Herbs & Oils
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SAFFRON:(Crocus sativus) The stigmas and
style tops flavor and color liqueurs and many dishes, especially
rice. Saffron is considered an aphrodisiac, but too much may be
narcotic. It is given to reduce fevers, cramps, and enlarged
livers, and to calm nerves, and is applies externally for bruises,
rheumatism, and neuralgia. In India saffron is used ceremonially.
Although water soluble, it is used cosmetically and as a sacred
dye. Turmeric is mistakenly called saffron in Asia.
Parts Used: Stamens
Magical Uses: Saffron is added to love sachets as
well as though aimed at raising lustful feelings. It is used in
healing spells, and the infusion is used as wash water for the
hands prior to healing rituals. Sheets were rinsed with a saffron
infusion in Ireland so that the arms and legs would be strengthened
during sleep, and the ancient Persians used Saffron to raise the
wind. Use in spells for: Happiness; Health/Healing; Lust; Psychic
Awareness; Wing Raising; Strength.
SAGE: (Salvia officinalis) Sage leaf has a
strong taste that increases when dried. Used sparingly to flavor
and aid the digestion of fatty meats, it is popular in poultry
stuffing and combines well with strongly flavored floors. The
flowers are tossed in salads and are brewed for a light, balsamic
tea, while the leaf tea is an antiseptic nerve and blood tonics.
Sage contains hormone precursors that help irregular menstruation
and menopause symptoms.
Sage is a
drying agent for the body. The tea of the leaf will dry up night
sweats, breast milk, and mucous congestion. It benefits the nerves
and the menstrual cycle as well. Being astringent, it helps with
diarrhea. Use it as a sore throat gargle and as a poultice for
sores and stings. Use two teaspoons of the herb per cup of water,
steep for twenty minutes and take a quarter cup four times a day.
Tincture; fifteen to forty drops, up to four times a
Parts Used: Leaf
Magical Uses: Sage absorbs negativity and
misfortune. It drives away disturbances and tensions, and lifts the
spirits above the mundane cars of life. Burn it to consecrate a
ritual space. Carry it as an herb of protecion. Use it in the
ritual bath and chalice. Tradition holds that those who eat sage
become immortal in both wisdom and years. Sage is used in wish
manifestations and to attract money. Smolder to promote healing and
spirituality. Carry to promote wisdom. Use in spells for:
Protection; Wisdom; Health; Money and Riches;
Aromatherapy Uses: (Clary Sage Salvia
sclarea) Acne; Boils; Dandruff; Hair Loss; Inflamed Skin
Conditions; Oily Skin and Hair; Ulcers; Wrinkles; High Blood
Pressure; Muscular Aches and Pains; Asthma; Throat Infections;
Whooping Cough; Colic; Cramps; Dyspepsia; Flatulence; Labor Pain;
Irregular Menstruation; Depression; Frigidity; Impotence; Migraine;
Nervous Tension; Stress Related Conditions. Key Qualities:
Relaxing; Rejuvenating; Balancing; Inspiring; sedative;
Revitalizing; Aphrodisiac; Intoxicating; Euphoric;
JOHN'S WORT: (Hypericum perforatum) A Druid sacred
herb, the Celts passed it through the smoke of the Summer Solstice
fire, then wore it in battle for invincibility. This herb has
woody-based stems, with pairs of small, balsamic-scented leaves and
clusters of lemon-scented, yellow summer flowers. The leaves are
used in salads and to flavor liqueurs. Extract of the flowering
tops is antiviral, astringent, and sedative; it treats
inflammation, wounds, and diarrhea. Taken internally, it calms
nerves and treats depression. It is under research for AIDS
treatment. The flowers yield yellow and red dyes.
is teh part used for lung problems, bladder complaints, diarrhea,
dysentery, depression, hemorrhages, and jaundice. Steep two
teaspoons of the herb per cup of water for twenty minutes. Take
one-half cup in the morning and one-half cup at bed time.
Bedwetting is helped by a nightly cup of the tea. The oil and
fomentation are applied externally the injuries, especially when
nerve endings are involved (i.e. fingers and toes) and to soften
tumors and caked breasts.
the oil, cover the flowers with good cold-pressed olive oil and
leave the sealedc preparation in the hot sun for twenty-one days or
until it becomes a rich red. The oil is excellent for massages, as
it affects the spine directly. Varicose veins, mild burns,
inflammations, neuralgia, and rheumatism are helped by a poultice
CAUTION: Malignant tumors must be treated with care.
Never rub or massage a malignant growth, as cells may become
detached and travel to other parts of the body.
Parts Used: Flower, leaf, and stem
Magical Uses: The Welsh called this plant "leaf
of the blessed." It was understood to be an idea combination of
water and fire, the ultimate healing essence. Fire symbolized the
fruitful light-filled forces of summer, and water the gathering and
settling forces of the dark season. Midsummer was the time of
balance between these forces of light and dark. Burn at Litha to
send away negativity, wear for invincibility, health and willpower.
Gather at Litha or on a Friday and worn it will keep mental illness
at bay and also cure melancholy. When placed in a jar and hung by a
window, St. John's Wrote protects against thunderbolts, fire and
evil spirits. Both flowers and leaves are used for this
time St. John's Wort was held to the mouth of accused Witches to
attempt to force them to confess.
SANDALWOOD: (Santalum album) Sandalwood is one of
the most valuable woods in the world. All parts yields Sandalwood
oil, particularly the heartwood and the roots, which yield about 6
percent essential oil. Recorded in Ayuvedic medicine and Egyptian
embalming, the oil is now used as an inhalant for its expectorant
and sedative effect on coughs and as a powerful antiseptic for lung
and urinary tract infections. Sandalwood makes a popular incense,
as its calming effect aids meditation. It is commonly used for
funeral pyres in India, where devotees believe the scent protects
places from evil spirits.
fragrant heartwood is a classic for bladder infections. It is taken
to help in the passing of stones, in kidney inflammations, and in
prostatitis. The oil is cooling to the body and useful for fevers
and infections when used as a massage. The scent is calming to the
mind. Sandalwood has been used intermally for chronic bronchitis
and to treat gonorrhea and the urethral discharge that results.
Simmer one teaspoon of the wood per cup of water for twenty
minutes, and take up to two cups a day in quarter-cup
Parts Used: Heartwood
Magical Uses: Lower grades of Sandalwood (light
colored with little scent) are not recommended to use in magic.
Sandalwood powder is burned during protection, healing and exorcism
spells. When mixed with lavender it makes an incense designed to
conjure spirits. This fragrant wood possesses very high spiritual
vibrations and is mixed with Frankincense and burned at seances and
Full Moon rituals. Powdered sandalwood can be scattered about a
place to clear it of negativity. Sandalwood beads are protective
and promote a spiritual awareness when worn. Sandalwood oil placed
on the forehead aids in focusing the mind. The scent opens the
highest spiritual centers and so makes an appropriate incense for
rituals, exorcisms, and healings. The scents of frankincense and
sandalwood have some of the highest vibrations inherent in any
plant. They will resonate with aspects of ourselves or with
Devic/Angelic beings of the highest order. Rose is another herb
held to have that frequency, thus attracting or eliciting the
highest spiritual vibrations from within ourselves and the cosmos.
Sandalwood is used as an incense base for: Protection; Healing;
Exorcise; Spirituality; Wishes; Full Moon Esbats; Wards Negativity;
Astral Projection; Reincarnation; Spirit Offering.
Aromatherapy Uses: Acne; Dry, Cracked, Chapped
Skin; After Shave; Greasy Skin; Moisturizer; Bronchitis; Catarrh;
Coughs (dry, persistent); Laryngitis; Sore Throat; Diarrhea;
Nausea; Cystitis; Depression; Insomnia; Nervous Tension; Stress
Related Conditions. Key Qualities: Aphrodisiac, Soothing; Relaxing;
Uplifting; Purifying; Warming; Grounding; Opening; Elevating;
SPEARMINT: (Mentha spicata) Also called
Garden Mint, Our Lady's Mint, Sage of Bethlehem, Erba Santa Maria
and Lamb Mint. Spearmint is the most generally cultivated of the
culinary mints. The leaves are almost or completely stalkless,
lance-shaped bright-green and hairless. Mice hate the smell of mint
and will avoid any place where the herb is scattered.
Magical Uses: Spearmint is used in all healing
applications, especially in aiding lung diseases. Smelled,
spearmint increases and sharpens mental powers. For protection
while asleep, stuff a pillow or mattress with
Aromatherapy Uses: See Mint
ANISE: (Illicium verum) All parts of this small,
evergreen tree are aromatic; the smooth, gray-white bark, narrow to
elliptic shiney green leaves; solitary yellow flowers; and glossy
brown seeds. The distinctive seeds and pods sre used as a spice in
Asian cookery, notably as an ingredient of Chinese five-spice
powder. The fruits and foliage yield an essential oil, used as a
substitute anise seed flavoring, or, medicinally to relieve chest
complaints, rheumatism, and flatulence. The oil appears in soaps,
hair oils, and Asian perfumes.
seeds after a meal to help the digestion. Simmer the seeds to make
a tea for colic and rheumatic complaints. Steep one teaspoon of the
crushed seed in one cup of boiled water for twenty minutes and take
up to two cups a day. Often added to other brews to improve taste,
the tea of the seed will help cramps and nausea, promote
menstruation, and increase breast milk. It also relieves insomnia.
The seeds are simmered into salves for scabies and lice. The oil is
a stomach tonic. The seeds can be tinctured in brandy (rather than
the usual vodka, whiskey, or grain alcohol) with some lemon peel;
the dose is one-fourth to one-half teaspoon.
Parts Used: Seed
Magical Uses: The powdered bark is used as an
incense in Japanese temples. The tree is planted by the Japanese
around temples and on graves as an herb of consecration and
protection. The seeds are burned as incense to increase psychic
powers, and are also worn as beads for the same purpose. Sometimes
star anise is placed on the altar to give it power; one is placed
to each of the four directions. It is also carried as a general
luck-bringer, and the seeds make excellent pendulums. The tree is
often grown near Buddist temples where it is revered.
Aromatherapy Uses: Couldn't find any reference to
it's use in Aromatherapy, though it is widely used in
SUNFLOWER: (Helianthus annuus) This
fast-growing annual has a thik, tall, hairy stem, heart-shaped
leaves, and large yellow flower heads in late summer. The
nutritious seeds are eaten raw, roasted, and ground into meal or
nut butter and were used by Native American warriors as "energy
cakes." The flower buds give a yellow dye and are cooked like
artichokes. The pressed seeds yield an all-purpose oil with
culinary, cosmetic, and industrial uses. Medicinally, the seeds are
used as a diuretic and expectorant and treat coughs, dysentery, and
kidney inflammation. The root is a laxative and treats stomach pan.
The stem pith yields potash and fibers for textiles and paper, and
its cellular lightness is used for microscope slide mounts. The
seed heads provide food for birds in winter.
Parts Used: flower, leaves, stalk, root and
Magical Uses: In Aztec temples of the sun,
priestesses carried sunflowers and wore them as crowns. As sun
sumbols, these flowers symbolize the healthy ego, the wisdom, and
the fertility of the solar logos. Sunflower seeds are eaten by
women who wish to concieve. To protect yourself against smallpox
wear sunflower seeds around the neck, either in a bag or strung
If you cut
a sunflower at sunset while making a wish, the wish will come true
before another sunset - as long as the wish isn't too
with a sunflower under the bed allows you to know the truth in any
wish to become virtuous, anoint yourself with juice pressed from
the stems of the sunflower.
growing in the garden guard it against pests and grant the best of
luck to the gardener.
Medicinal Action and Uses
Poisonous, if any, with Antidotes
---Synonyms---Cevadilla. Schoenocaulon officinale. Melanthium
sabadilla. Veratrum officinale. Helonias officinalis. Sabadilla
officinarum. Asagraea officinalis. Sabadillermer.
Used---Seeds, dried fruit.
---Habitat---Southern North America, Guatemala and
name Schcenocaulon indicates the habit of the scape, meaning 'a
rush' and 'a stem.' The name Asagrcea commemorates Professor Asa
Gray of Harvard University, the most distinguished of living
American botanists. It is not quite certain whether the seeds are
obtained from the Veratrum Sabadilla, a plant 3 or 4 feet high, or
from the V. officinale, differing slightly in appearance and
construction. The seeds are black, shining, flat, shrivelled and
winged, odourless, with a bitter, acrid, persistent and
disagreeable taste, the pale grey, amorphous powder being errhine
and violently sternutatory. The seeds were known in Europe as early
as 1752, but officially only as the source of
---Constituents---Sabadilla contains several alkaloids, the
most important being Cevadine, yielding cevine on hydrolysis;
Veratrine, obtained from the syrupy liquor from which the cevadine
has crystallized; and Cevadilline or Sabadillie, obtained after the
extraction of the veratrine with ether.]
alkaloids have been isolated: Sabadine, which is less sternutatory
than veratrine, and Sabadinine, which is not sternutatory.
Sabadilla yields about 0.3 per cent of veratrine. The seeds also
contain veratric acid, cevadic acid, fat and resin.
and Uses---Sabadilla, or cevadilla, is an acrid, drastic
emeto-cathartic, in overdoses capable of producing fatal results.
Cevine was found to be less poisonous than cevadine, though
producing similar symptoms. The powdered seeds have been used as a
vermifuge, and to destroy vermin in the hair, being the principal
ingredient of the pulvis capucinorum used in Europe. Cevadilla was
formerly used internally as an anthelmintic, and in rheumatic and
neuralgic affections. The highly poisonous veratria, which is
derived from it, has been given in minute doses internally in acute
rheumatism and gout, and in some inflammatory diseases, but it must
be used with caution. Veratria is useful as an ointment in
rheumatism and neuralgia, but is regarded as being less valuable
than aconite. The ointment is also employed for the destruction of
pedicule. Applied to unbroken skin it produces tingling and
numbness, followed by coldness and anaesthesia. Given
subcutaneously, it causes violent pain and irritation, in addition
to the symptoms following an internal dose. The principal reason
against its internal use is its powerful action on the heart, the
contractions of the organ becoming fewer and longer until the heart
stops in systole.
to 20 grains as a taenicide. Ointment veratrine, B.P.
any, with Antidotes---Large doses paralyse heart action and
respiration, and its use is so dangerous that it is scarcely ever
Medicinal Action and Uses
---Synonyms---Dyer's Saffron. American Saffron. Fake Saffron.
Flores Carthami. Bastard Saffron.
is not in any way related to Saffron, though the flowers are used
similarly. (It largely replaces the use of Saffron owing to the
large price of the latter. - EDITOR).
Safflower plant, known in India as Koosumbha and in China as
Hoang-tchi, is extensively cultivated in India, China and other
parts of Asia, also in Egypt and Southern Europe; but its native
country is unknown. It grows about 2 to 3 feet high, with a stiff,
upright whitish stem, branching near the top; and has oval, spiny,
sharp-pointed leaves, their bases half-clasping the stem. Its
fruits are about the size of barleycorns, somewhat four-sided,
white and shining, like little shells.
contains two colouring matters, yellow and red, the latter being
most valued. It is chiefly used for dyeing silk, affording various
shades of rose and scarlet. Mixed with finely-powdered talc it
forms the wellknown substance called 'rouge.' Another common use of
Safflower is in adulterating Saffron. The seeds yield an oil much
used in India for burning and for culinary purposes.
and Uses---The flowers are the part used, their action is laxative
and diaphoretic. In domestic practice these flowers are used in
children's and infants' complaints - measles, fevers, and eruptive
skin eomplaints. An infusion is made of 1/2 OZ. of the flowers to a
pint of boiling water taken warm to produce
Medicinal Action and Uses
---Synonyms---Crocus. Karcom. Krokos.
Saffron is a low ornamental plant with grass-like leaves and large
lily-shaped flowers, inhabiting the European continent, and
frequently cultivated for the sake of the yellow stigmas, which are
the part used in medicine, in domestic economy and in the
the Karcom of the Hebrews (Song of Solomon iv. 14). The plant was
also known to the ancient Greeks and Romans.
course of an inquest held in 1921 at Poplar (London, E.), a medical
witness testified to the prevalence of a domestic custom of giving
Saffron 'tea' flavoured with brandy in cases of
Emplastrum Oxycroceum of the Edinburgh Pharmacopceia contained, in
olden days, a large proportion of Saffron (from which - and vinegar
- it derived its name), with the addition of colophony, gum
ammoniacum, mastic and vinegar.
was imported to England from the East many centuries ago, and was
once grown extensively round Saffron Walden, in Essex. One
smoke-pervaded spot in the heart of London still bears the name of
'Saffron Hill.' It is a somewhat expensive product, the economic
value residing in the stigmas of the flower, of which it is said
60,000 are needed to make 1 lb. of Saffron.
to Dr. Pereira, a grain of good commercial Saffron contains the
stigmas and styles of nine flowers, and consequently 4,320 flowers
are required to yield 1 OZ. of Saffron! English-grown Saffron is
now very seldom met with in commerce; the best comes from Spain,
while that imported from France is usually considered of
second-rate quality. The quantity imported has been computed at
between 5,000 and 20,000 lb. weight per annum. Saffron has a bitter
taste and a penetrating aromatic odour.
Persian Saffron has made its appearance in the English market -
although of rare occurrence - owing to the high and increasing
price of the European article. It has long been known as a wild
product of Persia, and was formerly sent from that country and
Kashmir to Bombay, but was driven out of the market by the superior
Saffrons of Europe.
was cultivated at Derbena and Ispahan in Persia in the tenth
century. It differs a little in appearance from European Saffron in
being rather more slender and in the unbranched part of the style
being paler, but the characteristic odour is remarkably strong. On
immersion in water it does not seem to give out so much colour as
European Saffron, and could only compete with it if the price
enabled it to be used in sufficient quantity to give a colour equal
to that used in Europe. The wild Persian crocus is the variety
Hausknechtii, which occurs on the Delechani and Sangur mountains
between Kermanshah and Hamada in West Persia, and at Karput in
Kurdistan, which is the most easterly point where any form of
Crocus sativus occurs in the wild state.
It may be
mentioned that five forms of C. sativus are known in the wild
state. (1) Var. Orsinii, which may be regarded as the Italian form
and is found at Ascoli, the most westerly point from which any wild
form of the plant is recorded. It nearly resembles the cultivated
type in purplish colour and habit, but the stigmas are erect and do
not hang out between the segments of the perianth, as in the
cultivated plant. (2) Var. Cartwrightianus, a Greek form common in
the Piraeus, in which the flowers are smaller and paler, but the
stigma is erect and longer than the stamens, as in the cultivated
plant. (3) Var. Pallasii, a still smaller form with pale flowers
and smaller corms, the stigmas being nearly always shorter than the
stamens. It is the commonest of the wild forms, extending through
Bulgaria to the Crimea, and reaching Italy on the west. (4) Var.
Elwesii. This is similar to the last, but has short stigmas and
larger flowers, and occurs in Asia Minor. (5) Var. Hausknechtii.
This, like Nos. 1 and 2, has long stigmas, but the perianth is
usually white; it may be regarded as the Persian form, extending
from West Persia to Kurdistan. But records of the collection of
Saffron from the wild plants are wanting. Only Nos. 1, 2 and 5 are
fitted for collection in having long stigmas, but the cultivated
purple-flowered form with its stigmas hanging outside the flower
would naturally be the easiest to collect, and it would only be the
wild varieties from Italy, Greece and Persia that could be
utilized. There is no doubt that the cultivated form is also grown
from France to Kashmir, whence it was introduced from Persia, and
also that it is largely cultivated in Burma (near the Youngaline
River at Kuzeih, about ten miles from Pahun) and in China. But it
is not always a paying crop, as it does not produce seeds unless
cross-fertilized, and the corms are subject to disease if grown in
the same ground too long.
circumstances it is quite likely that the Persian Saffron at
present offered in commerce may have been derived from the wild
Persian form, var. Hausknechtii; at all events, the pale, almost
white, lower part of the styles gives it a characteristic
details concerning the different forms are largely taken from the
Chemist and Druggist of March 29, 1924.
corms are planted in rows, 6 inches apart from corm to corm, in a
well-pulverized soil, neither poor nor a very stiff clay, and in
the month of July. The flowers are collected in September and the
yellow stigmas and part of the style are picked out and dried on a
kiln between layers of paper and under the pressure of a thick
board, to form the mass into cakes. Two pounds of dried cake is the
average crop of an - acre after the first planting, and 24 lb. for
the next two years. After the third crop the roots are taken up,
divided and transplanted.
who introduced the cultivation of the Saffron Crocus into Spain as
an article of commerce, bequeathed to us its modern title of
Zaffer, or 'Saffron,' but the Greeks and Romans called it Krokos
and Karkom respectively.
nations of Eastern Asia, its yellow dye was the perfection of
beauty, and its odour a perfect ambrosia. 'Saffron yellow shoes
formed part of the dress of the Persian Kings,' says Professor
Hehn. Greek myths and poetry exhibit an extravagant admiration of
the colour and perfume. Homer sings 'the Saffron morn'; gods and
goddesses, heroes and nymphs and vestals, are clothed in robes of
Saffron hue. The Saffron of Lydia, Cilicia and Cyrene was much
prized. The scent was valued as much as the dye; saffron water was
sprinkled on the benches of the theatre, the floors of
banqueting-halls were strewn with crocus leaves, and cushions were
stuffed with it.
and Uses---Carminative, diaphoretic, emmenagogue. Used as a
diaphoretic for children and for chronic haemorrhage of the uterus
---Preparations---Powdered Saffron: Tincture, B.P., 5 to 15
Colchicum autumnale (LINN.)
Medicinal Action and Uses
---Habitat---Grows wild in meadows, especially on
has lanceolate leaves, dark green, glabrous, often a foot long.
Flowers light purple or white, like crocus but for their six
stamens; the ovaries remain underground until the spring after
flowering, when they are borne up by the elongating peduncles and
ripen. It flowers in September and October. The leaves and fruit
are poisonous to cattle.
is called a corm, from which in autumn the light-purplish mottled
---Cultivation---Requires light, sandy loam, enriched with
decayed manure or leafmould. Plant the bulbs 3 inches deep and 3
inches apart in July or August, in moist beds or rockeries,
shrubbery, borders or lawns near shade of trees. The foliage dies
down in June and July, and does not reappear until after the plant
has flowered. It may also be propagated by seeds sown 1/8 inch deep
in a bed of fine soil outdoors in August or September, or in pans
or boxes of similar soil in cold frame at the same time,
transplanting seedlings 3 inches apart when two years old; or by
division of bulbs in August. Seedling bulbs do not flower till four
or five years old.
and Uses---The Colchicum is valued for its medicinal properties.
The parts used are the root and seeds, these being anti-rheumatic,
cathartic, and emetic. Its reputation rests largely upon its value
in acute gouty and rheumatic complaints. It is mostly used in
connexion with some alkaline diuretic; also in pill form. Overdoses
cause violent purging, etc.
principle is said to be an alkaline substance of a very poisonous
nature called Colchinine. It is acrid, sedative, and acts upon all
the secreting organs, particularly the bowels and kidneys. It is
apt to cause undue depression, and in large doses acts as an
irritant poison. Dr. Lindley relates the case of a woman who was
poisoned by the sprouts of Colchicum, which had been thrown away in
Covent Garden Market and which she mistook for onions.
Hermodactyls of the Arabians, formerly celebrated for soothing
pains in the joints, are said to be this plant.
or root is usually sold in transverse slices, notched on one side
and somewhat reniform in outline, white and starchy internally,
about 1/8 inch thick, and varying from 3/4 to 1 inch in diameter.
Taste sweetish, then bitter and acrid. Odour radish-like in fresh
root, but lost in drying.
---Preparations---Powdered root, 2 to 5 grains. Extract, B.P.,
1/4 to 1 grain. Fluid extract (root), 1 to 10 drops. Fluid extract
(seed), U.S.P., 1 to 10 drops. Tincture, B.P., 5 to 15 drops. Wine,
B.P., 10 to 30 drops. Acetic solid extract, 1/4 to 1
Salvia officinalis (LINN.)
Medicinal Action and Uses
---Synonyms---(Old English) Sawge. Garden Sage. Red Sage.
Broad-leaved White Sage. Narrow-leaved White Sage. Salvia
Used---Leaves, whole herb.
Sage, the familiar plant of the kitchen garden, is an evergreen
undershrub, not a native of these islands, its natural habitat
being the northern shores of the Mediterranean. It has been
cultivated for culinary and medicinal purposes for many centuries
in England, France and Germany, being sufficiently hardy to stand
any ordinary winter outside. Gerard mentions it as being in 1597 a
well-known herb in English gardens, several varieties growing in
his own garden at Holborn.
Description---Sage generally grows about a foot or more high, with
wiry stems. The leaves are set in pairs on the stem and are 1 1/2
to 2 inches long, stalked, oblong, rounded at the ends, finely
wrinkled by a strongly-marked network of veins on both sides,
greyish-green in colour, softly hairy and beneath glandular. The
flowers are in whorls, purplish and the corollas lipped. They
blossom in August. All parts of the plant have a strong, scented
odour and a warm, bitter, somewhat astringent taste, due to the
volatile oil contained in the tissues.
---Habitat---Sage is found in its natural wild condition from
Spain along the Mediterranean coast up to and including the east
side of the Adriatic; it grows in profusion on the mountains and
hills in Croatia and Dalmatia, and on the islands of Veglia and
Cherso in Quarnero Gulf, being found mostly where there is a
limestone formation with very little soil. When wild it is much
like the common garden Sage, though more shrubby in appearance and
has a more penetrating odour, being more spicy and astringent than
the cultivated plant. The best kind, it is stated, grows on the
islands of Veglia and Cherso, near Fiume, where the surrounding
district is known as the Sage region. The collection of Sage forms
an important cottage industry in Dalmatia. During its blooming
season, moreover, the bees gather the nectar and genuine Sage honey
commands there the highest price, owing to its
cultivation, Sage is a very variable species, and in gardens
varieties may be found with narrower leaves, crisped, red, or
variegated leaves and smaller or white flowers. The form of the
calyx teeth also varies, and the tube of the corolla is sometimes
much longer. The two usually absent upper stamens are sometimes
present in very small-sterile hooks. The Red Sage and the
Broad-leaved variety of the White (or Green) Sage - both of which
are used and have been proved to be the best for medical purposes -
and the narrow-leaved White Sage, which is best for culinary
purposes as a seasoning, are classed merely as varieties of Salvza
officinalis, not as separate species. There is a variety called
Spanish, or Lavender-leaved Sage and another called Wormwood Sage,
which is very frequent.
variety, called S. Candelabrum, is a hardy perennial, the upper lip
of its flower greenish yellow, the lower a rich violet, thus
presenting a fine contrast.
and S. urticifolia are well known in North America.
a native of Simla, is hardy, and also desirable on account of its
showy violet-and-white flowers.
of the genus, Salvia, is derived from the Latin salvere, to be
saved, in reference to the curative properties of the plant, which
was in olden times celebrated as a medicinal herb. This name was
corrupted popularly to Sauja and Sauge (the French form), in Old
English, 'Sawge,' which has become our present-day name of
In the United States Pharmacopceia, the
leaves are still officially prescribed, as they were formerly in
the London Pharrnacopceia, but in Europe generally, Sage is now
neglected by the regular medical practitioner, though is still used
in domestic medicine. Among the Ancients and throughout the Middle
Ages it was in high repute: Cur moriatur homo cui Salvia crescit in
horto? ('Why should a man die whilst sage grows in his garden?')
has a corresponding English proverb:
'He that would live for aye,
Must eat Sage in May.'
is sometimes spoken of as S. salvatrix ('Sage the Saviour'). An old
tradition recommends that Rue shall be planted among the Sage, so
as to keep away noxious toads from the valued and cherished plants.
It was held that this plant would thrive or wither, just as the
owner's business prospered or failed, and in Bucks, another
tradition maintained that the wife rules when Sage grows vigorously
in the garden.
Jura district of France, in Franche-Comte, the herb is supposed to
mitigate grief, mental and bodily, and Pepys in his Diary says:
'Between Gosport and Southampton we observed a little churchyard
where it was customary to sow all the graves with
The following is a translation of an old
'Sage helps the nerves and by its powerful
Palsy is cured and fever put to
and Gerard says:
'Sage is singularly good for the head and
brain, it quickeneth the senses and memory, strengtheneth the
sinews, restoreth health to those that have the palsy, and taketh
away shakey trembling of the members.'
He shared the popular belief that it was
efficacious against the bitings of serpents, and says:
'No man need to doubt of the wholesomeness
of Sage Ale, being brewed as it should be with Sage, Betony,
Scabious, Spikenard, Squinnette (Squinancywort) and Fennell
of Sage have been used as substitutes for tea, the Chinese having
been said to prefer Sage Tea to their own native product, at one
time bartering for it with the Dutch and giving thrice the quantity
of their choicest tea in exchange. It is recorded that George
Whitfield, when at Oxford in 1733, lived wholesomely, if sparingly,
on a diet of Sage Tea, sugar and coarse bread. Balsamic Sage, S.
grandiflora, a broad-leaved Sage with many-flowered whorls of
blossoms, used to be preferred to all others for making tea. An
infusion of Speedwell (Veronica officinalis), Sage and Wood Betony
is said to make an excellent beverage for breakfast, as a
substitute for tea, Speedwell having somewhat the flavour of
Chinese green tea. In Holland the leaves of S. glutinosa, the
yellow-flowered Hardy Sage, both flowers and foliage of which
exhale a pleasant odour, are used to give flavour to country wines,
and a good wine is made by boiling with sugar, the leaves and
flowers of another Sage, S. sclarea, the Garden Clary. The latter
is known in France as 'Toute bonne' - for its medicinal
It was formerly thought that Sage used in
the making of Cheese improved its flavour, and Gay refers to this
in a poem:
'Marbled with Sage, the hardening cheese
peasants eat Sage as a preservative of health, and many other
country people eat the leaves with bread and butter, than which, it
has been said, there is no better and more wholesome way of taking
of Sage, S. pomifera, the APPLEBEARING SAGE, of a very peculiar
growth, is common on some of the Greek islands. It has firm, fleshy
protuberances of about 3/4 inch thickness, swelling out from the
branches of the plant and supposed to be produced in the same
manner as oak apples, by the puncture of an insect of the Cynips
genus. These excrescences are semi-transparent like jelly. They are
called Sage Apples, and under that name are to be met with in the
markets. They are candied with sugar and made into a kind of
sweetmeat and conserve which is regarded by the Greeks as a great
delicacy, and is said to possess healing and salutary qualities. It
has an agreeable and astringent flavour. This plant is considerably
larger than the common Sage of our gardens and its flavour and
smell are much more powerful, being more like a mixture of Lavender
and Sage. It grows very abundantly in Candia, Syros and Crete,
where it attains to the size of a small shrub. The leaves are
collected annually, dried and used medicinally as an infusion, the
Greeks being particular as to the time and manner in which they are
collected, the date being May 1, before sunrise. The infusion
produces profuse perspiration, languor, and even faintness if used
to excess. There is a smaller Salvia in Greece, the S. Candica,
south European species, an annual, S. Horminum, the RED-TOPPED
SAGE, has its whorls of flowers terminated by clusters of small
purple or red leaves, being for this peculiarity often grown in
gardens as an ornamental plant. The leaves and seed of this
species, put into the vat, while fermenting, greatly increase the
inebriating quality of the liquor. An infusion of the leaves has
been considered a good gargle for sore gums, and powdered makes a
varieties of Sage seeds are mucilaginous and nutritive, and are
used in Mexico by the Indians as food, under the name of
---Cultivation---The Garden Sage succeeds best in a warm and
rather dry border, but will grow well almost anywhere in ordinary
garden soil; it thrives in a situation somewhat shaded from
sunshine, but not strictly under trees.
---Description---It is a hardy plant, but though a perennial,
does not last above three or four years without degenerating, so
that the plantation should be renewed at least every four years. It
is propagated occasionally by seed, but more frequently by
cuttings. New plantations are readily made by pulling off the young
shoots from three-year-old plants in spring, generally in the
latter end of April, as soon as they attain a sufficiency of
hardness to enable them to maintain themselves on the moisture of
the ground and atmosphere, while the lower extremities are
preparing roots. If advantage be taken of any showery weather that
may occur, there is little trouble in obtaining any number of
plants, which may either be struck in the bed where they are to
grow, inserting a foot apart each way, or in some other shady spot
whence they may be removed to permanent quarters when rooted. The
latter plan is the best when the weather is too bright and sunny to
expect Sage to strike well in its ordinary quarters. See the young
plants do not suffer from want of water during their first summer,
and hoe the rows regularly to induce a bushy growth, nipping off
the growing tips if shooting up too tall. Treat the ground with
soot and mulch in winter with old manure. Cuttings may also be
taken in the autumn, as soon as the plants have ceased
also often propagated by layers, in the spring and autumn, the
branches of old plants being pegged down on the ground and covered
with 1/2 inch of earth. The plant, being like other of the
woody-stemmed garden herbs, a 'stem rooter,' each of the stems thus
covered will produce quantities of rootlets by just lying in
contact with the ground, and can after a time be cut away from the
old plant and transplanted to other quarters as a separate
is always propagated by layering or by cuttings, as the seed does
not produce a red-leaved plant, but reverts back to the original
green-leaved type, though efforts are being made to insure the
production of a Red Sage that shall set seed and remain true and
develop into the red-leaved plant.
backed by late-flowering Orange Lilies go very well together, and
being in flower at the same time make an effective grouping. The
calyces of Sage flowers remain on the plants well into late summer
and give a lovely haze of reddish spikes; the smell of these
seeding spikes is very distinct from the smell of the leaves, and
much more like that of the Lemon-scented Verbena, pungent, aromatic
and most refreshing.
present day, by far the largest demand for Sage is for culinary
use, and it should pay to grow it in quantity for this purpose as
it is little trouble. For this, the White variety, with somewhat
pale green leaves should be taken.
Dalmatia, where the collection of Sage in its wild condition forms
an important cottage industry, it is gathered before blooming, the
leaves being harvested from May to September, those plucked in
midsummer being considered the best. The general opinion is that it
should be gathered before the bloom opens, but the Austrian
Pharmacopoeia states that it is best when gathered during
Constituents---The chief constituent of Sage and its active
principle is a yellow or greenish-yellow volatile oil (sp. gr.
0.910 to 0.930) with a penetrating odour. Tannin and resin are also
present in the leaves, 0.5 to 1.0 per cent of the oil is yielded
from the leaves and twigs when fresh, and about three times this
quantity when dry.
oil of commerce is obtained from the herb S. officinalis, and
distilled to a considerable extent in Dalmatia and recently in
Spain, but from a different species of Salvia. A certain amount of
oil is also distilled in Germany. The oil distilled in Dalmatia and
in Germany is of typically Sage odour, and is used for flavouring
purposes. The botanical origin of Spanish Sage oil is now
identified as S. triloba, closely allied to S. officinalis, though
probably other species may also be employed. The odour of the
Spanish oil more closely resembles that of Spike Lavender than the
Sage oil distilled in Germany for flavouring purposes, and is as a
rule derived from the wild Dalmatian herb, S. officinalis. The
resemblance of the Spanish oil to Spike Lavender oil suggests the
possibility of its use for adulterative purposes, and it is an open
secret that admixture of the Spanish Sage oil with Spanish Spike
Lavender oil does take place to a considerable extent, though this
can be detected by chemical analysis. It is closer in character to
the oil of S. sclarea, Clary oil, which has a decided lavender
odour, although in the oil of S. triloba, the ester percentage does
not appear to be as high as in the oil of the S. sclarea
Dalmatian or German Sage oil is soluble in two volumes of 80 per
cent alcohol, Spanish Sage oil is soluble in six volumes of 70 per
contains a hydrocarbon called Salvene; pinene and cineol are
probably present in small amount, together with borneol, a small
quantity of esters, and the ketone thujone, the active principle
which confers the power of resisting putrefaction in animal
substances. Dextro-camphor is also present in traces. A body has
been isolated by certain chemists called Salviol, which is now
known to be identical with Thujone.
distilled Sage oil has been said to contain Cedrene.
a native of the island of Cyprus, yields an essential oil, having a
camphoraceous odour and containing about 75 per cent of
mellifer (syn. Ramona stachyoides) is a labiate plant found in
South California, known as BLACK SAGE, with similar constituents,
and also traces of formic acid.
Action and Uses---Stimulant, as tringent, tonic and carminative.
Has beenused in dyspepsia, but is now mostly employed as a
condiment. In the United States, where it is still an official
medicine, it is in some repute, especially in the form of an
infusion, the principal and most valued application of which is as
a wash for the cure of affections of the mouth and as a gargle in
inflamed sore throat, being excellent for relaxed throat and
tonsils, and also for ulcerated throat. The gargle is useful for
bleeding gums and to prevent an excessive flow of
more stimulating effect to the throat is desirable, the gargle may
be made of equal quantities of vinegar and water, 1/2 pint of hot
malt vinegar being poured on 1 OZ. of leaves, adding 1/2 pint of
infusion when made for internal use is termed Sage Tea, and can be
made simply by pouring 1 pint of boiling water on to 1 OZ. of the
dried herb, the dose being from a wineglassful to half a teacupful,
as often as required, but the old-fashioned way of making it is
more elaborate and the result is a pleasant drink, cooling in
fevers, and also a cleanser and purifier of the blood. Half an
ounce of fresh Sage leaves, 1 OZ. of sugar, the juice of 1 lemon,
or 1/4 OZ. of grated rind, are infused in a quart of boiling water
and strained off after half an hour. (In Jamaica the negroes
sweeten Sage Tea with lime-juice instead of lemon.)
or infusion of Sage is a valuable agent in the delirium of fevers
and in the nervous excitement frequently accompanying brain and
nervous diseases and has considerable reputation as a remedy, given
in small and oft-repeated doses. It is highly serviceable as a
stimulant tonic in debility of the stomach and nervous system and
weakness of digestion generally. It was for this reason that the
Chinese valued it, giving it the preference to their own tea. It is
considered a useful medicine in typhoid fever and beneficial in
biliousness and liver complaints, kidney troubles, haemorrhage from
the lungs or stomach, for colds in the head as well as sore throat
and quinsy and measles, for pains in the joints, lethargy and
palsy. It will check excessive perspiration in phthisis cases, and
is useful as an emmenagogue. A cup of the strong infusion will be
found good to relieve nervous headache.
infusion made strong, without the lemons and sugar, is an excellent
lotion for ulcers and to heal raw abrasions of the skin. It has
also been popularly used as an application to the scalp, to darken
leaves, rubbed on the teeth, will cleanse them and strengthen the
gums. Sage is a common ingredient in tooth-powders.
volatile oil is said to be a violent epileptiform convulsant,
resembling the essential oils of absinthe and nutmeg. When smelt
for some time it is said to cause a sort of intoxication and
giddiness. It is sometimes prescribed in doses of 1 to 3 drops, and
used for removing heavy collections of mucus from the respiratory
organs. It is a useful ingredient in embrocations for
where heat is required, Sage has been considered valuable when
applied externally in bags, as a poultice and
at one time, to munch Sage leaves on nine consecutive mornings,
whilst fasting, was a country cure for ague, and the dried leaves
have been smoked in pipes as a remedy for asthma.
region where Sage grows wild, its leaves are boiled in vinegar and
used as a tonic.
Among many uses of the herb, Culpepper
says that it is:
'Good for diseases of the liver and to
make blood. A decoction of the leaves and branches of Sage made and
drunk, saith Dioscorides, provokes urine and causeth the hair to
become black. It stayeth the bleeding of wounds and cleaneth ulcers
and sores. Three spoonsful of the juice of Sage taken fasting with
a little honey arrests spitting or vomiting of blood in
consumption. It is profitable for all pains in the head coming of
cold rheumatic humours, as also for all pains in the joints,
whether inwardly or outwardly. The juice of Sage in warm water
cureth hoarseness and cough. Pliny saith it cureth stinging and
biting serpents. Sage is of excellent use to help the memory,
warming and quickening the senses. The juice of Sage drunk with
vinegar hath been of use in the time of the plague at all times.
Gargles are made with Sage, Rosemary, Honeysuckles and Plantains,
boiled in wine or water with some honey or alum put thereto, to
wash sore mouths and throats, as need requireth. It is very good
for stitch or pains in the sides coming of wind, if the place be
fomented warm with the decoction in wine and the herb also, after
boiling, be laid warm thereto.'
Onion stuffing for ducks, geese and pork enables the stomach to
digest the rich food.
Warner's Ancient Cookery, 1791, for 'Sawgeat,' Sawge.
and seeth (boil) it wel and grinde it smale and medle (mingle) it
with ayren (eggs) and ygrated (grated) brede (bread). Do thereto
salt sprinkled and saffron. Take a close litull ball of it in
foiles (leaves) of Sawge. Wet it with a bator (batter) of ayren,
fry and serve forth.'
Cook's Oracle, 1821:
fine an ounce of onion and 1/2 OZ. of green Sage leaves, put them
in a stamper with 4 spoonsful of water, simmer gently for 10
minutes, then put in a teaspoonful of pepper and salt and 1 OZ. of
fine breadcrumbs. Mix well together, then pour to it 1/4 pint of
Broth, Gravy or Melted Butter, stir well together and simmer a few
minutes longer. This is a relishing sauce for Roast Pork, Geese or
Duck, or with Green Peas on Maigre Days.'
for Roast Pork. or Goose
'2 OZ. of
leaves of Green Sage, an ounce of fresh lemon peel, pared thin,
same of salt, minced shallot and 1/2 drachm of Cayenne pepper,
ditto of citric acid, steeped for a fortnight in a pint of claret.
Shake it well every day; let it stand a day to settle and decant
the clear liquid. Bottle it and cork it close. Use a tablespoonful
or more in 1/4 pint of gravy or melted butter.'
modern Sage Sauce, excellent with Roast Pork is:
large Sage leaves, 2 onions, 1 teaspoonful of flour, 1 teaspoonful
of vinegar, butter the size of a walnut, salt, pepper, and 1/2 pint
of good, brown gravy. Scald the Sage leaves and chop them with the
onions to a mincemeat. Put them in a stewpan with the butter,
sprinkle in the flour, cover close and steam 10 minutes. Then add
the vinegar, gravy and seasoning and simmer half an
Walsh's Manual of Domestic Economy, 1857:
the tops of young red Sage in a mortar with some leaves of spinach
and squeeze the juice; mix it with the rennet in the milk, more or
less, according to the preferred colour and taste. When the curd is
come, break it gently and put it in with the skimmer till it is
pressed two inches above the vat. Press it 8 or 10 hours. Salt it
and turn every day.'
for a Sore Throat
glass of port wine, a tablespoonful of Chile vinegar, 6 Sage
leaves, and a dessertspoonful of honey; simmer together on the fire
for 5 minutes.
handful of Sage leaves and boil them in a gill of vinegar for 5
minutes; apply this in a folded napkin as hot as it can be borne to
the part affected.
Medicinal Action and Uses
---Synonyms---Clary. Horminum. Gallitricum. Clear Eye. See
Used---Herb, leaves, seeds.
---Habitat---The Common Clary, like the Garden Sage, is not a
native of Great Britain, having first been introduced into English
cultivation in the year 1562. It is a native of Syria, Italy,
southern France and Switzerland, but will thrive well upon almost
any soil that is not too wet, though it will frequently rot upon
moist ground in the winter.
describes and figures several varieties of Clary, under the names
of Horminum and Gallitricum. He describes it as growing 'in divers
barren places almost in every country, especially in the fields of
Holborne neare unto Grayes Inne . . . and at the end of
1710, in The English Herbal, gives a number of varieties of the
Garden Clary, which he calls Horminum Hortense, in distinction to
H. Sylvestre, the Wild Clary, subdividing it into the Common Clary
(H. commune), the True Garden Clary of Dioscorides (H. sativum
verum Dioscorides), the Yellow Clary (Calus Jovis), and the Small
or German Clary (H. humile Germanicum or Gallitricum alterum
Gerardi). This last variety being termed Gerardi, indicates that
Gerard classified this species when it was first brought over from
the Continent, evidently taking great pains to trace its history,
giving in his Herbal its Greek name and its various Latin ones.
That the Clary was known in ancient times is shown by the second
variety, the True Garden Clary, being termed
variety of Horminum is given in The Treasury of Botany, called H.
pyrenaicum, and described as 'a tufted perennial herb, with
numerous root-leaves, simple almost leafless stems and
purplish-blue flowers which grow in whorls of six, all turned the
same way. It is a native of the temperate parts of Europe, on the
---Description---The Common Garden Clary is a biennial plant,
its square, brownish stems growing 2 to 3 feet high, hairy and with
few branches. The leaves are arranged in pairs, almost stalkless
and are almost as large as the hand, oblong and heart-shaped,
wrinkled, irregularly toothed at the margins and covered with
velvety hairs. The flowers are in a long, loose, terminal spike, on
which they are set in whorls. The lipped corollas, similar to the
Garden Sage, but smaller, are of a pale blue or white. The flowers
are interspersed with large coloured, membraneous bracts, longer
than the spiny calyx. Both corollas and bracts are generally
variegated with pale purple and yellowish-white. The seeds are
blackish brown, 'contained in long, toothed husks,' as an old
writer describes the calyx. The whole plant possesses a very
strong, aromatic scent, somewhat resembling that of Tolu while the
taste is also aromatic, warm and sightly bitter.
to Ettmueller, this herb was first brought into use by the wine
merchants of Germany, who employed it as an adulterant, infusing it
with Elder flowers, and then adding the liquid to the Rhenish wine,
which converted it into the likeness of Muscatel. It is still
called in Germany Muskateller Salbei (Muscatel Sage).
Waller (1822) states it was also employed
in this country as a substitute for Hops, for sophisticating beer,
communicating considerable bitterness and intoxicating property,
which produced an effect of insane exhilaration of spirits,
succeeded by severe headache. Lobel says:
'Some brewers of Ale and Beere doe put it
into their drinke to make it more heady, fit to please drunkards,
who thereby, according to their several dispositions, become either
dead drunke, or foolish drunke, or madde drunke.'
parts of the country a wine has been made from the herb in flower,
boiled with sugar, which has a flavour not unlike
English name Clary originates in the Latin name sclarea, a word
derived from clarus (clear). Clary was gradually modified into
'Clear Eye,' one of its popular names, and from the fact that the
seeds have been used for clearing the sight.
we find the plant not only called 'Clear Eye,' but also 'See
Bright' and even 'Eyebright,' though this name belongs to another
plant - Euphrasia officinalis.
---Cultivation---Clary is propagated by seed, which should be
sown in spring. When fit to move, the seedlings should be
transplanted to an open spot of ground, a foot apart each way, if
required in large quantities. After the plants have taken root,
they will require no further care but to keep them free of weeds.
The winter and spring following, the leaves will be in perfection.
As the plant is a biennial only, dying off the second summer, after
it has ripened seeds, there should be young plants annually raised
Used---The herb and leaves, used both fresh and dry, dried in the
same manner as the Garden Sage. Formerly the root was used, dry, in
domestic medicine, and also the seeds.
---Constituents---Salvia sclarea yields an oil with a highly
aromatic odour, resembling that of ambergris. It is known
commercially as Clary oil, or Muscatel Sage, and is largely used as
a fixer of perfumes. Pinene, cineol and linalol have been isolated
from this oil.
of Clary has a specific gravity of 0.895 to 0.930, and is soluble
in two volumes of 80 per cent alcohol. German oil of Clary has a
specific gravity of 0.910 to 0.960, and is soluble in two volumes
of 90 per cent alcohol.
Action and Uses---Antispasmodic, balsamic, carminative, tonic,
aromatic, aperitive, astringent, and pectoral.
has been used, both fresh and dry, either alone or with other
herbs, as an infusion or a tincture.
mostly been employed in disordered states of the digestion, as a
stomachic, and has also proved useful in kidney
violent cases of hysteria or wind colic, a spirituous tincture has
been found of use, made by macerating in warm water for 14 days, 2
OZ. of dried Clary leaves and flowers, 1 OZ. of Chamomile flowers,
1/2 ox. bruised Avens root, 2 drachms of bruised Caraway and
Coriander seeds, and 3 drachms of bruised Burdock seeds, adding 2
pints of proof spirit, then filtering and diluting with double
quantity of water - a wineglassful being the dose.
