolium, Michx.), has small white flowerheads and
abounds in the southern United States, and has similar though less
powerful properties than E. perfoliatum
The whole herb is employed, and both this and the preceding
species were formerly included in the Secondary List of the Materia
Medica of the United States.
E. ageratoides, or White Snake-root, is also in use as
an anti-spasmodic, diuretic and diaphoretic; it is this plant which
has been supposed to cause the fatal disease called 'trembles' in
cattle, and the equally fatal local disease of some of the western
States called 'Milk Sickness' in the human subject. It has also
been lately confirmed by experiment that another American species,
E. urticaefolium, is poisonous to stock.
E. aromaticum (Linn.) and E. incarnatum (Walt.),
the Texan 'Mata,' are also other American species, which have
gained much reputation in diseases connected with inflammation and
irritability of the bladder; they are said to contain a principle
similar to, if not identical with, coumarin, which is
obtained from the Tonka Bean. E. incarnatum is also used for
E. Ayapana (Vent), a Brazilian species, is an aromatic
bitter and febrifuge like E. perfoliatum, and is considered
a sure remedy - if timely used - for antidoting the effects of the
bites of poisonous reptiles and insects. It is regarded as the most
powerful species of the genus but has fallen into neglect, though
still occasionally met with in European commerce. E.
foeniculem (Willd.), E. Ieucolepsis (T. & G.) and
E. hyssopifolium (Linn.) are also considered to be antidotes
to the poisonous bites of reptiles and stings of
E. nervosum, a Jamaican species commonly known as
Bitter-Bush, is regarded as very efficacious in cholera, and also
in typhus and typhoid fevers and in smallpox. Another Jamaican
species, E. villosum, also known locally as Bitter-Bush, is
used there in the preparation of beer as a tonic and a stimulant in
low, zymotic diseases.
E. rotundifolium (Linn.), a native of New England and
Virginia, has been considered a palliative in consumption, and
E. collinum is included in the Mexican Pharmacopoeia, for
properties similar to those of E. perfoliatum.
The leaves of E. glutinosum (Larmarck) also constitute
one of the substances known as 'Matico' in South America, the
latter name, however, belonging by right to 'Herba Matico,' an
infusion of which is a recognized styptic, used to staunch the
bleeding of wounds and to cure internal haemorrhage. The true
Matico is Piper Angustifolium (Ruiz & P.), but other
plants besides this species of Eupatorium are frequently brought
into the market under the name of Matico. In Quito, E.
glutinosum quite generally goes by the name of Matico or
Attention has been drawn of late to another South American
species, E. rebaudiana, a tiny shrub, native to the
highlands of Paraguay, called by the Indians 'Sweet Herb,' a few
leaves being said to be sufficient to sweeten a strong cup of tea
or coffee, giving also a pleasant aromatic flavour. It would seem
worth while to cultivate this species here for experiment, since it
has been called the Sugar Plant of South America, and probably
proving easy of cultivation might, as a paying crop, become a
successful rival to the sugar beet.
BALSAM OF GILEAD
BALSAM OF PERU
BALSAM OF TOLU
Botanical: Euphrasia officinalis (LINN.)
Family: N.O. Scrophulariaceae
Medicinal Action and Uses
The Eyebright is the only British species of a genus containing
twenty species distributed over Europe, Northern and Western Asia
and North America.
---Description---It is an elegant little plant, 2 to 8
inches high, an annual, common on heaths and other dry pastures,
especially on a chalky soil, and flowering from July to September,
with deeply-cut leaves and numerous, small, white or purplish
flowers variegated with yellow.
