Herbs & Oils
~ M ~
MACE: (Myristica fragrans) This bushy
evergreen has scented leaves and tiny yellow flowers. The fruits
hold the seed -nutmeg- and its aril, a red, lacy shell coating
-mace. Nutmeg and Mace are culinary spices used in sweet and savory
dishes in a variety of cuisines. Nutmeg increases the intoxicating
and soporific effect of alcoholic drinks and is claimed to be an
aphrodisiac. It is prescribed for flatulence and nausea. The
essential oil is added to perfumes, soaps, hair oils, tobacco, and
fumigants. The nuts yield an oil, nutmeg butter, used in skin
creams. Large doses of nutmeg are toxic, because of the presence of
the hallucinogen myristicin.
Magical Uses: Burn to increase psychic power, or
for creative work. Carry to improve the intellect.
Aromatherapy Uses: Indigestion; General Weakness;
Bacterial Infections; Gout; Rheumatism; Arthritis; As an aid to
MARIGOLD: (Calendula officinalis) Also
known as Calendula, Holigold, Pot Marigold and Bride of the Sun. A
Druid sacred herb, this cheerful annual or perennial has hairy
leaves and golden-orange daisy flowers. The leaves are added to
salads and garnishes of flowers color rice and fish dishes.
Calendula is antiseptic and antifungal and contains hormone and
vitamin A precursors. Essential oil is extracted from the petals
but is extremely expensive.
the "pot marigold" not the African variety so common in American
gardens. The flowers are a healing agent. Added to fomentations,
poultices and salves, they speed healing of wounds and of nerve
damage. The infusion is given for intestinal problems and to clean
lymph and blood. Useful in fevers, the herb can be used fresh, dry,
or in tincture. For tea, steep two teaspoons of flowers per cup of
water for twenty minutes; take one teaspoon per hour. Using
tincture, take five to twenty drops four times a day.
Parts Used: Flower and leaf
Magical Uses: Known as "summer's bride", the
yellow calendula embodies the Sun's fire and life sustaining
virtue. Calendula is carried into court for a favorable verdict. In
the mattress it encourages prophetic dreams. Pick in full sun.
Added to bathwater it helps with he respect and admiration of
everyone you meet. Garlands of marigolds strung on the doorposts
stop evil from entering the house. Use for: Marriage spells; Love;
Divination; Protection; Enhanced Psychic Powers.
MARJORAM: (Origanum majorana) Also known
as Sweet Marjoram, Wintersweet, and Pot Marjoram (O.
onites). Sweet Marjoram leaves have a sweeter, spicier taste
than the leaves of Oregano and Pot marjoram. It is a popular
culinary herb used in salads, sauces, cheese, and in liqueurs and
as part of herbes de Provence. As an aromatic tea, Sweet
Marjoram aids digestion, relieves flatulence, colds and headaches,
soothes nerves and encourages menstruation. Marjoram essential oil
is distilled from the leaves and flowering tops. It is antioxidant,
reduces skin aging, antiviral, eases spasms, and stimulates local
Parts Used: Leaf and flower
Magical Uses: An infusion of marjoram, mint and
rosemary can be sprinkled around the house for protection. This
also works for protecting specific objects. Brings happiness to a
depressed person. Violets and Marjoram, mixed together, are worn
during the winter months as an amulet against colds. Grown in the
garden it offers shielding powers against evil. Love; Protection;
Defense; Wealth; Happiness; Purification; Cleansing.
Aromatherapy Uses: Chilblains; Bruises; Tics;
Arthritis; Lumbago; Muscular Aches and Stiffness; Sprains; Strains;
Asthma; Bronchitis; Colds; Coughs; Colic; Constipation; Dyspepsia;
Flatulence; Amenorrhea; PMS; Headache; Hypertension; Insomnia;
Migraine; Nervous Tension; Stress Related Conditions. Key
Qualities: Anaphrodisiac, stupefuing on large doses; Cephalic;
Sedative; Nervine; Restorative; Warming; Comforting.
MASTIC: (Pistachia lentiscus) Also known
as Gum Mastic. This aromatic, evergreen shrubby tree has scented
pale green spring flowers in clusters and red to black berries. The
bark is tapped for mastic, its resin, which chewed in the eastern
Mediterranean as a breath freshener and employed as a flavoring for
bread, pastries, and the liqueur Mastiche. This resin can be
difficult to find, if unavailable try substituting a combination,
equal parts of gum arabic and frankincense.
Parts Used: Magical Uses: Love;
Magical Power; Psychic Awareness; Adds potency and power to any
MEADOWSWEET: (Filipendula ulnaria) Also
known as Queen of the Meadow, Gravel Root, and Meadowwort. One of
the three most sacred Druid herbs, (with Mint and Vervain), this
herb has upright stems of wintergreen-scented, divided leaves,
topped by frothy umbels of almond-scented cream flowers. The stems
grow up to four feet tall and are sometimes purple. The leaves
smell like almonds and the flowers give an almond flavor to mead,
herb wines, jam and stewed fruit. Dried flowers scent linen and
yield an astringent skin tonic. Flower buds contain salicylic aced,
a chemical from which aspirin was synthesized (not from Filipendula
but from Spirea, a related herb), but the herb as a whole is
gentler on the stomach. Herbalists use flower tea for stomach
ulcers and headaches, as an antiseptic diuretic, and for feverish
colds, diarrhea, and heartburn. Meadowsweet was a favorite strewing
herb of Elizabeth I.
Traditional herbalists simmered the flowers in wine to treat
fevers and to cure depression. The fresh flower tops, taken in tea,
promote sweating. Steep two teaspoons of the herb in one cup boiled
water for twenty minutes. Take one-quarter cup four times a day. A
distilled water of the flowers makes an eyewash to treat burning
and itching. Meadowsweet is a classic for diarrhea, especially
valued for children. The leaf is added to wine to bring a "merry
heart", that is, to treat depression. Meadowsweet contains methyl
salicylate, making it a good herb for rheumatic compaints and flus.
It is astringent and helps with indigestion. It has diuretic
properties, which make it helpful in edema. The tea hads been used
for respiratory tract infections, gout, and arthritis. It can help
bladder and kidney problems, epilepsy, and rabies.
plant is used - roots, flowers, and leaves - with the root being
more useful for fevers. To prepare the root, simmer two tablespoons
of the dried root in one cup of water for twenty minutes. Take one
cup a day. The leaf is placed in claret wine to enhance the tast,
and it was at one time added to mead.
Parts Used: Root, leaf and flower
Magical Uses: According to Grieve, meadowsweet,
water mint, and vervain were the three most sacred herbs of the
Druids. Meadowsweet is an herb of Jupiter and is useful in love
spells. Use fresh flowers to decorate the altar during love spells,
use the dried petals in love mixtures. Strew about the house to
keep peace. Fresh flowers should be included in the bridal bouquet.
Use for: Love; Happiness; Divination; Peace.
MINT: (Mentha spicata, sativa, aquatica, and
others) A Druid sacred herb, most mints are creeping plants
that hybridize easily, producing infinite variations. The have
erect, square branching stems, aromatic foliage and flowers in leaf
axils. Mints are stimulant, aid digestion, and reduce flatulence.
They flavor candy, drinks, cigarettes, toothpastes, and
infuseion of the herb has been used for diarrhea and as an
emmenagogue (it brings down the menses). It is a classic for colds
and influenza, especially when mixed with elder flower-but be
careful, as this remedy will make you sweat, and you must take care
to keep well covered with blankets and woolens. Stomach flu is
helped by a mint, elderflower, and yarrow combination in a standard
infusion of two teaspoons per cup steeped for twenty minutes and
taken in quarter-cup doses.
helpful in stomach complaints, but a strong infusion will be emetic
(it makes one throw up). Mint tea eases colic and eases depression.
It relieves earaches when the fresh juice of a few drops of the
essential oil are placed in the ear. A few drops of the oil in
water, applied with a cloth, help burning and itching, heat
prostration, and sunburn. Apply it directly to an itchy skin
condition or sunburn. For heat prostration place the cool
fomentation on the forehead and wrists.
with honey soothes a sore throat. A classic cold remedy that will
unblock the sinuses is two drops of mint essential oil, two drop
eucalyptus essential oil and the juice of half a lemon in a cup of
hot water. The mix is first inhaled and then drunk when warm.
CAUTION: No more than two drops of the essential oils
should be taken at any time, and no more that two cups a day of the
above mixture. Larger doses can be toxic to the
Parts Used: The above ground protions of the
Magical Uses: Mint is placed in the home as a
protective herb. It belongs to the sphere of Venus and has long
been used in healing potions and mixtures. The fresh leaves rubbed
against the head are said to relieve headaches. Mint worn at the
wrist assures that you will not be ill. Its bright green leaves and
crisp scent led to its use in money and prosperity spells. Fresh
mint laid on the altar will call good spirits to be present and aid
you in magic, especially healing spells. Added to incenses it
cleanses the house or ritual area. Use for: Protection; Healing;
Prosperity; Good Luck; Fortune; Justice; Travel;
Aromatherapy Uses: (Peppermint) Acne; Dermatitis;
Ringworm; Scabies; Toothache; Neuralgia; Muscular Pain;
Palpitations; Asthma; Bronchitis; Sinusitis; Spasmodic Cough;
Colic; Cramps; Dyspepsia; Flatulence; Nausea; Colds; Flu; Fevers;
Fainting; Headache; Mental Fatigue; Migraine; Nervous Stress;
Vertigo; Halitosis; Insect Repellent. Key Qualities: Refreshing;
Restorative; Nerve Tonic; Cephalic; Aphrodisiac; Mental
MISTLETOE: (Viscum album) Also known as
Birdlime, All-Heal, Druid's Herb, and Golden Bough. It is the most
sacred "tree" of the Druids and rules over Winter Solstice. The
berries are poisonous. Mistletoe is thought to be most
powerful if growing on an oak tree. The leafy twigs, toxic in
volume, are a heart tonic, reduce blood pressure, slow heart rate,
strengthen capillary walls, stimulate the immune system and inhibit
grows from norther Europe to northwest Africa and east to Asia and
Japan. Different varieties are found on hard-wood and softwood
trees, which include apple (the most common), elm, oak, spruce,
pine, and poplar. Druids considered that the mistletoe found on oak
was the most potent and sacred.V The berries ripen in midwinter and
have a further peculiarity in that the ripe berries, open flowers,
green berries, and immature leaves can all be found on the same
plant. Mistletoe does not adher to the linear logic of most plants,
wit their budding, flowering, and seed production sequence. It also
seems to ignore heilotropism and geotropism, it will grow upside
down, sideways, or in any direction it "chooses". Another unique
feature is that it germinates only in the light, unlike most
plants, which require darkness to germinate. The flower buds form
in May but do not open until February. The berries ripen the
following winter. The entire process, from flower to fruit, can
take almost two years! Even its name mistl (different)
tan tan (twig) (from the Anglo-Saxon) reminds us of its
is a semi-parasitic plant, generally spread by bird droppings. It
forms a globular mass that can reach up to three feet in diameter.
There are male plants and female plants, and both derive thair
water and minerals from the host tree and produce their own
carbohydrates via photosynthesis.
seems to hold itself aloof form the rhythms and laws of the earthly
seasone, and in this way parrallels the illogical and uncontrolled
growth of cancerous cells in the body. As early as 1961, laboratory
studies demonstrated that mistletoe, along with other
immunostimulant plants (such as eupatorium, astragalus, echinacea,
acathopanax, chamomilla, and sabal), inhibited tumors in mice.
Fermented mistletoe taken from oak trees was shown to stimulate the
activity of killer cells and showed an especially stron effect on
rat hepatomas (liver cancers). Unfermented mistletoe showed a
strong effect on human leukemia (Molt 4) cells. Korean mistletoe
(Viscum coloratum) was found to be more active in inhibiting
the growth of leukemia L1210, especially when used
extracts have been shown to possess significant antitumor activity,
not only against murine tumore but also in cases of Lewis' lung
carcinome, a colon adenocarcinoma 38 and C3H adenocarcinomas of the
breast. The extracts are not toxic and may be administered in high
doses. Twent drops four times a day is the average
nervous conditions such as convulsions, delirium, hysteria,
neuralgia, urinary disorders, and heart conditions have benefitted
from the activity of mistletoe. It has also been used to temper the
spasms of epilepsy. Mistletoe strengthens the heart and has been
used as a heart tonic in cases of typhoid fever. It strengthens the
glanular system and has helped with inflammation of the pancreas.
It promotes hormonal balance when taken daily for six
is recommended for use after a stroke or when hardening of the
arteries is suspected. It will stop pulmonary and intestinal
bleeding caused by dysentary and typhoid. It helps to lower high
blood pressure and raise low blood pressure, and it has been used
to ease heavy menstrual flow, heart palpitations, hot flashes, and
the anxiety associated with menopause. The fresh juice has been
said to increase fertility in barren women.
plant can be simmered using a standard concoction of two teaspoons
of the herb per cup of water and taken in tablespoon doses several
times a day.
CAUTION:Large doses have been known to induce
convulsions in children. The berries should not be used for
internal consumption. They are used in salves and washes for
Parts Used: Twig and leaf
Magical Uses: Not quite herb, not quite tree,
beyond the limitations of classification, freed from the
restrictions of convention, and resembling a constellation of stars
suspended in midair from the bough of a sacred tree - such is the
"spirit" of this plant. It belongs to the in-between times of dusk
and dawn, or the exact interval between two seasons. It is a
gateway to something "other".
there is an old tale of a radiantly beautiful fairy who appeared to
a certain knight with the image of the crescent moon and the Holy
Grail at her feet. In her hands she held a sprig of mistletoe. She
told the knight that the mistletoe was what kept her eternally
young and beautiful.
should be cut on Midsummer's Day, or else when the moon is six days
old. Druids would use a golden sickle to cut it and it wasn't
allowed to touch the ground. It is traditonally hung in the home at
Yule, and those who walk under it exchange a kiss of peace. Bunches
of mistletoe can be hung as an all-purpose protective talisman.
Long used for protection against lightening, disease, misfortune of
every kind, fires and so on. Laid near the bedroom door, mistletoe
gives restful sleep and beautiful dreams, as it does when placed
beneath the pillow or hung at the headboard. Kiss your love beneath
mistletoe and you'll stay in love. Burned, Mistletoe banishes evil.
Its wood is a good choice for wands and ritual inplements.
Mistletoe is an excelllent all-purpose herb. Use in spells for:
Protection; Love; Hunting; Fertility; Health;
MUGWORT: (Artemisia vulgaris) Also known
as Sailor's Tobacco, Witch Herb, and Old Man. A Druid sacred herb,
this aromatic perennial Its wood is a good choice for wands and
ritual inplements. The plant has medium green leaves with silver,
downy undersides and red-brown florets.
classic herb for premenstrual symptoms, used in tea and the bath.
Use a standard infusion of two teaspoons per cup of water steeped
for twenty minutes, take one-fourth cup four times a day. It makes
a good foot bath for tired feet and legs. Cleansing to the liver,
it promotes digestion. Mugwort in an emmenagogue, especially when
combined with pennyroyal, blue cohosh, or angelica root. It is
helpful in epilepsy, palsy, and hysteria and is useful for fevers.
When laid among clothing, mugwort repels moths.
Parts Used: Leaf and stem
Magical Uses Mugwort is burned with sandalwood or
wormwood during scrying rituals, and a mugwort infusion is drunk
(sweetened with honey) before divination. The infusion is also used
to wash crystal balls and magic mirrors, and mugwort leaves are
placed around the base of the ball (or beneath it) to aid in
psychic workings. In China it is hung over doors to keep evil
spirits for buildings. Mugwort is also carried to increase lust and
fertility, to prevent backache, and to cure disease and madness.
Placed next to the bed it aids in achieving astral projection. It
is said to protect travelers from fatigue, sunstroke, wild animals,
and evil spirits.
MULLEIN: (Verbascum thapsus) Also known as
Hag's Taper, Candlewick Plant, Aaron's Rod, Velvet Plant, and
Shepherd's Club. This biennial has a rosette of woolly leaves and a
tall, thick, downy, resinous stem of bright yellow flowers,
followed by many-seeded capsules. The honey-scented flowers flavor
liqueurs and yield skin-softening mucilage. The expectorant,
soothing, and spasm-sedating properties of the leaf and flowers are
used to treat raspy coughs and are added to herbal tobacco. Woolly
leaf wraps preserve figs and are used as tinder and emergency
bandages. The powdered leaves are sometimes called "Graveyard
Dust", and can be substituted for such.
is a classic remedy for bronchitis (as well as other coughs) and
burning urination. Simmer two teaspoons oer cup and take a quarter
cup four times a day. A tea of the flowers take before bed brings
on sleep. A poultice of the leaves helps wounds and sores. The
leavs steeped in vinegar and water will soothe inflammations,
painful skin conditions, and hemorrhoids when used externally as a
poultice. They may be used in tincture form, fifteen to forty drops
every two to four hours.
Parts Used: Leaf and flower
Magical Uses In India, mullein is regarded as the
most potent safeguard against evil spirits and magic, and is hung
over doors, in windows and carried in sachets. It is also used to
banish demons and negativity. At one time Witches and magicians
used oil lamps to illuminate their spells and rites and the downy
leaves and stems of the mullein often provided the wicks.
Protection; Divination; Health; Courage; Determination; Exorcism;
MYRRH: (Comniphora myrrha) An ancient and
sacred incenses, the antiseptic, anti-inflammatory oil of Myrrh was
used for embalming. It is now found in toothpaste and perfume.
Myrrh was burned to Ra at noon in Ancient Egypt and was also fumed
in the temples of Isis.
valued as a disinfectant, myrrh is used as a wash for wounds.
Use as a wound wash only after the wound has been well
cleaned. It has the tendency to seal wounds once it is placed
on them. Use the alcohol tincture in water or the tea as a wound
wash. Myrrh pormots circulation and increases heart rate and power.
Said to move stagnant blood through the uterus, it has been used
for menopause, menstrual irregularities , and uterine tumors. Myrrh
benefits diabetes and obesity; the dose is one to fifteen grains.
Combined with echinacea and mullein to one quarter part myrrh;
steep two teaspoons per cup of water for twenty minutes; take a
quarter cup every four hours. Myrrh, goldenseal, arnica, and
cayenne can be soaked in rubbing alcohol for a few weeks to make a
liniment for bruises and sprains.
CAUTION:Prolonged internal use of myrrh (longer than
a few weeks) can lead to kidney damage.
Parts Used: Resin
Magical Uses: Myrrh is a Goddess plant of the
Moon's sphere, sacred to Isis. Burned as an incense,myrrh purifies
the area, lifts the vibrations aids contemplation and meditation
and creates peace. However, it is seldom burned alone; usually in
conjunction with frankincense or other resins. Myrrh increases the
power of any incense to which it is added. Myrrh is also included
in healing incenses and sachets, and its smoke is used to
consecrate, purify and bless objects such as amulets, talismans,
charms, and magical tools. It also aids meditation and
contemplation. The essential oil can be added to blends designed to
enhance spirituality and meditation. It is also used in healing
Aromatherapy Uses: Athlete's Foot; Chapped and
Cracked Skin; Eczema; Ringworm; Wounds; Wrinkles; Mature
Complexions; Arthritis; Asthma; Bronchitis; Catarrh; Colds; Coughs;
Sore Throats; Voice Loss; Diarrhea; Dyspepsia; Flatulence;
Hemorrhoids; Loss of Appetite; Thrush; Pruritus; Treats Gum
Infections and Mouth Ulcers. Key Qualities: Purifying; Uplifting;
Revitalizing; Sedative, Restorative; Soothing.
MYRTLE: (Myrtus communis) This dense,
evergreen shrub has aromatic leaves and flower buds, creamy white
flowers, and blue-black berries. The flowers are made into toilet
water called eau d'ange, added with the leaves to acne
ointment, and dried for potpourri. Leaf essential oil is the source
of myrtol, given for gingivitis.
Magical Uses: Love, Money and Riches; Creative
Work; Youth. If grown on each side of a house love and peace will
reside within and it is a lucky plant to grow in window boxes if a
woman plants it.
Aromatherapy Uses: Acne; Hemorrhoids; Oily Skin;
Open Pores; Asthma; bronchitis; Catarrhal conditions; chronic
Coughs; Tuberculosis; Colds; Flu; Infectious Disease. Key
Qualities: Mildly stimulating; Nerve Tonic; Antiseptic; Clarifying;
Cleansing; Uplifting; Aphrodisiac; Refreshing.
Myristica fragrans (HONK.)
Medicinal Action and Uses
---Synonyms---Arillus Myristicae. Myristica officinalis.
Myristica moschata. Macis. Muscadier.
Used---The dried arillus of the fruit or nutmeg.
---Habitat---Moluccas and Bandy Islands, New Guinea, West
name is derived from a mediaeval word for 'nut,' meaning 'suitable
for an ointment.' The tree is a small evergreen, not more than 40
feet in height, with smooth, greyish-brown bark, green on the
younger branches. The alternate leaves are oblong-ovate, acute,
entire, smooth, and dark-green. The flowers are very small and
unisexual. The fruits, smooth and yellow, resemble a pear grooved
by a longitudinal furrow and contain a single erect seed about 1
1/4 inch long, the nucleus being the wrinkled 'nutmeg,' and the
fleshy, irregular covering, scarlet when fresh and drying yellow
and brittle, the 'mace.'
principal harvest at Bencoolen is usually in the autumn, the
smaller one in early summer. The fruits, which split open when
ripe, are gathered with a long-handled hook and the products are
separated. The mace when dried is often sprinkled with salt water
to preserve it. If packed too moist it breeds worms.
the supply comes from the Banda Islands by way of Java and
'blades,' 'bands,' or flattened, lobed pieces are about 25 mm.
long, smooth, irregular, translucent, brittle or flexible, and if
scratched or pressed exude an orangecoloured oil.
inferior Mace is obtained from the long nutmeg, dark and very
brittle and lacking the fragrant odour and aromatic taste of the
medicinal properties resemble those of nutmeg, but it is
principally used as a condiment.
---Constituents---The principal constituent is 7 to 9 per cent
of a volatile oil, protein, gum, resins, sugar and fixed oil. The
volatile oil contains much pinene, and a little myristicin, which
must be distinguished from the glyceride of myristic
odorous fixed oils have been separated, a yellow one insoluble in
boiling alcohol but soluble in ether, and a red one soluble in
is brown or buff, orangetinted.
Mace is practically identical with distilled oil of nutmeg or
and Uses---A flavouring agent, stimulant and tonic.
and Nutmeg help digestion in stomachic weakness, but if used to
excess may cause over-excitement. They increase circulation and
animal heat. They have been employed in pestilential and putrid
fevers, and with other substances in intermittent fevers, and enter
into the composition of many French medicaments.
---Dosage---5 to 20
malabarica, yielding Bombay Mace, which is deficient in odour and
taste. Several chemical tests provide means of detecting the
substitution. It yields a much higher percentage of ether-soluble
argentea, yielding Macassar Mace, which is of a dull brown colour
with an odour like sassafras. It is too acrid for medicinal
yielding a Mace which, incorporated with fat, is used in gout and
Rubia tinctorum (LINN.)
Medicinal Action and Uses
---Synonyms---Krapp. Dyer's Madder. Robbia.
---Habitat---Southern Europe, including southern Britain, and
stalks of the Madder are so weak that they often lie along the
ground, preventing the plant from rising to its maximum height of 8
feet. The stalks are prickly, and the whorls of leaves at the
joints have spines along the midrib on the underside, a feature
that the French turn to advantage by using them for polishing
The herb is used as fodder for animals.
The flower-shoots spring from the joints in pairs, the loose
spikes of yellow, starry flowers blooming only in the second or
third year, in June.
The thick, fleshy fibres that compose the perennial are about
1/4 inch thick, and from their joining, or head, side roots run
under the surface of the ground for some distance, sending up
shoots. The main and side-roots are dried separately, their
products being regarded as different, that of a young, parent root
being the best. They are covered with a blackish rind, beneath
which they are reddish, with a pale yellow pith. In France, after
drying, the outer layer is threshed off and powdered and packed
separately as an inferior product called mall. The stripped roots
are again heated - excepting in hot climates - then powdered, and
milled three times. The final product is packed in casks, which in
Holland are stamped by sworn assayers.
The best European Madder is Dutch, but that from Smyrna is said
to be even finer. The Turkey-red and other shades are adjective
dyes, different mordants bringing many shades of red, pink, lilac,
purple, brown, orange and black.
As a dye it colours milk, urine and bones, so that experiments
in the growth of bones can be conducted with its help.
Rubia tinctoria differs very slightly from the Wild
Madder or R. peregrina, and may be merely a
---Constituents---The root contains rubian, rubiadin,
ruberythric acid, purpurin, tannin, sugar and especially
alizarin. Pseudopurpurin yields the orange dye and
xanthopurpurin the yellow. The astringent taste, slight
odour and red colour, are imparted to water or
The most interesting of the colouring substances is the
alizarin, and this is now termed dihydroscyanthraquinone. This
occurs as orange-red crystals, almost insoluble in water, but
readily soluble in alcohol, ether, the fixed oils and alkaline
solutions. The alcoholic and aqueous solutions are rose-coloured,
the ethereal, golden-yellow; the alkaline, violet and blue when
concentrated, but violet red when sufficiently diluted. A beautiful
rose-coloured lake is produced by precipitating a mixture of the
solutions of alizarin and alum.
Alizarin was recognized by Graebe and Liebermann, in 1868, as a
derivative of anthracene - a hydrocarbon contained in coal-tar, and
in the same year they elaborated a method for preparing it
commercially from anthracene. Upon this arose rapidly a great
chemical industry, and the cultivation of Madder has, of course,
decreased correspondingly until it may be said that the coaltar
products have entirely displaced the natural ones.
---Medicinal Action and Uses---Although not as a general
rule employed medicinally, Madder has been reputed as effectual in
amenorrhoea, dropsy and jaundice.
When taken into the stomach it imparts a red colour to the milk
and urine, and to the bones of animals without sensibly affecting
any other tissue. The effect is observed most quickly in the bones
of young animals and in those nearest to the heart. Under the
impression that it might effect some change in the nervous system,
it has been prescribed in rachitis (rickets), but without
noticeable favourable results. Dosage, 1/2 drachm three or four
R. sylvestris, a nearly allied species, hasbeen used as
a remedy in liver diseases, jaundice, gall and spleen complaints.
The root, leaves and seeds are all reputed as medicinally
R. cordifolia, or Bengal Madder, of India, yields the
inferior dye called Munjeet.
In France it is thought that the root of Galium
cruciatum, or Crosswort, might replace that of
Botanical: Magnolia acuminata, Magnolia virginiana
Family: N.O. Magnoliaceae
Medicinal Action and Uses
---Synonyms---CucumberTree. Magnoliae cortex. Blue
Magnolia. Swamp Sassafras. Magnolia Tripetata.
---Parts Used---Bark of stem and root.
---Description---The genus is named in commemoration of
Pierre Magnol, a famous professor of medicine and botany of
Montpellier in the early eighteenth century. All its members are
handsome, with luxuriant foliage and rich flowers. The leaves of
Magnolia acuminata are oval, about 6 inches long by 3 broad,
and slightly hairy below, with a diameter of 6 inches, and the
fruit or cone, about 3 inches long, resembles a small
It is a large tree, reaching a height of 80 or more feet and a
diameter of 3 to 5 feet, but only grows to about 16 feet in
England. The wood is finely grained, taking a brilliant polish, and
in its colour resembles that of the tulip or poplar, but it is less
durable. It is sometimes used for large canoes and house
The bark of the young wood is curved or quilled, fissured
outside, with occasional warts, and orange-brown in colour, being
whitish and smooth within and the fracture short except for inner
fibres. The older bark without the corky layer is brownish or
whitish and fibrous. Drying and age cause the loss of its volatile,
---Constituents---The bark has no astringency. The tonic
properties are found in varying degree in several
---Medicinal Action and Uses---A mild diaphoretic,
tonic, and aromatic stimulant. It is used in rheumatism and malaria
and is contra-indicated in inflammatory symptoms. In the Alleghany
districts the cones are steeped in spirits to make a tonic
A warm infusion is laxative and sudorific, a cold one being
antiperiodic and mildly tonic.
---Dosage---Fluid Extract. Frequent doses of 1/2 to 1
drachm, or the infusion in wineglassful doses.
Both M. virginiana and M. tripetala were
recognized as official with M. acuminata.
M. virginiana, or M. glauca, White Laurel, Beaver
Tree, Swamp Sassafras, White Bay, Sweet Bay, Small or Laurel
Magnolia, or Sweet Magnolia, is much used by beavers, who favour it
both as food and building material. The light wood has no
The bark and seed cones are bitter and aromatic, used as
tonics, and in similar ways to M. acuminata. The leaves
yield a green, volatile oil with a more pleasant odour than fennel
or anise. There is probably also a bitter glucosidal
M. tripetala, Umbrella Tree or Umbrella Magnolia. The
fruit yields a neutral crystalline principle,
The bark, if chewed as a substitute for tobacco, is said to
cure the habit.
Botanial: Adhatoda vasica (NEES)
Family: N.O. Acanthaceae
---Synonyms---Justicia adhatoda (Linn.). Arusa. Adulsa
---Parts Used---Leaves, flowers, fruit,
---Description---A common plant in India, the fresh
leaves are 4 to 6 inches long, 2 inches wide, lanceolate entire,
shortly petiolate, when dried dull brownish green, they become
lighter when powdered, taste bitter and smell like strong tea. Its
wood is soft and makes excellent charcoal for
---Constituents---The leaves contain a bitter
crystalline alkaloid Vasicine, and an organic adhatodic acid,
another alkaloid and an odorous volatile principle.
---Medicinal Action and Uses---In India the flowers,
leaves, root and specially the fruit are considered a valuable
antispasmodic for asthma and intermittent fever; used with success
also as an expectorant in cases of chronic bronchitis and phthisis;
the leaves are dried and smoked as cigarettes to relieve asthma.
Large doses irritate the alimentary canal and cause diarrhoea and
Adhatodic acid is believed to exert a strong poisoning
influence upon the lower forms of animals and vegetable life,
though nonpoisonous to the higher animals.
---Dosages---Liquid extract of Adhatoda, 20 to 60
minims. The freshly expressed juice, 1 to 4 fluid drachms. Tincture
from 1/2 to 1 fluid drachm.
Family: N.O. Malvaceae
Mallow, Tree Sea
The large and important family of Mallows are most abundant in
the tropical region, where they form a large proportion of the
vegetation; towards the poles they gradually decrease in number.
Lindley states that about a thousand species had been discovered,
all of which not only contain much mucilage, but are totally devoid
of unwholesome properties. Besides the medicinal virtues of somany
species, some are employed as food; the bark of others affords a
substitute for hemp; the cotton of commerce is obtained from the
seed vessels of yet other species, and many ornamental garden
flowers are also members of this group, the Hibiscus and our
familiar Hollyhock among the number.
Botanical: Althaea officinalis (LINN.)
Medicinal Action and Uses
Preparations and Dosages
---Synonyms---Mallards. Mauls. Schloss Tea. Cheeses.
---Parts Used---Leaves, root, flowers.
---Habitat---Marsh Mallow is a native of most countries
of Europe, from Denmark southward. It grows in salt marshes, in
damp meadows, by the sides of ditches, by the sea and on the banks
of tidal rivers.
In this country it is local, but occurs in most of the maritime
counties in the south of England, ranging as far north as
Lincolnshire. In Scotland it has been introduced.
---Description---The stems, which die down in the
autumn, are erect, 3 to 4 feet high, simple, or putting out only a
few lateral branches. The leaves, shortly petioled, are roundish,
ovate-cordate, 2 to 3 inches long, and about 1 1/4 inch broad,
entire or three to five lobed, irregularly toothed at the margin,
and thick. They are soft and velvety on both sides, due to a dense
covering of stellate hairs. The flowers are shaped like those of
the common Mallow, but are smaller and of a pale colour, and are
either axillary, or in panicles, more often the
The stamens are united into a tube, the anthers, kidney-shaped
and one-celled. The flowers are in bloom during August and
September, and are followed, as in other species of this order, by
the flat, round fruit called popularly 'cheeses.'
The common Mallow is frequently called by country people,
'Marsh Mallow,' but the true Marsh Mallow is distinguished from all
the other Mallows growing in Britain, by the numerous divisions of
the outer calyx (six to nine cleft), by the hoary down which
thickly clothes the stems, and foliage, and by the numerous
panicles of blush-coloured flowers, paler than the Common
The roots are perennial, thick, long and tapering, very tough
and pliant, whitishyellow outside, white and fibrous
The whole plant, particularly the root, abounds with a mild
mucilage, which is emollient to a much greater degree than the
common Mallow. The generic name, Althaea, is derived from
the Greek, altho (to cure), from its healing properties. The
name of the order, Malvaceae, is derived from the Greek,
malake (soft), from the special qualities of the Mallows in
softening and healing.
Most of the Mallows have been used as food, and are mentioned
by early classic writers in this connexion. Mallow was an esculent
vegetable among the Romans, a dish of Marsh Mallow was one of their
The Chinese use some sort of Mallow in their food, and Prosper
Alpinus stated (in 1592) that a plant of the Mallow kind was eaten
by the Egyptians. Many of the poorer inhabitants of Syria,
especially the Fellahs, Greeks and Armenians, subsist for weeks on
herbs, of which Marsh Mallow is one of the most common. When boiled
first and fried with onions and butter, the roots are said to form
a palatable dish, and in times of scarcity consequent upon the
failure of the crops, this plant, which fortunately grows there in
great abundance, is much collected for food.
In Job XXX. 4 we read of Mallow being eaten in time of famine,
but it is doubtful whether this was really a true mallow. Canon
Tristram thinks it was some saline plant; perhaps the
Orache, or Sea-Purslane.
Horace and Martial mention the laxative properties of the Marsh
Mallow leaves and root, and Virgil tells us of the fondness of
goats for the foliage of the Mallow.
Dioscorides extols it as a remedy, and in ancient days it was
not only valued as a medicine, but was used, especially the Musk
Mallow, to decorate the graves of friends.
Pliny said: 'Whosoever shall take a spoonful of the Mallows
shall that day be free from all diseases that may come to him.' All
Mallows contain abundant mucilage, and the Arab physicians in early
times used the leaves as a poultice to suppress
Preparations of Marsh Mallow, on account of their soothing
qualities, are still much used by country people for inflammation,
outwardly and inwardly, and are used for lozenge-making. French
druggists and English sweetmeat-makers prepare a confectionary
paste (Pâét‚ de Guimauve) from the roots of Marsh Mallow,
which is emollient and soothing to a sore chest, and valuable in
coughs and hoarseness. The 'Marsh Mallows' usually sold by
confectioners here are a mixture of flour, gum, egg-albumin, etc.,
and contain no mallow.
In France, the young tops and tender leaves of Marsh Mallow are
eaten uncooked, in spring salads, for their property in stimulating
the kidneys, a syrup being made from the roots for the same
---Cultivation---Marsh Mallow used always to be
cultivated in gardens on account of its medicinal qualities. It is
said to have been introduced by the Romans.
It can be raised from seed, sown in spring, but cuttings will
do well, and offsets of the root, carefully divided in autumn, when
the stalks decay, are satisfactory, and will grow of their own
Plant about 2 feet apart. It will thrive in any soil or
situation, but grows larger in moist than in dry land, and could
well be cultivated on unused ground in damp localities near ditches
---Parts Used---Leaves, root and flowers. The leaves are
picked in August, when the flowers are just coming into bloom. They
should be stripped off singly and gathered only on a fine day, in
the morning, after the dew has been dried off by the
---Constituents---Marsh Mallow contains starch,
mucilage, pectin, oil, sugar, asparagin, phosphate of lime,
glutinous matter and cellulose.
---Medicinal Action and Uses---The great demulcent and
emollient properties of Marsh Mallow make it useful in inflammation
and irritation of the alimentary canal, and of the urinary and
respiratory organs. The dry roots boiled in water give out half
their weight of a gummy matter like starch. Decoctions of the
plant, especially of the root, are very useful where the natural
mucus has been abraded from the coats of the intestines, The
decoction can be made by adding 5 pints of water to 1/4 lb. of
dried root, boiling down to 3 pints and straining: it should not be
made too thick and viscid. It is excellent in painful complaints of
the urinary organs, exerting a relaxing effect upon the passages,
as well as acting curatively. This decoction is also effective in
curing bruises, sprains or any ache in the muscles or sinews. In
haemorrhage from the urinary organs and in dysentery, it has been
recommended to use the powdered root boiled in milk. The action of
Marsh Mallow root upon the bowels is unaccompanied by any
Boiled in wine or milk, Marsh Mallow will relieve diseases of
the chest, constituting a popular remedy for coughs, bronchitis,
whooping-cough, etc., generally in combination with other remedies.
It is frequently given in the form of a syrup, which is best
adapted to infants and children.
Marsh Mallow Water
'Soak one ounce of marsh mallow roots in a little cold water
for half an hour; peel off the bark, or skin; cut up the roots into
small shavings, and put them into a jug to stand for a couple of
hours; the decoction must be drunk tepid, and may be sweetened with
honey or sugar-candy, and flavoured with orange-flower water, or
with orange juice. Marshmallow water may be used with good effect
in all cases of inveterate coughs, catarrhs, etc.' (Francatelli's
For Gravel, etc.
'Put the flower and plant (all but the root)of Marsh Mallows in
a jug, pour boiling water, cover with a cloth, let it stand three
hours - make it strong. If used for gravel or irritation of the
kidney, take 1/2 pint as a Tea daily for four days, then stop a few
days, then go on again. A teaspoonful of gin may be added when
there is no tendency to inflammation.' (From a family
The powdered or crushed fresh roots make a good poultice that
will remove the most obstinate inflammation and prevent
mortification. Its efficacy in this direction has earned for it the
name of Mortification Root. Slippery Elm may be added with
advantage, and the poultice should be applied to the part as hot as
can be borne and renewed when dry. An infusion of 1 OZ. of leaves
to a pint of boiling water is also taken frequently in wineglassful
doses. This infusion is good for bathing inflamed
An ointment made from Marsh Mallow has also a popular
reputation, but it is stated that a poultice made of the fresh
root, with the addition of a little white bread, proves more
serviceable when applied externally than the ointment. The fresh
leaves, steeped in hot water and applied to the affected parts as
poultices, also reduce inflammation, and bruised and rubbed upon
any place stung by wasps or bees take away the pain, inflammation
and swelling. Pliny stated that the green leaves, beaten with nitre
and applied, drew out thorns and prickles in the
The flowers, boiled in oil and water, with a little honey and
alum, have proved good as a gargle for sore throats. In France,
they form one of the ingredients of the Tisane de quatre
fleurs, a pleasant remedy for colds.
---Preparations and Dosage---Fluid extract leaves. 1/2
to 2 drachms.
Botanical: Malva sylvestris (LINN.)
---Parts Used---Flowers, leaves.
Medicinal Action and Uses
Preparation and Dosage
The Common or Blue Mallow is a robust plant 3 or 4 feet high,
growing freely in field, hedgerows and on waste ground. Its stem is
round, thick and strong, the leaves stalked, roundish, five to
seven lobed, downy, with stellate hairs and the veins prominent on
the underside. The flowers are showy, bright mauve-purple, with
dark veins. When they first expand in June, the plant is handsome,
but as the summer advances, the leaves lose their deep green colour
and the stems assume a ragged appearance.
Cattle do not appear to be fond of this plant, every part of
which abounds with a mild mucilage.
---Medicinal Action and Uses---The use of this species
of Mallow has been much superseded by Marsh Mallow, which possesses
its valuable properties in a superior degree, but it is still a
favourite remedy with country people where Marsh Mallow is not
obtainable. The roots are not considered of much value compared
with those of the Marsh Mallow, and as a rule the leaves and
flowers are used only, mainly externally in fomentations and
poultices. The infusion has been a popular remedy for coughs and
colds, but the internal use of the leaves has fallen into disuse,
giving place to Marsh Mallow root, though they are still employed
as a decoction for injection, which, made strong, cures strangury
The foliage when boiled, forms a wholesome vegetable. The
seeds, or 'cheeses,' are also edible.
A tincture of the flowers, which turn blue in fading, forms a
very delicate test for alkalis.
The flowers were used formerly on May Day by country people for
strewing before their doors and weaving into garlands.
---Preparation and Dosage---Fluid extract, 1/2 to 2
Botanical: Malva meschata
---Parts Used---Leaves, root, flowers.
The Musk Mallow is not an uncommon plant in dry pastures and in
hedgerows. It grows 2 feet high, with round, thick, erect stems,
somewhat hairy, often purplespotted. The foliage is light-green,
the lower leaves kidney-shaped, five to seven lobed, those on the
stem finely divided into numerous narrow segments. The handsome
rose-coloured flowers are three times the size of the Common
Mallow, crowded towards the summit of the stem. It emits from its
leaves a faint, musky odour, especially in warm weather, or when
drawn through the hand.
This Mallow is not common in Kent and other counties, but in
Essex it is very abundant.
The root is white and is the part used. It has the same virtues
as the Common Mallow, but is not quite as strong, and the leaves
have similar properties.
Botanical: Malva rotundifolia
---Habitat---The Dwarf Mallow is self-fertilizing, while
the other kinds are insect-visited. It is common in most parts of
Europe, including Britain, and in Western Asia. In Egypt,
especially upon the banks of the Nile, it is extensively cultivated
and used by the natives as a pot-herb.
The Dwarf Mallow, a smaller variety than any of the other wild
Mallows, is easily distinguishable by its prostrate stems and pale
lilac flowers. Its leaves are heart-shaped and have also sometimes
been used medicinally.
MALLOW, TREE SEA
Botanical: Lavatera arborea
The velvety leaves of the Sea Tree Mallow, a tall, handsome
plant growing 5 or 6 feet high, on sea cliffs, on many parts of the
coast, are used for sprains, steeped in hot water and laid on the
Botanical: Brunfelsia hopeana (HOOK.)
Family: N.O. Solanaceae
Medicinal Action and Uses
---Synonyms---Vegetable Mercury. Franciscea
---Parts Used---Root, stem.
---Habitat---South America, West Indies,
---Description---Small trees, a name often given to the
genus Solanacece, in honour of Brunfels, the German
herbalist of the sixteenth century. The genus is known by a
five-cleft calyx with rounded lobes, bilabiate in aestivation, four
fertile and anthers confluent at the top, where it is divided into
two stigmatic lobes, capsules fleshy or leathery, more rarely
indehiscent and drupe-like, several large seeds embedded in pulp.
Flowers large and some very fragrant, blue or white. In commerce
the pieces of root vary from a few inches to 1 foot long, 1/2 inch
in diameter, very tough and woody, centre yellow, with a very thin
outer bark; the stem has a small yellow pith.
---Constituents---Alkaloid Mannacine and a peculiar
substance fluorescent and supposed to be identical with gelseminic
---Medicinal Action and Uses---From experiments made on
animals, Manaca acts on the spinal cord, stimulating, then
abolishing the activities of the motor centres; stimulating
specially the kidneys and all the other glands. In large doses it
causes lassitude, perspiration and loose greenish discharges. It is
highly recommended in the treatment of syphilis and chronic
rheumatism of an arthritic nature.