'For tumours, swellings, etc., make a
mucilage of the seeds and apply to the spot. This will also draw
splinters and thorns out of the flesh.... For hot inflammation and
boils before they rupture, use a salve made of the leaves boiled
with hot vinegar, honey being added later till the required
consistency is obtained.' He recommends a powder of the dry roots
taken as snuff to relieve headache, and 'the fresh leaves, fried in
butter, first dipped in a batter of flour, egges, and a little
milke, serve as a dish to the table that is not unpleasant to any
and exceedingly profitable.'
of the herb drunk in ale and beer, as well as the ordinary
infusion, has been recommended as very helpful in all women's
diseases and ailments.
Jamaica, where the plant is found, it was much in use among the
negroes, who considered it cooling and cleansing for ulcers, and
also used it for inflammations of the eyes. A decoction of the
leaves boiled in coco-nut oil was used by them to cure the stings
of scorpions. Clary and a Jamaican species of Vervain form two of
the ingredients of an aromatic warm bath sometimes prescribed there
Medicinal Action and Uses
---Synonyms---Wild English Clary. Christ's Eye. Oculus
English Clary, or Vervain Sage, is a native of all parts of Europe
and not uncommon in England in dry pastures and on roadsides, banks
and waste ground, especially near the sea, or on chalky soil. It is
a smaller plant than the Garden Clary, but its medicinal virtues
are rather more powerful.
---Description---The perennial root is woody, thicky and long,
the stem 1 to 2 feet high, erect with the leaves in distinct pairs,
the lower shortly stalked, and the upper ones stalkless. The
radical leaves lie in a rosette and have foot-stalks 1 1/2 to 4
inches long, their blades about the same length, oblong in shape,
blunt at their ends and heart-shaped at the base, wavy at the
margins, which are generally indented by five or six shallow, blunt
lobes on each side, their surfaces much wrinkled. The whole plant
is aromatic, especially when rubbed, and is rendered conspicuous by
its long spike of purplish-blue flowers, first dense, afterwards
becoming rather lax. The whorls of the spike are sixflowered, and
at the base of each flower are two heart-shaped, fringed, pointed
bracts. The calyx is much larger than the corolla. The plant is in
bloom from June to August. The seeds are smooth, and like the
Garden Clary, produce a great quantity of soft, tasteless mucilage,
when moistened. If put under the eyelids for a few moments the
tears dissolve this mucilage, which envelops any dust and brings it
out safely. Old writers called this plant 'Oculus Christi,' or
Action and Uses---'A decoction of the leaves,' says Culpepper,
'being drank, warms the stomach, also it helps digestion and
scatters congealed blood in any part of the body.'
was thought to be more efficacious to the eye than the Garden
distilled water strengthening the eyesight, especially of old
people,' says Culpepper, 'cleaneth the eyes of redness waterishness
and heat: it is a gallant remedy fordimness of sight, to take one
of the seeds of it and put it into the eyes, and there let it
remain till it drops out of itself, the pain will be nothing to
speak on: it will cleanse the eyes of all filthy and putrid matter;
and repeating it will take off a film which covereth the
pratensis, the MEADOW SAGE - our other native Sage - is a very rare
plant, found only in a few localities in Cornwall, Kent and
Oxfordshire, and by some authorities is considered hardly a true
common in some parts of Italy and the Ionian Islands.
It has the
habit of S. Verbenaca, but is larger. The flowers are very showy,
large and bright blue, arranged on a long spike, four flowers in
each whorl, the corolla (about four times as long as the calyx)
having the prominent upper lip much arched and compressed and often
glutinous. The stem bears very few leaves.
plants, though not true Sages, have been popularly called 'Sage':
Phlomis fruticosa, a hardy garden shrub, 2 to 4 feet high, with
flowers either yellow or dusky yellow, was known as Jerusalem Sage;
Turner (1548) terms it so and he is followed in this by Green
(1832), whereas Lyte (1578) gives this name to Pulmonaria
officinalis, the Common Lungwort, and Gerard (1597), describing
Phlomis fruticosa, gives it another name, saying, 'The leaves are
in shape like the leaves of Sage, whereupon the vulgar people call
it French Sage.' Gerard gives the name of 'Sage of Bethlem' to
Pulmonaria officinalis; in localities of North Lincolnshire, the
name has been given to the Garden Mint, Mentha viridis. 'Garlick
Sage' is one of the names quoted by Gerard for Teucrium scorodonia,
which we find variously termed by old writers, Mountain Sage, Wild
Sage and Wood Sage.
See GERMANDER, SAGE-LEAVED.
Hypericum perforatum (LINN.)
Medicinal Action and Uses
Preparations and Dosages
Used---Herb tops, flowers.
---Habitat---Britain and throughout Europe and
herbaceous perennial growing freely wild to a height of 1 to 3 feet
in uncultivated ground, woods, hedges, roadsides, and meadows;
short, decumbent, barren shoots and erect stems branching in upper
part, glabrous; leaves pale green, sessile, oblong, with pellucid
dots or oil glands which may be seen on holding leaf to light.
Flowers bright cheery yellow in terminal corymb. Calyx and corolla
marked with black dots and lines; sepals and petals five in number;
ovary pear-shaped with three long styles. Stamens in three bundles
joined by their bases only. Blooms June to August, followed by
numerous small round blackish seeds which have a resinous smell and
are contained in a three-celled capsule; odour peculiar,
terebenthic; taste bitter, astringent and balsamic.
many ancient superstitions regarding this herb. Its name Hyperieum
is derived from the Greek and means 'over an apparition,' a
reference to the belief that the herb was so obnoxious to evil
spirits that a whiff of it would cause them to fly.
and Uses---Aromatic, astringent, resolvent, expectorant and
nervine. Used in all pulmonary complaints, bladder troubles, in
suppression of urine, dysentery, worms, diarrhoea, hysteria and
nervous depression, haemoptysis and other haemorrhages and
jaundice. For children troubled with incontinence of urine at night
an infusion or tea given before retiring will be found effectual;
it is also useful in pulmonary consumption, chronic catarrh of the
lungs, bowels or urinary passages. Externally for fomentations to
dispel hard tumours, caked breasts, ecchymosis, etc.
Dosages---1 OZ. of the herb should be infused in a pint of water
and 1 to 2 tablespoonsful taken as a dose. Fluid extract, 1/2 to 1
The oil of
St. John's Wort is made from the flowers infused in olive
Tragopogon porrifolius (LINN.)
Medicinal Action and Uses
---Synonyms---Purple Goat's Beard. Vegetable
Salsifis des prés.
Salsafy, familiar as a kitchen-garden plant, is very similar to
Goat's Beard, the main difference being the colour of the flowers -
yellow in our native species, purple in the Salsafy.
often called the Purple Goat's Beard, from its likeness in general
character to the Yellow Goat's Beard of the countryside. Some
writers, again, invert this distinction and call the Yellow Goat's
Beard, 'Meadow Salsafy.' The French call it 'Salsifis des
a corruption of the old Latin name solsequium. This was derived
from the Latin words sol (sun) and sequens (following), meaning the
flower that followed the course of the sun.
It is a
taller plant than the Goat's Beard, the stem being nearly 3 feet
high. The leaves and flowers are similar in form, the flowers
having the same peculiarity of closing at noon. The florets are of
a delicate pale purple colour.
a British species, it is occasionally found in moist meadows,
having been originally a garden escape. It was formerly much
cultivated for the sake of its fleshy, tapering roots.
---Cultivation---Salsafy is a very easy crop to grow and
matures in a year.
open soil is preferable, though it will also grow on heavy soil. On
a stony soil, or one made up of clay with flints scattered in it,
it will not be a success, as the roots get coarse and forked. No
manure should be added to the soil, as forking will also then
result, but wood-ash, lime, soot, superphosphates, etc., may be
should be sown 1 inch or more deep, 4 inches apart, in drills 9
inches asunder, as early in March as possible, to give a long
season for its growth.
may be lifted in October and stored in the same way as Beet,
Carrot, etc., or they may remain in the ground until the
seed frequently fails, unless kept wet from sowing time till the
seedlings are well up.
---Medicinal Action and Uses---Culpepper
says of Purple Goat's Beard:
'The virtues of this are the same as the
other, only less pleasant, therefore more bitter, astringent,
detersive and medicinal. This, however, may be eaten in great
quantities, and so will be useful in chronic complaints. The roots
are particularly specific in obstructions of the gall and the
jaundice; the best way to use them is stewed like
as one of the most salubrious of culinary vegetables, being
antibilious, cooling, deobstruent, and slightly aperient; but
although it is deservedly esteemed as an esculent, it is
nevertheless decidedly inferior to Scorzonera in properties, nor
does it keep so well when taken out of the ground, as it soon
becomes hardened, insipid, and difficult to cook
See GOAT'S BEARD (YELLOW).
bundle of Salsafy, wash and cut into short pieces, and put into a
basin of cold water containing lemon juice or vinegar. Drain and
cook in stock or seasoned water till tender. Make a white sauce,
put in the Salsafy previously drained and blend both carefully.
Place on a buttered dish, pour over the sauce sprinkle breadcrumbs
over, add a few small pieces of butter and bake for 10 minutes in a
drain and place a layer of Salsafy in a shallow dish. Sprinkle with
grated cheese, then a layer of Bechamel sauce, again a layer of
Salsafy, then more cheese and sauce, and sprinkle breadcrumbs over
the top. Place in a quick oven to get well hot through and
plain boiled, the roots must be scraped lightly first, cut up into
two or three portions, and placed in water, with a few drops of
lemon juice or vinegar, to prevent them discolouring. Then boiled
for an hour, quickly, in salt water till tender, drained and served
with a white sauce.
about 20 heads of Salsafy, cut into pieces about 2 inches long,
sprinkle them with salt and steep in water and milk. Cut a small
onion, half a carrot, half a turnip and half a head of celery into
small pieces. Put these on in a stewpan with 1/4 lb. of lean bacon
cut into pieces. Cook for 20 minutes. Mix 1 OZ. flour with a little
milk and stir in, fill up with a quart of stock or water, stir and
bring to the boil. Put in the Salsafy and let it simmer till
tender. Add a tablespoonful of cream, one of chopped parsley, and a
little lemon juice. Season with pepper, grated nutmeg and castor
sugar. Reheat and arrange the Salsafy neatly on a dish, garnish
with button mushrooms, pour over the sauce and serve.
wash a bundle of Salsafy. Cut it up small and place in a stewpan,
with 3 OZ. of butter and a finely-minced onion, and stir for a few
minutes. Then moisten with about a quart of white stock, add also 1
OZ. rice. When cooked, drain and pound with the rice and pass all
through a fine sieve. Then put the purée with a stock, stir over
the fire, boil up the soup, season with salt, pepper and nutmeg. At
the last add half a gill of cream, 2 beaten-up yolks of eggs, but
do not let the soup boil again.
Crithmum maritimum (LINN.)
Medicinal Action and Uses
---Synonyms---Sea Fennel. Crest Marine. Sampier.
Herba di San Pietra. Sanpetra.
Occasionally we find the name SEA FENNEL given to a plant which
is far more familiar under the name of SAMPHIRE, and which also
belongs to the great order of umbelliferous plants, though not to
the same genus as the fennel. In German, this plant is also given a
name equivalent to sea-fennel: Meerfenchel.
tells us that the name of this plant is more properly zas; it was
formerly spelt Sampere, or Sampier, from Saint Pierre, and Herba di
San Pietra (contracted to Sanpetra) is its Italian name. It is
dedicated to the fisherman saint, because it likes to grow on
Samphire is a succulent, smooth, much-branched herb, woody at the
base, growing freely on rocks on the sea-shore moistened by the
is well distinguished by its long, fleshy, bright-green, shining
leaflets (full of aromatic juice) and umbels of tiny,
yellowish-green blossoms. The whole plant is aromatic and has a
leaves, if gathered in May, sprinkled with salt (after freeing them
from stalks and flowers), boiled and covered with vinegar and
spice, make one of the best pickles, on account of their aromatic
parts of the coast where Samphire does not abound, other plants
which resemble it in having fleshy leaves are sometimes sold under
the same name, but are very inferior.
Samphire gathering is referred to in King
Hangs one that gathers samphire; dreadful
present time it grows but sparingly on the white cliffs of Dover,
where Shakespeare described it, but in his days it was probably
more abundant there. From his description of the perilous nature of
the collection of Samphire, it might be assumed that it grows where
none but the adventurous can reach it, but it is to be found
growing freely in the clefts of the rocks, and is in many places
easily accessible from the beach, and is even sometimes to be found
in the salt marshes that in some districts fringe the
is abundantly met with where circumstances are favourable to its
growth, around the coasts of western or southern England, but is
rarer in the north and seldom met with in Scotland.
The use of
Samphire as a condiment and pickle, or as an ingredient in a salad
is of ancient date. It used at one time to be cried in London
streets as 'Crest Marine.'
---Medicinal Action and Uses---In Gerard's
time it was in great reputation as a condiment. He wrote in
'The leaves kept in pickle and eaten in
sallads with oile and vinegar is a pleasant sauce for meat,
wholesome for the stoppings of the liver, milt and kidnies. It is
the pleasantest sauce, most familiar and best agreeing with man's
writing some fifty years later, deplores that it had in his days
much gone out of fashion, for it is well known almost to everybody
that ill digestions and obstructions are the cause of most of the
diseases which the frail nature of man is subject to; both of which
might be remedied by a more frequent use of this herb. It is a safe
herb, very pleasant to taste and stomach.
seaside districts where Samphire is found, it is still eaten
pickled by country people.
Inula crithmoides (LINN.)
crithmoides, popularly named Golden Samphire, is a species growing
in salt marshes and on sea-cliffs, but rare, and in England only
plentiful in the Isle of Sheppey.
---Description---It has narrow, fleshy leaves and large yellow
flowers, growing singly at the extremity of the branches. Formerly,
when Samphire (Crithmum Maritimum) was sold in the London markets
for a pickle, the young branches of this species were sometimes
mixed with it, causing Green in his Universal Herbal (1832) to
indignantly remark: 'but it is a villainous imposition because this
plant has none of the warm aromatic taste of the true
Santalum album (LINN.)
Medicinal Action and Uses
small tree 20 to 30 feet high, with many opposite slender drooping
branches, bark smooth grey-brown. Young twigs glabrous; leaves
opposite, without stipules, petiole slender, about 1/2 inch long,
blade 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 inches long, oval, ovate-oval or lanceolate,
acute or obtuse at apex, tapering at base into petiole entire,
smooth on both sides, glaucous beneath. Flowers small, numerous,
shortly stalked in small pyramidal erect terminal and axillary,
trichotomus paniculate, cymes panicle, branches smooth, bracts
small passing into leaves below.
campanulate, smooth, about 1/5 inch long, divided into four (rarely
five) triangular, acute, spreading segments, valvate, in bud rather
fleshy, at first straw coloured, changing to deep reddish purple
provided at the mouth with four erect, fleshy, rounded lobes.
Stamens four, opposite, perianth segments, filaments short, in
serted in mouth of perianth alternating witherect lobes. Anthers
short, two-celled, introrse, ovary half, inferior, tapering,
onecelled, an erect central placenta, rising from base and not
reaching to the top, to the summit of which are attached three or
four pendulous ovules without the usual coverings, style filiform,
stigma small, three or four lobed on a level with
concealed about size of a pea, spherical, crowned by rim-like
remains of perianth tube, smooth, rather fleshy, nearly black, seed
are felled or dug up by roots; the branches are worthless, so are
cut off. It is usual to leave the trunk on the ground for several
months for the white ants to eat away the sap wood, which is also
of no value; it is then trimmed and sawn into billets 2 to 2 1/2
feet long and taken to mills in the forests, where it is again
trimmed and sorted into grades. It is heavy, hard, but splits
easily; colour light yellow, transverse sections yellow to light
reddish brown, with alternating light and dark concentric zones
nearly equal in diameter, numerous pores, and traversed by many
very narrow medullary rays. Odour characteristic, aromatic,
persistent; taste peculiar, strongly aromatic. Indian Sandalwood is
a Government monopoly.
and Uses---Used internally in chronic bronchitis, a few drops on
sugar giving relief; also in gonorrhoea and gleet; in chronic
cystitis, with benzoic and boric acids. Much used as a perfume for
different purposes. The wood is used for making fancy articles and
is much carved.
extract, 1 to 2 drachms. Oil, 5 to 20 drops.
---Adulterants---Castor oil is often added, and on the
Continent oil of cedar, made by distilling the chips remaining from
the manufacture of lead pencils.
Species---Pterocarpus santalinus or Santalum rubrum (Red
Sandalwood), solely used for colouring and dyeing. Other varieties
come from the Sandwich Islands, Western Australia and New
Arenaria rubra (LINN.)
Medicinal Action and Uses
---Synonyms---Spergularia rubra. Sabline rouge. Tissa rubra.
---Habitat---Europe, Russia, Asia, North America,
Britain in sandy, gravelly heaths and waste places near the sea.
Flowers all the summer. There are two marked varieties: the one
growing inland has small flowers, thin leaves, short capsules,
seeds rarely bordered. The other, often called Spergularia Marina,
is larger in every respect and has fleshy leaves. For medicinal
purposes the one most used is found in Malta, Sicily and Algiers,
growing in dry sandy soil from Quebec to Virginia.
annual or biennial plant, glabrous or with a short viscid down in
the upper parts; numerous stems branching from the base forming
prostrate tufts 3 to 6 inches long; leaves narrow, linear; very
short conspicuous scarious stipules at the base. Flowers usually
pink, sometimes white, but variable size; short pedicels in forked
cymes, usually leafy at base. Petals shorter, rarely longer than
the sepals. Seeds more or less flattened.
and Uses---Long used in bladder diseases. It contains a resinous,
aromatic substance which presumably is its active principle. Very
valuable for calculus diseases and acute and chronic
extract up to 30 grains, or of the fluid extract, 1 fluid drachm
three or four times a day. Infusion, 1 OZ. to 1 pint. Its taste is
saline and slightly aromatic.
Sanicula Europaea (LINN.)
Medicinal Action and Uses
---Habitat---Wood Sanicle is an umbelliferous perennial plant,
common in woods and thickets and damp moist places, and generally
distributel over the British Isles. It is most abundant in the
middle and north of Europe and is found on the mountains of
tropical Africa. It is the only representative in this country of
the genus Sanicula, to which very few species are
root-stock (the short underground stem from which each year's new
stalks grow upward) is shortly creeping and fibrous, with a few
thick, brownish scales at the top, the remains of decayed
leafstalks. The stem, erect, 8 inches to 2 feet high, is simple,
often leafless or with a single leaf. The radical leaves are on
stalks 2 to 8 inches long, the leaves themselves palmately three to
five partite and divided nearly to the base of the leaf, the lobes,
or divisions, often three-cleft again. The leaves are heartshaped
at the base near the stalk and toothed like a saw.
flowers are in umbels. Each little group, or umbellule, forms a
hemispherical head. The little stalks, each bearing a head of
flowers, join together at one spot again to form what is termed a
compound or general umbel, as in most plants of this order. In the
case of the Sanicle, the umbel is said to be irregular, as the
converging stalks forming these rays are often divided into two or
three prongs. The flowers are pinkish-white, 1/16 inch across, the
outer flowers of the umbellules being without stamens; the inner,
without pistils. They blossom in May and June and are succeeded in
August by roundish seeds, which are covered with prickles, causing
them to adhere to everything they touch.
is glabrous and bright green, the leaves paler beneath and the
stems often reddish.
of the name of this genus is the Latin word sano (I heal or cure),
in reference to the medicinal virtues.
In the Middle Ages the power of Sanicle
Celuy qui sanicle a
De mire affaire il n'a.
Qui a la Bugle et la Sanicle fait aux
chirugiens la niche.
It was as
a vulnerary that this plant gained its medical reputation. Lyte and
other herbalists say that it will 'make whole and sound all wounds
and hurts, both inward and outward.'
Sanicle has locally often been known as Self-Heal, a name which
belongs rightly to another quite distinct herb, Prunella vulgaris,
belonging to the Labiate order.
---Cultivation---Sanicle is generally collected from wild
In a moist
soil and a shady situation, Sanicle will thrive excellently,
especially in rich soil.
Propagation may be effected by division of roots, any time from
September to March, the best time for the operation being in the
autumn Plant from 8 to 9 inches apart each way.
whole herb, collected in June and dried. Gather the herb only on a
fine day, in the morning, when the sun has dried off the
yet no analysis has been made of this plant, but evidence of tannin
in its several parts is afforded by the effects produced by the
it is at first very bitter and astringent, afterwards acrid, and
probably partakes of the poisonous acridity which is so frequent in
the Umbelliferae. In the fresh leaves, the taste is very slight,
but considerable in the dry leaves, and in the extract made from
and Uses---Astringent, alterative. Sanicle is usually given in
combination with other herbs in the treatment ofblood disorders,
for which it is in high esteem.
internal remedy, it is of great benefit in all chest and lung
complaints, chronic coughs and catarrhal affections, inflammation
of the bronchii, spitting of blood, and all affections of the
alterative, it has a good reputation, and it is useful in
leucorrhoea, dysentery, diarrhoea, etc.
effectually cleanses the system of morbid secretions and leaves the
blood healthier and in better condition. The infusion of 1 OZ. to a
pint of boiling water is taken in wineglassful doses.
used as a gargle in sore throat, quinsy, and whenever an astringent
gargle is required. Culpepper mentions the use of Sanicle for
disease of the lungs and throat, and recommends the gargle being
made from a decoction of the leaves and root in water, a little
honey being added.
scald-head of children and all cases of rashes, the decoction or
infusion forms an admirable external remedy.
popularly employed in France and Germany as a remedy for profuse
bleeding from the lungs, bowels, and other internal organs and for
checking dysentery, the fresh juice being given in tablespoonful
---Preparations---Fluid extract, 1/2 to 1 drachm. A strong
decoction of the leaves used to be a popular remedy for bleeding
of an American species, Sanicula marilandica, contains resin and
volatile oil, and has been used with alleged success in
intermittent fever and in chorea, in doses of 10 to 60
Bastard Sanicle belongs, not to this genus, but to the genus
Mitella, and the Bear's Ear Sanicle (Cortusa Matthiola) is likewise
not a true Sanicle, being related to the Primroses and
Sanicle is one of the names given sometimes to Butterwort, or Marsh
Violet (Pinguicula vulgaris), a plant with violetcoloured flowers
and thick plaintain-shaped leaves, which grow in a tuft or rosette
on the ground, and to the touch are greasy, causing them to be used
for application to sores and chapped hands.
Aralia nudicaulis (LINN.)
---Synonyms---False Sarsaparilla. Wild Sarsaparilla. Shot Bush.
Small Spikenard. Wild Liquorice. Rabbit Root.
---Habitat---Canada to the Carolinas.
---Description---A herbaceous perennial, with large, tortuous,
fleshy, horizontal, creeping, long roots, externally yellowy brown,
from which grows a large solitary compound leaf. Leaflets oval,
obovate, acute, finely serrate. Flower-stem also comes from root,
naked, about 1 foot high, terminating in three small many-flowered
greenish umbels, no involucres. Fruit a small, black berry the size
of elderberry. The root has a sweet spicy taste, and a pleasant
---Medicinal Action and Uses---Alterative, pectoral,
diaphoretic, sudorific. Used as a substitute for Smilax
Sarsaparilla is useful in pulmonary diseases and externally as a
wash for indolent ulcers and shingles. It is said to be used by the
Crees under the name of Rabbit Root for syphilis and as an
application to recent wounds. It contains resin, oil, tannin,
albumen, an acid, mucilage and cellulose.
extract, 1/2 to 1 drachm.
---Description---The radicals are often very amylaceous
internally and in this respect is very like Sarsaparilla papyracea,
but the plant has now almost been destroyed and is difficult to
obtain. The roots contain large quantities of starch.
papyracea, native of Trinidad, French Guiana and North Brazil, is a
near ally of S. officinalis, and like it, is only known by is leaf
specimens; it is recognized by the old stems and lower branches,
which instead of being cylindrical, as in most other species,
always remain intensely quadrangular, their angles having very flat
closely crowded prickles and leaves more membranaceous. The Rio
Negro Smilax is an allied species Smilax Spruceana. This plant is
known as affording Guatemala Sarsaparilla and is considered to be
identical with Sarsaparilla papyracea. Smilax syphilitica is a
native of New Grenada, has a smooth round stem, bearing at the
knots two to four short, thick, straight prickles. Leaves 1 foot
long, oblong, lanceolate, acuminate, shining, coriaceous, three
nerved, ending in a long point.
Sarsaparilla grows in the valleys of the Western slopes of
Equatorial Andes. It appears in commerce carelessly packed in
bales. The rhizome and parts of the stem often mixed with the root,
the stem is round and prickly, root dark, large and coarse, with
much fibre. The bark furrowed thick and not mealy in the thinner
portions of the root, which is near the foot-stalks. As the root
gets thicker, the bark becomes thicker, smoother and amylaceous,
showing when cut a pale yellow interior.
Preparations and Dosages
Medicinal Action and Uses
---Synonyms---Smilax Medica. Red-bearded
---Habitat---Central America, principally Costa
---Description---This plant derived its name from being
exported to Europe through Jamaica. The word Sarsaparilla comes
from the Spanish Sarza, meaning a bramble, and parilla, a vine, in
allusion to the thorny stems of the plant. This is a non-mealy
Sarsaparilla. It is a large perennial climber, rhizome underground,
large, short, knotted, with thickened nodes and roots spreading up
to 6 or 8 feet long. Stems erect, semiwoody, with very sharp
prickles 1/2 inch long. Leaves large, alternate stalked, almost
evergreen with prominent veins, seven nerved mid-rib very strongly
marked. Flowers and fruit not known. Cortex thick and brownish,
with an orange red tint; when chewed it tinges the saliva, and
gives a slightly bitter and mucilaginous taste, followed by a very
acrid one; it contains a small proportion of starch, also a
glucoside, sarsaponin, sarsapic acid, and fatty acids, palmitic,
stearic, behenic, oleic and linolic.
Sarsaparilla was introduced in the middle of the sixteenth century
as a remedy for syphilis, and later came to be used for other
chronic diseases, specially rheumatism. It is a mild gastric
irritant due to its saponin content. The smoke of Sarsaparilla was
recommended for asthma. It is also very useful as a tonic,
alterative, diaphoretic and diuretic. Its active principle is a
crystalline body, Parillin or Smilacin.
Dosages---Powdered root, 1/2 to 1 drachm. Fluid extract, U.S.P.,
1/2 to 1 drachm. Fluid extract, B.P., 2 to 4 drachms. Solid
extract, 10 to 20 grains. Compound solution, 2 to 8 drachms.
Compound syrup, U.S.P., 4 drachms.
officinalis has a twining stem, angular and prickly; young shoots
unarmed; leaves ovate, oblong, acute, cordate, smooth, 1 foot long;
petioles 1 inch long, having tendrils above the base. This plant
grows in New Granada, on the banks of Magdaline near Bajorgne.
Commercially it consists of very long roots, with a thick bark,
grey or brown colour. Almost odourless. Taste mucilaginous. The
deep orange-tinted roots are the best.
---Constituents---Salseparin, starch, colouring matter,
essential oil chloride of potassium, bassorin, albumen, pectic and
ascitic acids, and salts of lime, oxide of iron, potassa and
magnesia. It is said to be the source of Honduras Sarsaparilla and
is considered the best of all Sarsaparillas. It is exported from
the bay of Honduras in over 2 feet long roots folded into a sort of
hank, with a few rootlets attached, grey or reddy brown, with mealy
cortex. It has the same properties as the other varieties, but if
alcohol is added to the infusions of the root it will greatly
increase their medicinal qualities.
and Uses---Alterative, tonic. Used in chronic skin diseases,
rheumatism, passive dropsy.
20 grains. Infusion or syrup, 4 fluid ounces.
Medicinal Action and Uses
---Synonyms---Hemidesmus. Periploca Indica. Nunnari Asclepias.
---Habitat---All parts of India, the Moluccas, and
climbing slender plant with twining woody stems, and a
rust-coloured bark, leaves opposite, petiolate, entire, smooth,
shiny and firm, varying in shape and size according to their age.
Flowers small green outside, deep purple inside, in axillary,
sessile racemes, imbricated with flowers, followed with scale-like
bracts. Fruit two long slender spreading follicles.
has long been used in India as an antisyphilitic in place of
Sarsaparilla, but was not introduced into England till 1831. The
root is long, tortuous, rigid, cylindrical, little branched,
consisting of aligneous centre, a brownish corky bark, furrowed and
with annular cracks, odour aromatic, probably due to Coumarin and
not unlike Sassafras or new-mown hay, with a bitter, sweetish,
feeble aromatic taste. One side of the root is sometimes separated
from the cork and raised above the cortex and transversely
fissured, showing numerous laticiferous cells in the
---Constituents---Unknown. No satisfactory investigation has
yet been made of the chemical properties. But a volatile oil has
been found in it and a peculiar crystallizable principle, called by
some Hemidesmine; others suggest that the substance is only a
stearoptene. It also contains some starch, saponin, and in the
suberous layer tannic acid.
and Uses---Alterative, tonic and diuretic. Useful for rheumatism,
scrofula, skin diseases and thrush; it is used as an infusion, but
not as a decoction as boiling dissipates its active volatile
principle. Two OZ. of the root are infused in 1 pint of boiling
water and left standing for 1 hour then strained off and drunk in
been successfully used in the cure of venereal disease, proving
efficacious where American Sarsaparilla has failed. Native doctors
utilize it in nephritic complaints and for sore mouths of
B.P., 1/2 to 1 drachm.
Particularly indicated for inveterate syphilis,
pseudo-syphilis, mescurio-syphilis and struma in all its forms.
Also valuable in gonorrhoeal neuralgia and other depraved
conditions of the system as well as for other diseases treated by
grains three times daily. Infusion or syrup, 4 fluid
1 lb. Rio
Negro Sarsaparilla root, or in place of it Stillingia Sylvatica; 6
OZ. rasped guaiac wood; aniseed and liquorice root bruised 2 OZ. of
each; 1 lb. molasses; 1 OZ. Mezereon root-bark and 6 Cloves. Put
all these into 2 gallons of boiling water and shake vessel well.
When fermentation starts, take 4 fluid ounces three times
Aralia nudicaulis (LINN.)
Medicinal Action and Uses
---Synonyms---Bamboo Brier. Smilax Sarsaparilla.
---Habitat---A native of the southern United States and grows
in swampy woods and thickets.
has a stout, flexuous and square stem, with a few hooked prickles
above. Leaves unarmed, elliptical-ovate, cuspidate, abruptly
contracted at each end; three strong veins, two lateral smaller
secondary ones; underside glaucous, 3 inches diameter, on short
margined petioles, with two long tendrils at their bases. Flowers
yellowish-white, appearing May to August, in small thin umbels of
three or four red or black berries, three-seeded.
and Uses---Alterative, tonic, antisyphilitic. Said to be inferior
to all other Sarsaparillas. Much used by the American Indians. Used
freely in decoction.
Medica has an angular stem armedwith straight prickles at joints,
and a few hooked ones at intervals; paper-like leaves, bright green
both sides, smooth, cordate, auriculate, shortly acuminate,
five-nerved prominent veins underneath and otherwise variable in
form. Mid-rib and petioles, when old, have straight, subulate
prickles, peduncles three lines to 1 inch; umbels twelve flowers;
pedicle three lines long. Found growing in Papantla, Inspan, etc.
Said to be similar to the Mexican or Vera Cruz Sarsapa of commerce,
which may be derived from this species.
SARSAPARILLA MEXICAN (Synonym. Vera Cruz Sarsaparilla), as
found in commerce, has a caudex with a number of long radicles
which are smaller and have a thinner bark than the Honduras
variety, contain little starch and have square endodermal cells
with thickened walls, and more or less oval lumen. The taste is
acrid and the plant contains the medical properties of other
Sassafras officinale (LEES and EBERM.)
Poison and Antidotes
---Synonyms---Sassafras varifolium. Laurus Sassafras.
Sassafrax. Sassafras radix.
Used---Bark-root and the root, pith.
---Habitat---Eastern United States, from Canada to Florida, and
name 'Sassafras,' applied by the Spanish botanist Monardes in the
sixteenth century, is said to be a corruption of the Spanish word
for saxifrage. The tree stands from 20 to 40 feet high, with many
slender branches, and smooth, orangebrown bark. The leaves are
broadly oval, alternate, and 3 to 7 inches long. The flowers are
small, and of an inconspicuous, greenishyellow colour. The roots
are large and woody, their bark being soft and spongy, rough, and
reddish or greyish-brown in colour. The living bark is nearly
white, but exposure causes its immediate discoloration. The roots
are imported in large, branched pieces, which may or may not be
covered with bark, and often have attached to them a portion of the
lower part of the trunk. The central market for all parts is
Baltimore. The entire root is official in the British
Pharmacopoeia, but only the more active bark in the United States,
where wood and bark form separate articles of commerce. The bark
without its corky layer is brittle, and the presence of small
crystals cause its inner surface to glisten. Both bark and wood
have a fragrant odour, and an aromatic, somewhat astringent
which has berries like those of cinnamon, appears to have been
cultivated in England some centuries ago, for in 1633 Johnston
wrote: 'I have given the figure of a branch taken from a little
sassafras tree which grew in the garden of Mr. Wilmot at Bon.'
Probably it was discovered by the Spaniards in Florida, for seventy
years earlier there is mention of the reputation of its roots in
Spain as a cure for syphilis, rheumatism, etc., though its efficacy
has sincethen been much disputed.
fragrant oil distilled from the rootbark is extensively used in the
manufacture of the coarser kinds of perfume, and for scenting the
cheapest grades of soap. The oil used in perfumes is also extracted
from the fruits. The wood and bark of the tree furnish a yellow
dye. In Louisiana, the leaves are used as a condiment in sauces,
and also for thickening soups; while the young shoots are used in
Virginia for making a kind of beer. Mixed with milk and sugar,
Sassafras Tea, under the name of 'Saloop,' could, until a few years
ago, be bought at London streetcorners in the early
PITH (Sassafras medulla) is only official in the United States. It
is usually found in thin, cylindrical pieces, which are light and
spongy, white and insipid. Its principal constituent is mucilage,
which may be prepared by adding 60 grains of the pith to a pint of
boiling water. This remains limpid when alcohol is added. It is
used as a demulcent, especially for inflammation of the eyes, and
as a soothing drink in catarrhal affection.
---Constituents---The root-bark contains a heavy and a light
volatile oil, camphorous matter, resin, wax a decomposition product
of tannic acid called Sassafrid, tannic acid, gum, albumen, starch,
lignin and salts. Sassafrid bears some analogy to cinchonic red.
The bark yields from 6 to 9 per cent of oil, of which the chief
constituent is Safrol (80 per cent). It is one of the heaviest of
the volatile oils, and when cold deposits four- or six-sided prisms
of Sassafras camphor, which retain the odour. It should be
preserved in well-stoppered, amber-coloured bottles, away from the
light. Three bushels of the root yield about 1 lb.
been found to be one of those bodies which can exist either in a
solid or a liquid condition long after freezing or melting-point.
Chemically, it has been found to be the methylene ether of
allyl-dioxibenene. It is found in many other species, is now
commercially extracted from oil of Camphor, and could possibly be
obtained from some members of the Cinnamomum family.
Physiologically and therapeutically it is equivalent to oil of
Sassafras is chiefly used for flavouring purposes, particularly to
conceal the flavour of opium when given to children. In the United
States of America it is employed for flavouring effervescing
and Uses---Aromatic, stimulant, diaphoretic, alterative. It is
rarely given alone, but is often combined with guaiacum or
sarsaparilla in chronic rheumatism, syphilis, and skin
The oil is
said to relieve the pain caused by menstrual obstructions, and pain
following parturition, in doses of 5 to 10 drops on sugar, the same
dose having been found useful in gleet and gonorrhoea.
found to be slowly absorbed from the alimentary canal, escaping
through the lungs unaltered, and through the kidneys oxidized into
teaspoonful of the oil produced vomiting, dilated pupils, stupor
and collapse in a young man.
It is used
as a local application for wens and for rheumatic pains, and it has
been praised as a dental disinfectant.
has caused abortion in several cases.
of Huntsville stated that it would both prevent and remove the
injurious effects of tobacco.
of rose-water or distilled water, with Sassafras Pith, filtered
after standing for four hours, is recommended for the
extract, 1/2 to 1 drachm. Of Sassafras bark, 1 to 2 drachms. Of oil
of Sassafras, 1 to 5 drops. Mucilage, U.S.P., 4
Antidotes---The oil can produce marked narcotic poisoning, and
death by causing widespread fatty degeneration of the heart, liver,
and kidneys, or, in a larger dose, by great depression of the
circulation, followed by a centric paralysis of
Species---The name is also applied to the following:
SASSAFRAS, or Oliveri Cortex (Oliver's Bark), a substitute for
cinnamon in Australia.
SASSAFRAS, or Magnolia glauca, an aromatic, diaphoretic, tonic
SASSAFRAS, or Atherosperma moschatum, a powerful poison, useful in
rheumatism, syphilis and bronchitis.
GOESIANUM, or Massoja aromatica, yielding Massoi Bark.
SASSAFRAS, or Umbellularia californica, the leaves of which are
employed in headache, colic and diarrhoea.
Erythrophloeum guineense (G. DON)
Medicinal Action and Uses
Poison with Antidotes
---Synonyms---Nkasa. Mancona Bark. Doom Bark. Ordeal Bark.
Casca Bark. Saucy Bark. Red Water Bark. Cortex
Used---Bark of the tree and branches.
---Habitat---Upper Guinea and Senegambia.
tree is large and spreading, and the bark very hard, breaking with
a short, granular fracture. It varies in size and thickness
according to the age of the stem or branch. It may be flat or
curved, dull grey, red-brown, or almost black, with reddish warts
or circular spots merging into bands running longitudinally. It is
inodorous, with an astringent, acrid taste.
Africa the drug is used as an ordeal poison in trials for
witchcraft and sorcery.
other species yield the Sassy Bark of commerce, differences being
noticed in its properties at different periods.
---Constituents---Sassy Bark yields its proper ties to water.
The poisonous principleErythrophleine was obtained and confirmed in
several experiments, possessing an action similar to that of
digitalis. From this an acid called erythrophleic acid and a
volatile alkaloid called Manz‡onine were obtained by the action of
hydrochloric acid. In contact with sulphuric acid and black
manganese oxide, a violet colour is obtained, rather paler than
that produced with strychnine. The bark also contains tannin and
and Uses---Astringent, analgesic. The hydrochloride has been used
in dental surgery. Erythrophleine causes a slow, strong pulse, with
a rise in the arterial pressure. Purging is probably due to local
action on peristalsis, and vomiting, the result or influence on the
nerve centres, as it occurs when the alkaloid is given
hypodermically. There has been much controversy concerning its
anaesthetic powers. It has not yet been obtained in crystalline
form, and needs fuller investigation.
Observations in West Africa about 1859 showed that Sassy Bark
produced constriction in the fauces, with prickling, and later,
numbness. It is asserted that it gives great relief in dyspnoea,
but is uncertain as a heart tonic. The powder is strongly
sternutatory. It has been useful in mitral disease and dropsy, but
disturbs the digestion even more than digitalis.
alkaloid, 1/40 to 1/30 grain. Of the extract, 1/4 to 1/3
of 1/10 of 1 per cent is used as an application to the
Antidotes---An overdose causes stricture across the brow, severe
pain in the head, coma, and death.
Medicinal Action and Uses
---Synonyms---Pterocarpi Lignum. Santalum rubrum. Lignum
rubrum. Red Sandalwood. Rubywood. Rasura Santalum Ligni. Red Santal
---Habitat---Madras Presidency and Ceylon.
tree of 20 to 25 feet high, covered with rough bark resembling that
of the Common Alder, and bearing spikes of yellow flowers.
Plantations have been formed for its cultivation in Southern India,
where it is very rare.
Santalinus refers to its name of red Sandalwood, which all its
Indian titles signify, though it bears no relationship to Santalum.
It is imported, usually from Ceylon, in the form of irregular logs
or billets, without bark and sapwood, and about 3 to 5 feet in
length. They are heavy, dense, reddish or blackish brown outside,
and, if cut transversely, a deep blood-red inside, variegated with
zones of a lighter red colour. In pharmacy the wood is in the form
of chips, raspings, or coarse red powder. When rubbed, the wood has
a faint peculiar odour, but is otherwise odourless, with a slight,
is obtained from other species of Pterocarpus. The chief use of Red
Saunders wood is as a dye-stuff. In India it is employed mixed with
sapan wood, for dyeing silk, cotton and wool, the shade of red
varying according to the mordant used.
---Constituents---The colouring principle, called Santalin, is
readily soluble in alcohol (90 per cent), but almost insoluble in
water. Ether, alkalis, and three other crystalline principles have
also been described as being present: Santal, Pterocarpin, and
Homopterocarpin. A small quantity of tannin, probably kino-tannic
acid, has also been found in the wood. The colouring principle is
partially soluble in some of the essential oils, such as lavender,
rosemary, cloves, and oil of bitter almonds, and as a colouring
agent it forms part of the official Comp. Tincture of
colouring principles of the West African Barwood (Pterocarpus
angolensis) and Camwood (Baphia nitida) are closely allied with
that of Red Saunders, if not identical.
and Uses---Astringent, tonic. Chiefly used medicinally in India,
and employed in pharmacy for colouring tinctures.
Medicinal Action and Uses
Used---Fresh dried tops of Juniperas Sabina collected in spring
from plants grown in Britain.
---Habitat---Britain. Indigenous to Northern States of America,
Middle and Southern Europe.
shrub growing to a height of a few feet in Britain, but found as a
tree in some Greek Islands, evergreen and compact in growth,
spreads horizontally, branches round, tough, and slender; bark,
when young, pale green, becoming rough with age on trunk; leaves
small, ovate, dark green, in four rows, opposite, scale-like,
ovate-lanceolate, having on back a shallow groove containing an
oblong or roundish gland. The fruit is a blackish purple berry,
ovoid in shape, containing three seeds. Flowers unisexual; odour
peculiar, terebinthinate; taste disagreeable, resinous and
---Constituents---Volatile oil, resin, gallic acid, chlorophyl
extractive, lignin, calcareous salts, a fixed oil, gum and salts of
and Uses---Savine is an irritant when administered internally or
locally; it is a powerful emmenagogue in large doses; it is an
energetic poison leading to gastro enteritis collapse and death. It
should never be used in pregnancy, as it produces abortion. It is
rarely given internally, but is useful as an ointment and as a
dressing to blisters in order to promote discharge; also applied
externally to syphilitic warts, and other skin trouble. The
powdered leaves mixed with an equal part of verdigris are used to
Cedar (Juniperus Virginiana, Linn.) is often commonly referredto as
Savin and is substituted commercially, the tops of J. Phoenicae
(Linn.), which contain volatile oil, are also admixed in
Satureia hortensis (LINN.)
Medicinal Action and Uses
Satureia (the old Latin name used by Pliny) comprises about
fourteen species of highly aromatic, hardy herbs or under-shrubs,
all, except one species, being natives of the Mediterranean
species have been introduced into England, but only two, the annual
Summer or Garden Savory and the perennial, Winter Savory are
generally grown. The annual is more usually grown, but the leaves
of both are employed in cookery, like other sweet herbs, the leaves
and tender tops being used, with marjoram and thyme, to season
dressings for turkey, veal or fish.
species were noticed by Virgil as being among the most fragrant of
herbs, and on this account recommended to be grown near bee-hives.
There is reason to suppose that they were cultivated in remote
ages, before the East Indian spices were known and in common use.
Vinegar, flavoured with Savory and other aromatic herbs, was used
by the Romans in the same manner as mint sauce is by
Shakespeare's time, Savory was a familiar herb, for we find it
mentioned, together with the mints, marjoram and lavender, in The
In ancient days, the Savorys were supposed
to belong to the Satyrs, hence the name Satureia. Culpepper
'Mercury claims dominion over this herb.
Keep it dry by you all the year, if you love yourself and your
ease, and it is a hundred pounds to a penny if you do
considered Summer Savory better than Winter Savory for drying to
make conserves and syrups.
Josselyn, one of the early settlers in America, gives a list of
plants introduced there by the English colonists to remind them of
the gardens they had left behind. Winter and Summer Savory are two
of those mentioned.
---Description---Summer Savory is a hardy, pubescent annual,
with slender erect stems about a foot high. It flowers in July,
having small, pale lilac labiate flowers, axillary, on short
pedicels, the common peduncle sometimes three-flowered. The leaves,
about 1/2 inch long, are entire, oblong-linear, acute, shortly
narrowed at the base into petioles, often fascicled. The hairs on
the stem are short and decurved.
---Cultivation---Summer Savory is raised from seeds, sown early
in April, in shallow drills, 9 inches or a foot apart. Select a
sunny situation and thin out the seedlings, when large enough, to 6
inches apart in the rows. It likes a rich, light soil.
may also be sown broadcast, when they must be thinned out, the
thinned out seedlings being planted in another bed at 6 inches
distance from each other and well watered. The seeds are very slow
spring seedlings may be first topped for fresh use in June. When
the plants are in flower, they may be pulled up and dried for
pot-herb, Savory, which has a distinctive taste, though it somewhat
recalls that of marjoram, is not only added to stuffings, pork pies
and sausages as a wholesome seasoning, but sprigs of it, fresh, may
be boiled with broad beans and green peas, in the same manner as
mint. It is also boiled with dried peas in making pea-soup. For
garnishing it has been used as a substitute for parsley and
and Uses---Savory has aromatic and carminative properties, and
though chiefly used as a culinary herb, it may be added to
medicines for its aromatic and warming qualities. It was formerly
deemed a sovereign remedy for the colic and a cure for flatulence,
on this account, and was also considered a good
Culpepper tells us that:
'The juice dropped into the eyes removes
dimness of sight if it proceed from thin humours distilled from the
brain. The juice heated with oil of Roses and dropped in the ears
removes noise and singing and deafness: outwardly applied with
wheat flour, it gives ease to them.'
'Keep it dry, make conserves and syrups of
it for your use; for which purpose the Summer kind is best. This
kind is both hotter and drier than the Winter kind.... It expels
tough phlegm from the chest and lungs, quickens the dull spirits in
the lethargy, if the juice be snuffed up the nose; dropped into the
eyes it clears them of thin cold humours proceeding from the brain
. . . outwardly applied with wheat flour as a poultice, it eases
sciatica and palsied members.'
old authorities and modern gardeners agree that a sprig of either
of the Savorys rubbed on wasp and bee stings gives instant
Satureia montana (LINN.)
Savory is a dwarf, hardy, perennial, glabrous or slightly pubescent
under shrub, also a native of Southern Europe, and it has been
known in Great Britain since 1562.
are woody at the base, diffuse, much branched. The leaves are
oblong, linear and acute, or the lower ones spatulate or
wedge-shaped and obtuse. The flowers, in bloom in June, are very
pale-purple, the cymes shortly pedunculate, approximating to a
spike or raceme.
is propagated either from seeds, sown at a similar period and in
the same manner as Summer Savory, or from cuttings and divisions of
root. It is woodier and more bushy than Summer Savory.
formed of young side shoots, with a heel attached, may be taken in
April or June, and will readily root under a hand-glass, or in a
shady border outside.
of the roots should be made in March or April, and plants obtained
in this way, or from cuttings, should be permanently inserted
during a showery period in the latter part of summer, in rows, at
the distance of 1 foot apart.
grows better in a poor, stony soil than a rich one. In a rich soil,
plants take in too much moisture to stand the severity of our
winter. In soil that suits it, Winter Savory makes a good-sized
shrub. It will continue for several years, but when the plants are
old the shoots are short and not so well furnished with leaves. It
is, therefore, well to raise a supply of young plants every other
tells us that Winter Savory used to be dried and powdered and mixed
with grated bread-crumbs, 'to breade their meate, be it fish or
flesh, to give it a quicker relish.' It is recommended by old
writers, together with other herbs, in the dressing of
dried, it is used as seasoning in the same manner as Summer Savory,
but is not employed medicinally.
says that it is a good remedy for the colic.
thymbra, which is used in Spain as a spice and is closely allied to
the Savories grown in English kitchen gardens, yields an oil
containing about 19 per cent of thymal. Other species of Satureia
contain carvacrol. The oil from wild plants of Winter Savory
contains 30 or 40 per cent of carvacrol, and that from cultivated
plants still more.