It varies much in size and in the colour of the corolla, which
changes to quite white and yellow. On the mountains and near the
sea, or in poor soil, it is often a tiny plant, only an inch or so
high, with the stem scarcely branched, but in rich soil it assumes
the habit of a minute shrub and forms a spreading tuft, 8 or 9
inches high. The leaves, also, are sometimes almost round, and at
other times pointed and narrow, their margins, however, always
deeply cut into teeth. The variability of the Eyebright has led to
much discussion as to how many species of it are known: continental
botanists define numerous species, but our botanists follow Bentham
and Hooker, who considered that there is only one very
variable species, with three principal varieties:
officinalis proper, in which the corolla lip equals or
exceeds the tube and the bracts of the flower-spike are broad at
the base; gracilis, more slender, the corolla lip shorter
than the tube, and the flower-spike bracts narrowed at the base,
and maritima, found on the shores of the Shetland Islands in
which the capsule is much longer than the calyx.
The stem is erect and wiry, either unbranched in small
specimens, or with many opposite branches. The leaves are 1/6 to
1/2 inch long and about 1/4 inch broad, opposite to one another on
the lower portion of the stem, alternate above, more often
lance-shaped, though sometimes, as already stated, much broader,
and with four to five teeth on each side.
The flowers, white, or lilac and purpleveined, are in terminal
spikes, with leafy bracts interspersed. The structure of the flower
places the plant in the family of the Foxglove and the Speedwell -
Scrophulariaceae. The corolla is two-lipped, its lower, tube-like
portion being enclosed in a green calyx, tipped with four teeth.
The upper lip is two-lobed and arches over the stamens, forming a
shelter from the rain. The lower lip is spreading and three-lobed,
each lobe being notched. A yellow patch emphasizes the central lobe
and purple 'honey guides' on both upper and lower lips - marked
streaks of colour - point the way down the throat. Four stamens,
with brown, downy anthers lie under the upper lip, in pairs, one
behind the other; on the underside of each anther is a stiff spur,
the two lowest spurs longer than the others and projecting over the
throat of the flower. The upper spurs end in miniature brushes
which are intended to prevent the pollen being scattered at the
side and wasted. When a bee visitor comes in search of the honey
lying round the ovary at the bottom of the petal tube, it knocks
against the projecting anther spurs, which sets free the pollen, so
that it falls on the insect's head. On visiting the next flower,
the bee will then rub its dusty head against the outstanding stigma
which terminates the style, or long thread placed on the ovary and
projects beyond the stamens, and thus cross-fertilization is
effected. But though this is the normal arrangement, other and
smaller flowers are sometimes found, which suggests that self-
fertilization is aimed at. In these, the corolla elongates after
opening, and as the stamens are attached to it, their heads are
gradually brought almost up to the stigma and eventually their
pollen will fertilize it.
The seeds in all kinds of the flowers are produced in tiny,
flattened capsules, and are numerous and ribbed.
The Eyebright will not grow readily in a garden if
transplanted, unless 'protected' apparently, by grass. The reason
for this is that it is a semi-parasite, relying for part of its
nourishment on the roots of other plants. Above ground, it appears
to be a perfectly normal plant, with normal flowers and bright
green leaves - the leaves of fully parasitic plants are almost
devoid of green colouring matter - but below the surface, suckers
from its roots spread round and lie on the rootlets of the
grassplants among which it grows. Where they are in contact, tiny
nodules form and send absorption cells into the grass rootlets. The
grass preyed upon does not, however, suffer very much, as the cells
penetrate but a slight distance, moreover the Eyebright being an
annual, renewing itself from year to year, the suckers on the grass
roots to which it is attached also wither in the autumn, so there
is no permanent drain of strength from the grass.
---History---The name Euphrasia is of Greek
origin, derived from Euphrosyne (gladness), the name of one of the
three graces who was distinguished for her joy and mirth, and it is
thought to have been given the plant from the valuable properties
attributed to it as an eye medicine preserving eyesight and so
bringing gladness into the life of the sufferer. The same Greek
word is also given to the linnet, whence another old tradition says
that it was the linnet who first made use of the leaf for clearing
the sight of its young and who then passed on the knowledge to
mankind, who named the plant in its honour.