---Dosage---Fluid extract, 10 to 30 minims three times
---Other Species---Franciscea uniflora is the
Brazilian name for Manaca, largely used for syphilitic complaints;
root and leaves of this are used. It is a bitter purgative emetic,
and in large doses poisonous.
Botanical: Manihot utilissima
Family: N.O. Euphorbiaceae
---Synonyms---Manioc. Yuca. Cassava. Farinha de
Another food plant of enormous importance to tropical America
in the present as well as in the past is Manihot utilissima,
otherwise known as Manioc, Mandioca, or Yuca, from the tuberous
root of which Cassava is prepared. It was, in fact, the plant of
chief economic importance to the tribes of tropical South America
east of the Andes, and its cultivation spread to the valley of
Colombia, the Isthmus of Panama, and the West Indian Islands.
Mandioca is a shrubby plant, with brittle stems, 6 feet to 8 feet
high, large palmate leaves and green flowers. In the ordinary
variety the tubers weigh up to 30 lb., and the juice, owing to the
presence of hydrocyanic acid, is poisonous. A smaller nonpoisonous
variety is also found.
The true native method of preparing it for food, followed with
slight variation throughout the Southern Continent and islands, is
as follows: The root is sliced, and grated on a board set with
small stones, washed in water, and packed into a long cylindrical
'press' of basketwork with a loop at either end. This press is so
made that when it is suspended by one loop and a weight applied to
the other, it increases in length and decreases in diameter, and
the juice is squeezed from the contents, and falls into a vessel
placed below. The paste is then spread in thin layers on griddles
of pottery or slate and cooked over a fire. The root is also eaten
roasted, especially the sweet variety, though even in the case of
the poisonous tuber, the unwholesome element is volatized by
cooking. For this reason the juice is preserved and boiled, when it
becomes wholesome, and is used as liquor for soup. If further
inspissated by boiling, and sweetened in the sun, it is known as
casareep, and is employed as a flavouring, especially in British
Guiana, where it appears in almost every dish, and in the West
Indies, where it is the foundation of the celebrated pepper pot.
Casareep is highly antiseptic, and by its aid meat can be kept
fresh for quite a long time.
An intoxicating drink can also be prepared from the Mandioca;
the early West Indians fermented the sliced and grated tuber in
water, adding a little chewed root or grated batata to assist the
process. In British Guiana and North Brazil a similar process is
still used; the chewed root is fermented in large wooden troughs of
water, and the liquor is stored in gourds. At the present time
Cassava flour, or farinha de Mandioca, is an important
article of food throughout South America, and could be used much
more extensively in Europe. The true starch of the Mandioca is
known to commerce as Brazilian arrowroot, and this, after heating
on hot plates and stirring with an iron rod, becomes tapioca. The
cultivation is not difficult, the plant is propagated by cuttings,
and the produce is at least six times that of wheat.
Sweet Cassava is nourishing, light and agreeable as a food for
invalids, and infants during weaning.
Botanical: Atropa mandragora
Family: N.O. Solanaceae
Medicinal Action and Uses
---Synonyms---Mandragora. Satan's Apple.
---Habitat---The Mandrake, the object of so many strange
superstitions, is a native of Southern Europe and the Levant, but
will grow here in gardens if given a warm situation, though
otherwise it may not survive severe winters. It was cultivated in
England in 1562 by Turner, the author of the Niewe
The name Mandragora is derived from two Greek words
implying 'hurtful to cattle. ' The Arabs call it 'Satan's
---Description---It has a large, brown root, somewhat
like a parsnip, running 3 or 4 feet deep into the ground, sometimes
single and sometimes divided into two or three branches.
Immediately from the crown of the root arise several large,
dark-green leaves, which at first stand erect, but when grown to
full size a foot or more in length and 4 or 5 inches in width -
spread open and lie upon the ground. They are sharp pointed at the
apex and of a foetid odour. From among these leaves spring the
flowers, each on a separate foot-stalk, 3 or 4 inches high. They
are somewhat of the shape and size of a primrose, the corolla
bell-shaped, cut into five spreading segments, of a whitish colour,
somewhat tinged with purple. They are succeeded by a smooth, round
fruit, about as large as a small apple, of a deep yellow colour
when ripe, full of pulp and with a strong, apple-like
---Medicinal Action and Uses---The leaves are quite
harmless and cooling, and have been used for ointments and other
external application. Boiled in milk and used as a poultice, they
were employed by Boerhaave as an application to indolent
The fresh root operates very powerfully as an emetic and
purgative. The dried bark of the root was used also as a rough
Mandrake was much used by the Ancients, who considered it an
anodyne and soporific. In large doses it is said to excite delirium
and madness. They used it for procuring rest and sleep in continued
pain, also in melancholy, convulsions, rheumatic pains and
scrofulous tumours. They mostly employed the bark of the root,
either expressing the juice or infusing it in wine or water. The
root finely scraped into a pulp and mixed with brandy was said to
be efficacious in chronic rheumatism.
Mandrake was used in Pliny's days as an anaesthetic for
operations, a piece of the root being given to the patient to chew
before undergoing the operation. In small doses it was employed by
the Ancients in maniacal cases.
A tincture is used in homoeopathy to-day, made from the fresh
Among the old Anglo-Saxon
herbals both Mandrake and periwinkle are endowed with mysterious
powers against demoniacal possession. At the end of a description
of the Mandrake in the Herbarium of Apuleius there is this
'For witlessness, that is
devil sickness or demoniacal possession, take from the body of this
said wort mandrake by the weight of three pennies, administer to
drink in warm water as he may find most convenient - soon he will
Bartholomew gives the old
Mandrake legend in full, though he adds: 'It is so feynd of churles
others of wytches.' He also refers to its use as an
'the rind thereof medled with
wine . . . gene to them to drink that shall be cut in their body,
for they should slepe and not fele the sore knitting.'
Bartholomew gives two other beliefs about the Mandrake which
are not found in any other English Herbal - namely, that while
uprooting it the digger must beware of contrary winds, and that he
must go on digging for it uptil sunset.
In the Grete Herball (printed by Peter Treveris in 1526)
we find the first avowal of disbelief in the supposed powers of the
Mandrake. Gerard also pours scorn on the Mandrake
'There have been,' he says, 'many ridiculous tales brought up
of this plant, whether of old wives or runnegate surgeons or
phisick mongers, I know not, all which dreames and old wives tales
you shall from henceforth cast out your bookes of
Parkinson says that if ivory is boiled with Mandrake root for
six hours, the ivory will become so soft 'that it will take what
form or impression you will give it.'
Josephus says that the Mandrake - which he calls Baaras
- has but one virtue, that of expelling demons from sick persons,
as the demons cannot bear either its smell or its presence. He even
relates that it was certain death to touch this plant, except under
certain circumstances which he details. (Wars of the Jews,
book vii, cap. vi.)
The roots of the Mandrake are
very nearly allied to Belladonna, both in external appearance and
in structure. The plant is by modern botanists assigned to the same
genus, though formerly was known as Mandragora officinalis,
with varieties M. vernalis and M. autumnalis.
According to Southall (Organic Materia Medica, 8th edition,
revised by Ernest Mann, 1915), the root:
'contains a mydriatic
alkaloid, Mandragorine (Cl7H27O3N), which in spite of the name and
formula which have been assigned to it, is probably identical with
atropine or hyoscyamine.'
The roots of Mandrake were supposed to bear a resemblance to
the human form, on account of their habit of forking into two and
shooting on each side. In the old Herbals we find them frequently
figured as a male with a long beard, and a female with a very bushy
head of hair. Many weird superstitions collected round the Mandrake
root. As an amulet, it was once placed on mantelpieces to avert
misfortune and to bringprosperity and happiness to the house.
Bryony roots were often cut into fancy shapes and passed off as
Mandrake, being even trained to grow in moulds till they assumed
the desired forms. In Henry VIII's time quaint little images made
from Bryony roots, cut into the figure of a man, with grains of
millet inserted into the face as eyes, fetched high prices. They
were known as puppettes or mammettes, and were
accredited with magical powers. Italian ladies were known to pay as
much as thirty golden ducats for similar artificial
Turner alludes to these
'puppettes and mammettes,' and says, 'they are so trymmed of crafty
theves to mocke the poore people withall and to rob them both of
theyr wit and theyr money.' But he adds:
'Of the apples of mandrake,
if a man smell of them thei will make hym slepe and also if they be
eaten. But they that smell to muche of the apples become dum . . .
thys herbe diverse wayes taken is very jepardus for a man and may
kill hym if he eat it or drynk it out of measure and have no remedy
from it.... If mandragora be taken out of measure, by and by slepe
ensueth and a great lousing of the streyngthe with a
The plant was fabled to grow under the gallows of murderers,
and it was believed to be death to dig up the root, which was said
to utter a shriek and terrible groans on being dug up, which none
might hear and live. It was held, therefore, that he who would take
up a plant of Mandrake should tie a dog to it for that purpose, who
drawing it out would certainly perish, as the man would have done,
had he attempted to dig it up in the ordinary manner.
There are many allusions to the Mandrake in ancient writers.
From the earliest times a notion prevailed in the East that the
Mandrake will remove sterility, and there is a reference to this
belief in Genesis xxx. 14.
---Cultivation---Mandrake can be propagated by seeds,
sown upon a bed of light earth, soon after they are ripe, when they
are more sure to come up than if the sowing is left to the
When the plants come up in the spring, they must be kept well
watered through the summer and kept free from weeds. At the end of
August they should be taken up carefully and transplanted where
they are to remain. The soil should be light and deep, as the roots
run far down - if too wet, they will rot in winter, if too near
chalk or gravel, they will make little progress. Where the soil is
good and they are not disturbed, these plants will grow to a large
size in a few years, and will produce great quantities of flowers
Culpepper tells us the Mandrake is governed by Mercury. The
fruit has been accounted poisonous, but without cause.... The root
formerly was supposed to have the human form, but it really
resembles a carrot or parsnip.
Botanical: Podophyllum peltatum (LINN.)
Family: N.O. Berberidaceae
Medicinal Action and Uses
Preparatons and Dosages
---Synonyms---May Apple. Wild Lemon. Racoonberry. Duck's
Foot. Hog Apple.
---Parts Used---Root, resin.
---Habitat---The American Mandrake is a small herb with
a long, perennial, creeping rhizome, a native of many parts of
North America, common in the eastern United States and Canada,
growing there profusely in wet meadows and in damp, open
---Description---The root is composed of many thick
tubers, fastened together by fleshy fibres which spread greatly
underground, sending out many smaller fibres at the joints, which
strike downward. The stems are solitary, mostly unbranched, 1 to 2
feet high, crowned with two large, smooth leaves, stalked, peltate
in the middle like an umbrella, of the size of a hand, composed of
five to seven wedge-shaped divisions, somewhat lobed and toothed at
the apex. Between their foot-stalks, grows a solitary, drooping
white flower, about 2 inches across, appearing in May. The odour of
the flower is nauseous. When it falls off, the fruit that develops
swells to the size and shape of the common rosehip, being 1 to 2
inches long. It is yellow in colour and pulpy. In taste it is
sweet, though slightly acid and is edible. The leaves and roots are
poisonous. The foliage and stems have been used as a pot-herb, but
in some cases with fatal results.
The drug was well known to the North American Indians as an
emetic and vermifuge. It was included in the British Pharmacopoeia
The Latin name is derived from pous, podos (a
foot) and phyllon (a leaf), alluding to a fanciful
resemblance in the palmate leaf to the foot of some web-footed
aquatic bird. Hence one of the popular names of the plant - Duck's
---Cultivation---It grows in warm, sheltered spots, such
as partially shaded borders, woods, and marshes, liking a light,
loamy soil. It requires no other culture than to be kept clear of
weeds, and is so hardy as to be seldom injured by
Propagate (1) by sowing seeds, in sandy soil, planting out in
the following spring or autumn; (2) by division of roots. It
propagates so fast by its creeping roots that this mode of
propagation is preferred. Every part of the root will grow. Divide
either in autumn, when the leaves decay, or in spring, just before
the roots begin to shoot, preferably the latter.
---Part Used---The dried rhizome, from which a resin is
It must be carefully distinguished from English Mandrake
(Bryonia dioica), which is sometimes offered as Mandrake
---Constituents---A neutral crystalline substance,
podo-phyllotoxin, and an amorphous resin, podophylloresin, both of
which are purgative. It also contains picro-podophyllin, a yellow
colouring matter, quercetin, sugar, starch, fat, etc.
It yields about 3 per cent of ash on
Podophyllum rhizome is said to be most active when it is
beginning to shoot. It is used almost entirely in the form of
The resin is prepared by making a tincture of the rhizome,
removing from this the greater part of the spirit by distillation
and pouring the remaining liquor into water acidified with
hydrochloric acid. By this means the resin is precipitated, and may
be collected and dried.
---Medicinal Action and Uses---Antibilious, cathartic,
Podophyllum is a medicine of most extensive service; its
greatest power lies in its action upon the liver and bowels. It is
a gastro-intestinal irritant, a powerful hepatic and intestinal
stimulant. In congested states of the liver, it is employed with
the greatest benefit, and for all hepatic complaints it is
eminently suitable, and the beneficial results can hardly be
In large doses it produces nausea and vomiting, and even
inflammation of the stomach and intestines, which has been known to
prove fatal. In moderate doses, it is a drastic purgative with some
cholagogue action. Like many other hepatic stimulants, it does not
increase the secretion of bile so much when it acts as a
Podophyllum is a powerful medicine exercising an influence on
every part of the system, stimulating the glands to healthy action.
It is highly valuable in dropsy, biliousness, dyspepsia, liver and
other disorders. Its most beneficial action is obtained by the use
of small doses frequently given. In such circumstances, it acts
admirably upon all the secretions, removing obstructions, and
producing a healthy condition of all the organs in the system. In
still smaller doses, it is a valuable remedy in skin
It may either be given in infusion, decoction, tincture or
substance, but it is not to be given warm.
It is often employed in combination with other purgatives, such
as colocynth, aloes or rhubarb, and also administered in pills,
with extract of henbane or belladonna, to prevent
Externally applied the resin, of podophyllum acts as an
irritant. If incautiously handled, it often produces
conjunctivitis, and in America it has on this account, when
dissolved in alcohol, been used as a counterirritant.
---Preparations and Dosages---Powdered root, 5 to 30
grains. Fluid extract, 5 to 30 drops. Tincture root, 5 to 30 drops.
Tincture resin, B.P., 5 to 15 drops. Solid extract, 1 to 5 grains.
Podophyllum resin, 1/4 to 1 grain.
---Substitutes---Podophyllum Emodi (Indian
Podophyllum), a native of Northern India. The roots are much
stouter, more knotty, and about twice as strong as the American. It
is not identical with, nor should it be substituted for, the
American rhizome. It contains twice as much podophyllotoxin, and in
other respects exhibits differences. Indian podophyllum is official
in India and the Eastern Colonies, where it is used in place of
Botanical: Hippomane mancinella (LINN.)
Family: N.O. Euphorbiaceae
Medicinal Action and Uses
---Parts Used---Juice of berries, leaves,
---Habitat---South America, West Indian Islands,
---Description---A tree growing to a height of 40 to 50
feet, mostly on sandy seashores, said to be so poisonous that men
die under the shade of it; leaves shiny green, stalked, elliptical
edges cut like saw teeth, a single gland on upper side where the
stalk and leaf join, very small inconspicuous flowers (of separate
sexes) on long slender spikes, the few females placed singly at
base of the spike with a three-parted calyx, the males in little
clusters on the upper part with a twoparted calyx and two or four
stamens joined by their filaments, the females with a manycelled
ovary crowned with from four to eight styles and reflexed stigmas.
Fruit a rounded, fleshy, yellow-green berry.
---Constituents---A milky, very acrid juice both in the
bark and the berries.
---Medicinal Action and Uses---A violent irritant and
powerful cathartic, diuretic vesicant. The least drop applied to
the eye will cause blindness for some days; the smoke from the wood
when burnt will also seriously affect the eyes. Much used in Cuba
for tetanus. Indians use the juice to poison their
---Dosage---2 minims as a cathartic.
Family: N.O. Aceraceae
Maple, Bird's Eye
---Habitat---The Maples, belonging to the genus
Acer, natural order Aceraceae, are for the most part trees,
inhabitants of the temperate regions of the Northern Hemisphere,
particularly North America, Northern India and Japan.
---Description---The leaves are long-stalked, placed
opposite to one another, and palmately lobed; the flowers, in
fascicles appearing before the leaves as in the Norway Maple, or in
racemes appearing with, or later than, the leaves as in the
Sycamore Some of the flowers are often imperfect.
The dry fruit, termed a 'samara,' is composed of two one-seeded
cells, furnished with wings, which divide when ripe, the winged
seeds being borne by the wind to a considerable
The leaves of the Maples commonly exhibit varnish-like smears,
of sticky consistence, known as honey-dew. This is the
excretion of the aphides which live on the leaves; the insect bores
holes into the tissues, sucks their juices and ejects a drop of
honeydew, on an average once in half an hour. In passing under a
tree infested with aphides the drops can be felt like a fine rain.
The fluid is rich in sugar. When the dew falls, the honey-dew takes
it up and spreads over the leaf; later in the day evaporation
reduces it to the state of a varnish on the leaf surface, which
aids in checking transpiration. Many other trees exhibit this
phenomenon, e.g. lime, beech, oak, etc.
Most of the Maples yield a saccharine juice from the trunk,
branches and leaves. The wood of almost all the species is useful
for many purposes, especially to the cabinetmaker, the turner and
the musical instrument-maker, and for the manufacture of alkali the
Maples of North America are of great value.
Many species with finely-cut or variegated leaves have been
introduced, especially from Japan, as ornamental shrubs, most of
them remarkable for the coppery-purple tint that pervades the
leaves and younger growths.
The Common Maple (Acer campestre, Linn.) is the only
species indigenous to Great Britain. This and the Sycamore, or
Great Maple, were described by Gerard in 1597, the latter as 'a
stranger to England.'
Botanical: Acer campestre
Though a native tree, Acer campestre is not often seen
growing freely for the sake of its timber, being chiefly looked
upon as a valuable hedge-tree, and is therefore frequently found in
When growing alone it is a small tree, seldom attaining more
than 20 feet, but the wood is compact, of a fine grain, sometimes
beautifully veined and takes a high polish. For this reason, it is
highly praised by the cabinet-maker and has always been used much
for tables, also for inlaying, and is frequently employed for
violin cases. The wood makes excellent fuel and affords very good
The wood of the roots is often knotted and is valuable for
small objects of cabinet-work.
The young shoots, being flexible and tough, are employed in
France as whips.
Sap drawn from the trees in spring yields a certain amount of
MAPLE, BIRD'S EYE
Acer saccharinum (LINN.)
Acer saccharinum (Linn.), the Sugar or Bird's Eye Maple,
is an American species, introduced into Britain in
It bears a considerable resemblance to the Norway Maple,
especially when young, but is not so hardy here as our native Maple
and requires a sheltered situation.
So far it has only been grown as an ornamental tree, the vivid
colours of its foliage in winter ranging from bright orange to dark
crimson. Sometimes it attains a height of 70, or even 100 feet,
though more commonly it does not exceed 50 or 60 feet. It is
remarkable for the whiteness of its bark.
Where the tree is plentiful in America, the timber is much used
for fuel and is extensively employed for house-building and
furniture, used instead of Oak when the latter is scarce, being
also employed for axletrees and spokes, as well as for Windsor
chairs, shoe-lasts, etc. The wood is white, but acquires a rosy
tinge after exposure to light. The grain is fine and close and when
polished has a silky lustre.
The wood of old trees is valued for inlaying mahogany. The name
'Bird's Eye Maple' refers to the twisting of the silver grain,
which produces numerous knots like the eyes of birds. Considerable
quantities of this Maple are imported from Canada for
The wood forms excellent fuel and charcoal, while
the ashes are rich in alkaline principles, furnishing a large
proportion of the potash exported from Boston and New
Large quantities of sugar are made from the sap of this species
of Maple. The sap is boiled and the syrup when reduced to a proper
consistence is run into moulds to form cakes. Trees growing in
moist and low situations afford the most sap, though the least
proportion of sugar.
The trees are tapped in early spring, just before the foliage
develops, either by making a notch in the stem, about 3 feet from
the ground, with an axe, or by boring a hole about 2 inches deep
and introducing a spout of sumach or elder, through which the sap
flows into a trough below. The sap is purified and concentrated in
a simple manner, the whole work being carried on by farmers, who
themselves use much of the product for domestic and culinary
A cold north-west wind with frosty nights and sunny days tends
to incite the flow, which is more abundant during the day than
during the night. The flow ceases during a south-west wind and at
the approach of a storm, and so sensitive are the trees to aspect
and climatic variations that the flow of sap on the south and east
sides has been noticed to be earlier than on the north and west
sides of the same tree.
The sap continues flowing for five or six weeks, according to
the temperature. A tree of average size yields 15 to 30 gallons of
sap in a season, 4 gallons of sap giving about 1 Ib. of sugar. The
tree is not at all injured by the tapping operation.
The quality of Maple Sugar is superior to that of West Indian
cane sugar: it deposits less sediment when dissolved in water and
has more the appearance of sugar candy.
The profits of the Sugar Maple do not arise from the sugar
alone: it affords good molasses and excellent vinegar. The sap
which is suitable for these purposes is obtained after that which
supplies the sugar has ceased to flow.
Botanical: Acer pseudo-Platanus (LINN.)
Acer pseudo-Platanus (Linn.), the Sycamore or Great
Maple (the Plane-tree of the Scotch), grows wild in Switzerland,
Germany, Austria and Italy. It is remarkably hardy and will grow
with an erect stem, exposed to the highest winds or to the
sea-breezes, which it withstands better than most timber trees,
being often planted near farmhouses and cottages in exposed
localities for the sake of its dense foliage.
---Description---It is a handsome tree, of quick growth,
attaining a height of 50 or 60 feet in 50 years. Though not a
native, it has been cultivated here for four or five centuries, and
has become so naturalized that self-sown examples are
The timber was formerly much used by the turner for cups, bowls
and pattern blocks; and is still in repute by the saddlemakers and
the millwright, being soft, light and tough.
In spring and autumn, if the trunk is pierced, it yields an
abundance of juice, from which a good wine has been made in the
Highlands of Scotland. Sugar is to a certain extent procured from
it by evaporation, but 1 ounce to 1 quart of sap is the largest
amount of sugar obtainable.
The leaves may be dried and given to sheep in
The lobed shape of its leaf and its dense foliage caused it to
be confounded with the True Sycamore (Ficus sycamorus) of
Botanical: Acer Platanoides
Acer Platanoides, the Norway Maple, grows on the
mountains of the northern countries of Europe, descending in some
parts of Norway to the seashore. It abounds in the north of Poland
and Lithuania, and is common through Germany, Switzerland, and
It was introduced into Great Britain in 1683. It is a quick
grower and on a tolerable soil it attains a large size (from 40 to
---Description---The leaves are smooth and of a shining
green, as large or larger than those of the Sycamore, and are
seldom eaten or defaced, because the tree is full of a sharp, milky
juice disliked by insects. In the spring, when the flowers, which
are of a fine yellow colour, are out, this tree has great
The wood is used for the same purposes as that of the
Sugar has been made from the sap in Norway and
Botanical: Acer rubrum (LINN.)
---Synonyms---Swamp Maple. Curled Maple.
Medicinal Action and Uses
Acer rubrum (Linn.), the Red or Swamp Maple, is another
American species, a middle-sized tree, introduced here in 1656, but
so far only cultivated in England as an ornamental tree, for the
sake of its striking bright scarlet flowers, which appear before
the leaves in March and April, its red fruit and leaves rendering
it very attractive also in autumn.
The wood is applicable to many purposes, such as the seats of
Windsor chairs, turnery, etc. The grain of very old trees is
sometimes undulated, which has suggested the name of 'Curled
Maple': this gives beautiful effects of light and shade on polished
The most constant use of Curled Maple is for the stocks of
fowling pieces and rifles, as it affords toughness and strength,
combined with lightness and elegance, but on the whole the wood is
considered inferior to that of the Bird's Eye Maple, both in
strength and as fuel.
Sugar has been made from the sap by the French Canadians, and
also molasses, but the yield is only half as great as that from the
The inner bark is dusky red: on boiling, it yields a purple
colour, which with sulphate of lead affords a black dye. It makes a
good black ink.
---Medicinal Action and Uses---The bark has astringent
properties and has been used medicinally as an application for sore
eyes, a use which the early settlers learnt from the Red
It occurs in long quilled pieces 6 to 12 inches or more in
length, 1/4 to 3/4 inch wide, externally blackish brown, slightly
polished, with innumerable fine transverse lines and scattered,
brownish, warts. The inner bark is in very tough and fibrous
layers, pale reddish brown or buff. The bark has an astringent and
slightly bitter taste.
The CHINESE SUGAR MAPLE is Sorghum saccharatum (known
also as Andropogon arundinaceus, var. saccharatus), a
cane-like plant containing sugary sap, belonging to the Grass
It somewhat resembles Indian corn, or maize, from which it is
distinguished by producing large heads of small
It is cultivated in the United States to some extent as a
forage crop, but is not used in the manufacture of sugar, owing to
the difficulty of effecting its crystallization.
Botanical: Hippuris vulgaris (LINN.)
Family: N.O. Haloragaceae
---Synonyms---Female Horsetail. Marsh Barren
The Mare's Tail (Hippuris vulgaris) must not be confused
with the Horsetail (Equisetum arvense). The Mare's Tail is
an aquatic flowering plant, the only British species of a group of
plants found growing nearly all over Europe, Russia, Central Asia,
and North America. It has a superficial resemblance to the
Horsetails, having the same erect, many-jointed stems about as
thick as a goosequill, unbranched, except at the base, and tapering
to a point, crowded in the whole length by whorls of eight to
twelve very narrow leaves 1/2 to 1 1/3 inch long, closely set with
The inconspicuous flowers are sessile, i.e. stalkless, in the
axils of the upper leaves and consist of a minute calyx, forming an
indistinctly two-lobed rim to the ovary a solitary stamen, with red
anthers and a single seed. Some of the flowers are often without
stamens. They appear in June and July.
In stagnant water the plant grows erect, in running water it
bends with the stream, swimming on the surface. The stems are as a
rule about 2 feet long.
Culpepper, in common with the
older herbalists, considered it of great value as a
'It is very powerful to stop
bleeding, either inward or outward, the juice or the decoction
being drunk, or the juice, decoction or distilled water applied
outwardly.... It also heals inward ulcers.... It solders together
the tops of green wounds and cures all ruptures in children. The
decoction taken in wine helps stone and strangury; the distilled
water drunk two or three times a day eases and strengthens the
intestines and is effectual in a cough that comes by distillation
from the head. The juice or distilled water used as a warm
fomentation is of service in inflammations and breakings-out in the
The Mare's Tail is not uncommon in shallow ponds, the margins
of lakes, etc. where there is a depth of mud and frost cannot reach
the roots, which are stout and creeping. When the water is shallow,
the upper part of the stem is stout and projects out of the water
to a height of 8 inches to a foot or more. The submerged leaves,
when the plant grows in deep streams, are often 2 to 3 inches long,
paler and broader than those above water.
In some countries it is a troublesome weed in rivers and chokes
up the ditches. It has been supposed to assist in purifying the
putrid air of marshes by absorbing a great quantity of marsh gas.
Goats are said to eat it, and in the north wild ducks to feed on
Gerard calls the plant Female Horsetail, and Parkinson Marsh
Barren Horsetail. The name, Hippuris, is the Greek word for
Botanical: Calendula officinalis (LINN.)
Family: N.O. Compositae
Medicinal Action and Uses
---Synonyms---Caltha officinalis. Golds. Ruddes. Mary
Gowles. Oculus Christi. Pot Marigold. Marygold. Fiore d'ogni mese.
---Parts Used---Flowers, herb, leaves.
The Common Marigold is familiar to everyone, with its
pale-green leaves and golden orange flowers. It is said to be in
bloom on the calends of every month, hence its Latin name, and one
of the names by which it is known in Italy - fiore d'ogni
mese - countenances this derivation. It was not named after the
Virgin, its name being a corruption of the Anglo-Saxon
merso-meargealla, the Marsh Marigold. Old English authors
called it Golds or Ruddes. It was, however, later associated with
the Virgin Mary, and in the seventeenth century with Queen
---History---It was well known
to the old herbalists as a garden-flower and for use in cookery and
medicine. Dodoens-Lyte (A Niewe Herball, 1578)
'It hath pleasant, bright and
shining yellow flowers, the which do close at the setting downe of
the sunne, and do spread and open againe at the sunne
Linnaeus assigned a narrower
limit to the expansion of its flowers, observing that they are open
from nine in the morning till three in the afternoon. This regular
expansion and closing of the flowers attracted early notice, and
hence the plant acquired the names of solsequia and solis
sponsa. There is an allusion to this peculiarity in the poems
'The Mary-budde that shooteth
(shutteth) with the light.'
And in the Winter's
'The Marigold that goes to
bed wi' th' sun,
And with him rises
It has been cultivated in the kitchen garden for the flowers,
which are dried for broth, and said to comfort the heart and
Fuller writes: 'We all know
the many and sovereign virtues in your leaves, the Herbe Generalle
in all pottage.' (Antheologie, 1655.) Stevens, in Maison
Rustique, or the Countrie Farme (1699), mentions the
Marigold as a specific for headache, jaundice, red eyes, toothache
and ague. The dried flowers are still used among the peasantry 'to
strengthen and comfort the hart.' He says further:
'Conserve made of the flowers
and sugar, taken in the morning fasting, cureth the trembling of
the harte, and is also given in the time of plague or pestilence.
The yellow leaves of the flowers are dried and kept throughout
Dutchland against winter to put into broths, physicall potions and
for divers other purposes, in such quantity that in some Grocers or
Spicesellers are to be found barrels filled with them and retailed
by the penny or less, insomuch that no broths are well made without
Formerly its flowers were used to give cheese a yellow
In Macer's Herbal it
is stated that only to look on Marigolds will draw evil humours out
of the head and strengthen the eyesight.
'Golde [Marigold] is bitter
Fayr and zelw [yellow] is his
Ye golde flour is good to
It makyth ye syth bryth and
Wyscely to lokyn on his
Drawyth owt of ye heed wikked
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
. . . . . . . .
Loke wyscely on golde erly at
Yat day fro feures it schall
Ye odour of ye golde is good
'It must be taken only when the moon is in the Sign of the
Virgin and not when Jupiter is in the ascendant, for then the herb
loses its virtue. And the gatherer, who must be out of deadly sin,
must say three Pater Nosters and three Aves. It will give the
wearer a vision of anyone who has robbed him.'
From Eleanour Sinclair
Rohde's Old English Herbals:
'Of marygold we learn that
Summe use to make theyr here yelow with the floure of this herbe,
not beyng contet with the naturall colour which God hath geven
'The fruitful or much-bearing
marigold, . . . is likewise called Jackanapes-on-horsebacke: it
hath leaves stalkes and roots like the common sort of marigold,
differing in the shape of his floures; for this plant doth bring
forth at the top of the stalke one floure like the other marigolds,
from which start forth sundry other small floures, yellow likewise
and of the same fashion as the first; which if I be not deceived
commeth to pass per accidens, or by chance, as Nature often times
liketh to play with other flowers; or as children are borne with
two thumbes on one hande or such like; which living to be men do
get children like unto others: even so is the seed of this
Marigold, which if it be sowen it brings forth not one floure in a
thousand like the plant from whence it was taken.'
Culpepper says it is
'herb of the Sun, and under
Leo. They strengthen the heart exceedingly, and are very expulsive,
and a little less effectual in the smallpox and measles than
saffron. The juice of Marigold leaves mixed with vinegar, and any
hot swelling bathed with it, instantly gives ease, and assuages it.
The flowers, either green or dried, are much used in possets,
broths, and drink, as a comforter of the heart and spirits, and to
expel any malignant or pestilential quality which might annoy them.
A plaister made with the dry flowers in powder, hog's-grease,
turpentine, and rosin, applied to the breast, strengthens and
succours the heart infinitely in fevers, whether pestilential or
---Cultivation---The Marigold is a native of south
Europe, but perfectly hardy in this country, and easy to grow.
Seeds sown in April, in any soil, in sunny, or half-sunny places
germinate freely. They require no other cultivation but to keep
them clean from weeds and to thin out where too close, leaving them
9 to 10 inches apart, so that their branches may have room to
spread. The plants will begin to flower in June, and continue
flowering until the frost kills them. They will increase from year
to year, if allowed to seed themselves. The seeds ripen in August
and September, and if permitted to scatter will furnish a supply of
young plants in the spring.
Only the common deep orange-flowered variety is of medinical
---Parts Used---The flowers and leaves.
Leaves. - Gather only in fine weather, in the morning,
after the dew has been dried by the sun. Flowers. - The ray
florets are used and need quick drying in the shade, in a good
current of warm air, spread out on sheets of paper, loosely,
without touching each other, or they will become
---Medicinal Action and Uses---Marigold is chiefly used
as a local remedy. Its action is stimulant and diaphoretic. Given
internally, it assists local action and prevents suppuration. The
infusion of 1 ounce to a pint of boiling water is given internally,
in doses of a tablespoonful, and externally as a local application.
It is useful in chronic ulcer, varicose veins, etc. Was considered
formerly to have much value as an aperient and detergent in
visceral obstructions and jaundice.
It has been asserted that a Marigold flower, rubbed on the
affected part, is an admirable remedy for the pain and swelling
caused by the sting of a wasp or bee. A lotion made from the
flowers is most useful for sprains and wounds, and a water
distilled from them is good for inflamed and sore
An infusion of the freshly-gathered flowers is employed in
fevers, as it gently promotes perspiration and throws out any
eruption - a decoction of the flowers is much in use in country
districts to bring out smallpox and measles, in the same manner as
Saffron. Marigold flowers are in demand for children's
The leaves when chewed at first communicate a viscid sweetness,
followed by a strong penetrating taste, of a saline nature. The
expressed juice, which contains the greater part of this pungent
matter, has been given in cases of costiveness and proved very
efficacious. Snuffed up the nose it excites sneezing and a
discharge of mucous from the head.
The leaves, eaten as a salad, have been considered useful in
the scrofula of children, and the acrid qualities of the plant have
caused it to be recommended as an extirpator of warts.
A yellow dye has also been extracted from the flower, by
---Preparations and Dosage---Fluid extract, 1/4 to 1
Botanical: Caltha palustris (LINN.)
Family: N.O. Ranunculaceae
Medicinal Action and Uses
---Synonyms---Kingcups. Water Blobs. Horse Blobs. Bull's
Eyes. Leopard's Foot. Meadow Routs. Verrucaria. Solsequia. Sponsa
---Parts Used---Whole plant, buds, leaves.
The Marsh Marigold, a showy dark-green plant resembling a
gigantic buttercup, is abundant in marshes, wet meadows, and by the
side of streams, where it forms large tufts or masses.
---Description---It is a herbaceous perennial. The stems
are about a foot in height, hollow, nearly round, erect, but at
times creeping and rooting at intervals in the lower portions,
which are generally of a purple colour.
Most of the leaves spring directly from the ground, on long
stalks, kidney-shaped, large and glossy. The stem-leaves have very
short stalks and are more pointed at the top.
It flowers from mid-March till the middle of June, the flowers
being at the end of the stems, which divide into two grooved
flowerstalks, each bearing one blossom, from 1 to 2 inches in
diameter. The Marsh Marigold is closely allied to various species
of buttercups, but the flower has no real corolla, the brilliant
yellow cup being composed of the five petaloid sepals.
The generic name is derived from the Greek calathos (a
cup or goblet), from the shape of its flowers; the specific name
from the Latin palus (a marsh), in reference to its place of
The English name Marigold refers to its use in church festivals
in the Middle Ages, as one of the flowers devoted to the Virgin
Mary. It was also used on May Day festivals, being strewn before
cottage doors and made into garlands.
Shakespeare refers several times to the flower, 'Winking
Marybuds begin to ope their golden eyes.'
It has been called Verrucaria because it is efficacious
in curing warts; also Solsequia and Sponsa solis
because the flower opens at the rising of the sun and closes at its
---Medicinal Action and
Uses---Every part of the plant is strongly irritant, and cases
are on record of serious effects produced by rashly experimenting
with it. Dr. Withering says:
'It would appear that
medicinal properties may be evolved in the gaseous exhalations of
plants and flowers, for on a large quantity of the flowers of
Meadow Routs being put into the bedroom of a girl who had been
subject to fits, the fits ceased.'
An infusion of the flowers was afterwards successfully used in
various kinds of fits, both of children and adults.
A tincture made from the whole plant when in flower may be
given in cases of anaemia in small, well-diluted
The buds have occasionally been used as capers, but rather
inadvisedly; the soaking in vinegar may, however, somewhat remove
the acid and poisonous character of the buds in their fresh
The leaves can be cooked and eaten like spinach.
The juice of the petals, boiled with a little alum, stains
paper yellow, but the colour so produced is said not to be
---Cultivation---The Marsh Marigold is propagated by
parting the roots in autumn. Itshould be planted in a moist soil
and a shady situation. A double variety is cultivated in
Botanical: Origanum marjorana (LINN.)
Family: N.O. Labiatae
Medicinal Action and Uses
---Synonyms---Knotted Marjoram. Marjorana
---Parts Used---Herb, leaves.
Sweet or Knotted Marjoram is not an annual, but is usually
treated as such, as the plants - native to Portugal - will not
stand the winter elsewhere, so must be sown every
Seeds may be sown, for an early supply, in March, on a gentle
hot-bed and again, in a warm position, in light soil, in the open
ground during April. Plants do well if sown in April, though they
are long in germinating. The seed is small and should be sown
either in drills, 9 inches apart, or broadcast, on the surface,
trodden, raked evenly and watered in dry weather. On account of the
slowness of germination, care should be taken that the seedlings
are not choked with weeds, which being of much quicker growth are
likely to do so if not destroyed. They should be removed by the
hand, until the plants are large enough to use the small hoe with
safety. Seed may also be sown early in May. In common with other
aromatic herbs, such as Fennel, Basil, Dill, etc., it is not
subject to the attacks of birds, as many other seeds are. When
about an inch high, thin out to 6 or 8 inches apart each way. It
begins to flower in July, when it is cut for use, and obtains its
name of Knotted Marjoram from the flowers being collected into
roundish close heads like knots.
Marjoram has been cultivated on a small scale at Sfax, Tunis,
for a long time, and is called by the natives 'Khezama' (the Arab
name for lavender).
Before the War, the herb was bought by agents and exported to
Marseilles and other places. The plant is suitable to the sandy
soil of the country.
The Marjoram plants are obtained either by division of clumps
in winter, or from seeds planted in parallel lines 2 metres apart,
between the almond and olive trees; and the soil, being of
necessity worked for cultivation of the trees, this also serves to
fertilize the Marjoram. One cutting of plant-clumps is best, a
second one weakens it. The stems are cut about 10 cms. from the
ground, dried in the sun on earth which has been previously beaten
slightly. The leaves are separated from the stems by being beaten
with staves; they are discoloured by the sun, broken and mixed with
the debris of stems of which the odour is less strong.
Drying in the shade obtains more aromatic and less broken
leaves, with less impurities.
---Medicinal Action and Uses---The medicinal qualities
of the oil extracted from Sweet Marjoram - Oleum majoranae -
are similar to that of the Wild Marjoram. Fifteen ounces of the oil
are yielded by 150 lb. of the fresh herb. On being kept, it assumes
a solid form. It is used as an external application for sprains,
bruises, etc., and also as an emmenagogue. In powdered form the
herb forms part of certain Sneezing Powders.
---Other Species---In addition to the species just
mentioned, others are cultivated in this country as ornamental
plants, such as O. Dictamnus, the Dittany of Crete, which
has roundish leaves thickly invested with white down, and flowers
in drooping spikes; and O. sipyleum, which is similar, but
taller and less woolly. These last are popularly called Hop Plants,
and are often seen in cottage windows.
Aromatic Herbaceous Seasoning
Take of nutmegs and mace 1 OZ. each, of cloves and peppercorns
2 OZ. of each, 1 OZ. of dried bay-leaves, 3 OZ. of basil, the same
of Marjoram, 2 OZ. of winter savoury, and 3 OZ. of thyme,
1/2 OZ. of cayenne pepper, the same of grated lemon-peel, and 2
cloves of garlic; all these ingredients must be well pulverized in
a mortar, and sifted through a fine wire sieve, and put away in dry
corked bottles for use.
The following is from Halliwell's Popular Rhymes and
'On St. Luke's Day, says
Mother Bunch, take marigold flowers, a sprig of marjoram, thyme,
and a little wormwood; dry them before a fire, rub them to powder,
then sift it through a fine piece of lawn, and simmer it over a
slow fire, adding a small quantity of virgin honey and vinegar.
Anoint yourself with this when you go to bed, saying the following
lines three times, and you will dream of your future partner "that
is to be":
St. Luke, St. Luke, be kind
In dreams let me my true love
If a girl desires to obtain
this information, let her seek for a green peascod in which there
are full 9 peas, and write on a piece of paper -
Come in, my
And do not fear;
which paper she must enclose
in the peascod,and lay it under the door. The first person who
comes into the room will be her husband.'
Shakespeare may allude to this in As You Like It (ii.
iv.) when he talks about the wooing of a peascod.
Botanical: Origanum vulgare (LINN.)
Family: N.O. Labiatae
Medicinal Action and Uses
---Parts Used---Herb, oil.
---Habitat---Generally distributed over Asia, Europe and
North Africa; grows freely in England, being particularly abundant
in calcareous soils, as in the south-eastern counties.
The name Origanum is derived from two Greek words,
oros (mountain) and ganos (joy), in allusion to the
gay appearance these plants give to the hillsides on which they
---Description---It is a perennial herb, with creeping
roots, sending up woody stems about a foot high, branched above,
often purplish. The leaves are opposite, petiolate, about an inch
long, nearly entire hairy beneath. The flowers are in corymbs, with
reddish bracts, a two-lipped pale purple corolla, and a
five-toothed calyx, blooming from the end of June, through August.
There is a variety with white flowers and light-green stalks,
another with variegated leaves. It is propagated by division of
roots in the autumn.
When cultivated, the leaves are more elliptical in shape than
the Wild Marjoram, and the flower-spikes thinner and more compact.
Marjoram has an extensive use for culinary purposes, as well as in
medicine, but it is the cultivated species, Origanum Onites
(Pot Marjoram), O. Marjorana (Sweet or Knotted Marjoram),
and O. Heracleoticum (Winter Marjoram) that are employed in
cookery as a seasoning. They are little used for medicinal purposes
for which the Wild Marjoram is employed.