Sarenoa serrulata (HOOK, F.)
Medicinal Action and Uses
---Synonyms---Sabal. Sabal serrulata.
Used---Partially-dried ripe fruit.
---Habitat---The Atlantic Coast from South Carolina to Florida,
and southern California.
plant grows from 6 to 10 feet high, forming what is called the
'palmetto scrub.' It has a crown of large leaves, and the fruit is
irregularly-spherical to oblong-ovoid, deep red-brown, slightly
wrinkled, being from 1/2 to 1 inch long and about 1/2 inch in
diameter. It contains a hard brown seed. The taste is sweetish and
not agreeable, and the panicle containing it may weigh as much as 9
lb. It has no odour.
---Constituents---Volatile oil, fixed oil, glucose, about 63
per cent of free acids, and 37 per cent of ethyl esters of these
acids. The oil obtained exclusively from the nut is a glyceride of
fatty acids, thick and of a greenish colour, without fruity odour.
From the whole fruit can be obtained by pressure about 1 1/2 per
cent of a brownishyellow to dark red oil, soluble in alcohol,
ether, chloroform and benzene, and partly soluble in dilute
solution of potassium hydroxide. The fixed oil is soluble in
alcohol, ether, and petroleum benzin. The presence of an alkaloid
following formula will give elixir of sabal with terpinhydrate.
Dissolve 1.75 gram of terpinhydrate in 40 mm. of Ruid extract of
sabal and 10 mm. of alcohol. Add 1 mm. of tincture of sweet orange
peel, 0.2 mm. of solution of saccharin, 40 mm. of glycerin, and 100
mm. of syrup. This preparation will contain 8 grains of
terpinhydrate and 184 grains of sabal in each fluid
and Uses---Diuretic, sedative, tonic. It is milder and less
stimulant than cubeb or copaiba, or even oil of sandalwood. Like
these, it has the power of affecting the respiratory mucous
membrane, and is used for many complaints which are accompanied by
chronic catarrh. It has been claimed that sabal is capable of
increasing the nutrition of the testicles and mammae in functional
atony of these organs. It probably acts by reducing catarrhal
irritation and a relaxed condition of bladder and urethra. It is a
fluid extract, 1/2 to 1 drachm. Of solid extract, 5 to 15
Pimpinella Saxifraga (LINN.)
Medicinal Action and Uses
---Synonyms---Lesser Burnet. Saxifrage.
---Habitat---It grows abundantly in dry, chalky pastures, and
is very generally distributed over the country.
Saxifrage, sometimes cultivated for kitchen use, is neither a
Burnet nor a Saxifrage, but has obtained the latter name because
supposed to break up stone in the bladder, and the former from the
similarity of its leaves to the Greater and Lesser Burnets, though
its umbels of white flowers mark the difference at the first
root-stock is slender, the stem also slender, round, striate, 9
inches to 3 feet high. The root-leaves are numerous, shortly
stalked, pinnate, the leaflets oval or roundish, four to eight
pairs, sometimes so deeply cut as to be bipinnate, sometimes merely
serrated. The stem-leaves are few, with the petiole dilated,
particularly in the uppermost ones, the leaflets narrower than in
the radical leaves, and pinnatifid. The upper leaves are reduced to
dilated sheaths, the leaflets represented by one or more linear
lobes. The umbels are regular, flattopped, the umbelules
many-flowered, the individual flowers 1/10 inch across, white, with
notched petals. The whole plant is dark green, generally
leaves and roots. The whole herb is cut in July and dried in the
same way as the Burnets.
and Uses---Resolvent, diaphoretic, stomachic, diuretic. The root is
very hot and acrid, burning the mouth like pepper. On drying, or on
being kept long, its pungency is considerably diminished. It
contains a bitter resin and a blue essential oil, which
communicates that colour to water or spirit on distillation, and is
said to be used in Germany for colouring brandy.
and resin contained are useful to relieve flatulent
root chewed is good for toothache and paralysis of the tongue. A
decoction has the reputation of removing freckles. It is said to
dissolve mucus, and on this account is used as a gargle in
hoarseness and some cases of throat affection.
It is also
prescribed in asthma and dropsy.
bunches of the leaves and shoots, tied together and suspended in a
cask of beer impart to it an agreeable aromatic flavour, and are
thought to correct tart or spoiled wines.
feed on this plant have their flow of milk increased.
'The whole plant is binding . . . it is a
cordial. In the composition of the Syrupus Altheae it is generally
used instead of the Great Burnet Saxifrage.'
Greater Burnet Saxifrage is very like large specimens of Pimpinella
Saxifraga, but larger in all its parts and of a paler green in
colour, the root-stock much thicker and the stems generally 2 to 4
feet high, stouter and more angular. The leaflets are larger and
broader, generally less deeply cut. The umbels and flowers are
similar, though the styles are longer and more
---Medicinal Action and Uses---This plant has much the same
medicinal properties as the former species, and has been employed
in a similar manner.
is very acrid, and is powerfully diuretic, having been prescribed
with success, in strong infusion, in disorders arising from
obstructions of the viscera. The seeds are carminative, and have
been used in colic and for dispersing wind in the stomach,
administered in powdered form.
Aniseed of medicine and commerce is a foreign species of this same
Culpepper says this plant:
'has the properties of the parsleys but
eases pains and provokes urine more effectually. ... The distilled
water, boiled with castoreum, is good for cramps and convulsions,
and the seed used in comfits (like carraway seeds) will answer the
same purpose. The juice of the herb dropped into bad wounds in the
head, dries up their moisture and heals them.'
Medicinal Action and Uses
---Description---There are several species of Scabious
indigenous to these islands, of which the Field Scabious (Knautia
arvensis) is the largest. It is abundant throughout Britain,
flowering best, however, on chalk, and very frequent in meadows,
hedgerows or amidst standing corn, where its large blossoms, of a
delicate mauve, render it very conspicuous and attractive. The root
is perennial, dark in colour and somewhat woody, and takes such a
firm hold on the ground that it is only eradicated with difficulty.
The stems are round and only slightly branched, 2 to 3 feet high,
somewhat coarse with short, whitish hairs and rather bare of
leaves, except at the base. The leaves vary in character in
different plants and in different parts of the same plant; they
grow in pairs on the stem and are hairy. The lowest leaves are
stalked and very simple in character, about 5 inches long and 1
inch broad, lance-shaped, their margins cut into by large teeth.
The upper ones are stalkless, their blades meeting across the main
stem and cut into almost to the mid-rib, to form four or five pairs
of narrow lobes, with a terminal big lobe. The flowers are all
terminal and borne on long stalks. The heads are large and convex
in outline, the inner florets are regularly cleft into four lobes
or segments, the outer ones are larger and generally, though not
always, with rays cut into very unequal segments. The florets when
in bud are packed tightly, but with beautiful regularity. The fruit
is rather large, somewhat four-cornered and crowned by several
short, bristly hairs that radiate from its summit.
generic name, Knautia, is derived from a Saxon botanist of the
seventeenth century, Dr. Knaut. The name Scabious is supposed to be
connected with the word 'scab' (a scaly sore), a word derived from
the Latin scabies (a form of leprosy), for which and for other
diseases of a similar character, some of these species were used as
and Uses---Gerard tells us: 'The plant gendereth scabs, if the
decoction thereof be drunke certain daies and the juice used in
ointments.' We are told that this juice 'being drunke, procureth
sweat, especially with Treacle, and atenuateth and maketh thin,
freeing the heart from any infection or pestilence.' Culpepper
informs us also that it is 'very effectual for coughs, shortness of
breath and other diseases of the lungs,' and that the 'decoction of
the herb, dry or green, made into wine and drunk for some time
together,' is good for pleurisy. The green herb, bruised and
applied to any carbuncle was stated by him to dissolve the same 'in
three hours' space,' and the same decoction removed pains and
stitches in the side. The decoction of the root was considered a
cure for all sores and eruptions, the juice being made into an
ointment for the same purpose. Also, 'the decoction of the herb and
roots outwardly applied in any part of the body, is effectual for
shrunk sinews or veins and healeth green wounds, old sores and
ulcers.' The juice of Scabious, with powder of Borax and Samphire,
was recommended for removing freckles, pimples and leprosy, the
head being washed with the same decoction, used warm, for dandruff
and scurf, etc.
Scabious is not uncommon on a chalky soil, and is distinguished
from the former by its smaller size. The foliage is of a light hue
and the leaves very finely cut into. The flowers are lilac, but in
nearly globular heads, not so convex, the corollas being
five-cleft, not four-cleft, and the outer florets larger than the
inner, though not quite so large as in the Field Scabious. Its
properties are similar to the larger species just
herb should be collected in July and August and dried. The root is
no longer used.
Scabiosa succisa (LINN.)
Medicinal Action and Uses
---Synonyms---Ofbit. Premorse Scabious.
Devil's Bit Scabious is almost as common a plant as the preceding
species, but is more often to be found in open meadows and on
heaths than in the hedgerow and the cornfield.
---Description---It is a slender,
little-branched plant, with a hairy stem, few leaves, which are
oblong and not cut into, and almost globular heads of deep
purplish-blue flowers. It is to be found in bloom from July to
October. The florets composing the head are all very much the same
size, the outer ones being scarcely larger than the inner. The
stamens of each floret, as in the other species of Scabious are a
very conspicuous feature, the anthers being large and borne upon
filaments or threads that are almost as long again as the corolla.
The root is, when fully grown, nearly the thickness of a finger,
and ends in so abrupt a way as almost to suggest that it had been
bitten off, a peculiarity that has given it a place in legends. In
the first year of the plant's existence the root is like a
diminutive carrot or radish in shape; it then becomes woody and
dies away, the upper part excepted; as it decays and falls away,
the gnawed or broken look results. The portion left throws out
numerous lateral roots, which compensate for the portion that has
perished. The plant derives its common name from this peculiarity
in the form of the root. Gerard tells us:
'The greater part of the root seemeth to
be bitten away; old fantastick charmers report that the divel did
bite it for envie, because it is an herbe that hath so many good
vertues and it is so beneficial to mankinde.
referred to by Gerard tells how the devil found it in Paradise, but
envying the good it might do to the human race, bit away a part of
the root to destroy the plant, in spite of which it still
flourishes, but with a stumped root. The legend seems to have been
very widely spread, for the plant bears this name, not only in
England but also on the Continent.
and Uses---This plant is still used for its diaphoretic, demulcent
and febrifuge properties, the whole herb being collected in
September and dried.
It makes a
useful tea for coughs, fevers and internal inflammation. The remedy
is generally given in combination with others, the infusion being
given in wineglassful doses at frequent intervals. It purifies the
blood, taken inwardly, and used as a wash externally is a good
remedy for cutaneous eruptions. The juice made into an ointment is
effectual for the same purpose. The warm decoction has also been
used as a wash to free the head from scurf, sores and
assigned it many uses, saying that the root boiled in wine and
drunk was very powerful against the plague and all pestilential
diseases, and fevers and poison and bites of venomous creatures,
and that 'it helpeth also all that are inwardly bruised or
outwardly by falls or blows, dissolving the clotted blood,' the
herb or root bruised and outwardly applied, taking away black and
blue marks on the skin. He considered 'the decoction of the herb
very effectual as a gargle for swollen throat and tonsils, and that
the root powdered and taken in drink expels worms.' The juice or
distilled water of the herb was deemed a good remedy for green
wounds or old sores, cleansing the body inwardly and freeing the
skin from sores, scurf, pimples, freckles, etc. The dried root used
also to be given in powder, its power of promoting sweat making it
beneficial in fevers.
SHEEP'S (or SHEEP'S-BIT) SCABIOUS (Jasione montana) is not a true
Scabious, though at first sight its appearance is similar. It may
be distinguished from a Scabious by its united anthers, and it
differs from a Compound Flower (Compositae, to which the Scabious
belongs) in having a two-celled capsule. It is a member of the
Campanulaceae, and is the only British species. The whole plant,
when bruised, has a strong and disagreeable smell.
Scopola carniolica (JACQ.)
Medicinal Action and Uses
Poisonous, if any with Antidotes
---Synonyms---Scopolia atropoides. Scopola. Belladonna Scopola.
---Habitat---Bavaria, Austro-Hungary, South-western
genus Scopola is a connecting link between Atropa and Hyoscyamus,
its leaf, flower and rhizome resembling the former, and the fruit
the latter. The Japanese Scopola japonica is so closely allied that
it is doubtful if it can be regarded as a distinct
Carniolica grows in damp, stony places in hilly districts and
resembles belladonna both in appearance and characteristics. It
only grows to the height of 1 foot, and has thin leaves, its fruit
being a transversely dehiscent capsule.
rhizome is horizontal, curved, almost cylindrical, and somewhat
flattened vertically. It is usually found in pieces from 2 1/2 to 7
1/2 cm. long and 0.8 to 1.6 cm. broad, often split before drying.
The upper surface is marked with closely-set, large, cup-shaped
stem-scars, and the colour varies from yellowish-brown to dark,
brownish-grey; the fracture is short and sharp, showing a
yellowish-white bark, its corky layer dark brown, or pale brown,
the central pith being rather horny. It has scarcely any odour, and
the taste is sweetish at first, but afterwards bitter and strongly
acrid. The Japanese rhizome is larger, with circular scars, not
whitish when broken, and having a slightly mousy, narcotic odour,
and practically no bitterness in taste.
of S. Carniolica is less thick than in belladonna and the starch
is but little used in Britain, but has been used in America for
many years in the manufacture of belladonna plasters.
---Constituents---The alkaloidal constituents are similar to
those of Belladonna Root, hyoscine (scopolamine), however,
predominating. Inactive scopolamine, also known as atroscine, is
present, melting at 82 degrees C. (179.6 degrees F.) and yielding
by hydrolysis tropic acid and scopoline. The result of an assay of
many tons of the root of Atropa Belladonna and of the rhizome of
Scopolia, each of the best qualities to be found in the American
market, showed that while belladonna yielded on an average 0.50 per
cent of alkaloid, Scopolia yielded 0.58 per cent.
of S. Carniolica is official in the United States Pharmacopaeia for
the production of an extract and fluid extract. It should contain
not less than 0.5 per cent of alkaloids.
Scopolamine hydrobromide is recognized in the United States
Scopolamine or hyoscine must be preserved in well-closed
containers, protected from light. When pure, it forms a syrupy
liquid. Great care must be used in tasting it, and then only in
dilute solutions. When dried at 100 degrees C. (212 degrees F.) it
loses about 12 per cent of its weight. It is the same substance as
Hyoscinae Hydrobromicum. Atroscine is an optically inert isomer of
scopolamin and Euscopol is an optically inactive scopolaminum
and Uses---Narcotic and mydriatic. The medicinal properties are
very like those of belladonna, but the crude drug has been scarcely
used at all in internal medicine. Much of the hyoscine of commerce
has been obtained from it during the last decade.
the older investigations into the effects of scopolamine are
contradictory because of the failure to realize the quantitative
difference between racemic and laevoscopolamine. The former,
sometimes called atrocine, is very much less powerful in its
effects upon the autonomic nerves, though its action upon the
central nervous system is about equal.
important use is as a cerebral sedative, especially in manias,
hysteria, and drug habits, while in insomnias and epilepsy it
increases the effects of other drugs, such as morphine and
bromides. It is also useful to allay sexual excitement. In 1900 the
use of a combination of morphine and scopolamine was introduced as
a means of producing anaesthesia, under the name of 'Twilight
Sleep,' either alone or as a preliminary to chloroform or ether, as
its peculiar effect in large doses is to cause loss of memory,
including that of pain. However, the anaesthesia has often been
found to be unsatisfactory, while the mortality has been
---Dosages---Powdered extract, U.S.P., 1 to 5 grains. Of the
drug, 1 to 2 grains. Of the fluid extract, U.S.P., 1 to 5 minims.
Extract of Scopolia, 1/8 to 1/4 grain. (Prepared by evaporating the
fluid extract and assaying it so that it contains 2 per cent of
mydriatic alkaloids.) Of Scopolamine, 1/200 to 1/80
Any, with Antidotes---Many persons being very susceptible to the
influence of the drug, the above doses of scopolamine may produce
toxic symptoms, which are alarming, though the poisoning, rarely
there is disorientation, sometimes active delirium as in atropine
poisoning. There may or may not be somnolence. The pupils may be
dilated, the pulse rate accelerated and there is dryness of the
mouth with a peculiar husky character of voice that appears to be
due to laryngeal paralysis. If there should be serious difficulty
in breathing, strychnine may be used. It is better not to give
drugs for the relief of the delirium, but if very active, small
doses of paraldehyde and bromides may be employed.
---Habitat---The Scullcaps, belonging to the genus Scutellaria,
are herbaceous, slender, rarely shrubby, labiate plants, scattered
over different parts of the world, in temperate regions and
tropical mountains, being specially abundant in America. There are
about ninety known species belonging to this genus, only two
members of which are natives of Great Britain - Scutellaria
galericulata and S. minor. Both are found on the banks of rivers
and lakes, and in watery places generally, and are decumbent or
spreading, seldom quite erect.
generic name is from the Latin scutella (a little dish), from the
lid of the calyx. The form of the latter is a peculiarity by which
they can be recognized; it is bell-shaped, lipped, as Hooker
describes it: 'the tube being dilated opposite to the posterior
lip, with a broad,flattened hollow pouch, the lip and pouch being
deciduous in fruit and the mouth closed after flowering.' Hooker
adds: 'The only insect known to visit the first species is a
Scutellaria galericulata (LINN.)
---Synonyms---Greater Scullcap. Helmet Flower.
or Greater Scullcap is fairly common in England, though rare in
Scotland and local in Ireland.
---Description---The root-stock is perennial and creeping. The
square stems, 6 to 18 inches high, are somewhat slender, either
paniculately branched, or, in small specimens, nearly simple, with
opposite downy leaves, oblong and tapering, heart-shaped at the
base, 1/2 to 2 1/2 inches long, notched and shortly
flowers are in pairs, each growing from the axils of the upper,
leaf-like bracts, which are quite indistinguishable from the true
leaves, and are all turned one way, the pedicels being very short.
The corollas are bright blue, variegated with white inside, the
tube long and curved, three or four times as long as the calyx, the
lips short, the lower lip having three shallow lobes.
the corolla has fallen off, the upper lip of the calyx, which
bulges outward about the middle, closes on the lower as if on a
hinge, and gives it the appearance of a capsule with a lid. When
the seed is ripe, the cup being dry, divides into two distinct
parts, and the seeds, already detached from the receptacle, fall to
is in flower from July to September. It is subglabrous, with the
angles of the stem, the leaves and flowering calyx finely
Scutellaria minor (LINN.)
Scullcap, which grows chiefly in bogs, is not common, except in the
western counties and in Ireland.
It has the
habit of the preceding species, but is more slender and often much
branched and rarely attains 6 inches in height. The whole plant is
more glabrous than Scutellaria galericulata.
are egg-shaped, the upper, quite entire, the lower ones often
slightly toothed at the base. The flowers are small, dull
pink-purple, the calyx having the same peculiarlty as the larger
from July to October.
Scutellaria lateriflora (LINN.)
Medicinal Action and Uses
---Synonyms---Mad-dog Scullcap. Madweed.
American species, Virginian Scullcap, flowering in July, with
inconspicuous blue flowers in one-sided racemes, is one of the
finest nervines ever discovered.
this plant is known in America as Mad-dog Scullcap or Madweed,
having the reputation of being a certain cure for
English species, Scutellaria galericulata and S. minor, possess
similar nervine properties to the American, and with S.
integrifolia and other American species with the flowers in
one-sided terminal racemes, are often used as
cultivated species are S. micrantha, from Siberia and the north of
China, a handsome species with spiked racemes of blue flowers; and
S. Coccinea, from Mexico, with scarlet flowers.
name for this plant is Toque.
various species of Scutellaria will grow in any ordinary garden
soil,preferring sunny, open borders, where they will live much
longer and grow more strongly than on a rich soil, though they
seldom continue more than two or three years.
March or April, 6 inches apart.
Propagation is mostly effected by seeds, sown in gentle heat in
February or March or out of doors, in half-shady positions, in
light soil in April. Transplant into permanent quarters in the
autumn. No further care is necessary than weeding.
Propagation may also be effected by division of roots in March
or April, but the roots are generally lifted, divided and replanted
only when overgrown.
whole herb, collected in June, dried and powdered.
volatile oil, Scutellarin, and a bitter glucoside, yielding
Scutellarein on hydrolysis. Also tannin, fat, some bitter
principle, sugar and cellulose.
[Top of Scullcap,
Action and Uses---Scullcap has strong tonic, nervine and
antispasmodic action, and is slightly astringent.
hysteria, convulsions, hydrophobia, St. Vitus's dance and rickets,
its action is invaluable. In nervous headaches, neuralgia and in
headache arising from incessant coughing and pain, it offers one of
the most suitable and reliable remedies. The dried extract, given
in doses of from 1 to 3 grains as a pill, will relieve severe
of hydrophobia have been cured by this remedy alone.
considered a specific for the convulsive twitchings of St. Vitus's
dance, soothing the nervous excitement and inducing sleep when
necessary, without any unpleasant symptoms following.
extract, 1/2 to 1 drachm.
It may be
prescribed in all disorders of the nervous system, and has been
suggested as a remedy for epilepsy. Writing on this point in the
British Medical Journal, 1915, Dr. William Bramwell says: 'Its
efficacy appears to be partly due to its stimulating the kidneys to
of the tincture cause giddiness, stupor, confusion of mind,
twitchings of the limbs, intermission of the pulse and other
symptoms indicative of epilepsy, for which in diluted strength and
small doses it has been successfully given.
dose is an infusion of 1 OZ. of the powdered herb to a pint of
boiling water, given in half-teacupful doses, every few hours. Both
fluid and solid extracts are prepared and Scutellarin is also
administered in doses of 1 to 2 grains.
extract, 1/2 to 1 drachm.
European species, S. galericulata, was at one time given for the
tertian ague, and was said to have proved beneficial where the fits
were more obstinate than violent, 1 to 2 OZ. of the expressed
juice, or an infusion of a handful or two of the herb, being given.
In England, however, the remedy was not in use.
Cochlearia officinalis (LINN.)
---Habitat---Abundant on the shores in Scotland, growing inland
along some of its rivers and Highland mountains and not uncommon in
stony, muddy and sandy soils in England and Ireland, also in the
Arctic Circle, sea-coasts of Northern and Western Europe and to
high elevations in the great European mountain chains.
---Description---It is a small, low-growing plant, annual or
biennial, with thick, fleshy, glabrous, egg-shaped, cordate leaves
(hence its name of spoonwort). The upper leaves are sessile - lower
ones stalked, deltoid orbicular or reniform entire or toothed
angularly. Flowers all summer in white short racemes - pods nearly
globular - prominent valves of the mid-rib when dry. It has an
unpleasant smell and a bitter, warm, acrid taste, very pungent when
---Constituents---Leaves abound in a pungent oil containing
sulphur, of the butylic series.
---Medicinal Action and Uses---Formerly the fresh herb was
greatly used on sea-voyages as a preventative of scurvey. It is
stimulating, aperient, diuretic, antiscorbutic. The essential oil
is of benefit in paralytic and rheumatic cases; scurvy-grass ale
was a popular tonic drink.
infusion of 2 OZ. to a pint of boiling water is taken in frequent
See Lavender, Sea, American.
Acorus Calamus (LINN.)
Medicinal Action and Uses
---Synonyms---Calamus. Sweet Flag. Sweet Root. Sweet Rush.
Sweet Cane. Gladdon. Sweet Myrtle. Myrtle Grass. Myrtle Sedge.
---Habitat---Found in all European countries except Spain.
Southern Russia, northern Asia Minor, southern Siberia, China,
Japan, northern United States of America, Hungary, Burma, Ceylon
Sedge is a vigorous, reed-like, aquatic plant, flourishing in
ditches, by the margins of lakes and streams and in marshy places
generally, associated with reeds, bullrushes and
sword-shaped leaves bear considerable resemblance to those of the
Yellow Flag, hence its equally common popular name of 'Sweet Flag,'
though it is not related botanically to the Iris, being a member of
the Arum order, Araceae. All parts of the plant have a peculiar,
on account of its pleasant odour, it was freely strewn on the
floors of churches at festivals and often in private houses,
instead of rushes. The specific name, calamus, is derived from the
Greek calamos (a reed).
of Norwich Cathedral until quite recently were always strewn with
calamus at great festivals.
Sweet Sedge did not grow near London, but had to be fetched at
considerable expense from Norfolk and Suffolk, one of the charges
of extravagance brought against Cardinal Wolsey was his habit of
strewing his floors with fresh rushes.
species of this order give out a considerable amount of heat within
the spathe at the time of flowering, so that the temperature rises
noticeably above that of the external air. Many of the varieties
also have lurid colouring and a fetid odour.
generic name, Acorus, is from Acoron, the Greek name of the plant
used by Dioscorides and said to be derived from Coreon (the pupil
of the eye), diseases of which the Ancients used this plant to
rhizomes are an important commercial commodity and of considerable
common throughout Europe, there is little doubt that the Sweet Flag
is a native of eastern countries, being indigenous to the marshes
of the mountains of India.
It is said
to have been introduced into Poland by the Tartars, but not till
1588 is it recorded as abundant in Germany. Clusius, the famous
botanist, first cultivated it at Vienna in 1574, from a root
obtained from Asia Minor and distributed it to other botanists in
Belgium, Germany and France. It is readily propagated and rapidly
becomes established. In England, it was probably introduced about
1596, being first grown by Gerard, who says that 'Anthony Coline
the apothecarie sent him pieces from Lyons,' telling him that he
had used it in his composition of Treacle. ('Treacle' was a term
used by the old herbalists for a medicine composed of many herbal
ingredients.) Gerard looked upon it as an Eastern plant, which he
says is grown in many English gardens and might hence be fitly
called the 'Sweet Garden Flag.'
was largely grown from time immemorial for its rhizomes in the East
and the Indian rhizomes were imported extensively long after it was
common in Europe. The Indian rhizome is said to have a stronger and
more agreeable flavour than that obtained in Europe or the United
Calamus of the Bible is this plant, Exodus xxx. 23, Canticles iv.
14, and Ezekiei xxvii. 19, are the earliest records of its
Calamus aromaticus of the Ancients is thought by some to be a plant
belonging to the Gentian family, though the description of the
plant 'Acoron,' a native of Colchis, Galatia, Pontus and Crete,
given by Dioscorides and Pliny, seems to refer to the Sweet
It is now
found wild on the margins of ponds and rivers in most of the
English counties, and is in some parts abundant, especially in the
Fen districts. In Scotland it is scarce. It is found in all
European countries except Spain, and becomes more abundant eastward
and in southern Russia, northern Asia Minor and southern Siberia,
China and Japan. It is also found in the northern United States of
America, where it appears to be indigenous.
cultivated to a small extent in Hungary, Burma and Ceylon, and is
common in gardens in India. In northern China another species is
cultivated as an ornamental greenhouse plant, but the wild plant is
that generally collected for use, especially in Russia, on the
shores of the Black Sea. In 1724, Berlu (Treasury of Drugs) states
that it was 'brought in quantities from Germany,' hence it may be
inferred it was not collected in England until a later period, when
the London market was supplied from the rivers and marshes of
Norfolk, where it was cultivated in the Fen districts, and from the
banks of the Thames, as much as L.40 having been obtained for the
year's crop of a single acre of the riverside land on which it
naturally grows. But for many years now the native source has been
neglected and the rhizomes for medicinal and commercial use are
imported. In dry summers, large quantities are collected in the
ditches in Germany, but the greater proportion of the imported drug
is derived from southern Russia, via Germany.
districts in Norfolk where the plant flourishes the villagers call
it 'Gladdon,' so the name would appear to apply to more than one
species of the family. A few years since, the 'Gladdon harvest' was
an important episode in the country of the 'Broads,' and many small
boats might be seen laden with this plant, being brought to shore
for marketing purposes. Some of the Norfolk churches in country
districts are thatched with this 'reed.'
Sweet Sedge is a perennial herb, in habit somewhat resemblingthe
Iris, with a long, indefinite, branched, cylindrical rhizome
immersed in the mud, usually smaller than that of the Iris, about
the thickness of a finger and emitting numerous roots. The erect
leaves are yellowish-green, 2 to 3 feet in length, few, all
radical, sheathing at their bases (which are pink), swordshaped,
narrow and flat, tapering into a long, acute point, the edges
entire, but wavy or crimped. The leaves are much like those of
Iris, but may readily be distinguished from these and from all
others by the peculiar crimped edges and their aromatic odour when
or flower-stem arises from the axils of the outer leaves, which it
much resembles, but is longer and solid and triangular. From one
side, near the middle of its length, projecting upwards at an
angle, from the stem, it sends out a solid, cylindrical, blunt
spike or spadix, tapering at each end, from 2 to 4 inches in
length, often somewhat curved and densely crowded with very small
greenish-yellow flowers. Each tiny flower contains six stamens
enclosed in a perianth with six divisions and surrounding a
threecelled, oblong ovary with a sessile stigma. The flowers are
sweet-scented and so formed that cross-pollination is ensured, but
the plant is not usually fertile in the British Isles, as it is in
Asia, the proper insects being absent here. The fruit, which does
not ripen inEurope, is a berry, being full of mucus, which falls
when ripe into the water or to the ground, and is thus dispersed,
but it fruits sparingly everywhere and propagates itself mainly by
the rapid growth of its spreading rhizome.
easily distinguished from all other British plants by its peculiar
spadix, which appears in June and July, and by the fragrance of its
roots, stems and leaves.
localities the flowers are not very abundantly produced: it never
flowers unless actually growing in water.
plants can be propagated very readily by the division of the clumps
or of the rhizomes in early spring, or at the commencement of
autumn, portions of the rhizome being planted in damp, muddy spots,
in marshes or on the margins of water, set 1 foot apart and well
covered. It will succeed very well in a garden if the ground is
moist, but a rich, moist soil is essential, or it has to be
is the root-stock or rhizome that is used for medicinal purposes, a
digestive medicine being made from it which is official in the
United States Pharmacopceia and in several others.
root has also value as a commercial commodity in various
Experiments have lately been made with a distillation of the
leaves, and if the fragrant volatile oil contained in them can be
obtained successfully on economic conditions, this will create a
rhizomes are gathered when large enough, generally after two or
three years, and before they lose their firmness and become hollow.
Late autumn or early spring is the time chosen for
actually growing in water, the raft-like masses of interwoven roots
and mud, which in a river or lake float about a foot below the
surface of the water, are cut out in square sections, raked to the
lake edge, the leaves stripped off and separated. Whether growing
thus actually in water, or in moist ground, the rhizomes are next
thoroughly washed in a trough, and then, deprived of the far less
aromatic and brittle rootlets, which are 4 to 6 inches long,
unbranched, but near the tip beset with soft, thin
root-stock is brownish-red, or greenish-white and reddish within
and of a spongy texture, tolerably uniform in transverse section.
It has an aromatic sweet odour and a bitterish, pungent
rhizome appears in commerce in tortuous, sub-cylindrical or
flattened pieces, a few inches long and from 1/2 to 1 inch in
diameter; externally, yellowish-brown, with blackish patches;
sharply longitudinally wrinkled, the upper surface obliquely marked
with broad, dark, often fibrous leaf-scales, which are often
broadly V-shaped and have sharply projecting margins, the lower
surface is thickly pitted with a zigzag line of circular
root-scars, which exhibit a low whitish rim and a dark depressed
centre. The fracture is short, sharp, corky, whitish and starchy.
The texture is spongy, exhibiting numerous oilcells and scattered
Calamus loses from 70 to 75 per cent in weight, but improves in
odour and taste. It deteriorates, however, after long
oil-cells containing the aromatic essential oil are situated in the
outer part, peeling the rhizomes before shipping or distilling, as
is often done on the Continent, should not be resorted to. Most of
the commercial article has the outer portion of the cortex removed,
but the handsome, white peeled (German) Calamus of the market
cannot be used in accordance with the official requirements of
other pharmacopoeias. The peeled rhizome is usually angular and
often split. Though white when fresh, it turns pinkish on drying
and is less aromatic and bitter than the unpeeled.
---Constituents---The properties of Calamus are almost entirely
due to its volatile oil, obtained by steam distillation. The oil is
contained in all parts of the plant, though in greatest quantity in
the rhizome, the leaves yielding to distillation 0.2 per cent, the
fresh root 1.5 to 3.5 per cent, the dried German root 0.8 per cent,
and the Japan root as much as 5 per cent.
The oil is
strong and fragrant, its taste warm, bitterish, pungent and
aromatic. Its active principles are taken up by boiling water. It
is a thick, pale yellow liquid. Little is known of its chemistry,
though it possibly contains pinene and the chief aromatic
constituent is asaryl aldehyde.
rhizome also contains alkaloidal matter, mainly Choline (formerly
thought to be a specific alkaloid, Calamine); soft resin, gum,
starch and the bitter glucoside, Acorin, which is amorphous,
semi-fluid, resinous, of neutral reaction, aromatic odour and
bitter aromatic taste.
Oil is used in perfumery - an alcoholate is made with 3 kilos to
3.5 kilos of rhizome to 20 litres of 85 per cent
and Uses---Calamus was formerly much esteemed as an aromatic
stimulant and mild tonic. A fluid extract is an official
preparation in the United States and some other Pharmacopceias, but
it is not now official in the British Pharmacopceia, though it is
much used in herbal medicine as an aromatic bitter.
of the volatile oil which is present, it also acts as a
carminative, removing the discomfort caused by flatulence and
checking the growth of the bacteria which give rise to
It is used
to increase the appetite and benefit digestion, given as fluid
extract, infusion or tincture. Tincture of Calamus, obtained by
macerating the finely-cut rhizome in alcohol for seven days and
filtering, is used as a stomachic and flavouring agent. It has a
brownish-yellow colour and a pungent, spicy taste.
essential oil is used as an addition to inhalations.
root may be chewed ad libitum to relieve dyspepsia or an infusion
of 1 OZ. to 1 pint of boiling water may be taken freely in doses of
a teacupful. The dried root is also chewed to clear the
extract, U.S.P., 15 to 60 drops.
has been found useful in ague and low fever, and was once greatly
used by country people in Norfolk, either in infusion, or powdered,
as a remedy against the fever prevalent in the Fens. Its use has
been attended with great success where Peruvian bark has failed. It
is also beneficial as a mild stimulant in typhoid
medicine called Stockton Bitters, formerly in much esteem in some
parts of England, is made from the root of this plant and that of
Waller's British Herbal says:
'It is of great service in all nervous
complaints, vertigoes, headaches and hypochondriacal affections.
Also commended in dysentry and chronic catarrhs. The powdered root
may be given, 12 grs. to 1/2 drachm. In an infusion of 2 drachms to
a pint of water or of white wine, it is an agreeable stomachic,
even to persons in health, to take a glass about an hour before
dinner. When the root is candied with sugar, it is convenient to
dyspeptic patients, who may carry it in a small box, in the pocket,
and take it as they find occasion.'
Continent the candied rhizome is widely employed. The Turks use the
candied rhizome as a preventive against contagion.
rhizome is largely used in native Oriental medicines for dyspepsia
and bronchitis and chewed as a cough lozenge, and from the earliest
times has been one of the most popular remedies of the native
practitioners of India. The candied root is sold as a favourite
medicine in every Indian bazaar.
powdered root is also esteemed in Ceylon and India as a vermifuge
and an insecticide, especially in relation to fleas. Sprinkled
round a tree attacked by white ants in Malay (Perak) it was found
to destroy those that were near the surface and prevented others
from attacking the tree.
Calamus root on account of its spicy flavour serves as a substitute
for cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger.
It is said
also to be used by snuff manufacturers and to scent hair-powders
and in tooth-powders, in the same way as orris.
aromatic volatile oil is largely used in perfumery.
The oil is
used by rectifiers to improve the flavour of gin and to give a
peculiar taste and fragrance to certain varieties of
United States, Calamus was also formerly used by country people as
an ingredient in making wine bitters.
Lithuania, the root is preserved with sugar-like
and tender inflorescence is often eaten by children for its
sweetness. In Holland, children use the rhizomes as chewing-gum and
also make pop-gun projectiles of them.
that makes the leaves attractive to us, renders them distasteful to
cattle, who do not touch the plant.
There is a
seventeenth-century reference to broth 'flavoured with Angelica
seed and Calamus.'
An extract from Salmon's Herbal (1710),
giving no less than sixteen different preparations of Calamus, will
show in how much greater esteem it was held in former
'It is a good stimulant and carminative.
The preparations: The root only is of use, and you may have
therefrom 1, A liquid Juice. 2, An Essence. 3, An Infusion of Wine.
4, A Decoction in Wine. 5, A Powder. 6, A Cataplasm. 7, A
spirituous Tincture. 8, An acid Tincture. 9, An oily Tincture. 10,
A Spirit. 11, A chemical Oil. 12, Potestates or Powers. 13, An
Elixir. 14, A Collegium. 15, A Preserve. 16, A Syrup. The Liquid
Juice, No. 1, was said "to prevail against the bitings of mad dogs
and other venomous creatures." It is a peculiar thing against
poison, the Plague and all contagious diseases.'
'The spicy bitterness of the root of this
plant (which he calls the Bastard Flag) bespeaks it as a
strengthener of the stomach and head and therefore may fitly be put
into any composition of that intention. The root preserved may with
good success be used by itself. The leaves, having a very grateful
flavour, are by some nice cooks put into sauce for
---Adulterations---The rhizome of the Common Yellow Flag (Iris
pseudacorus) issometimes mixed with those of the Sweet Flag, when
collected in this country, but is readily detected by its darker
colour, different structure and want of aromatic odour and
Draco (Willd.) (Daemonorops Draco, Martius) is a slender palm of
the East Indies, yielding the resin 'Dragon's Blood,' obtained from
the fruit, used in former times as a mild astringent in diarrhoea,
but now never given internally. It was formerly an ingredient of
present, it is mainly used as a colouring agent in pharmacy and the
arts, to colour tooth-powders, tinctures and plasters and to impart
a mahogany colour to varnishes and wood stains.
'Dragon's Blood' has also been applied to the resin of Dracaena
draca (Socotra), Pterocarpus Draco (West Indies) and Croton
See DRAGON S BLOOD.
family is of comparatively slight economic importance. The plants
are distinguished from the true Grasses, which they closely
resemble, by their solid stems, leafsheaths which are not connate,
and the presence of but a single scale to each flower.
mostly coarse, harsh and indigestible, and not adapted for food
purposes, though the rhizomes of several have been utilized as
number possess volatile oils and aromatic principles, while others
are rich in astringents - chiefly the species indigenous to India
more important aromatics and carminatives are Cyperus
sanguinea-fuscus (Nees), the Cure-pire of Paraguay, C. elegans
(Rottb.) of Mexico; C. pertenuis (Roxb.), the Indian Nagar-motha or
Koriak, whose roots, when dried and powdered, are used by the
Indian ladies for perfuming their hair; and C. tegetum (Roxb.);
Adrue or Guinea Rush is the rhizome of C. articulatus (Linn.),
which, besides being used as a carminative, has a high repute in
the East Indies for anti-emetic properties. The blackish tubers
have a somewhat bitter, aromatic taste, resembling that of
Lavender. A fluid extract is prepared from them used in herbal
medicine. The aromatic properties of the drug cause a feeling of
warmth to be diffused throughout the system and act as a sedative
in dyspeptic disorders. It is common also in Jamaica and on the
banks of the Nile.
species of Sedge, C. rotundus and C. scarious, also possess
fragrant roots, largely employed in Eastern perfumes, but they are
little used in Europe.
of C. hexastachys are said to be successfully used by Hindu
practitioners in cases of cholera. They call the plant
of C. bulbosus are said to taste like potatoes when roasted, and
would be valuable for food if they were bigger.
of C. odoratus has a warm, aromatic taste, and is given in India in
infusions as a stomachic.
of the Sweet Cyperus or English Galingale (C. longus, Linn.) were
once esteemed as an aromatic tonic, considered good as a stomachic
and serviceable in the first stages of dropsy, but they have now
fallen into disuse. This species is a native of France, Germany,
Italy and Sicily, but very rare in this country, being only found
in a few places in Dorsetshire and Wales. The plants throw up erect
triangular stems, about 2 feet high, bearing three long,
channelled, drooping leaves and a lax, compound umbel of flat
flower-spikes, which renders it very ornamental when in
esculentus is a native of Italy and Sicily and the Levant. Its
roots are fibrous, with small round tubers hanging from them, of
the size of peas, which taste like sweet filberts and are eaten in
Italy, and sold in the markets.
call the tubers Souchet comestible or Amande de terre.
is the Egyptian Papyrus, the fibrous stems of which provided the
earliest form of paper known.
had various economic uses, as Pliny and other writers have shown,
though as the Egyptians cultivated other Sedges, it is probable
that these became more exclusively used for food and fuel, sails
and cordage, baskets and sieves, not to speak of punts or canoes to
which the prophet Isaiah refers (Isaiah xviii. 2), where the
Ethiopians are spoken of as sending ambassadors by the sea even in
vessels of bulrushes upon the waters (the Hebrew word is gome). The
papyrus was, in ancient times, carefully cultivated, especially in
certain districts of Lower, and probably of Upper Egypt also, for
the great and important purpose with which its name must ever be
manufacture the rind was removed, the pith cut in strips and laid
lengthwise on a flat board, their edges united by some glue or
cement (Pliny says 'Nile water'), and the whole subjected to
pressure, compacting the several strips into one uniform fabric.
This material was well known to the Ancients, and continued to be
used in Europe until the time of Charlemagne, when it was
superseded by parchment. It is remarkable that although we have no
trace in Scripture of the use of papyrus or other vegetable
substance by the Jews for writing purposes, the plant has been
found to exist in vast quantities in the Lake Merom at the northern
end of the Lake of Tiberias, and in some of the streams which flow
into the Mediterranean.
other hand, it has disappeared from Egypt, where it once grew in
quantity. It is also grown in Sicily and Sardinia, but on a limited
Papyrus, or some allied species of Sedge, Heliodorus relates that
the Ethiopians made swift-sailing wherries, capable of carrying two
or three men; and the traveller Bruce refers to a similar use of
this ancient plant among the modern Abyssinians.
writers give similar testimony, and it is highly probable that such
light vessels were coated with bitumen, like the rude basket made
by Jochabed for the infant Moses (Exod. ii. 3).
of the Papyrus were likewise used for ornamenting Egyptian temples,
and crowning the statues of their gods.
plant, if grown in Britain, requires the aid of a stove to grow it
properly, and then it must have a good supply of
lacustris, the Great Club-Rush or Common Bulrush, is used for
making chair seats, mats and hassocks, being imported dried, in
large bundles from Holland. The roots are astringent and diuretic
and were formerly employed in medicine, but are now no longer
capillaris is used in Spanish America under the name of Espartillo,
as a pectoral.
British species are the chocolateheaded Club-Rush (S. pauciflorus),
Deer'shair (S. coespitosus), Dwarf Club-Rush (S. nanus), Floating
Mud-Rush (S. fluitans), Savi's Mud-Rush (S. cernuus), Bristle-like
Mud-Rush (S. saetaceus), Round-headed Mud-Rush (S. Holoschoeuus),
and eight others of the genus Scirpus.
monocephala is used in Paraguay as a substitute for
arenaria (Linn.), the Sand Sedge, is a familiar seaside species of
Sedge, which is very widely distributed and common on sandy coasts,
growing on sand-dunes and elsewhere at high-water mark, amongst
grasses and herbage, helping to bind it together.
is perennial, propagating itself rapidly in loose sand, on which
account it is planted on dykes in Holland for the purpose of
binding the sand by means of its long and interlacing underground
stems, which penetrate horizontally about 4 inches below the
surface, thus helping to prevent the incursions of the sea. It has
been used for this purpose also on the British East
rhizomes have been used medicinally in Germany as a substitute for
Sarsaparilla, in the same way that Couch Grass is here employed,
having diuretic and sudorific properties.
vulpinoides, an allied species to C. vulpina (Great or Fox Sedge),
is a North American plant, but has been found on the banks of the
Thames near Kew.
sixty-nine species of Carex given by Johns (Flowers of the Field),
besides those mentioned above; some only grow in Scotland, and none
have medicinal or practical uses.
angustifolium (Cotton Grass), with its long white tufts of hair, is
very decorative on our bogs and mosses in the middle of summer. The
down is used in moorland districts for stuffing pillows, and
attempts have been made to employ it as a substitute for cotton,
under the name of 'Arctic Wool,' thread having been spun from it,
but the fibres are more brittle than those of cotton and do not
bear twisting as well. Candles and lamp wicks have been made from
the down by country people.
days the leaves and roots had some reputation in northern countries
as a medicine in diarrhoea, as like most members of the Sedge
family, they possess considerable astringency.
Eriophorum is from the Greek erion (wool) and phero (I
approved of the use of 'Bulrushes' and 'some of the smoother
sorts,' but considered they should be 'given with caution,' as they
were apt to 'cause head-ache, and provoke sleep. The root, boiled
in water, to the consumption of one-third, helps the
Prunella vulgaris (LINN.)
Medicinal Action and Uses
---Synonyms---Prunella. All-Heal. Hook-Heal. Slough-Heal.
Brunella. Heart of the Earth. Blue Curls.
---Habitat---Common throughout the British Isles and
Self-Heal holds an equal place with Bugle in the esteem of
may at once be distinguished from other members of the greatLabiate
order because on the top of its flowering stalks, the flowers - to
quote Culpepper - are 'thicke set together like an eare or spiky
knap.' No other plant is at all like it. Immediately below this ear
are a pair of stalkless leaves standing out on either side like a
collar. The flowers and bracts of this spike or 'ear' are arranged
in most regular tiers or whorls, each tier composed of a ring of
six stalkless flowers, supported by a couple of spreading,
sharp-pointed bracts. The number of whorls varies from half a dozen
to a dozen. The flower-spike is at first very short, compact and
cylindrical, but then opens out somewhat, maintaining much the same
size throughout its length, not tapering as in the flower spikes of
most other flowers. The flowers do not come out simultaneously in
any one ring, so that a somewhat raggedlooking head of flowers is
flower consists of a two-lipped calyx, the upper lip very wide and
flat, edged with three blunt teeth, the lower lip much narrower and
with two long, pointed teeth. Bothlips have red margins and carry
hairs. The two-lipped corolla is of a deep purple hue, the upper
lip strongly arched, on the top of the arch many hairs standing on
end, and the lower lip of much the same length, spreading out into
three holes. Under the roofing upper lip are two pairs of stamens,
one pair longer than the other, their filaments ending in two
little branches, one of which carries an anther, the other
remaining a little spike. Through the centre of the two pairs of
stamens the long style runs, curving so as to fit under the lip,
its lower end set between four nutlets. Honey lies at the bottom of
the corolla tube, protected from tiny insects by a thick hedge of
hairs placed just above it. The flower is adapted by this
formation, like the rest of the Labiate group, for fertilization by
bees, who alight on the lower lip and in thrusting their probosces
down the tube for the honey, dust their heads with the pollen from
the anthers and then on visiting the next flower, smear this pollen
on the end of the curving style that runs up the arch of the upper
lip and thus effect fertilization. After fertilization is effected,
the corolla falls out of the sheath like calyx, which, however,
remains in place, as do also the two bracts supporting each whorl.
When all the purple corollas have fallen and only the rings of the
persistent calyces remain, the resemblance to an ear of corn, which
Culpepper points out, is very marked.
does not rely wholly for its propagation on the four little nutlets
that ripen within the continually reddening calyx, even though the
flowering season is particularly long, lasting through all the
summer months, for its creeping stems can throw out roots at every
point, new plants thus being formed, as in the case of the Bugle.