Although always known under a name of Greek origin, the herb
seems to have been unnoticed by the ancients and no mention of it
is made by Dioscorides, Pliny, Galen or even by the Arabian
physicians. In the fourteenth century, however, it was supposed to
cure 'all evils of the eye' and is described as the source of 'a
precious water to clear a man's sight.' Matthaeus Sylvaticus, a
physician of Mantua, who lived about the year 1329, recommended
this plant in disorders of the eyes and Arnoldus Villanovanus, who
died in 1313, was the author of a treatise on its virtues, Vini
Euphrasiati tantopere celebrati. How long before Euphrasia was
in repute for eye diseases it is impossible to say, but in Gordon's
Liticium Medicina, 1305, among the medicines for the eyes,
Euphragia is named 'and is recommended both outwardly in a
compound distilled water and inwardly as a syrup.' Euphragia
is not, however, mentioned in the Schola Salernitana,
compiled about 1100.
Markham (Countrie Farm, 1616) says: 'Drinke everie
morning a small draught of Eyebright wine.' In the eighteenth
century Eyebright tea was used, and in Queen Elizabeth's time there
was a kind of ale called 'Eyebright Ale.'
Eyebright, says Salmon (Syn. Med., 1671), strengthens
the head, eyes and memory and clears the sight.
Euphrasia was regarded as a specific in diseases of the eyes by
the great herbalists of the sixteenth century, Tragus, Fuchsius,
Dodoens, etc., and has been a popular remedy in most
The French call it Casse-lunette, the Germans
Augentröst (consolation of the eyes).
It was the Euphrasy of
Spenser, Milton and other poets. Milton relates how the Archangel
Michael ministered to Adam after the Fall:
' . . . to nobler
Michael from Adam's eyes the
Then purged with euphrasine
His visual orbs, for he had
much to see.'
It is probable that the
belief in its value as an eye medicine originated in the old
Doctrine of Signatures, for as an old writer points
'the purple and yellow spots
and stripeswhich are upon the flowers of the Eyebright doth very
much resemble the diseases of the eye, as bloodshot, etc., by which
signature it hath been found out that this herb is effectual for
the curing of the same.'
---Part Used---A fluid extract is prepared from the
plant in the fresh state, gathered when in flower, and cut off just
above the root.
Euphrasia is best collected in July and August, when in full
flower and the foliage in the best condition.
---Constituents---The precise chemical constituents of
the herb have not yet been recorded; it is known to contain a
peculiar tannin, termed Euphrasia-Tannin acid (which gives a
dark-green precipitate with ferric salts and is only obtainable by
combination with lead) and also Mannite and Glucose, but the
volatile oil and acrid and bitter principle have not yet been
---Medicinal Action and Uses---Slightly tonic and
Although neglected nowadays by the faculty, modern herbalists
still retain faith in this herb and recommend its use in diseases
of the sight, weakness of the eyes, ophthalmia, etc., combining it
often with Golden Seal in a lotion stated to be excellent for
general disorders of the eyes. The juice obtained by expression
from the plant in the fresh state is sometimes employed, or an
infusion in milk, but the simple infusion in water is the more
usual form in which it is applied. An infusion of 1 OZ. of the herb
to a pint of boiling water should be used and the eyes bathed three
or four times a day. When there is much pain, it is considered
desirable to use a warm infusion rather more frequently for
inflamed eyes till the pain is removed. In ordinary cases, the cold
application is found sufficient.
In Iceland, the expressed juice is used for most ailments of
the eye, and in Scotland the Highlanders make an infusion of the
herb in milk and anoint weak or inflamed eyes with a feather dipped
The dried herb is an ingredient in British Herbal Tobacco,
which is smoked most usefully for chronic bronchial
Homoeopathists hold that
Eyebright belongs to the order of scrofula-curing plants, and Dr.
Fernie tells us that it has recently been found by
'to possess a distinct sphere
of curative operation, within which it manifests virtues which are
as unvarying as they are potential. It acts specifically on the
mucous lining of the eyes and nose and the upper part of the throat
to the top of the windpipe, causing when given so largely as to be
injurious, a profuse secretion from these parts; if given of
reduced strength, it cures the troublesome symptoms due to catarrh.