---History---Marjoram has a very ancient medical
reputation. The Greeks used it extensively, both internally and
externally for fomentations. It was a remedy for narcotic poisons,
convulsions and dropsy. Among the Greeks, if Marjoram grew on a
grave, it augured the happiness of the departed, and among both the
Greeks and Romans, it was the custom to crown young couples with
Either O. Onites or O. Majorana is supposed to be
the plant called 'Amaracus' by Greek writers.
The whole plant has a strong, peculiar, fragrant, balsamic
odour and a warm, bitterish, aromatic taste, both of which
properties are preserved when the herb is dry. It yields by
distillation with water a small quantity of a volatile oil, which
may be seen in vesicles, on holding up the leaves between the eye
and the light, and which is the chief source of its properties as a
medicinal agent. 1 Ib. of the oil is produced from about 200 lb. of
the herb, which should be gathered when just coming into flower,
early in July. Large quantities of it are still gathered and hung
up to dry in cottages in Kent and other counties for making
The 'swete margerome' was so much prized before the
introduction of various foreign perfumes that, as Parkinson tells
us, 'swete bags,' 'swete powders' and 'swete washing water' made
from this plant were widely used. Our forefathers also scoured
their furniture with its aromatic juices, and it is one of the
herbs mentioned by Tusser (1577) as used for strewing
The flowering tops yield a dye, formerly used in the country to
dye woollen cloth purple, and linen a reddish brown, but the tint
is neither brilliant nor durable. The tops are also sometimes put
into table beer, to give it an aromatic flavour and preserve it,
and before the introduction of hops they were nearly as much in
demand for ale-brewing as the ground ivy or wood sage. It is said
that Marjoram and Wild Thyme, laid by milk in a dairy, will prevent
it being turned by thunder.
Goat and sheep eat this herb, but horses are not fond of it,
and cattle reject it.
---Medicinal Action and Uses---Marjoram yields about 2
per cent of a volatile oil which is separated by distillation. This
must not be confused with oil of Origanum, which is extracted from
Thyme. Its properties are stimulant, carminative, diaphoretic and
mildly tonic; a useful emmenagogue. It is so acrid that it has been
employed not only as a rubefacient, and often as a liniment, but
has also been used as a caustic by farriers. A few drops, put on
cotton-wool and placed in the hollow of an aching tooth frequently
relieves the pain. In the commencement of measles, it is useful in
producing a gentle perspiration and bringing out the eruption,
being given in the form of a warm infusion, which is also valuable
in spasms, colic, and to give relief from pain in dyspeptic
Externally, the dried leaves and tops may be applied in bags as
a hot fomentation to painful swellings and rheumatism, as well as
for colic. An infusion made from the fresh plant will relieve
nervous headache, by virtue of the camphoraceous principle
contained in the oil.
---Cultivation---The Marjorams are some of the most
familiar of our kitchen herbs, and are cultivated for the use of
their aromatic leaves, either in a green or dried state, for
flavouring and other culinary purposes, being mainly put into
stuffings. Sweet Marjoram leaves are also excellent in salads. They
have whitish flowers, with a two-lipped calyx, and also contain a
volatile oil, which has similar properties to the Wild
Winter Marjoram is really a native of Greece, but is hardy
enough to thrive in the open air in England, in a dry soil, and is
generally propagated by division of the roots in
Pot Marjoram, a native of Sicily, is also a hardy perennial,
preferring a warm situation and dry, light soil. It is generally
increased by cuttings, taken in early summer, inserted under a
hand-glass, and later planted out a space of 1 foot between the
rows and nearly as much from plant to plant, as it likes plenty of
room. It may also be increased by division of roots in April, or by
offsets, slipping pieces off the plants with roots to them and
planting with trowel or dibber, taking care to water well. In May,
they grow quickly after the operation. May also be propagated by
seed, sown moderately thin, in dry, mild weather in March, in
shallow drills, about 1/2 inch deep and 8 or 9 inches apart,
covered in evenly with the soil. Transplant afterwards to about a
foot apart each way. The seeds are very slow in
Botanical: Imperatoria ostruthium (LINN.)
Family: N.O. Umbelliferae
Medicinal Action and Use
Masterwort, though rare in the wild state, was formerly
cultivated in this country for use as a pot-herb and in medicine.
It is sometimes found in moist meadows in the north of England and
in Scotland, but is generally regarded as naturalized, having
originally been a garden escape. Its native habitat is Central
---Description---It is a smooth, perennial plant, the
stout, furrowed stem growing 2 to 3 feet high. The dark-green
leaves, which somewhat resemble those of Angelica, are on very long
foot-stalks and are divided into `three leaflets, each of which is
often again sub-divided into three. The umbels of flowers are large
and many-rayed, the corollas white; the fruit has very broad
---Medicinal Action and Uses---Stimulant, antispasmodic,
carminative; of use in asthma, dyspepsia, menstrual
The root, to quote
'is the hottest and sharpest
part of the plant, hotter than pepper, and (in his opinion) very
available in cold griefs and diseases both of the stomach and
He tells us that it was also used 'in a decoction with wine
against all cold rheums, distillations upon the lungs or shortness
of breath,' and also states that it was considered effectual in
dropsy, cramp, falling sickness, kidney and uterine troubles and
gout. Also that 'it is of a rare quality against all sorts of cold
poison, to be taken as there is a cause; it provoketh
'But,' he advises, 'lest the taste hereof or of the seed,
should be too offensive, the best way is to take the water
distilled both from the herb and root.'
---Preparation---Fluid extract, 1 to 2
Botanical: Pistacia Lentiscus (LINN.)
Family: N.O. Anacardiaceae
Description and Habitat
Medicinal Action and Properties
---Description and Habitat---A shrub rarely growing
higher than 12 feet, much branched, and found freely scattered over
the Mediterranean region, in Spain, Portugal, France, Greece,
Turkey, the Canary Islands, and Tropical Africa. It has been
cultivated in England since 1664. It is principally exported from
Scio, on which island it has been cultivated for several centuries.
The trees there are said to be entire male.
The best Mastic occurs in roundish tears about the size of a
small pea, or in flattened, irregular pear-shaped, or oblong pieces
covered with a whitish powder. They are pale yellow in colour,
which darkens with age. The odour is agreeable and the taste mild
and resinous, and when chewed it becomes soft, so that it can
easily be masticated. This characteristic enables it to be
distinguished froma resin called Sanderach, which it resembles, but
which when bitten breaks to powder.
---Constituents---Mastic contains a small proportion of
volatile oil, 9 per cent of resinsoluble in alcohol and ether, and
10 per cent of a resin insoluble in alcohol.
---Medicinal Action and Properties---Stimulant,
diuretic. It has many of the properties of the coniferous
turpentines and was formerly greatly used in medicine. Of late
years it has chiefly been used for filling carious teeth, either
alone or in spirituous solution, and for varnishes, and in the East
in the manufacture of sweets and cordials.
In the East it is still used medicinally in the diarrhoea of
children and masticated to sweeten the breath.
Botanical: Piper angustifolium (R. and P.)
Family: N.O. Piperaceae
Medicinal Action and Uses
---Synonyms---Artanthe elongata. Stephensia elongata.
Piper granulosum. Piper elongatum. Yerba soldado. Soldier's Herb.
---Part Used---The dried leaves.
The classical name for the genus came originally from the
Sanscrit pippali. 'Matico' is the name of the Spanish
soldier who accidentally discovered the properties of the leaves
when wounded in Peru.
The plant has spread over many moist districts of tropical
America, and though grown as a stove-plant in English botanical
gardens it does not flower there. It is a shrub of about 8 feet
high, with many branches thickened at the joints, the younger ones
thickly covered with hairs that fall off later. The alternate,
bright green leaves are of distinctive shape, oblong-lanceolate
with a broad, uneven base and a long, bluntly-tipped point. They
are 5 to 7 inches long, entire and rather solid, with a fine
network of sunken veins, hairy along the prominent veins of the
The long, flexible spikes, 4 to 7 inches long, consist of tight
rings of tiny yellow flowers packed round a fleshy axis. The seed
fills the black fruit, which is about the size of a
Two principal varieties in the shape of the leaves are
recognized, the 'cordulatum' as described above, and the 'ossanum'
with narrowed leaf-bases.
The drug is imported in bales, via Panama, the whole herb being
pressed into a greenish-yellow mass. It is aromatic in taste and
---Constituents---A volatile oil, slightly dextrogyrate,
containing in some specimens Matico camphor. Some of the later
specimens of oil are said to contain not camphor but
A crystallizable acid called artanthic acid and a little tannin
and resin are also found.
---Medicinal Action and Uses---In South America Matico
is used like cubeb. Its styptic properties are due to the volatile
oil, and it is used for arresting haemorrhages, as a local
application to ulcers, in genito-urinary complaints, atonic
diarrhoea, dysentery, etc.
In Peru it is considered aphrodisiac.
It is effective as a topical application to slight wounds,
bites of leeches, or after the extraction of teeth. The under
surface of the leaf is preferred to the powder for this
---Dosages---45 to 75 grains. Of fluid extract, as
intestinal astringent and diuretic, 1 fluid drachm.
Piper aduncum, of Central America, yieldsa 'false matico'; the
leaves are less tessellated above and hairy below, but the chemical
properties are similar.
The name of Matico is also given to Eupatorium
glutinosum and Waltheria glomerata, and possibly also to
a species of Phlomis, but these are not recognized
Botanical: Anthemis cotula
Family: N.O. Compositae
Medicinal Action and Uses
---Synonyms---Maroute. Maruta cotula. Cotula Maruta
foetida. Manzanilla loca. Dog Chamomile. Wild Chamomile. Camomille
puante. Foetid or Stinking Chamomile or Mayweed. Dog's Fennel.
Maithes. Maithen. Mathor.
---Parts Used---Flowers, leaves.
---Description---This annual herb, growing freely in
waste places, resembles the true Chamomile, having large, solitary
flowers on erect stems, with conical, solid receptacles, but the
white florets have no membraneous scales at their base. It is
distinguished from the allied genera by its very foetid odour,
which rubbing increases.
The whole plant, including the fennel-like leaves, has this
odour and is full of an acrid juice that has caused it to be
classed among the vegetable poisons; it is liable to
Its action resembles that of the Chamomiles, but it is weaker,
and its odour prevents its general adoption.
Bees dislike it, and it is said to drive away
The flowers must not be gathered when wet, or they will blacken
---Constituents---The flowers have been found to contain
volatile oil, oxalic, valeric and tannic acids, salts of magnesium,
iron, potassium and calcium, colouring matter, a bitter extractive
and fatty matter.
---Medicinal Action and Uses---The flowers are preferred
for internal use, being slightly less disagreeable than the leaves.
In hysteria it is used in Europe as an antispasmodic and
emmenagogue. Applied to the skin fresh and bruised it is a safe
vesicant. A poultice helpful in piles can be made from the herb
boiled until soft, or it can be used as a bath or
It is administered to induce sleep in asthma. In sick headache
or convalescence after fever the extract may be used.
A strong decoction can cause sweating and vomiting. It is said
to be nearly as valuable as opium in dysentery. It has also been
used in scrofula, dysmennorrhoea and flatulent
---Dosage---Of infusion, 1 to 4 fluid
Anthemis tinctoria has similar properties and yields a
A. arvensis is considered in France to be one of the
best indigenous febrifuges.
Botanical: Matricaria inodora
Family: N.O. Compositae
---Part Used---Whole herb.
The Scentless Mayweed owes its generic name to its reputed
medicinal properties, which in a lesser degree resemble those of
It is an annual, commonly met with in fields, by the wayside,
and on waste patches of ground, and flowers throughout the summer.
The name 'Mayweed' is misleading, as it will be found in flower
right up to the autumn. It is spreading and bunching in its growth,
generally about 1 foot in height, but varying a good deal. The
leaves, as in all the members of this group, are feather-like in
character, springing direct from the main stems without
leaf-stalks. The flower-heads are borne singly at the ends of long
terminal flower-stems, the centre florets deep yellow on very
prominent convex disks and the outer florets having very
conspicuous white rays, much larger in proportion to the disk than
in most of the allied species. Though compared with several of its
allies, it may almost be termed 'scentless,' the term is not
strictly appropriate as it yields slightly sweet and pleasant,
The Finlanders use an infusion of this plant in consumption
Botanical: Spiraea Ulmaria (LINN.)
Family: N.O. Rosaceae
Medicinal Actionb and Uses
---Synonyms---Meadsweet. Dolloff. Queen of the Meadow.
Bridewort. Lady of the Meadow.
---Description---The fragrant Meadowsweet is one of the
best known wild flowers, decking our meadows and moist banks with
its fernlike foliage and tufts of delicate, graceful, creamy-white
flowers, which are in blossom from June to almost September. The
leaves are dark green on the upper side and whitish and downy
underneath, much divided, being interruptedly pinnate, having a few
large serrate leaflets and small intermediate ones; the terminal
leaflets are large, 1 to 3 inches long and three to five lobed. The
stems are 2 to 4 feet high, erect and furrowed, sometimes purple.
The flowers are small, clustered close together in handsome
irregularly-branched cymes, and have a very strong, sweet smell.
The whole herb possesses a pleasant taste and flavour, the green
parts partaking of the aromatic character of the
A peculiarity of this flower
is that the scent of the leaves is quite different from that of the
flowers. The latter possess an almondlike fragrance, it is one of
the fragrant herbs used to strew the floors of chambers. In
allusion to this use, Gerard writes:
'The leaves and floures of
Meadowsweet farre excelle all other strowing herbs for to decke up
houses, to strawe in chambers, halls and banqueting-houses in the
summer-time, for the smell thereof makes the heart merrie and
joyful and delighteth the senses.'
Meadowsweet, water-mint, and vervain were three herbs held most
sacred by the Druids.
It is one of the fifty ingredients in a drink called 'Save,'
mentioned in Chaucer's Knight's Tale, in the fourteenth
century being called Medwort, or Meadwort, i.e. the mead or
honey-wine herb, and the flowers were often put into wine and beer.
It is still incorporated in many herb beers.
The name Ulmaria is given in allusion to the resemblance
of its leaves to those of the Elm (Ulmus), being much wrinkled on
the upper side.
'It is reported that the
floures boiled in wine and drunke do take away the fits of a
quartaine ague and make the heart merrie. The distilled water of
the floures dropped into the eies taketh away the burning and
itching thereof and cleareth the sight.'
Culpepper says much the same
'The leaves, when they are
full grown, being laid on the skin will, in a short time, raise
blisters thereon, as Tragus saith.' He also states that for
acquiring the 'merry heart' (which Gerard mentions) 'some use the
flowers and some the leaves.' He tells us that 'a leave hereof put
into a cup of claret wine gives also a fine relish to
---Medicinal Action and Uses---Aromatic, astringent,
diuretic, and sub-tonic. It is a valuable medicine in diarrhoea,
imparting to the bowels some degree of nourishment, as well as of
astringency. It is also considered of some service as a corrector
of the stomach, and not without some power as an alterative, and is
frequently used in affections of the blood. It is a good remedy in
strangury, dropsy, etc., and almost a specific in children's
An infusion of 1 OZ. of the dried herb to a pint of water is
the usual mode of administration, in wineglassful doses. Sweetened
with honey, it forms a very pleasant diet-drink, or beverage both
for invalids and ordinary use.
The herb is collected in July, when in flower.
An infusion of the fresh tops produces perspiration, and a
decoction of the root, in white wine, was formerly considered a
specific in fevers.
Meadowsweet is visited by bees for the pollen.
---Dosage---Fluid extract, 1/2 to 1 drachm.
Another member of the Spiraea is Spircea
Filipendula (Dropwort). A herb about a foot high, with short
rhizome and nodulose rootlets; leaves interruptedly pinnate,
leaflets cut into narrow serrated segments; flowers in crowded,
erect, compound cymes, pink externally in bud; when open, white and
scentless. Dry pastures on a limestone (or chalky) soil.
Distinguished from S. Ulmaria by its elegantly cut foliage,
pink buds, and whiter scentless blossoms. A double-flowered variety
is common in gardens. Flowering time - June, July.
Culpepper speaks of
Filipendula, or Dropwort, as being a good remedy for
kidneyaffections, by 'taking the roots in powder or a decoction of
them in white wine, with a little honey.' He adds that
'is also very effectual for
all the diseases of the lungs, as shortness of breath, wheezing,
hoarseness of the throat; and to expectorate tough phlegm, or any
other parts thereabout.'
WILLOW-LEAVED SPIRÆA (S. salyciflora), a shrub with
simple ex-stipulate leaves and spike-like clusters of rose-coloured
flowers, grows in moist woods in the north and in Wales; but it is
not indigenous. It flowers in July and August.
There are several foreign species of Spiraea, one from
Japan being a beautiful shrub with pure white flowers, and leaves
like those of the plum, hence its name, S.
There is another from Nepaul, S. bella, with
rose-coloured flowers growing in lateral and terminal corymbs;
another from Canada, S. tomentosa, with cottony leaves and
pyramidal panicles of rose-coloured flowers; and S. Fortunei
from China, with ovate, smooth, toothed leaves often tinged with
purple, and rose-coloured flowers.
Botanical: Melilotus officinalis (LINN.), Melilotus alba
(DESV.), Melilotus arvensis (LAMK.)
Family: N.O. Leguminosae
Parts Used Medicinally
Medicinal Action and Uses
---Synonyms---Yellow Melilot. White Melilot. Corn
Melilot. King's Clover. Sweet Clover. Plaster Clover. Sweet
Lucerne. Wild Laburnum. Hart's Tree.
The Melilots or Sweet Clovers - formerly known as Melilot
Trefoils and assigned, with the common clovers, to the large genus
Trifolium, but now grouped in the genus Melilotus -
are not very common in Britain, being not truly native, though they
have become naturalized, having been extensively cultivated for
fodder formerly, especially the common yellow species, Melilotus
Although now seldom seen as a
crop, having, like the Medick, given place to the Clovers, Sainfoin
and Lucerne, Melilot seems, however, to have been a very common
crop in the sixteenth century, seeding freely, spreading in a wild
condition wherever grown, since Gerard tells us,
'for certainty no part of the
world doth enjoy so great plenty thereof as England and especially
Essex, for I have seen between Sudbury in Suffolke and Clare in
Essex and from Clare to Hessingham very many acres of earable
pasture overgrowne with the same; in so much that it doth not only
spoil their land, but the corn also, as Cockle or Darnel and is a
weed that generally spreadeth over that corner of the
---Description---The Meliots are perennial herbs, 2 to 4
feet high, found in dry fields and along roadsides, in waste places
and chalky banks, especially along railway banks and near lime
kilns. The smooth, erect stems are much branched, the leaves placed
on alternate sides of the stems are smooth and trifoliate, the
leaflets oval. The plants bear long racemes of small,
sweet-scented, yellow or white, papilionaceous flowers in the
yellow species, the keel of the flower much shorter than the other
parts and containing much honey. They are succeeded by broad,
black, one-seeded pods, transversely wrinkled.
All species of Melilot, when in flower, have a peculiar sweet
odour, which by drying be comes stronger and more agreeable,
somewhat like that of the Tonka bean, this similarity being
accounted for by the fact that they both contain the same chemical
principle, Coumarin, which is also present in new-mown hay and
woodruff, which have the identical fragrance.
The name of this genus comes from the words Mel (honey)
and lotus (meaning honeylotus), the plants being great
favourites of the bees. Popular and local English names are Sweet
Clover, King's Clover, Hart's Tree or Plaster Clover, Sweet Lucerne
and Wild Laburnum.
The tender foliage makes the plant acceptable to horses and
other animals, and it is said that deer browse on it, hence its
name 'Hart's Clover. ' Galen used to prescribe Melilot plaster to
his Imperial and aristocratic patients when they suffered from
inflammatory tumours or swelled joints, and the plant is so used
even in the present day in some parts of the
In one Continental Pharmacopoeia of recent date an emollient
application is directed to be made of Melilot, resin, wax, and
'Melilote boiled in sweet
wine untile it be soft, if you adde thereto the yolke of a rosted
egge, the meale of Linseed, the roots of Marsh Mallowes and hogs
greeace stamped together, and used as a pultis or cataplasma,
plaisterwise, doth asswge and soften all manner of
It was also believed that the juice of the plant 'dropped into
the eies cleereth the sight.'
Water distilled from the flowers was said to improve the
flavour of other ingredients.
There are three varieties of Melilot found in England, the
commonest being Melilotus officinalis (Linn.), the Yellow
Melilot; M. alba (Desv.), the White Melilot, and M.
arvensis (Lamk.), the Corn Melilot, which is found occasionally
in waste places in the eastern counties, but is not considered
The dried leaves and flowering tops of all three species form
the drug used in herbal medicine, though the drug of the German
Pharmacopceia is M. officinalis. Two yellowflowered species
are, however, often sold under this name, the common M.
officinalis, which has hairy pods, and M. arvensis,
which has small, smooth pods.
The White Melilot found in waste places in England,
particularly on railway banks, is not uncommon, but apparently not
permanently established in any of its localities. It differs from
M. officinalis by its more slender root and stems, which,
however, attain as great a height, by its more slender and lax
racemes and smaller flowers, which are about 1/5 inch long and
white. The standard is larger than the keel and wings, which alone
would distinguish it from M. officinalis. The pods are
smaller and free from the hairs clothing those of M.
A new kind of Sweet Clover, an annual variety of M.
alba, has been discovered in the United States. To distinguish
it from the other Sweet Clovers, it is called Hubam, after
Professor Hughes, its discoverer, and Alabama, its native state.
Some five or six years ago, small samples were distributed by
Professor Hughes among various experimental stations, with the
result that the superiority of the plant has been generally
recognized and its spread has been rapid, over 5,000 acres now
being cultivated. The plant has specially valuable characteristics
- great resistance to drought, adaptability to a wide variety of
soils and climates, abundant seed production, richness in nectar
and great fertilizing value to the soil, and has been grown
successfully in the United States, Canada, Australia, Italy, and
many other countries. The quantity of forage produced from a given
acre is second to no other forage plant, and the quality, if
properly handled, is excellent. It is of very quick growth and
blooms in three to four months after sowing, producing an unusual
wealth of honey-making blooms. The flowers remain in bloom for a
longer period than almost any other honey-bearing plant, and in the
matter of nectar production the quantity is surprising, equal to
that of any other honey produced in the United States, and the
quality compares favourably with the best honey produced either
there or in Great Britain. It is considered that this annual Sweet
Clover will one day stand at the head of the list of honey plants
of the world, if the present rate of spreading
---Parts Used Medicinally---The whole herb is used,
dried, for medicinal purposes, the flowering shoots, gathered in
May, separated from the main stem and dried in the same manner as
The dried herb has an intensely fragrant odour, but a somewhat
pungent and bitterish taste.
---Constituents---Coumarin, the crystalline substance
developed under the drying process, is the only important
constituent, together with its related compounds, hydrocoumaric
(melilotic) acid, orthocoumaric acid and melilotic anhydride, or
lactone, a fragrant oil.
---Medicinal Action and Uses---The herb has aromatic,
emollient and carminative properties. It was formerly much esteemed
inmedicine as an emollient and digestive and is recommended by
Gerard for many complaints, the juice for clearing the eyesight,
and, boiled with lard and other ingredients, as an application to
wens and ulcers, and mixed with wine, 'it mitigateth the paine of
the eares and taketh away the paine of the head.'
Culpepper tells us that the head is to be washed with the
distilled herb for loss of senses and apoplexy, and that boiled in
wine, it is good for inflammation of the eye or other parts of the
The following recipe is from
the Fairfax Still-room book (published 1651):
'To make a bath for
Melancholy. Take Mallowes, pellitory of the wall, of each three
handfulls; Camomell Flowers, Mellilot flowers, of each one
handfull, senerick seed one ounce, and boil them in nine gallons of
Water untill they come to three, then put in a quart of new milke
and go into it bloud warme or something warmer.'
Applied as a plaster, or in ointment, or as a fomentation, it
is an old-fashioned country remedy for the relief of abdominal and
It relieves flatulence and in modern herbal practice is taken
internally for this purpose.
The flowers, besides being very useful and attractive to bees,
have supplied a perfume, and a water distilled from them has been
used for flavouring.
The dried plant has been employed to scent snuff and smoking
tobacco and may be laid among linen for the same purpose as
lavender. When packed with furs, Melilot is said to act like
camphor and preserve them from moths, besides imparting a pleasant
'In Switzerland, Melilot abounds in the pastures and is an
ingredient in the green Swiss cheese called Schabzieger. The
Schabzieger cheese is made by the curd being pressed in boxes with
holes to let the whey run out; and when a considerable quantity has
been collected and putrefaction begins, it is worked into a paste
with a large proportion of the dried herb Melilotus, reduced to a
powder. The herb is called in the country dialect "Zieger kraut,"
curd herb. The paste thus produced is pressed into moulds of
the shape of a common flowerpot and the putrefaction being stopped
by the aromatic herb, it dries into a solid mass and keeps
unchanged for any length of time. When used, it is rasped or grated
and the powder mixed with fresh butter is spread upon bread. '
(Syme and Sowerby, English Botany.)
Family: N.O. Cucurbitacea
The order Cucurbitaceae (the sole representative of which in
the British Islands is the familiar hedge-climbing, red-berried
Bryony) contains many genera of economic importance: Cucumis
affords cucumber and melon; Cucurbita, pumpkin and marrow;
to the genus Lagenaria belong the gourds; the well known
bath-loofah is formed of the closelynetted vascular bundles in the
fruit of Luffa aegyptica, another member of the order, the
unripe fruit itself being used as a pickle by the Arabians;
Sechium edule, a tropical American species, is largely
cultivated for its edible fruit, Choko; Citrullus
vulgaris is the Water Melon, which serves the Egyptians both as
food, drink and physic; Citrullus Colecynthis furnishes the
drug called Celocynth, and equally valuable medicinally is
Ecbalium Elaterium, the Squirting Cucumber.
Botanical: Cucumis melo (LINN.)
Family: N.O. Cucurbitacea
---Habitat---The Melon is a native of South Asia-from
the foot of the Himalayas to Cape Comorin, where it grows wild -
but is cultivated in the temperate and warm regions of the whole
---Description---It is an annual, trailing herb, with
large palmately-lobed leaves and bears tendrils, by which it is
readily trained over trellises. Its flowers (which have bellshaped
corollas, deeply five-lobed) are either male or female, both kinds
being borne on the one plant. The male flowers have three stamens,
the ovary in the female flowers, three cells. The many varieties of
Melon show great diversity in foliage and still more in the size
and shape of the fruit, which in some kinds is as small as an
olive, in others as large as the Gourd (Cucurbita maxima).
Some are globular, others egg-shaped, spindle-shaped or
serpent-like, the outer skin smooth or netted, ribbed or furrowed,
and variously coloured; the flesh, white, green or orange when
ripe, scented or scentless, sweet or insipid, some bitter and even
---History---The cultivation of the Melon in Asia is of
very ancient date. It was grown by the Egyptians, and the Romans
and Greeks were familiar with it. Pliny describes Melons as
Pepones, Columella as Melones. It began to be
extensively cultivated in France in 1629. Gerarde in his
Herball (1597) figured and described several kinds of Melons
or Pompions, but included gourds under the same name. The Common
Melon was commonly known as the Musk Melon.
To grow it to perfection, the Melon requires artificial heat,
being grown on hot beds of fermenting manure, with an atmospheric
temperature of 75 degrees, rising with sunheat to 80
---Medicinal Action and Uses---The root of the
Common Melon is purgative, and in large doses (7 to 10 grains) is
said to be a certain emetic, the active and bitter principle having
been called Melon-emetin.
The MELON-TREE, so-called, is the PAPAW, or Papaya (Carica
Papaya, Linn.), a native of tropical America, where it is
everywhere cultivated for its edible fruit and digestive
The dried juice is largely used in the treatment of
indigestion, under various trade names, 'Papain,' a white powder,
being administered in all digestive disorders where albuminoid
substances pass away undigested.
---Dosage---Papain, 1 to 5 grains.
See PAPAW (APPLE,
Botanical: Cucumis Cantalupensis (HABERL.)
Family: N.O. Cucurbitacea
The Cantaloups (Cucumis Cantalupensis, Haberl., so
called from a place near Rome where it was long cultivated) is
grown by the market gardeners round Paris and other parts of
France, and has its origin in Persia and the neighbouring Caucasian
region. It was first brought to Rome from Armenia in the sixteenth
century. The netted species probably also originally came from
Botanical: Cucumis dudaim
Family: N.O. Cucurbitacea
---Synonym---Queen Anne's Pocket Melon.
The Dudaim Melon (Cucunis dudaim), Queen Anne's Pocket
Melon, as it has been called, is also a native of Persia. It
produces a fruit variegated with green and orange and oblong green
spots of varying size. When fully ripe, it becomes yellow and then
whitish. It has a very fragrant, vinous, musky smell, and a
whitish, flaccid, insipid pulp. Dudaim is the Hebrew name of
Botanical: Cucumis flexuosum (LINN.)
Family: N.O. Cucurbitacea
Cucumis flexuosum (Linn.) is the Serpent Melon, or Snake
Cucumber. It grows to a great length and may be used either raw or
The 'Cucumber' of the Scriptures (Isaiah i. 8) is considered to
have been Cucumis chate, the Hairy Cucumber, a kind of wild
Melon, which produces a fruit, the flesh of which is almost of the
same substance as the Common Melon, its taste being somewhat sweet
and as cool as the Water Melon. It is common both in Arabia and in
Egypt, where a dish is prepared from the ripe fruit. Peter Forskäl,
a contemporary of Linnaeus, in his work on the plants of Egypt
(Flora aegyptiaco-arabica, 1775), describes its preparation.
The pulp is broken and stirred by means of a stick thrust through a
hole cut at the umbilicus of the fruit: the hole is then closed
with wax, and the fruit, without removing it from its stem, is
buried in a little pit; after some days, the pulp is found to be
converted into an agreeable liquor.
Botanical: Citrullus vulgaris (LINN.)
Family: N.O. Cucurbitacea
---Parts Used---Seeds. juice.
Melons are a staple and refreshing fruit in Egypt and
Palestine, especially the Water Melon (Citrullus vulgaris,
Linn.), a native of tropical Africa and the East Indies, which
grows to a great size, even attaining 30 lb. in weight. It
refreshes the thirsty as well as the hungry. It has a smooth rind,
and though generally oblong and about a foot and a half in length,
varies much in form and colour, the flesh being either red or pale,
the seeds black or reddish. There is a succession of crops from May
to November. For its cool and refreshing fruit, it has been
cultivated since the earliest times in Egypt and the East and was
known in Southern Europe and Asia before the Christian era. The
banks of the Burlus Delta lake east of the Rosetta channel of the
Nile Deita, are noted for their Water Melons, which are yellow
within, and come into season after those grown on the banks of the
Nile. Of the plants found in the Kalahari Desert of South Africa,
in Bechuanaland, the most remarkable is the Water Melon, present in
abundance, which supplies both man and beast with
---Medicinal Action and Uses---The fruit should be eaten
cautiously by Europeans, especially when taken in the heat of the
day, but it is much used in the tropics and in Italy. In Egypt, it
is practically the only medicine the common people use in fevers;
when it is ripe, or almost putrid, they collect the juice and mix
it with rosewater and a little sugar. The seeds have been employed
to a considerable extent as a domestic remedy in strangury and
other affections of the urinary passages, and are regarded as
having diuretic properties. The Russian peasants use them for
dropsy and hepatic congestion, also for intestinal
The Four Greater Cold Seeds of the old materia medica were the
seeds of the Pumpkin (Cucurbita pepo), the Gourd (C.
maxima), the Melon and the Cucumber. These were bruised and
rubbed up with water to form an emulsion, which was much used in
catarrhal affections, disorders of the bowels and urinary passages,
The seeds of both the Water Melon and the Common or Musk Melon
are good vermicides, having much the same constituents as those of
the PUMPKIN (sometimes known as the Melon Pumpkin), which have long
been a popular worm remedy and in recent years have also been used
---Constituents---Pumpkin seeds contain 30 per cent or
more of a reddish, fixed oil, traces of a volatile oil, together
with proteids, sugar, starch and an acrid resin, to which the
anthelmintic properties appear to be due, though recent experiments
have failed to isolate any substance of physiological activity,
either from the kernels or shells of the seeds. The value of the
drug is said to be due to its mechanical effect.
The seeds are employed when quite ripe and must not be used if
more than a month old. A mixture is made by beating up 2 OZ. of the
seeds with as much sugar and milk or water added to make a pint,
and this mixture is taken fasting, in three doses, one every two
hours, castor oil being taken a few hours after the last dose. An
infusion of the seeds, prepared by pouring a pint of boiling water
on 1 OZ. of seeds, has likewise been used in urinary
The Pumpkin or Pompion (its older name, of which Pumpkin is a
corruption) is a native of the Levant. Many varieties are
cultivated in gardens, both for ornament and also for culinary use.
It is a useful plant to the American backwoods-farmer, yielding
both in the ripe and unripe condition a valuable fodder for his
cattle and pigs, being frequently planted at intervals among the
maize that constitutes his chief crop. The larger kinds acquire a
weight of 40-80 lb., but smaller varieties are in more esteem for
In England, Pumpkins were formerly called English Melons, which
was popularly corrupted to Millions. They are used cut up in soups
and make excellent pies, either alone or mixed with other fruit,
and their pulp is also utilized as a basis by jam manufacturers, as
it takes the flavour of any fruit juice mixed with it, and adds
bulk without imparting any flavour of its own.
The SQUASHES, which have such extensive culinary use in
America, are a variety of the Pumpkin (C. melopepo), and
another familiar member of the genus, C. evifera, a variety
of C. pepo, is the Vegetable Marrow. While small and green
the Pumpkin may be eaten like the Marrow.
Botanical: Mercurialis perennis (LINN.)
Family: N.O. Euphorbiaceae
Medicinal Action and Uses
---Description---Dog's Mercury, a perennial, herbaceous
plant, sending up from its creeping root numerous, undivided stems,
about a foot high, is common in woods and shady places throughout
Europe and Russian Asia, except in the extreme north. It is
abundant at Hythe in Sussex.
Each stem bears several pairs of rather large roughish leaves,
and from the axils of the upper ones grow the small green flowers,
the barren on long stalks, the fertile sessile, the first appearing
before the leaves are quite out. The stamens and pistils are on
different plants. The perianth is three-cleft to the base. The
barren flowers have nine stamens or more, the fertile flowers two
styles and two cells to the two-lobed ovary.
Male and female plants are rarely found intermixed, each
usually growing in large patches. The female are less common than
the male, and the plant increases more by the spreading of its
creeping rootstocks and stems than by seed. It flowers from the end
of March to the middle of May and seeds in the summer. The leaves
of the male flowering plants are more pointed and less serrated
than those on the female plants, which have longer
Dog's Mercury has a disagreeable odour and is extremely acrid,
being poisonous to animals in the fresh state. It has been said,
however, that heat destroys its harmfulness, and that it is
innocuous in hay. Its chemical constituents have not been
Dog's Mercury has proved fatal to sheep, and Annual Mercury to
human beings who had made soup from it.
---History---We find it spoken of in the old herbals as
possessing wonderful powers, but it has been abandoned as a
dangerous remedy for internal use.
Culpepper speaks strongly of
the 'rank poisonous' qualities of Dog's Mercury, and adds, with
'The common herbals, as
Gerarde's and Parkinson's, instead of cautioning their readers
against the use of this plant, after some trifling, idle
observations upon the qualities of Mercurys in general, dismiss the
article without noticing its baneful effects. Other writers, more
accurate, have done this; but they have written in Latin, a
language not very likely to inform those who stand most in need of
It derives its name from the legend that its medicinal virtues
were revealed by the god Mercury. The Greeks called it Mercury's
Grass. The French call it La Mercuriale, the Italians,
Mercorella. The name Dog's Mercury or Dog's Cole, was
probably given it because of its inferiority from an edible point
of view, either to the Annual, or Garden Mercury, or to a plant
known to the older herbalists as English Mercury, which was
sometimes eaten in this country and some parts of the Continent as
a substitute for that vegetable. The prefix 'Dog' was often given
to wild-flowers that were lacking in scent or other properties of
allied species - as, for instance, Dog Violet, Dog Rose,
That Dog's Mercury has been eaten in mistake for Good King
Henry, with unfortunate results, we know from the report of Ray,
one of the earliest of English naturalists, who relates that when
boiled and eaten with fried bacon in error for this English
spinach, it produced sickness, drowsiness and twitching. In another
instance, when it was collected and boiled in soup by some
vagrants, all partaking of it exhibited the ordinary symptoms of
narcotic and irritant poisoning, two children dying on the
The fact that some old books recommend Dog's Mercury as a good
potherb arose probably from confusing it with the less harmful
annual species, called by Gerard the French or Garden
---Medicinal Action and Uses---Hippocrates commended
this herb for women's diseases, used externally, as did also
Culpepper, who says it is good for sore and watering eyes and
deafness and pains in the ears. He advises the use of it, also, as
a decoction, 'made with water and a cock chicken,' for hot fits of
ague. It has been employed for jaundice and as a
The juice of the whole plant, freshly collected when in flower,
mixed with sugar or with vinegar, is recommended externally for
warts, and for inflammatory and discharging sores, and also,
applied as a poultice, to swellings and to cleanse old
A lotion is made from the plant for antiseptic external
dressings, to be used in the same manner as carbolic.
The juice has also been used as a nasal douche for
When steeped in water, the leaves and stems of the plant give
out a fine blue colour, resembling indigo. This colouring matter is
turned red by acids and destroyed by alkalis, but is otherwise
permanent, and might prove valuable as a dye, if any means of
fixing the colour could be devised. The stems are of a bright
metallic blue, like indigo, and those that run into the ground have
the most colouring matter.
Botanical: Mercurialis annua (LINN.)
Family: N.O. Euphorbiaceae
Medicianl Action and Uses
Annual Mercury (Mercurialis annua), known also to older
writers as Garden Mercury and French Mercury, is a common weed in
It is taller than the Dog Mercury, and branched, and the leaves
are smaller, perfectly smooth and of a light green
Barren and fertile flowers are sometimes found on the same
plant, the male flowers in peduncled axillary spikes.
It grows plentifully in waste places and seldom at any distance
from inhabited districts.
It is in flower from July to October and increases so freely by
the scattering of its rough seeds as to become a very troublesome
weed in gardens, extremely hard to eradicate.
---Medicinal Action and Uses---The plant is mucilaginous
and was formerly much employed as an emollient. The French made a
syrup of the freshly-gathered herb, which was given as a purge, and
the dried herb was used to make a decoction for injections, but as
a herbal remedy it is now disregarded in England.
The seeds taste like those of hemp.
As a pot-herb, this plant had some reputation, the leaves being
boiled and eaten as spinach, and it is still eaten in this way in
some parts of Germany, the acrid qualities being dissipated, it is
believed, by boiling. Pigs have also been fed with it in
Botanical: Anhalonium Lewinii (HENN.)
Family: N.O. Cactaceae
Medicinal Action and Uses
---Synonyms---Lopophora Lewinii Pellote. Muscal Buttons.
Anhalonium Williamsii. Echinocactus Lewinii. Echinocactus
---Part Used---The tops, consisting of blunt leaves
round a tuft of short, pale yellow hairs.
---Description---These South American Cacti, formerly
regarded as belonging to the Anhalonium genus, by the name
of which they are chiefly known, were later attributed to the genus
Echinocactus of the Mammalaria species, being
spineless and flexible.
The principal species of Williamsii and Lewinii,
found in the Rio Grande valley, grow to a height of only 1/2 inch,
and the tops, or Mescal Buttons, are from 1 to 1 1/2 inch across
and 1/4 inch thick. When dry they are hard and brittle, but become
soft when moistened. The taste and smell are peculiar, bitter and
disagreeable. The surface of E. Lewinii, or Anhalonium
Lewinii, is crossed by thirteen irregular furrows, and that of
E. Williamsii and A. Williamsii by eight regular
ones. Small pink flowers are borne, but these do not appear in the
The Kiowa Indians have used Mescal Buttons from ancient times
for producing exaltation in their religious
---Constituents---Four alkaloids have been separated:
Anhalonine, Mescaline, Anhalonidine, and Lophophorine, and two
other bases, pellotine and anhalamine.
Pellotine is said to be found only in the Williamsii variety,
but this is always present in the commercial drug.
---Medicinal Action and Uses---Cardiac, tonic, narcotic,
emetic. The value of the drug in practice is uncertain, but it is
stated to be useful in neurasthenia, hysteria, and asthma, and has
been recommended in gout, neuralgia and rheumatism.
Four to five buttons, or 215 to 230 grains of the drug will
produce a strange cerebral excitement with visual disturbance, the
visions being at first of varied beauty and later of gruesome
shapes and monsters. The physical effects include dilatation of the
pupil, muscular relaxation, loss of time sense, partial
anaesthesia, wakefulness, and sometimes nausea and vomiting. The
mental symptoms in some ways resemble those of Indian
Pellotine, in doses of 1/3 to 1 grain, has been used in
hypodermic injection in cases of insanity, producing sleep without
undesirable reactions. Care is needed, as collapse is said to have
been observed after a dose of, 7/10 of a grain. The uses of the
various alkaloids are in the experimental stage.
---Dosage---Of the crude drug, 7 to 15 grains. Of fluid
extract, 10 to 15 minims. Of 10 per cent tincture, 1 to 2
There are also found in parcels of the tops specimens of
Mammalaria fissuratus, M. retusus, and A.
Mescal is a name given in Mexico to a liquor distilled from a
number of species of Agave.
Botanical: Daphne mezereum (LINN.)
Family: N.O. Thymelaeaceae
Medicinal Action and Uses
Poisons and Antidotes
---Synonyms---Mezerei Cortex. Mezerei officinarum. Dwarf
Bay. Flowering Spurge. Spurge Olive. Spurge Laurel. Laureole
gentille. Camolea. Kellerhals. Wolt schjeluke.
---Parts Used---The bark of root and stem, berries,
---Habitat---Europe, including Britain, and Siberia.
Naturalized in Canada and the United States.
---Description---The mediaeval name Mezereum is derived
from the Persian Mazariyun, a name given to a species of
Daphne. The barks of Daphne laureola, or Spurge Laurel, and
D. Gnidium are also official in the British Pharmacopceia
and United States.
Though a hardy shrub and indigenous to England, D.
mezereum is not often found wild. The leaves appear at the ends
of the branches after the flowers, and are alternate, lanceolate,
entire, 2 to 3 inches long and dark green in colour. The small,
purplishpink, four-segmented flowers grow in little clusters, and
the bright-red, fleshy, ovoid, bluntly-pointed fruits, about 3/8
inch long, appear close to the stem in July.
There are varieties with yellow fruit and white
Occasionally the bark is found in commerce in quills, but more
often in tough, flexible, thin, long strips, rolled like tape,
splitting easily lengthways but difficult to break horizontally.
The inner surface is silky, and the thin, outer, corky layer, of a
light greenish-brown colour, separates easily in papery
The unpleasant odour of the fresh bark diminishes with drying,
but the taste is intensely burning and acrid, though sweetish at
first. The root bark is most active, but inadequate supplies led to
the recognition of the stem bark also.