It is from the creeping stems that the flowering spikes arise,
standing upright among the herbage, 3 inches to a foot in
leaves, oblong in form and blunt, about an inch long and 1/2 inch
broad, grow on short stalks in pairs down the square stem, from
which they stand out boldly, and are often roughish on the top,
with scattered, close hairs, their mid-rib at the back also
carrying hairs and their margins fringed with tiny hairs. Their
outline is either one continuous line, or they are slightly
indented along their margins.
---Habitat---Self-Heal is a very common plant throughout
Britain and all over Europe, abundant in pastures and on waste
ground. In open and exposed situations, the plant is diminutive,
while in more sheltered spots it is larger in all its parts. It
branches freely, lateral stems being thrown out in pairs at almost
every node, from which the leaves spring. The main stem is often
deeply grooved and rough to the touch, the lower parts tinted with
is one of those common wildflowers that have found their way to
North America, tending even to oust the native flowers. It is known
there as 'Heart of the Earth' and 'Blue Curls.'
Cole, in Adam in Eden (1657),
'It is called by modern writers (for
neither the ancient Greek nor Latin writers knew it) Brunella, from
Brunellen, which is a name given unto it by the Germans, because it
cureth that inflammation of the mouth which they call "die Breuen,"
yet the general name of it in Latin nowadays is Prunella, as being
a word of a more gentile pronunciation.'
further explains that the disease in question 'is common to
soldiers when they Iye in camp, but especially in garrisons, coming
with an extraordinary inflammation or swelling, as well in the
mouth as throat, the very signature of the Throat which the form of
the Floures so represent signifying as much' - an instance of the
doctrine of signatures of which William Cole was such a ready
not a better Wound herbe,' says Gerard, 'in the world than that of
SelfHeale is, the very name importing it to be very admirable upon
this account and indeed the Virtues doe make it good, for this very
herbe without the mixture of any other ingredient, being onely
bruised and wrought with the point of a knife upon a trencher or
the like, will be brought into the form of a salve, which will heal
any green wounde even in the first intention, after a very
wonderful manner, The decoction of Prunell made with wine and water
doth join together and make whole and sound all wounds, both inward
and outward, even as Bugle doth. To be short, it serveth for the
same that the Bugle serveth and in the world there are not two
better wound herbs as hath been often proved.'
---Constituents---The chemical principles of Bugle and
Self-Heal resemble those of the other Labiate herbs, comprising a
volatile oil; some bitter principle, not yet analysed; tannin, to
which its chief medicinal use due; sugar and
whole herb, collected when in best condition in
and Uses---Astringent, styptic and tonic.
is still in use in modern herbal treatment as a useful astringent
for inward or outward use.
infusion of the herb, made from 1 OZ. to a pint of boiling water,
and taken in doses of a wineglassful, is considered a general
strengthener. Sweetened with honey, it is good for a sore and
relaxed throat or ulcerated mouth, for both of which purposes it
also makes a good gargle. For internal bleeding and for piles, the
infusion is also used as an injection.
Culpepper, explaining the name 'Self-Heal
whereby when you are hurt, you may heal yourself,' tells us
'it is an especial herb for inward or
outward wounds. Take it inwardly in syrups for inward wounds,
outwardly in unguents and plasters for outward. As Self-Heal is
like Bugle in form, so also in the qualities and virtues, serving
for all purposes, whereunto Bugle is applied with good success
either inwardly or outwardly, for inward wounds or ulcers in the
body, for bruises or falls and hurts. If it be combined with Bugle,
Sanicle and other like wound herbs, it will be more effectual to
wash and inject into ulcers in the parts outwardly.... It is an
especial remedy for all green wounds to close the lips of them and
to keep the place from further inconveniences. The juice used with
oil of roses to annoint the temples and forehead is very effectual
to remove the headache, and the same mixed with honey of roses
cleaneth and healeth ulcers in the mouth and throat.'
Polygala Senega (LINN.)
Medicinal Action and Uses
Poisons and Antidotes
Adulterations and Other Species
---Synonyms---Snake Root. Senegae Radix. Seneca. Seneka.
Polygala Virginiana. Plantula Marilandica. Senega officinalis.
Milkwort. Mountain Flax. Rattlesnake Root.
---Description---This perennial herb, about a foot high, grows
throughout central and western North America, in woods, and on dry,
rocky soil. The leaves are small alternate, and narrowly
lanceolate, and the numerous, small pinky-white flowers are crowded
on to a narrow, terminal spike from 1 to 2 inches
of the genus, Polygala, means 'much milk,' alluding to its own
profuse secretions and their effects. 'Senega' is derived from the
Seneca tribe of North American Indians, among whom the plant was
used as a remedy for snake-bites.
varying in colour from light yellowish grey to brownish grey, and
in size from the thickness of a straw to that of the little finger,
has as its distinguishing mark a projecting line, along its concave
side. It is usually twisted, sometimes almost spiral, and has at
its upper end a thick, irregular, knotty crown, showing traces of
numerous, wiry stems. It breaks with a short fracture, the wood
often showing an abnormal appearance, since one or two wedge-shaped
portions may be replaced by parenchymatous tissue, as if a segment
of wood had been cut out. The keels are due to the development of
the bast, and not to any abnormality in the wood. The odour and
taste resemble that of Wintergreen.
1735, Dr. John Tennent, a Scottish physician living in
Pennsylvania, was introduced to the use of the root by the Seneca
Indians for curing rattlesnake-bite. As the symptoms were similar
to those of pleurisy and the latter stages of pleuropneumonia, he
experimented with it in those diseases with success, and as a
result the drug was accepted in Europe and cultivated in England in
1739. The roots should be gathered when the leaves are dead, and
before the first frost. From carelessness in collection other roots
are often found mixed with it, but not for intentional
adulteration. The root of commerce is obtained from Polygala
latifolia also, this species being several inches taller and having
larger leaves than P. Senega. The dried roots, usually in broken
pieces, are brought into market in bales weighing from 50 to 400
lb. They vary a little in appearance according to their locality.
The official Senega is the small Southern Senega, 400 to 500 of the
dried roots of which are required to make a pound. Manitoba Senega
is larger and darker, often with purple markings near the crown.
The Northern, White, False, or Large Senega, comes from Wisconsin,
Minnesota, and farther west. About 80 to 100 of its roots will make
a pound. It is stated that it is not possible to distinguish the
two when powdered.
---Constituents---The root contains polygalic acid, virgineic
acid, pectic and tannic acids, yellow, bitter, colouring matter,
cerin fixed oil, gum, albumen, woody fibre, salts, alumina, silica,
magnesia and iron. The powder is yellowish-grey to light
principle, contained in the bark, is Senegin (which some
authorities regard as another name for polygalic acid, while others
differentiate between the two). It is a white powder easily soluble
in hot water and alcohol, forming a soapy emulsion when mixed with
boiling water. It is almost identical with the saponin of Saponaria
officinalis and Quillaria Saponaria. Thus its influence
counteracts, or can be counteracted, by digitalis.
analysis, in 1889, gives fixed oil and resin, traces of volatile
oil (a mixture of valeric ether and methyl salicylate), 7 per cent
sugar, from 2 to 5 per cent senegin, yellow colouring-matter, and
advisable to use an alkali in small proportion in making galenical
preparations of senega.
Senega is bitter, rancid, and disagreeable, with the consistency of
syrup and an acid reaction. It is not Seneca oil.
and Uses---A stimulating expectorant, diuretic and diaphoretic. The
Ancients regarded its action as identical with that of ipecacuanha,
but in doses of three times the strength. It should be used when
the power to expectorate is small - very useful in the second stage
of acute bronchial catarrh or pneumonia. It is of little value when
the expectoration is tough and scanty, but very helpful in chronic
pneumonia or bronchitis or dropsy dependent on renal disease.
Spirit of chloroform will lessen its disagreeable taste. It has
been used also in croup, whooping-cough, and
stimulates most of the secretions, it is also useful as a
sialagogue and emmenagogue. In active inflammation its use is
doses it is emetic and cathartic.
---Dosages---Powdered root, 5 to 20 grains. Fluid extract, 10
to 20 drops. Of infusion, B.P., 4 to 8 drachrns. Of syrup, U.S.P.,
1 drachm. Of tincture, B.P., 1/2 to 1 drachrn. Conct. Solut., B.P.,
1/2 to 1 drachm.
Antidotes---In overdose it can act as an irritant or general
protoplasmic poison, with violent vomiting and purging. A dose of
from 10 minims of the tincture to a scruple of the powdered root
will cause heaviness and vertigo, dazzling vision, sneezing,
inflammation of the oesophagus, withconstriction, thirst, nausea,
mucous vomiting, colic, scalding, frothy urine, irritation of the
larynx, and general debility. Like saponin, it causes a paresis of
the muscles of the respiratory tract and the vaso-motor system in
general, resulting in capillary congestions followed by rapid
quinquefolium, or American Ginseng Root, is the most common
admixture. It is larger and has no ridge.
species of Gillenia, Asclepias Vincetoxicum, or Swallow-wort,
Triosteum perfoliatum, and the rhizome of Cypripedium pubescens
have also been found in parcels. They have a different taste and
odour, and show no ridge.
Boykinii or P. Alba resemble P. Senega, but have no ridge and are
much less acrid.
Valerian, Serpentary and Green Hellebore roots resemble it, but
have no keel.
Cassia Acutifolia (DELL.)
Medicinal Action and Uses
Adulterations and Other Species Uses
---Synonyms---Alexandrian Senna. Nubian Senna. Cassia Senna.
Cassia lenitiva. Cassia Lanceolata. Cassia officinalis. Cassia
aethiopica. Senna acutifolia. Egyptian Senna. Sene de la palthe.
Tinnevelly Senna. Cassia angustifolia. East Indian
Used---Dried leaflets, pods.
---Habitat---Egypt, Nubia, Arabia, Sennar.
---Description---Several species of Cassia contribute to the
drug of commerce, and were comprised in a single species by
Linnaeus under the name of Cassia Senna. Since his day, the subject
has been more fully investigated, and it is known that several
countries utilize the leaves of their own indigenous varieties in
the same way. The two most widely exported and officially
recognized are C. acutifolia and C. angustifolia (India or
acutifolia, yielding the finest and most valuable variety of the
drug is a small shrub about 2 feet high. The stem is erect, smooth,
and pale green, with long, spreading branches, bearing leaflets in
four or five pairs, averaging an inch long, lanceolate or obovate,
unequally oblique at the base, veins distinct on the under surface,
brittle, greyish-green, of a faint, peculiar odour, and
mucilaginous, sweetish taste. The form of the base, and freedom
from bitterness, distinguish the Senna from the Argel leaves, which
are also thicker and stiffer. The flowers are small and yellow. The
pods are broadly oblong, about 2 inches long by 7/8 inch broad, and
contain about six seeds.
an Arabian name, and the drug was first brought into use by the
Arabian physicians Serapion and Mesue, and Achiarius was the first
of the Greeks to notice it.He recommends not the leaves but the
fruit, and Mesue also prefers the pods to the leaves, thinking them
more powerful, though they are actually less so, but they do not
The leaves of C. acutifolia are collected
principally in Nubia. Ignatius Pallme, who travelled much in
'Senna is found in abundance in many parts
of Kardofan, but the leaves are not collected on account of the
existing monopoly. The Government draws its supplies from Dongola
are collected annually in Nubia, the more abundant in September,
after the rains, the other in April, in dry seasons a very bad one.
The plants are cut down, exposed on the rocks in hot sunshine until
thoroughly dry, then stripped, and packed in palm-leaf bags, being
sent thus on camels to Essouan and Darao, and by the Nile to Cairo,
or via Massowah and Suakin on the Red Sea. It is made up at Boulak,
near Cairo, under the superintendence of the Egyptian Government,
though much adulteration takes place there. The leaves are loosely
packed, and as they curl when drying, often present this
appearance, while Indian Senna is packed tightly, and the leaves
come out flat.
appears to have been cultivated in England about 1640. By keeping
the plants in a hot-bed all the summer, they frequently flowered;
but rarely perfected their seeds.
Senna is prepared for use by garbling, or picking out the leaflets
and rejecting the lead-stalks, impurities, and leaves of other
plants. The amount annually exported is about 8,000 bales of each
of the varieties, and the price is high, owing to the failure of
the crops at certain seasons. Good Senna may be known by the
bright, fresh, yellowishgreen colour of the leaves, with a faint
and peculiar odour rather like green tea, and a nauseous,
mucilaginous, sweetish, slightly bitter taste. It should be
powdered only as wanted, because the powder absorbs moisture,
becomes mouldy, and loses its value. Boiling destroys its virtues,
unless it be in vacuo, or in a covered vessel.
---Constituents---Water and diluted alcohol extract the active
principles of Senna. Pure alcohol only extracts them imperfectly.
The leaves yield about one-third of their weight to boiling
purgative constituents are closely allied to those of Aloes and
Rhubarb, the activities of the drug being largely due to
anthraquinone derivatives and their glucosides. It contains rhein,
aloe-emedin, kaempferol, isormamnetin, both free and as glucosides
together with myricyl alcohol, etc. The ash amounts to about 8 per
cent, consisting chiefly of earthy and ashy
purgative principle was discovered in 1866. It is a glucoside of
weak acid character, and was named Cathartic Acid. By boiling its
alcoholic solution with acids it yields Cathartogenic Acid and
sugar. There were also found Chrysophanic Acid, Sennacrol and
Sennapicrin, and a peculiar non-fermentable saccharine principle
which was named Cathartomannite or Sennit.
The conclusions reached after
experimenting with Senna leaves washed with alcohol were as
(1) Strong spirit does not remove any of
the active principle from Senna leaves.
(2) The therapeutic action of cathartic
acid is assisted by one or more of the constituents yielded by
Senna to strong alcohol, though these constituents produce no
purgative effect when taken alone.
(3) Senna exhausted by alcohol is a
reliable and pleasant purgative, but somewhat weaker in its action
than the unexhausted leaves.
substances produce precipitates with the infusion of Senna, but
they may remove only inert ingredients, and not be really
incompatible medicinally. Cathartic acid is precipitated by
infusion of galls and solution of lead subacetate. Lead acetate and
tartar emetic, which disturb the infusion, have no effect upon a
solution of this substance.
is the name of a mixture of the salts of cathartic acid which may
be used in doses of from 3 to 6 grains.
the name applied to the watersoluble glucoside of Senna, marketed
in tablets containing 0.75 gram each.
and Uses---Purgative. Its action being chiefly on the lower bowel,
it is especially suitable in habitual costiveness. It increases the
peristaltic movements of the colon by its local action upon the
intestinal wall. Its active principle must pass out of the system
in the secretions unaltered, for when Senna is taken by nurses, the
suckling infant becomes purged. It acts neither as a sedative nor
as a refrigerant, but has a slight, stimulating influence. In
addition to the nauseating taste, it is apt to cause sickness, and
griping pains, so that few can take it alone; but these
characteristics can be overcome or removed, when it is well adapted
for children, elderly persons, and delicate women. The colouring
matter is absorbable, and twenty or thirty minutes after the
ingestion of the drug it appears in the urine, and may be
recognized by a red colour on the addition of ammonia.
addition of cloves, ginger, cinnamon, or other aromatics are
excellent correctives of the nauseous effects. A teaspoonful of
cream of tartar to a teacupful of the decoction of infusion of
Senna, is a mild and pleasant cathartic, well suited for women if
required soon after delivery. Some practitioners add neutral
laxative salts, or saccharine and aromatic substances. The
purgative effect is increased by the addition of pure bitters; the
decoction of guaiacum is said to answer a similar purpose. Senna is
contraindicated in an inflammatory condition of the alimentary
canal, hemorrhoids, prolapsus, ani, etc. The well-known 'black
draught' is a combination of Senna and Gentian, with any aromatic,
as cardamom or coriander seeds, or the rind of the Seville orange.
The term 'black draught,' it is stated, should never be used, as
mistakes have been made in reading the prescriptions, and 'black
drop' or vinegar of opium has been given instead, several deaths
having been caused in this way.
PODS, or the dried, ripe fruits, are official in the British
Pharmacopceia, though the quantity is restricted, as an adulterant,
in the United States Pharmacopoeia.
milder in their effects than the leaflets, as the griping is
largely due to the resin, and the pods contain none, but have about
25 per cent more cathartie acid and emodin than the leaves, without
volatile oil. From 6 to 12 pods for the adult, or from 3 to 6 for
the young or very aged, infused in a claret-glass of cold water,
act mildly but thoroughly upon the whole intestine.
extract was formerly treated with alcohol for the removal of the
griping principles, but the process was deleted from the United
States Pharmacopoeia. The fluid extract is a dark, blackish, thick
and somewhat turbid liquid, with a strong flavour of Senna. It is
well adapted for exhibition with saline cathartics, such as Epsom
salt or cream of tartar. In this ease not more than half the full
dose should be given at once. The British Pharmacopoeia 1898
'Liquor Sennae Concentratus' was more like a concentrated infusion
than a fluid extraet, but had the same strength as the latter, the
menstrum being distilled water; tincture of ginger and alcohol
infusion of Senna, or Senna Tea, consists of 100 grams of Senna
leaves, 5 grams of sliced Ginger, 1,000 millilitres of distilled
water, boiling. Infuse in a covered vessel for fifteen minutes, and
strain, while hot. The United States Pharmacopoeia prefers
coriander to ginger. The infusion deposits, on exposure to air, a
yellowish precipitate, so it is advisable to make it in very small
quantities, as the deposit aggravates its griping tendency. It is
usual to prescribe manna and one of the saline cathartics with it.
The cold infusion is said to be less unpleasant in taste, and equal
in strength to the hot.
SENNA is prepared by mixing 8 fluid ounces, 218 minims of fluid
extract of Senna, with 81 minims of oil of Coriander and sufficient
syrup to make 33 fluid ounces (6 1/2 fluid drachms).
Aromatic Syrup includes also jalap, rhubarb, cinnamon, clove,
nutmeg, oil of lemon, sugar, and diluted alcohol.
Compound Syrup includes rhubarb, frangula, methyl salicylate,
alcohol, and syrup.
---Dosages---Powdered leaves, 1 drachm. Conct. solution, B.P.,
1/2 to 1 drachm. Of compound or aromatic syrup, 2 fluid drachms. Of
U.S.P. syrup, for an adult, 1 to 4 fluid drachms. Of B.P. syrup, 1
to 2 fluid drachms. Of Senna, 1/2 to 2 drachms. Of eompound
mixture, B.P., 4 to 16 drachms. Of infusion, B.P., 1/2 to 2 fluid
ounces. Of fluid extract, for an adult, 1/2 to 2 fluid draehms. Of
confection, B.P., 1 to 2 drachms.
Other Species Used---Owing to the high price, what is known as
'broken Senna' is found on the market and sold for the genuine
article with government sanction in the United States of America.
Also, 'Senna siftings,' containing sand and other foreign matter
have been offered for sale, causing trouble to government
there was an intentional mixture of 5 parts of C. acutifolia, 3 of
C. obovata, and 2 of Cynanchum, but now Alexandrian Senna is more
uniform. It is often called in the French Pharmacopoeia séné de la
palthe, because of the duty formerly laid upon it by the Ottoman
Porte. A parcel of Alexandrian Senna in the market formerly
consisted of (1) leaflets of C. acutifolia, (2) leaflets of C.
obovata, (3) the pods, broken leaf-stalks, flowers, and fine
fragments of either, (4) leaves of Cynanchum oleofolium. The last
are larger, thicker, regular at the base, and have no lateral
nerves visible on their undersurface. They must be regarded as an
angustifolia or Tinnevelly Senna, Senna Indica, C. elongata is an
annual growing in the Yemen and Hadramaut provinces of Arabia
Felix, in Somaliland, Mozambique, Scind, and the Punjab. In
Southern India it is cultivated and grows to a larger size. In the
German and Swiss Pharmacopoeias, the official drug is restricted to
Tinnevelly Senna, and also in the British Pharmacopoeia and the
Pharmacopoeia of India. Senna Indica also includes the variety
known as Arabian, Mocha, Bombay, or East Indian Senna. Both
varieties, as well as Alexandrian Senna, are official in the United
There is a
certain difference in the qualities and also in the names of the
species imported into Britain and America. The fine Tinnevelly
Senna goes from Madras or Tuticorin to Britain. The leaflets are
unbroken, from 1 to 2 or more inches long, thin, flexible, and
been stated that it contains only two-thirds as much of the active
principle as the Alexandrian.
or Arabian variety, comes via Mocha and Bombay, and is less pure
and less carefully prepared. The leaflets are long and narrow,
pike-like, so are called in France séné de la pique. Leaflets
resembling these were brought by Livingstone from Southeast Africa.
Mecca Senna, also known in America as Arabian or Bombay Senna, is
obtained from both the wild and the cultivated kinds of C.
angustifolia. The best comes from British India. The variety has
sometimes a yellowish or tawny colour, more like the Indica than
the Alexandrian, and may be the product of C. lanceolata of
Forskhal. C. obovata, C. obtusa or Senna obtusa is usually a
perennial, found wild in Egypt, Nubia, Abyssinia, Tripoli, Senegal
and Benguella, Arabia and India. It was the first kind of Senna
known, and being brought by the Moors into Europe, was formerly
cultivated in Northern Italy, Spain, and Southern France, and
called S. italica. It is official in the British Pharmacopceia and
the Pharmacopoeia of India as one of the botanical sources of
Alexandrian Senna, but now few of its leaflets are included. It is
called by the Arabs S. baladi, i.e. indigenous or wild Senna, to
distinguish it from C. acutifolia, S. jebeli, or Mountain Senna. It
is common in Jamaica, where its cultivation has been suggested, and
where it is called Port Royal Senna or Jamaica Senna.
Marilandica or American Senna, Wild Senna, Poinciana pulcherima,
formerly Maryland Senna, is a common perennial from New England to
Northern Carolina. Its leaves are compressed into oblong cakes like
other herbal preparations of the Shakers. It acts like Senna, but
is weaker, and should be combined with aromatics. The dose in
powder is from 1/2 to 2 1/2 drachms. For the infusion, add 1 ounce
of the leaves and 1 drachm of coriander seeds to 1 pint of boiling
water. Macerate for an hour in a covered vessel, and strain. Dose:
4 to 5 fluid ounces. These leaves are also found mixed with or
substituted for Alexandrian Senna.
Chamoecrista, Prairie Senna, Partridge Pea, Dwarf Cassia, or
Sensitive Pea, found on the Western Prairies, is an excellent
substiture for the above.
fistula, or Purging Cassia, C. Stick, Pudding Pipe-Tree, or
Alexandrian Purging Cassia, is a tree rising to 40 feet in height,
the pulp of the pods being used in the electuary of Senna. It is
found in Egypt, the Indies, China, etc.
arborescens, or Bladder-Senna (see SENNA,
BLADDER), Baguenaudier, Séné Indigène, the Sutherlandia
frutescens of the Cape, formerly often met with as a substitute, is
now usually replaced by Globularia Turbith or Alypum, the leaves of
which are milder, so that a double dose may be taken. It is the
Wild Senna of Europe.
Myrtifolia is a Mediterranean shrub and highly poisonous, so that
it should be recognized when present. The leaves are green, very
thin, and soft, three veined, ovate-lanceolate, and equal at the
base. It grows wild in Southern Europe, and its leaves are used as
a black dye. It is also used to adulterate sweet marjoram. Deaths
are recorded from eating the small, black berries. A Mexican drug,
Tlolocopetale, containing coriarin and coriamurtin, is said to be a
product. Other names are Currierts Sumach and Redoul.
leaves (Solenostemma or Cynanchum Argel), from Nubia, are paler in
colour, have less conspicuous veins, and an equal
leaflets and legumes (Tephrosia Apollinea), from the banks of the
Nile, are silky or silvery, equal at the base and usually folded
longitudinally on their mid-rib.
Leaflets (Bilocarpus Microphyllus) have been imported under the
name of Senna.
is believed to be obtained from C. holosericeae.
yields a false Senna from Madras, partly resembling the Tinnevelly
Senna, though the colour of the upper surface of the leaves is
It must be
remembered that the Senna leaf contains no tannic acid and does not
alter a ferric solution, while most of those encountered as
adulterations precipitate ferric-chloride.
varieties used in their native countries, of which little appears
to be known, are also:
cathartica, C. rugosa, C. splendida, C. leavigata, C. multijuja,
Coronilla Emenls or Scorpion Senna, C. obovata or Senegal
---Habitat---Indigenous to Southern Europe, Mediterranean
region, said to be the sole vegetation found growing on the crater
---Description---Cultivated in Britain as a decorative shrub,
flowers yellow, papilionaceous, specially characterized by
membraneous, bladder-like pods, which when pressed go off with a
loud bang, hence its name of Bladder Senna. The plant grows well in
the author's garden.
---Medicinal Action and Uses---The leaflets are purgative and
on the Continent are often substituted for Senna leaves, but they
are much milder in action than the true Senna. Taken in the form of
an infusion, 1 or 2 drachms of the seeds will excite
See SORREL, SHEEP'S.
Capsella bursa-pastoris (MEDIC.)
Medicinal Action and Uses
---Synonyms---Shepherd's Bag. Shepherd's Scrip. Shepherd's
Sprout. Lady's Purse. Witches' Pouches. Rattle Pouches. Case-weed.
Pick-Pocket. Pick-Purse. Blindweed. Pepper-and-Salt. Poor Man's
Parmacettie. Sanguinary. Mother's Heart. Clappedepouch
Bourse de pasteur.
---Habitat---All over the world, outside the tropics. It is
probably of European or West Asiatic origin, and is abundant in
Britain, flowering all the year round.
Purse is so called from the resemblance of the flat seed-pouches of
the plant to an old-fashioned common leather purse. It is similarly
called in France Bourse de pasteur, and in Germany
name of 'Clappedepouch' was given in allusion to the begging of
lepers, who stood at cross-roads with a bell or clapper, receiving
their alms in a cup at the end of a long pole.
It is a
common weed of the Cruciferous order, said to be found all over the
world and flourishing nearly the whole year round.
of Europe, the plant has accompanied Europeans in all their
migrations and established itself wherever they have settled to
till the soil. In John Josselyn's Herbal it is one of the plants
named as unknown to the New World before the Pilgrim Fathers
flourish and set seed in the poorest soil, though it may only
attain the height of a few inches. In rich soil it luxuriates and
grows to 2 feet in height.
plant is green, but some what rough with hairs. The main leaves,2
to 6 inches long, are very variable in form, either irregularly
pinnatifid or entire and toothed. When not in flower, it may be
distinguished by its radiating leaves, of which the outer lie close
to the earth.
slender stem, which rises from the crown of the root, from the
centre of the rosette of radical leaves, is usually sparingly
branched. It is smooth, except at the lower part, and bears a few,
small, oblong leaves, arrow-shaped at the base, and above them,
numerous small, white, inconspicuous flowers, which are
self-fertilized and followed by wedge-shaped fruit pods, divided by
narrow partitions into two cells, which contain numerous oblong
yellow seeds. When ripe, the pod separates into its two boat-shaped
of the plant is peculiar and rather unpleasant, though more
cress-like than pungent.
It has an
aromatic and biting taste, but is less acrid than most of the
Cruciferae, and was formerly used as a pot-herb, the young radical
leaves being sold in Philadelphia as greens in the spring. It
causes taint of milk when freely eaten by dairy
modern herbal medicine the whole plant is employed, dried and
administered in infusion, and in fluid extract.
homoeopathic tincture is prepared from the fresh
---Constituents---During the summer, the plant has a sharp,
acrid taste, due to the stimulating principle.
partial analyses have been made of it, but no characteristic
principle has been definitely separated. The active constituent is
said to be an organic acid, which Bombelon, a French chemist,
termed bursinic acid. He also found a tannate and an alkaloid,
Bursine, which resembles sulphocyansinapine.
sulphuretted volatile oil, closely similar to, if not identical
with oil of mustard, as well as a fixed oil, have been determined
and 6 per cent of a soft resin.
and Uses---Shepherd's Purse is one of the most important drugplants
of the family Cruciferae.
and infused, it yields a tea which is still considered by
herbalists one of the best specifics for stopping haemorrhages of
all kinds - of the stomach, the lungs, or the uterus, and more
especially bleeding from the kidneys.
haemostyptic properties have long been known and are said to equal
those of ergot and hydrastis. During the Great War, when these were
no longer obtainable in German commerce, a liquid extract of
Capsella bursapastoris was used as a substitute, the liquidextract
being made by exhausting the drug with boiling water. Bomelon found
the herb of prompt use to arrest bleedings and flooding, when given
in the form of a fluid extract, in doses of 1 to 2
Culpepper says it helps bleeding from
wounds - inward or outward - and:
'if bound to the wrists, or the soles of
the feet, it helps the jaundice. The herb made into poultices,
helps inflammation and St. Anthony's fire. The juice dropped into
ears, heals the pains, noise and matterings thereof. A good
ointment may be made of it for all wounds, especially wounds in the
been used in English domestic practice from early times as an
astringent in diarrhoea; it was much used in decoction with milk to
check active purgings in calves.
been employed in fresh decoction in haematuria, haemorrhoids,
chronic diarrhcea and dysentery, and locally as a vulnerary in
nose-bleeding, which is checked by inserting the juice on
cotton-wool. It is also used as an application in rheumatic
affections, and has been found curative in various uterine
haemorrhages, especially those with which uterine cramp and colic
are associated, and also in various passive haemorrhages from
It is a
remedy of the first importance in catarrhal conditions of the
bladder and ureters, also in ulcerated conditions and abscess of
the bladder. It increases the flow of urine. Its use is specially
indicated when there is white mucous matter voided with the urine;
relief in these cases following at once.
antiscorbutic, stimulant and diuretic action causes it to be much
used in kidney complaints and dropsy; other similar stimulating
diuretics such as Couch Grass may be combined with it.
Dr. Ellingwood, in his valuable work on
Therapeutics, says of Shepherd's Purse:
'This agent has been noted for its
influence in haematuria . . . soothing irritation of the renal or
vesical organs. In cases of uncomplicated chronic menorrhagia
(excessive menstruation) it has accomplished permanent cures,
especially if the discharge be persistent. The agent is also useful
where uric acid or insoluble phosphates or carbonates produce
irritation of the urinary tract. Externally, the bruised herb has
been applied to bruised and strained parts, to rheumatic joints,
and where there was ecchymosis, or extravasations within or beneath
'The herb is rather unpleasant to take,
but it is valuable mixed with Pellitory of the Wall, and a little
Spirits of Juniper much disguises the flavour. A small quantity of
Nitrate of Potash will further disguise it, and not detract from
its medicinal value. The infusion may be taken in wineglassful
doses, four times a day.'
medicinal infusion should be made with an ounce of the plant to 12
OZ. of water, reduced by boiling to 1/2 pint, strained and taken
extract is given in doses of 1/2 to 1 drachm. In the United States,
the fluid extract is given for dropsy in doses of 1/2 to 1
teaspoonful in water.
Purse was said to be the principal herb in the blue 'Electric
Fluid' used by Count Matthei to control haemorrhage.
birds are fond of the seeds of Shepherd's Purse: chaffinches and
other wild birds may often be observed feeding on them, and they
form valuable food for all caged birds.
poultry have fed freely on the green plant in the early spring, it
has been noticed that the egg yolks become dark in colour, a
greenish brown or olive colour, and stronger in
Siegesbeckia orientalis (LINN.)
---Synonym---The Holy Herb.
Used---Juice, leaves, and whole plant.
---Habitat---Isle of Bourbon.
---Description---A small composite plant or small shrub growing
in hot climates. The heads are small with an involucre of five
bracts covered with very sticky glandular hairs. The secretion
continues till after the fruit is ripe and aids in its
distribution, the whole head breaking off and attaching itself to
some passing animal. In China it is a common weed. The drug
contains a white crystalline body resembling salicylic
---Medicinal Action and Uses---Used by Creoles as a protective
covering for wounds, burns, etc. The juice when applied to the skin
leaves a coating similar to that of collodion. Creoles call it
'Colle Colle' - Stick Stick.
it is used as a remedy for ague, rheumatism, and renal colic; used
in Britain chiefly as a cure for ringworm in conjunction with
glycerine. Used in Mauritius Islands for syphilis, leprosy, and
various skin diseases.
---Dose---10 minims of the fluid extract.
Potentilla anserina (LINN.)
Medicinal Action and Uses
---Synonyms---Prince's Feathers. Trailing Tansy. Wild Agrimony.
Goosewort. Silvery Cinquefoil. Goose Tansy. More Grass. Wild
Silverweed, one of the commonest of the Potentillas, is very
abundant in Great Britain and throughout the temperate regions,
extending from Lapland to the Azores, and is equally at home in
regions as remote as Armenia, China, New Zealand and
are congenial to its growth. It spreads rapidly by means of long,
creeping runners and thrives in moist situations, especially in
clay, where the water is apt to stagnate, and is common by
waysides, though on dusty ground it becomes much
It has a
slender, branched root-stock, dark brown outside, which has been
eaten in the Hebrides in times of scarcity.
are covered on both sides with a silky, white down of soft hairs,
mostly marked on the underside, hence its English name of
Silverweed. They are 2 to 5 inches long, much cut or divided,
interruptedly pinnate, i.e. divided into twelve to fifteen pairs of
oval, toothed leaflets along the midrib, each pair being separated
by a shorter pair all the way up.
buttercup-like flowers, in bloom from early summer till later
autumn, are borne singly on long footstalks from the axils of the
leaves on the slender runners. They are large, with five petals of
a brilliant yellow colour and the calyx is cleft into ten
Silverweed is a favourite food of cattle, horses, goats, pigs and
geese. Only sheep decline it.
writers call it Argentina (Latin, argent, silver) from its
appearance of frosted silver. The name Anserina (Latin, anser, a
goose) was probably given it because geese were fond of
generic name, Potentilla, is derived from the Latin adjective
potens, powerful, in allusion to the medicinal properties of some
of the species.
parts of the plant contain tannin.
herbal medicine the whole herb is used, dried, for its mildly
astringent and tonic action. It has an astringent taste, but no
which are even more astringent, have been used, also the
is gathered in June, all shrivelled, discoloured or insect-eaten
leaves being rejected. Collect only in dry weather, in the morning,
after the dew has been dried by the sun. Failing the convenience of
a speciallyfitted drying-shed, where drying is carried on by
artificial heat, drying may be done in warm, sunny weather out of
doors, but in half-shade, as leaves dried in the shade retain their
colour better than those dried in the sun. They may be placed on
wire sieves, or wooden frames covered with wire or garden netting,
at a height of about 3 or 4 feet from the ground, to ensure a
current of air. The herbs must be brought indoors to a dry room or
shed at night, before there is any chance of them becoming damp by
indoors, a warm, sunny attic may be employed, the window being left
open by day, so that there is a current of air for the moist, hot
air to escape; the door may also be left open. The leaves and herbs
can be placed on coarse butter-cloth, stented, i.e. if hooks are
placed beneath the window and on the opposite wall, the butter
cloth can be attached by rings sewn on each side of it and hooked
on so that it is stretched quite taut. The temperature should be
from 70 degrees to 100 degrees F. Failing sun, any ordinary shed,
fitted with racks and shelves can be used, provided that it is
ventilated near the roof, and has a warm current of air, caused by
an ordinary coke stove or anthracite stove. The important point is
rapidity and the avoidance of steaming; the quicker the process of
drying, the more even the colour obtained, making the product more
leaves should be packed away at once in wooden or tin boxes, in a
dry place, as otherwise they re-absorb about 12 per cent of
moisture from the air, and are liable to become mouldy and to
deteriorate in quality.
and Uses---A strong infusion of Silverweed, if used as a lotion,
will check the bleeding of piles, the ordinary infusion (1 OZ. to a
pint of boiling water) being meanwhile taken as a
infusion, sweetened with honey, constitutes an excellent gargle for
sore throat. A tablespoonful of the powdered herb may also be taken
every three hours.
It is also
an excellent remedy for cramps in the stomach, heart and abdomen.
In addition to the infusion taken internally, it is advisable to
apply it to the affected parts on compresses.
Continent, a tablespoonful of the herb, boiled in a cup of milk,
has been recommended as an effective remedy in tetanus, or lockjaw.
The tea should be drunk as hot as possible. If the patient dislikes
milk, boiling water may be used.
and powdered leaves have been successfully administered in ague:
the more astringent roots have been given in powder in doses of a
scruple and upwards.
diuretic, Silverweed has been considered useful in gravel.
Ettmueller extolled it as a specific in jaundice. Of the fresh
plant, 3 OZ. or more may be taken three or four times
decoction has been used for ulcers in the mouth, relaxation of the
uvula, spongy gums and for fixing loose teeth, also for toothache
and preserving the gums from scurvy.
distilled water of the herb was in earlier days much in vogue as a
cosmetic for removing freckles, spots and pimples, and for
restoring the complexion when sunburnt.
Leicestershire, Silverweed fomentations were formerly used to
prevent pitting by smallpox.
Salmon (1710) says:
'It is very cold and dry in the second
degree, astringent, anodyne, vulnerary and arthritic. It stops all
fluxes of the bowels, even the bloody flux, also spitting, vomiting
of blood, or any inward bleeding. It helps the whites in women and
is profitable against ruptures in children and is good to dissipate
contusions, fastens loose teeth and heals wounds or ulcers in the
mouth, throat or in any part of the body, drying up old, moist,
corrupt and running sores. It resists the fits of agues, is said to
break the stone, and is good to cool inflammation in the eyes, as
eke to take away all discolourings of the skin and to cleanse it
from any kind of depredation.'
Simaruba Amara (D. C.), Simaruba officinalis
Medicinal Action and Uses
---Synonyms---Dysentery Bark. Mountain Damson. Bitter Damson.
Slave Wood. Stave Wood. Sumaruppa. Maruba. Quassia
---Habitat---French Guiana, the Islands of Dominica,
Martinique, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and Barbados.
name given by the founder of the genus was Carib Simarouba, but
later writers adopted the present spelling.
is 60 feet or more in height, with many long, crooked branches
covered with smooth, greyish bark, leaves 9 to 12 inches long, and
flowers growing in small clusters, with rather thick, dull-white
petals. The bark is usually found in pieces several feet long, the
roots being long, horizontal, and creeping. Very often the outer
bark has been removed, when it shows a pale yellowish or
pinkish-brown surface. It is odourless, difficult to powder, and
intensely bitter. It is usually imported from Jamaica, in
---Constituents---Simaruba root-bark contains a bitter
principle identical with quassin, a resinous matter, a volatile oil
having the odour of benzoin, malic acid, gallic acid in very small
proportion, an ammoniacal salt, calcium malate and oxalate, some
mineral salts, ferric oxide, silica, ulmin, and
imparts its virtues at ordinary temperatures to water and alcohol.
The infusion is as bitter as the decoction, whichbecomes turbid as
and Uses---A bitter tonic. It was first sent from Guiana to France
in 1713 as a remedy for dysentery. In the years 1718 and 1725 an
epidemic flux prevailed in France, which resisted all the usual
medicines. Simaruba was tried with great success, and established
its medical character in Europe. It restores the lost tone of the
intestines, promotes the secretions, and disposes the patient to
sleep. It is only successful in the latter stage of dysentery, when
the stomach is not affected. In large doses it produces sickness
and vomiting. On account of its difficult pulverization, it is
seldom given in substance, the infusion being preferred, but like
many bitter tonics, it is now seldom used. From its use, it has
been called 'dysentery bark.'
grains to a drachm. A 1/4 OZ. of simaruba may be infused for 12
hours in 12 OZ. of cold or boiling water, and a wineglassful of the
infusion taken every three or four hours.
extract, 1/2 to 1 drachm.
glauca of Jamaica, San Domingo, Bahama Islands, Panama and
Guatemala has identical properties, and by some writers is regarded
as the same tree, others distinguishing it by a slight difference
in the flowers. It is also known as Winged-leaved Quassia, and S.
versicolor of Brazil, has similar properties, the fruit and bark
being also used as anthelmintics, and an infusion of the latter
being employed in cases of snake-bite. The plant is so bitter that
insects will not attack it, on which account the powdered bark has
been employed to kill vermin.
of Cuba furnishes a glutinous juice, which is employed in certain
or Quassia Excelsa yields quassin from boiled slices of the wood,
furnishing the Quassia of commerce, substituted for the true
Indica contains a similar bitter principle in its
Sisarum, or Skirret, is a plant of Chinese origin, cultivated in
Europe. It has a sweetish, somewhat aromatic root, which is used as
a vegetable in much the same manner as the Oyster plant or Salsify
(Tragopogon porrifolius) and the Parsnip. It is supposed to be a
useful diet in chest complaints.
(Sium) is from the Celtic siu (water), in allusion to their
has been cultivated in this country since A.D. 1548. When boiled
and served with butter, the roots form a dish, declared by
Worlidge, in 1682, to be 'the sweetest, whitest, and most pleasant
'Sisari, secacul. Of Scirrets. - They are
hot and moist, of good nourishment, something windy, as all roots;
by reason of which they . . . stir up appetite . . .'
Medicinal Action and Uses
---Synonyms---Dracontium. Dracontium foetidum (Linn.).
Skunkweed. Polecatweed. Meadow Cabbage. Spathyema foetida. Ictodes
foetidus. ---Parts Used---Seeds, root.
plant grows in abundance in moist places of the northern and middle
United States. All parts of it have a strong, foetid odour,
dependent upon a volatile principle, which is quickly dissipated by
heat. The rhizome should be collected in the autumn or early
spring, and should not be kept more than one season, as it
deteriorates with age and drying. In commerce it is found in
cylindrical pieces, 2 inches or more in length and about 1 in. in
diameter, or, more commonly, in transverse slices, much compressed
and corrugated. It is dark brown outside, white or yellowish
within. The seeds are regarded as more energetic than the root, and
preserve their virtues longer. They have an acrid taste, and emit
the foetid odour only when bruised. The acridity of the root is
absent in the decoction.
fixed oil, wax, starch, volatile oil, fat, salts of lime, silica,
iron and maganese.
and Uses---Antispasmodic, diaphoretic, expectorant, narcotic. Large
doses cause nausea, vomiting, headache, vertigo and dimness of
vision. It has been used with alleged success in asthma, chronic
catarrh, chronic rheumatism, chorea, hysteria and dropsy. It is
said to be helpful in epilepsy, and convulsions during pregnancy
and labour. It is an ingredient in well-known herbal ointments and
powders. Externally, as an ointment, it stimulates granulations,
eases pain, etc.
powdered root may be used, alone, or mixed with honey (1/2 OZ. to 4
OZ. of honey), but the best method of use is probably a saturated
tincture of the fresh root.
powder, 10 to 20 grains. Of tincture, 1 to 2 fluid drachms. Of
fluid extract, 1/2 to 1 drachm.
See Elm, Slippery.
Polygonum Hydropiper (LINN.)
Medicinal Action and Uses
Preparations and Dosage
---Synonyms---Water Pepper. Biting Persicaria. Bity Tongue.
Arcmart. Pepper Plant. Smartass. Ciderage. Red Knees. Culrage.
Used---Whole herb and leaves.
---Habitat---Great Britain and Ireland, rarer in Scotland; is a
native of most parts of Europe, in Russian Asia to the Arctic
regions. Found abundantly in places that are under water during the
---Description---Annual. The branched stem, 2 to 3 feet in
length, creeps at first, then becomes semi-erect. The leaves are
lanceshaped, shortly stalked, wavy, more or less acute, glandular
below, fringed with hairs. The stipules form a short inflated
ochrea. The greenish-pink flowers are in long, slender, loose
racemes, that mostly droop at their tips. There are six to eight
stamens, two of which are functionless; two to three styles to the
pistil. The fruit is black and dotted, as long as the perianth,
three-sided and nut-like. The leaves have a pungent, acrid, bitter
taste (something like peppermint), which resides in the glandulat
dots on its surface, no odour.
---Constituents---The plant's irritant medicinal properties are
due to an active principle not fully understood, called Polygonic
Acid (when discovered by Dr. C. J. Rademaker in 1871), which forms
in green deliquescent crystals, having a bitter and acrid taste and
strong acid reaction. It is destroyed by heating or drying. Other
authorities later considered this body to be simply a mixture of
impure tannic and gallic acids, together with chlorophyll, and
failed to isolate a stable active principle. The plant contains 3
or 4 per cent of tannin. It imparts its properties to alcohol or
water. The tincture must be made from the fresh plant; heat and age
destroy its qualities.
It is said
that this herb, together with Arbor Vitze, constituted the
anti-venereo remedy of Count Mattei.
observes that the Water Pepperwort will dye woollen cloths of a
yellow colour, if the material be first dipped in a solution of
alum, and that all domestic quadrupeds reject it.
and Uses---Stimulant, diuretic, diaphoretic, emmenagogue,
efficacious in amenorrhoea. A cold water infusion is useful in
gravel, colds and coughs.
combination with tonics and gum myrrh, it is said to have cured
epilepsy - probably dependent on some uterine derangement. The
infusion in cold water, which may be readily prepared from the
fluid extract, has been found serviceable in gravel, dysentery,
gout, sore mouths, colds and coughs, and mixed with wheat bran, in
bowel complaints. Antiseptic and desiccant virtues are also claimed
for it. The fresh leaves, bruised with those of the Mayweed
(Anthemis Cotula), and moistened with a few drops of oil of
turpentine, make a speedy vesicant.
in water and vinegar, it has proved useful in gangrenous, or
mortified conditions. The extract, in the form of infusion or
fomentation, has been beneficially applied in chronic ulcers and
haemorrhoidal tumours, also as a wash in chronic erysipetalous
inflammations, and as a fomentation in flatulent
decoction made from the whole plant has been used in America as a
remedy for cholera, a sheet being soaked in it and wrapped round
the patient immediately the symptoms start.
the infusion is used not only as a diuretic, but also put into the
bath of sufferers from rheumatism.
fomentation of the leaves is beneficial for chronic ulcers and
haemorrhoids - in tympanitis and flatulent colic, and as a wash in
chronic inflammatory erysipelas.
once held that a few drops of the juice put into the ear would
destroy the worms that it was believed caused earache.
There is a
tradition, quoted in old Herbals, that if a handful of the plant be
placed under the saddle, a horse is enabled to travel for some time
without becoming hungry or thirsty, the Scythians having used this
herb (under the name of Hippice) for that purpose.
It was an
old country remedy for curing proud flesh in the sores of animals.
Culpepper tells us also that 'if the Arsemart be strewed in a
chamber, it will soon kill all the fleas.'
was chewed for toothache - probably as a counter-irritant - and the
bruised leaves used as a poultice to whitlows.
distilled from the plant, taken in the quantity of a pint or more
in a day, has been found serviceable in gravel and
expressed juice of the freshly gathered plant has been found very
useful in jaundice and the beginning of dropsies, the dose being
from 1 to 3 tablespoonfuls.
In Salmon's Herbal, it is
'It is known by manifold and large
experience to be a peculiar plant against gravel and stone. The
Essenee causes a good digestion, it is admirable against all cold
and moist diseases of the brain and nerves, etc., such as falling
sickness, vertigo, lethargy, apoplexy, palsy, megrim, etc., and
made into a syrup with honey it is a good pectoral. The oil
dissolves and discusses all cold swellings, scrofulous and
scirrhous tumours, quinsies, congealed blood, pleurisies,
recommends it also for 'hypochondriacal diseases.'
Dosage---Infusion, 1 OZ. to 1 pint - 1 tablespoonful three times
daily. Fluid extract, 1 to 2 drachms. Tincture, 2 to 4
Species---From the AMERICAN SMARTWEED (Polygonum, Linn.), which
possesses properties similar to those of the English species; a
homoeopathic tincture is prepared from the fresh plant, which has
been used with great advantage in diarrhoea and dysentery, in doses
of 20 to 60 minims.
Smilax, China (LINN.)
It has a
hard, large, knotty, uneven rhizome, blackish externally, pale
coloured or whitish internally. Stem without support, about 3 feet
high, but growing much taller if it has a bush to cling to. Leaves
thin, membraneous, round, five-nerved acute or obtuse at each end,
mucronate at points. Stipules distinct obtuse; umbels greenish
yellow, small ten-flowered; fruit red, size of bird cherry. This is
the commercial China root, used as a substitute for Sarsaparilla.