Hay Fever, and acute attacks of cold in the head may be checked by
an immediate dose of the infusion repeated every two hours. A
medicinal tincture is prepared from the whole plant with spirits of
wine, of which a lotion is made with rose-water, for simple
inflammation of the eyes. Thirty drops of the tincture should be
mixed with a wineglassful of rose-water for making this lotion,
which may be used several times a day.'
---Preparation---Fluid extract, 1/2 to 1
'A Marvelous Water to Preserve the Sight.
'Take the leaves of red roses, mints, sage,maidenhaire (or
leave out sage and mint and take eyebright and vervin), bittony,
such of the mountain, and endive, of each 6 handfuls: steep them in
Whitewine 24 hours: then distill them in Alimpeck; the first water
is like silver, the second like gold, the third like balme; keep it
close in glasses.
'It helps all diseases of the eye.' (A Plain
Gerard said that the powder
of the Eyebright herb, mixed with mace, 'comforteth the memorie,'
and Culpepper says:
'If the herb was but as much
used as it is neglected, it would half spoil the spectacle maker's
trade and a man would think that reason should teach people to
prefer the preservation of their natural before artificial
spectacles, which that they may be instructed how to do, take the
virtues of Eyebright as followeth: The juice or distilled water of
the Eyebright taken inwardly in white wine, or broth, or dropped
into the eyes for several days together helpeth all infirmities of
the eye that cause dimness of sight. Some make conserve of the
flowers to the same effect. Being used any of the ways, it
strengthens the week brain or memory. This tunned with strong beer
that it may work together and drunk, or the powder of the dried
herb mixed with sugar, a little mace, fennel seed and drunk, or
eaten in broth; or the said powder made into an electuary with
sugar and taken, hath the same powerful effect to help and restore
the sight decayed through age and Arnoldus de Villa Nova saith it
hath restored sight to them that have been blind a long
This is another eye lotion of Culpepper:
'An Excellent Water to Clear the Sight.
'Take of Fennel, Eyebright, Roses, white Celandine, Vervain and
Rue, of each a handful, the liver of a Goat chopt small, infuse
them well in Eyebright Water, then distil them in an alembic, and
you shall have a water will clear the sight beyond
Hildamus also firmly believed that Eyebright would restore the
sight of many persons at the age of seventy or eighty
Many of the older herbalists describe a 'Red-flowered
Eyebright,' which, however, is no longer considered another species
of Euphrasia, but regarded as a very closely allied plant.
Linnaeus himself, though he afterwards made a new genus,
Bartsia, for it, called it Euphrasia, both in his
Flora Suecia, his monograph on the flora of Sweden, that
appeared in 1755, and in his great work, Systema
Vegetabilium, published in 1784. Later, however, he named it
after his friend Dr. Johann Bartsch of Königsberg.
THE ELM TREE
is so well known, growing generally in all counties of this land,
that it is needless to describe it.
Government and virtues : It is a cold and
saturnine plant. The leaves thereof bruised and applied, heal green
wounds, being bound thereon with its own bark. The leaves or the
bark used with vinegar, cures scurf and leprosy very effectually.
The decoction of the leaves, bark, or root, being bathed, heals
broken bones. The water that is found in the bladders on the
leaves, while it is fresh, is very effectual to cleanse the skin,
and make it fair; and if cloaths be often wet therein, and applied
to the ruptures of children, it heals them, if they be well bound
up with a truss. The said water put into a glass, and set into the
ground, or else in dung for twenty-five days, the mouth thereof
being close stopped, and the bottom set upon a layer of ordinary
salt, that the fœces may settle and water become clear, is a
singular and sovereign balm for green wounds, being used with soft
tents. The decoction of the bark of the root, fomented, mollifies
hard tumours, and shrinking of the sinews. The roots of the Elm,
boiled for a long time in water, and the fat arising on the top
thereof, being clean skimmed off, and the place anointed therewith
that is grown bald, and the hair fallen away, will quickly restore
them again. The said bark ground with brine or pickle, until it
come to the form of a poultice and laid on the place pained with
the gout, gives great ease. The decoction of the bark in water, is
excellent to bathe such places as have been burnt with
Descript : Common garden Endive bears a longer
and larger leaf than Succory, and abides but one year, quickly
running up to a stalk and seed, and then perishes; it has blue
flowers, and the seed of the ordinary Endive is so like Succory
seed, that it is hard to distinguish them.