---Constituents---The acridity of the bark is chiefly
due to mezeen, a greenish-brown, sternutatory, amorphous resin.
Mezereic acid, into which it can be changed, is found in the
alcoholic and ethereal extracts, together with a fixed oil, a
bitter, crystalline glucoside, daphnin, and a substance like
euphorbone. Daphnin can be resolved into daphnetin and sugar by the
action of dilute acids.
---Medicinal Action and Uses---Stimulant and vesicant. A
moist application of the recent bark to the skin will cause redness
and blisters in from twenty-four to forty-eight hours. It may be
softened in hot vinegar and water and applied as a compress,
renewed every twelve hours. It can be used for a mild, perpetual
An ointment was formerly used to induce discharge in indolent
The bark is used for snake and other venomous bites, and in
Siberia, by veterinary surgeons, for horses' hoofs.
The official compound liniment of mustard includes an ethereal
extract, and one of its rare internal uses in England is as an in
gredient in compound decoction of sarsaparilla.
Authorities differ as to its value in chronic rheumatism,
scrofula, syphilis and skin diseases. A light infusion is said to
be good in dropsies, but if too strong may cause vomiting and
bloody stools. Thirty berries are used as a purgative by Russian
peasants, though French writers regard fifteen as a fatal
In Germany a tincture of the berries is used locally in
Slices of the root may be chewed in toothache, and it is
recorded that an obstinate case of difficulty in swallowing,
persisting after confinement, was cured by chewing the root
constantly and so causing irritation.
---Dosages---Ten grains. Of decoction, 1 to 3 fluid
ounces. Of fluid extract, 2 to 10 drops.
---Poisons and Antidotes---In large doses it is an
irritant poison, causing vomiting and hypercatharsis.
The berries have proved fatal to children.
D. Gnidium, or D. paniculata, garou, sainbois, or
Spurge Flax, deriving its name from its native Cnidos, is one of
the official species. The leaves are numerous and very narrow, like
those of flax.
D. Laureola, or Spurge Laurel, is less acrid. The leaves
were formerly used as an emmenagogue, but may cause vomiting and
purging. Both leaves and bark have been used to procure
D. Thymeloea, D. Tartonaira, D. pontica
and D. alpina are used as substitutes.
AMERICAN MEZEREON is a name of Dirca Palustris or
Family: N.O. Haloragaceae
To the same natural order as the Mare's Tail (Haloragaceae)
belongs the Water Milfoil, which has the following varieties:
SPIKED WATER MILFOIL (Myriophyllum spicatum), an aquatic
plant forming a tangled mass of slender, much branched stems;
Ieaves, four in a whorl, finely divided into numerous hair-like
segments, the whole plant being submerged, except the spikes of
inconspicuous greenish flowers, which rise a few inches above the
WHORLED WATER MILFOIL (M. verticillatum) differs from
the preceding in having the flowers in whorls at the base of the
leaves: alternate-flowered Water Milfoil (M. alterniflorum)
has the barren flowers alternately arranged in a short leafless
spike, with the fertile flowers about three together, in the axils
of the leaves, at its base. Both species are rare.
Family: N.O. Leguminosae
Mimosa fragrifolia is an acrid astringent.
M. linguis is a diuretic astringent.
M. humilis, Brazilian Mimosa or Sensitive Plant, so
called because the leaves close at the least contact. Tincture of
the leaves is used by homoeopaths for swelling of
Cassia nictitans, or Wild Sensitive Plant, is used for
certain forms of rheumatism.
Family: N.O. Labiatae
Mint, Wild Water
There are three chief species of mint in cultivation and
general use: Spearmint (Mentha viridis), Peppermint (M.
piperita), and Pennyroyal (M. pulegium), the first being
the one ordinarily used for cooking.
The various species of mint
have much in common and have all been held in high medical repute.
Dr. Westmacott, the author of a work on plants published in 1694,
mentioning the different kinds of mint, states that they are well
'the young Botanists and Herb
Women belonging to Apothecarys' shops.... In the shops are 1. The
dry Herbs. 2ndly. Mint Water. 3rdly. Spirit of Mints. 4th. Syrup of
Mints. 5th. The Conserve of the Leaves. 6th. The Simple Oyl. 7th.
The Chemical Oyl.' He says 'the Mints have a biting, aromatick
bitterish Sapor with a strong fragrant Smell abounding with a
pungent Volatile Salt and a Subtil Sulphur which destroyeth Acids,
and herein doth lodge the Causation of such medicinal Virtues in
this Herb and others of the like Nature.'
All the Mints yield fragrant oils by distillation.
Botanical: Mentha viridis (LINN.)
Family: N.O. Labiatae
Medicinal Action and Uses
Preparations and Dosages
---Synonyms---Garden Mint. Mentha Spicata. Mackerel
Mint. Our Lady's Mint. Green Mint. Spire Mint. Sage of Bethlehem.
Fish Mint. Menthe de Notre Dame. Erba Santa Maria. Frauen Munze.
This common garden mint is
not a native of these islands, though growing freely in every
garden, but is originally a native of the Mediterranean region, and
was introduced into Britain by the Romans, being largely cultivated
not only by them, but also by the other Mediterranean nations. It
was in great request by the Romans, and Pliny according to Gerard
says of it: 'The smell of Mint does stir up the minde and the taste
to a greedy desire of meate.' Ovid represents the hospitable Baucis
and Philemon scouring their board with green mint before laying
upon it the food intended for their divine guests. The Ancients
believed that mint would prevent the coagulation of milk and its
acid fermentation. Gerard, again quoting Pliny, says:
'It will not suffer milk to
cruddle in the stomach, and therefore it is put in milk that is
drunke, lest those that drinke thereof should be
Many other references to it in old writings - among them, that
of the payment by the Pharisees of tithes of Mint, Anise and Cumin
- prove that the herb has been highly esteemed for many centuries.
Mint is mentioned in all early mediaeval lists of plants; it was
very early grown in English gardens, and was certainly cultivated
in the Convent gardens of the ninth century. Chaucer refers to 'a
little path of mintes full and fenill greene. '
Turner states in his
Herball (1568) that the garden mint of his time was also
called 'Spere Mynte.' Gerard, in further praise of the herb, tells
'the smelle rejoiceth the
heart of man, for which cause they used to strew it in chambers and
places of recreation, pleasure and repose, where feasts and
banquets are made.'
It has, in fact, been so universally esteemed, that it is to be
found wild in nearly all the countries to which civilization has
extended, and in America for 200 years it has been known as an
escape from gardens, growing in moist soils and proving sometimes
troublesome as a weed.
Parkinson, in his Garden
of Pleasure, mentions 'divers sorts of mintes both of the
garden and wilde, of the woods, mountain and standing pools or
waters' and says:
'Mintes are sometimes used in
Baths with Balm and other herbs as a help to comfort and strengthen
the nerves and sinews. It is much used either outwardly applied or
inwardly drunk to strengthen and comfort weak
The Ancients used mint to scent their bath water and as a
restorative, as we use smelling salts to-day. In Athens where every
part of the body was perfumed with a different scent mint was
specially designated to the arms.
Gerard says of its medicinal
'It is good against watering
eies and all manner of breakings out on the head and sores. It is
applied with salt to the bitings of mad dogs.... They lay it on the
stinging of wasps and bees with good success.'
Culpepper gives nearly forty distinct maladies for which mint
is 'singularly good.'
'Being smelled into,' he says, 'it is comfortable for the head
and memory, and a decoction when used as a gargle, cures the mouth
and gums, when sore.' Again, 'Garden Mint is most useful to wash
children's heads when the latter are inclined to sores, and Wild
Mint, mixed with vinegar is an excellent wash to get rid of scurf.
Rose leaves and mint, heated and applied outwardly cause rest and
In the fourteenth century, mint was used for whitening the
teeth, and its distilled oil is still used to flavour tooth-pastes,
etc., and in America, especially, to flavour confectionery, chewing
gums, and also to perfume soap.
Mint ottos have more power than any other aromatic to overcome
the smell of tobacco.
The application of a strong decoction of Spearmint is said to
cure chapped hands.
Mice are so averse to the smell of mint, either fresh or dried,
that they will leave untouched any food where it is scattered. As
mice love Henbane and often prove very destructive to a crop, it
has been suggested that their depredations might be checked if some
mint were planted between the rows of Henbane.
It is probable that Spearmint was introduced by the Pilgrim
Fathers when they landed in America, as it is mentioned among many
other plants brought out from England, in a list given by John
Josselyn. When in this country apparently found growing wild, it
occurs in watery places, but is rather rare.
Professor Henslow (Origin
and History of our Garden Vegetables) does not consider it
truly native to any country. He says:
'The Garden Mint (Mentha
viridis, Linn.) is a cultivated form of M. sylvestris
(Linn.), the Horse Mint, which is recorded as cultivated at Aleppo.
Either M. sylvestris, or some form approaching M.
viridis, which is not known as a truly wild plant, was probably
the mint of Scripture.'
Bentham also considers it not improbably a variety of M.
sylvestris, perpetuated through its ready propagation by
suckers, and though these two plants are sufficiently distinct as
found in England, yet continental forms occur which bridge over
Its generic name, Mentha, is derived from the
mythological origin ascribed to it, and was originally applied to
the mint by Theophrastus. Menthe was a nymph, who because of the
love Pluto bore her, was metamorphosed by Proserpine, from motives
of jealousy, into the plant we now call mint.
---Description---From creeping root-stocks, erect,
square stems rise to a height of about 2 feet, bearing very
short-stalked, acute-pointed, lance-shaped, wrinkled, bright green
leaves, with finely toothed edges and smooth surfaces, the ribs
very prominent beneath. The small flowers are densely arranged in
whorls or rings in the axils of the upper leaves, forming
cylindrical, slender, tapering spikes, pinkish or lilac in colour.
The little labiate flowers are followed by very few, roundish,
minute brownseeds. The taste and odour of the plant are very
There are several forms of Garden Mint, the true variety being
of bold, upright growth, with fairly large and broad leaves,
pointed and sharply serrated (or toothed) at the edges and of a
rich, bright, green colour. Another variety, sometimes sold as
Spearmint (M. cardiaca), is much smaller and less erect in
growth, with darker leaves, the whorls of flowers distant and
leafy, but possessing the same odour and flavour, and another has
comparatively large, broad or rounded leaves. Yet another has soft
hairs, but this, though distinct from what is known as Horse Mint,
is inferior to the true Spearmint.
A form with its leaves slightly crisped is common in gardens
under the name of M. crispa.
---Cultivation---A moist situation is preferable, but
mint will succeed in almost anysoil when once started into growth,
though in dry, sandy soils it is sometimes difficult to grow, and
should be planted in the coolest and dampest situations. Leaf
mould, road scrapings, burnt ash and similar materials should, on
the other hand, be used freely for lightening heavy, tenacious
soils. It does best in a partially shaded position: if in a
sheltered spot, it will start earlier in the spring than if
exposed. Where a long or regular supply is required, it is a good
plan to have at least one bed in a sunny and sheltered, and another
in a shady position, where gatherings may be made both early and
As the plant is a perennial, spreading by means of its
underground, creeping stems propagation may be easily effected by
lifting the roots in February or March, dividing them - every piece
showing a joint will grow - and planting again in shallow trenches,
covering with 2 inches of soil. Six inches apart in the rows and 8
inches between the rows are the right distances to allow. Cuttings
in summer or offsets in spring may also be utilized for increasing
a stock. Cuttings may be taken at almost any time during the
summer, always choosing the young shoots, these being struck on a
shady border of light soil and kept moist, or a better plan, if
possible, is to insert them in a frame, keeping them close and
moist till rooted. Cuttings or young shoots will also strike freely
in good-sized boxes in a heated greenhouse, in the early spring,
and after the tops have been taken off two or three times for use,
the plants may be hardened off and planted outside.
The beds are much benefited by an annual top-dressing of rich
soil, applied towards the close of autumn, when all remaining
stalks should be cut down to the ground. A liberal top-dressing of
short, decayed manure, such as that from an old hot-bed or mushroom
bed, annually, either in the spring, when it commences to grow, or
better still, perhaps, after the first or second cutting, will
ensure luxuriant growth. Frequent cuttings of shoots constitute a
great drain on the plants, and if not properly nourished they will
fail, more or less. To have really good mint, the plantation should
be re-made about every three years, or failing that, it is
essential that a good top-dressing of rich soil be
A good stock should be kept up, so that plenty may be available
for forcing. Cultivators having a greenhouse can easily
force mint into an earlier development of new growth than would be
in the open garden. Forcing is very easy, the only preparation
being the insertion of a quantity of good roots in a box of light
soil, which should be placed in a temperature of about 60 degrees
and watered freely as soon as growth starts. Cuttings may be made
in two or three weeks. Forcing will generally be necessary from
November to May - a succession being kept up by the introduction,
at intervals of about three weeks, of an additional supply of
roots, as forced roots soon decay. Often mint is so grown both upon
and under the benches in greenhouses, and the demand for the young,
tender stems and leaves during the winter is sufficient to make the
plants pay well.
---Mint Disease---Unfortunately, mint is susceptible to
a disease which in some gardenshas completely destroyed it. This
disease, which from its characteristic symptoms is known as Rust,
is incurable. The fungus (Puccinia Mentha) which causes it
develops inside the plant, and therefore cannot be reached by any
purgicide, and as it is perennial, it cannot be got rid of by
cutting off the latter. All that can be done is to prevent the
spread of the disease by digging up all plants that show any sign
of rust. The same ground should not be used again for mint for
several years. Healthy stock should be obtained and planted in
uninfected soil, some distance away. On account of this liability
of mint to rust, it is advisable not to have it all in one bed, but
to have several beds of it, placed at some distance from each
---Harvesting---When the plants are breaking into bloom,
the stalks should be cut a few inches above the root, on a dry day,
after the dew has disappeared, and before the hot sun has taken any
oil from the leaves, and dried for culinary use for the winter. All
discoloured and insect-eaten leaves should be removed and the stems
tied loosely into bunches and hung to dry on strings in the usual
manner directed for 'bunched' herbs. The bunches should be nearly
equal in length and uniform in size to facilitate packing, if
intended for sale, and placed when dry in airtight boxes to prevent
re-absorption of moisture.
The leaves may also be stripped from the stems as soon as
thoroughly dry and rubbed through a fine sieve, so as to be freed
from stalks as much as possible, or pounded in a mortar and thus
powdered, stored in stoppered bottles or tins rendered airtight. If
preparing for market and not for home use, the rubbed herbs will,
of course, command a higher price than the bunched herbs, and
should be put up in tins or bottles containing a quantity of
When mint is grown commercially on a large scale, it has been
estimated to yield from 4 to 5 tons per acre, from which 15 to 20
cwt. of dry should be obtained. Average yields per acre are,
however, taken when crops are at maturity, and an estimate of the
first cutting crop is hard to form, and is likely to be less
profitable than succeeding years, on account of initial
If Spearmint is being grown as a medicinal herb, for the
sake of the volatile oil to be extracted from it, the shoots should
be gathered in August, when just coming into flower, and taken to
the distillery as soon as possible after picking, the British
Pharmacopceia directing that oil of Spearmint be distilled from the
fresh, flowering plant. It is estimated that 350 lb. of Spearmint
yield 1 lb. of oil. If the distillery is not on the ground or only
a short distance away, and the crop has to be dispatched by train,
the cutting should take place late in the afternoon on a fine day,
before the dew falls, so as to be sent off by a night train to
arrive at their destination next morning, having travelled in the
cool, otherwise the leaves are apt to heat and ferment, losing
---Constituents---The chief constituent of Spearmint oil
is Carvone. There are also present Phellandrine, Limonene and
dihydrocarveol acetate. Esters of acetic, butyric and caproic or
caprylic acids are also present. (An Ester is a combination of an
alcohol with an acid, the combination being associated with the
elimination of water. The esters are highly important and in many
cases dominant constituents of numerous essential oils, which owe
their perfume largely, or in some cases entirely, to the esters
contained. Many of the esters are used as flavouring or perfumery
agents, and many are among the most important constituents of
There are several different essential oils known under the name
of Spearmint oil, the botanical origin of the plant used for
distillation differing with the country in which the plant is
grown. In the United States and in this country several varieties
of M. viridis are distilled. In Russia the plant distilled
is M. verticellata, and in Germany either M.
longifolia, or more generally M. aquatica var.
crispa - a plant cultivated in Northern Germany, the oil
(called there Krausemünzöl) being imported into this country
as German Spearmint oil. It appears to be identical with that from
M. viridis. Oil of Spearmint is little distilled in England,
either German oil or American oil distilled from M. viridis
---Medicinal Action and Uses---Spearmint is chiefly used
for culinary purposes. The properties of Spearmint oil resemble
those of Peppermint, being stimulant, carminative and
antispasmodic, but its effects are less powerful, and it is less
used than Peppermint, though it is better adapted for children's
maladies. From 2 to 5 drops may be given on sugar, or from 1/2 to 1
teaspoonful of spirit of Spearmint, with 2 tablespoonsful of water.
Spearmint oil is added to many compounds on account of its
carminative properties, and because its taste is pleasanter and
less strong than Peppermint. A distilled water of Spearmint will
relieve hiccough and flatulence as well as the giddiness of
indigestion. For infantile trouble generally, the sweetened
infusion is an excellent remedy, and is also a pleasant beverage in
fevers, inflammatory diseases, etc. Make the infusion by pouring a
pint of boiling water on an ounce of the dried herb; the
strained-off liquid is taken in doses of a wineglassful or less. It
is considered a specific in allaying nausea and vomiting and will
relieve the pain of colic. A homoeopathic tincture prepared from
the fresh plant in flower has been found serviceable in strangury,
gravel, and as a local application in painful haemorrhoids. Its
principal employment is for its febrifuge and diuretic
---Preparations and Dosages---Fluid extract, 1/4 to 1
drachm. Water, B.P. and U.S.P., 4 drachms. Spirit, U.S.P., 30
When eaten with lamb, very finely chopped in sweetened vinegar,
in the form of mint sauce, mint greatly aids the digestion, as it
makes the crude, albuminous fibres of the immature meat more
digestible. The volatile oil stimulates the digestive system and
prevents septic changes within the intestines.
The fresh sprigs of mint are used to flavour green peas and
also new potatoes, being boiled with them, and the powdered, dried
leaves are used with pea soup and also in seasonings. On the
Continent, especially in Germany, the powdered, dried mint is often
used at table for dusting upon pea and bean purées, as well as on
A grating of mint is introduced sometimes into a potato salad,
or into a fowl stuffing, and in Wales it is not unusual to boil
mint with cabbage.
Mint Jelly can be used instead of mint sauce, in the
same manner as red currant jelly. It may be made by steeping mint
leaves in apple jelly, or in one of the various kinds of commercial
gelatine. The jelly should be a delicate shade of green. A handful
of leaves should colour and flavour about half a pint of jelly.
Strain the liquid through a jelly bag to remove all particles of
mint before allowing to set.
Mint Vinegar is made as follows: Fill a jar or bottle
with young mint leaves picked from the stalks. Cover with cold
vinegar and cork or cover the bottle. Infuse for 14 days, then
strain off the vinegar.
This vinegar is sometimes employed in making Mint Jelly, as
Take 1 pint of water, 1 1/4 OZ. gelatine, the white and shell
of an egg, 1/2 gill of Mint Vinegar, 1 dessertspoonful of Tarragon
Vinegar, a bunch of herbs, 1 onion, 1 carrot, a stick of celery, 10
peppercorns, salt, 1 lemon. Peel the lemon very thinly, slightly
whip the white of egg, wash and crush the shell. Put all the
ingredients into a pan, strain in the juice of the lemon and whisk
over the fire until just on boiling point. Boil up, then draw the
pan to the side of the fire and simmer very gently for 20 minutes.
Strain through a jelly bag until clear. Put into a mould to set. If
liked, finely chopped mint may be added to the jelly after
straining it, or more mint can be used and no Tarragon
To make Mint Punch: Pick a quart of fresh mint leaves,
then wash and dry them by shaking them in a clean kitchen towel.
Put them into a large jug and mash them with a wooden spoon till
soft, when cover with freshly boiled water and infuse for ten
minutes. Strain, cool, then set on ice till required. Add two cups
of chilled grape juice and strained lemon juice to taste. Sweeten
with castor sugar, stir till sugar is dissolved and then add a
quart of ginger ale. Fill each tumbler to one-third with cracked
ice and fill up with the punch.
The Garden Mint is also the basis of Mint Julep and Mint-water,
the cordial distilled from the plant.
Mint Cake is a cake made of flour and dripping or lard,
flavoured with sugar and chopped fresh mint and rolled out
Botanical: Mentha piperita (SM.)
Family: N.O. Labiatae
Medicinal Action and Uses
---Habitat---The plant is found throughout Europe, in
moist situations, along stream banks and in waste lands, and is not
unfrequent In damp places in England, but is not a common native
plant, and probably is often an escape from cultivation. In America
it is probably even more common as an escape than Spearmint, having
long been known and grown in gardens.
Of the members of the mint family under cultivation the most
important are the several varieties of the Peppermint (Mentha
piperita), extensively cultivated for years as the source of
the well-known volatile oil of Peppermint, used as a flavouring and
---Description---The leaves of this kind of mint are
shortly but distinctly stalked, 2 inches or more in length, and 3/4
to 1 1/2 inches broad, their margins finely toothed, their surfaces
smooth, both above and beneath, or only very slightly, hardly
visibly, hairy on the principal veins and mid-rib on the underside.
The stems, 2 to 4 feet high, are quadrangular, often purplish. The
whorled clusters of little reddish-violet flowers are in the axils
of the upper leaves, forming loose, interrupted spikes, and rarely
bear seeds. The entire plant has a very characteristic odour, due
to the volatile oil present in all its parts, which when applied to
the tongue has a hot, aromatic taste at first, and afterwards
produces a sensation of cold in the mouth caused by the menthol it
---History---Pliny tells us that the Greeks and Romans
crowned themselves with Peppermint at their feasts and adorned
their tables with its sprays, and that their cooks flavoured both
their sauces and their wines with its essence. Two species of mint
were used by the ancient Greek physicians, but some writers doubt
whether either was the modern Peppermint, though there is evidence
that M. piperita was cultivated by the Egyptians. It is
mentioned in the Icelandic Pharmacopoeias of the thirteenth
century, but only came into general use in the medicine of Western
Europe about the middle of the eighteenth century, and then was
first used in England.
It was only recognized here as a distinct species late in the
seventeenth century, when the great botanist, Ray, published it in
the second edition of his Synopsis stirpium britannicorum,
1696. Its medicinal properties were speedily recognized, and it was
admitted into the London Pharmacopceia in 1721, under M.
piperitis sapore. The oldest existing Peppermint district is in
the neighbourhood of Mitcham, in Surrey, where its cultivation from
a commercial point of view dates from about 1750, at which period
only a few acres of ground there were devoted to medicinal plants.
At the end of the eighteenth century, above 100 acres were cropped
with Peppermint, but so late as 1805 there were no stills at
Mitcham, and the herb had to be carried to London for the
extraction of the oil. By 1850 there were already about 500 acres
under cultivation at Mitcham, and at the present day the English
Peppermint plantations are still chiefly located in this district,
though it is grown in several other parts of England - in Herts at
Hitchin, and in Cambs at Wisbech, in Lincolnshire at Market Deeping
and also at Holbeach (where the cultivation and distillation of
English Peppermint oil, now carried on with the most up-to-date
improvements was commenced over seventy years ago).
There is room for a further extension of its cultivation, owing
to the great superiority of the English product in pungency and
Most of London's supplies are grown in a triangle with its base
on a line Kingston to Croydon, and its apex at Chipstead in Surrey.
This triangle includes Mitcham, still the centre of the
Peppermint-growing and distilling industry, the district proving to
be specially suited to the crop. There are large Peppermint farms
at Banstead and Cheam.
On the Continent Peppermint was first grown in 1771 at Utrecht,
but it is now grown in considerable amounts in several countries.
In France it is cultivated in the Departments of the Yonne and du
Nord, French Peppermint Oil being distilled at Grasse and Cannes,
as well as in the Basses-Alpes, Haute-Garonne and other parts,
though the French varieties of M. piperita are not identical
with those cultivated in England. The variety cultivated in France
is known as 'Red Mint' and can grow on certain soils where the true
Peppermint does not grow. The 'Red Mint' can be cultivated for four
or five years in the same field, but the true M. piperita
can be cultivated in the same field for two years only. 'Red Mint'
gives a higher yield of oil, but is of inferior quality. In the
Siagne Valley, it is calculated that 300 kilos of fresh plant
produce 1 kilo of essential oil, elsewhere a yield of 2 kilos to
about 1,000 kilos of stems and green leaves is claimed. It has been
proved by experience that all parts of the plant do not give the
same proportion of oil, and it is more abundant when the plants
have been grown in a hot region and have flowered to the best
The product of absolutely genuine English plants cultivated in
French soil varies according to the district, for the soil has a
very important influence upon the flavour of the oil and also the
climate: badly-drained ground is known to give unfavourable results
both as to the quantity and quality of the oil.
An oil very similar to Mitcham oil, and of an excellent
quality, is distilled from English plants grown in Italy, mostly in
Piedmont and also in Sicily. Next to the essential oils of lemon
and orange, that obtained from Peppermint enjoys a high reputation
among the numerous volatile oils produced by Italy. Vigone and
Pancalieri are the centres of the cultivation and distillation of
Peppermint in the province of Turin. This district, which has been
designated the 'Mitcham of Italy,' yields annually about 11,000,000
kilograms of Peppermint, from which 25,000 to 27,000 kilograms of
essential oil are obtained. A new variety of Peppermint, found at
Lutra on the island of Tino, in the Grecian Archipelago, has been
cultivated in the Royal Colonial Garden at Palermo.
A small amount of Peppermint oil of good quality is distilled
from plantations in Germany, at Miltitz, in Saxony and near
Leipzig, where the little town of Colleda, before the War, produced
annually as much as 40,000 cwt. of the herb. Russia also produces
some Peppermint, in the Ukraine and the Caucasus, but most of it is
used in the country itself.
With regard to Hungarian oil of Peppermint, organized effort to
secure improvement began in 1904 and has been greatly developed.
Hungarian oil compares favourably with American oil of Peppermint
as regards percentage of Menthol contained: Hungarian oil yielding
43 to 56 per cent of free menthol, and 35 to 65 per cent of total
menthol; while American oil yields 40 to 45 per cent free menthol
and 60 per cent total menthol.
Peppermint oil distilled in 1914 from Mitcham plants grown at
Molo, in the highlands of British East Africa, possesses a most
excellent aroma, quite free of bitterness, and a very high figure
indeed for the menthol contained, and there is no question that
this source of supply should be an important one in the
The United States, however, are now the most important
producers of Peppermint oil, producing - mostly in Michigan, where
its cultivation was introduced in 1855, Indiana, the western
districts of New York State, and to a smaller extent in Ohio -
rather under half of the world's total output of the oil. The whole
of the Peppermint cultivation is confined to the north-east portion
of the United States, and the extreme south of Canada, where some
is grown in the province of Ontario. The first small distillery was
erected in Wayne County, New York State, in the early part of last
century, and at the present day the industry has increased to such
an extent, that there are portions of Michigan where thousands of
acres are planted with nothing else but Peppermint.
English oil is incomparably the best, but it fetches a very
high price, and the French oil, though much inferior, is of finer
quality than the American.
The problem is to obtain a strain of mint plants which would
yield larger quantities of oil in our climate. It is possible that
varieties yielding a more abundant supply of essential oils might
be secured by persistent endeavour, without reducing our English
standard of refinement. Also economy in harvesting and distilling
should be studied. If our English oils could be reduced in price,
they would replace the foreign to a greater or less extent
depending upon the reduction in cost of production.
There are several varieties of Peppermint. The two chief, the
so-called 'Black' and 'White' mints are the ones extensively
cultivated. Botanically there is little difference between them,
but the stems and leaves of the 'Black' mint are tinged
purplish-brown, while the stems of the 'White' variety are green,
and the leaves are more coarsely serrated in the White. The oil
furnished by the Black is of inferior quality, but more abundant
than that obtained from the White, the yield of oil from which is
generally only about four-fifths of that from an equal area of the
Black, but it has a more delicate odour and obtains a higher price.
The plant is also more delicate, being easily destroyed by frost or
drought; it is principally grown for drying in bundles -
technically termed 'bunching,' and is the kind chiefly dried for
herbalists, the Black variety being more generally grown for the
oil on account of its greater productivity and hardiness. The
variety grown at Mitcham is classified by some authorities as M.
piperita, var. rubra.
---Cultivation---Both Peppermint and Spearmint thrive
best in a fairly warm, preferably moist climate, and in deep soils
rich in humus and retentive of moisture, but fairly open in texture
and well drained, either naturally or artificially.
These conditions are frequently combined in effectively drained
swamp lands, but the plants may also be commercially cultivated in
well-prepared upland soils, such as would produce good corn, oil or
potatoes. Though a moist situation is preferable, Peppermint will
succeed in most soils, when once started into growth and carefully
cultivated. It flourishes well in what are known in America as muck
land, that is, those broad level areas, often several thousand
acres in extent, of deep fertile soil, the beds of ancient lakes
and swamps where the remains of ages of growths of aquatic
vegetation have accumulated. In Michigan and Indiana, where there
are large areas of such land, mint culture has become highly
specialized, a considerable part of the acreage being controlled by
a few well-equipped growers able to handle the product in an
economical manner, who have of late years installed their own
upto-date distilling plants. The cultivation of Peppermint is a
growing industry now also on the reclaimed lands of
The usual method of mint cultivation on these farms in America
is to dig runners in the early spring and lay them in shallow
trenches, 3 feet apart in well-prepared soil. The growing crop is
kept well cultivated and absolutely free from weeds and in the
summer when the plant is in full bloom, the mint is cut by hand and
distilled in straw. A part of the exhausted herb is dried and used
for cattle food, for which it possesses considerable value. The
rest is cut and composted and eventually ploughed into the ground
The area selected for Peppermint growing should be cropped for
one or two years with some plant that requires a frequent tillage.
The tillage is also continued as long as possible during the growth
of the mint, for successful mint-growing implies clean culture at
all stages of progress.
In one of our chief English plantations the following mode of
cultivation is adopted. A rich and friable soil, retentive of
moisture is selected, and the ground is well tilled 8 to 10 inches
deep. The plants are propagated in the spring, usually in April and
May. When the young shoots from the crop of the previous year have
attained a height of about 4 inches, they are pulled up and
transplanted into new soil, in shallow furrows about 2 feet apart,
lightly covered with about 2 inches of soil. They grow vigorously
the first year and throw out numerous stolons and runners on the
surface of the ground. After the crop has been removed, these are
allowed to harden or become woody, and then farmyard manure is
scattered over the field and ploughed in. In this way the stolons
are divided into numerous pieces and covered with soil before the
frost sets in, otherwise if the autumn is wet, they are liable to
become sodden and rot, and the next crop fails. In the spring the
fields are dressed with Peruvian Guano.
---Manuring---Liberal manuring is essential, and the
quantity and nature of the manure has a great effect on the
characteristics of the oil. Mineral salts are found to be of much
value. Nitrate of Soda, applied at the rate of 50 to 150 lb.
to the acre both stimulates the growth of foliage and improves the
quality of the essence. Half the total quantity should be applied a
month before planting and the remainder a month before the harvest.
Potash, also, is particularly useful against a form of
chlorosis or 'rust' (Puccinia menthoe) due, apparently, to
too much water in the soil, as it often appears after moist, heavy
weather in August, which causes the foliage to drop off and leave
the stems almost bare, in which circumstances the rust is liable to
attack the plants. Some authorities have calculated that an acre of
Peppermint requires 84 lb. of Nitrogen, 37 lb. of Phosphoric Acid
and 139 lb. of Potash. Ground Bone and Lime do not seem to be of
marked benefit. The top dressing of the running roots with fine
loam either by ploughing as above described, or otherwise, is very
essential before winter sets in.
In the south of France, sewage (1,300 lb. per acre) is
extensively used, together with Sesame seeds from which the oil has
been expressed. The latter are especially suited for light and
limey soils, and are either worked in before planting or placed
directly in the furrows with the plants. Up to 5,000 or 6,000 lb.
per acre are applied, giving a crop of from 2,100 to 2,600 lb. per
acre. The residues from the distillation of the crop are invariably
used as manure. It is found, however, that although these manures
supply sufficient nitrogen, they are deficient in phosphoric acid
and potash. This shortage must be made up by chemical manures,
otherwise the soil will become exhausted. Chemical manures
alone are equally unsatisfactory in soils poor in organic
matter. In conjunction with organic manures they give excellent
On suitable soil and with proper cultivation, yields of from 2
to 3 tons of Peppermint herb per acre may be expected, but large
yields can only be expected from fields that are in the best
possible condition. A fair average for well-managed commercial
plantings may be said to be 30 lb. of oil per acre,but the yield of
oil is always variable, ranging from only a few pounds to, in
extremely favourable cases, nearly 100 lb. per acre. About 325 lb.
of Peppermint, nearly 3 cwt., are required to produce a pound of
oil in commercial practice, i.e. about 7 lb. of oil are generally
obtained from 1 ton of the herb. The price varies as widely as the
yield, the value depending upon the chemical
The presence of weeds among the Peppermint, especially other
species of Mentha, is an important cause of deterioration to
the oil. M. arvensis, the Corn Mint, if allowed to settle
and increase among the crop to such an extent as not to be easily
separated, has been known when distilled to absolutely ruin the
flavour of the latter. In new ground the Peppermint requires
handweeding two or three times, as the hoe cannot be used without
injury to the plant.
In America great detriment is occasioned by the growth of
Erigeron canadensis, and newly cleared ground planted with
Peppermint, is liable to the intrusion of another plant of the
order Compositae, Erechtites hieracifolia, which is also
highly injurious to the quality of the oil.
---Irrigation---Peppermint requires frequent irrigation.
In the south of France the crop is irrigated on the I5th of May,
and thereafter every eight or ten days. When the plants are fully
developed they are watered at least three times a week. It is
important to keep the soil constantly moist, although well drained.
Absorption of water makes the shoots more tender, thus facilitating
cutting, and causes a large quantity of green matter to be
A plantation lasts about four years, the best output being the
second year. The fourth-year crop is rarely good. A crop that
yields a high percentage of essential oil exhausts the ground as a
rule, and after cropping with Peppermint for four years, the land
must be put to some other purpose for at least seven years. In some
parts of France the plantations are renewed annually with the
object of obtaining vigorous plants.
Few pests trouble Peppermint, though crickets, grasshoppers and
caterpillars may always do some damage.
---Harvesting---The herb is cut just before flowering,
from the end of July to the end of August in England and France,
according to local conditions. Sometimes when well irrigated and
matured, a second crop can be obtained in September. With new
plantations the harvest is generally early in
Harvesting should be carried out on a dry, sunny day, in the
late morning, when all traces of dew have disappeared. The first
year's crop is always cut with the sickle to prevent injury to the
stolons. The herb of the second and third years is cut with scythes
and then raked into loose heaps ready for carting to the
In many places, the custom is to let the herb lie on the ground
for a time in these small bundles or cocks. In other countries the
herb is distilled as soon as cut. Again, certain distillers prefer
the plants to be previously dried or steamed. The subject is much
debated, but the general opinion is that it is best to distil as
soon as cut, and the British Pharmacopceia directs that the oil be
distilled from the fresh flowering plant. Even under the best
conditions of drying, there is a certain loss of essential oil. If
the herbs lie in heaps for any time, fermentation is bound to
occur, reducing the quality and quantity of the oil, as laboratory
experiments have proved. Should it be impossible to treat all the
crop as cut, it should be properly dried on the same system as that
adopted for other medicinal plants. The loss is then small.
Variation in the chemical composition of the essence should be
brought about by manuring, rather than by the system of harvesting,
though in America the loss caused by partial drying in the field is
not regarded by growers as sufficient to offset the increased cost
of handling and distilling the green herb. Exposure to frost must,
however, be avoided, as frozen mint yields scarcely half the
quantity of oil which could otherwise be secured.
At Market Deeping the harvest usually commences in the
beginning or middle of August, or as soon as the plant begins to
flower and lasts for six weeks, the stills being kept going night
and day. The herb is carted direct from the fields to the stills,
which are made of copper and contain about 5 cwt. of the herb.
Before putting the Peppermint into the still, water is poured in to
a depth of about 2 feet, at which height a false bottom is placed,
and on this the herb is then trodden down by men. The lid is then
let down, and under pressure the distillation is conducted by the
application of direct heat at the lowest possible temperature, and
is continued for about 4 1/2 hours. The lid is then removed, and
the false bottom with the Peppermint resting on it is raised by a
windlass, and the Peppermint carried away in the empty carts on
their return journey to the fields, where it is placed in heaps and
allowed to rot, being subsequently mixed with manure applied to the
fields in the autumn. The usual yield of oil, if the season be warm
and dry, is 1 OZ. from 5 lb. of the fresh flowering plant, but if
wet and unfavourable, the product is barely half that
If the cut green tops have some distance to travel to the
distillery, they should be cut late in the afternoon, so as to be
sent off by a night train to arrive at their destination next
morning, or they would be apt to heat and ferment and lose
Since the oil is the chief marketable product, adequate
distilling facilities and a market for the oil are essential to
success in the industry, and the prospective Peppermint grower
should assure himself on these points before investing capital in
There is also a market, chiefly for herbalists, for the dried
herb, which is gathered at the same time of year. It should be cut
shortly above the base, leaving some leafbuds, and not including
the lowest shrivelled or discoloured leaves and tied loosely into
bundles by the stalk-ends, about twenty to the bundle on the
average, and the bundles of equal length, about 6 inches, to
facilitate packing, and dried over strings as described for
Spearmint. Two or three days will be sufficient to
Peppermint culture on suitable soils gives fair average returns
when intelligently conducted from year to year. The product,
however, is liable to fluctuation in prices, and the cost of
establishing the crop and the annual expenses of cultivation are
---Constituents---Among essential oils, Peppermint ranks
first in importance. It is a colourless, yellowish or greenish
liquid, with a peculiar, highly penetrating odour and a burning,
camphorescent taste. It thickens and becomes reddish with age, but
improves in mellowness, even if kept as long as ten or fourteen
The chief constituent of Peppermint oil is Menthol, but it also
contains menthyl acetate and isovalerate, together with menthone,
cineol, inactive pinene, limonene and other less important
On cooling to a low temperature, separation of Menthol occurs,
especially if a few crystals of that substance be added to start
The value of the oil depends much upon the composition. The
principal ester constituent, menthyl acetate, possesses a very
fragrant minty odour, to which the agreeable aroma of the oil is
largely due. The alcoholic constituent, Menthol, possesses the
wellknown penetrating minty odour and characteristic cooling taste.
The flavouring properties of the oil are due largely to both the
ester and alcoholic constituents, while the medicinal value is
attributed to the latter only. The most important determination to
be made in the examination of Peppermint oil, is that of the total
amount of Menthol, but the Menthone value is also frequently
required. The English oil contains 60 to 70 per cent of Menthol,
the Japanese oil containing 85 per cent, and the American less than
ours, only about 50 per cent. The odour and taste afford a good
indication of the quality of the oil, and by this means it is quite
possible to distinguish between English, American and Japanese
Menthol is obtained from various species of Mentha and
is imported into England, chiefly from Japan. The oils from which
it is chiefly obtained are those from M. arvensis, var.
piperascens, in Japan, M. arvensis, var.
glabrata in China, and M. piperita in
Japan, and to a certain extent China, produce large quantities
of Peppermint oil distilled from the plants just mentioned. The
oils produced from these plants are greatly inferior to those
distilled from M. piperita, but have the advantage of
containing a large proportion of Menthol, of which they are the
The Japanese Menthol plant is now being grown in South
Australia, having been introduced there by the Germans from
Chinese Peppermint oil is largely distilled at Canton, a
considerable quantity being sent to Bombay, also a large quantity
of Menthol. Peppermint is chiefly cultivated in the province of
M. incana, cultivated near Bombay as a herb, also
possesses the flavour of Peppermint.
M. arvensis, var. javanesa, growing in Ceylon,
has not the flavour of Peppermint, but that of the garden mint,
while the type form of M. arvensis, growing wild in Great
Britain, has an odour so different from Peppermint that it has to
be carefully removed from the field lest it should spoil the
flavour of the Peppermint oil when the herb is
The Japanese have long recognized the value of Menthol, and
over 200 years ago carried it about with them in little silver
boxes hanging from their girdles. The distillation of oil of
Peppermint forms a considerable industry in Japan. The chief centre
of cultivation is the province of Uzen, in the north-east of the
island of Hondo, the largest of the Japanese Islands, and much is
grown in the northern island of Hokkaido, but the best oil is
produced in the southern districts of Okayama and Hiroshimo, the
second largest Peppermint area in Japan, the yield of mint being
yearly on the increase. The mint crop is a favourite one for
farmers, owing to the distilling work it furnishes during the long
and otherwise unprofitable winter.
The roots are planted at the end of November and beginning of
December. The plant, which needs a light, well-drained soil,
attains its full growth during the summer months and is cut in the
latter part of July, during August and in the early part of
September, three cuttings being made during the season. The third
cutting yields the greatest percentage of oil and menthol crystals.
The preliminary steps in the manufacture of Menthol are carried out
by the farmers themselves, with the aid of stills of a simple
design. The Peppermint plants are first dried in sheds, or under
cover from the sun for thirty days. Then they are placed in the
stills where they undergo a process of steaming. The resulting
vapours are led off through pipes into cooling chambers, are
condensed and deposited as crude Peppermint oil. This crude
Peppermint is shipped to Yokohama and Kobe to the Menthol
factories, of which there are over seventy in various parts of
Japan, specially equipped for obtaining the full amount of Menthol.
The residue of dementholized oil is further refined to the standard
of purity required in the trade, and is known as Japanese
Peppermint oil. The oil (known in Japan under the name of Hakka
no abura) is exported from Hiogo and Osaka, but is frequently
adulterated. The cheapest variety of Peppermint oil available in
commerce is this partially dementholized oil imported from Japan,
containing only 50 per cent of Menthol.
Adulteration of American Peppermint oil with dementholized
Japanese oil, known as Menthene, which is usually cheaper than
American oil, is frequently practised. The failure of the mint crop
in America in 1925 and the consequent scarcity and high price of
the American oil caused this adulteration to be very
The Japanese oil, termed by the Americans Corn-Mint oil and not
recognized by the United States Pharmacopoeia, is at best only a
substitute in confectionery and other products, such as
tooth-pastes, etc. There are other varieties of so-called
Peppermint oil on the market which are residues from
Mentholmanufacture and are inferior even to the oil imported from
Japan. These are not suitable for use in pharmacy.