It is in large ligneous pieces 2 to 6 inches long and about 2
inches in diameter. Odourless, taste at first slightly bitter and
acrid like Sarsaparilla. The root-stocks yield a yellow dye with
alum and a brown one with sulphate of iron.
or Rio Negro or Lisbon Sarsaparilla is furnished by Smilax
S . Aspera
(habitat, South of France, Italy, etc.) yields the Italian
Sarsaparilla which has the same properties as the American
ovalifolia is used medicinally in India.
lanceaefolia is used in India and has very large tuberous
glyciphylla is the Australian medicinal Sarsaparilla.
macabucha is used in the Philippines for dysentery and other
is the medicinal Sarsaparilla of Mauritius.
the young shoots of some of the species are eaten as
pseudo-China and other species are used in
rotundifolia - Mexican - is said to be a diaphoretic and
Sarsaparillas have medicinal properties and can be used in the same
way. Sarsaparilla is efficacious in proportion to its acrid taste.
The properties reside chiefly in the cortex, though the bark is
Smilax was used by the Greeks to denote a poisonous tree - others
derive the name from Smile, i.e. a cutting or scratching implement,
in allusion to the rough prickles on the stem.
commerce the varieties of Sarsaparillas are grouped as mealy and
non-mealy, according to the starch they contain. The farinaceous
matter is found under the rind.
group include Smilax officinalis, Honduras, Caracas, Brazilian,
Syphilitica and Papyraceae.
non-mealy species are Jamaica Sarsaparilla, Mexican, Media and
esteemed varieties are Jamaica and Lima on account of their acrid
Aristolochia serpentaria (LINN.)
Medicinal Action and Uses
Poisonous, if any, with Antidotes
---Synonyms---Aristolochia reticulata. Serpentatiae Rhizoma.
Serpentary Rhizome. Serpentary Radix. Virginian Snakeroot.
Aristolochia officinalis. Aristolochia sagittata. Endodeca
Bartonii. Endodeca Serpentaria. Snakeweed. Red River or Texas
Snakeroot. Pelican Flower. Virginia serpentaria. Snagrel. Sangrel.
Sangree. Radix Colubrina. Radix Viperina.
Used---Dried rhizome and roots.
---Habitat---The Central and Southern United
---Description---Many species of Aristolochia have been
employed in medicine, the classical name being first applied to A.
Clematitis and A. rotunda, from their supposedemmenagogue
properties. A. serpentaria and A. reticulata, or Texas Snakeroot,
differ slightly in leaves and flowers, the latter having a slightly
coarser root. Both are recognized as official in the United States
is a perennial herb, growing in rich, shady woods, the roots being
collected in Western Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Ohio, Indiana and
Kentucky, where it is packed in bales containing about 100 lb.,
often mixed with leaves, stems and dirt.
It has a
short, horizontal rhizome, giving off numerous long, slender roots
below. The flowers are peculiar, growing from the joints near the
root and drooping until they are nearly buried in the earth or in
their dried leaves. They are small, and brownish-purple in colour.
Attempts at cultivation are being made, as the rather large use of
serpentaria has caused the drug to become scarcer. A specimen was
grown in an English garden as far back as 1632. There is one in
cultivation at Kew, but it has not flowered there. The genus
Endodeca was defined from this species, but it has no characters to
distinguish it. Serpentaria has a yellowish or brownish colour, and
both smell and taste are aromatic and resemble a mixture of
valerian and camphor. Several kinds are cultivated in hothouses for
the singularity and, in some cases, the handsome appearance of
their flowers, though their colours are usually dingy. The bent
shape causes some blossoms to act as a fly-trap. A. sipho, a native
of the Alleghany Mountains, is cultivated as an outdoor climbing
plant, for the sake of its large leaves, the shape of its flowers
inspiring the name of Pipe-Vine or Dutchman's Pipe.
volatile oil in the proportion of about 1/2 per cent, and a
bitterprinciple - Aristolochin - an amorphous substance of yellow
colour and bitter and slightly acrid taste, soluble in both water
and alcohol. The medicinal properties are due to these two
substances, but the root also contains tannic acid, resin, gum,
recent analysis gives volatile oil, resin, a yellow, bitter
principle considered analagous to the bitter principle of quassia,
gum, starch, albumen, lignin, malate and phosphate of lime, oxide
of iron and silica.
OZ. of the oil is furnished by 100 lb. of the root, the coarser, A.
reticulata, yielding rather more. The resinous aristinic acid has
been obtained from a number of species, including A. serpentaria.
The alkaloid Aristolochine, found in several varieties, requires
and Uses---Stimulant, tonic and diaphoretic, properties resembling
those of valerian and cascarilla. Too large doses occasion nausea,
griping pains in the bowels, sometimes vomiting and dysenteric
tenesmus. In small doses, it promotesthe appetite, toning up the
digestive organs. It has been recommended in intermittent fevers,
when it may be useful as an adjunct to quinine. In full doses it
produces increased arterial action, diaphoresis, and frequently
diuresis. In eruptive fevers where the eruption is tardy, or in the
typhoid stage where strong stimulants cannot be borne, it may be
very valuable. An infusion is an effective gargle in putrid
sore-throat. It benefits sufferers from dyspepsia and
boiling impairs its virtues. A cold infusion is useful in
convalescence from acute diseases.
probable that as it does not disturb the bowels, it may often be
used where Guaiacum is not easily tolerated, for stimulating
capillary circulation and promoting recovery in chronic forms of
powers are claimed for the drug as an antidote to the bites of
snakes and mad dogs, but though there is much direct testimony, the
claim is not considered to be authoritatively proved.
root, 10 to 30 grains. Fluid extract, 1/2 to 1 drachm. Tincture,
B.P. and U.S.P., 1/2 to 1 drachm. Infusion, B.P., 1/2 to 1 OZ.
Conc. solution, B.P., 1/2 to 2 drachms.
any, with Antidotes---According to Pohl, aristolochine in
sufficient doseproduces in the higher animals violent irritation of
the gastro-intestinal tract and of the kidneys, with death in coma
from respiratory paralysis.
celebrated Portland powder for the cure of gout contained
aristolochia, with gentian, centaury and other bitters in the dose
of a drachm every morning for three months, afterwards diminishing
for a year or more, but its prolonged use injured the stomach and
nervous system, bringing on premature decay and death.
have been made of A. Clematitis, A. rotunda, A. longa, A. argentea,
A. indica and A. bracteata, yielding aristolochine, aristolin, or
aristinic acid. A closely allied if not identical resinous acid has
been obtained from the plant Bragantia Wallichii, besides an
alkaloid, which, under the name of Alpam, has long been used in
Western India as an antidote to snake-venom. The allied species,
Bragantia tomentosa, is said to be employed in Java as an
species are found in the herbalists' stores of India which do not
bracteata is employed as an emmenagogue. Aristolochia of the Br.
Add. was the dried stem and root of A. indica, the stems with
attached roots being used for the cure of snake-bite.
rotunda, the Br. Add. recognized the concentrated liquor, i.e. 1 in
2 of 20 per cent alcohol (dose, 1/2 to 2 fluid drachms), and the
tincture, i.e. 1 in 5 of 70 per cent alcohol (dose, 1/2 to 1 fluid
Clematitis, A. longa and A. rotunda are still retained in official
catalogues in Europe, where they are indigenous. A. Pistolochia, of
Southern Europe, appears to have been the aristolochia of Pliny,
and is still used under the name of Pistolochia.
Clematitis, or Birthwort, is found in England, usually near old
ruins, as if it had been cultivated for its medical use, as an aid
stated that Egyptian jugglers use some of these plants to stupefy
snakes before they handle them, while it is related that the juice
of the root of A. anguicida, if introduced into the mouth of a
serpent, will stupefy it, and if it be compelled to swallow a few
drops it will die in convulsions.
conjectured that the Guaco of South America, a root of which is
carried by all Indians and Negroes who traverse the country, is
some species of Aristolochia probably A. cymbifera, known in Brazil
as milhommen, jarra, and jarrinha.
Argentine Republic the root of A. argentina is used as a diuretic
and diaphoretic, especially in rheumatism.
Forskhal states that the leaves of A. sempervirens are used as a
foetida, of Mexico, or Yerba del Indio, is used as a local
stimulant to foul ulcers.
snake-bite, in addition to A. serpentaria in North America, A.
maxima or Contra Capitano is employed in South America, A.
anguicida in the Antilles, A. brasiliensis, A. cymbifera, A.
macroura, A. trilobata, etc.
Liatris spicata (WILLD.)
---Synonyms---Gay Feather. Devil's Bite. Colic
---Habitat---Southern Ontario southwards.
---Description---An indigenous perennial composite plant,
growing in moist fields and grounds, found from Southern Ontario
and Minnesota southwards. Root tuberous; has a herbaceous erect
stem, which in August gives a beautiful spike of crimson-purple
compound flowers. The odour of the root is terebinic, taste
bitterish; the plant grows well in the author's garden at Chalfont
---Medicinal Action and Uses---Useful for its diuretic
properties and as a local application for sore throat and
gonorrhoea, for which it is exceedingly efficacious. Being an
active diuretic it is valuable in the treatment of Bright's
disease. Its agreeable odour is due to Coumarin, which may be
detected on the surface of its spatulate leaves.
---Dosage---A decoction is taken three or four times daily in
Species---Several varieties of Liatris are largely used in Southern
United States to flavour tobacco, and are said to keep moths away
from clothing. All varieties are active diuretics, and L. squarrosa
(syn. 'Rattlesnake Master') has been utilized to cure
Antirrhinum magus (LINN.)
Medicinal Action and Uses
is closely allied to the Toadflaxes. It is really not truly a
native herb, but has become naturalized in many places, on old
walls and chalk cliffs, being an escape from gardens, where it has
been long cultivated.
botanical name, Antirrhinum, refers to the snout-like form of the
and Uses---The plant has bitter and stimulant properties, and the
leaves of this and several allied species have been employed on the
Continent in cataplasms to tumours and ulcers.
valued in olden times like the Toadflax as a preservative against
numerous seeds yield a fixed oil by expression, said to be little
inferior to olive oil, for the sake of which it has been cultivated
Antirrhinum Orontium (Linn.), the Calf's Snout or Small
Snapdragon, an annual found occasionally in cornfields, in lime or
chalk soil, with narrow, hairy leaves and small, reddish flowers,
resembling those of the Snapdragon in form, is said to be
poisonous, but the fact is not well established.
properties seem similar to those of the other species.
Orontium, given it by Dodonaeus, is an old mediaeval generic name
name for the Snapdragon.
Galanthus nivalis (LINN.)
---Synonyms---Fair Maid of February. Bulbous
usually spoken of as the first flower of our year, though the
Winter Aconite has perhaps a better title to be so considered, has
never been of much account in physic, and has never been
recognized. Gerard says 'nothing is set down hereof by the ancient
Writers, nor anything observed by the moderne.' He calls it the
Bulbous Violet, but adds that some call it the Snowdrop, the
earliest mention of it by this name, and it was known to all the
old botanists as a bulbous violet.
generic name, Galanthus, is Greek in its origin and signifies
Milkflower. Nivalis is a Latin adjective, meaning relating to or
speaks of it as not a native of England, though somewhat common in
gardens, having been introduced from Italy. It is a native of
Switzerland, Austria and of Southern Europe generally, but where
naturalized here spreads into considerable masses, and is plentiful
wherever it occurs, generally growing in shady pastures, woods and
orchards. There is probably no bulbous plant, however, which for
all its extreme hardiness in resisting cold, shows such a marked
preference or distaste for certain localities, even though there
may be little variation in soil or altitude. In some districts
snowdrops will grow and spread in woods as readily as the wild
hyacinth; in others, with apparently identical conditions, it is
difficult to get them to grow and they will refuse to
grow in compact masses. Each sends up a one-flowered stem. The
points of the leaves protecting the flower-head are thickened and
toughened at the tips, enabling them to push through the soil. This
simple device shows on the mature leaf like a delicate nail on a
flowers remain open a long time; the bud is erect, but the open
flowers pendulous and adapted to bees. The perianth is in two
whorls, on the inner surface of the inner perianth leaves are green
grooves secreting honey - the stamens dehisce, or open, by apical
slots and lie close against the style, forming a cone. The stigma
projects beyond the anther cone and is first touched by an insect,
which in probing for nectar, shakes the stamens and receives a
shower of pollen.
appears to be wrong in saying that the plant has no medicinal
glossary of 1465, referring to it as Leucis i viola alba, classes
it as an emmenagogue, and elsewhere, placed under the narcissi, its
healing properties are stated to be 'digestive, resolutive and
Quillaja saponaria (MOLINA.)
Medicinal Action and Uses
Doses of Quillaia Bark
---Synonyms---Soap Bark. Panama Bark. Cullay.
Used---Dried inner bark.
---Habitat---Peru and Chile, and cultivated in Northern
tree 50 to 60 feet high. Leaves smooth, shiny, short-stalked, oval,
and usually terminal white flowers, solitary, or three to five on a
stalk. Bark thick, dark coloured, and very tough. In commerce it is
found in large flat pieces 1/5 inch thick, outer surface
brownish-white, with small patches of brownish cork attached,
otherwise smooth; inner surface whitish and smooth, fracture
splintery, chequered with pale-brown vast fibres, embedded with
white tissue; it is inodorous, very acrid and
---Constituents---Its chief constituent is saponin, which is a
mixture of two glucosides, guillaic acid and guillaia-sapotoxin.
The latter is very poisonous and possesses marked foam-producing
properties. Calcium oxalate is also present in the bark. The drug
also contains cane-sugar and a non-toxic modification of guillaic
acid. As the active principles of Soap Bark are the same as those
of Senega, Quillaia has been suggested as a cheap substitute for
and Uses---It can be used as a stimulating expectorant. As a
decoction (5 parts to 200), adult-dose 1 tablespoonful. Syrup of
guillaia can be utilized as a substitute for syrup of Senega, by
adding 4 parts of the fluid extract to 21 parts of syrup, using
diluted alcohol as the menstruum.
---Doses of Quillaia
Bark---Fluid extract, 2 to 8 drops. Solid extract, 1/2 to 2 grains.
Tincture, B.P. and U.S.P., 1/2 to 1 drachm.
useful in cases of aortic disease with hypertrophy, its efficacy
depending on the dimmished action of the cardiac ganglia and muscle
which its active principle, Saponine, produces. Saponin appears to
be identical with Cyclamin, from Cyclamen European, and with
primulin from Primula officinalis. Digitonin from Digitalis appears
to be a kind of Saponin differing somewhat from the others.
Saponin, when applied locally, is a powerful irritant, local
anaesthetic and muscular poison. On account of its local
irritation, when injected hypodermically it causes intense pain;
sneezing when applied to the nose; vomiting, diarrhoea and
gastroenteritis if taken in large doses internally. Locally
applied, it paralyses motor and sensory nerves, and voluntary and
involuntary muscular fibre; in the voluntary muscles it produces a
condition of rigor mortis, and the muscular substance becomes
brittle and structureless. Saponin acts as an emetocathartic and a
diuretic if it is absorbed; in its excretion it irritates the
bronchial mucous membrane, and is a protoplasmic poison. In
poisoning produced from it, digitalis is indicated, as it is
antagonistic to Saponin.Saponin is contained in agrostemma seeds,
and has caused death; the symptoms were headache, vertigo,
vomiting, hot skin, rapid feeble pulse, progressive muscular
weakness, and finally coma.
bark is used in its native country for washing clothes, and in this
country is used by manufacturers and cleaners for washing or
cleaning delicate materials. For washing hair: Powdered Soap Tree
bark, 100 parts; alcohol, 400 parts; essence of Bergamot, 20 drops;
mix. It is said to promote the growth of the hair. Was once used in
the production of foam on non-alcoholic beverages, but its use in
this way is now generally prohibited by law.
Brazilian species, Quillaia Selloniana,or Fontenellea braziliensis,
has similar properties to Quillaia Saponaria.
Saponaria officinalis (LINN.)
Medicinal Action and Uses
---Synonyms---Soaproot. Bouncing Bet. Latherwort. Fuller's
Herb. Bruisewort. Crow Soap. Sweet Betty. Wild Sweet
Used---Dried root and leaves.
---Habitat---Central and Southern Europe. Grows well in English
stout herbaceous perennial with a stem growing in the writer's
garden to 4 or 5 feet high. Leaves lanceolate, slightly elliptical,
acute, smooth, 2 or 3 inches long and 1/3 inch wide. Large pink
flowers, often double in paniculate fascicles; calyx cylindrical,
slightly downy; five petals, unguiculate; top of petals linear, ten
stamens, two styles; capsule oblong, one-celled, flowering from
July till September. No odour, with a bitter and slightly sweet
taste, followed by a persistent pungency and a numbing sensation in
---Constituents---Constituents of the root, Saponin, also
extractive, resin, gum, woody fibre, mucilage, etc.
root dried in commerce is found in pieces 10 and 12 inches long,
1/12 inch thick, cylindrical, longitudinally wrinkled, outside
light brown, inside whitish with a thick bark. Contains number of
small white crystals and a pale yellow wood.
and Uses---A decoction cures the itch. Has proved very useful in
jaundice and other visceral obstructions. For old venereal
complaints it is a good cure specially where mercury has failed. It
is a tonic, diaphoretic and alterative, a valuable remedy for
rheumatism or cutaneous troubles resulting from any form of
syphilis. It is also sternutatory. Should be very cautiously used
owing to its saponin content.
Decoction, 2 to 4 fluid ounces three or four times daily. Extract
or the inspissated juice will be found equally efficacious: dose,
10 to 20 grains. As a sternutatory 2 to 6 grains. Fluid extract,
1/4 to 1 drachm.
Gypsophila struthium (LINN.)
---Habitat---Europe and United States of America.
---Description---The root is generally in lengths of 4 to 6
inches, 1/2 to 1 1/2 inches in diameter; colour a yellowish white,
furrowed down its length externally with lighter places where the
cortex has been rubbed. The section is of a radiate and concentric
structure. Taste bitter, then acrid; odour slight; powder
irritating to the nostrils. This variety is rarely used
medicinally, the Soapwort (Saponaria officinalis) being used as a
substitute. This is a perennial herbaceous plantwith a stem 1 to 2
feet in height, growing in Europe and United States of
---Medicinal Action and Uses---Tonic, diaphoretic, alterative.
A valuable remedy in the treatment of syphilitic, scrofulous and
cutaneous diseases, also in jaundice, liver affections, rheumatism
and gonorrhoea, the decoction is generally used. Saponin is
produced from this plant.
Polygonatum multiflorum (ALLEM.)
Medicinal Action and Uses
---Synonyms---Lady's Seals. St. Mary's Seal. Sigillum Sanctae
Scean de Solomon.
relative to the Lily-of-the-Valley, and was formerly assigned to
the same genus, Convallaria. It is a popular plant in gardens and
plantations; a native of Northern Europe and Siberia, extending to
Switzerland and Carniola. In England it is found, though rarely,
growing wild in woods in York, Kent and Devon, but where found in
Scotland and Ireland is regarded as naturalized. The Dwarf
Solomon's Seal is found in the woods of Wiltshire.
creeping root-stock, or underground stem, is thick and white,
twisted and full of knots, with circular scars at intervals, left
by the leaf stems of previous years. It throws up stems that attain
a height of from 18 inches to 2 feet, or even more, which are for
some considerable portion of their length erect, but finally bend
gracefully over. They are round, pale-green in colour, and bare
half-way up; from thence to the top, large and broadly-oval leaves
grow alternately on the stem, practically clasping it by the bases.
All the leaves have the character of turning one way, being bent
slightly upward, as well as to one side, and have very marked
longitudinal ribbing on their surfaces.
flowers are in little drooping clusters of from two to seven,
springing from the axils of the leaves, but hanging in an opposite
direction to the foliage. They are tubular in shape, of a creamy or
waxy white, topped with a yellowish-green, and sweet-scented, and
are succeeded by small berries about the size of a pea, of a
blackish-blue colour, varying to purple and red, and containing
about three or four seeds.
generic name Polygonatum signifies many-angled, and is supposed to
be derived either from the numerous knots or swellings of the root
or from the numerous nodes or joints of the stem, but the
characteristics are not very marked ones. The specific name,
multiflorum, serves to distinguish this manyflowered species from
another in which the blossoms are solitary, or only in pairs from
of the common English name of the plant is variously given. Dr.
Prior tells us it comes from 'the flat, round scars on the
rootstocks, resembling the impressions of a seal and called
Solomon's, because his seal occurs in Oriental tales.'
explanation is that these round depressions, or the characters
which appear when the root is cut transversely, and which somewhat
resemble Hebrew characters, gave rise to the notion that Solomon
'who knew the diversities of plants and the virtues of roots,' has
set his seal upon them in testimony of its value to man as a
maintained that the name Sigillum Solomons was given to the root
partly because it bears marks something like the stamp of a seal,
but still more because of the virtue the root hath in sealing and
healing up green wounds, broken bones and such like, being stamp't
and laid thereon.'
Lady's Seal was also conferred on the plant by old writers, as also
St. Mary's Seal (Sigillum Sanctae Mariae).
---Cultivation---Solomon's Seal is a very hardy plant. It
prefers a light soil and a shady situation, being a native of
woods. If in a suitable soil and situation and not crowded by
shrubs, it will thrive and multiply very rapidly by the creeping
rootstocks. It will be better for occasional liberal dressings of
leafmould, or an annual top dressing of decayed manure in
sown as soon as gathered in the autumn, germinate in early spring,
or the roots may be divided to any extent. The best time to
transplant or part the roots is in autumn, after the stalks decay,
but it may safely be done at any time, if taken up with plenty of
soil, until they begin to shoot in the spring, when the ground
should be dug about them and kept clean from weeds. They should
also have room to spread and must not be removed oftener than every
third or fourth year.
Solomon's Seal a good start when planting, the soil should be well
broken up with a fork and have a little mild manure worked
root dug in autumn and dried.
---Constituents---The rhizome and herb contain Convallarin, one
of the active constituents of Lily-of-the-Valley, also Asparagin,
gum, sugar, starch and pectin.
and Uses---Astringent, demulcent and tonic. Combined with
otherremedies, Solomon's Seal is given in pulmonary consumption and
bleeding of the lungs. It is useful also in female complaints. The
infusion of 1 OZ. to a pint of boiling water is taken in
wineglassful doses and is also used as an injection. It is a
mucilaginous tonic, very healing and restorative, and is good in
inflammations of the stomach and bowels, piles, and chronic
decoction given every two or three hours has been found to cure
erysipelas, if at the same time applied externally to the affected
The powdered roots make an excellent
poultice for bruises, piles, inflammations and tumours. The bruised
roots were much used as a popular cure for black eyes, mixed with
cream. The bruised leaves made into a stiff ointment with lard
served the same purpose. Gerard says:
'The roots of Solomon's Seal, stamped
while it is fresh and greene and applied, taketh away in one night
or two at the most, any bruise, blacke or blew spots gotten by fals
or women's wilfulness in stumbling upin their hastie husband's
fists, or such like.'
A decoction of the root in wine was
considered a suitable beverage for persons with broken bones, 'as
it disposes the bones to knit.' On this point, Gerard
'As touching the knitting of bones and
that truly which might be written, there is not another herb to be
found comparable to it for the purposes aforesaid; and therefore in
briefe, if it be for bruises inward, the roots must be stamped,
some ale or wine put thereto and strained and given to drinke . . .
as well unto themselves as to their cattle,' it being applied
'outwardly in the manner of a pultis' for external
says, 'The Italian dames, however, doe much use the distilled water
of the whole plant of Solomon's Seal' - for their complexions,
In Galen's time, the distilled water was
used as a cosmetic, and Culpepper says:
'the diluted water of the whole plant used
to the face or other parts of the skin, cleanses it from freckles,
spots or any marks whatever, leaving the place fresh, fair and
lovely, for which purpose it is much used by the Italian ladies and
is the principal ingredient of most of the cosmetics and beauty
washes advertised by perfumers at high price.'
macerated for some time in water yield a substance capable of being
used as food and consisting principally of starch. The young shoots
form an excellent vegetable when boiled and eaten like Asparagus,
and are largely consumed in Turkey. The roots of another species
have been made into bread in times of scarcity, but they require
boiling or baking before use.
flowers and roots used as snuff are celebrated for their power of
inducing sneezing and thereby relieving head affections. They also
had a wide vogue as aphrodisiacs, for love philtres and
berries are stated to excite vomiting, and even the leaves, nausea,
properties of these roots have not been very fully investigated. It
is stated that a decoction will afford not only relief but ultimate
cure in skin troubles caused by the poison vine, or poisonous
exalations of other plants.
the decoction: 1 to 4 OZ. three times daily.
remedy for piles the following has been found useful: 4 OZ.
Solomon's Seal, 2 pints water, 1 pint molasses. Simmer down to 1
pint, strain, evaporate to the consistence of a thick fluid
extract, and mix with it from 1/2 to 1 OZ. of powdered resin.
Dosage: 1 teaspoonful several times daily.
Polygonatum biflorum, an American Solomon's Seal, has
characters and constitution similar to the European.
uniflorum, now P. officinale, is said to be no longer used. The
plant bears a single fragrant flower.
verticillatum, bearing its leaves in whorls, is only found in
Scotland, and then rarely.
Racemosa is known as False Solomon's Seal.
Garden or Common
Rumex acetosa (LINN.)
Recipe---To Stew Sorrel for Fricandean and Roast Meat
Parts Used Medicinally
Medicinal Action and Uses
---Synonyms---Green Sauce. Sour Sabs. Sour Grabs. Sour Suds.
Sour Sauce. Cuckoo Sorrow. Cuckoo's Meate. Gowke-Meat.
Of the two
kinds of Sorrel cultivated for use as vegetables or salads, Rumex
acetosa, the Garden Sorrel, is an indigenous English plant, common,
too in the greater part of Europe, in almost all soils and
situations. It grows abundantly in meadows, a slender plant about 2
feet high, with juicy stems and leaves, and whorled spikes of
reddish-green flowers, which give colour, during the months of June
and July, to the grassy spots in which it grows.
generally found in pastures where the soil contains
are oblong, the lower ones 3 to 6 inches in length, slightly
arrow-shaped at the base, with very long petioles. The upper ones
are sessile. They frequently become a beautiful
flowers increase in size, they become a purplish colour. The
stamens and pistils are on different plants. The seeds, when ripe,
are brown and shining. The perennial roots run deeply into the
well known for the grateful acidity of its herbage, which is most
marked when the plant is in full season, though in early spring it
is almost tasteless.
is also called 'Cuckoo's-meate' from an old belief that the bird
cleared its voice by its agency. In Scotland it is
animals are fond of this and other species of Sorrel. The leaves
contain a considerable quantity of binoxalate of potash, which
gives them their acid flavour and medicinal and dietetic
properties. They have been employed from the most distant time as a
salad. In France, Sorrel is put into ragouts, fricassées and soups,
forming the chief constituent of the favourite Soupe aux
time of Henry VIII, this plant was held in great repute in England,
for table use, but after the introduction of French Sorrel, with
large succulent leaves, it gradually lost its position as a salad
and a potherb, and for many years it has ceased to be
John Evelyn thought that Sorrel imparted
'so grateful a quickness to the salad that it should never be left
out.' He wrote in 1720:
'Sorrel sharpens the appetite, assuages
heat, cools the liver and strengthens the heart; is an
antiscorbutic, resisting putrefaction and in the making of sallets
imparts a grateful quickness to the rest as supplying the want of
oranges and lemons. Together with salt, it gives both the name and
the relish to sallets from the sapidity, which renders not plants
and herbs only, but men themselves pleasant and
Culpepper tells us:
'Sorrel is prevalent in all hot diseases,
to cool any inflammation and heat of blood in agues pestilential or
choleric, or sickness or fainting, arising from heat, and to
refresh the overspent spirits with the violence of furious or fiery
fits of agues: to quench thirst, and procure an appetite in
fainting or decaying stomachs: For it resists the putrefaction of
the blood, kills worms, and is a cordial to the heart, which the
seed doth more effectually, being more drying and binding.... Both
roots and seeds, as well as the herb, are held powerful to resist
the poison of the scorpion. . . . The leaves, wrapt in a colewort
leaf and roasted in the embers, and applied to a large imposthume,
botch boil, or plague-sore, doth both ripen and break it. The
distilled water of the herb is of much good use for all the
country, the leaves are now rarely eaten, unless by children and
rustics, to allay thirst, though in Ireland they are still largely
consumed by the peasantry with fish and milk. Our country people
used to beat the herb to a mash and take it mixed with vinegar and
sugar, as a green sauce with cold meat, hence one of its popular
their acidity, the leaves, treated as spinach, make a capital
dressing with stewed lamb, veal or sweetbread. A few of the leaves
may also with advantage be added to turnips and spinach. When
boiled by itself, without water, it serves as an excellent
accompaniment to roast goose or pork, instead of apple sauce.
'To Stew Sorrel for
Fricandean and Roast Meat.
Sorrel, and put it into a silver vessel, or stone jar, with no more
water than hangs to the leaves. Simmer it as slow as you can, and
when done enough, put a bit of butter and beat it
cooked carefully, Sorrel is likely to disagree with gouty persons,
from the acid oxalate of potash it contains, but this may be got
rid of if it is plunged for two or three minutes in boiling water,
before cooking, this first water being then thrown
Scandinavia, Sorrel has sometimes been used in time of scarcity to
put into bread. The leaves contain a little starch and mucilage,
and the root is rather farinaceous.
of the leaves will curdle milk as well as rennet, and the
Laplanders use it as a substitute for the latter.
root affords a beautiful red colour when boiled and used for making
barley water look like red wine, when in France they wish to avoid
giving anything of a vinous nature to the sick.
of Sorrel, binoxalate of potash, is much used for bleaching straw
and removing ink stains from linen, and is often sold in the shops
under the name of 'essential salt of lemons.'
---Cultivation---Sorrel of two kinds is cultivated, R. acetosa,
or Garden Sorrel, and R. scrutatus, or French Sorrel. Garden Sorrel
likes a damp situation, French Sorrel a dry soil and an open
plants are propagated from seed, sown in March, though it may be
sown in any of the spring months. Sow moderately thin, in drills 6
inches apart, and thin out when the plants are 1 or 2 inches high.
When the stalks run up in July, they should be cut back. The roots
will then put out new leaves, which will be tender and better for
kitchen use than the older leaves, so that by cutting down the
shoots of some plants at different times, there will always be a
supply of young leaves.
varieties are generally increased by dividing the roots, which may
be done either in spring or autumn, the roots being planted about a
foot apart each way, and watered.
Medicinally---The leaves both dried and fresh.
---Constituents---The sour taste of Sorrel is due to the acid
oxalate of potash it contains; tartaric and tannic acids are also
and Uses---The medicinal action of Sorrel is refrigerant and
diuretic, and it is employed as a cooling drink in all febrile
corrective of scrofulous deposits: for cutaneous tumours, a
preparation compounded of burnt alum, citric acid, and juice of
Sorrel, applied as a paint, has been employed with
especially beneficial in scurvy.
root and the seed were formerly esteemed for their astringent
properties, and were employed to stem haemorrhage.
made with the juice of Fumitory and Sorrel had the reputation of
curing the itch, and the juice, with a little vinegar, was
considered a cure for ringworm, and recommended as a gargle for
decoction of the flowers, made with wine, was said to cure jaundice
and ulcerated bowels, the root in decoction or powder being also
employed for jaundice, and gravel and stone in the
Gerard enumerated eight different kinds of
Sorrel - the Garden, bunched or knobbed, Sheep, Romane, Curled,
Barren and Great Broad-leaved Sorrel, and said of
'The Sorrells are moderately cold and dry.
Sorrell doth undoubtedly cool and mightily dry, but because it is
sour, it likewise cutteth tough humours. The juice thereof in
summer time is a profitable sauce in many meats and pleasant to the
taste. It cooleth a hot stomach. The leaves are with good success
added to decoctions, and are used in agues. The leaves are taken in
good quantity, stamped and stained into some ale and cooleth the
body. The leaves are eaten in a tart spinach. The seed of Sorrell
drunk in wine stoppeth the bloody flow.'
Rumex scutatus (LINN.)
---Habitat---It is a common plant in mountainous districts,
being a native of the South of France, Italy, Switzerland, Germany
This has a
more grateful acid than Common Sorrel, and is therefore preferred
for kitchen use in soups, especially by the French. Their Sorrel
soup is made from this species.
distinguished from the Common Sorrel by the form of the leaves,
which are cordate-hastate, very succulent, fleshy and brittle. The
whole plant is intensely glaucous. The flowers are hermaphrodite,
thestamens and pistils not on separate plants as in the Common
sometimes met with in Scotland, or in the North of England, but is
a doubtful native.
It is said
to have been introduced into this country in 1596.
Oxyria reniformis (HOOK)
Mountain Sorrel is found distributed in the Arctic regions and the
Alps of the north temperate zone, and grows by streams in Wales,
Yorks and northwards.
It has the
characters of the allied genus Rumex, approaching the Common Sorrel
in habit, but is shorter and stouter. The leaves are all from the
root, fleshy and kidneyshaped. The flowers are green, growing in
clustered spikes. The generic name, Oxyria, is derived from the
Greek oxys (sharp), from the acid flavouring of the stem and
leaves, which make it, like the other Sorrels, an excellent
pot-herb and antiscorbutic.
Sorrel is much smaller than either French or Garden Sorrel, and is
often tinged, especially towards the end of the summer, a deep red
hue. It is a slender plant, the stems from 3 to 4 inches to nearly
a foot high, often many and tufted, decumbent at the base. The
leaves, 1/2 to 2 inches in length, have long petioles and are
variable in breadth, mostly narrow-lanceolate, the lower ones
hastate and the lobes of the base usually spreading and often
in pastures and dry gravelly places in most parts of the globe,
except the tropics, penetrating into Arctic and Alpine regions, and
is abundant in Britain, where it is sometimes called Field
other Sorrels, it is highly acid, though is less active in its
properties than the French or Garden species.
---Medicinal Action and Uses---The whole herb is employed
medicinally, in the fresh state. The action is diuretic,
refrigerant and diaphoretic, and the juice extracted from the fresh
plant is of use in urinary and kidney diseases.
Part Used Medicinally
Medicinal Action and Uses
---Synonyms---Wood Sour. Sour Trefoil. Stickwort. Fairy Bells.
Hallelujah. Cuckowes Meat. Three-leaved Grass. Surelle.
Pain de Coucou.
Used---Leaves and herb.
Docks or Sorrels, cultivated for pot-herbs, Rumex acetosa (Common
Sorrel) and R. scutatus (French Sorrel), as well as the smaller R.
acetosella (Sheep's Sorrel) and Oxyria reniformis (Mountain
Sorrel), owe the grateful acidity of their herbage to the presence
of a special salt, binoxalate of potash, which is also present in
Rhubarb. This, however, is absent in the common Docks. We find it
to a marked degree in the WOOD SORREL (Oxalis acetosella), which
indeed receives its name on this account, and not for any
similarity in the structure of the plant, which is in no way
related to the Sorrels and Docks.
is a little plant of a far more delicate, even dainty character,
growing abundantly in woods and shady places. From its slender,
irregular creeping rootstock covered with red scales, it sends up
thin delicate leaves, each composed of three heartshaped leaflets,
a beautiful bright green above, but of a purplish hue on their
under surface. The long slender leaf-stalks are often reddish
towards the base. The leaflets are usually folded somewhat along
their middle, and are of a peculiarly sensitive nature. Only in
shade are they fully extended: if the direct rays of the sun fall
on them they sink at once upon the stem, forming a kind of
three-sided pyramid, their under surfaces thus shielding one
another and preventing too much evaporation from their pores. At
night and in bad weather, the leaflets fold in half along the
midrib, and the three are placed nearly side by side to 'sleep,' a
security against storm and excessive dews.
flowers, each set on long stalks, are fragile, in form somewhat
like the Crane'sbills, to which they are closely allied, being
bell-shaped, the corolla composed of five delicate white petals,
veined with purple, enclosed in a five-scalloped cup of sepals and
containing ten stamens, and in the centre, five green, thread-like
columns, arising from a single five-celled ovary. At the base of
the petals, a little honey is stored, but the flower seems to find
favour with few insects.
flower fades, its stalk bends towards the ground and conceals the
seed capsule under the leaves, till ripe, when it straightens
again. The case of the capsule is elastic and curls back when the
fruit is quite ripe, jerking the seeds out several yards, right
over the leaves.
kind of flower is also produced. These are hidden among the leaves
and are inconspicuous, their undeveloped petals never opening out.
The ripening and seed scattering processes of these self-fertilized
cleistogamous (or hidden) flowers are the same as with the familiar
white-petalled ones. Wood Sorrel droops its blossoms in stormy
weather, and also folds its leaves.
the flowers nor any part of the plant has any odour, but the leaves
have a pleasantly acid taste, due to the presence of considerable
quantities of binoxalate of potash. This, combined with their
delicacy, has caused them to be eaten as a spring salad from time
immemorial, their sharpness taking the place of vinegar. They were
also the basis of a green sauce, that was formerly taken largely
with fish. 'Greene Sauce,' says Gerard, 'is good for them that have
sicke and feeble stomaches . . . and of all Sauces, Sorrel is the
best, not only in virtue, but also in pleasantness of his
botanical names Oxalis and acetosella refer to this acidity, Oxalis
being derived from the Greek oxys, meaning sour or acid, and
acetosella, meaning vinegar salts. Salts of Lemon, as well as
Oxalic acid, can be obtained from the plant: 20 lb. of fresh herb
yield about 6 lb. of juice, from which, by crystallization, between
2 and 3 OZ. of Salts of Lemon can be obtained.
An old writer tells us:
'The apothecaries and herbalists call it
Alleluya and Paniscuculi, or Cuckowes meat, because either the
Cuckoo feedeth thereon, or by reason when it springeth forth and
flowereth the Cuckoo singeth most, at which time also Alleluya was
wont to be sung in Churches. '
between Easter and Whitsuntide.
the ternate leaf has been considered to be that with which St.
Patrick demonstrated the Trinity to the ancient Irish, though a
tiny kind of clover is now generally accepted as the 'true
Italian painters often depicted the blossom. Ruskin writes: 'Fra
Angelico's use of the Oxalis acetosella is as faithful in
representation as touching in feeling.'
roots are planted in a moist, shady border, they will multiply
freely, and if kept clean from weeds will thrive and need no other
Medicinally---The leaves, fresh or dried.
and Uses---It has diuretic, antiscorbutic and refrigerant action,
and a decoction made from its pleasant acid leaves is given in high
fever, both to quench thirst and to allay the fever. The Russians
make a cooling drink from an infusion of the leaves, which may be
infused with water or boiled in milk. Though it may be administered
freely, not only in fevers and catarrhs, but also in haemorrhages
and urinary disorders, excess should be guarded against, as the
oxalic salts are not suitable to all constitutions, especially
those of a gouty and rheumatic tendency.
herbalists tell us that Wood Sorrel is more effectual than the true
Sorrels as a blood cleanser, and will strengthen a weak stomach,
produce an appetite, check vomiting, and remove obstructions of the
of the leaves turns red when clarified and makes a fine, clear
syrup, which was considered as effectual as the infusion. The juice
used as a gargle is a remedy for ulcers in the mouth, and is good
to heal wounds and to stanch bleeding. Sponges and linen cloths
saturated with the juice and applied, were held to be effective in
the reduction of swellings and inflammation.
excellent conserve, Conserva Ligulae, used to be made by beating
the fresh leaves up with three times their weight of sugar and
orange peel, and this was the basis of the cooling and acid drink
that was long a favourite remedy in malignant fevers and
VIII's time this plant was held in great repute as a pot-herb, but
after the introduction of French Sorrel, with its large succulent
leaves, it gradually lost its position as a salad and
From Le Dictionnaire des Ménages (Paris,
-'Limonade sans Citrous, Limonade
'Take three drachms of Salt of Sorrel and
one pound of white sugar; reduce them to powder separately, and
then mix them. Keep the powder, which is known as dry lemonade, in
a well-corked bottle. Substitute tartaric acid for Salt of Sorrel,
divide the powder into suitable portions, and you have "lemonade
powders without lemons."'
From A Plain Plantain:
-'A Sirrup for a Feaver-
'Take Sirrup of Violets two ounces; Sirrup
of Woodsorrell two ounces; Sirrup of Lemmon two ounces, mixed
altogether, and drink it.'
Conglomeratus (Clustered Dock). R.obtusifolin. R. pulcher, the
Fiddle Dock, so called from the resemblance in the form of its
leaves to a violin.
Artemisia abrotanum (LINN.)
Medicinal Action and Uses
---Synonyms---Old Man. Lad's Love. Boy's Love.
Southernwood is the southern Wormwood, i.e. the foreign, as
distinguished from the native plant, being a native of the South of
Europe, found indigenous in Spain and Italy. It is a familiar and
favourite plant in our gardens, although it rarely if ever flowers
in this country. It has finely-divided, greyish-green leaves. It
was introduced into this country in 1548. An ointment made with its
ashes is used by country lads to promote the growth of a beard. St.
Francis de Sales says: 'To love in the midst of sweets, little
children could do that, but to love in the bitterness of Wormwood
is a sure sign of our affectionate fidelity.' This refers to the
habit of including a spray of the plant in country bouquets
presented by lovers to their lasses.
volatile essential oil contained in the plant consists chiefly of
Absinthol and is common in other Wormwoods. The scent is said to be
disagreeable to bees and other insects, for which reason the French
call the plant Garderobe, as moths will not attack clothes among
which it is laid.
It used to
be the custom for women to carry to church large bunches of this
plant and Balm, that the keen, aromatic scent might prevent all
feeling of drowsiness. Southernwood in common with Wormwood was
thought to ward off infection. Even in the early part of last
century, a bunch of Southernwood and Rue was placed at the side of
the prisoner in the dock as a preventive from the contagion of jail
Southernwood, like Mugwort, is employed as a culinary
whole herb, collected in August and dried in the same manner as
and Uses---Tonic, emmenagogue, anthelmintic, antiseptic and
use of Southernwood is as an emmenagogue. It is a good stimulant
tonic and possesses some nervine principle. It is given in infusion
of 1 OZ. of the herb to 1 pint of boiling water, prepared in a
covered vessel, the escape of steam impairing its value. This
infusion or tea is agreeable, but a decoction is distasteful,
having lost much of the aroma.
extract, 1/2 to 1 drachm.
Considerable success has also attended its use as an
anthelmintic, being chiefly used against the worms of children,
teaspoonful doses of the powdered herb being given in treacle
morning and evening.
branches are said to dye wool a deep yellow.
'Dioscorides saith that the seed bruised,
heated in warm water and drunk helpeth those that are troubled in
the cramps or convulsions of the sinews or the sciatica. The same
taken in wine is an antidote and driveth away serpents and other
venomous creatures, as also the smell of the herb being burnt doth
the same. The oil thereof annointed on the backbone before the fits
of agues come, preventeth them: it taketh away inflammation of the
eyes, if it be put with some part of a wasted quince or boiled in a
few crumbs of bread, and applied. Boiled in barley meal it taketh
away pimples . . . that rise in the face or other parts of the
body. The seed as well as the dried herb is often given to kill
worms in children. The herb bruised helpeth to draw forth splinters
and thorns out of the flesh. The ashes thereof dry up and heal old
ulcers that are without inflammation, although by the sharpness
thereof, it makes them smart. The ashes mingled with old salad oil
helps those that have their hair fallen and are bald, causing the
hair to grow again, either on the head or beard. A strong decoction
of the leaves is a good worm medicine, but is disagreeable and
nauseous. The leaves are a good ingredient in fomentation for
easing pain, dispersing swellings or stopping the progress of
gangrenes. The distilled water of the herb is said to helpe. . .
diseases of the spleen. The Germans commend it for a singular wound
herb. . . . Wormwood has thrown it into disrepute.'
Medicinal Actiona And Uses
Cultivation of Species of Artemisia
Southernwood is common in most parts of Europe, but rare in
Britain, occurring only on sandy heaths in Norfolk and Suffolk. It
is perennial, like the other species of Artemisia with a rather
thick, tapering root, but uniike them, its foliage is not aromatic.
The slender, grooved stems, until flowering, are prostrate; the
leaves are silky when young, but nearly smooth when mature, the
segments few in number, but very slender, 1/4 to 1/2 inch long,
terminating in a point with their margins recurved. The
flower-heads are small and numerous, in long, slender, drooping
racemes, the florets yellow and are in bloom in August and
---Medicinal Action and Uses---Dr. John
Hill says of Field Southernwood that it is of a:
'warm, fine, pleasant, aromatic taste,
with a little bitterness, not enough to be disagreeable. It wants
but to be more common and more known to be very highly valued . . .
and one thing it is in particular, it is a composer; and always
disposes the person to sleep. Opiates weaken the stomach and must
not be given often where we wish for their assistance; this
possesses the soothing quality without the mischief.'
species of Artemisia has the same qualities, in a lesser degree, as
the garden Southernwood, and Linnaeus recommended an infusion of it
as of use in pleurisy.
Species of Artemisia---The Common Wormwood, Mugwort and
Southernwood are regularly cultivated on some of the old
established drug farms. They are grown in rows about 2 feet apart
each way, and need no further care than to be kept free from weeds,
growing in almost any soil. Mugwort and Common Wormwood may also be
collected in the wild state.
Dracunculus is the well-known culinary herb 'Tarragon,' a native of
Siberia. It differs from the majority of its fellows in that its
leaves are narrow and lance-shaped, of a bright green colour, and
possess a peculiar aromatic taste, without the characteristic
bitterness of the genus.
Wormwood so frequently mentioned in Scripture is most probably A.
judaica, growing in the Southern Desert.
Sonchus oleraceus (LINN.)
---Synonyms---Hare's Thistle. Hare's Lettuce.
Used---Leaves, stems, milky juice.
Sow-Thistle is a well-known weed in every field and garden. It is a
perennial, growing from 1 to 3 feet high, with hollow thick,
branched stems full of milky juice, and thin, oblong leaves, more
or less cut into (pinnatifid) with irregular, prickly teeth on the
margins. The upper leaves are much simpler in form than the lower
ones, clasping the stem at their bases.
flowers are a pale yellow, and when withered, the involucres close
over them in a conical form. The seed vessels are crowned with a
tuft of hairs, or pappus, like most of this large family of
is subject to great variations, which are merely owing to soil and
situation, some being more prickly than others.
of the genus, Sonchus, is derived from the Greek word for hollow,
and bears allusion to the hollow nature of the succulent
Thistles are sometimes erroneously called Milk Thistles from the
milky juice they contain; the true Milk Thistle is, however, a very
different plant (see THISTLES).
name of the species, oleraceus, refers to the use to which this
weed has been put as an esculent vegetable. Its use as an article
of food is of very early date, for it is recorded by Pliny that
before the encounter of Theseus with the bull of Marathon, he was
regaled by Hecale upon a dish of SowThistles. The ancients
considered them very wholesome and strengthening, and administered
the juice medicinally for many disorders, considering them to have
nearly the same properties as Dandelion and Succory.
leaves are still in some parts of the Continent employed as an
ingredient in salads It used in former times to be mingled with
other pot herbs, and was occasionally employed in soups; the
smoothest variety is said to be excellent boiled like
use nowadays is as food for rabbits. There is no green food they
devour more eagerly, and all keepers of rabbits in hutches should
provide them with a plentiful supply. Pigs are also particularly
fond of the succulent leaves and stems of the
One of the
popular names of the SowThistle: 'Hare's Thistle' or 'Hare's
Lettuce,' refers to the fondness of hares and rabbits for this
plant. An old writer tells us: 'when fainting with the heat she
(the hare) recruits her strength with this herb: or if a hare eat
of this herb in the summer when he is mad, he shall become whole.'
Sheep and goats also eat it greedily, but horses will not touch
three or four other kinds of Sow Thistle, and as an old herbal
tells us: 'They have all the same virtue, but this has them in
Sonchus arvensis (LINN.),
Used---Leaves, milky juice.