Government and virtues : It is a fine cooling,
cleansing, jovial plant. The decoction of the leaves, or the juice,
or the distilled water of Endive, serve well to cool the excessive
heat of the liver and stomach, and in the hot fits of agues, and
all other inflammations in any part of the body; it cools the heat
and sharpness of the urine, and excoriation in the urinary parts.
The seeds are of the same property, or rather more powerful, and
besides are available for fainting, swoonings, and passions of the
heart. Outwardly applied, they serve to temper the sharp humours of
fretting ulcers, hot tumours, swellings, and pestilential sores;
and wonderfully help not only the redness and inflammations of the
eyes, but the dimness of the sight also; they are also used to
allay the pains of the gout. You cannot use it amiss; a syrup of it
is a fine cooling medicine for fevers.
Descript : It shoots forth many large leaves,
long and broad, lying near the ground, small at both ends, somewhat
soft in handling of a whitish green on the upper side, and grey
underneath, each set upon a short footstalk, from among which arise
up divers great and strong hairy stalks, three or four feet high,
with some leaves there upon, compassing them about at the lower
end, and are branched towards the tops, bearing divers great and
large flowers, like those of the corn marigold, both the border of
leaves, and the middle thrum being yellow, which turn into down,
with long, small, brownish seeds amongst it, and is carried away
with the wind. The root is great and thick, branched forth divers
ways, blackish on the outside and whitish within, of a very bitter
taste, and strong, but good scent, especially when they are dried,
no part else of the plant having any smell.
Place : It grows on moist grounds, and shadowy
places oftener than in the dry and open borders of the fields and
lanes, and in other waste places, almost in every county of this
Time : It flowers in the end of June and July,
and the seed is ripe in August. The roots are gathered for use, as
well in the Spring before the leaves come forth, as in Autumn or
Government and virtues : It is a plant under the
dominion of Mercury. The fresh roots of Elecampane preserved with
sugar, or made into a syrup or conserve, are very effectual to warm
a cold windy stomach, or the pricking therein, and stitches in the
sides caused by the spleen; and to help the cough, shortness of
breath, and wheezing in the lungs. The dried root made into powder,
and mixed with sugar, and taken, serves to the same purpose, and is
also profitable for those who have their urine stopped, or the
stopping of women's courses, the pains of the mother and the stone
in the reins, kidneys, or bladder; it resists poison, and stays the
spreading of the venom of serpents, as also putrid and pestilential
fevers, and the plague itself. The roots and herbs beaten and put
into new ale or beer, and daily drank, clears, strengthens, and
quickens the sight of the eyes wonderfully. The decoction of the
roots in wine, or the juice taken therein, kills and drives forth
all manner of worms in the belly, stomach, and maw; and gargled in
the mouth, or the root chewed, fastens loose teeth, and helps to
keep them from putrefaction; and being drank is good for those that
spit blood, helps to remove cramps or convulsions, gout, sciatica,
pains in the joints, applied outwardly or inwardly, and is also
good for those that are bursten, or have any inward bruise. The
root boiled well in vinegar beaten afterwards, and made into an
ointment with hog's suet, or oil of trotters is an excellent remedy
for scabs or itch in young or old; the places also bathed or washed
with the decoction doth the same; it also helps all sorts of filthy
old putrid sores or cankers whatsoever. In the roots of this herb
lieth the chief effect for the remedies aforesaid. The distilled
water of the leaves and roots together, is very profitable to
cleanse the skin of the face, or other parts, from any morphew,
spots, or blemishes therein, and make it clear.