As Japanese Peppermint oil, after being freed from Menthol
crystals, is inferior both in taste and odour to English and
American oil, experiments have been made in Japan with the
cultivation of English and American Peppermint, but so far without
---Adulterants---Camphor oil is occasionally used as an
adulterant of Peppermint oil, also Cedarwood oil and oil of African
Copaiba. The oil is also often adulterated with one-third part of
rectified spirit, which may be detected by the milkiness produced
when the oil is agitated by water. Oil of Rosemary and oil of
Turpentine are sometimes used for the same purpose. If the oil
contains turpentine it will explode with iodine. If quite pure, it
dissolves in its own weight of rectified spirits of
In the form in which Menthol is imported, it bears some
resemblance to Epsom Salts, with which it is sometimes
Before the War about half the Menthol crystals exported from
Japan were sent to Germany. During the War the United States became
the largest purchaser of these crystals, followed in order by Great
Britain, France and British India.
---Medicinal Action and Uses---Peppermint oil is the
most extensively used of all the volatile oils, both medicinally
and commercially. The characteristic anti-spasmodic action of the
volatile oil is more marked in this than in any other oil, and
greatly adds to its power of relieving pains arising in the
From its stimulating, stomachic and carminative properties, it
is valuable in certain forms of dyspepsia, being mostly used for
flatulence and colic. It may also be employed for other sudden
pains and for cramp in the abdomen; wide use is made of Peppermint
in cholera and diarrhoea.
It is generally combined with other medicines when its
stomachic effects are required, being also employed with purgatives
to prevent griping. Oil of Peppermint allays sickness and nausea,
and is much used to disguise the taste of unpalatable drugs, as it
imparts its aromatic characteristics to whatever prescription it
enters into. It is used as an infants' cordial.
The oil itself is often given on sugar and added to pills, also
a spirit made from the oil, but the preparation in most general use
is Peppermint Water, which is the oil and water distilled
Peppermint Water and spirit of Peppermint are official
preparations of the British Pharmacopoeia.
In flatulent colic, spirit of Peppermint in hot water is a good
household remedy, also the oil given in doses of one or two drops
Peppermint is good to assist in raising internal heat and
inducing perspiration, although its strength is soon exhausted. In
slight colds or early indications of disease, a free use of
Peppermint tea will, in most cases, effect a cure, an infusion of 1
ounce of the dried herb to a pint of boiling water being employed,
taken in wineglassful doses; sugar and milk may be added if
An infusion of equal quantities of Peppermint herb and Elder
flowers (to which either Yarrow or Boneset may be added) will
banish a cold or mild attack of influenza within thirty-six hours,
and there is no danger of an overdose or any harmful action on the
heart. Peppermint tea is used also for palpitation of the
In cases of hysteria and nervous disorders, the usefulness of
an infusion of Peppermint has been found to be well augmented by
the addition of equal quantities of Wood Betony, its operation
being hastened by the addition to the infusion of a few drops of
tincture of Caraway.
---Preparations---Fluid extract, 1/4 to 1 drachm. Oil,
1/2 to 3 drops. Spirit, B.P., 5 to 20 drops. Water, B.P. and
U.S.P., 4 drachms.
The following simple preparation has been found useful in
1 OZ. Peppermint herb, cut fine, 1/2 OZ. Rue herb, 1/2 OZ. Wood
Betony. Well mix and place a large tablespoonful in a teacup, fill
with boiling water, stir and cover for twenty minutes, strain and
sweeten, and drink the warm infusion on going to bed.
A very useful and harmless
preparation for children during teething is prepared as
1/2 OZ. Peppermint herb, 1/2
OZ. Scullcap herb, 1/2 OZ. Pennyroyal herb. Pour on 1 pint of
boiling water, cover and let it stand in a warm place thirty
minutes. Strain and sweeten to taste, and given frequently in
teaspoonful doses, warm.
Boiled in milk and drunk hot, Peppermint herb is good for
abdominal pains. 'Aqua Mirabilis' is a term applied on the
Continent to an aromatic water which is taken for internal pains.
It is a water distilled from herbs, sometimes used in the following
Cinnamon oil, Fennel oil, Lavender oil, Peppermint oil,
Rosemary oil, Sage oil, of each 1 part; Spirit, 350 parts;
Distilled water, 644 parts.
Menthol is used in medicine to relieve the pain of rheumatism,
neuralgia, throat affections and toothache. It acts also as a local
anaesthetic, vascular stimulant and disinfectant. For neuralgia,
rheumatism and lumbago it is used in plasters and rubbed on the
temples; it will frequently cure neuralgic headaches. It is inhaled
for chest complaints, and nasal catarrh, laryngitis or bronchitis
are often alleviated by it. It is also used internally as a
stimulant or carminative. On account of its anaesthetic effect on
the nerveendings of the stomach, it is of use to prevent
sea-sickness, the dose being 1/2 to 2 grains. The bruised fresh
leaves of the plant will, if applied, relieve local pains and
headache, and in rheumatic affections the skin may be painted
beneficially with the oil.
Oil of Peppermint has been recommended in puerperal fevers. 30
to 40 minims, in divided doses, in the twenty-four hours, have been
employed with satisfactory results, a stimulating aperient
preceding its use.
The local anaesthetic action of Peppermint oil is exceptionally
strong. It is also powerfully antiseptic, the two properties making
it valuable in the relief of toothache and in the treatment of
cavities in the teeth.
Sanitary engineers use Peppermint oil to test the tightness of
pipe joints. It has the faculty of making its escape, and by its
pungent odour betraying the presence of leaks.
A new use for Peppermint oil has been found in connexion with
the gas-mask drill on the vessels of the United States
Paste may be kept almost any length of time by the use of the
essential oil of Peppermint to prevent mould.
Rats dislike Peppermint, a fact that is made use of by
ratcatchers, who, when clearing a building of rats, will block up
most of their holes with rags soaked in oil of Peppermint and drive
them by ferrets through the remaining holes into bags.
Botanical: Mentha sativa (LINN.)
Family: N.O. Labiatae
---Synonyms---Water or Marsh Mint. Whorled Mint. Hairy
---Habitat---Common in Britain and found all over
temperate and Northern Europe and Russian Asia.
---Description---A rather coarse perennial 1 to 1 1/2
feet high; leaves conspicuously stalked, ovate or oval-ovate, or
oval-rounded or wedge-shaped at the base, subacute or acute serrate
or crenate serrate, more or less hairy on both sides; flowers in
whorls, usually all separate, beginning about or below the middle
of the stem; bracts large, similar to leaves, sometimes the upper
ones minute, uppermost ones often without flowers; bracteoles
strap-shaped, subulate, hairy, shorter than flowers; pedicels
hairy, rarely glabrous; calyx hairy, campanulate-cylindrical; teeth
triangular, acuminate, half the length of tube, bristly, hairy;
corolla scarcely twice as long as the calyx, hairy without and
within; nucules rough with small points.
---Medicinal and Other Uses---The herb is considered to
have emetic, stimulant, and astringent qualities, and is used in
diarrhoea and as an emmenagogue. The infusion of 1 OZ. of the dried
herb to 1 pint of boiling water is taken in wineglassful
Botanical: Mentha arvensis
Family: N.O. Labiatae
---Habitat---It is a perennial, the root-stock, as in
all the Mints, creeping freely, so that when the plant has once
taken hold of the ground it becomes very difficult to eradicate it,
as its long creeping roots bind the soil together and ultimately
overrun a considerable area. It is generally an indication that the
drainage of the land has been neglected. It is abundantly
distributed throughout Britain, though less common in the northern
counties and flourishes in fields and moist ground, and Peppermint
growers must be ever watchful for its appearance.
The Corn Mint (Mentha arvensis) is the type species of
the Japanese Menthol plant, but is not endowed with useful
medicinal properties, great care indeed, as has been mentioned,
having to be taken to eradicate it from Peppermint plantations, for
if mingled with that valuable herb in distilling its strong odour
affects the quality of the oil.
---Description---It is a branched, downy plant. From the
low, spreading, quadrangular stems that lie near the ground, the
flowering stems are each year thrown up, 6 to 12 inches high. The
leaves, springing from the stems, in pairs, are stalked, their
outlines freely toothed. The upper leaves are smaller than the
lower, and the flowers are arranged in rings (whorls) in their
axils. The flowers themselves are small individually, but the
delicacy of their colour and the dense clusters in which they grow,
give an importance collectively, as ring after ring of the blossoms
form as a whole a conspicuous head. The flowering season lasts
throughout August and September.
This mint varies considerably in appearance in different
plants, like all the other native species of mint, some being much
larger than others, with a more developed foliage and a much
greater hairiness of all the parts. It has a strong odour that
becomes more decided still when the leaves are bruised in any
It is said that the effect of this plant, when animals eat it,
is to prevent coagulation of their milk, so that it can hardly be
made to yield cheese.
MINT, WILD WATER
Botanical: Mentha aquatica (LINN.)
Family: N.O. Labiatae
Medicinal Action and Uses
Mentha aquatica, the
Wild Mint, Water Mint or Marsh Mint in its many variations (of
which M. sativa, the Hairy Mint, is by most botanists
considered to be one, and not a distinct species), is the commonest
of the Mints, growing abundantly 1 to 2 feet high, in extensive
masses in wet places, banks of rivers and marshes, and well
distinguished by its downy foliage and whorls of lilac flowers
which towards the summit of the stem are crowded into globose
heads. The scent of the plant is strong and unpleasant to modern
idea, but Dononaeus says:
'The savour of scent of Mynte
rejoiceth man, wherefore they sow and strow the wild Mynthe in this
countrie in places where feasts are kept, and in Churches. The
juyce of Mynte mingled with honied water cureth the payne of the
eares when dropped therein, and taketh away the asperitie and
roughness of the tongue when it is rubbed or washed
The dried herb yields about 4 per cent of essential oil, having
an odour of Pennyroyal, the characters of which are not well
determined. Russian Spearmint oil is derived from a form of this
---Medicinal Action and Uses---Emetic, stimulant and
astringent. Used in herbal medicine in diarrhoea and as an
emmenagogue, the infusion of 1 OZ. of the dried herb to 1 pint of
boiling water being taken in wineglassful doses.
In severe cold and influenza, or in any complaint where it is
necessary to set up perspiration and in all inflammatory
complaints, internal or external, the tea made from this plant may
be taken warm as freely as the patient pleases. It can be used in
conjunction with stomach remedies and in difficult menstruation. A
strong infusion is inclined to be emetic.
A decoction of Water Mint prepared with vinegar is recommended
to stop blood vomiting.
Pliny, describing the cultivation of mint, observes that the
original name was Mintha, 'from which the Latin
Mentha was derived, but of late it has been called
Hedyosmon,' i.e. the sweet-scented. He speaks of 'a wild kind of
Mint known to us as Menastrum.' This name was used in the
fourteenth century for the Water Mint (M.
Culpepper says it is good for the gravel, and in flatulent
Botanical: Mentha acrispa
Family: N.O. Labiatae
Mentha crispa, which has wavy, broad, sharply-toothed
leaves, woolly beneath, is a avariety of M. aquatica. It is
sometimes found in Britain in gardens and has quite a different
odour to that of the common Wild Water Mint.
Botanical: Mentha citrata
Family: N.O. Labiatae
Mentha citrata (Ehr.), syn. M. odorata, the
Bergamot Mint, by some botanists considered a separate species, is
by others looked on as a variety of M.
The whole plant is smooth, dotted with yellow glands and is of
a dark green colour, generally tinged with purple, especially the
margins of the leaves, which are finelly toothed. There are very
conspicuous lines of yellow glands on the purple
This Mint has a very pleasant, aromatic, lemon-like odour,
somewhat resembling that of the Bergamot Orange, or that of the
Oswego Tea (Monarda didyma), also called Bergamot, and its
leaves like those of the latter can be employed in pot
It is found in wet places in Staffordshireand Wales, though
very rarely, but is often cultivated in gardens.
Botanical: Mentha rotundifolia
Family: N.O. Labiatae
Mentha rotundifolia is a sturdy plant having the habit
of M. sylvestris, but is more branched. The leaves are very
broad, somewhat resembling those of Sage, dull green in colour and
much wrinkled above, often densely woolly and whitish beneath. The
flowers are pink or white, in tapering, terminal
This species has somewhat the flavour of Spearmint, but is
stronger. It is frequently found on the ruins of monasteries, the
monks having used it for the languor following epileptic fits, as
it was considered refreshing to the brain. It is sometimes found
cultivated in cottage gardens under the name of Egyptian
The American Horsemint (Monarda punctata, Linn.) is of
considerable importance, as it may before long be available as a
regular source of Thymol, which has hitherto been manufactured
principally from Ajowan seeds. It yields from 1 to 3 per cent of a
volatile oil, which contains a large proportion of Thymol, up to 61
per cent having been obtained; Carvacrol also appears to be a
constituent. The oil has a specific gravity of 0.930 to 0.940 and
on prolonged standing deposits crystals of Thymol.
In 1907, Horsemint was observed to occur in abundance as a
common weed on the sandy lands of central Florida, and the
preliminary examinations of the oil from the wild plants which were
made at that time seemed to indicate that a promising commercial
source of Thymol could be developed by bringing this plant under
cultivation and selecting for propagation types of plants best
suited for oil production.
The leaf area of the wild plants is rather small: the first
problem, therefore, seemed to be to increase the leaf area and thus
increase the yield of oil per acre.
During several years of experiment, selection was also made to
increase the size of the plants in order that the tonnage of herb
per acre might be increased. This was also successful and a
considerably increased yield was noted year by year.
In 1912 a series of fertilizer experiments was carried out. It
was found that although certain special methods of treatment had a
marked effect on the percentage of yield of oil and of Thymol in
the oil, the greatest yield was obtained by promoting the growth of
the plant and thus securing the largest possible yield of herb per
On the scarcity of Thymol becoming acute on the outbreak of the
Great War, the United States Department of Agriculture took up the
matter, entered thoroughly into the question of utilizing the
native American plant for the source of the valued product, and
carried out exhaustive experiments in 1914 and 1915 as to the
cultivation of the plant, the extraction of Thymol, the yield per
acre and thecommercial prospects of the cultivation of the plant,
the conclusions arrived at being that the use is now warranted of
the improved form of the plant - its luxuriance increased by
cultivation - being used for the commercial production of Thymol in
the United States
It has been shown that Horsemint can be grown on the lighter
types of soil at comparatively little expense, and as the cost
oftransportation for the finished product, Thymol, is very low, it
would seem that the production of this crop might be profitable
when grown in connexion with other oil-yielding plants for which a
distilling apparatus is required. Distillation of the Horsemint
herb is carried on by the usual methods in practice for distilling
such volatile oils as Peppermint and Spearmint.
Botanical: Mentha sylvestris (LINN.)
Family: N.O. Labiatae
The English Horsemint (Mentha sylvestris) is a
strong-scented plant, frequent in damp, waste ground, usually
growing in masses, with downy, egg-shaped leaves tapering to a
point, with finely toothed margins, their undersides very white
with silky hairs. The flowers are in thick cylindrical spikes,
which are often interrupted below; the corollas are lilac in colour
The taste and odour of the plant resemble those of the Garden
The dry herb yields about 1 per cent of essential oil, having
carminative and stimulant properties.
'It is good for wind and
colic in the stomach.... The juice, laid on warm, helps the King's
evil or kernels in the throat.... The decoction or distilled water
helps a stinking breath, proceeding from corruption of the teeth,
and snuffed up the nose, purges the head. It helps the scurf or
dandruff of the head used with vinegar.'
Botanical: Monarda punctata (LINN.)
Family: N.O. Labiatae
Medicinal Action and Uses
---Synonyms---Monarda lutea. Spotted
---Part Used---Whole herb.
---Description---In 1569 a doctor of Seville, Nicolas
Monardes, wrote a great book, in Spanish, making known the
medicinal plants of the New World, and the genus Monarda was
named in his honour.
Monarda punctata is a perennial herb, growing in dry,
sandy places. It has a strong erect stem, reaching 2 feet or more
in height, with lanceolate, opposite leaves, 2 to 4 inches long,
dotted on the under-surface with glands. The flowers form dense
whorls, one being terminal, and have a large yellow corolla, the
upper lip being spotted with purple. A circle of large, leaf-like
bracts, purplish-pink in colour, surrounds them.
The plant, which is hardy, was introduced into England in 1714.
The odour is strong and aromatic, the taste pungent and slightly
Wild Basil (Pycnanthemum incanum) is said to be often
substituted for it in the United States.
---Constituents---The active virtues depend on the
abundant volatile oil, which has been found to contain a
hydrocarbon, thymol, and higher oxygenated compounds. It yields its
virtues to boiling water, but particularly to alcohol.
Oleum Monardze or Oil of Horsemint is official in the United
---Medicinal Action and Uses---Rubefacient, stimulant,
carminative. The infusion is used for flatulent colic, sickness,
and as a diaphoretic and emmenagogue, or as a diuretic in urinary
The principal use is external, and in its pure state it may be
a vesicant. It should be diluted with olive oil or soap liniment,
two or four parts of either being added to one of oil of Monarda.
It may be employed in chronic rheumatism, cholera infantum, or
whenever rubefacients are required.
It may be taken like Hedeoma, or American
---Dosage---Two to 10 minims of oil.
M. Didyma and M. Squarrosa may be used as
M. Fistulosa (Wild Bergamot, or Oswego Tea) is an active
M. citriodora, or Prairie Bergamot, contains a phenol
and a citral.
SWEET HORSEMINT is a name of Cunila origanoides, the
essential oil of which is a stimulant aromatic.
Botanical: Viscum album (LINN.)
Family: N.O. Loranthaceae
Parts Used Medicinally
Medicinal Action and Uses
---Synonyms---Birdlime Mistletoe. Herbe de la Croix.
Mystyldene. Lignum Crucis.
---Parts Used---Leaves and young twigs,
The well-known Mistletoe is an evergreen parasitic plant,
growing on the branches of trees, where it forms pendent bushes, 2
to 5 feet in diameter. It will grow and has been found on almost
any deciduous tree, preferring those with soft bark, and being,
perhaps, commonest on old Apple trees, though it is frequently
found on the Ash, Hawthorn, Lime and other trees. On the Oak, it
grows very seldom. It has been found on the Cedar of Lebanon and on
the Larch, but very rarely on the Pear tree.
When one of the familiar sticky berries of the Mistletoe comes
into contact with the bark of a tree - generally through the agency
of birds - after a few days it sends forth a thread-like root,
flattened at the extremity like the proboscis of a fly. This
finally pierces the bark and roots itself firmly in the growing
wood, from which it has the power of selecting and appropriating to
its own use, such juices as are fitted for its sustenance: the wood
of Mistletoe has been found to contain twice as much potash, and
five times as much phosphoric acid as the wood of the foster tree.
Mistletoe is a true parasite, for at no period does it derive
nourishment from the soil, or from decayed bark, like some of the
fungi do - all its nourishment is obtained from its host.
The root becomes woody and thick.
---Description---The stem is yellowish and smooth,
freely forked, separating when dead into bone-like joints. The
leaves are tongue-shaped, broader towards the end, 1 to 3 inches
long, very thick and leathery, of a dull yellow-green colour,
arranged in pairs, with very short footstalks. The flowers, small
and inconspicuous, are arranged in threes, in close short spikes or
clusters in the forks of the branches, and are of two varieties,
the male and female occurring on different plants. Neither male nor
female flowers have a corolla, the parts of the fructification
springing from the yellowish calyx. They open in May. The fruit is
a globular, smooth, white berry, ripening in December.
Mistletoe is found throughout Europe, and in this country is
particularly common in Herefordshire and Worcestershire. In
Scotland it is almost unknown.
The genus Viscum has thirty or more species. In South
Africa there are several, one with very minute leaves, a feature
common to many herbs growing in that excessively dry climate; one
in Australia is densely woolly, from a similar cause. Several
members of the family are not parasitic at all,being shrubs and
trees, showing that the parasitic habit is an acquired one, and
now, of course, hereditary.
Mistletoe is always produced by seed and cannot be cultivated
in the earth like other plants, hence the ancients considered it to
be an excrescence of the tree. By rubbing the berries on the smooth
bark of the underside of the branches of trees till they adhere, or
inserting them in clefts made for the purpose, it is possible to
grow Mistletoe quite successfully, if desired.
The thrush is the great disseminator of the Mistletoe,
devouring the berries eagerly, from which the Missel Thrush is said
by some to derive its name. The stems and foliage have been given
to sheep in winter, when fodder was scarce, and they are said to
eat it with relish.
In Brittany, where the Mistletoe grows so abundantly, the plant
is called Herbe de la Croix, because, according to an old
legend, the Cross was made from its wood, on account of which it
was degraded to be a parasite.
The English name is said to be derived from the Anglo-Saxon
Misteltan, tan signifying twig, and mistel
from mist, which in old Dutch meant birdlime; thus,
according to Professor Skeat, Mistletoe means 'birdlime twig,' a
reference to the fact that the berries have been used for making
birdlime. Dr. Prior, however derives the word from tan, a twig, and
mistl, meaning different, from its being unlike the tree it
grows on. In the fourteenth century it was termed
'Mystyldene' and also Lignum crucis, an allusion to
the legend just mentioned. The Latin name of the genus,
Viscum, signifying sticky, was assigned to it from the
glutinous juice of its berries.
---History---Mistletoe was held in great reverence by
the Druids. They went forth clad in white robes to search for the
sacred plant, and when it was discovered, one of the Druids
ascended the tree and gathered it with great ceremony, separating
it from the Oak with a golden knife. The Mistletoe was always cut
at a particular age of the moon, at the beginning of the year, and
it was only sought for when the Druids declared they had visions
directing them to seek it. When a great length of time elapsed
without this happening, or if the Mistletoe chanced to fall to the
ground, it was considered as an omen that some misfortune would
befall the nation. The Druids held that the Mistletoe protected its
possessor from all evil, and that the oaks on which it was seen
growing were to be respected because of the wonderful cures which
the priests were able to effect with it. They sent round their
attendant youth with branches of the Mistletoe to announce the
entrance of the new year. It is probable that the custom of
including it in the decoration of our homes at Christmas, giving it
a special place of honour, is a survival of this old
The curious basket of garland
with which 'Jack-in-the-Green' is even now occasionally invested on
May-day is said to be a relic of a similar garb assumed by the
Druids for the ceremony of the Mistletoe. When they had found it
they danced round the oak to the tune of 'Hey derry down, down,
down derry!' which literally signified, 'In a circle move we
round the oak. ' Some oakwoods in Herefordshire are still called
'the derry'; and the following line from Ovid refers to the
Druids' songs beneath the oak:
'---Ad viscum Druidce
Shakespeare calls it 'the
baleful Mistletoe,' an allusion to the Scandinavian legend that
Balder, the god of Peace, was slain with an arrow made of
Mistletoe. He was restored to life at the request of the other gods
and goddesses, and Mistletoe was afterwards given into the keeping
of the goddess of Love, and it was ordained that everyone who
passed under it should receive a kiss, to show that the branch had
become an emblem of love, and not of hate.
---Parts Used Medicinally---The leaves and young twigs,
collected just before the berries form, and dried in the same
manner as described for Holly.
---Constituents---Mistletoe contains mucilage, sugar, a
fixed oil, resin, an odorous principle, some tannin and various
salts. The active part of the plant is the resin, Viscin, which by
fermentation becomes a yellowish, sticky, resinous mass, which can
be used with success as a birdlime.
The preparations ordinarily used are a fluid extract and the
powdered leaves. A homoeopathic tincture is prepared with spirit
from equal quantities of the leaves and ripe berries, but is
difficult of manufacture, owing to the viscidity of the
---Medicinal Action and Uses---Nervine, antispasmodic,
tonic and narcotic. Has a greatreputation for curing the 'falling
sickness' epilepsy - and other convulsive nervous disorders. It has
also been employed in checking internal haemorrhage.
The physiological effect of the plant is to lessen and
temporarily benumb such nervous action as is reflected to distant
organs of the body from some central organ which is the actual seat
of trouble. In this way the spasms of epilepsy and of other
convulsive distempers are allayed. Large doses of the plant, or of
its berries, would, on the contrary, aggravate these convulsive
disorders. Young children have been attacked with convulsions after
eating freely of the berries.
In a French work on domestic remedies, 1682, Mistletoe (gui
de chêne) was considered of great curative power in epilepsy.
Sir John Colbatch published in 1720 a pamphlet on The Treatment
of Epilepsy by Mistletoe, regarding it as a specific for this
disease. He procured the parasite from the Lime trees at Hampton
Court, and recommended the powdered leaves, as much as would lie on
a sixpence, to be given in Black Cherry water every morning. He was
followed in this treatment by others who have testified to its
efficacy as a tonic in nervous disorders, considering it the
specific herb for St. Vitus's Dance. It has been employed in
convulsions delirium, hysteria, neuralgia, nervous debility,
urinary disorders, heart disease, and many other complaints arising
from a weakened and disordered state of the nervous
Ray also greatly extolled Mistletoe as a specific in epilepsy,
and useful in apoplexy and giddiness. The older writers recommended
it for sterility.
The tincture has been recommended as a heart tonic in typhoid
fever in place of Foxglove. It lessens reflex irritability and
strengthens the heart's beat, whilst raising the frequency of a
Besides the dried leaves being given powdered, or as an
infusion, or made into a tincture with spirits of wine, a decoction
may be made by boiling 2 OZ. of the bruised green plant with 1/2
pint of water, giving 1 tablespoonful for a dose several times a
day. Ten to 60 grains of the powder may be taken as a dose, and
homoeopathists give 5 to 10 drops of the tincture, with 1 or 2
tablespoonsful of cold water. Mistletoe is also given, combined
with Valerian Root and Vervain, for all kinds of nervous
complaints, cayenne pods being added in cases of debility of the
Fluid extract: dose, 1/4 to 1 drachm.
Country people use the berries to cure severe stitches in the
side. The birdlime of the berries is also employed by them as an
application to ulcers and sores.
It is stated that in Sweden, persons afflicted with epilepsy
carry about with them a knife having a handle of Oak Mistletoe to
ward off attacks.
Botanical: Lysimachia nummularia (LINN.)
Family: N.O. Primulaceae
Medicinal Action and Uses
---Synonyms---Creeping Jenny. Creeping Joan. Wandering
Jenny. Running Jenny. Wandering Tailor. Herb Twopence. Twopenny
Grass. Meadow Runagates. Herbe 2 pence. Two Penigrasse. String of
---Part Used---Whole herb, dried or fresh.
The Moneywort is far more often known by the familiar names of
Creeping Jenny, Wandering Jenny, Running Jenny, Creeping Joan and
Wandering Sailor - all names alluding to its rapid trailing over
the ground. 'Meadow Runagates' has the same reference, and tells us
also of its favourite home in damp pastures and by stream
The earliest English Herbal, that of Turner, speaks of it as
'Herbe 2 pence' and 'Two penigrasse,' and it is still known in some
localities as Herb Twopence and Twopenny Grass, the allusion here
being to the leaves, which are set two and two on the stem, and
rounded (though each has a short, sharp tip), and Iying always
faces turned to the sky, look like rows of pence. 'Moneywort' and
'Strings of Sovereigns,' though names based on the same idea, are
probably suggested by the big golden flowers, rather than by the
leaves. The leaves sometimes turn rose-pink in autumn. The specific
name, Nummularia, is from the Latin nummulus
---Description---The leaves and stems of the plant are
all quite smooth, the stems being quadrangular. The flowers, which
blossom through June and July, spring singly on slender stalks,
just where each leaf joins the stem. Their five sepals are large,
pale green and heart-shaped, somewhat 'frilly' round the base,
perhaps as a protection against small creeping insects, which might
otherwise make their way into the flowers, which are only just off
the ground. The five petals are so deeply cut into that they appear
separate, but are joined at the base to form a golden cup. The
stamens, as in the Scarlet Pimpernel and others of this family,
face their corresponding petals, instead of being alternate with
them, and are also joined at their base to form a low ring. Their
filaments, or little stalks, are covered with tiny golden hairs or
The ovary in the centre of the flower is so placed that the
pollen from the stamens must fall on its stigma, but the flower is
not only absolutely sterile to its own pollen, but also pollen from
other Moneywort flowers seems to have little effect on its ovules,
for as a rule no fruit follows the flowers. It has been thought,
therefore, that the plant may not be a true native, and that there
is something in our climate that does not suit it. It is probable,
however, that it does not trouble to set seed, because it has
adopted a simpler method of propagation. It frequently happens that
plants which increase much in other ways seldom produce ripe seeds.
This simple method of propagation lies in its trailing shoots - its
'stolons.' A stolon may be defined as a creeping stem which dies
off every year, and is beset by leaves not very far apart. Close to
the tip of each stolon, in the angle formed by little leaf-stalks,
buds appear, which produce roots which pass into the ground. When
winter comes, the stem and leaves die down between the old root and
the new one, but when spring arrives, a new plant exists where the
little roots entered the ground. In this way from a single plant
which sends out stolons in various directions, many new plants
appear by this so-called 'vegetative' method of
In a damp situation, no plant thrives better in a garden, or
requires less trouble to be taken with it.
---Part Used---The whole herb, used both dried and
fresh. For drying, collect in June, and proceed as in Scarlet
---Medicinal Action and Uses---The Moneywort in olden
days was reputed to havemany virtues. It was like the last species,
one of the many 'best possible woundworts.' 'In a word, there is
not a better wound-herb, no not tobacco itselfe, nor any other
whatsoever,' said an old herbalist.
We are told by old writers that this herb was not only used by
man, but that if serpents hurt or wounded themselves, they turned
to this plant for healing, and so it was sometimes called
The bruised fresh leaves were in popular use as an application
to wounds, both fresh and old, a decoction of the fresh herb being
taken as a drink in wine or water, and also applied outwardly as a
wash or cold compress to both wounds and inveterate sores. An
ointment was made also for application to wounds.
The leaves are subastringent,
slightly acid, and antiscorbutic. Boerhaave, the celebrated Dutch
physician, recommended their use, dried and powdered, in doses of
10 grains in scurvy and haemorrhages. Culpepper tells
'Moneywort is singularly good
to stay all fluxes . . . bleeding inwardly or outwardly, and weak
stomachs given to casting. It is very good for the ulcers or
excoriations of the lungs.' Again, it was a specific for
whoopingcough 'being boyled with wine or honey . . .it prevaileth
against that violent cough in children, commonly called the
chinne-cough, but it should be chine-cough for it doth make as it
were the very chine-bone to shake. '
Botanical: Monsonia ovata (CAR.)
Family: N.O. Geraniaceae
---Part Used---Plant, root.
---Habitat---Cape of Good Hope.
---Description---Leaves oblong, subcordate, crenate,
waved, flowers white axillary stalked, two on one peduncle, roots
fleshy large, grown from seed.
---Medicinal Action and Uses---A valuable remedy for
acute and chronic dysentery, specially of use in ulceration of the
lower part of the intestines; the plant is not considered
---Dosage---Saturated tincture, 1 to 2 fluid drachms,
every three or four hours.
The Pelargoniums belong to the same family, and all species
have more or less astringent properties. Some have fragrant
foliage, noticeably Pelargonium roseum and P.
capitatum, from which a fragrant essential oil is extracted. In
medicine they are used for dysentery and some for ulceration of the
stomach and upper intestinal tracts. P. Triste has edible
Botanical: Adoxa Moschatellina
Family: N.O. Caprifoliaceae
---Synonyms---Tuberous Moschatel. Musk
This plant, belonging to the natural order Caprifoliaceae, is
the only one of its species. The name Adoxa is from the
Greek, signifying 'inglorious,' from its humble growth. It is an
interesting little herbaceous plant, 4 to 6 inches high; stem
four-angled; root-leaves long-stalked, ternate; leaflets
triangular, lobed; cauline leaves or bracts two, smaller, with
sheathing petioles; flowers arranged as if on five sides of a cube,
small and pale green in colour; berry with one-seeded
parchment-like chamber. Growing in hedgerows, local, but widely
diffused, also in Asia and North America, even into the Arctic
The flowers, and indeed the whole plant, has a musk-like scent,
which it emits towards evening when the dew falls - this scent,
however, disappears if the plant is bruised. It flowers in April
John Ray, in his early system of plant classification, placed
the Moschatel amongst the berry-bearing plants. The early writers
found considerable difficulty in classifying it botanically. One
calls it the muskranunculus, whilst another classes it with the
fumitories, probably because of its leaves.
Moss, American Club
Botanical: Lycopodium complanatum (LINN.)
Family: N.O. Lycopodiaceae
Medicinal Action and Uses
---Synonym---American Ground Pine.
The American Ground Pine is not a flowering plant, but one of
the Club Mosses, which with the Ferns and Mosses belong to the
great class of Cryptogams. The genus Lycopodium holds, as it
were, an intermediate place between the Ferns and Mosses and
includes only six British species, though there are about
sixty-five distributed over the world.
Lycopodium complanatum, the American Club Moss, is a
small mossy plant with aromatic, resinous smell and slightly
turpentiny taste, the stalks hairy and the leaves close set,
characteristics which have gained it the popular name of Ground
Pine, as in the case of Yellow Bugle. The stem is long and
creeping, only about 1/2 inch in diameter, yellowish-green, giving
off at intervals erect, fan-shaped forked branches about 4 inches
high, with minute scale-like leaves, leaving only the sharp tips
free, the branches bearing fructification in the form of a stalked
tuft of four to five cylindrical spikes, consisting of spore cases
in the axils of minute bracts. The stem roots below at long
intervals, the roots being pale, wiry and slightly
---Medicinal Action and Uses---The whole plant is used,
dried and powdered for infusion.
It has properties similar to the European Ground Pine, being a
powerful diuretic, promoting urine and removing obstructions of the
liver and spleen. It is therefore, a valuable remedy in jaundice,
rheumatism and most of the chronic diseases.
A decoction of this plant, combined with Dandelion and
Agrimony, is a highly recommended herbal remedy for liver
complaints and obstructions.
For EUROPEAN GROUND PINE, see (YELLOW)
Moss, Common Club
Botanical: Lycopodium clavatum (LINN.)
Family: N.O. Lycopodiaceae
Medicinal Action and Uses
---Synonyms---Muscus Terrestris repens. Vegetable
Sulphur. Wolf's Claw.
---Parts Used---The spores, the fresh
This species is found all over the world and occurs throughout
Great Britain, being most plentiful on the moors of the northern
Though this species of Club Moss occurs in Great Britain, the
spores are collected chiefly in Russia, Germany and Switzerland, in
July and August, the tops of the plants being cut as the spikes
approach maturity and the powder shaken out and separated by a
sieve. Probably the spores used commercially are derived also from
other species in addition to Lycopodium
---Medicinal Action and Uses---The part of the plant now
employed is the minute spores which, as a yellow powder, are shaken
out of the kidney-shaped capsules or sporangia growing on the inner
side of the bracts covering the fruit spike. Under the names of
Muscus terrestris or M. clavatum the whole plant was
used, dried, by ancient physicians as a stomachic and diuretic,
mainly in calculous and other kidney complaints; the spores do not
appear to have been used alone until the seventeenth century, when
they were employed as a diuretic in dropsy, a drastic in diarrhoea,
dysentery and suppression of urine, a nervine in spasms and
hydrophobia, an aperient in gout and scurvy and a corroborant in
rheumatism, and also as an application to wounds. They were,
however, more used on the Continent than in this country and never
had a place in the London Pharmacopoeia, though they have been
prescribed for irritability of the bladder, in the form of a
tincture, which is official in the United States
The spores are still medicinally employed by herbalists in this
country, both internally and externally, as a dusting powder in
various skin diseases such as eczema and erysipelas and for
excoriated surfaces, to prevent chafing in infants. Their chief
pharmaceutical use is as a pill powder, for enveloping pills to
prevent their adhesion to one another when placed in a box, and to
disguise their taste. Dose, 10 to 60 grains. They have such a
strong repulsive power that, if the hand is powdered with them, it
can be dipped in water without becoming wet.
Botanical: Fucus Helminthocorton (KÜTZ.)
Family: N.O. Algae
---Part Used---Whole plant.
---Habitat---Mediterranean coast, specially
---Description---The drug is obtained from twenty to
thirty species of Algae, chiefly Sphaerococcus
helminthocorton. It is cartilaginous, filiform repeatedly
forked, colour varies from white to brown, it has a nauseous taste,
bitter and salt, odour rather pleasant.
---Medicinal Action and Uses---In Europe as an
anthelmintic and febrifuge, it acts very successfully on lumbricoid
intestinal worms. A decoction is made of it from 4 to 6 drachms to
the pint. Dose, a wineglassful three times daily.
---Dosage---Ten to 60 grains in syrup or in
Botanical: Cladonia Pyxidata (FRIES.)
Family: N.O. Lichenes
---Part Used---Whole plant.
---Habitat---North-west America, but now a common weed
in many counties in Britain.
---Description---Cladonia is one of a numerous
genus of lecidineous lichens. It grows abundantly in the woods and
hedges and is a common species; it has no odour; taste sweetish and
---Medicinal Action and Uses---Expectorant, a valuable
medicine in whooping cough.
---Dosage---2 OZ. of the plant decocted and mixed with
honey makes a good expectorant and a safe medicine for children's
Cladonia rangiferina. The badge of the Clan McKenzie.
Makes excellent food for reindeer.
C. sanguinea. In Brazil is rubbed down with sugar and
water and applied in the thrush of infants.
Moss, Hair Cap
Botanical: Polytrichium Juniperum (WILLD.)
Family: N.O. Musci
---Synonyms---Bear's Bed. Robin's Eye. Ground Moss.
Golden Maidenhair. Female Fern Herb. Rockbrake Herb.
---Part Used---Whole herb.
---Habitat---High dry places, margins of woods, poor
---Description---The genus have free veins, globose
sort, and peltate indusia; only a few species are found in Britain.
These are perennial, slender and reddish colour, from 4 to 7 inches
high. Leaves lanceolate and spreading, fruit four-sided capsule,
evergreen, darker in colour than other mosses.
---Medicinal Action and Uses---A very valuable remedy in
dropsy as a powerful diuretic, and used with hydragogue cathartics
of decided advantage. Very useful in urinary obstructions, gravel,
etc., causing no nausea, can be given alone or combined with broom
or wild carrot, and is excellent if it is necessary to give it
indefinitely as an infusion, which is taken in 4-OZ.
Botanical: Cetraria islandica (ACH.)
Family: N.O. Lichenes
---Synonyms---Cetraria. Iceland Lichen.
---Habitat---A common plant in northern countries and in
the mountainous part of warmer countries.
In spite of its name is not a Moss but a lichen. Found in Great
Britain in barren stony ground, abundant in the Grampians, and in
the Welsh hills, in Yorkshire, Norfolk, etc. It rarely fructifies
but the thallus varies in size, amount of division and cusping as
well as colour. It is sometimes much curled.
It contains about 70 per cent of lichen starch and becomes blue
on the addition of iodine. It also contains a little sugar, fumaric
acid, oxalic acid, about 3 per cent of cetrarin and 1 per cent of
---Medicinal Action and Properties---Demulcent, tonic,
and nutritive when deprived of its bitter principle. Excellent in
chronic pulmonary troubles, catarrh, digestive disturbances,
dysentery, advanced tuberculosis. Decoction, B.P. 1885, 1 to 4 OZ.
Ground, it can be mixed with chocolate or cocoa.
Botanical: Chondrus crispus (STACKH.)
Family: N.O. Algae
---Part Used---Plant, dried.
---Habitat---A perennial thallophyte common at low tide
on all the shores of the North Atlantic, but remarkable for its
extreme variability, the difference being mainly due to the great
diversity in the width of the segments.
---Constituents---It contains a large amount of mucilage
with the presence of a big percentage of sulphur
---Medicinal Action and Uses---Demulcent, emollient,
nutritive. A popular remedy made into a jelly for pulmonary
complaints and kidney and bladder affections. Can be combined with
cocoa. The decoction is made by steeping 1/2 OZ. of the Moss in
cold water for 15 minutes and then boiling it in 3 pints of milk or
water for 10 or 15 minutes, after which it is strained and seasoned
with liquorice, lemon or cinnamon and sweetened to taste. It can be
Botanical: Sphagnum Cymbifolium
Family: N.O. Lichenes
Preparation of the Dressings
Medicinal Action and Uses
Sphagnum Moss, commonly known as Bog Moss, is the only true
Moss that has yet proved itself to be of appreciable economic
It is found in wet and boggy spots, preferably on peat soil,
mostly near heather, on all our mountains and moors, in patches
small or large, usually in water free from lime, growing so close
together that it often forms large cushions or clumps. It is seldom
found in woods; it grows best on heath moors, in water
---Description---Sphagnum is easily distinguished from
other mosses by its habit ofgrowth, its soft thick fullness (each
head resembling a full and elaborate bloom of edelweiss),
and its vividly pale-green colour.
Its stem is densely beset with narrow, broken-up leaves, a
branch being emitted at every fourth leaf; many of these are turned
downwards and applied more or less closely to the
Though the pale-green species is the most common, there are
several others, large and small, varying in colour from the very
light green (never dark green) to yellow, and all shades of pink to
deep red and brown. The Moss often attracts attention by its
display of beautiful shades of colour, such patches being avoided
by wary persons, who do not wish to get their feet
Every part of the moss is permeated with minute tubes and
spaces, resulting in a system of delicate capillary tubes, having
the effect of a very fine sponge. The cells readily absorb water
and retain it. The water can be squeezed out, but the Moss does not
collapse and is ready to take in fluid again.
The plant is not dependent on soil water, but also absorbs
moisture from the atmosphere, and is laden throughout with water
retained in its delicate cells.
The presence of these capillary cells makes Sphagnum
economically useful. In horticulture, long before the war, this
Moss had a marketable value, in combination with peat fibre, being
widely used as a rooting medium for orchids, on account of the
remarkable manner in which it retains moisture, a handful when wet
being like a sponge, and when chopped and mixed with soil in pots
preventing moisture passing too quickly through the
In recent years, the light-brown layer of semi-decayed Sphagnum
Moss deposits that lies above the actual peat on bogs and moors,
has been largely employed as valuable stable litter in the place of
straw, under the name of Moss Litter, entirely on account of its
great absorptive powers.
On the outbreak of the late war a still wider economic use was
found for this moss, as a dressing of wounds, and an interesting
industry sprang up for war-workers living where this moss grows,
mainly in Scotland, Ireland, Wales and Devon, much having also been
collected from the Yorkshire moors, the Lake District and the Wye
Although this particular use of the moss is generally looked
upon as an innovation, we owe the introduction of Sphagnum Moss as
a modern surgical dressing to Germany, where its value for this
purpose was quite accidentally discovered in the early
And though it is only in
quite recent years that Sphagnum Moss has come to the fore in the
dressing of wounds, bygone generations recognized its value for
this purpose. A Gaelic Chronicle of 1014 relates that the wounded
in the battle of Clontarf 'stuffed their wounds with moss,' and the
Highlanders after Flodden stanched their bleeding wounds by filling
them with bog moss and soft grass. Stricken deer are known to drag
their wounded limbs to beds of Sphagnum Moss. The Kashmiri have
used it from time immemorial and so have the Esquimaux. An old
'the Lapland matrons are well
acquainted with this moss. They dry it and lay it in their
children's cradles to supply the place of mattress, bolster and
every covering, and being changed night and morning, it keeps the
infant remarkable clean, dry and warm.'