Sow-Thistle is a perennial, with a large fleshy, creeping root. It
is found in similar situations as the common species, though mainly
in cornfields, where its large, bright golden flowers, externally
tinged with red, showing above the corn, make it a conspicuous
plant. It is readily distinguished from the Common Sow-Thistle by
its stem, which is 3 to 4 feet high - being unbranched and by the
much larger size of its flowers, the involucres and stalks of which
are covered by numerous glandular hairs. The leaves, like those of
the Common Sow-Thistle, applied outwardly by way of cataplasm, have
been found serviceable in inflammatory swellings.
Sonchus palustris (LINN.)
Sow-Thistle is a much taller species than either of the preceding,
attaining a height of 6 to 8 feet, being one of the tallest of our
English herbaceous plants. The root is perennial, fleshy and
branched, but not creeping; the leaves, arrow-shaped at the base,
large, shiny on the under surfaces; the flowers, large and pale
yellow, with hairy involucres, are in bloom in September and
October, much later than the last species, which it somewhat
resembles, though the edges of the leaves are minutely toothed, not
waved. It grows in marshy places but is rare in this country, being
now extinct in most of the places in Norfolk, Suffolk, Kent and
Essex where it was formerly found, and only occurring on the Thames
below Woolwich. This thistle was placed by mediaeval botanists
under the planetary influences of Mars: 'Mars rules it, it is such
a prickly business.'
Sonchus alpinus (LINN.)
Medicinal Action and Uses
Used---Milky juice, leaves.
or Mountain Sow-Thistle, a tall, handsome plant with very large
blue flowers, but also very rare in these islands (it grows on the
Clova Mountains), has been used as a salad in Lapland, the young
shoots being stripped of their skin and eaten raw, but Linnaeus
informs us that it is somewhat bitter and unpalatable.
Of the Siberian Sow-Thistle (Sonchus
Tartaricus), Anne Pratt, in Flowers and Their Associations (1840)
'This plant during that clear weather
which is generally favourable to flowers, never uncloses; but let a
thick mist overspread the atmosphere or a cloud arise large enough
to drive home the Honey Bee, and it will soon unfold its light blue
---Medicinal Action and Uses---Culpepper
considers that the Sow-Thistles possess great medicinal virtues,
which lie chiefly in the milky juice. He tells us:
'They are cooling and somewhat binding,
and are very fit to cool a hot stomach and ease the pain thereof. .
. . The milk that is taken from the stalks when they are broken,
given in drink, is very beneficial to those that are short-winded
and have a wheezing.'
He goes on to inform us, on the authority
of Pliny, that they are efficacious against gravel, and that a
decoction of the leaves and stalks is good for nursing mothers;
that the juice or distilled water is good 'for all inflammation,
wheals and eruptions, also for haemorrhoids.' Also
'the juice is useful in deafness, either
from accidental stoppage, gout or old age. Four spoonsful of the
juice of the leaves, two of salad oil, and one teaspoonful of salt,
shake the whole well together and put some on cotton dipped in this
composition into the ears and you may reasonably expect a good
degree of recovery.'
'the juice boiled or thoroughly heated in
a little oil of bitter almonds in the peel of a pomegranite and
dropped into the ears is a sure remedy for deafness.'
he informs us that the juice 'is wonderfully efficacious for women
to wash their faces with to clear the skin and give it
Another old herbalist also
'The leaves are to be used fresh gathered;
a strong infusion of them works by urine and opens obstructions.
Some eat them in salads, but the infusion has more
plant has stiff spines on the leaf margin, and the seeds and roots
are used in homoeopathic medicine.
juice of all the Sow-Thistles is an excellent cosmetic. The leaves
are said to cure hares of madness.
See: Moss, Sphagnum
Ranunculus flammula (LINN.)
Medicinal Action and Uses
Spearwort has been used in the Isle of Skye and in many parts of
the Highlands of Scotland to raise blisters, the leaves being well
bruised in a mortar and applied in one or more limpet shells to the
part where the blister is to be raised.
used in the fourteenth century under the name of 'flame' for
'cankers,' a term probably used for ulcers. Its distilled water has
been employed as a harmless emetic.
is very common throughout Britain, growing in wet and boggy parts
of heaths and commons, where it flowers from June to
often root at the lower joints, being more or less horizontal to
start with, but afterwards rising to a foot or more in height,
being terminated by a few loose flower-bearing branches. It has
undivided, lanceolate (lance-shaped) leaves, the uppermost being
the narrowest and smallest. The flowers are numerous, on long
stalks, a light golden-yellow, 1/2 to 3/4 inch across.
and Uses---A tincture is used to cure ulcers.
Veronica officinalis (LINN.)
Medicinal Action and Uses
Speedwell is a native of the Old World, but is abundantly
naturalized in the eastern United States, where it grows in open,
country, it is generally found on heaths, moors, dry hedgebanks and
in coppices, where it is very common and generally
plant is a perennial, of a prostrate habit, with ascending
branches, bearing erect, spike-like clusters of blue flowers, the
stems 3 to 18 inches long, varying very much in length according to
soil. The leaves are opposite, shortly stalked, generally about an
inch long, oval and attenuated into their foot-stalks, their
margins finely toothed. The flowers are in dense, axillary,
manyflowered racemes, 1 1/2 to 6 inches long, the individual
flowers nearly stalkless on the main flower-stalk, their corollas
only 1/6 inch across, pale blue with dark blue stripes and bearing
two stamens with a very long style. The capsule is inversely
heart-shaped and notched, longer than the oblong, narrow sepals.
The plant is of a dull green and is generally slightly hairy,
having short hairs, sometimes smooth.
herb is faintly aromatic. After drying, it is inodorous. It has a
bitterish, warm, and somewhat astringent taste.
---Constituents---Enz found a bitter principle, soluble in
water and alcohol, but scarcely so in ether, and precipitated by
the salts of lead, but not by tannic acid; an acrid principle; red
colouring matter, a variety of tannic acid, producing a green
colour with ferric salts; a crystallizable, fatty acid, with malic,
tartaric, citric, acetic and lactic acids; mannite; a soft, dark
green bitter resin.
New York (in 1863), found evidences of an alkaloid and of a
saponaceous principle. Vintilesco (1910) found a glucoside both in
this species and in Veronica chamaedrys.
and Uses---This species of Veronica retained a place among our
recognized remedies until a comparatively late period, and is still
employed in herbal medicine.
possess astringency and bitterness.
Welsh peasantry, great virtues are attributed to the Speedwell. The
plant has diaphoretic, alterative, diuretic, expectorant and tonic
properties, and was formerly employed in pectoral and nephritic
complaints, haemorrhages, diseases of the skin and in the treatment
of wounds. Modern herbalists still consider that an infusion of the
dried plant is useful in coughs, catarrh, etc., and is a simple and
effective remedy in skin diseases.
Familiar Wild Flowers (and also inLindley's Treasury of Botany)
mention is made of another Speedwell called 'Buxbaum's Speedwell'
(V. Buxbaumii) which the author states is sometimes mistaken for V.
Agrestis, but is a distinct species. It branches freely and attains
to a height of a foot or so; its stem and leaves are thickly
clothed with soft and silky hairs. The leaves are placed singly at
irregular intervals along the stem, but are more numerous towards
the summit; they are broadly heart-shaped, with margins deeply-cut
into teeth, each leaf has a short leaf-stalk; all leaves are of the
same character. The flower-bearing stems that spring from the axils
of the leaves are very long, and give a decided character to the
plant, while the flowers themselves have the curious Veronica
character - three large and fairly equal segments and then a lower
and narrower one. The blossoms are a clear blue in colour, and for
a Veronica are decidedly large. The fruit or capsule that succeeds
the flower is twice as broad as it is long, and this flattened-out
character is a specific feature. It derived its name from a
distinguished botanist of the eighteenth century.
Speedwell is a plant of cultivation, springing up in gardens and
fields, and never far from human society and influence. It is a
southerner, and though found throughout England and even Southern
Scotland, it is more at home in less northern latitudes, and was
probably introduced with some kind of foreign seed.
Serpyllifolia (Thyme-leaved Speedwell); the Marsh Speedwell (V.
scutellata); the Ivy-leaved Speedwell (V. hederifolia); the
Procumbent Speedwell (V. agrestis); and the Wall Speedwell (V.
Speedwell (V. spicata) is decidedly rare, but a handsome species;
the Rock Veronica (V. saxatilis), a fine species with few flowers,
is chiefly found in the highlands of Scotland.
other extremely rare species are V. verna (Vernal Speedwell), V.
alpina (Alpine Speedwell) and V. triphyllos (The Finger
Veronica chamaedrys (LINN.)
Medicinal Action and Uses
---Synonyms---Fluellin the Male. Veronique petit Chêne. Paul's
Betony. Eye of Christ. Angels' Eyes. Cat's Eye. Bird's Eye.
Germander, is the commonest British species of Speedwell, found
everywhere, on banks, pastures, in copses, etc., flowering in
spring and early summer.
Germander is a corruption of the Latin chamaedrys. Gerard
commenting on the name says: 'The Germander from the form of the
leaves like unto small oak leaves, has the name chamaedrys given
it, which signifieth a dwarf oak' - though the likeness is not very
---Description---This little plant has a creeping, branched
root-stock, passing insensibly into the stem, which is weak and
decumbent to the point where the leaves commence, and then raises
itself about a foot, to carry up the flowers. The leaves are in
pairs, nearly stalkless, 1/2 to 1 1/2 inches long, egg-shaped to
heart-shaped, deeply furrowed by the veins, the margins coarsely
toothed. On the whole length of the stem are two lines of long
hairs running down between each pair of leaves, shifting from side
to side wherever they arrive at a fresh pair of leaves. These hairy
lines act as barriers to check the advance of unwelcome crawling
insects. The leaves themselves bear jointed hairs, and the
flower-stalks, calyx and capsule also have long, gland-tipped
hairs. The leaves are sometimes attacked by a gall mite, Cecidomyia
Veronica, and white galls like white buttons are the result on the
ends of the shoots.
numerous flowers are in loose racemes, 2 to 6 inches long in the
axils of the leaves, the flowers are rather close together on first
expanding, but become distant after the fall of the corolla, which
is 1/2 inch across, bright blue with darker lines, and a white eye
in the centre, where the four petals join into the short tube. The
corolla is so lightly attached that the least jarring causes it to
drop, so that the plant at the slightest handling loses its bright
blossom - hence, perhaps, its name Speedwell and similar local
names, 'Fare well' and 'Good-bye.' The under lip of the corolla
covers the upper in bud. The flower closes at night and also in
rainy weather, when the brightness of the blossoms quite
disappears, only the pale and pearly underside of its petals being
fertilization of the flower is performed chiefly by drone flies. On
either side of the big, double, top petal, a little stamen
stretches outward like a horn. When an insect approaches, it grasps
the stamens with its front legs and they are thus drawn forwards
and onwards, so that they dust the under-side of the insect with
their pollen. He steadies himself for a moment, probing the flower
for the nectar round the ovary and then flies away. As the stamens
in any flower do not discharge their pollen until after the stigma,
which projects over the lower petal, has been ready for some time
to receive it, and since the stigmas also rub on the insect's
abdomen, it is evident that it will probably be fertilized from
some neighbouring flower before its own pollen is ready for use.
When before and during rain the flower is closed, in the absence of
insect visitors, it then, however, successfully carries on
self-fertilization. Kerner, in Flowers and their Unbidden Guests,
notes this fact in referring to the Speedwells, saying: 'In the
mountainous districts of the temperate zones, it often happens that
rainy weather sets in just at the time when the flowers are about
to open, and that it lasts for weeks. Humble and hivebees,
butterflies and flies retire to their hiding-places, and for a
considerable time cease to pay any visits to flowers. The growth of
the plants is not, however, arrested during this period, and even
in the flowers themselves, development quietly progresses if the
temperature be not too low. The stigmatic tissue becomes receptive,
the anthers attain to maturity, dehisce, and liberate their pollen,
notwithstanding that no ray of sunshine penetrates the clouds, and
that rain falls continuously. In such circumstances the mouth of
the flower is not opened, selffertilization takes place in the
closed flower, and all the adjustments evolved with the object of
securing cross-fertilization are ineffectual.'
two-celled ovary matures into a flattened capsule, deeply notched
at the top, which opens round the edges by two valves. The Seeds
are said to be specially
good as food for birds.
---Medicinal Action and Uses---Old writers of all
countries speak highly of the virtues of the Speedwell as a
vulnerary, a purifier of the blood, and a remedy in various skin
diseases, its outward application being considered efficacious for
the itch. It was also believed to cure smallpox and measles, and to
be a panacea for many ills. Gerard recommends it for cancer, 'given
in good broth of a hen,' and advocates the use of the root as a
specific against pestilential fevers.
It is not to be confused with Germander (Teucrium
chamaedrys), the celebrated specific for gout, used by the
Emperor Charles V.
The Germander Speedwell has a certain amount of astringency,
and an infusion of its leaves was at one time famous for coughs,
the juice of the fresh plant also, boiled into a syrup with honey,
was used for asthma and catarrh, and a decoction of the whole plant
was employed to stimulate the kidneys.
Botanical: Aralia racemosa (LINN.)
Family: N.O. Araliaceae
---Synonyms---Spignet. Life of Man. Pettymorell. Old
Man's Root. Indian Spikenard. Indian Root.
---Habitat---North America, New Zealand,
---Description---The much-branched stem grows from 3 to
6 feet high. Very large leaves, consisting of thin oval
heart-shaped, double saw-toothed leaflets. Small greenish flowers
in many clusters - blooming later than Aralia medicaulis
(for which it is often substituted), July to August. Has roundish
red-brown berries going dark purple. Root-stock thick and large,
spicy and aromatic. Fracture of cortex short, of the wood also
short and fibrous. Odour aromatic, taste mucilaginous, pungent and
slightly acrid. Transverse section of root shows thick bark,
several zones containing oil. The plant grows freely in the
---Constituents---Volatile oil, resin, tannin,
---Medicinal Action and Uses---Stimulant, diaphoretic,
alterative for syphilitic, cutaneous and rheumatic cases, and used
in same manner and dosage as genuine Sarsaparilla. Much used also
for pulmonary affections, and enters into the compound syrup of
Spikenard. Fluid extract, 1/2 to 1 drachm. Infusion of 1/2 OZ. to a
pint of water in wineglassful doses.
Botanical: Aralia Californica
Aralia Californica or Californian Spikenard may be used
for same purposes as the other species. It is very like A.
racemosa, but bigger in herbage and root.
DWARF ELDER (AMERICAN)
Botanical: Inula Conyza
Family: N.O. Compositae
Medicinal Action and Uses
---Synonyms---Conyza Squarrosa (Linn.). Cloron's Hard.
Horse Heal. Cinnamon Root. Great Fleabane.
---Habitat---It is found on dry banks and in copses,
principally on limestone or chalky soil.
Ploughman's Spikenard is another member of this genus that - as
its name implies - has had a popular reputation for its curative
---Description---Its upright stems, rising from a
biennial root, generally only a foot or two in height, often
purplish in colour and downy, are branched and terminated by
numerous small flower-heads of a dingy yellow or dusky purple, only
about two-thirds of an inch across, the ray florets inconspicuous
and the leaf-like scales of the involucre rolled back. The leaves
of the plant are narrow, of a dull green, egg-shaped and downy.
Their margins are either entire, or toothed, the teeth ending in
The plant has a slight, but not unpleasant, aromatic odour,
hence, perhaps, one of its local names: Cinnamon Root.
---Medicinal Action and Uses---The older herbalists
considered Ploughman's Spikenard a good wound herb, and it was
frequently taken in decoction for bruises, ruptures, inward wounds,
pains in the side and difficulty of breathing. It also had a
reputation as an emmenagogue, and the juice of the while plant was
applied externally to cure the itch.
The very smell of the plant was said to destroy fleas, and the
leaves have been used, burnt, as an insecticide. Great Fleabane is
one of its popular names.
Its specific name, Conyza, is derived from the Greek
word for dust or powder, and refers to its power of killing noxious
The leaves are sometimes substituted for Digitalis, but may be
readily distinguished by their entire margins to the leaves or,
when toothed, by the horny points terminating the
Inula of several species (especially Inule Britannica,
Linn.) has been used to adulterate Arnica flowers. En masse,
this spurious drug is pale and dull-looking, and its rays are small
and narrow and of a pale yellow, whereas Arnica flower rays are
broad and bright yellow. Also Inula has the involucral scales in
several series, the receptacle is not hairy, and the anther-bases
Botanical: Spinacia oleracea (LINN.)
Family: N.O. Chenopodiaceae
---Habitat---The Spinach is an annual plant, long
cultivated for the sake of its succulent leaves, a native of Asia,
probably of Persian origin, being introduced into Europe about the
---Constituents---Spinach is relatively rich in
nitrogenous substances, in hydrocarbons, and in iron sesqui-oxide,
which last amounts to 3.3 per cent of the total ash. It is thus
more nourishing than other green vegetables. It is a valuable part
of the diet in anaemia, not only on account of its iron, but also
for its chlorophyll. Chlorophyll is known to have a chemical
formula remarkably similar to that of haemoglobin, and it is stated
that the ingestion of chlorophyll will raise the haemoglobin of the
blood without increasing the formed elements. The plant contains
from 10 to 20 parts per 1,000 by weight of chlorophyll. During the
war, wine fortified with Spinach juice 1 in 50) was given to French
soldiers weakened by haemorrhage.
According to Chick and Roscoe (Biochem. Journal, 1926,
XX, 137), fresh leaves of Spinach are a rich source of vitamin A, a
small daily ration (0.1 gram and upward) encouraging growth and
lessening or preventing xerophthalmia in young rats on diets devoid
of fat-soluble vitamins. Spinach grown in the open in winter,
spring or autumn possesses no antirachitic properties that can be
demonstrated by the methods employed. Spinach leaves when
irradiated with ultraviolet rays from a Hg vapour quartz lamp
become powerfully antirachitic.
Boas (Biochem. Journal, 1926, XX, 153) found that the
fresh leaves of winter-grown Spinach added to an experimental diet
caused an even greater improvement in the wellbeing of rats and in
the rate of growth than was caused by the addition of cod-liver
oil. The weight of the skeleton was not, however, proportionally
increased. The conclusion was drawn by Boas that winter Spinach
contains an amount of vitamin D which isnegligible compared with
its content of vitamin A.
The leaves contain a large proportion of saltpetre. The water
drained from Spinach, after cooking, is capable of making as good
match-paper as that made by a solution of nitre.
---Cultivation---Spinach should be grown on good ground,
well worked and well manured, and for the summer crops abundant
water will be necessary.
To afford a succession of Summer Spinach, the seeds should be
sown about the middle of February and again in March. After this
period, small quantities should be sown once a fortnight, as Summer
Spinach lasts a very short time. The seeds are generally sown in
shallow drills, between the lines of peas. If occupying the whole
of a plot, the rows should be 1 foot apart.
The Round-seeded is the best kind for summer use.
The Prickly-seeded and the Flanders kinds are the best for
winter and should be thinned out early in the autumn to about 2
inches apart, and later on to 6 inches. The Lettuceleaved is a good
succulent winter variety but not quite so hardy.
The first sowing of Winter Spinach should be made early in
August and again towards the end of that month, in some sheltered
but not shaded situation, in rows 18 inches apart, the plants as
they advance being thinned and the ground hoed. By the beginning of
winter, the outer leaves will have become fit for use, and if the
weather is mild successive gatherings may be obtained up to the
beginning of May.
Spinach, New Zealand
Botanical: Tetragonia expansar
Family: N.O. Picoideae
New Zealand Spinach is a half-hardy annual, a native of New
Zealand, sometimes used as a substitute for Spinach during the
summer months, but decidedly inferior to it. It is unrelated to the
Spinach, belonging to the Picoideae.
When cultivated in this country, seeds are sown in March on a
gentle hot-bed. They must be previously steeped in water for
several hours. The seedlings should be potted and placed in a frame
till the end of May and then planted out in light, rich
Only the young leaves are gathered for use, a succession being
produced during summer and autumn.
Botanical: Euonymus atropurpureus, Euonymus Europoeus
Family: N.O. Celastraceae
Medicinal Action and Uses
---Synonyms---Fusanum. Fusoria. Skewerwood. Prickwood.
Gatter. Gatten. Gadrose. Pigwood. Dogwood. Indian Arrowroot.
Burning Bush. Wahoo.
(French) Fusain. Bonnet-de-prêtre.
---Parts Used---Root, bark, berries.
---Description---The Spindle Tree found in our hedges
and copses is a smooth-leaved shrub. The leaves have very short
stalks, are opposite in pairs and have minute teeth on the margin.
It bears small greenish-white flowers, in loose clusters, during
May and June, followed by an abundance of fruits. The fruit is
three or more lobed, and becomes a beautiful rose-red colour; it
bursts when ripe, disclosing ruddy-orange-coloured seeds, which are
wrapped in a scarlet arillus. This yields a good yellow dye when
boiled in water, and a green one with the addition of alum, but
these dyes are fugitive. The berries attract children, but are
harmful, for they are strongly emetic and purgative: they have
proved fatal to sheep. The bark, leaves and fruit are all
injurious, and no animal but the goat will browse upon
The Latin name for Spindle is Fusus, and by some of the
old writers this plant is called Fusanum and the Fusoria. By the
Italians it is still called Fusano. The fruit is given three or
four as a dose, as a purgative in rural districts; and the
decoction, adding some vinegar, is used as a lotion for mange in
horses and cattle. In allusion to the actively irritating
properties of the shrub, its name Euonymus is associated
with that of Euonyme, the mother of the Furies. In old herbals it
is called Skewerwood or prickwood (the latter from its employment
as toothpicks), and gatter, gatten, or
gadrose. Chaucer, in one of his poems, calls it
Gatter is from the
Anglo-Saxon words, gad (a goad) and treow (a tree);
gatten is made up of gad again and tan (a
twig); and gadrise is from gad and hris (a
The same hardness that fitted it for skewers, spindles, etc.,
made it useful for the ox-goad.
Turner apparently christened
the tree Spindle Tree. He says:
'I coulde never learne an
Englishe name for it. The Duche men call it in Netherlande,
spilboome, that is, spindel-tree, because they use to make
spindels of it in that country, and me thynke it may be as well
named in English seying we have no other name. . . . I know no
goode propertie that this tree hath, saving only it is good to make
spindels and brid of cages (bird-cages).'
The wood, which is of a light yellow hue, strong, compact and
easily worked, fulfils many uses. On the Continent it is used for
making pipe-stems, and an excellent charcoal is made from the young
shoots, which artists approve for its smoothness, and the ease with
which it can be erased. It is also employed in the making of
---Cultivation---It is found in woods and hedgerows. The
green and variegated Spindle Trees are familiar in British gardens.
They all grow freely in any kind of soil, and are easily increased
by inserting the ripened tips of the branches, about 3 inches long,
into a fine, sandy loam in autumn, keeping them damp and fresh with
a frequent spraying overhead. A species from South Europe and
another from Japan are cultivated.
---Parts Used---The variety of Spindle Tree (Euonymus
atropurpureus), common in the eastern United States, is known
there as Wahoo, Burning Bush, or Indian Arrowwood. This is the kind
generally used in medicine.
It is a shrub about 6 feet high, with a smooth ash-coloured
bark, and has small dark purple flowers and leaves purple-tinged at
the serrated edges.
Wahoo bark, as it is called commercially, is the dried
root-bark of this species.
The root-bark is alone official, but the stem-bark is also
collected and used as a substitute.
The root-bark, when dried, is in quilled or curved pieces, 1/12
to 1/6 inch thick, ash-grey, with blackish ridges or patches, outer
surface whitish, or slightly tawny and quite smooth. Fracture
friable, smooth, whitish, the inner layer appearing tangentially
striated. The taste is sweetish, bitter and acrid. It has a very
faint, characteristic odour, resembling liquorice.
The stem-bark is in longer quills, with a smooth outer surface,
with lichens usually present on it, and a greenish layer under the
---Constituents---Little is definitely known of the
chemical constituents of Euonymus Bark. Its chief constituent is a
nearly colourless intensely bitter principle, a resin called
Euonymin. There are also present euonic acid, a crystalline
glucoside, asparagin, resins, fat, dulcitol, and 14 per cent of
Commercial Euonymin is a powdered extract.
---Medicinal Action and Uses---Tonic, alterative,
cholagogue, laxative and hepatic stimulant.
In small doses, Euonymin stimulates the appetite and the flow
of the gastric juice. In larger doses, it is irritant to the
intestine and is cathartic. It has slight diuretic and expectorant
effects, but its only use is as a purgative in cases of
constipation in which the liver is disordered, and for which it is
particularly efficacious. It is specially valuable in liver
disorders which follow or accompany fever. It is mildly aperient
and causes no nausea, at the same time stimulating the liver
somewhat freely, and promoting a free flow of bile.
To make the decoction, add an ounce to a pint of water and boil
together slowly. A small wineglassful to be given, when cold, for a
dose, two or three times a day.
Of the tincture made with spirit from the bark, 5 to 10 drops
may be taken in water or on sugar.
Euonymin is generally given in pill form and in combination
with other tonics, laxatives, etc.
---Preparations---Fluid extract, 1/2 to 1 drachm.
Powdered extract, B.P. and U.S.P., 2 grains. Euonymin, 1 to 4
---Other Species---The green leaves of one species of
Euonymus are said to be eaten by the Arabs to produce
watchfulness, and a sprig of it is believed to be - to the person
who carries it - a protection from plague. Another species is said
to inflict painful wounds.
Family: N.O. Euphorbiaceae
Genera more than 200, species more than 3,000, representing
almost all habits of growth and exhibiting a high degree of
adaptability to varying environments. The valuable rubbers produced
by the family are of great importance, notably that from the
prepared milk juice of several species of Hevea, known in
commerce as Para rubber.
The medicinal properties of the family depend chiefly upon two
classes of constituents; first, fixed oils, or the fatty acids
freed by their decomposition, typical properties of which are
castor oil, from Recinus communis, and Croton oil, from
Croton tigilum; also valuable drying oils, the artists' oil
or lambang from the seeds of Aleurites moluccana, tung oil,
said to be the most perfect drying oil known, from seeds of A.
cordata. From A. laccifera gum-lac, of a very superior
quality, is obtained; another excellent drying oil is obtained from
Sapium sebiferum, known as Chinese tallow. Besides the
cathartic properties resident in the fixed oils of these seeds,
somewhat similar properties, almost always accompanied by more or
less emesis, exists in the plant-parts generally, the active
constituents being usually carried in the milk juices, so that the
family has yielded a large number of drugs used somewhat like
The genus Euphorbia comprises nearly a thousand species,
and a large number of these species yield a milky juice. Some are
herbaceous or shrubby, with or without leaves, the leafless
varieties flourishing on African deserts like the cactus, having
spiny stems. The milky juice of the stem coagulates on exposure to
the air, forming a resinous mass which is generally marketed in the
form of tears.
For external use it is of service in chronic rheumatism and
paralysis as a counter-irritant, alone, or combined with
cantharides, merezeon bark, etc., or as a plaster when mixed with
Burgundy pitch or resin.
It is a violent irritant and caustic poison. At the Cape, the
capsules are used for destroying animals. It may produce
Botanical: Euphorbia resinifera
Family: N.O. Euphorbiaceae
Medicinal Action and Uses
---Synonyms---Euphorbia officinarum. Poisonous
Gum-Thistle. Dergmuse. Darkmous. Euphorbium Bush. Gun
---Part Used---Concrete resinous juice.
---Habitat---The slopes of the Great Atlas range in
---Description---Resembling a cactus in appearance, this
leafless perennial plant has a stem about 4 feet in height, and
many branches. The flowers are small, simple, and bright yellow,
and the fruit a small capsule with one seed in each cell. Specimens
sent to Kew in 1870 have never flowered, but others have done so in
Paris. Both Pliny and Dioscorides knew the drug, and its name is
The milky juice is collected from incisions made in the fleshy
branches, and is so acrid that it burns the fingers. It flows down
the stems and encrusts them as it hardens in the sun. Poor Arabs
bring in the resinous masses for sale in Morocco, whence it is
chiefly exported from Mogador. The dust is so intensely irritant to
the mucous membrane that the mouth and nose of those handling it
must be covered by a cloth.
In commerce the drug is found in yellowish-brown 'tears' that
have a waxy appearance. They are almost transparent, slightly
aromatic only when heated, and often pierced with holes made by the
prickles of the plant while drying. The taste is slight, but
becomes very acrid.
It is said to be employed as an ingredient of paint used for
preserving ships' bottoms.
At Mogador, the branches are used for tanning
---Constituents---The chief constituent is resin, and it
also contains wax, calcium malate, potassium malate, lignin,
bassorin, volatile oil, and water, with no soluble gum. Another
analysis gives euphorbone, euphorbo-resene, euphorbic acid, calcium
malate, a very acrid substance not yet isolated, and vegetable
The acrid resin is soluble in alcohol, and will burn
brilliantly, becoming very aromatic.
The powder is yellowish, and violently
---Medicinal Action and Uses---The internal use of the
drug has been abandoned, owing to the severity of its action. It is
an irritant emetic and cathartic. Its chief use is as a vesicant,
and principally in veterinary practice. It has been used in dropsy;
mixed with cantharides as a 'gout plaister'; and as an errhine in
chronic brain, ear, or eye complaints, sometimes mitigated with the
powder of Convallaria maialis, but accidents have led to its
use being discontinued.
Euphorbia cerifera is one of the sources of Candelilla
wax which occurs as a coating on all parts of the
'PILLBEARING SPURGE' (E. pilulifera) is commonly known
as Queensland asthma weed, cat's hair, in allusion to its globular,
axillary inflorescences. Is very common in all tropical countries.
Its principal constituents are resins described as glucosidal, wax,
and volatile matter; it is collected whilst flowering and fruiting,
and has been utilized by some practitioners with a certain success
in the treatment of subacute and chronic inflammation of the
respiratory duct. Toxic doses have killed small animals through
failure of respiration. The decoction is taken in asthmatic
conditions, chronic bronchitis, and emphysema, the tincture being
used in coryza and hay fever.
---Dosage---Compound Elixir of Euphorbia, C.F., from
E. pilulifera. Tincture of Euphorbia, B.P.C., from E.
pilulifera, 10 to 30 minims. Fluid extract of E.
pilulifera, 1/2 to 1 drachm. Decoction of E. pilulifera,
1 in 40, 1 tablespoonful.
E. corollata: dose of dried root as an emetic, 10 to 20
grains; as a cathartic, 3 to 10 grains.
E. hypericifolia: an infusion of the dried leaves, 1/2
OZ. infused in a pint of boiling water for 1/2 hour and a
tablespoonful taken for a dose.
[Top of Spruges,
E. tetragona, E. antiguorum of the African coast,
and E. canariensis of the Canary Islands also supply the
WHITE IPECACUANHA (E. ipecacuanha), the root of which is
used, contains a fixed oil, starch, glucose, and various salts,
also resin. Its medicinal properties are similar to E.
WHITE PURSLANE (E. corollata). Syn. White Parsley,
Purging or Emetic Root, Apple Root, Wild Hippo. The whole plant is
used, including the root. Its habitat is east and central North
America. It abounds in lactiferous ducts, which contain starch; the
resin is or carries the actual principle, the presence of glucoside
is conjecture. Formerly it was used as an emetic in 10 to 20
grains, and as a cathartic in 3 to 10 grains, but because of its
irritating and uncertain properties its use has been practically
abandoned; the recent root bruised and applied to the skin produces
CAPER SPURGE (E. lathyris). (Syn. Mole Plant.) Has a
milky juice of an acrid nature. Its seeds yield an abundance of
fine clear oil called oil of Euphorbia; this is obtained by
expression or by the action of alcohol or ether, and is colourless,
inodorous, and almost insipid; it rapidly becomes rancid, and
acquires a dangerous acrimony. The oil is a very violent poison,
producing violent purgation and having an irritating effect upon
the mucous membrane of the intestinal canal, and especially on the
larger intestines; the oil resembles croton oil. In doses of 5
drops it is said to be less acrid and irritating than croton oil;
it must be recently extracted. The seeds to the number of twelve or
fifteen are used by country people in France as a purgative. The
root of the plant is equally purgative and emetic; the leaves are
vesicant and are used by beggars to produce ulcers by which to
excite pity; the juice is depilatory; the seeds contain aesculetin
in the free state.
E. hypericifolia is regarded in tropical America as a
powerful astringent and has a reputation in the cure of diarrhoea
and dysentery; it has also narcotic properties. The juice is said
to cause temporary blindness when applied to the eyes; it contains
caoutchouc, gallic acid, resin and tannin.
SPOTTED SPURGE (E. maculata) represents a group used by
eclectics and homoeopaths with claims for properties more or less
special. It has been used in cholera, diarrhcea and dysentery in
the form of an infusion of the leaves, and has been found to
contain caoutchouc resin, tannin, and apparently euphorbon. Is said
to be a valuable astringent; an infusion may be employed as an
injection in the treatment of leucorrhoea. To this medicinal group
E. esula (Linn.) (Leafy Spurge) of Europe.
E. peplus (Linn.) of Europe.
E. helioscopia (Linn.) of Europe (Sun or Wart Spurge,
Churnstaff, Seven Sisters).
E. humistrata (Engl.) of central North
E. hypericifolia (Linn.) of North America.
E. portulacoides of Chile.
E. iata (Eng.) of U.S.A.
E. marginata (Pursh.) (Mountain Snow) of western
E. Drummondii, the juice, has caused many fatalities to
sheep and cattle in Australia.
E. cremocarpus is used in Australia for the poisoning of
fish in calm pools and streams.
E. heterodoxa, a Brazilian species, said to have been
used with extraordinary success against cancerous and syphilitic
ulcers. It is a powerful irritant, mildly caustic; the milky juice
preserved with salicylic acid is used.
E. prostata grows in the south-western portions of the
U.S.A., and has the reputation of being a specific against the bite
of the rattlesnake, spiders, etc.; the juice is used.
E. parviflora and E. hirta. Both used in India as
antisyphilitics, and E. canescens similarly in
The juice of E. linearis is employed in Brazil for
syphilitic ulcers of the cornua. E. hiberna was formerly
much used in syphilis before the introduction of mercury. The plant
is extensively employed by the peasantry of Kerry for stupefying
fish, and so powerful are its qualities that a small basket filled
with the bruised leaves will poison the fish for several miles down
the river. The same properties are possessed by E.
platyphylla, and in Brazil E. cotinifolia is used for
the same purpose, and the acrid juice which drops from it is used
by the natives to poison their arrows.
The seeds and leaves of E. thymifolia of India are given
by the Tamuls as an anthelmintic and in bowel affections of
E. balsamifera, when cooked, is eaten in the
The juice of E. Mauritanica, when dried, is employed as
a condiment, and forms one of the adulterations of
In countries bordering on the Mediterranean, E. Peplis,
E. spinosa, E. Dendroides, E. Aleppica, E.
Apois, are used as purgatives in domestic
E. peplus, E. peploides, E. pilosa, E.
palustris have the reputation of being remedies in
E. Helisscopia juice is commonly applied to warts, and
sometimes, though improperly, used to cure sore eyelids, causing in
many instances intolerable pain and inflammation.
The bark of the roots of E. Gerardiane, E.
amydaloides and E. Cyparissias have febrifuge
reputations; but the latter is known to possess dangerous
properties. It is destructive to sheep, and La Motte has seen a
woman perish from having taken a lavement prepared with the plant.
In France it is used as a popular purgative, under the name of
Rhubarbe??des pauvres. Orfila regards it as a
The milky juice of E. amydaloides is very acrid, and
though not highly poisonous, corrodes and ulcerates the flesh
wherever it is applied.
Warts and corns anointed with it are said soon to disappear,
but great caution is needed in using it, or injury is likely to
result to the surrounding skin. Though said to be a remedy for
toothache, it is not to be recommended on account of its very acrid
The juice of E. tribuloides, a small cactusshaped
species growing in the Canaries, is there used as a
It is reported by Scopoli, in his Flora Carnoilica, that
he has seen death occasioned by the administration of 30 grains of
the seed of E. esula, and gangrene caused on the belly by
the application of the plant on that part; he also adds that people
have lost their eyesight by rubbing their eyes with its
E. buxifolia in the West Indies, E. papillosa in
Brazil, E. laurifolia in Peru, and E. portulacoides
in Chile are used as purgatives.
E. tirucalli is employed in India as a vesicant, and in
Java as a powerful emetic and purgative. It is said that
exhalations from the tree cause the loss of eyesight; the juice is
considered sudorific and, according to Sonnerat, is administered in
India, in doses of a drachm, mixed with flour, daily as an
E. ligularia, another native of India, is held sacred to
Munsa, the goddess of serpents; the root of the tree, mixed with
black pepper, is employed for the cure of snake-bites, both
internally and externally.
Botanical: Mitchella repens (LINN.)
Family: N.O. Rubiaceae
Medicinal Action and Uses
---Synonyms---Partridgeberry. Checkerberry. Winter
Clover. Deerberry. One-berry.
---Description---The plant grows in dry woods, among
hemlock timber, and in swampy places; in flower in June and July.
The leaves resemble those of clover and remain green throughout the
winter. The fruit or berry also remains bright scarlet, is edible,
and nearly tasteless, dry, and full of stony seeds. The use of the
drug is peculiarly American.
---Constituents---It has been found to contain resin,
wax, mucilage, dextrin, and what appears to be
---Medicinal Action and Uses---Parturient, diuretic,
tonic, astringent. Beneficial in all uterine complaints. It
resembles in its action pipsissewa (Chimaphila), for which it is
often substituted. It is taken by Indian women for weeks before
confinement, in order to render parturition safe and easy. A herbal
physician should be consulted for a safe and effectual
It is used in dropsy, suppression of urine, and diarrhoea. The
following preparation is a cure for sore nipples: 2 OZ. of the herb
(fresh, if possible), 1 pint of water. Make a strong decoction,
strain, and add an equal quantity of good cream. Boil the whole
down to the consistency of a soft salve, and when cool, anoint the
nipple every time the child is removed from the
---Dosages---Of a strong decoction, 2 to 4 fluid ounces,
two or three times a day. Fluid extract, 1/2 to 1
Botanical: Urginea scilla (STEINHEIL)
Family: N.O. Liliaceae
Medicinal Action and Uses
---Synonyms---Maritime Squill. Scilla maritima (Linn.).
Urginea maritima. Urginea. Indica. White Squill. Red
---Part Used---Bulb, cut into slices, dried and
---Habitat---The Squill is found in dry, sandy places,
especially the seacoast in most of the Mediterranean districts,
being abundant in southern Spain, where it is by no means confined
to the coast, and is found in Portugal, Morocco, Algeria, Corsica,
southern France, Italy, Malta, Dalmatia, Greece, Syria and Asia
Minor. In Sicily, where it grows most abundantly, it ascends to an
elevation of 3,000 feet. Its range also includes the Canary Islands
and the Cape of Good Hope. It is often grown under figtrees in the
Italian Riviera, and is grown in many botanical gardens, having
first been recorded as cultivated in England in 1648, in the Oxford
---Description---It is a perennial plant with fibrous
roots proceeding from the base of a large, tunicated, nearly
globular bulb, 4 to 6 inches long, the outer scales of which are
thin and papery, red or orange-brown in colour. The bulb, which is
usually only half immersed in the sand, sends forth several long,
lanceolate, pointed, somewhat undulated, shining, dark-green
leaves, when fully grown 2 feet long. From the middle of the
leaves, a round, smooth, succulent flower-stem rises, from 1 to 3
feet high, terminating in a long, close spike of whitish flowers,
which stand on purplish peduncles, at the base of each of which is
a narrow, twisted, deciduous floral leaf or bract. The flowers are
in bloom in April and May and are followed by oblong
It is a very variable plant, the bulb differing greatly in size
and colour, and the leaves of the flower presenting similar
varieties, which has led to the formation of several species, about
twenty-five species having been described. Two varieties of Squill,
termed respectively white and red, are distinguished
by druggists. In the first named, the bulb scales are whitish or
yellowish in colour, whereas the red species has deep, reddishbrown
outer scales and yellowish white inner scales, covered with a
pinkish epidermis, intermediate forms also occurring. No essential
difference exists in the medicinal properties of the two
The White Squill, collected in Malta and Sicily, is preferred
in England, while the Red Squill, collected in Algeria, is used in
France. Both varieties are mentioned by Pliny and other ancient
writers: the white is more mentioned in mediaeval literature,
though the medical school of Salerno preferred the red variety of
The United States Pharmacopoeia defines the drug Scilla as the
inner scales of the bulb of the white variety of Urginea
Scilla, the classical name of the plant, is derived from
a Greek word meaning to excite or disturb, as an emetic does the
stomach. Scilla maritima was the name given by Linnaeus, but
this was changed to Urginea, in allusion to the Algerian
tribe Ben Urgin, near Boma, where Steinheil in 1834 examined this
plant, removing it from the genus Scilla. The main
difference between the genera is that the genus Urginea has
flat, discoid seeds, while in Scilla proper they are
triquetrous (threeangled, with three concave faces). Baker named it
Urginea maritima, but it now retains Scilla as its
As seen in commerce, the undried bulb is somewhat pear-shaped,
and generally about the size of a man's fist, but often larger,
weighing from 1/2 lb. to more than 4 lb.
It has the usual structure of a bulb, being formed of smooth
juicy scales, closely wrapped over one another. It has little
odour, but its inner scales have a mucilaginous, bitter, acrid
taste, owing to the presence of bitter glucosides.
In its home, it is frequently used fresh, but in other
countries it is directed by the pharmacopoeias to be deprived of
its dry membraneous outer scales (which are destitute of activity),
cut into thin, transverse slices and carefully dried, either in the
sun, or by artificial heat, the inmost part being rejected, as this
central portion, being the youngest growth, is deficient in
Owing to the mucilaginous nature of the tissue, drying is
tedious and difficult. When fresh, the bulb abounds in a viscid,
very acrid juice, which is capable of causing inflammation of the
skin. On drying, the bulb loses four-fifths of its weight, and its
acridity is largely diminished, with slight loss of medicinal
Squill is generally imported in ready-dried slices, packed in
casks, from Malta, where the largest collections are
The dried slices are narrow, flattish, curved, yellowish-white,
or with a roseate hue, according to the variety of Squill from
which they are obtained, from 1 to 2 inches long, more or less
When quite dry, the strips are brittle and can easily be
powdered, but they are tough and flexible when moist and dried.
Squill should be kept in well-stoppered bottles, on account of its
readiness to absorb moisture, when the slices become tough and
cannot be reduced to powder. When kept in a dry place, Squill
retains its virtues for a long time. When powdered, unless
carefully preserved in a dried state by absorption of moisture, it
forms a hard mass, and it is therefore officially recommended that
powdered Squill should be kept quite dry over
Occasionally, entire bulbs are imported, but are difficult to
keep in the fresh state as they preserve their vitality for a long
time, and if allowed to remain in a warm place, rapidly develop an
aerial shoot. Professor Henslow reports (Poisonous Plants in
Field and Garden) that a bulb was found attempting to grow
after being stowed away for more than twenty years in the museum of
St. Bartholomew's Hospital Medical School.
---Constituents---The chemical constituents of Squill
are imperfectly known. Merck, in 1879, separated the three bitter
glucosidal substances Scillitoxin, Scillipicrin and Scillin. The
first two are amorphous and act upon the heart, the former being
the more active; Scillin is crystalline and causes numbness and
vomiting. Other constituents are mucilaginous and saccharine
matter, including a peculiar mucilaginous carbohydrate named
Sinistrin, an Inulin-like substance, which yields Laevulose on
being boiled with dilute acid. The name Sinistrin (in 1834, first
proposed by Macquart for Inulin) has also been applied to a
mucilaginous matter extracted from barley, but it remains to be
proved that the latter is identical with the Sinistrin of Squill.
Calcium oxalate is also present, in bundles of long, acicular
crystals, which easily penetrate the skin when the bulbs are
handled, and causes intense irritation, sometimes eruption, if a
piece of fresh Squill is rubbed on the skin.
The toxicity of Squills has more recently been ascribed to a
single, bitter, non-nitrogenous glucoside, to which the name
Scillitinis given, and which is the active diuretic and expectorant
The bulbs also yield when distilled in a current of steam, a
slightly coloured liquid oil of unpleasant odour.
The chemistry of Squills cannot yet be regarded as fully worked
out, since most of the glucosides described have only been prepared
in an amorphous condition of uncertain chemical
---Medicinal Action and Uses---The Medicinal Squill was
valued as a medicine in early classic times and has ever since been
employed by physicians, being official in all pharmacopoeias.
Oxymel of Squill, used for coughs, was invented by Pythagoras, who
lived in the sixth century before Christ.
It is mentioned by Theophrastus in the third century before
Christ, and was known to all the ancient Greek physicians.
Epimenides, a Greek, is said to have made much use of it, from
which circumstance we find it called
It is considered to be the Sea Onion referred to by Homer.
Pliny was acquainted with it, and Dioscorides, who lived about the
same time, describes the different varieties of the bulb and the
method of making vinegar of Squills. A similar preparation, as well
as compounds of Squill with honey, was administered by the Arabian
physicians of the Middle Ages, who introduced the drug into
European medicine, these preparations still remaining in
The mediaeval reputation of Squill was originally as a
diuretic, the older authorities attributing its diuretic action to
a direct stimulant effect upon the kidney.
As a diuretic, it is frequently employed in dropsy, whether due
to chronic disease of the kidneys or to the renal congestion
consequent to chronic cardiac disease. Squill is not employed,
however, when the kidneys are acutely inflamed. In the treatment of
cardiac dropsy, Squill is frequently combined with
Squill stimulates the bronchial mucous membrane and is given in
bronchitis after subsidence of the acute inflammation. It is
generally used in combination with other stimulating expectorants,
its effects being thereby increased, and is considered most useful
in chronic bronchitis, catarrhal affections and asthma. The
tincture is administered combined with other expectorants,
especially ipecacuanha and ammonium carbonate. Vinegar, Oxymel and
Syrup of Squill are also common constituents of expectorant cough
It is largely sued for its stimulating, expectorant and
diuretie properties, and is alsoa cardiac tonic, acting in a
similar manner to digitalis, slowing and strengthening the pulse,
though more irritating to the gastro-intestinal mucous membrane. On
account of its irritant qualities it is not administered in
diseases of an acute inflammatory nature. It has also been given as
an emetic in whooping-cough and croup, usually combined with
ipecacuanha, but as an emetic is considered very uncertain in its
To prevent its too great action on the stomach, it is
frequently eombined with a portion of opium. With calomel, it forms
a powerful stimulant of the urinary organs. (A pill containing 1
grain each of Squill, digitalis and calomel is popularly known as
In poisonous doses, Squill produces violent inflammation of the
gastro-intestinal and genito-urinary tracts, manifested by nausea,
vomiting, abdominal pains and purging, and, in addition, dullness,
stupour, convulsions, a marked fall in temperature, enfeebled
circulation and sometimes death.
The powdered drug and extracts made from it have been largely
used as rat poisons and are said to be very efficacious, the red
variety being preferred for this purpose, although there would not
seem to be sufficient evidence of its superiority
---Dosage---When given in substance, Squill is most
conveniently administered in the form of pill. Dose: 1 to 3
Vinegar of Squill, B.P. Dose: 5 to 15 minims.
Vinegar of Squill, U.S.P. Average dose: 15 minims.
Liquid Extraet of Squill, B.P. Codex. Dose: 1 to 3
Fluid Extraet of Squill, U.S.P. Average dose: 1 1/2
Opiate Linetus, B.P.C. Dose: 1/2 to 1 fluid
Linctus of Squill, B.P.B. Dose: 1/2 to 1 fluid drachm. (Used as
cough linctus for children.)
Syrup of Squill, B.P. Used as an expectorant in acid eough
mixtures. Dose: 1/2 1 fluid drachm.
Syrup of Squill, U.S.P. (The preparation commonly administered
in bronchitis.) Average dose: 30 minims.
Compound Syrup of Squill, U.S.P. Average dose: 30
Compound Squill Tablets, B.P.C. Dose: 1 to 2
Tincture of Squill, B.P. (Used with other expectorants to
relieve cough and in chronic bronchitis.) Dose: 5 to 15
Tincture of Squill, U.S.P. Average dose: 15
Compound Linctus of Squill, B.P.C. (Gee's Linctus.) Dose: 1/2
to 1 fluid drachm.