ERINGO, OR SEA-HOLLY
Descript : The first leaves of our ordinary
Sea-holly, are nothing so hard and prickly as when they grow old,
being almost round, and deeply dented about the edges, hard and
sharp pointed, and a little crumpled, of a bluish green colour,
every one upon a long foot stalk; but those that grow up higher
with the stalk, do as it were compass it about. The stalk itself is
round and strong, yet somewhat crested with joints and leaves set
threat, but more divided, sharp and prickly; and branches rising
from thence, which have likewise other small branches, each of them
having several bluish round prickly heads, with many small jagged
prickly leaves under them, standing like a star, and sometimes
found greenish or whitish. The root grows wonderfully long, even to
eight or ten feet it length, set with rings and circles towards the
upper part, cut smooth and without joints down lower, brownish on
the outside, and very white within, with a pith in the middle; of a
pleasant taste, but much more, being artificially preserved, and
candied with sugar.
Place : It is found about the sea coast in almost
every county of this land which borders upon the sea.
Time : It flowers in the end of Summer, and gives
ripe seed within a month after.
Government and virtues : The plant is venereal,
and breeds seed exceedingly, and strengthens the spirit
procreative; it is hot and moist, and under the celestial Balance.
The decoction of the root hereof in wine, is very effectual to open
obstruction of the spleen and liver, and helps yellow jaundice,
dropsy, pains of the loins, and wind cholic, provokes urine, and
expels the stone, procures women's courses. The continued use of
the decoction for fifteen days, taken fasting, and next to bedward,
doth help the stranguary, the difficulty and stoppage of urine, and
the stone, as well as all defects of the reins and kidneys; and if
the said drink be continued longer, it is said that it cures the
stone; it is found good against the French pox. The roots bruised
and applied outwardly, help the kernels of the throat, commonly
called the king's evil; or taking inwardly, and applied to the
place stung or bitten by any serpent, heal it speedily. If the
roots be bruised, and boiled in old hog's grease, or salted lard,
and broken bones, thorns &c. remaining in the flesh, they do
not only draw them forth, but heal up the place again, gathering
new flesh where it was consumed. The juice of the leaves dropped
into the ear, helps imposthumes therein. The distilled water of the
whole herb, when the leaves and stalks are young, is profitable
drank for all the purpose aforesaid; and helps the melancholy of
the heart, and is available in quartan and quotidian agues; as also
for them that have their necks drawn awry, and cannot turn them
without turning their whole body.
Descript : Common Eyebright is a small low herb,
rising up usually but with one blackish green stalk a span high, or
not much more, spread from the bottom into sundry branches, whereon
are small and almost round yet pointed dark green leaves, finely
snipped about the edges, two always set together, and very thick.
At the joints with the leaves, from the middle upward, come forth
small white flowers, marked with purple and yellow spots, or
stripes; after which follow small round heads, with very small seed
therein. The root is long, small and thready at the
Place : It grows in meadows, and grassy places in
Government and virtues : It is under the sign of
the Lion, and Sol claims dominion over it. If the herb was but as
much used as it is neglected, it would half spoil the spectacle
maker's trade; and a man would think, that reason should teach
people to prefer the preservation of their natural before
artificial spectacles; which that they may be instructed how to do,
take the virtues of Eyebright as follows.
or distilled water of Eyebright, taken inwardly in white wine or
broth, or dropped into the eyes for divers days together, helps all
infirmities of the eyes that cause dimness of sight. Some make
conserve of the flowers to the same effect. Being used any of the
ways, it also helps a weak brain, or memory. This tunned up with
strong beer, that it may work together, and drank, or the powder of
the dried herb mixed with sugar, a little Mace, and Fennel seed,
and drank, or eaten in broth; or the said powder made into an
electuary with sugar, and taken, has the same powerful effect to
help and restore the sight, decayed through age; and Arnoldus de
Ville Nova saith, it hath restored sight to them that have been
blind a long time before.