The Lapps also use the moss for surgical purposes, and it has
been used in Newfoundland as a dressing for wounds and sores from
the earliest times.
For thirty years, Sphagnum Moss had been used as a surgical
dressing in Germany.
The growing plant, with its underlying layers of withered stems
and leaves, is collected, picked clean from other plants,
pineneedles, etc., and dried. It is then lightly packed in bags of
butter-muslin, which are sterilized before being placed on the
Sphagnum Moss has important advantages (as an absorbent) over
cotton-wool. Many materials, including other kinds of moss, are
equally soft and light, but none can compare with it in power of
absorption, due to its sponge-like structure. Prepared Sphagnum can
absorb more than twice as much moisture as cotton, a 2-OZ. dressing
absorbing up to 2 lb. Even the best prepared cottonwool lacks the
power to retain discharges possessed by Sphagnum. A pad of Sphagnum
Moss absorbs the discharge in lateral directions, as well as
immediately above the wound, and holds it until fully saturated in
all parts of the dressing before allowing any to escape. The even
absorption of the moss is one of its chief virtues, for the patient
is saved a good deal of disturbance, since the dressing does not
require to be changed so frequently.
In civil hospitals, in times of peace, the deficiencies of
cotton-wool are not so much noticed, the majority of wounds being
those made by surgeons under ideal conditions, but for a variety of
reasons the wounds of our men at the front were of such a
suppurating character as to require specially absorbent dressings,
and overworked doctors and nurses constantly expressed themselves
thankful for a dressing that lasted longer than cotton-wool. Time
and suffering are saved, as well as expense: the absorbent pads of
moss are soft, elastic and very comfortable, easily packed and
convenient to handle.
Fortunately the supply is practically an unlimited one; indeed,
if the demand grew considerably, the artificial cultivation of
Sphagnum for surgical purposes would be worth while. This Moss is
easily propagated, as the stems and so-called leaves can be chopped
up into fine particles and every morsel will grow and form a
tassel-like head. Sphagnum only thrives in clean water and soil; it
dislikes manure of any kind.
In gathering Sphagnum most people use their hands, though some
employ a rake. The moss should be gathered as cleanly as possible,
squeezed dry and carried home in sacks. The squeezing may be done
with the hands, or with a towel or coarse sacking, further wringing
being done at home, if necessary, with a laundry roller-wringer or
mangle. Wringing or squeezing the moss does not harm it for
surgical purposes, though it must not be allowed to dry in closely
pressed pieces, because it tears when being opened up again. If
squeezed with the hand, it must not be pressed into a hard
While still damp, all clumps should be separated out, as the
moss, whether picked or not, must be sent to the workrooms in a
Cleaning or picking the moss is best done while still
damp, though it may also be done when dry. The moss is spread out
on a table and all other substances, such as grasses, twigs, bits
of heather and other plants, and above all, pine-needles, must be
carefully removed by hand. The moss itself must not be torn or
broken into short pieces.
Drying is best done in the open air; artificial heat is
apt to overheat the moss and diminish its elasticity, making it
brittle and easily rubbed into dust.
An empty hayshed may also be employed, open on all sides, or
the floors of an empty room, with windows open, wire netting being
used to keep the moss from blowing away.
Where a moor produces large patches of coherent Sphagnum -
cushions - the following method has been employed. Large cushions
of the moss are taken out and placed on a drier area near by - a
couple of workers can put out about a hundred of these in an hour.
On the next visit, these are turned and another set put out. In
favourable weather a few days' sun and wind will dry these
thoroughly, as the cushions are too bulky to be scattered by the
wind. Several big sacks can be filled on a final visit, and the
carriage of perfectly dry moss is an easy matter.
---Preparation of the Dressings---The moss after being
dried and carefully picked over is now ready for the dressings. All
used in home hospitals is put up loosely in small, flat muslin
bags, of a fairly close but very thin muslin, the bags only being
loosely filled (as a rule 2 OZ. of the moss to each bag, 10 inches
by 14 inches), as allowance has to be made for the way in which the
moss swells on being brought into contact with
Sphagnum Moss pads are supplied both plain and sterilized
(sublimated), some hospitals preferring to sterilize them
themselves, but a considerable proportion being sterilized at the
depots and sent out ready for use. The filled bags are passed
through a solution of corrosive sublimate by a worker in rubber
gloves, squeezed through a little mangle and dried again, that they
may return to the specified weight, for after the bath they are 2
OZ. too heavy. The object of sublimating the moss is not for any
antiseptic effect on a wound (as of course it does not come into
direct contact with the skin) but to neutralize the discharge which
may come through the inner dressings.
For use in field-hospitals, etc., the moss is packed in
compressed cakes cut to a certain size, which are more conveniently
packed for sending abroad than the soft dressings, these small
slabs being also placed, each in a muslin bag, very much too large
for the size of the dry cake put in them, for obvious reasons.
There was a munition factory in Scotland, where much of the moss
was sublimated and part of it compressed by hydraulic power into
these cakes. The very hydraulic press which one hour was moulding
shell bases, was in the next devoting its energy to compressing the
healing cakes of Sphagnum Moss.
Sphagnum Moss was also used during the War in conjunction with
Garlic, one of the best antiseptics. The Government bought up tons
of the bulbs, which were sent out to the front; the raw juice
expressed, diluted with water, was put on swabs of sterilized
Sphagnum Moss and applied to wounds. Where this treatment was
adopted there were no specific complications, and thousands of
lives were thus saved.
---Peat Tar---In connexion with the uses of Spaghnum
Moss as a dressing for wounds, mention should be made of the Tar
extracted from the Peat on which the Moss isusually found
The Peat Tar contains similar antiseptic and preservative
properties as the Moss itself - conclusively demonstrated by the
fact that bodies of animals have lain buried in peat bogs for
years, and when accidentally disinterred have been found in a state
of perfect preservation.
---Medicinal Action and Uses---Preparations of calcined
peat have long been regarded as effective and cheap germicides, and
as a valuable aid to sanitation; peat water possesses astringent
and antiseptic properties, and the air in proximity to tracts of
peat moss is invariably salubrious, owing probably to the
absorption of hydrogen and the exhalation of oxygen by the mosses.
Sphagnol, a distillate of Peat Tar, is authoritatively recognized
as an extremely usefulapplication in eczema, psoriasis, pruritus,
haemorrhoids, chilblains, scabies, acne and other forms of skin
diseases, while it is very beneficial for allaying irritation
arising from insect bites. For the latter purpose it is a
preventative no less than a cure.
The manufacture of spinning material out of peat-fibre has been
attempted in Sweden, and experiments have advanced so far that
cloth as well as clothing has been made out of peat fibre mixed
with other textile materials. This does not, however, appear likely
to lead to any important industry, but absorptive material has been
produced from white Sphagnum Moss and Wood Pulp. It has also lately
been reported from Sweden that successful attempts have been made
to extract alcohol from Sphagnum.
Botanical: Leonurus cardiaca (LINN.)
Family: N.O. Labiatae
Medicinal Action and Uses
Motherwort, the only British representative of the genus
Leonurus, is a native of many parts of Europe, on banks and
under hedges, in a gravelly or calcareous soil. It is often found
in country gardens, where it was formerly grown for medicinal
purposes, but it is rare to find it truly wild in England, and by
some authorities it is not considered indigenous, but merely a
---Description---It is distinguished from all other
British labiates by the leaves, which are deeply and palmately cut
into five lobes, or three-pointed segments, and by the prickly
calyx-teeth of its flowers. When not in flower, it resembles
Mugwort in habit.
From the perennial root-stock rise the square, stout stems, 2
to 3 feet high, erect and branched, principally below, the angles
prominent. The leaves are very closely set, the radical ones on
slender, long petioles, ovate, lobed and toothed, those on the
stem, 2 to 3 inches long, petioled, wedge-shaped; the lower
roundish, palmately five-lobed, the lobes trifid at the apex, the
upper three-fid, coarsely serrate, reticulately veined, the
veinlets prominent beneath, with slender, curved hairs. The
uppermost leaves and bracts are very narrow and entire, or only
with a tooth on each side, and bear in their axils numerous whorls
of pinkish, or nearly white, sessile flowers, six to fifteen in a
whorl. The corollas, though whitish on the outside, are stained
with paler or darker purple within. They have rather short tubes
and nearly flat upper lips, very hairy above, with long, woolly
hairs. The two front stamens are the longest and the anthers are
sprinkled with hard, shining dots.
The plant blossoms in August. It has rather a pungent odour and
a very bitter taste. It is a dull green, the leaves paler below,
pubescent, especially on the angles of the stem and the underside
of the leaves, the hairs varying much in length and
The name of the genus, Leonurus, in Greek signifies a
Lion's tail, from some fancied resemblance in the
---Cultivation---When once planted in a garden,
Motherwort will soon increase if theseeds are permitted to scatter.
It is perfectly hardy and needs no special soil, and the roots will
continue for many years.
Seedlings should be planted about a foot apart.
---Part Used---The whole herb, dried, cut in August. The
drying may be carried out in any of the ways described for
---Medicinal Action and Uses---Diaphoretic,
antispasmodic, tonic, nervine, emmenagogue. Motherwort is
especially valuable in female weakness and disorders (hence the
name), allaying nervous irritability and inducing quiet and
passivity of the whole nervous system.
As a tonic, it acts without producing febrile excitement, and
in fevers, attended with nervousness and delirium, it is extremely
Old writers tell us that there is no better herb for
strengthening and gladdening the heart, and that it is good against
hysterical complaints, and especially for palpitations of the heart
when they arise from hysteric causes, and that when made into a
syrup, it will allay inward tremors, faintings, etc. There is no
doubt it has proved the truth of their claims in its use as a
simple tonic, not only in heart disease, neuralgia and other
affections of the heart, but also in spinal disease and in recovery
from fevers where other tonics are inadmissable.
In Macer's Herbal we find 'Motherwort' mentioned as one
of the herbs which were considered all-powerful against 'wykked
The best way of giving it is in the form of a conserve, made
from the young tops, says one writer. It may be given in
decoctions, or a strong infusion, but is very unpleasant to take
that way. The infusion is made from 1 OZ. of herb to a pint of
boiling water, taken in wineglassful doses.
---Preparations and Dosages---Powdered herb, 1/2 to 1
drachm. Fluid extract, 1/2 to 1 drachm. Solid extract, 5 to 15
Culpepper wrote of
'Venus owns this herb and it
is under Leo. There is no better herb to drive melancholy vapours
from the heart, to strengthen it and make the mind cheerful, blithe
and merry. May be kept in a syrup, or conserve, therefore the
Latins call it cardiaca.... It cleansethe the chest of cold phlegm,
oppressing it and killeth worms in the belly. It is of good use to
warm and dry up the cold humours, to digest and disperse them that
are settled in the veins, joints and sinews of the body and to help
cramps and convulsions.'
And Gerard says:
'Divers commend it against
infirmities of the heart. Moreover the same is commended for green
wounds; it is also a remedy against certain diseases in cattell, as
the cough and murreine, and for that cause divers husbandmen
oftentimes much desire it.'
Botanical: Artemisia vulgaris (LINN.)
Family: N.O. Compositae
Parts Used Medicinally
Medicinal Action and Uses
---Synonyms---Felon Herb. St. John's Plant. Cingulum
---Parts Used---Leaves, root.
Mugwort abounds on hedgebanks and waysides in most parts of
England. It is a tall-growing plant, the stems, which are angular
and often of a purplish hue, frequently rising 3 feet or more in
height. The leaves are smooth and of a dark green tint on the upper
surface, but covered with a dense cottony down beneath; they are
once or twice pinnately lobed, the segments being lanceshaped and
pointed. The flowers are in small oval heads with cottony
involucres and are arranged in long, terminal panicles; they are
either reddish or pale yellow. The Mugwort is closely allied to the
Cornmon Wormwood, but may be readily distinguished by the leaves
being white on the under-surfaces only and by the leaf segments
being pointed, not blunt. It lacks the essential oil of the
The Mugwort is said to have derived its name from having been
used to flavour drinks. It was, in common with other herbs, such as
Ground Ivy, used to a great extent for flavouring beer before the
introduction of hops. For this purpose, the plant was gathered when
in flower and dried, the fresh herb being considered unsuitable for
this object: malt liquor was then boiled with it so as to form a
strong decoction, and the liquid thus prepared was added to the
beer. Until recent years, it was still used in some parts of the
country to flavour the table beer brewed by cottagers.
It has also been suggested that the name, Mugwort, may be
derived not from 'mug,' the drinking vessel, but from
moughte (a moth or maggot), because from the days of
Dioscorides, the plant has been regarded, in common with Wormwood,
as useful in keeping off the attacks of moths.
In the Middle Ages, the plant was known as Cingulum Sancti
Johannis, it being believed that John the Baptist wore a girdle
of it in the wilderness. There were many superstitions connected
with it: it was believed to preserve the wayfarer from fatigue,
sunstroke, wild beasts and evil spirits generally: a crown made
from its sprays was worn on St. John's Eve to gain security from
evil possession, and in Holland and Germany one of its names is St.
John's Plant, because of the belief, that if gathered on St. John's
Eve it gave protection against diseases and
Dr. John Hill extols its
virtues, and says:
'Providence has placed it
everywhere about our doors; so that reason and authority, as well
as the notice of our senses, point it out for use: but chemistry
has banished natural medicines.'
Dioscorides praises this herb, and orders the flowering tops to
be used just before they bloom.
The dried leaves were, sixty or seventy years ago, in use by
the working classes in Cornwall as one of the substitutes for tea,
at a time when tea cost 7s. per lb., and on the Continent
Mugwort is occasionally employed as an aromatic culinary herb,
being one of the green herbs with which geese are often stuffed
The downy leaves have been used in the preparation of
Moxas, which the Japanese use to cure rheumatism. The down
is separated by heating the leaves and afterwards rubbing them
between the hands until the cottony fibres alone remain, these are
then made up into small cones or cylinders for use. Artemisia
Moxa and A. sinensis are mainly used in Japan. This
cottony substance has also been used as a substitute for
Sheep are said to enjoy the herbage of the Mugwort, and also
the roots. The plant may, perhaps, be the Artemesia of Pontos,
which was celebrated among the ancients for fattening these
animals. It is said to be good for poultry and
A variegated variety of Mugwort also occurs.
---Parts Used Medicinally---The leaves, collected in
August and dried in the same manner as Wormwood, and the root, dug
in autumn and dried. The roots are cleansed in cold water and then
freed from rootlets. Drying may be done at first in the open air,
spread thinly, as contact may turn the roots mouldy. Or they may be
spread on clean floors, or on shelves, in a warm room for about ten
days, and turned frequently. When somewhat shrunken, they must be
finished more quickly by artificial heat in a drying room or shed,
near a stove or gas fire, care being taken that the heated air can
escape at the top of the room. Drying in an even temperature will
probably take about a fortnight, or more. It is not complete until
the roots are dry to the core and brittle, snapping when
Mugwort root is generally about 8 inches long, woody, beset
with numerous thin and tough rootlets, 2 to 4 inches long, and
about 1/12 inch thick. It is light brown externally; internally
whitish, with an angular wood and thick bark, showing five or six
resin cells. The taste is sweetish and acrid.
---Constituents---A volatile oil, an acrid resin and
---Medicinal Action and Uses---It has stimulant and
slightly tonic properties, and is of value as a nervine and
emmenagogue, having also diuretic and diaphoretic
Its chief employment is as an emmenagogue, often in combination
with Pennyroyal and Southernwood. It is also useful as a
diaphoretic in the commencement of cold.
It is given in infusion, which should be prepared in a covered
vessel, 1 OZ. of the herb to 1 pint of boiling water, and given in
1/2 teaspoonful doses, while warm. The infusion may be taken cold
as a tonic, in similar doses, three times daily: it has a bitterish
and aromatic taste.
As a nervine, Mugwort is valued in palsy, fits, epileptic and
similar affections, being an old-fashioned popular remedy for
epilepsy (especially in persons of a feeble constitution). Gerard
says: 'Mugwort cureth the shakings of the joynts inclining to the
Palsie;' and Parkinson considered it good against hysteria. A
drachm of the powdered leaves, given four times a day, is stated by
Withering to have cured a patient who had been affected with
hysterical fits for many years, when all other remedies had
The juice and an infusion of the herb were given for
intermittent fevers and agues. The leaves used to be steeped in
baths, to communicate an invigorating property to the
---Preparations---Fluid extract, 1/2 to 1
Culpepper directs that the
tops of the plant are to be used fresh gathered, and
'a very slight infusion is
excellent for all disorders of the stomach, prevents sickness after
meals and creates an appetite, but if made too strong, it disgusts
the taste. The tops with the flowers on them, dried and powdered,
are good against agues, and have the same virtues with wormseed in
killing worms. The juice of the large leaves which grows from the
root before the stalk appears is the best against the dropsy and
jaundice, in water, ale, wine, or the juice only. The infusion
drank morning and evening for some time helps hysterics,
obstruction of the spleen and weakness of the stomach. Its oil,
taken on sugar and drank after, kills worms, resists poison, and is
good for the liver and jaundice. eyes like the leaves, hence the
root should be accounted among the best stomachics. The oil of the
seed cures quotidians and quartans. Boiled in lard and laid to
swellings of the tonsils and quinsy is serviceable. It is admirable
against surfeits.... Wormwood and vinegar are an antidote to the
mischief of mushrooms and henbane and the biting of the seafish
called Draco marinus, or quaviver; mixed with honey, it takes away
blackness after falls, bruises, etc., . . With Pellitory of the
Wall used as poultice to ease all outward pains. Placed among
woolen cloths it prevents and destroys the moths.'
Another old writer affirmed that Mugwort was good 'for quaking
of the sinews.'
Botanical: Morus nigra (LINN.)
Family: N.O. Artocapaceae
Medicinal Actin and Uses
The Common or Black Mulberry is not one of our native trees,
but with several other members of its genus - which contains a
dozen or more species - can be grown without protection in the
south of Britain. There they are small bushy-headed trees, with
large alternate, deciduous, toothed and often variously lobed
leaves. It is by no means unusual for a Mulberry tree to produce
leaves of several different shapes, or differing considerably in
outline. As a rule, abnormalshaped leaves are produced from
stem-shoots or sucker growths, and frequently by very vigorous
young branches. The Chinese White Mulberry (Morus alba,
Linn.), cultivated in other countries as food for the silkworm, is
even more variable in leafage than the Common Mulberry, and quite a
score of different forms of leaf have been gathered from a single
tree and several from one shoot. Both species contain in every part
a milky juice, which will coagulate into a sort of Indian rubber,
and this has been thought to give tenacity to the filament spun by
---Description---The Common Mulberry is a handsome tree,
20 to 30 feet high, of rugged, picturesque appearance, forming a
dense, spreading head of branches usually wider than the height of
the tree, springing from a short, rough trunk.
It bears unisexual flowers, the sexes in separate spikes, or
catkins, which are small, more or less cylindrical and in no way
beautiful. The oblong, short-stalked 'fruit,' which when ripe is
about an inch long and of an intense purple, is really a
fruit-cluster, composed of little, closely-packed drupes, each
containing one seed and enclosed by the four enlarged sepals, which
have become succulent, thus forming the spurious berry. By
detaching a single fruit from the cluster, the overlapping lobes of
the former perianth may be still discerned.
Mulberries are extremely juicy and have a refreshing, subacid,
saccharine taste, but they are devoid of the fine aroma that
distinguishes many fruits of the order Rosaceae.
---Habitat---The tree grows wild in northern Asia Minor,
Armenia and the Southern Caucasus region as far as Persia and is
now cultivated throughout Europe. It ripens its fruits in England
and also as far north as Southern Sweden and Gothland. It
flourishes more in the southern part of Great Britain than in the
northern counties, but is always of slow growth. Gerard describes
it as 'high and full of boughes' and growing in sundry gardens in
England, and he grew in his own London garden both the Black and
the White Mulberry. Lyte also, before Gerard, in 1578, describes
it. It is definitely known to have been cultivated in England since
the early part of the sixteenth century, and possibly long before,
it being considered probable that it was introduced into Britain by
the Romans, being imported from Italy for the soldiers'
The Black Mulberry was known in the whole of Southern Europe
from the earliest times, and it is presumed that it was introduced
from Persia. It is mentioned by most of the early Greek and Roman
The Romans ate Mulberries at
their feasts, as we know from the Satires of Horace, who
(Sat. ii,) recommends that Mulberries be gathered before
sunset. We also find mention of the Mulberry in Ovid, who in the
Metamorphoses refers to the legend of Pyramus and Thisbe,
who were slain beneath its shade, the fruit being fabled to have
thereby changed from white to deep red through absorbing their
blood. By Virgil, the tree is termed sanguinea morus. Pliny
speaks of its employment in medicine and also describes its use in
Egypt and Cyprus. He further relates:
'Of all the cultivated trees,
the Mulberry is the last that buds, which it never does until the
cold weather is past, and it is therefore called the wisest of
trees. But when it begins to put forth buds, it dispatches the
business in one night, and that with so much force, that their
breaking forth may be evidently heard.'
It has been suggested that the generic name of the Mulberry,
Morus, has been derived from the Latin word mora
(delay), from this tardy expansion of the buds, and as the wisest
of its fellows, the tree was dedicated by the Ancients to Minerva.
In alluding to the Black Mulberry, Pliny observes that there is no
other tree that has been so neglected by the wit of man, either in
grafting or giving it names. It abounded in Italy at that time, as
a reference in Virgil's Georgics (II, v. 121) clearly shows.
The excavations at Pompeii also bear witness to this, for, in the
peristyle of the 'House of the Bull,' a Black Mulberry is
represented. Mulberry leaves are also to be found in a mosaic from
the 'House of the Faun.' Schouw, who wrote about the plants of
Pompeii in 1854, considered that M. alba was unknown to the
Pompeians. At the time of Virgil (who died in 19 B.C.) silk was
held to be a product of the Mulberry leaves, the work of the
silkworms not being understood. Silkworm culture was first
introduced by Justinian from Constantinople - he ruled from A.D.
527-65. In Italy the Black Mulberry was employed for feeding the
silkworm until about 1434, when M. alba was introduced from
the Levant and has ever since been commonly preferred.
References in various old Chronicles show that the Mulberry was
far more esteemed in ancient times than at present. It was included
among the large number of useful plants ordered by Charlemagne
(A.D. 812) to be cultivated on the imperial farm. The cultivation
of the Mulberry in Spain is implied by a reference to the
preparation of Syrup of Mulberries in the Calendar of Cordova of
the year 961.
There are many famous Mulberry trees in England. Those of Syon
House, Brentford, are of special historical interest and include
what is reported to be the oldest tree of its kind in England, said
to be introduced from Persia in 1548. It is this particular and
venerable tree which forms the subject of an illustration in
London's Aboretum and Fruticetum. Although a wreck compared
to its former self, it is regarded as one of the largest Mulberry
trees in the country. Its height is given by Loudon as 22 feet, and
additional interest is attached to this tree, as it is said to have
been planted by the botanist Turner.
In 1608 James I, being
anxious to further the silk industry by introducing the culture of
the silkworm into Britain, issued an edict encouraging the
cultivation of Mulberry trees, but the attempt to rear silkworms in
England proved unsuccessful, apparently because the Black Mulberry
was cultivated in error, whereas the White Mulberry is the species
on which the silkworm flourishes. A letter was addressed by the
King to the:
'Lord Lieutenant of the
several Shires of England urging them to persuade and require such
as are of ability to buy and distribute in that County the number
of ten thousand Mulberry plants which shall be delivered to them at
our City of -, at the rate of 3 farthings the plant, or at
6s. the hundred containing five score plants.'
The following transaction is mentioned in the College accounts
at Cambridge: 'Item for 300 mulberry plants, xviii. s.' This was in
1608-9, the date of Milton's birth, so that the old Mulberry tree
growing in the grounds of Christ Church, Cambridge, still bearing
excellent fruit, which is reputed to have been planted by Milton,
is still older, probably the last of three hundred which cost the
College 18s. in 1609.
There is another Mulberry tree still standing near the Vicarage
at Stowmarket which, by tradition, is said to have been planted by
Milton. A fine specimen of Mulberry tree is to be seen in front of
the Head-master's house at Eton. It was measured in 1907, and found
to be 30 feet high, with girth of 8 feet 3 inches, and there is a
beautiful example in the Canons' old walled garden at
King James I not only issued
his famous edict for introducing the culture of the silkworm into
Britain, but he also planted largely himself, and directed payments
'Master William Stallinge of
the sum of L. (Pounds Sterling) 935 for the charge of 4 acres of
land taken in for His Majesty's use, near to his Palace of
Westminster, for the planting of Mulberry trees, together with the
charge of walling, levelling and planting thereof with Mulberry
This plantation is the 'Mulberry Garden' often mentioned by the
old dramatists and occupied the site of the present beautiful
private grounds of Buckingham Palace, where one remaining Mulberry
tree planted at that time is still to be seen. The tree still bears
fruit, but is in no way remarkable either for size of its trunk or
the spread of its branches.
'The Royal edict of James I,' writes Loudon, 'recommending the
cultivation of silkworms and offering packets of Mulberry seeds to
all who would sow them, no doubt rendered the tree fashionable, as
there is scarcely an old garden or gentleman's seat throughout the
country, which can be traced back to the seventeenth century, in
which a Mulberry tree is not to be found. It is remarkable,
however, that though these trees were expressly intended for the
nourishment of silkworms, they nearly all belong to M.
nigra, as very few instances exist of old trees of M.
alba in England.' Shakespeare's famous Mulberry, of which there
are descendants at Kew, is referable to this period. Shakespeare is
said to have taken it from the Mulberry garden of James I, and
planted it in his garden at New Place, Stratford-on-Avon, in 1609.
This also was a Black Mulberry, 'cultivated for its fruit, which is
very wholesome and palatable; and not for its leaves, which are but
little esteemed for Silkworms.'
'The tree,' Malone writes, 'was celebrated in many a poem, one
especially by Dibdin, but about 1752, the then owner of New Place,
the Rev. Mr. Gastrell, bought and pulled down the house and cut
down Shakespeare's celebrated Mulberry tree, to save himself the
trouble of showing it to those whose admiration of the poet led
them to visit the ground on which it stood.'
The pieces were made into many snuffboxes and other mementoes
of the tree, some of them being inscribed with the punning motto,
'Memento Mori.' Ten years afterwards, when the freedom of the city
was presented to Garrick, the document was enclosed in a casket
made from the wood of this tree. A cup was also made from it, and
at the Shakespeare Jubilee, Garrick, holding the cup, recited
verses, composed by himself, in honour of the Mulberry tree planted
by Shakespeare. A slip of it was grown by Garrick in his garden at
Hampton Court, and a scion of the original tree is now growing in
---Cultivation---Mulberry trees like a warm,
well-drained, loamy soil, and M. nigra is especially worth
growing for its luxuriant leafage and picturesque form. It can be
increased by cuttings with the greatest ease - in February, cut off
some branches of a fairly large size (the old writers say that
pieces 8 feet long or more will grow) and insert a foot deep, where
neither sun nor wind can freely penetrate. Envelop the stem above
the ground level with moss, all but the upper pair of buds, in
order to check evaporation. Branches broken down, but not detached,
will usually take root if they touch the ground. Layers made in the
autumn will root in twelve months, and cuttings of the young wood
taken off with a heel and planteddeeply in a shady border late in
the year will root slowly, but more quickly and surely if put into
gentle heat under glass. M. alba will also root from autumn
or winter cuttings.
The Mulberry can also be increased by seeds, which, if sown in
gentle heat, or in the open early in the year, will produce young
seedlings by the autumn.
In a paper by Mr. J. Williams
of Pitmaston, published in the Horticultural Transactions for 1813,
is the statement:
'The standard Mulberry
receives great injury by being planted on grass plots with a view
of preserving the fruit when it falls spontaneously. No tree,
perhaps, receives more benefit from the spade and the dunghill than
the Mulberry; it ought therefore to be frequently dug about the
roots and occasionally assisted with manure.'
Mulberry trees do not begin to bear fruit early in life, and
few fruits can be expected from a tree before it is fifteen years
of age. It is commonly said that the fruit of the oldest Mulberry
trees is the best.
There are few trees better able to withstand the debilitating
effects of the close atmosphere of small town gardens, and numerous
fine examples are met with about London, several within the City
boundaries, familiar examples of which are those in Finsbury Circus
and many smaller ones in St. Paul's Churchyard.
Mulberry trees are not easily killed, and old examples that
have been reduced to a mere shell have been rejuvenated by careful
pruning and cultivation.
The WHITE MULBERRY (M. alba), a deciduous tree, 30 to 45
feet high, native of China, to which we have referred as the tree
upon which the silkworm is fed, succeeds quite well in the south of
England but is not often grown in this country.
The RED MULBERRY (M. rubra), a native of the United
States of America, is very difficult to grow here.
The FRENCH MULBERRY (Callicarpa Americana) is a shrub 3
to 6 feet high, with bluish flowers and violet fruit, but the
species is too tender for any but the mildest parts of Great
---Constituents---of the Black Mulberry Fruit: Glucose,
protein, pectin, colouring matter tartaric and malic acids, ash,
etc. This composition varies much, as in all fleshy fruits, with
the ripeness and other conditions.
In amount of grape sugar, the Mulberry is surpassed only by the
Cherry and the Grape.
---Uses---Mulberries are refreshing and have laxative
properties and are well adapted to febrile cases. In former days,
they used to be made into various conserves and
On each gallon of ripe Mulberries, pour 1 gallon of boiling
water and let them stand for 2 days. Then squeeze all through a
hair sieve or bag. Wash out the tub or jar and return the liquor to
it, put in the sugar at the rate of 3 lb. to each gallon of the
liquor; stir up until quite dissolved, then put the liquor into a
cask. Let the cask be raised a little on one side until
fermentation ceases, then bung down. If the liquor be clear, it may
be bottled in 4 months' time. Into each bottle put 1 clove and a
small lump of sugar and the bottles should be kept in a moderate
temperature. The wine may be used in a year from time of
Mulberries are sometimes used in Devonshire for mixing with
cider during fermentation, giving a pleasant taste and deep red
colour. In Greece, also, the fruit is subjected to fermentation,
thereby furnishing an inebriating beverage.
Scott relates in Ivanhoe that the Saxons made a
favourite drink, Morat, from the juice of Mulberries with honey,
but it is doubtful whether the Morum of the Anglo-Saxon
'Vocabularies' was not the Blackberry, so that the 'Morat' of the
Saxons may have been Blackberry Wine.
Unless very ripe Mulberries are used, the jam will have an acid
taste. Put 1 lb. of Mulberries in a jar and stand it in a pan of
water on the fire till the juice is extracted. Strain them and put
the juice into a preserving pan with 3 lb. of sugar. Boil it and
remove the scum and put in 3 lb. of very ripe Mulberries and let
them stand in the syrup until thoroughly warm, then set the pan
back on the fire and boil them very gently for a short time,
stirring all the time and taking care not to break the fruit. Then
take the pan off and let them stand in the syrup all night. Put the
pan on the fire again in the morning and boil again gently till
---Medicinal Action and Uses---The sole use of
Mulberries in modern medicine is for the preparation of a syrup,
employed to flavour or colour any other medicine. Mulberry Juice is
obtained from the ripe fruit of the Mulberry by expression and is
an official drug of the British Pharmacopoeia. It is a dark violet
or purple liquid, with a faint odour and a refreshing, acid,
saccharine taste. The British Pharmacopceia directs that Syrupus
Mori should be prepared by heating 50 fluid drachms of the
expressed juice to boiling point, then cooling and filtering.
Ninety drachms of sugar is then dissolved in the juice, which is
warmed up again. When once more cooled, 6.25 drachms of alcohol is
added: the product should then measure about 100 drachms (20 fluid
ounces). The dose is 2 to 1 fluid drachm, but it is, as stated,
chiefly used as an adjuvant rather than for its slightly laxative
and expectorant qualities, though used as a gargle, it will relieve
The juice of the American Red Mulberry may be substituted; it
is less acid than the European, while that of the White Mulberry,
native of China, is sweet, but rather insipid.
In the East, the Mulberry is most productive and useful. It is
gathered when ripe, dried on the tops of the houses in the sun, and
stored for winter use. In Cabul, it is pounded to a fine powder,
and mixed with flour for bread.
The bark of M. nigra is reputed anthelmintic, and is
used to expel tape worm.
The root-bark of M. Indica (Rumph) and other species is
much used in the East under the name of San-pai-p'i, as a diuretic
The Morinda tinctoria, or Indian Mulberry, is used by
the African aborigines as a remedial agent, but there is no
reliable evidence of its therapeutic value.
A parasitic fungus growing on the old stems of Mulberry trees
found in the island of Meshima, Japan, and called there
Meshimakobu, brown outside and yellow inside, is used in
Japan for medicine.
Gerard recommends the fruit of the Mulberry tree for use in all
affections of the mouth and throat.
'The barke of the root,' he says, 'is bitter, hot and drie, and
hath a scouring faculty: the decoction hereof doth open the
stoppings of the liver and spleen, it purgeth the belly, and
driveth forth wormes.'
With Parkinson, the fruit was
evidently not in favour, for he tells us:
'Mulberries are not much
desired to be eaten, although they be somewhat pleasant both for
that they stain their fingers and lips that eat them, and do
quickly putrefie in the stomach, if they be not taken before
The Mulberry family, Moraceae, formerly regarded,
together with the Ulmacece (Elm family), as a division of
the Urticaceae (Nettle family), comprises upwards of 50
genera and about 900 species, of very diverse habit and appearance.
Among them are the highly important food-plants Ficus (Fig)
and Artocarpus (Bread fruit). M. tinctoria (Linn.),
sometimes known as Machura tinctoria (D. Don), but generally
now named Chlorophora tinctoria (Gaudich.), yields the
dye-stuff Fustic, chiefly used for colouring wood of an
orange-yellow colour. The tree is indigenous in Mexico and some of
the West Indies, the wood being imported in logs of various sizes.
This kind of fustic is known as old fustic, or Cuba fustic. Young
fustic is a different product, obtained from Rhus cotinus
(Linn.). It is known also as Venetian or Hungarian sumach, and is
used in the Tyrol for tanning leather. The extract of fustic is
imported as well as the wood. From Maclura Brasiliensis
(Endl.) another important dye-wood is obtained. A yellow dye is
also derived from the root of the Osage Orange (Toxylon
pomiferum, Raf.), belonging to this order. The milky juice of
Brosimum Galactodendron (Don) - the Cow or Milk-Tree of
Tropical America - is said to be usable as cow's milk, and
'Bread-nuts' are the edible seeds of another member of this genus,
B. Alicastrum (Swz.), of Jamaica. The famous deadly Upas
Tree of the East Indies (Antiaris toxicaria, Lesc.) is a
less useful member of this family.
The bast-fibres of many Moraceae are tough and are used
in the manufacture of cordage and paper. The Paper Mulberry
(Broussonetia papyrifera, Vint.) is cultivated extensively
in Japan. It is a native of China, introduced into Great Britain
early in the eighteenth century and is a coarse-growing, vigorous
shrub, or a tree up to 30 feet, forming a roundish, spreading head
of branches. The young wood is thickly downy, soft and pithy, the
leaves very variable in size and form, often shaped like
fig-leaves, the upper surface dull, green and rough, the lower
surface densely woolly. It is a dioecious plant, the male flowers
in cylindrical, often curly, woolly catkins, the female flowers in
ball-like heads, producing round fruits congregated of small, red,
pulpy seeds. In Japan, the stems are cut down every winter, so that
the shrub only attains a height of 6 or 7 feet, and the barks are
stripped off as an important material for paper. B. Kajinoki
(Sieb.) is a deciduous tree, wild in Japan, growing 29 to 30 feet
high, similar to the Paper Mulberry and made use of in like manner,
though inferior. The ripe fruits are beautifully red and sweet.
Paper is also manufactured in Japan with the fibre of the bark of
B. kaempferi (Sieb.), a deciduous climber. A good paper may
be manufactured from the bast of the Morus alba, var.
stylosa (Bur.), Jap. 'Kuwa,' but as this plant is used
especially for feeding silkworms, the paper made from the branches
after the leaves are taken off for silkworms is of a very inferior
Botanical: Verbascum thapsus (LINN.)
Family: N.O. Scrophulariaceae
Medicinal Action and Uses
Preparation and Dosage
---Synonyms---White Mullein. Torches. Mullein Dock. Our
Lady's Flannel. Velvet Dock. Blanket Herb. Velvet Plant. Woollen.
Rag Paper. Candlewick Plant. Wild Ice Leaf. Clown's Lungwort.
Bullock's Lungwort. Aaron's Rod. Jupiter's Staff. Jacob's Staff.
Peter's Staff. Shepherd's Staff. Shepherd's Clubs. Beggar's Stalk.
Golden Rod. Adam's Flannel. Beggar's Blanket. Clot. Cuddy's Lungs.
Duffle. Feltwort. Fluffweed. Hare's Beard. Old Man's Flannel. Hag's
---Parts Used---Leaves, flowers, root.
---Habitat---Verbascum thapsus (Linn.), the Great
Mullein, is a widely distributed plant, being found all over Europe
and in temperate Asia as far as the Himalayas, and in North America
is exceedingly abundant as a naturalized weed in the eastern
States. It is met with throughout Britain (except in the extreme
north of Scotland) and also in Ireland and the Channel Islands, on
hedge-banks, by roadsides and on waste ground, more especially on
gravel, sand or chalk. It flowers during July and August. The
natural order Scrophulariaceae is an important family of plants
comprising 200 genera and about 2,500 species, occurring mostly in
temperate and sub-tropical regions, many of them producing flowers
of great beauty, on which account they are frequently cultivated
among favourite garden and greenhouse flowers. Of this group are
the Calceolaria, Mimulus, Penstemon, Antirrhinum and Collinsia.
Among its British representatives it embraces members so diverse as
the Foxglove and Speedwell, the Mullein and Figworts, the Toadflax
and the semi-parasites, Eyebright, Bartsia, Cowwheat, and the Red
and Yellow Rattles.
Most of the flowers are capable of selffertilization in default
of insect visits.
Unlike the Labiatae, to which they are rather closely related,
plants belonging to this order seldom contain much volatile oil,
though resinous substances are common. The most important
constituents are glucosides, and many of them are poisonous or
A number of the Scrophulariaceae are or have been valued for
their curative properties and are widely employed both in domestic
and in regular medicine.
The genus Verbascum, to which the Mullein belongs,
contains 210 species, distributed in Europe, West and Central Asia
and North Africa, six of which are natives of Great Britain. The
Mulleins, like the Veronicas, are exceptions to the general
character of the Scrophulariaceae, having nearly regular, open
corollas, the segments being connected only towards the base,
instead of having the more fantastic flowers of the Snapdragon and
others. They are all tall, stout biennials, with large leaves and
flowers in long, terminal spikes.
---Description---In the first season of the plant's
growth, there appears only a rosette of large leaves, 6 to 15
inches long, in form somewhat like those of the Foxglove, but
thicker - whitish with a soft, dense mass of hairs on both sides,
which make them very thick to the touch. In the following spring, a
solitary, stout, pale stem, with tough, strong fibres enclosing a
thin rod of white pith, arises from the midst of the felted leaves.
Its rigid uprightness accounts for some of the plant's local names:
'Aaron's Rod,' 'Jupiter's' or 'Jacob's Staff,' etc.
The leaves near the base of the stem are large and numerous, 6
to 8 inches long and 2 to 2 1/2 inches broad, but become smaller as
they ascend the stem, on which they are arranged not opposite to
one another, but on alternate sides. They are broad and simple in
form, the outline rather waved, stalkless, their bases being
continued some distance down the stem, as in the Comfrey and a few
other plants, the midrib from a quarter to half-way up the blade
being actually joined to the stem. By these 'decurrent' leaves (as
this hugging of the stem by the leaves is botanically termed) the
Great Mullein is easily distinguished from other British species of
Mullein - some with white and some with yellow flowers. The leaf
system is so arranged that the smaller leaves above drop the rain
upon the larger ones below, which direct the water to the roots.
This is a necessary arrangement, since the Mullein grows mostly on
dry soils. The stellately-branched hairs which cover the leaves so
thickly act as a protective coat, checking too great a giving off
of the plant's moisture, and also are a defensive weapon of the
plant, for not only do they prevent the attacks of creeping
insects, but they set up an intense irritation in the mucous
membrane of any grazing animals that may attempt to browse upon
them, so that the plants are usually left severely alone by them.
The leaves are, however, subject to the attacks of a mould,
Peronospora sordida. The hairs are not confined to the
leaves alone, but are also on every part of the stem, on the
calyces and on the outside of the corollas, so that the whole plant
appears whitish or grey. The homely but valuable Mullein Tea, a
remedy of the greatest antiquity for coughs and colds, must indeed
always be strained through fine muslin to remove any hairs that may
be floating in the hot water that has been poured over the flowers,
or leaves, for otherwise they cause intolerable itching in the
Towards the top of the stalk, which grows frequently 4 or even
5 feet high, and in gardens has been known to attain a height of 7
or 8 feet, the much-diminished woolly leaves merge into the thick,
densely crowded flower-spike, usually a foot long, the flowers
opening here and there on the spike, not in regular progression
from the base, as in the Foxglove. The flowers are stalkless, the
sulphur-yellow corolla, a somewhat irregular cup, nearly an inch
across, formed of five rounded petals, united at the base to form a
very short tube, being enclosed in a woolly calyx, deeply cut into
five lobes. The five stamens stand on the corolla; three of them
are shorter than the other two and have a large number of tiny
white hairs on their filaments. These hairs are full of sap, and it
has been suggested that they form additional bait to the insect
visitors, supplementing the allurement of the nectar that lies
round the base of the ovary. All kinds of insects are attracted by
this plant, the Honey Bee, Humble Bee, some of the smaller wild
bees and different species of flies, since the nectar and the
staminal hairs are both so readily accessible, though the supply of
nectar is not very great. The three short hairy stamens have only
short, one-celled anthers - the two longer, smooth ones have larger
anthers. The pollen sacs have an orangered inner surface, disclosed
as the anthers open.
In some species, Verbascum nigrum, the Dark Mullein, and
V. blattaria, the Moth Mullein, the filament hairs are
purple. The rounded ovary is hairy and also the lower part of the
style. The stigma is mature before the anthers and the style
projects at the moment the flower opens, so that any insect
approaching it from another blossom where it has got brushed by
pollen, must needs strike it on alighting and thus insure
crossfertilization, though, failing this, the flower is also able
to fertilize itself. The ripened seed capsule is very hard and
contains many seeds, which eventually escape through two valves and
are scattered round the parent plant.