Squill Mixture, B.P.C. (Fothergill's Cough Mixture.) Given for
coughs. Dose: 2 to 4 fluid drachms.
Compound Squill Mixture, B.P.C. (Used as diaphoretic and
expectorant.) Dose: 1/2 to 1 fluid ounce.
Squill and Ipecacuanha Mixture, B.P.C. Dose: 1/2 to 1 fluid
Squill and Opium Mixture (Abercrombie's Cough Mixture), B.P.C.
Dose: 2 to 4 fluid drachms.
Oxymel of Squill, B.P. (Vinegar of Squill 20, purified honey
50.) Employed in coughs and colds to assist expectoration. Dose:
1/2 to 1 fluid drachm.
Compound Squill Pill, B.P. Dose: 4 to 8 grains.
Compound Syrup of Squill, B.P.C. (For coughs.) Dose: 1/2 to 1
---Substitutes---There are several bulbs used in place
of the official Squill which, owing to the abundance and low price
of the latter, do not appear in the European market.
Indian Squill consists of the younger bulbs of Urginea
indica (Knuth), or of Scilla indica (Baker), which is
also known as Ledebouria hyacinthina (Roth.).
U. indica, Knuth (S. indica, Roxb.) is a widely
diffused plant occurring in northern India, Abyssinia, Nubia and
Senegambia. It is known by the same Arabic and Persian names as
U. scilla and its bulbs are used for similar purposes, but
are considered to have no action when old and large. The bulbs
consist of whitish, fleshy coats or scales, which enclose each
other completely. They resemble common onions in
S. indica, Baker (L. hyacinthina, Roth.), a
native of India and Abyssinia, has a bulb often confused in the
Indian bazaars with the preceding, but easily distinguished when
entire by being scaly, not tunicated, its
creamcoloured scales overlapping one another. The bulbs are about
the size and shape of a small pear, somewhat smaller than those of
U. indica. It is considered a better representative of the
The bulbs of both species have a nauseous odour and a bitter
acrid taste. They are collected soon after the plants have
flowered, divested of their dry, outer, membraneous coats, cut into
slices and dried.
The chief constituents in each case are bitter principles,
similar to the glucosidal substances found in ordinary Squill, and
needleshaped crystals of calcium oxalate are also
The drug possesses stimulant, expectorant and diuretic
principles, and is official in the India and Colonial Addendum for
use in India and the Eastern Colonies as an equivalent of ordinary
U. altissima, Baker (Ornithogalum altissimum,
Linn.), a South African species very closely related to the common
Squill, has apparently the same properties.
The bulb of S. Peruviana (Linn.) has also been used and
exported as a substitute for Squill.
Drimia ciliaris (Jacq.), native of the Cape of Good
Hope, much resembles the official Squill, but has a juice so
irritating if it comes into contact with the skin, that it was
called by the Dutch colonists Jeukbol, i.e. Itch-bulb. It is
used medicinally as an emetic, expectorant and
Crinum asiaticum, var. toxicarium (Hubert), is a
large plant with handsome white flowers and showy leaves,
cultivated in Indian gardens and growing wild in low, humid spots
in various parts of India and on the coast of Ceylon. The bulb was
admitted in 1868 to the Pharmacopoeia of India as a valuable
emetic, but is not widely used.
The European Squills belonging to the genus Scilla
possess in a milder form the same active principle, and some of the
species are deleterious, if not absolutely dangerous.
The bulbs of S. lilio-hyacinthus are used as a purgative
by the inhabitants of the Pyrenees.
Star of Bethlehem
Botanical: Ornithogalum umbellatum (LINN.)
Family: N.O. Liliaceae
---Synonyms---Bath Asparagus. Dove's Dung. Star of
Hungary. White Filde Onyon.
The Star of Bethlehem is a bulbous plant nearly allied to the
Onion and Garlic.
The leaves are long and narrow and darkgreen; the flowers, in
bloom during April and May, are a brilliant white internally, but
with the petals striped with green outside. They expand only in the
The bulbs, in common with those of many Liliaceous plants, are
edible and nutritious. They were in ancient times eaten, both raw
and cooked, as Dioscorides related, and form a palatable and
wholesome food when boiled. They are still often eaten in the East,
being roasted like chestnuts, and Linnaeus and others considered
that they were probably the 'Dove's Dung' mentioned in the Second
Book of Kings, vi. 25, as being sold at a high price during the
siege of Samaria by the King of Syria, when 'the fourth part of a
cab of dove's dung was sold for five pieces of silver.' The Greek
name, Ornithogalum, signifies the 'birds' milk flower.' The
plains of Syria and Palestine are sheeted in spring with the white
flowers of a species of Star of Bethlehem, the bulbs of which are
used as food, and are still called by the Arabs, 'Dove's Dung,' a
name in common use among them for vegetable substances. Bochart
tells us that the Arabs give this name to a moss that grows on
trees and stony ground, and also to a pulse or pea, which appears
to have been common in India. Large quantities of the bulb, it is
stated, were parched and dried and stored at Cairo and Damascus,
being much used during journeys, and especially by the great
pilgrim caravans to Mecca.
In Lyte's Dodoens (1578) it is described as 'the white
filde onyon,' growing in plenty near Malines. In Turner's
Herbal (1548) it is not mentioned, but in Gerard's six
species are enumerated. He says: 'There be sundry sorts of wild
field Onions, called "Starres of Bethlehem," differing in stature,
taste and smell, as shall be declared,' and calls them 'the Star of
Hungary,' 'the Lesser Spanish Star,' 'the Star of Bethlehem,' 'the
great Arabische star floure,' etc.
Though there are numerous species in this genus, only one is
truly native to Great Britain, the spiked Ornithogalum, O.
pyrenaicum (Linn.), and is not common, being a local plant,
found only in a few counties. It is abundant, however, in woods
near Bath, and the unexpanded inflorescence used to be collected
and sold in that town under the name of 'Bath Asparagus,' and was
cooked and served as a vegetable.
A leafless stalk, about 2 feet high, rises from the bulb,
bearing greenish-white flowers in a long, erect spike.
(The homoeopaths make a tincture from the bulbs which is useful
in some cases of cancer. - EDITOR.)
O. divaricatum (Lindl.) is the CALIFORNIAN SOAPROOT,
Soap Bulb, Soap Apple or Amole.Its large bulb, resembling that of
Squill, is universally used by the Indians of the regions where it
grows as a detergent and as a fish poison. It has other uses
dependent upon the action of its Saponin, and it is an
O. thyroides (Jacq.), of South Africa, is a fatal stock
O. Capense (Linn.), also of South Africa, yields a tuber
used as an emmenagogue: the action is due to saponin.
Over the deserts of the south-western United States and Mexico,
the tuberous rhizomes of large species of Yucca (also
belonging to the order Liliaceae) are called Soap Root, and have
the same uses as those of the Californian variety of
Ornithogalum. There is said to be no better tonic or
stimulant for the hair than a free application of a solution of
this juice in alcohol, water, or glycerine. Besides the Saponin, it
contains a large number of raphides, which probably add
mechanically to the stimulation.
Yucca filamentosa (Linn.), of the southeastern United
States, commonly known as 'Adam's Needle,' has a large rhizome
which contains nearly 2 per cent of Saponin, and which is used as a
stimulant owing to the action of this constituent.
Gagea lutea (Ker Gawl.), the YELLOW STAR OF BETHLEHEM,
has a small, egg-shaped or nearly round bulb, about the size of a
It flowers from March to May, and is a plant 6 to 10 inches
high, with narrow leaves and yellow flowers (arranged in an umbel),
which only open in the middle of the day. It occurs in woods and
pastures in this country, but is not common.
It is recorded that the Swedes have eaten this bulb in times of
scarcity. Round the main small bulb there are usually a number of
bulbules about the size of sago grains, but only the parent bulb is
enclosed in a yellowish outer skin.
Some species of Gagea have been used as diuretics, much like
Squill, and probably contain related, if not identical,
The tuberous root-stock of Melanthium Virginicum
(Linn.), the Bunch Flower of the eastern and central United States,
is poisonous and is used as a parasticide.
Botanical: Delphinium Staphisagria (LINN.)
Family: N.O. Ranunculaceae
Medicinal Action and Uses
---Habitat---Asia Minor and Europe.
Stavesacre is a species of Larkspur, a stout, erect herb
attaining 4 feet in height, indigenous to Asia Minor and southern
Europe. It is cultivated in France and Italy, our supplies having
before the War been drawn chiefly from Trieste and from the south
Stavesacre was well known to both the Greeks and Romans.
Dioscorides mentions it, and Pliny describes its use as a
parasiticide. It continued to be extensively employed throughout
the Middle Ages.
This Delphinium is an annual, with a hairy stem and hairy
palmate leaves, composed of five to seven oblong lobes, which have
frequently one or two acute indentures on their sides. The flowers
form a loose spike at the upper part of the stalk, each on a short
peduncle, and are of a pale-blue or purple colour.
---Cultivation---The seeds of this species should be
sown in April, where the plants are intended to remain and require
no special treatment, growing in almost any soil or situation, but
the plants are most luxuriant when given a deep, yellow loam, well
enriched with rotted manure and fairly moist. They should be
thinned to a distance of 2 feet apart.
---Part Used---The dried, ripe seeds. Shake the seeds
out of the pods on trays and spread them out to dry in the sun.
Then pack away in airtight boxes or tins. The dried, ripe seeds are
brown when fresh, changing to a dull, earthy colour on keeping. In
shape they are irregularly quadrangular, one side being curved and
larger than the others, and the surface of the seed is wrinkled and
pitted. They average about 6 mm. (nearly 1/4 inch) long and rather
less in width, ten weighing about 6 grains. The seed coat is nearly
tasteless, but the endosperm is oily and has a bitter and acrid
taste. The seeds have no marked collour.
---Constituents---The chief constituents of Stavesacre
seeds are from 20 to 25 per cent of alkaloidal matter, which
consists chiefly of the bitter, acrid, crystalline, alkaloid
Delphinine, an irritant poison, and a second crystalline alkaloid
named Delphisine, and the amorphous alkaloid Delphinoidine. Less
important are staphisagroine, of which traces only are present, and
staphisagrine, which appears to be a mixture of the first three
---Medicinal Action and Uses---Vermifuge and
vermin-destroying. Stavesacre seeds are extremely poisonous and are
only used as a parasiticide to kill pediculi, chiefly in the form
of the official ointment, the expressed oil, the powdered seeds, or
an acid aqueous extract containing the alkaloids.
These seeds are so violently emetic and cathartic that they are
rarely given internally, though the powdered seeds have been given
as a purge for dropsy, in very small quantities at first and
increased till the effect is produced. The dose at first should not
exceed 2 or 3 grains, given in powder or decoction, but the
administration of the drug must always be accompanied by great
caution, as staphisagrine paralyses the motor nerves like
The seeds are used as an external application to some cutaneous
eruptions, the decoction, applied with a linen rag, being effectual
in curing the itch. It is made by boiling the seeds in
Delphinine has also been employed similarly to aconite, both
internally and externally, for neuralgia. It resembles aconite in
causing slowness of pulse and respiration, paralysis of the spinal
cord and death from asphyxia. By depressing the action of the
spinal cord it arrests the convulsions caused by
Stonecrop, Crooked Yellow
Botanical: Sedum album
Family: N.O. Crassulaceae
---Synonym---Small Houseleek (Culpepper).
---Parts Used---Leaves, stalks.
Culpepper's Small Houseleek is now generally called the White
Stonecrop. It is not very common, and is found wild on rocks and
walls. As a rule, however, when growing on garden walls and the
roofs of cottages and outhouses, it owes its presence indirectly to
human agency, and is to be considered a garden escape. The root is
perennial and fibrous, the flowerless stems prostrate, of a
bluish-green colour, round and leafy. The leaves are bright green
and very succulent, oblong, cylindrical, blunt and spreading, 1/3
to 1/2 inch long. The flowering stems are 6 to 10 inches high, with
a few leaves growing alternately on them and terminated by
muchbranched, flat tufts (cymes) of numerous, small, star-like
flowers, about 1/6 inch in diameter, the white petals twice as
large as the green sepals.
This Stonecrop, which flowers in July and August, is not to be
confounded with another white-flowered Stonecrop (Sedum
Anglicum), which flowers earlier - June and July - and is an
annual. It is a plant of smaller and compacter growth, the leaves
shorter and less cylindrical, with less numerous flowers, the white
petals of which are spotted with red.
The White Stonecrop is said to be indigenous in the Malvern
Hills and Somerset, but a garden escape elsewhere, being grown as
S. Anglicum is abundant on the bank of a hedge close to
The older herbalists considered the White Stonecrop to possess
all the virtues of the Houseleek. The leaves and stalks were
recommended and used for all kinds of inflammation, being
especially applied as a cooling plaster to painful haemorrhoids.
Culpepper tells us: 'it is so harmless an herb you can scarce use
it amiss.' It was the custom, too, to prepare and eat it as a
pickle, in the same way as the juicy Samphire.
Botanical: Sedum acre
Family: N.O. Crassulaceae
---Synonyms---Biting Stonecrop. Wallpepper. Golden Moss.
Wall Ginger. Bird Bread. Prick Madam. Gold Chain. Creeping Tom.
(French) Pain d'oiseau.
The Common or Biting Stonecrop is the commonest of the
Stonecrops, growing freely upon walls and cottage roofs, on rocks
and in sandy places, especially near the sea, forming tufts or
cushions, 3 to 10 inches across, which in June and July are a mass
of golden blossom, but its flowering season is very soon
The root is perennial and very fibrous, its minute threads
penetrating into the smallest crevices. The stalks are numerous,
many of them trailing and flowerless, others erect - generally 3 to
5 inches high - bearing the clusters of flowers. When growing among
other foliage, or on rockwork, the flowerstalks are often drawn up
to some height, at other times much dwarfed. They branch and are
clothed with numerous leaves. The little upright and very succulent
leaves that closely overlap on the flowerless stems are a
distinguishing characteristic from the other yellowflowering
species of Sedum; they are so fleshy as to be almost round.
The starlike flowers are of a brilliant yellow colour, the five
sepals small and inconspicuous, but the five petals, spreading and
acutely pointed, are a striking feature. There are ten stamens,
with anthers the same tint as the petals.
The pungency of the leaves has obtained for the plant its
specific name of acre, and the popular English name of
Wallpepper and Wall Ginger. Gerard tells us it was known in his day
as Mousetail, or Jack of the Butterie. As regards the latter name,
Dr. Fernie says: 'this and the Sedums album and
reflexum were ingredients in a famous worm-expelling
medicine or "theriac" (treacle), and "Jack of the Buttery" is a
corruption of Bot. theriaque.'
De Lobel called it vermicularis, partly - we are told -
from the grub-like shape of the leaves, and partly from its medical
efficacy as a vermifuge.
Some old writers considered
this species to possess considerable virtues, but others, from the
durability of its acrimony and the violence of its operation, have
thought it unsafe to be administered. Culpepper tells
'Its qualities are directly
opposite to the other Sedums, and more apt to raise inflammations
than to cure them; it ought not to be put into any ointment, nor
any other medicine.'
He considered it, however, good for scurvy both inwardly in
decoction and outwardly, bathed as a fomentation, and he also
commended it for King's Evil. Other writers have likewise
considered it to be a beneficial remedy in some scorbutic diseases,
when properly and carefully used, recommending it in the form of a
gargle for scurvy of the gums, and as a lotion for scrofulous
ulcers. It has been considered useful in intermittent fever and in
dropsy. In large doses it is emetic and cathartic, and applied
externally will sometimes produce blisters.
Pliny recommends it as a means of procuring sleep, for which
purpose he says it must be wrapped in a black cloth and placed
under the pillow of the patient, without his knowing it, otherwise
it will not be effectual.
STONECROP, CROOKED YELLOW
Botanical: Sedum reflexum
Family: N.O. Crassulaceae
---Parts Used---Leaves, young shoots.
The Stonecrop Houseleek of the old herbalists goes now by the
name of Crooked Yellow Stonecrop.
---Description---It is not considered truly indigenous,
though often found on rocks, old walls, house-tops, and sometimes
on dry banks, in many parts of the British Isles. The slender but
tough stems, tinged with pink, are elongated, lying on the ground,
sending up numerous ascending, short, leafy, barren shoots and
erect, and somewhat flexuous flowering stems, 9 inches to 1 foot
high, clothed with spreading and reflexed leaves, which are
cylindrical and pointed, 1/2 to 3/4 inch long, spurred at their
bases. The leaves are distant towards the lower ends of the barren
shoots, but crowded towards the apex, forming a kind of tuft: they
are only curved back, or reflexed, on the flowering stems. This
Stonecrop also blossoms in July and August: the flowers are in
terminal cymes as in the previous species, but are bright
In Holland, the leaves and young shoots of this species are
used for salad.
Culpepper considered that as 'it is more frequent than the
white stonecrop, flowering at the same time, it may very well
supply its place.' He goes on to tell us that the Houseleek,
'though not given inwardly, yet is recommended by some to quench
thirst in fever.' Mixed with posset drink, 3 OZ. of the juice of
this and Persicaria maculata, boiled to the consistence of a
julep, are recommended to allay the heat of
Botanical: Sedum Telephium
Family: N.O. Crassulaceae
Medicinal Action and Uses
---Synonyms---Live Long. Life Everlasting.
(French) Herbe aux charpentiers.
---Parts Used---Whole plant, leaves.
The Orpine, the largest British species of this genus, is
readily distinguished from most of the other plants allied to it by
its large, broad, flattened leaves and terminal heads of pinkish
flowers, being the only British species with flat
It has a wide distribution: in warmer countries it is a
mountain plant. Lindley gives its true habitat as mountainous
woods, and Cesalpinus, an early Italian botanist, calls it
Crassula montana, but in this country it grows freely in
lower situations. It is probable that it was originally an
introduced plant, though it is now not uncommonly found in
hedgebanks on shady sides of fields and in woods, though probably
escaped from cultivation in many of its localities. In its wild
state, the plant' is from 1 to 2 feet high, though in gardens it
may attain as much as 3 feet.
The root-stock is perennial, large and fleshy, producing small
parsnip-shaped tubers, with a whitish-grey rind, containing a
considerable store of nourishment. The stalks are numerous, erect,
unbranched, round and solid, generally of a reddish tint, spotted
and streaked with a deeper red above. The flat, fleshy leaves,
bluish-green in colour, are numerous, placed alternately on the
stem at very short intervals, and coarsely toothed. The upper
leaves are rounded at their bases and without foot-stalks, the
lower ones taper at the base to a short stalk, being almost
wedge-shaped; they are largest and closest together about the
middle of the stem, where they are 1 1/2 to 3 inches
The flowers are in compact heads at the top of the stems,
forming a brilliant mass of crimson, in most cases, though
sometimes whitish, suffused with dull purplish rose. They are
spreading and acutely pointed, three times as long as the calyx. In
their centre are ten conspicuous stamens, with reddish anthers, and
the ovaries they surround are also reddish.
The whole plant is smooth and somewhat shiny. It flowers in
July and seeds in August.
The specific name is derived from Telephus, the son of
Hercules, who is said to have discovered its virtues. Its most
familiar English name, Orpine, is derived from
Auripigmentum, the gold-coloured pigment, called Orpiment,
or Orpin, a yellow sulphuret of the metal arsenic. This name, which
might have been appropriate enough for the brilliant yellow flowers
of the last two species described, is quite out of place applied to
the crimson blossoms of this Sedum.
Its tenacity of life has earned it the name of 'Live Long' and
'Life Everlasting,' the length of time it will continue fresh after
being gathered being remarkable. It will live a long time if
uprooted and hung up in a room without earth or water, subsisting
on the store of nourishment in its fleshy leaves and swollen
---Constituents---The whole plant is mucilaginous and
slightly astringent. It contains lime, sulphur, ammonia and
The leaves have sometimes been used as a salad, like the other
Sedums, but though sheep and goats eat it, horses will
---Medicinal Action and Uses---It has been used as a
popular remedy for diarrhoea. The leaves are boiled in milk, and a
large teacupful of the decoction taken three or four times a day is
said also to stimulate the action of the kidneys, and to be
serviceable for piles and haemorrhages. Orpine has also an
Culpepper stated that it was
seldom used internally in his days, but that the celebrated German
herbalist, Tragus, considered its distilled water -
'profitable for gnawings or
excoriation in the stomach or bowels, for ulcers in the lungs,
liver or other inward parts and cures those diseases, being drunk
for days together,'
and that the root has the
same action, even stronger. He says that it is:
'used outwardly to cool
inflammations upon any hurt or wound, and easeth the pain of them;
as also to heal scaldings and burnings, the juice thereof being
beaten with some green salad oil and anointed. The leaf bruised and
laid to any green wound in the head or legs doth heal them quickly,
and being bound to the throat cureth the quinsy; and it reduceth
ruptures. If you make the juice into a syrup with honey or sugar,
you may safely take a spoonful or two at a time for sore throat and
Botanical: Penthorum sedoides (LINN.)
Family: N.O. Crassulaceae
---Synonyms---Ditch Stonecrop. Penthorum.
The Virginian Stonecrop is a native of America.
---Description---It is a biennial, with stems about a
foot high, on which the leaves are placed on alternate sides, on
short stalks. They are oblong, 2 to 3 inches long and about a third
as broad, smooth and thin, the apex pointed and the margins finely
toothed. The flowers are small and greenish, on short
flower-stalks, in rows along the upper sides of the branches of the
terminal cyme: there are five very small petals and five sepals,
and the ovary is five-cleft and five-celled, surrounded by ten
stamens with filaments twice as long as the calyx. The genus
Penthorum differs from the genus Sedum, in having no
nectaries in its flowers.
This plant has of late attracted much notice, especially in
America, as a remedy for catarrh, catarrhal inflammation of the
larynx, chronic bronchitis, with increased secretion of mucus and
catarrhal affections of the stomach and bowels. It has also been
employed with success in the treatment of diarrhoea, haemorrhoids
and infantile cholera.
It is demulcent, laxative and somewhat astringent in its
action. A fluid extract is prepared from the whole herb and
administered in doses of from 10 to 20 drops. It has a slightly
Among other species of Sedum are the HAIRY STONECROP (Sedum
villosum), frequent in Scotland and the North of England, a
small species with viscid stems and leaves and pinkish-white
flowers. The THICK-LEAVED STONECROP (S. dasyphyllum), also a
small species, but very rare, distinguished from the preceding by
its fleshy, almost globular leaves, viscid flower-stalks and blunt
petals. Other British species belonging to this group are:
TASTELESS YELLOW STONECROP (S. sexangulare), distinguished
from S. acre by its leaves, which are six in a whorl,
growing in Greenwich Park, the Isle of Sheppey and a few other
places. ST. VINCENT S ROCK STONECROP (S. rupestre), a
species allied to S. reflexum, with slightly flattened
leaves, which grow five in a whorl, found on St. Vincent's Rocks
and other limestone cliffs, rare; and WELSH STONECROP (S.
Fosterianum), another species allied to S. reflexum,
with leaves flattened at the base and compact cymes of flowers -
which grows on the rocks in Wales and Shropshire.
Botanical: Collinsonia Canadensis (LINN.)
Family: N.O. Labiatae
Medicinal Action and Uses
Preparations and Dosages
---Synonyms---Horseweed. Richweed. Richleaf. Knob-Root.
Knobweed. Horsebalm. Hardback. Heal-all. Oxbalm. Knot-Root. Baume
de Cheval. Guérit-tout.
---Parts Used---Whole plant, fresh root.
---Habitat---North America, from Canada to the
---Description---The plant has a four-sided stem, from 1
to 4 feet in height, and bears large, greenish-yellow flowers. It
grows in moist woods and flowers from July to September. The
rhizome is brown-grey, about 4 inches long, knobby, and very hard.
The whole plant has a strong, disagreeable odour and a pungent and
spicy taste. The chief virtue of the plant is in the root, which
should always be used fresh. The name is derived from its
discoverer, Peter Collinson.
---Constituents---In the root there is resin, starch,
mucilage and wax. In the leaves, resin, tannin, wax and volatile
oil. The alkaloid discovered in the root appears to be a magnesium
---Medicinal Action and Uses---Sedative, antispasmodic,
astringent, tonic, diaphoretic, diuretic.
A decoction of the fresh root has been given in catarrh of the
bladder, leucorrhcea, gravel and dropsy. It is largely used by
American veterinary surgeons as a diuretic. It is valuable in all
complaints of urinary organs and rectum, and is best combined with
It can be used externally, especially the leaves, for poultices
and fomentations, bruises, wounds, sores, cuts, etc., and also as a
gargle, in the strength of 1 part of fluid extract to 3 of
---Preparations and Dosages---Of fluid extract, 15 to 60
drops. Of Collinsonin, 2 to 4 grains.
Botanical: Liquidambar orientalis (MILL.)
Family: N.O. Hamamelaceae
Medicinal Action and Uses
Adulterants, Substiutes, Allied Balsams
---Synonyms---Liquidambar imberbe. Styrax Praeparatus.
Prepared Storax. Styrax liquidus. Flussiger Amber. Liquid Storax.
---Part Used---Balsam obtained from the wood and inner
---Description---A tree of 40 feet or more in height,
with many branches, and a thick, purplish-grey bark; leaves
palmately cut into five, three-lobed sections, and white flowers
arranged in little, round solitary heads. The name
Liquidambar was given by Monardes in the sixteenth century
as the name of the resin obtained in Mexico from the American
species, now L. styraciflua. L. orientalis was not
known botanically until the middle of the last century, when it was
grown in Chelsea, Kew, and other botanical gardens from seed
brought from the Levant via Paris. It forms forests near Budrum,
Melasso, Moughla, Marmorizza and a few places near, but does not
appear to be found wild in any other district. The genus
Liquidambar is very similar to that of Platanus, and
this species to L. styraciflua.
Styrax officinale has been proved to be the source of
the solid Storax of the Ancients, which was always scarce and
valuable, and is now never found in commerce, though it is probable
that the cultivated S. officinale of Europe is capable of
yielding Storax. Storax appears to be a pathological rather than a
physiological product; when the young wood is injured, oil-ducts
are formed in which the Storax is produced. Its extraction is
chiefly carried on by a tribe of wandering Turcomans called Yuruks.
The outer bark of the tree is removed, the inner bark is stripped
off and thrown into pits until a sufficient quantity has been
collected. It is then packed in strong, horse-hair bags and pressed
in a wooden press. After removal, hot water is thrown on the bags,
which are pressed a second time, when the greater part of the
balsam will be extracted. Another account says that the bark is
first boiled in water in a large copper over a brick fire, by which
process the balsam is separated, and can then be skimmed off. The
boiled bark is then put into bags over which hot water is thrown,
and submitted to pressure as described above, by which an
additional quantity of balsam (Yagh, or oil) is obtained. In either
mode of procedure the product is the semi-liquid, opaque substance
called Liquid Storax. This is chiefly forwarded in barrels to
Constantinople, Smyrna, Syria and Alexandria; some to Smyrna, in
goat-skins, with a certain proportion of water; thence it is
forwarded to Trieste in barrels. Much goes to Bombay for India and
China, but little comes to the United States or Britain. Liquid
Storax is known in the East as Rosemalloes or Rosemalles. The
residual bark left after the extraction of the balsam constitutes
the fragrant, leaf-like cakes known as Cortex Thymiamatis,
Cortex Thuris and Storax Bark.
The quality of Storax now on the market appears to be much
inferior to that of a few years ago, and is usually much
adulterated. As imported, Liquid Storax is a soft, viscid, opaque
substance, about the consistence of honey, of a greyish-brown
colour, and containing a variable quantity of water, which, after
it has been allowed to stand for a time, floats on the surface. It
has an agreeable, balsamic odour, though, when fresh, this is a
little contaminated by naphthalin or bitumen. Its taste is burning,
pungent, and aromatic.
The Prepared Storax is obtained from Liquid Storax by means of
rectified spirit and straining. It is then described officially as
'a semi-transparent, brownish-yellow, semifluid balsam, of the
consistence of thick honey, agreeable fragrance, and aromatic,
bland taste.' The odour is slightly less agreeable than that of the
balsam of Peru. It is imported in jars holding 14 lb.
---Constituents---The most abundant constituent of
Storax is Storesin, in two forms,called alpha and beta, both free
and in the form of a cinnamic ester. It is an amorphous substance,
melting at 168 degrees C. (334.4 degrees F.), and readily soluble
in petroleum benzin. Cinnamic esters of phenylprophyl, of ethyl, of
benzyl, and especially cinnamate of cinnamyl, the so-called
Styrasin, have also been observed. The yield of cinnamic acid
varies from 6 to 12 per cent, or even as much as 23 per cent of
crystallized cinnamic acid can be obtained.
Another analysis gives free cinnamic acid, vanillin, styrol,
styracin, cinnamic acid-ethyl ester, cinnamic acid-phenylprophyl
ester, and storesinol partly free and partly as cinnamic acid
Crude Storax contains from 1 to 9 per cent of matter insoluble
in alcohol, and up to 30 per cent of water. When purified, it is
brownish-yellow, viscous, and transparent in thin layers; entirely
soluble in alcohol (90 per cent) and in ether. Boiled with solution
of potassium chromate and sulphuric acid, it evolves an odour of
benzaldehyde. It loses not more than 5 per cent of its weight when
heated in a thin layer on a water-bath for one hour.
Owing to the demand for the cinnamic esters of Storax for
perfumery purposes, much of the commercial drug has been deprived
of these before it is put on the market.
---Medicinal Action and Uses---A stimulating expectorant
and feeble antiseptic, at present very seldom used except as a
constituent of the compound tincture of benzoin. Externally, mixed
with 2 or 3 parts of olive oil, it has been found a useful local
remedy in scabies. It has the same action as balsams of Tolu and
Peru and benzoin. It has been recommended as a remedy in
diphtheria, in pulmonic catarrhs, and as a substitute for South
American copaiba in gonorrhoea and leucorrhoea. Combined with
tallow or lard, it is valuable for many forms of skin disease, such
as ringworm, especially in children. The taste and smell of opium
is well concealed by the addition of Storax in pills, its fragrance
being used frequently also in ointments.
---Dosage---10 to 20 grains.
---Adulterations, Substitutes, Allied Balsams---L.
styraciflua, or Sweet Gum, the American variety, is sometimes
confused because its product, obtained by spontaneous exudation, is
often called Liquidambar, as well as Liquid Storax or copalm
balsam. It contains cinnamyl cinnamate, with ethyl, benzyl, and
other esters of cinnamic acid. Another of its products, obtained by
boiling the young branches, has also been confounded with Liquid
Storax, which it resembles. It is used in Texas for coughs. A syrup
of the bark is used for diarrhoea and dysentery in the Western
L. storesin is said to be known also in Eastern
Aromatic resins are also obtained in China from L.
Formosana, and in Java and Burma from L. Altingea
(Altingia excelsa), where the Storax-like substance varies
in colour from white to red.
Styrea reticulata and other species in Brazil have a
fragrant secretion similar to benzoin, which is used in churches as
The commonest adulterations are sawdust and
Botanical: Fragaria vesca (LINN.)
Family: N.O. Rosaceae
Medicinal Action and Uses
---Habitat---The whole of the Northern Hemisphere,
exclusive of the tropics.
---Description---The Wild Strawberry, a delicate,
thin-leaved plant, with small, scarlet berries, cone-shaped and
studded with tiny, brown 'seeds,' has a fragrance and flavour more
delicate even than the cultivated Strawberry. It chooses a slightly
sheltered position, and, being very small, considerable labour goes
to the collection of its fruit, which is much more used and
appreciated in France than in Great Britain.
1629 is the date assigned to
the introduction of the Scarlet Strawberry from Virginia, and the
earliest mention of the Strawberry in English writings is in a
Saxon plant list of the tenth century, and in 1265 the 'Straberie'
is mentioned in the household roll of the Countess of Leicester.
'Strabery ripe,' together with 'Gode Peascode' and 'Cherrys in the
ryse,' were some of the London cries mentioned by Lydgate in the
fifteenth century. Ben Jonson, in a play written in 1603, speaks
'A pot of Strawberries
gathered in the wood
To mingle with your
The common idea that the word Strawberry is derived from the
habit of placing straw under the cultivated plants when the berries
are ripening is quite erroneous. The name is older than this
custom, and preserves the obsolete preterit 'straw' of the verb 'to
strew,' referring to the tangle of vines with which the Strawberry
covers the ground.
---Constituents---Cissotanic, malic, and citric acids,
sugar, mucilage and a peculiar volatile aromatic body
Bacon found in the odour of the dying leaves 'a most excellent
cordial smell,' next in sweetness to the muskrose and
---Medicinal Action and Uses---Laxative, diuretic,
astringent. Both the leaves and the fruit were in early
pharmacopoeias, though the leaves were mostly used. The fruit
contains malic and citric acids, a volatile matter, sugar,
mucilage, pectin, woody fibre and water. It is easily digested and
is not subject to acetous fermentation in the stomach. In feverish
conditions the fruit is invaluable, and is also recommended for
stone. Strawberry vitamins are of value in sprue. Culpepper
declares the plant to be 'singularly good for the healing of many
ills,' but Linnaeus was the first to discover and prove the
efficacy of the berries as a cure for rheumatic gout.
The root is astringent and used in diarrhoea. The leaves have
the same property, and a tea made from them checks dysentery. The
stalks only entered into the composition of the once-famous Antioch
drink and vulnerary. Some recipes order that the drink should be
prepared between the feasts of St. Philip and St. James and the
Nativity of St. John the Baptist.
The Strawberry is a useful dentifrice and cosmetic. The fresh
fruit removes discoloration of the teeth if the juice is allowed
toremain on for about five minutes and the teeth are then cleansed
with warm water, to which a pinch of bicarbonate of soda has been
added. A cut Strawberry rubbed over the face immediately after
washing will whiten the skin and remove slight sunburn. For a badly
sunburnt face it is recommended to rub the juice well into the
skin, to leave it on for half an hour, and then wash off with warm
water to which a few drops of simple tincture of benzoin have been
added; no soap should be used.
---Dosage---Infusion, 1 to 2
AN OLD RECIPE
'Gather strawberry leaves on Lamas Eve, press them in the
distillery until the aromatick perfume thereof becomes sensible.
Take a fat turkey and pluck him, and baste him, then enfold him
carefully in the strawberry leaves. Then boil him in water from the
well, and add rosemary, velvet flower, lavender, thistles, stinging
nettles, and other sweet-smelling herbs. Add also a pinte of canary
wine, and half a pound of butter and one of ginger passed through
the sieve. Sieve with plums and stewed raisins and a little salt.
Cover him with a silver dish cover.'
Botanical: Strophanthus Kombé (OLIV.)
Family: N.O. Apocynaceae
Medicinal Action and Uses
Poisonous, if any, with Antidotes
Varieties and Substiutions
---Synonyms---Strophanthus hispidus. Kombé Seeds.
---Part Used---Dried, ripe seeds, deprived of their
---Habitat---Tropical East Africa.
---Description---The name Strophanthus is derived
from the Greek strophos (a twisted cord or rope) and
anthos (a flower), thus expressing the chief peculiarity of
its appearance, the limb of the corolla being divided into five,
long, tail-like segments. The official description of the seeds is
'lance-ovoid, flattened and obtusely-edged; from 7 to 20 mm. in
length, about 4 mm. in breadth, and about 2 mm. in thickness;
externally of a light fawn colour with a distinct greenish tinge,
silky lustrous form, a dense coating of flat-lying hairs (S.
Kombé) or light to dark brown, nearly smooth, and sparingly
hairy (S. hispidus), bearing on one side a ridge running
from about the centre to the summit; fracture short and somewhat
soft, the fractured surface whitish and oily; odour heavy when the
seeds are crushed and moistened; taste very bitter.'
In Germany the seeds of S. hispidus are preferred
because of their guaranteed purity. This plant when growing alone
is in the form of a bush, but is usually found as a woody climber
inhabiting the forests between the coasts and the centre of the
African continent. It then reaches to the tops of the highest
trees, coiling on the ground and hanging in festoons from tree to
tree. The stem is several inches in diameter. The flowers are
creamcoloured, yellow at the base, purple-spotted
The British, French and Swiss officially favour S.
Kombé, while the United States Pharmacopoeia recognizes both.
There is a voluminous literature on the subject.
The seeds of all species of the genus possess hairs that have a
characteristic, thickened base, somewhat like those of nux vomica
seeds; those of several species are used for the preparation of
arrow poison in Africa, at Kombé in the Manganja country, in the
Gaboon district, and in Guinea and Senegambia. In Gaboon the poison
is called inée, onayé, or onage. Some of the poisons closely
resemble those of the genus Acocanthera, which are used for
a similar purpose. The plant yielding the arrow poison of Komb‚ was
first brought to Europe by Sir John Kirke, and described as a new
species by Oliver, of Kew, under the name of S. Kombé. In
preparing the arrow poison, the seeds, deprived of their hairs, are
pounded to a pulp, the adhesive sap of another plant is added, and
the mixture smeared for 6 inches along the point of the arrow. Game
wounded by such an arrow is said to be rarely able to move 100
yards, while the flesh can be eaten without bad
Strophanthus is found in commerce either in pods or as clean
seeds. It must be preserved in tightly-closed containers, adding a
few drops of chloroform or carbon tetrachloride from time to time,
to prevent attacks by insects.
The usual course for the qualitative examination has been found
insufficient, and a supplementary microscopical test is
recommended. The question of its relative variability of strength
as compared with digitalis is not definitely settled.
The seeds are reduced to powder with great difficulty. They are
sometimes bruised in an iron mortar with broken glass, after
As the active principle of Strophanthus is most abundant in the
seeds, but is also found in the husks and hairs, pharmaceutical
preparations of the drug should be made from the separated seeds,
while other parts may be employed for the manufacture of
---Constituents---A glucoside, Strophanthin, an
alkaloid, Inoeine, and fixed oil.
Sulphuric acid, diluted with one-fifth of its volume of water,
colours the endosperm, and sometimes the cotyledons, dark green
(presence of Strophanthin).
Herr Lampart and Müller received the Hagen Bucholz prize of the
German Apothecaries Society for the proposed assay method
following, based upon the preliminary extraction of the drug with
absolute alcohol, the removal of oil from the precolate with
petroleum ether, the conversion of the glucosides into
strophanthidin by boiling with hydrochloric acid, and the
subsequent extraction with chloroform, weighing, and calculating to
strophanthin by multiplying by the factor 2.187.
The strophanthins from different species were found to vary
somewhat in chemical composition, and Thoms proposes to name them
as follows: k-strophanthin when obtained from S.
Kombé, g-strophanthin when obtained from S.
gratus, e-strophanthin when obtained from S.
Emini, h-strophanthin when obtained from S.
g-strophanthin is the one appearing to be identical with
the glucoside Ouabain of Acocanthera.
Strophanthinum, a mixture of glucosides prepared from S.
Kombé, is a whitish, crystalline powder freely soluble in water
and giving a green coloration with sulphuric acid. Warmed with
dilute acids it is readily hydrolized into Strophanthidin and a
Great care must be used in tasting it, and then only in very
---Medicinal Action and Uses---The sole official use of
Strophanthus in medicine is for its influence on the circulation,
especially in cases of chronic heart weakness. As its action is the
same as that of digitalis, although more likely to cause digestive
disturbances (Many practitioners are of opinion that Strophanthus
does not cause digestive disturbances. - EDITOR), it is often
useful as an alternative or adjuvant to the drug. Believed to have
greater diuretic power, it is esteemed of greater value in cases
complicated with dropsies.
In urgent cases, the effects upon the circulation can be
obtained almost immediately by means of the intravenous injection
of its active principle. The hypodermic injection of Strophanthin
is not recommended, owing to the intense local irritation it
causes, and because of its strength it should be used with great
care and under medical direction.
---Dosages---Of Extractum Strophanthi of the B.P., from
1/4 to 1 grain. This extract takes the place of a solid preparation
and can be administered in pills and capsules, 1 grain being equal
to 5 minims of the United States tincture.
Of tincture of Strophanthus, B.P. and U.S.P., 5 to 15
Of Strophanthin, 1/200 of a grain.
The maximum daily dose should not exceed: For
g-strophanthin, intravenously, 1/64 grain; by mouth, 1/2
grain. For k-strophanthin, intravenously, 1/40 grain; by
mouth, 1/20 grain.
---Poisonous, if any, with Antidotes---The greatest
caution should always attend the use of strophanthin, though,
unlike digitalis, its effects are not cumulative.
---Varieties and Substitutions---There are twenty-eight
recognized species of the genus in Africa and Asia, extending to
China, the East Indies and the Philippines. The commercial drug is
often largely compounded of other than the recognized species, and
may contain the seeds of related varieties, especially those of
Kickxia (Funtumia) africana, which are
beardless and spindle-shaped. They turn brown, then red, instead of
green, when treated with concentrated sulphuric acid.
S. Kombé grows solely in East Africa, but the seeds from
different regions are often mixed before they are
S. hispidus, S. glabra, S. Emini, S.
courmontii (both var. Kerkii and var. Fallax),
S. gratus of Sierra Leone, and S. Nicholsoni, all
The two most mixed with the official drug before exportation
are those of S. gratus from the Senegal and Congo, where
S. hispidus is found, and which are recommended by some
authorities because easily recognized and yielding strophanthin
readily in crystalline form, and S. Thallone.
At present Strophanthus seeds
are less mixed than formerly. In 1892 the commercial seeds were
classified as follows:
1. The official products of
S. Kombé and S. hispidus, which contain strophanthin
and no crystals of calcium oxalate.
2. Those resembling the
official seeds, but coming from Mozambique and Sierra
3. Those containing calcium
oxalate crystals but no strophanthin (from Senegal Lagos, Niger,
German East Africa, Togoland, and Baol of Senegal).
4. A very hairy seed from the
Upper Niger, varying from a silky white to brown; the embryo
contains calcium oxalate crystals, but the seeds do not contain
5. Seeds said to be glabrous,
but having hairs in the region of the raphe, come from Lagos and
Zambesi and contain neither calcium oxalate crystals nor
Family: N.O. Anacardiaceae
The American Poison Ivy (Rhus Toxicodendron, Linn.) is
one of the species of Sumachs, an attractive group of plants widely
distributed in Europe, Asia and North America, varying much in
habit from low bushes to moderately-sized trees, many of them
familiar denizens of our gardens, for the sake of their ornamental
foliage, which assumes beautiful tints in autumn, some of the
varieties also bearing showy fruits.
Several species are of considerable importance, their value
being chiefly in their leaves and sap, and in the large galls that
are found on their leaves after they have been punctured by a tiny
insect. The so-called Chinese Galls, of an irregular shape and
astringent taste, which are imported into this country from China
for tanning purposes, are formed by the puncture of the leaves of
Rhus semialata, a species of aphis, and are of considerable
economic value, containing 70 to 80 per cent of gallotannic
Botanical: Rhus glabra (LINN.)
Family: N.O. Anacardiaceae
Medicinal Action and Uses
---Synonyms---Upland Sumach. Pennsylvania Sumach. Rhus
copallinum (Mountain Sumach). Rhus typhinum (Staghorn or Velvet
---Parts Used---Bark of branches and root, dried, ripe
berries, and exudation.
---Habitat---Almost all parts of the United States and
---Description---There are several varieties of the
plant, such as Rhus typhinum (Staghorn or Velvet Sumach),
the berries of which now often replace those of R. glabra
and R. copallinum (Mountain or Dwarf Sumach), and they
should be carefully distinguished from the poisonous species. The
non-poisonous have their fruit clothed with acid, crimson hairs,
and their panicles are compound, dense, and terminal; the poisonous
varieties have axillary panicles, and smooth fruit.
The flowers of R. glabra are greenish-red, and the fruit
grows in clusters of small berries. It is a shrub from 6 to 15 feet
high, with straggling branches and a pale-grey bark, sometimes
slightly red. It grows in thickets and waste places. The berries
should be gathered before the rain has removed their downy
covering, for they are no longer acid when this has been washed
off. They have a sour, astringent, not unpleasant taste, and are
eaten freely by the country people. Their powder is a
When broken on the plant, a milky fluid is exuded from both
bark and leaves, which forms later a solid gum-like
Excrescences are produced under the leaves containing
quantities of tannic and gallic acid. They have been used as a
substitute for imported Chinese galls, and found
The leaves, and, to a less extent, the bark, are largely used
in tanning leather and dyeing. This Sumach, for the manufacture of
extract for tanner's use, is largely cultivated in Virginia, where
the annual crop amounts to from 7,000 to 8,000 tons. The percentage
of tannin in Virginian Sumach varies from 16 to 25 per cent. That
in the European or Sicilian Sumach (R. coriaria) falls from
6 to 8 per cent below the percentage of the Virginian Sumach, yet
the European is preferred by tanners and dyers, since by its use it
is possible to make the finer, white leathers for gloves and fancy
The American product gives the leather a yellow colour,
apparently due to the presence of quercitrin and
Large quantities of a dark-red, semi-fluid, bitter, astringent
extract are prepared in Virginia from Sumach, and is said to
contain 25 to 30 per cent of tannin. It is used both in Europe and
America. An infusion of the berries affords an excellent black dye
for wool. A medicinal wine can also be prepared from
Oil of Rhus may be extracted from the seeds of this and other
species of the genus. It will attain a tallow-like consistency on
standing, and can be made into candles, which burn brilliantly,
though they emit a pungent smoke.
---Constituents---The berries contain free malic acid
and acid calcium malate coexist, with tannic and gallic acids,
fixed oil, extractive, red colouring matter, and a little volatile
oil. The active properties of both bark and berries yield to
---Medicinal Action and Uses---The bark is tonic,
astringent, and antiseptic; the berries refrigerant and
A strong decoction, or diluted fluid extract, affords an
agreeable gargle in angina, especially when combined with potassium
chlorate. Where tannin drugs are useful, as in diarrhoea, the fluid
extract is an excellent astringent.
The bark, in decoction or syrup, has been found useful in
gonorrhoea, leucorrhoea, diarrhoea, dysentery, hectic fever,
scrofula and profuse perspiration from debility. Combined with the
barks of slippery elm and white pine and taken freely, the
decoction is said to have been greatly beneficial in syphilis. As
an injection for prolapsus uteri and ani, and for leucorrhoea, and
as a wash in many skin complaints, the decoction is valuable. For
scald-head it can be simmered in lard, or the powdered root-bark
can be applied as a poultice to old ulcers, forming a good
A decoction of the inner bark of the root is helpful for the
sore-mouth resulting from mercurial salivation, and also for
internal use in mercurial diseases. A free use of the bark will
The berries may be used in infusion in diabetes, strangury
bowel complaints, and febrile diseases; also as a gargle in quinsy
and ulcerations of the mouth and throat, and as a wash for
ringworm, tetters, offensive ulcers, etc.
The astringent excrescences, when powdered and mixed with lard
or linseed oil, are useful in haemorrhoids.
The mucilagic exudation, if the bark be punctured in hot
weather, has been used advantageously in gleet and several urinary
---Dosages---Of the fluid extract of bark, 1 to 2
drachms. Of the fluid extract of berries, 1 to 2 drachms. Of the
decoction of bark, or infusion of berries, 1 to 4 fluid ounces.
Rhusin, 1 to 2 grains.
The following has been recommended for gonorrhoea: Take 1
scruple each of the exudation and Canada balsam. Form into a pill
mass with a sufficient quantity of powdered pokeroot, and divide
into 10 pills, of which 1 or 2 may be taken three or four times
Botanical: Rhus aromatica (AIT.)
Family: N.O. Anacardiaceae
Medicinal Action and Uses
This species of Sumach, usually growing about 4 feet high, was
introduced into England as an ornamental shrub in
The bark is used in tanning.
---Medicinal Action and Uses---The root-bark is
astringent and diuretic. Used in diabetes and excessive discharge
from kidneys and bladder. The wood exudes a peculiar odour and is
used by the Indians in Arizona, California and New Mexico for
Rhus Diversilobe (CALIFORNIAN POISON OAK).
---Medicinal Action and Uses---A tincture of the fresh
leaves is used for eczema and skin diseases.