---History---The down on the leaves and stem makes
excellent tinder when quite dry, readily igniting on the slightest
spark, and was, before the introduction of cotton, used for lamp
wicks, hence another of the old names: 'Candlewick Plant.' An old
superstition existed that witches in their incantations used lamps
and candles provided with wicks of this sort, and another of the
plant's many names, 'Hag's Taper', refers to this, though the word
'hag' is said to be derived from the Anglo-Saxon word Haege
or Hage (a hedge) - the name 'Hedge Taper' also exists - and
may imply that the sturdy spikes of this tall hedge plant, studded
with pale yellow blossoms, suggested a tall candle growing in the
hedge, another of its countryside names being, indeed, 'Our Lady's
Candle.' Lyte (The Niewe Herball, 1578) tells us 'that the
whole toppe, with its pleasant yellow floures sheweth like to a wax
candle or taper cunningly wrought.'
'Torches' is another name for
the plant, and Parkinson tells us:
'Verbascum is called of the
Latines Candela regia, and Candelaria, because the elder age used
the stalks dipped in suet to burne, whether at funeralls or
And Gerard (1597) also
remarks that it is 'a plant whereof is made a manner of lynke
(link) if it be talowed.' Dr. Prior, in The Popular Names of
British Plants, states that the word Mullein was Moleyn in
AngloSaxon, and Malen in Old French, derived from the Latin
malandrium, i.e. the malanders or leprosy, and
'The term "malandre" became
also applied to diseases of cattle, to lung diseases among the
rest, and the plant being used as a remedy, acquired its name of
"Mullein" and "Bullock's Lungwort." '
Coles, in 1657, in Adam in
Eden, says that:
'Husbandmen of Kent do give
it their cattle against the cough of the lungs, and I, therefore,
mention it because cattle are also in some sort to be provided for
in their diseases.'
The name 'Clown's Lung Wort refers to its use as a homely
remedy. 'Ag-Leaf' and 'Ag-Paper' are other names for it. 'Wild Ice
Leaf' perhaps refers to the white look of the leaves. Few English
plants have so many local names.
The Latin name Verbascum is considered to be a
corruption of barbascum, from the Latin barba (a
beard), in allusion to the shaggy foliage, and was bestowed on the
genus by Linnaeus.
Both in Europe and Asia the power of driving away evil spirits
was ascribed to the Mullein. In India it has the reputation among
the natives that the St. John's Wort once had here, being
considered a sure safeguard against evil spirits and magic, and
from the ancient classics we learn that it was this plant which
Ulysses took to protect himself against the wiles of
The Cowslip and the Primrose are classed together by our old
herbalists as Petty Mulleins, and are usually credited with much
the same properties. Gerard recommends both the flowers and leaves
of the primrose, boiled in wine, as a remedy for all diseases of
the lungs and the juice of the root itself, snuffed up the nose,
All the various species of Mullein found in Britain possess
similar medicinal properties, but V. thapsus, the species of
most common occurrence, is the one most employed.
For medicinal purposes it is generally collected from
wild specimens, but is worthy of cultivation, not merely
from its beauty as an ornamental plant, but also for its medicinal
value, which is undoubted. In most parts of Ireland, besides
growing wild, it is carefully cultivated in gardens, because of a
steady demand for the plant by sufferers from pulmonary
Its cultivation is easy: being a hardy biennial, it only
requires sowing in very ordinary soil and to be kept free from
weeds. When growing in gardens, Mulleins will often be found to be
infested with slugs, which can be caught wholesale by placing in
borders slates and boards smeared with margarine on the underside.
Examine in the morning and deposit the catch in a pail of lime and
---Parts Used---The leaves and flowers are the parts
Fresh Mullein leaves are also used for the purpose of
making a homoeopathic tincture.
---Constituents---The leaves are nearly odourless and of
a mucilaginous and bitterish taste. They contain gum as their
principal constituent, together with 1 to 2 per cent of resin,
divisible into two parts, one soluble in ether, the other not; a
readily soluble amaroid; a little tannin and a trace of volatile
The flowers contain gum, resin, a yellow colouring principle, a
green fatty matter (a sort of chlorophyll), a glucoside, an acrid,
fatty matter; free acid and phosphoric acid; uncrystallizable
sugar; some mineral salts, the bases of which are potassia and
lime, and a small amount of yellowish volatile oil. They should
yield not more than 6 per cent of ash. Their odour is peculiar and
agreeable: their taste mucilaginous.
---Medicinal Action and Uses---The Mullein has very
markedly demulcent, emollient and astringent properties, which
render it useful in pectoral complaints and bleeding of the lungs
and bowels. The whole plant seems to possess slightly sedative and
It is considered of much value in phthisis and other wasting
diseases, palliating the cough and staying expectoration,
consumptives appearing to benefit greatly by its use, being given
in the form of an infusion, 1 OZ. of dried, or the corresponding
quantity of fresh leaves being boiled for 10 minutes in a pint of
milk, and when strained, given warm, thrice daily, with or without
sugar. The taste of the decoction is bland, mucilaginous and
cordial, and forms a pleasant emollient and nutritious medicine for
allaying a cough, or removing the pain and irritation of
haemorrhoids. A plain infusion of 1 OZ. to a pint of boiling water
can also be employed, taken in wineglassful doses
The dried leaves are sometimes smoked in an ordinary tobacco
pipe to relieve the irritation of the respiratory mucus membranes,
and will completely control, it is said, the hacking cough of
consumption. They can be employed with equal benefit when made into
cigarettes, for asthma and spasmodic coughs in
Fomentations and poultices of the leaves have been found
serviceable in haemorrhoidal complaints.
Mullein is said to be of much value in diarrhoea, from its
combination of demulcent with astringent properties, by this
combination strengthening the bowels at the same time. In diarrhcea
the ordinary infusion is generally given, but when any bleeding of
the bowels is present, the decoction prepared with milk is
On the Continent, a sweetened infusion of the flowers
strained in order to separate the rough hairs, is considerably used
as a domestic remedy in mild catarrhs, colic, etc.
A conserve of the flowers has also been employed on the
Continent against ringworm, and a distilled water of the flowers
was long reputed a cure for burns and erysipelas.
An oil produced by macerating Mullein flowers in olive oil in a
corked bottle, during prolonged exposure to the sun, or by keeping
near the fire for several days, is used as a local application in
country districts in Germany for piles and other mucus membrane
inflammation, and also for frost bites and bruises. Mullein oil is
recommended for earache and discharge from the ear, and for any
eczema of the external ear and its canal. Dr. Fernie (Herbal
Simples) states that some of the most brilliant results have
been obtained in suppurative inflammation of the inner ear by a
single application of Mullein oil, and that in acute or chronic
cases, two or three drops of this oil should be made to fall in the
ear twice or thrice in the day.
Mullein oil is a valuable destroyer of disease germs. The fresh
flowers, steeped for 21 days in olive oil, are said to make an
admirable bactericide. Gerarde tells us that 'Figs do not putrifie
at all that are wrapped in the leaves of Mullein.'
An alcoholic tincture is prepared by homoeopathic chemists,
from the fresh herb with spirits of wine, which has proved
beneficial for migraine or sick headache of long standing, with
oppression of the ear. From 8 to 10 drops of the tincture are given
as a dose, with cold water, repeated frequently.
---Preparation and Dosage---Fluid extract, 1/2 to 1
Formerly the flowers of several species of Mullein were
officinal, but Mullein no longer has a place in the British
Pharmacopoeia, though Verbascum Flowers were introduced into the
4th Edition of the United States National Formulary, as one of the
ingredients in pectoral remedies, and the leaves, in fluid extract
of Mullein leaves, made with diluted alcohol were directed to be
used as a demulcent, the dose being 1 fluid drachm.
In more ancient times, much
higher virtues were attributed to this plant. Culpepper gives us a
list of most extraordinary cures performed by its agency, and
Gerard remarks that:
'there be some who think that
this herbe being but carryed about one, doth help the falling
sickness, especially the leaves of the plant which have not yet
borne flowers, and gathered when the sun is in Virgo and the moon
in Aries, which thing notwithstanding is vaine and
A decoction of its roots was held to be an alleviation for
toothache, and also good for cramps and convulsions, and an early
morning draught of the distilled water of the flowers to be good
Mullein juice and powder made from the dried roots rubbed on
rough warts was said to quickly remove them, though it was not
recommended as equally efficacious for smooth warts. A poultice
made of the seeds and leaves, boiled in hot wine, was also
considered an excellent means to 'draw forth speedily thorns or
splinters gotten into the flesh.' We also hear of the woolly leaves
being worn in the stockings to promote circulation and keep the
The flowers impart a yellow colour to boiling water and a
rather permanent green colour with dilute sulphuric acid, the
latter colour becoming brown upon the addition of alkalis. An
infusion of the flowers was used by the Roman ladies to dye their
hair a golden colour. Lyte tells us, 'the golden floures of Mulleyn
stiped in lye, causeth the heare to war yellow, being washed
therewithall,' and according to another old authority, Alexander
Trallianus, the ashes of the plant made into a soap will restore
hair which has become grey to its original colour.
The seeds are said to intoxicate fish when thrown into the
water, and are used by poachers for that purpose, being slightly
narcotic. According to Rosenthal (Pharmaceutical Journal
July, 1902), the seeds of V. sinuatum (Linn.), which are
used in Greece as a fish poison, contain 6 to 13 per cent of
Saponin. Traces of the same substance were found in the seeds of
V. phlomoides (Linn.) and V. thapsiforme (Schrad.),
common in the south of Europe, which have been used for the same
purpose. V. pulverulentum of Madeira (also used as a fish
poisoner) and V. phlomoides are employed as taenicides
(expellers of tapeworm).
Botanical: Hibiscus Abelmoschus (LINN.)
Family: N.O. Malvaceae
Medicinal Action and Uses
---Synonyms---Abelmoschus Moschatus. Semen Abelmoschi.
Grana Moschata. Ambretta. Egyptian Alcée. Bisornkorner.
Ambrakorner. Target-leaved Hibiscus. Ab-elmosch. Bamia Moschata.
Ketmie odorante. Galu gasturi. Capu kanassa.
---Habitat---Egypt, East and West Indies.
---Description---This evergreen shrub is about 4 feet in
height, having alternate, palmate leaves and large, sulphur yellow,
solitary flowers with a purple base. The capsules are in the form
of a five-cornered pyramid, filled with large seeds with a strong
odour of musk. The capsules are used in soup and for pickles, and
the greyish-brown, kidney-shaped seeds, the size of a lentil, with
a strong aromatic flavour, are used by the Arabians to mix with
coffee. They are used in perfumery for fats and oils, and for the
adulteration of musk.
---Constituents---The seeds contain an abundance of
fixed oil, and owe their scent to a coloured resin and a volatile,
odorous body. They also contain albuminous matter.
---Medicinal Action and Uses---An emulsion made from the
seeds is regarded as antispasmodic. In Egypt the seeds are chewed
as a stomachic, nervine, and to sweeten the breath, and are also
used as an aphrodisiac and insecticide. The seeds made into an
emulsion with milk are used for itch.
A variety is found in Martinique, of a lighter grey in colour
and a more delicate odour.
Hibiscus esculentus or A. esculentus, okra,
bendee, or gombo, is cultivated for its fruit, the abundant
mucilage of which, called gombine, is used for thickening soup. The
long roots have much odourless mucilage and when powdered are
white, and are said to be better than marsh-mallow.
The bark is used for paper and cordage.
It is largely grown in Constantinople as a
The leaves furnish an emollient poultice.
Family: N.O. Cruciferae
Mustard, Common Hedge
Mustard, Treacle Hedge
The Mustards, Black and White, are both wild herbs growing in
waste places in this country, but are cultivated for their seeds,
which are valuable medicinally and commercially. They were
originally treated as members of a small genus of frequently
cultivated European and Asiatic herbs named Sinapis, from the Greek
sinapi (mustard), a name used by Theophrastus, but they are
now generally included in the Cabbage genus,
Botanical: Brassica alba (BOISS.)
Part Used Medicinally
Medicinal Action and Uses
---Synonym---Sinapis alba (LINN.).
The White Mustard, a native of Europe, common in our fields and
by roadsides, and also largely cultivated, is an erect annual,
about a foot or more in height, with pinnatifid leaves and large,
yellow, cruciferousflowers. It closely resembles the Black Mustard,
but is smaller. The fruit of the two plants differs considerably in
shape, those of the White Mustard being more or less horizontal and
hairy, while Black Mustard pods are erect and smooth. The pods of
White Mustard are spreading, roundish pods, ribbed and swollen
where the seeds are situated, and provided with a very large
flattened, swordshaped beak at the end. Each pod contains four to
six globular seeds, about 1/12 inch in diameter, yellow both on the
surface and internally. The seed-coat, though appearing smooth, on
examination with a lens, is seen to be covered with minute pits and
to be finely reticulated. The inner seedcoats contain a quantity of
mucilage, with which the seeds become coated when soaked in water,
hence they are often employed to absorb the last traces of moisture
in bottles which are not chemically dry. The cotyledons of the
seeds contain oil and give a pungent but inodorous emulsion when
rubbed with water.
The young seedling plants of White Mustard are commonly raised
in gardens for salad, the seeds being usually sown with those of
the garden cress and germinating with great rapidity. They may be
grown all the year round, the seed readily vegetating under a
hand-glass even in cold weather, if the ground is not absolutely
'When in the leaf,' wrote John Evelyn in 1699, in his
Acetaria, 'Mustard, especially in young seedling plants, is
of incomparable effect to quicken and revive the spirits,
strengthening the memory, expelling heaviness, . . . besides being
an approved antiscorbutic.'
In Gerard's time, a century earlier, White Mustard was not very
common in England.
Both Mustards afford excellent fodder for sheep, and as they
can be sown late in the summer are often used for this purpose
after the failure of a turnip or rape crop, the White Mustard being
more frequently employed, as it is less pungent, though equally
nutritious. White Mustard makes a good catch crop, being ready for
consumption on the land by sheep eight or nine weeks after being
sown. It may be sown in southern counties after an early corn crop,
about a peck of seed being sown broadcast to the acre. The plants
are hoed sometimes to a distance of about 9 inches apart, if
required for seed.
As green manure, both kinds of Mustard are employed, but
the White Mustard is preferred for this purpose by English farmers,
the seed being sown in August and September, and when the plants
have attained a good size, about two months after sowing, they are
ploughed in. Besides affording useful manure in itself, this green
manure helps to prevent the waste of nitrates, which instead of
being washed away in drainage water, which would probably happen if
the soil were bare, are stored up in the growing
The seeds of the Mustards retain their vitality for a great
length of time when buried in the ground, so that after the plants
have once been grown anywhere, it is difficult to get rid of them.
It has been noticed in the Isle of Ely that whenever a trench was
made, White Mustard sprang up from the newlyturned
---Part Used Medicinally---The dried, ripe seeds are
alone official. They possess rubefacient properties, and are mixed
with Black Mustard seeds to produce mustard flour for preparing
mustard poultices. The powder is not infrequently adulterated with
farinaceous substances, coloured by turmeric.
---Constituents---The epidermal cells of the seed coat
of White Mustard seeds contain mucilage, and the cotyledons contain
from 23 to 26 per cent of a fixed oil, which consists of the
glycerides of oleic, stearic and erucic or brassic acids. The seeds
also contain the crystalline glucoside Sinalbin and the enzyme
Myrosin, which unite to form a volatile oil, called Sinalbin
Mustard Oil, used for various purposes, though not so pungent as
that of Black Mustard. This oil cannot be obtained by distillation,
but is extracted by boiling alcohol after the seed has been
deprived of its fixed oil. When cold, the volatile oil possesses
only a faint, anise-like odour, but a pungent odour is given off on
heating. The cake, after the oil is expressed, is pungent and
therefore not well fitted for cattle food, but is used for
---Medicinal Action and Uses---The seeds when ground
form a pungent powder, but it is much inferior in strength to that
prepared from the black-seeded species.
They have been employed medicinally from very early times.
Hippocrates advised their use both internally and as a counter
irritating poultice, made with vinegar. They have been administered
frequently in disorders of the digestive organs. White Mustard
seeds were at one time quite a fashionable remedy as a laxative,
especially for old people, the dose being 1/2 OZ. in the entire
state, but from the danger of their retention in the intestines,
they are not very safe in large quantities, having in several cases
caused inflammation of the stomach and intestinal
An infusion of the seeds will relieve chronic bronchitis and
confirmed rheumatism, and for a relaxed sore throat a gargle of
Mustard Seed Tea will be found of service.
Botanical: Brassica nigra (LINN.), Sinapis nigra
Medicinal Action and Uses
---Synonym---Brassica sinapioides (Roth.).
---Habitat---The Black Mustard grows throughout Europe,
except in the north-eastern parts, also in South Siberia, Asia
Minor and Northern Africa, and is naturalized in North and South
America. It is largely cultivated in England, Holland, Italy,
Germany and elsewhere for the sake of the seed, used partly as a
condiment, and partly for its oil.
---Description---It is an erect annual, 3 feet or more
in height, with smaller flowers than the White Mustard. The
spear-shaped, upper leaves, linear, pointed, entire and smooth, and
the shortly-beaked pods, readily distinguish it from the former
species. The smooth, erect flattened pods, each provided with a
short slender beak, contain about ten to twelve dark reddish-brown
or black seeds, which are collected when ripe and dried. They are
about half the size of White Mustard seeds, but possess similar
properties. The seedcoat is thin and brittle and covered with
minute pits. Like the White Mustard, the seeds are inodorous, even
when powdered, though a pungent odour is noticeable when moistened
with water, owing to the formation of volatile oil of Mustard,
which is colourless or pale yellow, with an intensely penetrating
odour and a very acrid taste.
---History---The ancient Greek physicians held this
plant in such esteem for the medicinal use of its seeds that they
attributed its discovery to Æsculapius.
When it was first employed as
a condiment is unknown, but it was most likely used in England by
the Saxons. Probably the Romans, who were great eaters of mustard,
pounded and steeped in new wine, brought the condiment with them to
Britain. Mustard gets its name from mustum (the must), or
newly-fermented grape juice, and ardens (burning). It was
originally eaten whole, or slightly crushed. Gerard in 1623 says
'the seede of Mustard pounded
with vinegar is an excellent sauce, good to be eaten with any
grosse meates, either fish or flesh, because it doth help
digestion, warmeth the stomache and provoketh
Tusser mentions its garden
cultivation and domestic use in the sixteenth century, and
Shakespeare alludes more than once to it: Tewkesbury mustard is
referred to in Henry IV. The herbalist Coles, writing in
'In Glostershire about
Teuxbury they grind Mustard seed and make it up into balls which
are brought to London and other remote places as being the best
that the world affords.
All mustard was formerly made up into balls with honey or
vinegar and a little cinnamon, to keep till wanted, when they were
mixed with more vinegar. It was sold in balls till Mrs. Clements,
of Durham, at the close of the eighteenth century, invented the
method of preparing mustard flour, which long went under the name
of Durham Mustard. John Evelyn recommends for mustard-making 'best
Tewkesbury' or the 'soundest and weightiest Yorkshire seeds,' and
tells us that the Italians in making mustard as a condiment mix
orange and lemon peel with the black seed. At Dijon, where the best
Continental mustard is made, the condiment is seasoned with various
spices and savouries, such as Anchovies, Capers, Tarragon and
Catsup of Walnuts or Mushrooms.
The Black Mustard is said to have been employed by the Romans
as a green vegetable. The young leaves may be eaten as salad in
place of those of the White variety, but are more
The Mustard Tree of Scripture is supposed by some authorities
to be a species of Sinapis, closely resembling the Black Mustard,
but as the latter never attains the dimensions of a tree, it has
been conjectured that the plant in question is the Khardal
of the Arabs, a tree abounding near the Sea of Galilee, which bears
numerous branches and has small seeds, having the flavour and
properties of Mustard.
---Cultivation---Mustard is sown in spring, either
broadcast or in drills, a foot or more apart, and ripens towards
the end of summer, when, after it has stood in sheaves to dry, the
seed is threshed out and dried on trays by gentle artificial heat.
The crop is very liable to injury from wet. It is grown for market
on rich, alluvial soil, chiefly in Lincolnshire and Yorkshire. In
Durham, the cultivation of Mustard of an excellent quality has been
pursued on a considerable scale for the last two hundred years.
Before grinding, the husk is usually removed, the seeds are then
passed between rollers and afterwards reduced to powder in a
mortar. This is the system invented by Mrs. Clements, of Durham.
The so-called London Mustard is almost always adulterated and many
samples consist of little but flour, coloured with turmeric and
flavoured with pepper.
The only seeds resembling those of Black Mustard are Colchicum
seeds, which are larger, rougher, harder, bitter and not
---Constituents---The virtues of Black Mustard depend on
an acrid, volatile oil contained in the seeds, combined with an
active principle containing much sulphur. The acridity of the oil
is modified in the seeds by being combined with another fixed oil
of a bland nature, which can be separated.
The epidermal cells of the seed-coat contain much less mucilage
than those of White Mustard seeds, but the cotyledons of Black
Mustard seeds contain from 31 to 33 per cent of a fixed oil, which
consists of the glycerides of Oleic, Stearic and Erucic or Brassic
and Behenic acids. The seeds also contain the crystalline glucoside
Sinigrin and the enzyme Myrosin. These substances are stored in
separate cells. When brought together in water, the volatile Oil of
Mustard is formed. It is distilled from the seeds that have been
deprived of most of the fixed oil and macerated in water for
several hours, and contains from go to 99 per cent of the active
principle, Allyl isothiocyanate, which is used as a counter
irritant. It is on account of the abundant sulphur contained by
this active principle that mustard discolours silver spoons left in
it, black sulphuret of silver being formed.
Neither White nor Black Mustard seeds contain starch when
It was formerly supposed that Black Mustard was deficient in
the enzyme Myrosin, and White Mustard was added to correct this and
to secure the maximum pungency. It has been proved, however, that
Black Mustard contains sufficient of the enzyme, and that no
increase in the yield of the volatile oil is effected by adding
White Mustard. The main object in using both Black and White
Mustard for preparing mustard flour, is probably the production of
a commercial article with a better flavour than could be obtained
---Medicinal Action and Uses---Irritant, stimulant,
diuretic, emetic. Mustard is used in the form of poultices for
external application near the seat of inward inflammation, chiefly
in pneumonia, bronchitis and other diseases of the respiratory
organs. It relieves congestion of various organs by drawing the
blood to the surface, as in head affections, and is of service in
the alleviation of neuralgia and other pains and
Mustard Leaves, used instead of poultices, consist of the
mustard seeds, deprived of fixed oil, but retaining the
pungency-producing substances and made to adhere to
Oil of Mustard is a powerful irritant and rubefacient, and when
applied to the skin in its pure state, produces almost instant
vesication, but when dissolved in rectified spirit, or spirit of
camphor, or employed in the form of the Compound Liniment of
Mustard of the British Pharmacopoeia, is a very useful application
for chilblains, chronic rheumatism, colic, etc.
Hot water poured on bruised Black Mustard seeds makes a
stimulating footbath and helps to throw off a cold or dispel a
headache. It also acts as an excellent fomentation.
Internally, Mustard is useful as a regular and mild aperient,
being at the same time an alterative. If a tablespoonful of Mustard
flour be added to a glass of tepid water, it operates
briskly as a stimulating and sure emetic. In cases of hiccough, a
teaspoonful of Mustard flour in a teacupful of boiling water
is effective. The dose may be repeated in ten minutes if
The bland oil expressed from the hulls of the seeds, after the
flour has been sifted away, promotes the growth of the hair and may
be used with benefit externally for rheumatism.
Whitehead's Essence of Mustard is made with spirits of
turpentine and rosemary, with which camphor and the farina of Black
Mustard seed are mixed. This oil is very little affected by frost
or the atmosphere, and is therefore specially prized by
clock-makers and makers of instruments of precision.
Parkinson says that Mustard 'is of good use, being fresh, for
Epilepticke persons . . . if it be applyed hot inwardly and
Culpepper considered Mustard
good for snake poison if taken in time, and tells us that mustard
seed powder, mixed with honey in balls, taken every morning
fasting, will clear the voice, and that:
'the drowsy forgetful evil,
to use it both inwardly and outwardly, to rub the nostrils,
forehead and temples, to warm and quicken the spirits . . . the
decoction of the seeds ... resists the malignity of mushrooms....
Being chewed in the mouth it oftentimes helps the tooth-ache. It is
also used to help the falling off the hair. The seed
bruised, mixed with honey, and applied, or made up with wax, takes
away the marks and black and blue spots of bruises or the like . .
. it helps also the crick in the neck....'
Mustard flour is considered a capital antiseptic and
sterilizing agent, as well as an excellent deodorizer.
Botanical: Sinapis arvensis
Charlock is a troublesome weed on arable land throughout
England, growing so abundantly that it can at a distance be
mistaken for a legitimate crop. It grows from 1 to 2 feet high, the
stems upright, branched, grooved and often clothed with short rough
hairs. The leaves are rough, unequally cut and serrated, and the
flowers, which are yellow and large, are followed by nearly erect,
angular, knotty pods, longer than their flattened conical
It is an annual, flowering in May and June, and may easily be
eradicated if pulled up before seeding. The seeds form a good
substitute for Mustard, but are not equal to them in quality. They
yield a good burning oil, which was much commended by Dodoens, as a
preferable substitute for the 'Traine Oyle.
Charlock varies in appearance in different plants and under
varying conditions of growth, that growing in corn is taller and
less branched than when growing by the roadside. It is capable of
being used when boiled as a green vegetable, and is so employed in
Sweden and Ireland. It is much liked by cattle and especially by
sheep, and might be a useful fodder plant, though is usually
regarded merely as a noxious intruder.
Spraying with 4 per cent solution of copper sulphate or 15 per
cent solution of iron sulphate is employed for the destruction of
Charlock in cornfields. It requires 40 gallons of solution for each
acre. The weed should not exceed 3 inches in height at the time of
spraying, or the remedy may be ineffectual.
Botanical: Brassica napus
---Habitat---It is not indigenous to this country,
though almost naturalized in parts.
Rape is cultivated for the sake of the oil pressed from its
seeds, the refuse being used to make oil-cake, or rape-cake, for
It is frequently grown instead of White Mustard as a crop,
being rather milder in flavour. When grown for feeding cattle, it
should be sown about the middle of June, 6 or 8 lb. of seed to the
acre. The plants are thinned by hoeing when young, and by the
middle of November are ready for the cattle to feed
The seeds are also sown in gardens for winter and spring
salads, as it is one of the small salad herbs, though little
It is also cultivated in cottage gardens for spring greens -
the tops being cut first, and afterwards the side
MUSTARD, COMMON HEDGE
Botanical: Sisymbrium officinale
---Synonyms---Singer's Plant. St. Barbara's Hedge
Mustard. Erysimum officinale.
---Part Used---Whole plant.
The Common Hedge Mustard grows by our roadsides and on waste
ground, where it is a common weed, with a peculiar aptitude for
collecting and retaining dust. The blackish-green stalks, slender
but tough, are branched and rough, the leaves hairy, deeplylobed,
with their points turned backwards, the terminal lobe larger. The
yellow flowers are small and insignificant, placed at the top of
the branches in long spikes, flowering by degrees throughout July.
The pods are downy, close pressed to the stem and contain yellow,
This plant is named by the French the 'Singer's Plant,' it
having been considered up to the time of Louis XIV an infallible
remedy for loss of voice. Racine, in writing to Boileau, recommends
him to try the syrup of Erysimum in order to be cured of
voicelessness. A strong infusion of the whole plant used to be
taken in former days for all diseases of the throat.
Botanical: Sisymbrium sophia (LINN.)
Another plant of the same genus, Sisymbrium Sophia, a
more slender plant, bears the name of Flixweed, or Fluxweed, from
having been given in cases of dysentery. It was called by the old
herbalists Sophia Chirugorum, 'The Wisdom of Surgeons,' on
account of its vulnerary properties.
The juice, mixed with an equal quantity of honey or vinegar,
has been recommended for chronic coughs and hoarseness, and
ulcerated sore throats. A strong infusion of the herb has proved
excellent in asthma, and the seeds formed a special remedy for
Chemically, the Hedge Mustard contains a soft resin and a
sulphuretted volatile oil. Combined with Vervain it is supposed to
have been Count Mattaei's famous remedy,
Botanical: Sisymbrium alliaria
---Parts Used---Seeds, herbs.
Garlic Mustard is an early flowering hedge plant, with delicate
green leaves and snowwhite flowers. The leaves are broadly
heartshaped, stalked, with numerous broad teeth. The whole plant
emits when bruised a penetrating scent of Garlic, from which it
derives its Latin and English names.
---Medicinal Action and Uses---The leaves used to be
taken internally as a sudorific and deobstruent, and externally
were applied antiseptically in gangrenes and ulcers. The juice of
the leaves taken alone or boiled into a syrup with honey is found
serviceable in dropsy.
Country people at one time used the plant in sauces, with bread
and butter, salted meat and with lettuce in salads, hence it
acquired also the name of Sauce Alone. The herb, when eaten as a
salad, warms the stomach and strengthens the digestive
When cows eat it, it gives a disagreeable flavour to the
The seeds, when snuffed up the nose, excite
MUSTARD TREACLE HEDGE
Botanical: Erysimum Cheirantholdes
---Synonyms---Wormseed. Treacle Wormseed.
The Treacle Hedge Mustard has round stalks about a foot high,
quite entire, or only slightly toothed, lanceolate leaves and small
yellow flowers with whitish sepals, produced at the tops of the
branches. The blackishbrown seeds are produced on each side of a
pouch parted in the middle, about eighteen to each cell. The seeds
are intensely bitter, and have been used by country people as a
vermifuge, hence the second name of Wormseed or Treacle Wormseed.
The seeds have also been given in obstructions of the intestines,
and in rheumatism and jaundice with success. When taken in small
doses they are purgative, but care must be taken not to administer
in too large doses.
This plant flowers from May to August, and is a native of most
parts of Europe, though it is not very common in
The Hedge Mustards and Garlic Mustard were all formerly
allocated to the same genus to which this plant belongs,
Another species, Erysimum Orientale (Hare's Ear Treacle
Mustard), with smooth, entire leaves and cream-coloured flowers,
grows on some parts of the coast of Essex, Suffolk and
Botanical: Thlaspi arvense
Mithridate Mustard, Thlaspi arvense, grows higher than
Treacle Mustard; the leaves are small and narrower, smooth,
toothed, arrow-shaped at the base. The flowers are small and white,
growing on long branches, the seed-vessels form a round pouch,
flat, with very broad wings, earning for the plant its other name
It was formerly an ingredient in the Mithridate confection, an
elaborate preparation used as an antidote to poison, but no longer
used in medicine.
Botanical: Commiphora myrrha (HOLMES)
Family: N.O. Burseraceae
Medicinal Action and Uses
---Synonyms---Balsamodendron Myrrha. Commiphora Myrrha,
var. Molmol. Mirra. Morr. Didin. Didthin. Bowl.
---Part Used---The oleo-gum-resin from the
---Description---The bushes yielding the resin do not
grow more than 9 feet in height, but they are of sturdy build, with
knotted branches, and branchlets that stand out at right-angles,
ending in a sharp spine. The trifoliate leaves are scanty, small
and very unequal, oval and entire. It was first recognized about
1822 at Ghizan on the Red Sea coast, a district so bare and dry
that it is called 'Tehama,' meaning 'hell.'
Botanically, there is still uncertainty about the origin and
identity of the various species.
There are ducts in the bark, and the tissue between them breaks
down, forming large cavities, which, with the remaining ducts,
becomes filled with a granular secretion which is freely discharged
when the bark is wounded, or from natural fissures. It flows as a
pale yellow liquid, but hardens to a reddish-brown mass, being
found in commerce in tears of many sizes, the average being that of
a walnut. The surface is rough and powdered, and the pieces are
brittle, with a granular fracture, semi-transparent, oily, and
often show whitish marks. The odour and taste are aromatic, the
latter also acrid and bitter. It is inflammable, but burns
Several species are recognized in commerce. It is usually
imported in chests weighing 1 or 2 cwts., and wherever produced
comes chiefly from the East Indies. Adulterations are not easily
detected in the powder, so that it is better purchased in mass,
when small stones, senegal gum, chestnuts, pieces of bdellium, or
of a brownish resin called 'false myrrh,' may be sorted out with
It has been used from remote ages as an ingredient in incense,
perfumes, etc., in the holy oil of the Jews and the Kyphi of
the Egyptians for embalming and fumigations.
Little appears to be definitely known about the collection of
myrrh. It seems probable that the best drug comes from Somaliland,
is bought at the fairs of Berbera by the Banians of India, shipped
to Bombay, and there sorted, the best coming to Europe and the
worst being sent to China. The true myrrh is known in the markets
as karam, formerly called Turkey myrrh, and the
opaque bdellium as meena harma.
The gum makes a good mucilage and the insoluble residue from
the tincture can be used in this way.
---Constituents---Volatile oil, resin (myrrhin), gum,
ash, salts, sulphates, benzoates, malates, and acetates of
It is partially soluble in water, alcohol, and ether. It may be
tested by a characteristic violet reaction if nitric acid diluted
with an equal volume of water is brought into contact with the
residue resulting from the boiling of 0.1 gramme of coarsely
powdered myrrh with 2 c.c. of 90 per cent alcohol, evaporated in a
porcelain dish so as to leave a thin film.
The oil is thick, pale yellow, and contains myrrholic acid and
heerabolene, a sesquiterpenene.
---Medicinal Action and Uses---Astringent, healing.
Tonic and stimulant. A direct emmenagogue, a tonic in dyspepsia, an
expectorant in the absence of feverish symptoms, a stimulant to the
mucous tissues, a stomachic carminative, exciting appetite and the
flow of gastric juice, and an astringent wash.
It is used in chronic catarrh, phthisis pulmonalis, chlorosis,
and in amenorrhoea is often combined with aloes and iron. As a wash
it is good for spongy gums, ulcerated throat and aphthous
stomatitis, and the tincture is also applied to foul and
indolentulcers. It has been found helpful in bronchorrhoea and
leucorrhoea. It has also been used as a vermifuge.
When long-continued rubefacient effect is needed, a plaster may
be made with 1 1/2 OZ. each of camphor, myrrh, and balsam of Peru
rubbed together and added to 32 OZ. of melted lead plaster, the
whole being stirred until cooling causes it to
Myrrh is a common ingredient of toothpowders, and is used with
borax in tincture, with other ingredients, as a
The Compound Tincture, or Horse Tincture, is used in veterinary
practice for healing wounds.
Meetiga, the trade-name of Arabian Myrrh, is more
brittle and gummy than that of Somaliland and has not its white
The liquid Myrrh, or Stacte, spoken of by Pliny, and an
ingredient of Jewish holy incense, was formerly obtainable and
greatly valued, but cannot now be identified.
---Dosages---10 to 30 grains. Of fluid extract, 5 to 30
minims. Tincture, B.P. and U.S.P., 1/2 to 1 drachm. Of tincture of
aloes and Myrrh, as purgative and emmenagogue, 30 minims. Of N.F.
pills of aloes and Myrrh, 2 pills. Of Rufus's pills of aloes and
Myrrh, as stimulant cathartic in debility and constipation, or in
suppression of the menses, 4 to 8 grains of Br. mass.
Bissa Bôl, or perfumed bdellium of theArabs, has an
odour like mushrooms. Though it is sent from Arabian ports to India
and China, it was formerly known as East Indian Myrrh. It is of a
dark colour, and may be a product of Commiphora erythraea,
var. glabrescens, of B. Kalaf, A. Kafal, B.
Playfairii or Hemprichia erythraea.
B. Kua of Abyssinia has been found to yield
Mecca balsam, a product of B. or C.
Opobalsamum, is said to be the Myrrh of the Bible, the Hebrew
word mar having been confused with the modern Arabic
morr or Myrrh in translation.
as an inferior Myrrh and often mixed with or substituted for it, is
a product of several species of Commiphora, according to
American writers, or Balsamodendron according to English
ones. Four kinds are collected in Somaliland, making sub-divisions
of African Bdellium:
Perfumed Bdellium or
These African bdelliums, said by some writers to be products of
Balsamodendron (Heudelotia) Africanum, are in
irregular, hard, roundish tears about an inch in diameter, pale
yellow to red-brown, translucent, the fracture waxy, taste and
The product of Ceradia furcata is also called African
The commercial Gugul, or Indian Bdellium, is said by
some writers to be a product of Commiphora roxburghiana, by
others of B. Mukul, and by others again of B.
roxbhurghii or Amyris Bdellium. It is more moist than
Myrrh; is found in irregular, dark reddishbrown masses, with a waxy
fracture; softens with the heat of the hand; adheres to the teeth
when chewed; and smells slightly of Myrrh.
It is used in the East Indies in leprosy, rheumatism and
syphilis, and in Europe for plasters.
---Dosage---10 to 40 grains.
Descript : Garden Madder shoots forth many very
long, weak, four-square, reddish stalks, trailing on the ground a
great way, very rough or hairy, and full of joints. At every one of
these joints come forth divers long and narrow leaves, standing
like a star about the stalks, round also and hairy, towards the
tops whereof come forth many small pale yellow flowers, after which
come small round heads, green at first, and reddish afterwards, but
black when they are ripe, wherein is contained the seed. The root
is not very great, but exceeding long, running down half a man's
length into the ground, red and very clear, while it is fresh,
spreading divers ways.
Place : It is only manured in gardens, or larger
fields, for the profit that is made thereof.
Time : It flowers towards the end of Summer, and
the seed is ripe quickly after.
Government and virtues : It is an herb of Mars.
It hath an opening quality, and afterwards to bind and strengthen.
It is a sure remedy for the yellow jaundice, by opening the
obstructions of the liver and gall, and cleansing those parts; it
opens also the obstructions of the spleen, and diminishes the
melancholy humour. It is available for the palsy and sciatica, and
effectual for bruises inward and outward, and is therefore much
used in vulnerary drinks. The root for all those aforesaid
purposes, is to be boiled in wine or water, as the cause requires,
and some honey and sugar put thereunto afterwards. The seed hereof
taken in vinegar and honey, helps the swelling and hardness of the
spleen. The decoction of the leaves and branches is a good
fomentation for women that have not their courses. The leaves and
roots beaten and applied to any part that is discoloured with
freckles, morphew, the white scurf, or any such deformity of the
skin, cleanses thoroughly, and takes them away.
Descript : Our common Maiden-Hair doth, from a
number of hard black fibres, send forth a great many blackish
shining brittle stalks, hardly a span long, in many not half so
long, on each side set very thick with small, round, dark green
leaves, and spotted on the back of them like a fern.
Place : It grows upon old stone walls in the West
parts in Kent, and divers other places of this land; it delights
likewise to grow by springs, wells, and rocky moist and shady
places, and is always green.
WALL RUE, OR, WHITE
Descript : This has very fine, pale green stalks,
almost as fine as hairs, set confusedly with divers pale green
leaves on every short foot stalk, somewhat near unto the colour of
garden Rue, and not much differing in form but more diversly cut in
on the edges, and thicker, smooth on the upper part, and spotted
Place : It grows in many places of this land, at
Dartford, and the bridge at Ashford in Kent, at Beaconsfield in
Buckinghamshire, at Wolly in Huntingdonshire, on Framlingham Castle
in Suffolk, on the church walls at Mayfield in Sussex, in
Somersetshire, and divers other places of this land; and is green
in Winter as well as Summer.
Government and virtues : Both this and the former
are under the dominion of Mercury, and so is that also which
follows after, and the virtue of both are so near alike, that
though I have described them and their places of growing severally,
yet I shall in writing the virtues of them, join them both together
decoction of the herb Maiden-Hair being drank, helps those that are
troubled with the cough, shortness of breath, the yellow jaundice,
diseases of the spleen, stopping of urine, and helps exceedingly to
break the stone in the kidneys, (in all which diseases the Wall Rue
is also very effectual). It provokes women's courses, and stays
both bleedings and fluxes of the stomach and belly, especially when
the herb is dry; for being green, it loosens the belly, and voids
choler and phlegm from the stomach and liver; it cleanses the
lungs, and by rectifying the blood, causes a good colour to the
whole body. The herb boiled in oil of Camomile, dissolves knots,
allays swellings, and dries up moist ulcers. The lye made thereof
is singularly good to cleanse the head from scurf, and from dry and
running sores, stays the falling or shedding of the hair, and
causes it to grow thick, fair, and well coloured; for which purpose
some boil it in wine, putting some Smallage seed thereto, and
afterwards some oil. The Wall Rue is as effectual as Maiden-Hair,
in all diseases of the head, or falling and recovering of the hair
again, and generally for all the aforementioned diseases. And
besides, the powder of it taken in drink for forty days together,
helps the burstings in children.
GOLDEN MAIDEN HAIR
former give me leave to add this, and I shall say no more but only
describe it to you, and for the virtues refer you to the former,
since whatever is said of them, may be also said of
Descript : It has many small, brownish, red
hairs, to make up the form of leaves growing about the ground from
the root; and in the middle of them, in Summer, rise small stalks
of the same colour, set with very fine yellowish green hairs on
them, and bearing a small gold, yellow head, less than a wheat
corn, standing in a great husk. The root is very small and
Place : It grows in bogs and moorish places, and
also on dry shady places, as Hampstead Heath, and
MALLOWS are generally so well known that they need no
Marshmallows have divers soft hairy white stalks, rising to be
three or four feet high, spreading forth many branches, the leaves
whereof are soft and hairy, somewhat less than the other Mallow
leaves, but longer pointed, cut (for the most part) into some few
divisions, but deep. The flowers are many, but smaller also than
the other Mallows, and white, or tending to a bluish colour. After
which come such long, round cases and seeds, as in the other
Mallows. The roots are many and long, shooting from one head, of
the bigness of a thumb or finger, very pliant, tough, and being
like liquorice, of a whitish yellow colour on the outside, and more
whitish within, full of a slimy juice, which being laid in water,
will thicken, as if it were a jelly.
Place : The common Mallows grow in every county
of this land. The common Marsh-mallows in most of the salt marshes,
from Woolwich down to the sea, both on the Kentish and Essex
shores, and in divers other places of this land.
Time : They flower all the Summer months, even
until the Winter do pull them down.
Government and virtues : Venus owns them both.
The leaves of either of the sorts, both specified, and the roots
also boiled in wine or water, or in broth with Parsley or Fennel
roots, do help to open the body, and are very convenient in hot
agues, or other distempers of the body, to apply the leaves so
boiled warm to the belly. It not only voids hot, choleric, and
other offensive humours, but eases the pains and torments of the
belly coming thereby; and are therefore used in all clysters
conducing to those purposes. The same used by nurses procures them
store of milk. The decoction of the seed of any of the common
Mallows made in milk or wine, doth marvellously help excoriations,
the phthisic pleurisy, and other diseases of the chest and lungs,
that proceed of hot causes, if it be continued taking for some time
together. The leaves and roots work the same effects. They help
much also in the excoriations of the bowels, and hardness of the
mother, and in all hot and sharp diseases thereof. The juice drank
in wine, or the decoction of them therein, do help women to a
speedy and easy delivery. Pliny saith, that whosoever takes a
spoonful of any of the Mallows, shall that day be free from all
diseases that may come unto him; and that it is especially good for
the falling-sickness. The syrup also and conserve made of the
flowers, are very effectual for the same diseases, and to open the
body, being costive. The leaves bruised, and laid to the eyes with
a little honey, take away the imposthumations of them. The leaves
bruised or rubbed upon any place stung with bees, wasps, or the
like, presently take away the pain, redness, and swelling that rise
thereupon. And Dioscorides saith, The decoction of the roots and
leaves helps all sorts of poison, so as the poison be presently
voided by vomit. A poultice made of the leaves boiled and bruised,
with some bean or barley flower, and oil of Roses added, is an
especial remedy against all hard tumours and inflammations, or
imposthumes, or swellings of the privities, and other parts, and
eases the pains of them; as also against the hardness of the liver
or spleen, being applied to the places. The juice of Mallows boiled
in old oil and applied, takes away all roughness of the skin, as
also the scurf, dandriff, or dry scabs in the head, or other parts,
if they be anointed therewith, or washed with the decoction, and
preserves the hair from falling off. It is also effectual against
scaldings and burnings, St. Anthony's fire, and all other hot, red,
and painful swellings in any part of the body. The flowers boiled
in oil or water (as every one is disposed) whereunto a little honey
and allum is put, is an excellent gargle to wash, cleanse or heal
any sore mouth or throat in a short space. If the feet be bathed or
washed with the decoction of the leaves, roots, and flowers, it
helps much the defluxions of rheum from the head; if the head be
washed therewith, it stays the falling and shedding of the hair.
The green leaves (saith Pliny) beaten with nitre, and applied, draw
out thorn or prickles in the flesh.
Marshmallows are more effectual in all the diseases before
mentioned. The leaves are likewise used to loosen the belly gently,
and in decoctions or clysters to ease all pains of the body,
opening the strait passages, and making them slippery, whereby the
stone may descend the more easily and without pain, out of the
reins, kidneys, and bladder, and to ease the torturing pains
thereof. But the roots are of more special use for those purposes,
as well for coughs, hoarseness, shortness of breath and wheezings,
being boiled in wine, or honeyed water, and drank. The roots and
seeds hereof boiled in wine or water, are with good success used by
them that have excoriations in the bowels, or the bloody flux, by
qualifying the violence of sharp fretting humours, easing the
pains, and healing the soreness. It is profitably taken by them
that are troubled with ruptures, cramps, or convulsions of the
sinews; and boiled in white wine, for the imposthumes by the
throat, commonly called the king's evil, and of those kernels that
rise behind the ears, and inflammations or swellings in women's
breasts. The dried roots boiled in milk and drank, is especially
good for the chin-cough. Hippocrates used to give the decoction of
the roots, or the juice thereof, to drink, to those that are
wounded, and ready to faint through loss of blood, and applied the
same, mixed with honey and rosin, to the wounds. As also, the roots
boiled in wine to those that have received any hurt by bruises,
falls, or blows, or had any bone or member out of joint, or any
swelling-pain, or ache in the muscles, sinews or arteries. The
muscilage of the roots, and of Linseed and Fenugreek put together,
is much used in poultices, ointments, and plaisters, to molify and
digest all hard swellings, and the inflammation of them, and to
ease pains in any part of the body. The seed either green or dry,
mixed with vinegar, cleanses the skin of morphew, and all other
discolourings, being boiled therewith in the Sun.
remember that not long since there was a raging disease called the
bloody-flux; the college of physicians not knowing what to make of
it, called it the inside plague, for their wits were at Ne plus
ultra about it. My son was taken with the same disease, and the
excoriation of his bowels was exceeding great; myself being in the
country, was sent for up, the only thing I gave him, was Mallows
bruised and boiled both in milk and drink, in two days (the
blessing of God being upon it) it cured him. And I here, to shew my
thankfulness to God, in communicating it to his creatures, leave it
Government and virtues : It is under the dominion
of Jupiter. The decoction either of the leaves or bark, must needs
strengthen the liver much, and so you shall find it to do, if you
use it. It is excellently good to open obstructions both of the
liver and spleen, and eases pains of the sides thence
also Origanum, Eastward Marjoram, Wild Marjoram, and Grove
Descript : Wild or field Marjoram hath a root
which creeps much under ground, which continues a long time,
sending up sundry-brownish, hard, square stalks, with small dark
green leaves, very like those of Sweet Marjoram, but harder, and
somewhat broader; at the top of the stalks stand tufts of flowers,
of a deep purplish red colour. The seed is small and something
blacker than that of Sweet Marjoram.
Place : It grows plentifully in the borders of
corn fields, and in some copses.
Time : It flowers towards the latter end of the
Government and virtues : This is also under the
dominion of Mercury. It strengthens the stomach and head much,
there being scarce a better remedy growing for such as are troubled
with a sour humour in the stomach; it restores the appetite being
lost; helps the cough, and consumption of the lungs; it cleanses
the body of choler, expels poison, and remedies the infirmities of
the spleen; helps the bitings of venomous beasts, and helps such as
have poisoned themselves by eating Hemlock, Henbane, or Opium. It
provokes urine and the terms in women, helps the dropsy, and the
scurvy, scabs, itch, and yellow jaundice. The juice being dropped
into the ears, helps deafness, pain and noise in the ears. And thus
much for this herb, between which and adders, there is a deadly
Marjoram is so well known, being an inhabitant in every garden,
that it is needless to write any description thereof, neither of
the Winter Sweet Marjoram, or Pot Marjoram.
Place : They grow commonly in gardens; some sorts
grow wild in the borders of corn fields and pastures, in sundry
places of this land; but it is not my purpose to insist upon them.
The garden kinds being most used and useful.
Time : They flower in the end of
Government and virtues : It is an herb of
Mercury, and under Aries, and therefore is an excellent remedy for
the brain and other parts of the body and mind, under the dominion
of the same planet. Our common Sweet Marjoram is warming and
comfortable in cold diseases of the head, stomach, sinews, and
other parts, taken inwardly, or outwardly applied. The decoction
thereof being drank, helps all diseases of the chest which hinder
the freeness of breathing, and is also profitable for the
obstructions of the liver and spleen. It helps the cold griefs of
the womb, and the windiness thereof, and the loss of speech, by
resolution of the tongue. The decoction thereof made with some
Pellitory of Spain, and long Pepper, or with a little Acorns or
Origanum, being drank, is good for those that cannot make water,
and against pains and torments in the belly; it provokes women's
courses, if it be used as a pessary. Being made into powder, and
mixed with honey, it takes away the black marks of blows, and
bruises, being thereunto applied; it is good for the inflammations
and watering of the eyes, being mixed with fine flour, and laid
unto them. The juice dropped into the ears eases the pains and
singing noise in them. It is profitably put into those ointments
and salves that are warm, and comfort the outward parts, as the
joints and sinews, for swellings also, and places out of joint. The
powder thereof snuffed up into the nose provokes sneezing, and
thereby purges the brain; and chewed in the mouth, draws forth much
phlegm. The oil made thereof, is very warm and comfortable to the
joints that are stiff, and the sinews that are hard, to molify and
supple them. Marjoram is much used in all odoriferous water,
powders, &c. that are for ornament or delight.
being so plentiful in every garden, and so well known that they
need no description.
Time : They flower all the Summer long, and
sometimes in Winter, if it be mild.
Government and virtues : It is an herb of the
Sun, and under Leo. They strengthen the heart exceedingly, and are
very expulsive, and a little less effectual in the smallpox and
measles than saffron. The juice of Marigold leaves mixed with
vinegar, and any hot swelling bathed with it, instantly gives ease,
and assuages it. The flowers, either green or dried, are much used
in possets, broths, and drink, as a comforter of the heart and
spirits, and to expel any malignant or pestilential quality which
might annoy them. A plaister made with the dry flowers in powder,
hog's-grease, turpentine, and rosin, applied to the breast,
strengthens and succours the heart infinitely in fevers, whether
pestilential or not.
Descript : Common Masterwort has divers stalks of
winged leaves divided into sundry parts, three for the most part
standing together at a small foot-stalk on both sides of the
greater, and three likewise at the end of the stalk, somewhat
broad, and cut in on the edges into three or more divisions, all of
them dented about the brims, of a dark green colour, somewhat
resembling the leaves of Angelica, but that these grow lower to the
ground, and on lesser stalks; among which rise up two or three
short stalks about two feet high, and slender, with such like
leaves at the joints which grow below, but with lesser and fewer
divisions, bearing umbels of white flowers, and after them thin,
flat blackish seeds, bigger than Dill seeds. The root is somewhat
greater and growing rather sideways than down deep in the ground,
shooting forth sundry heads, which taste sharp, biting on the
tongue, and is the hottest and sharpest part of the plant, and the
seed next unto it being somewhat blackish on the outside, and
Place : It is usually kept in gardens with us in
Time : It flowers and seeds about the end of
Government and virtues : It is an herb of Mars.
The root of Masterwort is hotter than pepper, and very available in
cold griefs and diseases both of the stomach and body, dissolving
very powerfully upwards and downwards. It is also used in a
decoction with wine against all cold rheums, distillations upon the
lungs, or shortness of breath, to be taken morning and evening. It
also provokes urine, and helps to break the stone, and expel the
gravel from the kidneys; provokes women's courses, and expels the
dead birth. It is singularly good for strangling of the mother, and
other such like feminine diseases. It is effectual also against the
dropsy, cramps, and falling sickness; for the decoction in wine
being gargled in the mouth, draws down much water and phlegm, from
the brain, purging and easing it of what oppresses it. It is of a
rare quality against all sorts of cold poison, to be taken as there
is cause; it provokes sweat. But lest the taste hereof, or of the
seed (which works to the like effect, though not so powerfully)
should be too offensive, the best way is to take the water
distilled both from the herb and root. The juice hereof dropped, or
tents dipped therein, and applied either to green wounds or filthy
rotten ulcers, and those that come by envenomed weapons, doth soon
cleanse and heal them. The same is also very good to help the gout
coming of a cold causey.
Descript : Common Maudlin hath somewhat long and
narrow leaves, snipped about the edges. The stalks are two feet
high, bearing at the tops many yellow flowers set round together
and all of an equal height, in umbels or tufts like unto tansy;
after which follow small whitish seed, almost as big as
and time :
in gardens, and flowers in June and July.
Government and virtues : The Virtues hereof being
the same with Costmary or Alecost, I shall not make any repetition
thereof, lest my book grow too big; but rather refer you to
Costmary for satisfaction.
Descript : The Tree grows near the bigness of the
Quince Tree, spreading branches reasonably large, with longer and
narrower leaves than either the apple or quince, and not dented
about the edges. At the end of the sprigs stand the flowers, made
of five white, great, broad-pointed leaves, nicked in the middle
with some white threads also; after which comes the fruit, of a
brownish green colour, being ripe, bearing a crown as it were on
the top, which were the five green leaves; and being rubbed off, or
fallen away, the head of the fruit is seen to be somewhat hollow.
The fruit is very harsh before it is mellowed, and has usually five
hard kernels within it. There is another kind hereof nothing
differing from the former, but that it hath some thorns on it in
several places, which the other hath not; and usually the fruit is
small, and not so pleasant.
and place : They grow in this land, and flower in May
for the most part, and bear fruit in September and
Government and virtues : The fruit is old
Saturn's, and sure a better medicine he hardly hath to strengthen
the retentive faculty; therefore it stays women's longings. The
good old man cannot endure women's minds should run a gadding. Also
a plaister made of the fruit dried before they are rotten, and
other convenient things, and applied to the reins of the back,
stops miscarriage in women with child. They are powerful to stay
any fluxes of blood or humours in men or women; the leaves also
have this quality. The decoction of them is good to gargle and wash
the mouth, throat and teeth, when there is any defluxions of blood
to stay it, or of humours, which causes the pains and swellings. It
is a good bath for women, that have their courses flow too
abundant: or for the piles when they bleed too much. If a poultice
or plaister be made with dried medlars, beaten and mixed with the
juice of red roses, whereunto a few cloves and nutmegs may be
added, and a little red coral also, and applied to the stomach that
is given to casting or loathing of meat, it effectually helps. The
dried leaves in powder strewed on fresh bleeding wounds restrains
the blood, and heals up the wound quickly. The medlar-stones made
into powder, and drank in wine, wherein some Parsley-roots have
lain infused all night, or a little boiled, do break the stone in
the kidneys, helping to expel it.
MELLILOT, OR KING'S
Descript : This hath many green stalks, two or
three feet high, rising from a tough, long, white root, which dies
not every year, set round about at the joints with small and
somewhat long, well-smelling leaves, set three together, unevenly
dented about the edges. The flowers are yellow, and well-smelling
also, made like other trefoil, but small, standing in long spikes
one above another, for an hand breath long or better, which
afterwards turn into long crooked pods, wherein is contained flat
seed, somewhat brown.
Place : It grows plentifully in many places of
this land, as in the edge of Suffolk and in Essex, as also in
Huntingdonshire, and in other places, but most usually in corn
fields, in corners of meadows.
Time : It flowers in June and July, and is ripe
Government and virtues : Mellilot, boiled in
wine, and applied, mollifies all hard tumours and inflammations
that happen in the eyes, or other parts of the body, and sometimes
the yolk of a roasted egg, or fine flour, or poppy seed, or endive,
is added unto it. It helps the spreading ulcers in the head, it
being washed with a lye made thereof. It helps the pains of the
stomach, being applied fresh, or boiled with any of the aforenamed
things; also, the pains of the ears, being dropped into them; and
steeped in vinegar, or rose water, it mitigates the head-ache. The
flowers of Mellilot or Camomile are much used to be put together in
clysters to expel wind, and ease pains; and also in poultices for
the same purpose, and to assuage swelling tumours in the spleen or
other parts, and helps inflammations in any part of the body. The
juice dropped into the eyes, is a singularly good medicine to take
away the film or skin that clouds or dims the eye-sight. The head
often washed with the distilled water of the herb and flower, or a
lye made therewith, is effectual for those that suddenly lose their
senses; as also to strengthen the memory, to comfort the head and
brain, and to preserve them from pain, and the
FRENCH AND DOG MERCURY
Descript : This rises-up with a square green
stalk full of joints, two feet high, or thereabouts, with two
leaves at every joint, and the branches likewise from both sides of
the stalk, set with fresh green leaves, somewhat broad and long,
about the bigness of the leaves of Bazil, finely dented about the
edges; towards the tops of the stalks and branches, come forth at
every joint in the male Mercury two small, round green heads,
standing together upon a short foot stalk, which growing ripe, are
seeds, not having flowers. The female stalk is longer,
spike-fashion, set round about with small green husks, which are
the flowers, made small like bunches of grapes, which give no seed,
but abiding long upon the stalks without shedding. The root is
composed of many small fibres, which perishes every year at the
first approach of Winter, and rises again of its own sowing; and if
once it is suffered to sow itself, the ground will never want
afterwards, even both sorts of it.
described unto you that which is called French Mercury, I come now
to shew you a description of this kind also.
Descript : This is likewise of two kinds, male
and Female, having many stalks slender and lower than Mercury,
without any branches at all upon them, the root is set with two
leaves at every joint, somewhat greater than the female, but more
pointed and full of veins, and somewhat harder in handling: of a
dark green colour, and less dented or snipped about the edges. At
the joints with the leaves come forth longer stalks than the
former, with two hairy round seeds upon them, twice as big as those
of the former Mercury. The taste hereof is herby, and the smell
somewhat strong and virulent. The female has much harder leaves
standing upon longer footstalks, and the stalks are also longer:
from the joints come forth spikes of flowers like the French Female
Mercury. The roots of them both are many, and full of small fibres
which run under ground, and mat themselves very much, not perishing
as the former Mercuries do, but abide the Winter, and shoot forth
new branches every year, for the old lie down to the
Place : The male and female French Mercury are
found wild in divers places of this land, as by a village called
Brookland in Rumney Marsh in Kent.
Mercury in sundry places of Kent also, and elsewhere; but the
female more seldom than the male.
Time : They flower in the Summer months, and
therein give their seed.
Government and virtues : Mercury, they say, owns
the herb, but I rather think it is Venus's, and I am partly
confident of it too, for I never heard that Mercury ever minded
women's business so much: I believe he minds his study more. The
decoction of the leaves of Mercury, or the juice thereof in broth,
or drank with a little sugar put to it, purges choleric and
waterish humours. Hippocrates commended it wonderfully for women's
diseases, and applied to the secret parts, to ease the pains of the
mother; and used the decoction of it, both to procure women's
courses, and to expel the after-birth; and gave the decoction
thereof with myrrh or pepper, or used to apply the leaves outwardly
against the stranguary and diseases of the reins and bladder. He
used it also for sore and watering eyes, and for the deafness and
pains in the ears, by dropping the juice thereof into them, and
bathing them afterwards in white wine. The decoction thereof made
with water and a cock chicken, is a most safe medicine against the
hot fits of agues. It also cleanses the breast and lungs of phlegm,
but a little offends the stomach. The juice or distilled water
snuffed up into the nostrils, purges the head and eyes of catarrhs
and rheums. Some use to drink two or three ounces of the distilled
water, with a little sugar put to it, in the morning fasting, to
open and purge the body of gross, viscous, and melancholy humours.
Matthiolus saith, that both the seed of the male and female Mercury
boiled with Wormwood and drank, cures the yellow jaundice in a
speedy manner. The leaves or the juice rubbed upon warts, takes
them away. The juice mingled with some vinegar, helps all running
scabs, tetters, ringworms, and the itch. Galen saith, that being
applied in manner of a poultice to any swelling or inflammation, it
digests the swelling, and allays the inflammation, and is therefore
given in clysters to evacuate from the belly offensive humours. The
Dog Mercury, although it be less used, yet may serve in the same
manner, to the same purpose, to purge waterish and melancholy
Of all the
kinds of Mint, the Spear Mint, or Heart Mint, being most usual, I
shall only describe as follows:
Descript : Spear Mint has divers round stalks,
and long but narrowish leaves set thereon, of a dark green colour.
The flowers stand in spiked heads at the tops of the branches,
being of a pale blue colour. The smell or scent thereof is somewhat
near unto Bazil; it encreases by the root under ground as all the
Place : It is an usual inhabitant in gardens; and
because it seldom gives any good seed, the seed is recompensed by
the plentiful increase of the root, which being once planted in a
garden, will hardly be rid out again.
Time : It flowers not until the beginning of
August, for the most part.
Government and virtues : It is an herb of Venus.
Dioscorides saith it hath a healing, binding and drying quality,
and therefore the juice taken in vinegar, stays bleeding. It stirs
up venery, or bodily lust; two or three branches thereof taken in
the juice of four pomegranates, stays the hiccough, vomiting, and
allays the choler. It dissolves imposthumes being laid to with
barley-meal. It is good to repress the milk in women's breasts, and
for such as have swollen, flagging, or great breasts. Applied with
salt, it helps the biting of a mad dog; with mead and honeyed
water, it eases the pains of the ears, and takes away the roughness
of the tongue, being rubbed thereupon. It suffers not milk to
curdle in the stomach, if the leaves thereof be steeped or boiled
in it before you drink it. Briefly it is very profitable to the
stomach. The often use hereof is a very powerful medicine to stay
women's courses and the whites. Applied to the forehead and
temples, it eases the pains in the head, and is good to wash the
heads of young children therewith, against all manner of
breakings-out, sores or scabs, therein. It is also profitable
against the poison of venomous creatures. The distilled water of
Mint is available to all the purposes aforesaid, yet more weakly.
But if a spirit thereof be rightly and chymically drawn, it is much
more powerful than the herb itself. Simeon Sethi saith, it helps a
cold liver, strengthens the belly, causes digestion, stays vomits
and hiccough; it is good against the gnawing of the heart, provokes
appetite, takes away obstructions of the liver, and stirs up bodily
lust; but therefore too much must not be taken, because it makes
the blood thin and wheyish, and turns it into choler, and therefore
choleric persons must abstain from it. It is a safe medicine for
the biting of a mad dog, being bruised with salt and laid thereon.
The powder of it being dried and taken after meat, helps digestion,
and those that are splenetic. Taken with wine, it helps women in
their sore travail in child-bearing. It is good against the gravel
and stone in the kidneys, and the stranguary. Being smelled unto,
it is comfortable for the head and memory. The decoction hereof
gargled in the mouth, cures the gums and mouth that are sore, and
mends an ill-savoured breath; as also the Rue and Coriander, causes
the palate of the mouth to turn to its place, the decoction being
gargled and held in the mouth.
virtues of the Wild or Horse Mint, such as grow in ditches (whose
description I purposely omitted, in regard they are well known) are
serviceable to dissolve wind in the stomach, to help the cholic,
and those that are short-winded, and are an especial remedy for
those that have veneral dreams and pollutions in the night, being
outwardly applied. The juice dropped into the ears eases the pains
of them, and destroys the worms that breed therein. They are good
against the venomous biting of serpents. The juice laid on warm,
helps the king's evil, or kernels in the throat. The decoction or
distilled water helps a stinking breath, proceeding from corruption
of the teeth, and snuffed up the nose, purges the head. Pliny
saith, that eating of the leaves hath been found by experience to
cure the leprosy, applying some of them to the face, and to help
the scurf or dandriff of the head used with vinegar. They are
extremely bad for wounded people; and they say a wounded man that
eats Mint, his wound will never be cured, and that is a long
Descript : This rises up from the branch or arm
of the tree whereon it grows, with a woody stem, putting itself
into sundry branches, and they again divided into many other
smaller twigs, interlacing themselves one within another, very much
covered with a greyish green bark, having two leaves set at every
joint, and at the end likewise, which are somewhat long and narrow,
small at the bottom, but broader towards the end. At the knots or
joints of the boughs and branches grow small yellow flowers, which
run into small, round, white, transparent berries, three or four
together, full of a glutinous moisture, with a blackish seed in
each of them, which was never yet known to spring, being put into
the ground, or any where else to grow.
Place : It grows very rarely on oaks with us; but
upon sundry others as well timber as fruit trees, plentifully in
woody groves, and the like, through all this land.
Time : It flowers in the Spring-time, but the
berries are not ripe until October, and abides on the branches all
the Winter, unless the blackbirds, and other birds, do devour
Government and virtues : This is under the
dominion of the Sun, I do not question; and can also take for
granted, that which grows upon oaks, participates something of the
nature of Jupiter, because an oak is one of his trees; as also that
which grows upon pear trees, and apple trees, participates
something of his nature, because he rules the tree it grows upon,
having no root of its own. But why that should have most virtues
that grows upon oaks I know not, unless because it is rarest and
hardest to come by; and our college's opinion is in this contrary
to scripture, which saith, God's tender mercies are over all his
works; and so it is, let the college of physicians walk as
contrary to him as they please, and that is as contrary as the east
to the west. Clusius affirms that which grows upon pear trees to be
as prevalent, and gives order, that it should not touch the ground
after it is gathered; and also saith, that, being hung about the
neck, it remedies witchcraft. Both the leaves and berries of
Misselto do heat and dry, and are of subtle parts; the birdlime
doth molify hard knots, tumours, and imposthumes; ripens and
discusses them, and draws forth thick as well as thin humours from
the remote parts of the body, digesting and separating them. And
being mixed with equal parts of rozin and wax, doth molify the
hardness of the spleen, and helps old ulcers and sores. Being mixed
with Sandaric and Orpiment, it helps to draw off foul nails; and if
quick-lime and wine lees be added thereunto, it works the stronger.
The Misselto itself of the oak (as the best) made into powder, and
given in drink to those that have the falling sickness, does
assuredly heal them, as Matthiolus saith: but it is fit to use it
for forty days together. Some have so highly esteemed it for the
virtues thereof, that they have called it Lignum Sancti&
Crucis, Wood of the Holy Cross, believing it helps the falling
sickness, apoplexy and palsy very speedily, not only to be inwardly
taken, but to be hung at their neck. Tragus saith, that the fresh
wood of any Misselto bruised, and the juice drawn forth and dropped
in the ears that have imposthumes in them, doth help and ease them
within a few days.
MONEYWORT, OR HERB
Descript : The common Moneywort sends forth from
a small thready root divers long, weak, and slender branches, lying
and running upon the ground two or three feet long or more, set
with leaves two at a joint one against another at equal distances,
which are almost round, but pointed at the ends, smooth, and of a
good green colour. At the joints with the leaves from the middle
forward come forth at every point sometimes one yellow flower, and
sometimes two, standing each on a small foot-stalk, and made of
five leaves, narrow-pointed at the end, with some yellow threads in
the middle, which being past, there stand in their places small
round heads of seed.
Place : It grows plentifully in almost all places
of this land, commonly in moist grounds by hedge-sides, and in the
middle of grassy fields.
Time : They flower in June and July, and their
seed is ripe quickly after.
Government and virtues : Venus owns it. Moneywort
is singularly good to stay all fluxes in man or woman, whether they
be lasks, bloody-fluxes, bleeding inwardly or outwardly, or the
weakness of the stomach that is given to casting. It is very good
also for the ulcers or excoriations of the lungs, or other inward
parts. It is exceedingly good for all wounds, either fresh or
green, to heal them speedily, and for all old ulcers that are of
spreading natures. For all which purposes the juice of the herb, or
the powder drank in water wherein hot steel hath been often
quenched; or the decoction of the green herb in wine or water
drank, or used to the outward place, to wash or bathe them, or to
have tents dipped therein and put into them, are
Descript : It rises up usually with but one dark
green, thick and flat leaf, standing upon a short foot-stalk not
above two fingers breadth; but when it flowers it may be said to
bear a small slender stalk about four or five inches high, having
but one leaf in the middle thereof, which is much divided on both
sides into sometimes five or seven parts on a side, sometimes more;
each of which parts is small like the middle rib, but broad
forwards, pointed and round, resembling therein a half-moon, from
whence it took the name; the uppermost parts or divisions being
bigger than the lowest. The stalks rise above this leaf two or
three inches, bearing many branches of small long tongues, every
one like the spiky head of the adder's tongue, of a brownish
colour, (which, whether I shall call them flowers, or the seed, I
well know not) which, after they have continued awhile, resolve
into a mealy dust. The root is small and fibrous. This hath
sometimes divers such like leaves as are before described, with so
many branches or tops rising from one stalk, each divided from the
Place : It grows on hills and heaths, yet where
there is much grass, for therein it delights to grow.
Time : It is to be found only in April and May;
for in June, when any hot weather comes, for the most part it is
withered and gone.
Government and virtues : The Moon owns the herb.
Moonwort is cold and drying more than Adder's Tongue, and is
therefore held to be more available for all wounds both inward and
outward. The leaves boiled in red wine, and drank, stay the
immoderate flux of women's courses, and the whites. It also stays
bleeding, vomiting, and other fluxes. It helps all blows and
bruises, and to consolidate all fractures and dislocations. It is
good for ruptures, but is chiefly used, by most with other herbs,
to make oils or balsams to heal fresh or green wounds (as I said
before) either inward or outward, for which it is excellently
is an herb which (they say) will open locks, and unshoe such horses
as tread upon it. This some laugh to scorn, and those no small
fools neither; but country people, that I know, call it Unshoe the
Horse. Besides I have heard commanders say, that on White Down in
Devonshire, near Tiverton, there were found thirty horse shoes,
pulled off from the feet of the Earl of Essex's horses, being there
drawn up in a body, many of them being but newly shod, and no
reason known, which caused much admiration: the herb described
usually grows upon heaths.
not trouble the reader with a description of these, since my intent
is to speak only of two kinds, as the most principal, viz. Ground
Moss and Tree Moss, both which are very well known.
Place : The Ground Moss grows in our moist woods,
and at the bottom of hills, in boggy grounds, and in shadowy
ditches, and many other such like places. The Tree Moss grows only
Government and virtues : All sorts of Mosses are
under the dominion of Saturn. The Ground Moss is held to be
singularly good to break the stone, and to expel and drive it forth
by urine, being boiled in wine and drank. The herb being bruised
and boiled in water, and applied, eases all inflammations and pains
coming from an hot cause; and is therefore used to ease the pains
of the gout.
Mosses are cooling and binding, and partake of a digesting and
molifying quality withal, as Galen saith. But each Moss partakes of
the nature of the tree from whence it is taken; therefore that of
the oak is more binding, and is of good effect to stay fluxes in
man or woman; as also vomiting or bleeding, the powder thereof
being taken in wine. The decoction thereof in wine is very good for
women to be bathed in, that are troubled with the overflowing of
their courses. The same being drank, stays the stomach that is
troubled with casting, or hiccough; and, as Avicena saith, it
comforts the heart. The powder thereof taken in drink for some time
together, is thought available for the dropsy. The oil that has had
fresh Moss steeped therein for a time, and afterwards boiled and
applied to the temples and forehead, marvellously eases the
head-ache coming of a hot cause; as also the distillations of hot
rheums or humours in the eyes, or other parts. The ancients much
used it in their ointments and other medicines against the
lassitude, and to strengthen and comfort the sinews. For which, if
it was good then, I know no reason but it may be found so
Descript : This hath a hard, square, brownish,
rough, strong stalk, rising three or four feet high at least,
spreading into many branches, whereon grow leaves on each side,
with long foot-stalks, two at every joint, which are somewhat broad
and long, as if it were rough or crumpled, with many great veins
therein of a sad green colour, and deeply dented about the edges,
and almost divided. From the middle of the branches up to the tops
of them (which are long and small) grow the flowers round them at
distances, in sharp pointed, rough, hard husks, of a more red or
purple colour than Balm or Horehound, but in the same manner or
form as the Horehound, after which come small, round, blackish
seeds in great plenty. The root sends forth a number of long
strings and small fibres, taking strong hold in the ground, of a
dark yellowish or brownish colour, and abides as the Horehound
does: the smell of the one not much differs from the
Place : It grows only in gardens with us in
Government and virtues : Venus owns the herb, and
it is under Leo. There is no better herb to take melancholy vapours
from the heart, to strengthen it, and make a merry, cheerful,
blithe soul than this herb. It may be kept in a syrup or conserve;
therefore the Latins called it Cardiaca. Besides, it makes women
joyful mothers of children, and settles their wombs as they should
be, therefore we call it Motherwort. It is held to be of much use
for the trembling of the heart, and faintings and swoonings; from
whence it took the name Cardiaca. The powder thereof, to the
quantity of a spoonful, drank in wine, is a wonderful help to women
in their sore travail, as also for the suffocating or risings of
the mother, and for these effects, it is likely it took the name of
Motherwort with us. It also provokes urine and women's courses,
cleanses the chest of cold phlegm, oppressing it, kills worms in
the belly. It is of good use to warm and dry up the cold humours,
to digest and disperse them that are settled in the veins, joints,
and sinews of the body, and to help cramps and
Descript : Mouse-ear is a low herb, creeping upon
the ground by small strings, like the Strawberry plant, whereby it
shoots forth small roots, whereat grow, upon the ground, many small
and somewhat short leaves, set in a round form together, and very
hairy, which, being broken, do give a whitish milk. From among
these leaves spring up two or three small hoary stalks about a span
high, with a few smaller leaves thereon; at the tops whereof stands
usually but one flower, consisting of many pale yellow leaves,
broad at the point, and a little dented in, set in three or four
rows (the greater uppermost) very like a Dandelion flower, and a
little reddish underneath about the edges, especially if it grow in
a dry ground; which after they have stood long in flower do turn
into down, which with the seed is carried away with the
Place : It grows on ditch banks, and sometimes in
ditches, if they be dry, and in sandy grounds.
Time : It flowers about June or July, and abides
green all the Winter.
Government and virtues : The Moon owns this herb
also; and though authors cry out upon Alchymists, for attempting to
fix quicksilver, by this herb and Moonwort, a Roman would not have
judged a thing by the success; if it be to be fixed at all, it is
by lunar influence. The juice thereof taken in wine, or the
decoction thereof drank, doth help the jaundice, although of long
continuance, to drink thereof morning and evening, and abstain from
other drink two or three hours after. It is a special remedy
against the stone, and the tormenting pains thereof: as also other
tortures and griping pains of the bowels. The decoction thereof
with Succory and Centaury is held very effectual to help the
dropsy, and them that are inclining thereunto, and the diseases of
the spleen. It stays the fluxes of blood, either at the mouth or
nose, and inward bleeding also, for it is a singular wound herb for
wounds both inward and outward. It helps the bloody flux, and helps
the abundance of women's courses. There is a syrup made of the
juice hereof and sugar, by the apothecaries of Italy, and other
places, which is of much account with them, to be given to those
that are troubled with the cough or phthisic. The same also is
singularly good for ruptures or burstings. The green herb bruised
and presently bound to any cut or wound, doth quickly solder the
lips thereof. And the juice, decoction, or powder of the dried herb
is most singular to stay the malignity of spreading and fretting
cankers and ulcers whatsoever, yea in the mouth and secret parts.
The distilled water of the plant is available in all the diseases
aforesaid, and to wash outward wounds and sores, by applying tents
of cloths wet therein.
Descript : Common Mugwort hath divers leaves
lying upon the ground, very much divided, or cut deeply in about
the brims, somewhat like Wormwood, but much larger, of a dark green
colour on the upper side, and very hoary white underneath. The
stalks rise to be four or five feet high, having on it such like
leaves as those below, but somewhat smaller, branching forth very
much towards the top, whereon are set very small, pale, yellowish
flowers like buttons, which fall away, and after them come small
seeds, inclosed in round heads. The root is long and hard, with
many small fibres growing from it, whereby it takes strong hold on
the ground; but both stalks and leaves do lie down every year, and
the root shoots anew in the Spring. The whole plant is of a
reasonable scent, and is more easily propagated by the slips than
Place : It grows plentifully in many places of
this land, by the water-sides; as also by small water courses, and
in divers other places.
Time : It flowers and seeds in the end of
Government and virtues : This is an herb of
Venus, therefore maintains the parts of the body she rules,
remedies the diseases of the parts that are under her signs, Taurus
and Libra. Mugwort is with good success put among other herbs that
are boiled for women to apply the hot decoction to draw down their
courses, to help the delivery of the birth, and expel the
after-birth. As also for the obstructions and inflammations of the
mother. It breaks the stone, and opens the urinary passages where
they are stopped. The juice thereof made up with Myrrh, and put
under as a pessary, works the same effects, and so does the root
also. Being made up with hog's grease into an ointment, it takes
away wens and hard knots and kernels that grow about the neck and
throat, and eases the pains about the neck more effectually, if
some Field Daisies be put with it. The herb itself being fresh, or
the juice thereof taken, is a special remedy upon the overmuch
taking of opium. Three drams of the powder of the dried leaves
taken in wine, is a speedy and the best certain help for the
sciatica. A decoction thereof made with Camomile and Agrimony, and
the place bathed therewith while it is warm, takes away the pains
of the sinews, and the cramp.
This is so
well known where it grows, that it needs no
Time : It bears fruit in the months of July and
Government and virtues : Mercury rules the tree,
therefore are its effects variable as his are. The Mulberry is of
different parts; the ripe berries, by reason of their sweetness and
slippery moisture, opening the body, and the unripe binding it,
especially when they are dried, and then they are good to stay
fluxes, lasks, and the abundance of women's courses. The bark of
the root kills the broad worms in the body. The juice, or the syrup
made of the juice of the berries, helps all inflammations or sores
in the mouth, or throat, and palate of the mouth when it is fallen
down. The juice of the leaves is a remedy against the biting of
serpents, and for those that have taken aconite. The leaves beaten
with vinegar, are good to lay on any place that is burnt with fire.
A decoction made of the bark and leaves is good to wash the mouth
and teeth when they ache. If the root be a little slit or cut, and
a small hole made in the ground next thereunto, in the
Harvest-time, it will give out a certain juice, which being
hardened the next day, is of good use to help the tooth-ache, to
dissolve knots, and purge the belly. The leaves of Mulberries are
said to stay bleeding at the mouth or nose, or the bleeding of the
piles, or of a wound, being bound unto the places. A branch of the
tree taken when the moon is at the full, and bound to the wrists of
a woman's arm, whose courses come down too much, doth stay them in
a short space.
Descript : Common White Mullein has many fair,
large, woolly white leaves, lying next the ground, somewhat larger
than broad, pointed at the end, and as it were dented about the
edges. The stalk rises up to be four or five feet high, covered
over with such like leaves, but less, so that no stalk can be seen
for the multitude of leaves thereon up to the flowers, which come
forth on all sides of the stalk, without any branches for the most
part, and are many set together in a long spike, in some of a
yellow colour, in others more pale, consisting of five round
pointed leaves, which afterwards have small round heads, wherein is
small brownish seed contained. The root is long, white, and woody,
perishing after it hath borne seed.
Place : It grows by way-sides and lanes, in many
places of this land.
Time : It flowers in July or
Government and virtues : It is under the dominion
of Saturn. A small quantity of the root given in wine, is commended
by Dioscorides, against lasks and fluxes of the belly. The
decoction hereof drank, is profitable for those that are bursten,
and for cramps and convulsions, and for those that are troubled
with an old cough. The decoction thereof gargled, eases the pains
of the tooth-ache. And the oil made by the often infusion of the
flowers, is of very good effect for the piles. The decoction of the
root in red wine or in water, (if there be an ague) wherein red hot
steel hath been often quenched, doth stay the bloody-flux. The same
also opens obstructions of the bladder and reins. A decoction of
the leaves hereof, and of Sage, Marjoram, and Camomile flowers, and
the places bathed therewith, that have sinews stiff with cold or
cramps, doth bring them much ease and comfort. Three ounces of the
distilled water of the flowers drank morning and evening for some
days together, is said to be the most excellent remedy for the
gout. The juice of the leaves and flowers being laid upon rough
warts, as also the powder of the dried roots rubbed on, doth easily
take them away, but doth no good to smooth warts. The powder of the
dried flowers is an especial remedy for those that are troubled
with the belly-ache, or the pains of the cholic. The decoction of
the root, and so likewise of the leaves, is of great effect to
dissolve the tumours, swellings, or inflammations of the throat.
The seed and leaves boiled in wine, and applied, draw forth
speedily thorns or splinters gotten into the flesh, ease the pains,
and heal them also. The leaves bruised and wrapped in double
papers, and covered with hot ashes and embers to bake a while, and
then taken forth and laid warm on any blotch or boil happening in
the groin or share, doth dissolve and heal them. The seed bruised
and boiled in wine, and laid on any member that has been out of
joint, and newly set again, takes away all swelling and pain
Descript : Our common Mustard hath large and
broad rough leaves, very much jagged with uneven and unorderly
gashes, somewhat like turnip leaves, but less and rougher. The
stalk rises to be more than a foot high, and sometimes two feet
high, being round, rough, and branches at the top, bearing such
like leaves thereon as grow below, but lesser, and less divided,
and divers yellow flowers one above another at the tops, after
which come small rough pods, with small, lank, flat ends, wherein
is contained round yellowish seed, sharp, hot, and biting upon the
tongue. The root is small, long, and woody, when it bears stalks,
and perishes every year.
Place : This grows with us in gardens only, and
other manured places.
Time : It is an annual plant, flowering in July,
and the seed is ripe in August.
Government and virtues : It is an excellent sauce
for such whose blood wants clarifying, and for weak stomachs, being
an herb of Mars, but naught for choleric people, though as good for
such as are aged, or troubled with cold diseases. Aries claims
something to do with it, therefore it strengthens the heart, and
resists poison. Let such whose stomachs are so weak they cannot
digest their meat, or appetite it, take of Mustard-seed a dram,
Cinnamon as much, and having beaten them to powder, and half as
much Mastich in powder, and with gum Arabic dissolved in
rose-water, make it up into troches, of which they may take one of
about half a dram weight an hour or two before meals; let old men
and women make much of this medicine, and they will either give me
thanks, or shew manifest ingratitude. Mustard seed hath the virtue
of heat, discussing, ratifying, and drawing out splinters of bones,
and other things of the flesh. It is of good effect to bring down
women's courses, for the falling-sickness or lethargy, drowsy
forgetful evil, to use it both inwardly and outwardly, to rub the
nostrils, forehead and temples, to warm and quicken the spirits;
for by the fierce sharpness it purges the brain by sneezing, and
drawing down rheum and other viscous humours, which by their
distillations upon the lungs and chest, procure coughing, and
therefore, with some, honey added thereto, doth much good therein.
The decoction of the seed made in wine, and drank, provokes urine,
resists the force of poison, the malignity of mushrooms, and venom
of scorpions, or other venomous creatures, if it be taken in time;
and taken before the cold fits of agues, alters, lessens, and cures
them. The seed taken either by itself, or with other things, either
in an electuary or drink, doth mightily stir up bodily lust, and
helps the spleen and pains in the sides, and gnawings in the
bowels; and used as a gargle draws up the palate of the mouth,
being fallen down; and also it dissolves the swellings about the
throat, if it be outwardly applied. Being chewed in the mouth it
oftentimes helps the tooth-ache. The outward application hereof
upon the pained place of the sciatica, discusses the humours, and
eases the pains, as also the gout, and other joint aches; and is
much and often used to ease pains in the sides or loins, the
shoulder, or other parts of the body, upon the plying thereof to
raise blisters, and cures the disease by drawing it to the outward
parts of the body. It is also used to help the falling of the hair.
The seed bruised mixed with honey, and applied, or made up with
wax, takes away the marks and black and blue spots of bruises, or
the like, the roughness or scabbiness of the skin, as also the
leprosy, and lousy evil. It helps also the crick in the neck. The
distilled water of the herb, when it is in the flower, is much used
to drink inwardly to help in any of the diseases aforesaid, or to
wash the mouth when the palate is down, and for the disease of the
throat to gargle, but outwardly also for scabs, itch, or other the
like infirmities, and cleanses the face from morphew, spots,
freckles, and other deformities.
Descript : This grows up usually but with one
blackish green stalk, tough, easy to bend, but not to break,
branched into divers parts, and sometimes with divers stalks set
full of branches, whereon grow long, rough, or hard rugged leaves,
very much tore or cut on the edges in many parts, some bigger, and
some less, of a dirty green colour. The flowers are small and
yellow, that grow on the tops of the branches in long spikes,
flowering by degrees; so that continuing long in flower, the stalk
will have small round cods at the bottom, growing upright and close
to the stalk, while the top flowers yet shew themselves, in which
are contained small yellow seed, sharp and strong, as the herb is
also. The root grows down slender and woody, yet abiding and
springing again every year.
Place : This grows frequently in this land, by
the ways and hedge-sides, and sometimes in the open
Time : It flowers most usually about
Government and virtues : Mars owns this herb
also. It is singularly good in all the diseases of the chest and
lungs, hoarseness of voice: and by the use of the decoction thereof
for a little space, those have been recovered who had utterly lost
their voice, and almost their spirits also. The juice thereof made
into a syrup, or licking medicine, with honey or sugar, is no less
effectual for the same purpose, and for all other coughs, wheezing,
and shortness of breath. The same is also profitable for those that
have the jaundice, pleurisy, pains in the back and loins, and for
torments in the belly, or cholic, being also used in clysters. The
seed is held to be a special remedy against poison and venom. It is
singularly good for the sciatica, and in joint-aches, ulcers, and
cankers in the mouth, throat, or behind the ears, and no less for
the hardness and swelling of the testicles, or of women's