The American species, R. venenata and R.
toxicodendron, produce effects imputed to the Upas-tree of
Java. The hands and arms, and sometimes even the whole body,
becomes greatly swollen from simply touching or carrying a branch
of one of these plants, and the swelling is accompanied with
intolerable pain and inflammation, ending in ulceration. Some
people, however, are able to handle the plants with impunity. R.
venenata, called the POISON SUMACH or POISON ELDER, is a tall
shrub with pinnate leaves composed of eleven or thirteen smoothish
From the sap of R. vernicifera, the VARNISH SUMACH or
Lacquer-tree of China and Japan, the varnish used in the
manufacture of the famous Japanese lacquer-ware is prepared. The
leaves and galls are also rich in tannin, and are used extensively
for tanning various kinds of leather, and the expressed oil of the
seed serves for candles. Japan Wax is obtained in Japan by
expression and heat, or by the action of solvents from the fruit of
another Sumach, R. succedanea. It consists almost entirely
of palmitin and free palmitic acid, and is not a true wax; it is
used in candlemaking, for adulterating white beeswax and in making
R. copallina, a North American tree, provides copal
resin, a transparent substance with a slight tinge of brown, which
when dissolved in any volatile liquid, generally in oil of
turpentine, forms one of the most perfect and beautiful of all the
varnishes (known by the name of Copal Varnish).
The VENETIAN SUMACH, R. cotinus, though a native of
Southern Europe, is so hardy a shrub as not to be injured by the
frost of our winters, and is a familiar plant in our gardens, being
cultivated for the very singular and ornamental appearance of its
elongated, feathery fruit-stalks, which, combined with its
blue-green leaves, have led to its common name of SMOKE PLANT. Both
root and stem have been used for dyeing a yellow, approaching to
orange, the colour obtained being, however, somewhat fugitive. The
leaves are largely used for tanning.
Sumac Yellow is obtained from the dried and powdered branches
of R. coriana, the ELM-LEAVED SUMACH, a shrub indigenous to
the Mediterranean region, where it is cultivated for dyeing yellow
and for tanningleather, the SICILIAN SUMACH being considered the
best quality. The shoots are cut down every year close to the root,
and after being dried are reduced to powder by means of a mill. An
infusion of this yields a fawn colour, bordering on green, which
may be improved by the judicious application of mordants. The
principal use, however, of Sumach in dyeing is the production of
black, by means of the large quantity of gallic acid which it
affords. The bark is used instead of the oak for tanning leather,
and it is said that all Turkey leather is tanned with this plant.
The leaves and seeds are used in medicine and are considered
astringent and styptic: the Tripoli merchants sell the seeds at
Aleppo, where they are used to provoke an appetite before meals.
The shrub is frequent in our gardens, retaining its dense clusters
of deep red, rough berries till winter, after the leaves have
fallen. It is quite hardy, and like most of the Sumachs is easily
propagated by seed.
Botanical: Ferula Sumbul (HOOK, F.)
Family: N.O. Umbelliferae
Medicinal Action and Uses
---Synonyms---Euryangium Musk Root. Jatamansi. Ouchi.
Ofnokgi. Sumbul Radix. Racine de Sumbul. Sumbulwurzel.
---Parts Used---Root and rhizome.
---Habitat---Turkestan, Russia, Northern
---Description---The plant reaches a height of 8 feet,
and has a solid, cylindrical, slender stem which gives rise to
about twelve branches. The root-leaves are 2 1/2 feet long,
triangular in outline, while the stem-leaves rapidly decrease in
size until they are mere sheathing bracts. The pieces of root, as
met with in commerce, are from 1 to 3 inches in diameter and 3/4 to
1 inch in thickness. They are covered on the outside with a
duskybrown, papery, transversely-wrinkled cork, sometimes fibrous;
within they are spongy, coarsely fibrous, dry, and dirty
yellowishbrown, with white patches and spots of resin. The odour is
strong and musk-like, the taste bitter and aromatic.
Sumbul - a Persian and Arabic word applied to various
roots - was discovered in 1869 by the Russian Fedschenko, in the
mountains south-east of Samarkand near the small town of
Pentschakend on the River Zarafshan, at an elevation of 3,000 to
4,000 feet. A root was sent to the Moscow Botanical Gardens, and in
1872 two were sent from there to Kew, one arriving alive. In 1875
the plant died after flowering. The genus Euryangium (i.e.
'broad reservoir') was based by Kauffmann on the large, solitarv
dorsal vittae, or oil tubes, which are filled with a quantity of
latex - the moisture surounding the stigma - which pours out freely
when a section is made, smelling strongly of musk, especially if
treated with water, but they almost disappear in ripening, making
the plant difficult to classify.
The root has long been used in Persia and India medicinally and
as incense in religious ceremonies.
The physicians of Moscow and Petrograd were the first to employ
it on the Continent of Europe, and Granville first introduced it to
Great Britain and the United States.
The root of Ferula suaveolens, having only a faint,
musky odour, is one of the species exported from Persia to Bombay
by the Persian Gulf. It is the Sambul Root of commerce which
differs from the original drug, being apparently derived from a
different species of Ferula than that officially
The recognized source in the United States Pharmacopceia is
F. Sumbul (Hooker Fil.). False Sumbul is the root of
Dorema Ammoniacum; it is of closer texture, denser, and more
firm, of a red or yellow tinge and feeble odour.
---Constituents---Volatile oil, two balsamic resins, one
soluble in alcohol and one in ether; wax, gum, starch, a bitter
substance soluble in water and alcohol, a little angelic and
valeric acid. The odour seems to be connected with the balsamic
resins. The volatile oil has a bitter taste like peppermint, and on
dry distillation yields a bluish oil containing umbelliferone. A
1916 analysis shows moisture, starch, pentrosans, crude fibre,
protein, dextrin, ash, sucrose, reducing sugar, volatile oil and
resins. Alkaioids were not detected. The volatile oil did not show
the presence of sulphur. Both betaine and umbelliferon were
detected. In the resin, vanillic acid was identified and a
phytosterol was present. Among the volatile acids were acetic,
butyric, angelic and tiglic acid, and among the nonvolatile oleic,
linoleic, tiglic, cerotic, palmitic and stearic.
---Medicinal Action and Uses---Stimulant and
antispasmodic, resembling valerian in its action, and used in
various hysterical conditions. It is believed to have a specific
action on the pelvic organs, and is widely employed in
dysmenorrhoea and allied female disorders. It is also a stimulant
to mucous membranes, not only in chronic dysenteries and
diarrhoeas, but in chronic bronchitis, especially with asthmatic
tendency, and even in pneumonia.
Half an ounce of a tincture produced narcotic symptoms,
confusing the head, causing a tendency to snore even when awake,
and giving feelings of tingling, etc., with a strong odour of the
drug from breath and skin which only passed off after a day or
The tincture of 10 per cent Sumbul, with 2 volumes of alcohol
and 1 of water, is used as an antispasmodic and nervine. The fluid
extract, being superior, superseded the tincture. (Sumbul, in No.
30 powder, 1,000 grams, with a mixture of 4 volumes of alcohol and
1 of water as the menstruum.)
---Dosages---B.P., 1/2 to 1 drachm. Of fluid extract,
1/2 to 1 fluid drachm. Of extract ofSumbul or Muskroot, 2 to 5
grains. Solid extract, U.S.P., 4 grains.
Botanical: Drosera rotundifolia (LINN.)
Family: N.O. Droseraceae
Medicinal Action and Uses
---Synonyms---Dew Plant. Round-leaved Sundew. Red Rot.
Herba rosellae. Sonnenthau rosollis. Rosée du Soleil.
---Part Used---The flowering plant dried in the air,
---Habitat---Britain, and in many parts of Europe,
India, China, Cape of Good Hope, New Holland, North and South
America, Russian Asia.
---Description---This little insectivorous plant is
found growing in muddy edges of ponds, bogs and rivers, where the
soil is peaty. It is a small herbaceous, perennial, aquatic plant,
with short and slender fibrous root, from which grow the leaves.
These are remarkable for their covering of red glandular hairs, by
which they are readily recognized, apart from their flowers which
only open in the sunshine. Their leaves are orbicular on long
stalks, depressed, Iying flat on ground and have on upper surface
long red viscid hairs, each having a small gland at top, containing
a fluid, which looks like a dewdrop, hence its name. This secretion
is most abundant when the sun is at its height. Flower-stems erect,
slender, 2 to 6 inches high, at first coiled inward bearing a
simple raceme, which straightens out as flowers expand; these are
very small and white, appearing in summer and early autumn. Seeds
numerous, spindleshaped in a loose chaffy covering contained in a
capsule. These hairs are very sensitive, they curve inward slowly
and catch any insects which alight on them; the fluid on the points
also retains them. After an insect has been caught, the glandular
heads secrete a digestive fluid which dissolves all that can be
absorbed from the insect. It has been noted that secretion does not
take place when inorganic substances are imprisoned.
---Constituents---The juice is bitter, acrid, caustic,
odourless, yielding not more than 30 per cent ash, and contains
citric and malic acids.
---Medicinal Action and Uses---Used with advantage in
whooping-cough, exerting a peculiar action on the respiratory
organs; useful in incipient phthisis, chronic bronchitis, asthma,
etc., the juice is said to take away corns and warts, and may be
used to curdle milk. In America it has been advocated as a cure for
old age; a vegetable extract is used together with colloidal
silicates in cases of arterio sclerosis.
---Dosages---2 fluid drachms of the saturated tincture
added to 4 fluid drachms of water or wine and a teaspoonful taken
for a dose. Fluid extract, 10 to 20 drops. Solid extract, 2 to 5
Botanical: Helianthus annuus
Family: N.O. Compositae
Sunflower-seeds as Poultry and Cattle
Sunflower Plants as Green Food
As Fuel. As Source of Potash for Manure
As Soil Improver
A Bee Plant
Medicinal Actin and Uses
---Synonyms---Marigold of Peru. Corona Solis. Sola
Indianus. Chrysanthemum Peruvianum.
The common Sunflower is a native of Mexico and Peru, introduced
into this country in the sixteenth century and now one of our most
familiar garden plants.
It is an annual herb, with a rough, hairy stem, 3 to 12 feet
high, broad, coarselytoothed, rough leaves, 3 to 12 inches long,
and circular heads of flowers, 3 to 6 inches wide in wild specimens
and often a foot or more in cultivation. The flower-heads are
composed of many small tubular flowers arranged compactly on a
flattish disk: those in the outer row have long strap-shaped
corollas, forming the rays of the composite flower.
The genus Helianthus, to which the Sunflower belongs,
contains about fifty species, chiefly natives of North America;
many are indigenous to the Rocky Mountains, others to tropical
America, and a few species are found in Peru and
They are tall, hardy, annual or perennial herbs, several of
which are grown in gardens, being of easy cultivation in moderately
good soil, and that useful plant of the kitchen garden, the
Jerusalem Artichoke (Helianthus tuberosus), is also a member
of the genus.
The name Helianthus, being derived from helios
(the sun) and anthos (a flower), has the same meaning as the
English name Sunflower, which it is popularly supposed has been
given these flowers from a supposition that they follow the sun by
day, always turning towards its direct rays. But since the word
'Sunflower' existed in English literature before the introduction
of H. annuus, or at any rate before its general diffusion in
English gardens, it is obvious that some other flower must have
been intended. The Marigold (Calendulu officinalis) is
considered by Dr. Prior to have been the plant described by Ovid as
turning to the sun, likewise the solsaece of the
Anglo-Saxon, a word equivalent to solsequium
(sun-following). The better explanation for the application of the
name to a flower is its resemblance to 'the radiant beams of the
In Peru, this flower was much reverenced by the Aztecs, and in
their temples of the Sun, the priestesses were crowned with
Sunflowers and carried them in their hands. The early Spanish
conquerors found in these temples numerous representations of the
Sunflower wrought in pure gold.
In some of the old Herbals we find the Rock-rose
(Helianthemum vulgare) also termed Sunflower, its flowers
opening only in the sunshine. The so-called 'Pigmy sunflower' is
Actinella grandiflora, a pretty perennial 6 to 9 inches
high, from the Colorado mountains.
The Sunflower is valuable from an economic, as well as
from an ornamental point of view. Every part of the plant may be
utilized for some economic purpose. The leaves form a
cattle-food and the stems contain a fibre which may be used
successfully in making paper. The seed is rich in oil, which
is said to approach more nearly to olive oil than any other
vegetable oil known and to be largely used as a substitute. In
prewar days, Sunflower seed was sometimes grown in this country,
especially on sewage farms, as an economical crop for pheasants, as
well as poultry. The flowers contain a yellow
One of the many effects of the War in its relation to
agriculture was the increase in the use of the
It forms one of the well-known crops in Russia, Spain, France,
Germany, Italy, Egypt, India, Manchuria and Japan. The average acre
will produce about 50 bushels of merchantable seeds, and each
bushel yields approximately 1 gallon of oil, for which there is a
whole series of important uses.
The oil is produced mainly in Russia, but to an increasing
extent also in Roumania, Hungary, Bulgaria and Poland. In 1913 some
180,000 tons of oil were produced, practically all of which was
The oil pressed from the seeds is of a citron yellow colour and
a sweet taste and is considered equal to olive oil or almond oil
for table use. The resulting oil-cake when warm pressed, yields a
less valuable oil which is used largely for technical purposes,
such as soap-making, candle-making and in the art of wool-dressing.
As a drying oil for mixing paint, it is equal to linseed oil and is
unrivalled as a lubricant.
The residue after the oil is expressed forms an important
cattle-food. This oil-cake is relished by sheep, pigs, pigeons,
rabbits and poultry.
The seed makes excellent chicken-food and feeding fowls on
bruised Sunflower seeds is well known to increase their laying
The seeds of the large-seeded varieties are also much liked by
Russians and are sold in the street as are chestnuts in this
country. Big bowls of Sunflower seeds are to be seen in the
restaurants of railway stations, for people to eat. Indian natives
are also fond of the seeds.
Roasted in the same manner as coffee, they make an agreeable
drink, and the seeds have been used in Portugal and Russia to make
a wholesome and nutritious bread.
The pith of the sunflower stalk is the lightest substance
known; its specific gravity is 0.028, while that of the Elder is
0.09 and of Cork 0.24. The discovery of the extreme lightness of
the pith of the stalk has essentially increased the commercial
value of the plant. This light cellular substance is now carefully
removed from the stalks and applied to a good many important uses,
chiefly in the making of life-saving appliances. The pith has been
recommended for moxa, owing to the nitre its contains.
---Chemical Constituents---The black-seeded variety
yield between 50 and 60 per cent of the best grade of
The oil has a specific gravity of from 0.924 to 0.926,
solidifies at 5 degrees F., is slightly yellowish, limpid, of a
sweetish taste and odourless. It dries slowly and forms one of the
best burning oils known, burning longer than any other vegetable
Ludwig and Kromayer obtained a tannin which they called
Helianthitanic acid, and gave it the formula Cl4H9O8. On boiling
with moderately diluted hydrochloric acid, they obtained a
fermentable sugar and a violet colouring matter. E. Diek found only
small quantities of Inulin, large quantities of Levulin and a
All parts of the plant contain much carbonate of
---Extraction---For the extraction of the oil, the seeds
are bruised, crushed and ground to meal in a five-roller mill,
under chilled iron or steel cylinders. The meal, after being packed
in bags, is placed in hydraulic presses, under a pressure of 300
atmospheres or more, and allowed to remain under pressure for about
seven minutes. All edible oils are thus obtained and are known in
commerce as 'cold-drawn oils' or 'cold pressed oils.' As a
preliminary operation, the seeds are freed from dust, sand and
other impurities by sifting in an inclined revolving cylinder or
sieving machine, covered with woven wire, having meshes varying
according to the size and nature of the seeds operated upon. This
preliminary purification is of the greatest importance. The seeds
are then passed through a hopper over the rollers, which are finely
grooved, so that the seed is cut up whilst passing in succession
between the first and second rollers in the series, then between
the second and the third, and so on to the last, when the grains
are sufficiently bruised, crushed and ground. The distance between
the rollers can be easily regulated, so that the seed leaving the
bottom roller Las the desired fineness. The resulting more or less
coarse meal is either expressed in this state, or subjected to a
preliminary heating, according to the quality of the product to be
manufactured. The oil exuding in the cold dissolves the smallest
amount of colouring matter, etc., and hence has suffered least in
By pressing in the cold, only part of the oil or fat is
recovered. A further quantity is obtained by pressing the seed meal
at a somewhat elevated temperature, reached by warming the crushed
seeds either immediately after they leave the five-roller mill, or
after the 'cold-drawn oil' has been taken off. The cold pressed
cakes are first disintegrated, generally under an edge-runner. This
oil is of a second-grade quality.
Vertical hydraulic presses are at present almost exclusively in
use, the AngloAmerican type of press being most employed. It
represents an open press, fitted with a number (usually sixteen) of
iron press plates, between which the cakes are inserted by hand. A
hydraulic ram then forces the table carrying the cakes against a
press-head and the exuding oil flows down the sides into a tank
According to the care exercised by the manufacturer in the
range of temperature to which the seed is heated, various grades of
oils are obtained.
---Cultivation---In growing crops of the Sun flower,
various methods of planting andspacing are recommended in different
countries. It is best, says a scientific American authority, to
plant in rows running north and south, the seeds to be placed 9
inches apart, in rows 30 inches apart.
But in this country, instead of sowing in the open, the most
successful growers sow in boxes, or singly in pots under glass,
afterwards planting the seedlings out in ground that has been well
prepared and enriched with manure. Not that rich soil is essential,
practically any kind of soil is suitable so long as it is open to
sun and light and splendid returns of seed have been obtained from
waste land without any preparation beyond digging the
A well-tilled soil is, however, desirable for successful
Sunflower cultivation, preferably with not too much clay in its
composition. It should be well ploughed in the autumn and harrowed
in the spring. A certain depth is necessary, as the roots will
spread from 12 inches to 15 inches in each direction.
In the latter years of the War, the Ministry of Food and the
Food Production Department supplied full information as to
cultivation and harvesting and undertook to purchase the ripened
seed in quantities of 1/2 cwt. and upwards: they were used in the
manufacture of margarine and other essential fats used in the
making of munitions.
The seed should be sown thinly in boxes in March and when the
plants have made three or four leaves, they should be potted off
into small pots and grown on if possible in gentle heat. Where no
heat is available, a cold frame is the next best thing. Provided
that frost can be excluded, a cool, unheated glasshouse may be
When established, they should be gradually hardened off for
planting out in May, after all danger of late spring frosts is
Suitable compost for seeds and potting off is: 1 part leaf
mould, 1 part sand, 2 parts loam. If this is not available, any
good garden soil will do and it need not be very finely sifted. The
seeds germinate readily and grow very rapidly.
Ordinary farmyard manure should be dug into the soil at the
rate of 3 cwt. per rod, as they are gross feeders. The Sunflower
plants should be planted 3 feet apart between the rows and 2 feet
from plant to plant in good soils, and slightly closer on poor
An application of superphosphate before or at the time of
planting, at the rate of 1 1/2 OZ. per square yard will encourage
early maturing of the seed.
It is of interest to note that the plant assimilates a large
quantity of potash and therefore it must not be planted in the same
soil the second year.
Seeds should not be sown in the open until late in
April, only a sunny border being chosen.
The Food Production Department advised cultivators who intended
growing largely for munitions to sow seed early in May, in drills 1
to 1 1/2 inch deep and stated the amount of seed required to be at
the rate of 1 OZ. to 8 rods, or 1 1/2 lb. per acre.
In exposed positions, the plants will require support and this
is best done by placing a good strong stake each end and one in
centre of row, and running a length of wire or thick string from
stake to stake and tying the plants to this loosely.
---Harvesting---No more attention will be needed until
the heads commence to ripen, when they should be looked to daily,
as the seed soon falls if left too long and also, as the seed
ripens, garden pests of the larger sort, birds and squirrels in
particular, are always troublesome.
Some growers prevent the loss caused by the attacks of birds to
whom the seeds are particularly attractive and by the shaking out
of the ripe seeds, by surrounding the heads with bags of rough
muslin, but this can only be done when growing on a small scale.
With a large plantation, scare away birds by any of the usual
It is, of course, impossible to say exactly when the harvesting
should commence. Everything depends upon climatic conditions. If
the weather is warm and dry, the best plan is to leave the plants
alone, so that the ripening process can be carried out naturally,
the heads being cut when about to shed their seeds. In a fine
autumn, Sunflower seed will ripen well in the open and the best
results are got when the seed can thus beallowed to
When the head shrivels and the seeds are ripe, cut the plants
at the ground level, standing them with their heads uppermost, like
shocks or sheaves of corn. When the heads are thoroughly dry, cut
them off and thresh out the remaining seeds by standing each head
on its side and hammering it with a mallet. Store the seeds in
bags, in a dry place.
If the weather is dull or wet, unfavourable for ripening of the
seed out-of-doors, hasten the ripening by cutting the plants at
ground level as soon as the seeds are plump.
Stand them shock-wise, if possible under cover, in a damp-proof
outside house, barn or room, and wind being as good a drying agent
as the sun, see that the store is well ventilated and leave windows
and doors wide open when the weather is propitious. When the heads
shrivel, cut them off and complete drying in a very slow oven.
Place the heads in single layers on the shelves of the oven in the
evening, leaving the door slightly open. Remove them when the fire
is made up in the morning and replace them in the
If a kiln or hop oast is available, it may be used for
finishing off the drying, but if the seeds are exposed to a high
temperature, they will be useless for next year's
The important things to remember are that the seeds are not
ready if they cannot be removed from the heads without difficulty,
and they will not keep very long if not dry when
In Russia, where Sunflowers are extensively grown for human
food the method adopted by the peasants for removing the seed from
the heads is interesting. A wooden disk is made, through which
nails are hammered in rows radiating from the centre. The disk is
attached to a handle and the seed-head is held in contact with the
nails when the disk is turned, with the result that the seed, which
is collected in sacks, is raked out very quickly. The disk is so
arranged that one man can hold the seed-head in position and at the
same time turn the handle to extract the seeds.
The Mammoth or Giant Sunflower, which comes from Russia and is
called the Russian Sunflower, is the best kind to grow, these being
nearly double the size of the ordinary variety. During the War, the
only seed available was the American Giant, which was said,
however, to be equal to the Russian.
The tall Mammoth Sunflower, bearing heads of an average width
of 15 inches, containing 2,000 seeds, yields about 50 bushels an
acre, producing 50 gallons of oil and about 150 lb. of oil-cake,
the stems giving 10 per cent of potash.
It has been estimated in Denmark, that the crops of one season
in that country would produce 2,000 tons of seed, yielding 350 tons
of oil, and about 1,550 tons of oil-cake and oil waste to be used
With the exception of Cambridgeshire, the Sunflower grows best
in England in the Southern and South-Western counties.
They have been proved to do best on deep, stony soil, and it is
an advantage to grow them where bees are kept, as they are much
visited by the honey-bee, fertilization of the flowers
---Sunflower-seeds as Poultry and Cattle
Food---Sunflower seeds have a high feeding value - the analysis
in round figures is 16 per cent albumen and 21 per cent
Being so rich in oil, they are too stimulating to use alone and
should only be used in combination with other feeding stuffs. Fed
with oats in equal quantities, they make a perfectly balanced
ration. Since both of these articles contain a big proportion of
indigestible matter, particularly in the husks, grit must on no
account be withheld, if the birds are to derive full
As food for laying poultry, it ought in the opinion of some
authorities, not to be used in excess of one-third of the total
mixture of corn, owing to its fat-producing
The seeds are palatable to poultry and greedily devoured by
them. A very common way to supply the birds with the seeds is to
hang up the ripe heads just high enough to compel the chicks to
pick them out, for when the heads are thrown into the yard, they
are trodden on and wasted.
Sunflower-seed oil-cake is a valuable article for bringing up
the feeding value of some of the poultry foods and was specially in
demand for this purpose in war-time, when the supply of good
cereals ran short. It is more fattening to cattle than Linseed
cake, being richer in nitrogenous substances, containing 34 per
cent albumen. As well as being an excellent food for poultry, and
also for rabbits, it keeps both horses and cattle in good
condition. It is said that cows, fed on Sunflower-seed oil-cake,
mixed with bran, will have an increased flow of good, rich
It is largely exported by Russia to Denmark, Sweden and
elsewhere for stock feeding.
---Sunflower Plants as Green Food---With Sun flowers
there need be little waste. Thegreen leaves, when gathered young,
make a good succulent green food for poultry stock of all ages.
They can be finely minced up and added - raw - to the mash for
young or adult stock, or they can be boiled and put in the soft
food. The leaves are much appreciated by rabbits, horses, cows and
The dried leaves can be rubbed up or reduced to a meal form and
be well scalded prior to inclusion in the mash, and the ripe seeds
can also be ground into a meal if desired.
---Litter---Even the stems and seedless heads need not
be wasted where fowls are kept. Many may prefer to use them as
fire-kindlers, but they will, when thoroughly dry, come in useful
as litter for the laying-houses. When dry, they can be passed
through a chaffcutting machine and be added to the other litter -
peat-moss or dried leaves. They need to be made into a scratchable
material for hens, but for ducks, the material can be placed deeply
in the house as a bedding. Ducks need litter to 'squat' on rather
than to scratch in.
---Silage---The value of the Giant Sunflower as a silage
crop is discussed in the March, 1918, number of The Journal of
Heredity, by F. B. Linfield, the Director of the Montana
Agricultural Station. Trials were made of this plant in the higher
valleys, where Beans and Maize were not well adapted, owing to the
uncertainty of their yield. In three successive years, the yield of
the Sunflower varied from 22 to 30 tons of green fodder per acre,
being about two and a half times that of Maize, and more than twice
as great as that of Lucerne, for the season. It had, moreover, the
advantage of so shading the ground as to keep all weeds under.
Feeding experiments were made with it, both as a green crop and as
silage. Cows were found to eat it as readily as Maize fodder, and
control experiments showed that the milk flow was maintained as
readily as with the latter crop; nor was there evidence of any
taint in the milk. A portion of the Sunflower fodder was put into
the silo and fed in the winter, both to cows and fattening steers,
with satisfactory results. It matures in the English climate better
than Maize, and, consequently, would not be so liable to become
sour in the silo and its relatively high oil content would probably
render it valuable.
Fuel. As Source of Potash for Manure--- Sunflowers, when the
stalks are dry, are as hard as wood and make an excellent
Those who undertake to grow Sunflowers should, however, bear in
mind that the ash obtained from the plants after the seed has been
harvested is, owing to its richness in potash, a manure of
considerable value, so that it is really wasteful to use up the dry
stems merely on the domestic fire; it is of more advantage to make
them up in heaps on the ground, burn them there and save the
At the time of cutting, strip off the leaves and feed them to
rabbits or poultry. When the stems are dry and after the seed crop
has been gathered, choose a fine day to burn both stems and empty
Of the ash obtained from burning the Sunflower stems and heads
(apart from seeds) 62 per cent consists of potash, and as an acre
of Sunflowers produces from 2,500 to 4,000 lb. of top, the total
yield of potash is considerable. Allowing 3,000 lb. of top, there
would be produced 160 lb. of ashes per acre of crop, which should
contain upwards of 50 lb. of potash.
The ash should either be spread at once or stored under cover;
if left exposed to rain, the potash will be washed away and the ash
rendered of little manurial value. It can be used with advantage
for the potato or other root crop in the following year, being
spread a little while before the crop is planted, at the rate of
from 1/2 to 1 OZ. to the square yard.
Soil Improver---The growing herb is extremely useful for drying
damp soils, because of its remarkable ability to absorb quantities
of water. Swampy districts in Holland have been made habitable by
an extensive culture of the Sunflower, the malarial miasma being
absorbed and nullified, whilst abundant oxygen is
---Textile Use---The Chinese grow this plant
extensively, and it is believed that a large portion of its fibre
is mixed with their silks.
Bee Plant---The Sunflower is a good bee plant, as it furnishes
hive bees with large quantities of wax and nectar.
Vegetable---The unexpanded buds boiled and served like
Artichokes form a pleasant dish.
---Medicinal Action and Uses---The seeds have diuretic
and expectorant properties and have been employed with success in
the treatment of bronchial, laryngeal and pulmonary affections,
coughs and colds, also in whooping cough.
The following preparation is recommended: Boil 2 OZ. of the
seeds in 1 quart of water, down to 12 OZ. and then strain. Add 6
OZ. of good Holland gin and 6 OZ. of sugar. Give in doses of 1 to 2
teaspoonsful, three or four times a day.
The oil possesses similar properties and may be given in doses
of 10 to 15 drops or more, two or three times a day.
A tincture of the Howers and leaves has been recommended in
combination with balsamics in the treatment of
The seeds, if browned in the oven and then made into an
infusion are admirable for the relief of whooping
Tincture of Helianthus has been used in Russia. Kazatchkoft
says that in the Caucasus the inhabitants employ the Sunflower in
malarial fever. The leaves are spread upon a bed covered with a
cloth, moistened with warm milk and then the patient is wrapped up
in it. Perspiration is produced and this process is repeated every
day until the fever has ceased.
A tincture prepared from the seed with rectified spirit of wine
is useful for intermittent fevers and ague, instead of quinine. It
has been employed thus in Turkey and Persia, where quinine and
arsenic have failed, being free from any of the inconveniences
which often arise from giving large quantities of the other
The leaves are utilized in herb tobaccos.
Botanical: Asclepias incarnata (LINN.)
Family: N.O. Asclepiadaceae
Medicinal Action and Uses
Preparations and Dosages
---Synonyms---Flesh-coloured Asclepias. Swamp Silkweed.
---Description---A herb growing in wet places, flowering
in the United States in July and August. Stem erect, smooth, with
two downy lines above, about 2 1/2 feet high, branched above, very
leafy; leaves opposite, petiolate, oblong, lanceolate, hairy,
acute, cordate at base, 4 to 7 inches long, 1 to 2 inches wide;
flowers rose-purple, fragrant, disposed in terminal-crowded umbels
two to six on a peduncle 2 inches long, consisting of ten to twenty
small flowers; pods smooth; rhizome oblong, 1 inch in diameter,
knotty, surrounded with rootlets, 4 to 6 inches long, yellow-brown
externally, white internally; bark thin, wood with fine medullary
The roots exudes a milky juice with a heavy odour, which is
lost in drying.
Solvents: Alcohol, water.
---Constituents---Asclepiadin (the emetic principle), an
alkaloid, two acrid resins, volatile oil, fixed oil, albumen,
starch, pectin and glucose.
---Medicinal Action and Uses---Emetic, diuretic,
anthelmintic, stomachic. Swamp Milkweed strengthens the heart in
the same way as digitalis and is a quick and certain diuretic. It
is given in dropsy as a diuretic in place of digitalis, also in
coughs, colds, rheumatism from cold, threatened inflammation of the
lungs. Also in diarrhoea, gastric catarrh, certain skin eruptions
of an erysipelatous nature and in asthma and dyspnoea.It may also
be used with advantage in the early stages of
It acts as a vermifuge in doses of 10 to 20 grams.
---Preparations and Dosages---Specific Swamp Milkweed, 1
to 20 minims. The infusion is made of 1/2 OZ. of the powdered root
to a pint of boiling water. Dose of the powder, 15 to 60
needs no description, it being known generally where it
Place : It grows frequently at Walden in Essex,
and in Cambridgeshire.
Government and virtues : It is an herb of the
Sun, and under the Lion, and therefore you need not demand a reason
why it strengthens the heart so exceedingly. Let not above ten
grains be given at one time, for the Sun, which is the fountain of
light, may dazzle the eyes and make them blind; a cordial being
taken in an immoderate quantity, hurts the heart instead of helping
it. It quickens the brain, for the Sun is exalted in Aries, as he
hath his house in Leo. It helps consumptions of the lungs, and
difficulty of breathing. It is excellent in epidemical diseases, as
pestilence, small-pox, and measles. It is a notable expulsive
medicine, and a notable remedy for the yellow jaundice. My opinion
is, (but I have no author for it) that hermodactyls are nothing
else but the roots of Saffron dried; and my reason is, that the
roots of all crocus, both white and yellow, purge phlegm as
hermodactyls do; and if you please to dry the roots of any crocus,
neither your eyes nor your taste shall distinguish them from
ordinary garden Sage needs no description.
Time : It flowers in or about July.
Government and virtues : Jupiter claims this, and
bids me tell you, it is good for the liver, and to breed blood. A
decoction of the leaves and branches of Sage made and drank, saith
Dioscorides, provokes urine, brings down women's courses, helps to
expel the dead child, and causes the hair to become black. It stays
the bleeding of wounds, and cleanses foul ulcers. Three spoonfuls
of the juice of Sage taken fasting, with a little honey, doth
presently stay the spitting or casting of blood of them that are in
a consumption. These pills are much commended: Take of spikenard,
ginger, of each two drams; of the seed of Sage toasted at the fire,
eight drams; of long pepper, twelve drams; all these being brought
into powder, put thereto so much juice of Sage as may make them
into a mass of pills, taking a dram of them every morning fasting,
and so likewise at night, drinking a little pure water after them.
Matthiolus saith, it is very profitable for all manner of pains in
the head coming of cold and rheumatic humours: as also for all
pains of the joints, whether inwardly or outwardly, and therefore
helps the falling-sickness, the lethargy such as are dull and heavy
of spirit, the palsy; and is of much use in all defluctions of
rheum from the head, and for the diseases of the chest or breast.
The leaves of Sage and nettles bruised together, and laid upon the
imposthume that rises behind the ears, doth assuage it much. The
juice of Sage taken in warm water, helps a hoarseness and a cough.
The leaves sodden in wine, and laid upon the place affected with
the palsy, helps much, if the decoction be drank. Also Sage taken
with wormwood is good for the bloody-flux. Pliny saith, it procures
women's courses, and stays them coming down too fast; helps the
stinging and biting of serpents, and kills the worms that breed in
the ear, and in sores. Sage is of excellent use to help the memory,
warming and quickening the senses; and the conserve made of the
flowers is used to the same purpose, and also for all the former
recited diseases. The juice of Sage drank with vinegar, hath been
of good use in time of the plague at all times. Gargles likewise
are made with Sage, rosemary, honey-suckles, and plantain, boiled
in wine or water, with some honey or allum put thereto, to wash
sore mouths and throats, cankers, or the secret parts of man or
woman, as need requires. And with other hot and comfortable herbs.
Sage is boiled to bathe the body and the legs in the Summer time,
especially to warm cold joints, or sinews, troubled with the palsy
and cramp, and to comfort and strengthen the parts. It is much
commended against the stitch, or pains in the side coming of wind,
if the place be fomented warm with the decoction thereof in wine,
and the herb also after boiling be laid warm
Descript : Wood-sage rises up with square hoary
stalks, two feet high at the least, with two leaves set at every
joint, somewhat like other Sage leaves, but smaller, softer,
whiter, and rounder, and a little dented about the edges, and
smelling somewhat stronger. At the tops of the stalks and branches
stand the flowers, on a slender like spike, turning themselves all
one way when they blow, and are of a pale and whitish colour,
smaller than Sage, but hooded and gaping like unto them. The seed
is blackish and round; four usually seem in a husk together: the
root is long and stringy, with divers fibres thereat, and abides
Place : It grows in woods, and by wood-sides; as
also in divers fields and bye-lanes in the land.
Time : It flowers in June, July, and
Government and virtues : The herb is under Venus.
The decoction of the Wood Sage provokes urine and women's courses.
It also provokes sweat, digests humours, and discusses swellings
and nodes in the flesh, and is therefore thought to be good against
the French pox. The decoction of the green herb, made with wine, is
a safe and sure remedy for those who by falls, bruises, or blows,
suspect some vein to be inwardly broken, to disperse and void the
congealed blood, and to consolidate the veins. The drink used
inwardly, and the herb used outwardly, is good for such as are
inwardly or outwardly bursten, and is found to be a sure remedy for
the palsy. The juice of the herb, or the powder thereof dried, is
good for moist ulcers and sores in the legs, and other parts, to
dry them, and cause them to heal more speedily. It is no less
effectual also in green wounds, to be used upon any
Descript : The common Solomon's Seal rises up
with a round stalk half a yard high, bowing or bending down to the
ground, set with single leaves one above another, somewhat large,
and like the leaves of the lily-convally, or May-lily, with an eye
of bluish upon the green, with some ribs therein, and more
yellowish underneath. At the foot of every leaf, almost from the
bottom up to the top of the stalk, come forth small, long, white
and hollow pendulous flowers, somewhat like the flowers of
May-lily, but ending in five long points, for the most part two
together, at the end of a long foot-stalk, and sometimes but one,
and sometimes also two stalks, and flowers at the foot of a leaf,
which are without any scent at all, and stand on the top of the
stalk. After they are past, come in their places small round
berries great at the first, and blackish green, tending to blueness
when they are ripe, wherein lie small, white, hard, and stony
seeds. The root is of the thickness of one's finger or thumb, white
and knotted in some places, a flat round circle representing a
Seal, whereof it took the name, lying along under the upper crust
of the earth, and not growing downward, but with many fibres
Place : It is frequent in divers places of this
land; as, namely in a wood two miles from Canterbury, by Fish-Pool
Hill, as also in Bushy Close belonging to the parsonage of
Alderbury, near Clarendon, two miles from Salisbury: in Cheffon
wood, on Chesson Hill, between Newington and Sittingbourne in Kent,
and divers other places in Essex, and other counties.
Time : It flowers about May. The root abides and
shoots a-new every year.
Government and virtues : Saturn owns the plant,
for he loves his bones well. The root of Solomon's Seal is found by
experience to be available in wounds, hurts, and outward sores, to
heal and close up the lips of those that are green, and to dry up
and restrain the flux of humours to those that are old. It is
singularly good to stay vomitings and bleeding wheresoever, as also
all fluxes in man or woman; also, to knit any joint, which by
weakness uses to be often out of place, or will not stay in long
when it is set; also to knit and join broken bones in any part of
the body, the roots being bruised and applied to the places; yea,
it hath been found by experience, and the decoction of the root in
wine, or the bruised root put into wine or other drink, and after a
night's infusion, strained forth hard and drank, hath helped both
man and beast, whose bones hath been broken by any occasion, which
is the most assured refuge of help to people of divers counties of
the land that they can have. It is no less effectual to help
ruptures and burstings, the decoction in wine, or the powder in
broth or drink, being inwardly taken, and outwardly applied to the
place. The same is also available for inward or outward bruises,
falls or blows, both to dispel the congealed blood, and to take
away both the pains and the black and blue marks that abide after
the hurt. The same also, or the distilled water of the whole plant,
used to the face, or other parts of the skin, cleanses it from
morphew, freckles, spots, or marks whatsoever, leaving the place
fresh, fair, and lovely; for which purpose it is much used by the
Descript : Rock Samphire grows up with a tender
green stalk about half a yard, or two feet high at the most,
branching forth almost from the very bottom, and stored with sundry
thick and almost round (somewhat long) leaves of a deep green
colour, sometimes two together, and sometimes more on a stalk, and
sappy, and of a pleasant, hot, and spicy taste. At the top of the
stalks and branches stand umbels of white flowers, and after them
come large seed, bigger than fennel seed, yet somewhat like it. The
root is great, white, and long, continuing many years, and is of an
hot and spicy taste likewise.
Place : It grows on the rocks that are often
moistened at the least, if not overflowed with the sea
Time : And it flowers and seeds in the end of
July and August.
Government and virtues : It is an herb of
Jupiter, and was in former times wont to be used more than now it
is; the more is the pity. It is well known almost to every body,
that ill digestions and obstructions are the cause of most of the
diseases which the frail nature of man is subject to; both which
might be remedied by a more frequent use of this herb. If people
would have sauce to their meat, they may take some for profit as
well as for pleasure. It is a safe herb, very pleasant both to
taste and stomach, helps digestion, and in some sort opening
obstructions of the liver and spleen: provokes urine, and helps
thereby to wash away the gravel and stone engendered in the kidneys
is by many called Butter-wort.
Descript : Ordinary Sanicle sends forth many
great round leaves, standing upon long brownish stalks, every one
somewhat deeply cut or divided into five or six parts, and some of
these also cut in somewhat like the leaf of crow's-foot, or
dove's-foot, and finely dented about the edges, smooth, and of a
dark shining colour, and somewhat reddish about the brims; from
among which arise up small, round green stalks, without any joint
or leaf thereon, saving at the top, where it branches forth into
flowers, having a leaf divided into three or four parts at that
joint with the flowers, which are small and white, starting out of
small round greenish yellow heads, many standing together in a
tuft, in which afterwards are the seeds contained, which are small
round burs, somewhat like the leaves of clevers, and stick in the
same manner upon any thing that they touch. The root is composed of
many blackish strings or fibres, set together at a little long
head, which abides with green leaves all the Winter, and perishes
Place : It is found in many shadowy woods, and
other places of this land.
Time : It flowers in June, and the seed is ripe
Government and virtues : This is one of Venus's
herbs, to cure the wounds or mischiefs Mars inflicts upon the body
of man. It heals green wounds speedily, or any ulcers, imposthumes,
or bleedings inward, also tumours in any part of the body; for the
decoction or powder in drink taken, and the juice used outwardly,
dissipates the humours: and there is not found any herb that can
give such present help either to man or beast, when the disease
falleth upon the lungs or throat, and to heal up putrid malignant
ulcers in the mouth, throat, and privities, by gargling or washing
with the decoction of the leaves and roots made in water, and a
little honey put thereto. It helps to stay women's courses, and all
other fluxes of blood, either by the mouth, urine, or stool, and
lasks of the belly; the ulcerations of the kidneys also, and the
pains in the bowels, and gonorrhea, being boiled in wine or water,
and drank. The same also is no less powerful to help any ruptures
or burstings, used both inwardly and outwardly. And briefly, it is
as effectual in binding, restraining, consolidating, heating,
drying and healing, as comfrey, bugle, self-heal, or any other of
the vulnerary herbs whatsoever.
SARACEN'S CONFOUND, OR SARACEN'S
Descript : This grows sometimes, with brownish
stalks, and other whiles with green, to a man's height, having
narrow green leaves snipped about the edges, somewhat like those of
the peachtree, or willow leaves, but not of such a white green
colour. The tops of the stalks are furnished with many yellow
star-like flowers, standing in green heads, which when they are
fallen, and the seed ripe, which is somewhat long, small and of a
brown colour, wrapped in down, is therefore carried away with the
wind. The root is composed of fibres set together at a head, which
perishes not in Winter, although the stalks dry away and no leaf
appears in the Winter. The taste hereof is strong and unpleasant;
and so is the smell also.
Place : It grows in moist and wet grounds, by
wood-sides, and sometimes in moist places of shadowy groves, as
also by the water side.
Time : It flowers in July, and the seed is soon
ripe, and carried away with the wind.
Government and virtues : Saturn owns the herb,
and it is of a sober condition, like him. Among the Germans, this
wound herb is preferred before all others of the same quality.
Being boiled in wine, and drank, it helps the indisposition of the
liver, and freeth the gall from obstructions; whereby it is good
for the yellow jaundice and for the dropsy in the beginning of it,
for all inward ulcers of the reins, mouth or throat, and inward
wounds and bruises, likewise for such sores as happen in the privy
parts of men and women; being steeped in wine, and then distilled,
the water thereof drank, is singularly good to ease all gnawings in
the stomach, or other pains of the body, as also the pains of the
mother: and being boiled in water, it helps continual agues; and
the said water, or the simple water of the herb distilled, or the
juice or decoction, are very effectual to heal any green wound, or
old sore or ulcer whatsoever, cleansing them from corruption, and
quickly healing them up. Briefly, whatsoever hath been said of
bugle or sanicle, may be found herein.
Descript : The lower leaves of this are rounder
than those that grow towards the top of the stalks, and are set
singly on a joint being somewhat round and broad, pointed at the
ends, dented also about the edges, somewhat resembling nettle
leaves for the form, but of a fresher green colour, not rough or
pricking. The flowers are white, growing at the top of the stalks
one above another, which being past, follow small round pods,
wherein are contained round seed somewhat blackish. The root
stringy and thready, perishes every year after it hath given seed,
and raises itself again of its own sowing. The plant, or any part
thereof, being bruised, smells of garlic, but more pleasantly, and
tastes somewhat hot and sharp, almost like unto
Place : It grows under walls, and by hedge-sides,
and path-ways in fields in many places.
Time : It flowers in June, July, and
Government and virtues : It is an herb of
Mercury. This is eaten by many country people as sauce to their
salt fish, and helps well to digest the crudities and other corrupt
humours engendered thereby. It warms also the stomach, and causes
digestion. The juice thereof boiled with honey is accounted to be
as good as hedge mustard for the cough, to cut and expectorate the
tough phlegm. The seed bruised and boiled in wine, is a singularly
good remedy for the wind colic, or the stone, being drank warm. It
is also given to women troubled with the mother, both to drink, and
the seed put into a cloth, and applied while it is warm, is of
singularly good use. The leaves also, or the seed boiled, is good
to be used in clysters to ease the pains of the stone. The green
leaves are held to be good to heal the ulcers in the
WINTER AND SUMMER
are so well known (being entertained as constant inhabitants in our
gardens) that they need no description.
Government and virtues : Mercury claims dominion
over this herb, neither is there a better remedy against the colic
and iliac passion, than this herb; keep it dry by you all the year,
if you love yourself and your ease, and it is a hundred pounds to a
penny if you do not; keep it dry, make conserves and syrups of it
for your use, and withal, take notice that the Summer kind is the
best. They are both of them hot and dry, especially the Summer
kind, which is both sharp and quick in taste, expelling wind in the
stomach and bowels, and is a present help for the rising of the
mother procured by wind; provokes urine and women's courses, and is
much commended for women with child to take inwardly, and to smell
often unto. It cures tough phlegm in the chest and lungs, and helps
to expectorate it the more easily; quickens the dull spirits in the
lethargy, the juice thereof being snuffed up into the nostrils. The
juice dropped into the eyes, clears a dull sight, if it proceed of
thin cold humours distilled from the brain. The juice heated with
the oil of Roses, and dropped into the ears, eases them of the
noise and singing in them, and of deafness also. Outwardly applied
with wheat flour, in manner of a poultice, it gives ease to the
sciatica and palsied members, heating and warming them, and takes
away their pains. It also takes away the pains that come by
stinging of bees, wasps, &c.
describe a plant so well known is needless, it being nursed up
almost in every garden, and abides green all the
Government and virtues : It is under the dominion
of Mars, being hot and dry in the third degree, and being of
exceeding clean parts, is of a very digesting quality. If you dry
the herb into powder, and mix it with honey, it is an excellent
remedy to cleanse old filthy ulcers and fistulas; but it hinders
them from healing. The same is excellently good to break carbuncles
and plague-sores; also helps the king's evil, being applied to the
place. Being spread over a piece of leather, and applied to the
navel, kills the worms in the belly, helps scabs and itch, running
sores, cankers, tetters, and ringworms; and being applied to the
place, may haply cure venereal sores. This I thought good to speak
of, as it may be safely used outwardly, for inwardly it cannot be
taken without manifest danger.
THE COMMON WHITE
Descript : This hath a few small reddish kernels
of roots covered with some skins, lying among divers small blackish
fibres, which send forth divers round, faint or yellow green
leaves, and greyish underneath, lying above the grounds, unevenly
dented about the edges, and somewhat hairy, every one upon a little
foot-stalk, from whence rises up round, brownish, hairy, green
stalks, two or three feet high, with a few such like round leaves
as grow below, but smaller, and somewhat branched at the top,
whereon stand pretty large white flowers of five leaves a-piece,
with some yellow threads in the middle, standing in a long crested,
brownish green husk. After the flowers are past, there arises
sometimes a round hard head, forked at the top, wherein is
contained small black seed, but usually they fall away without any
seed, and it is the kernels or grains of the root which are usually
called the White Saxifrage-seed, and so used.
Place : It grows in many places of our land, as
well in the lowermost, as in the upper dry corners of meadows, and
grassy sandy places. It used to grow near Lamb's conduit, on the
backside of Gray's Inn.
Time : It flowers in May, and then gathered, as
well for that which is called the seed, as to distil, for it
quickly perishes down to the ground when any hot weather
Government and virtues : It is very effectual to
cleanse the reins and bladder, and to dissolve the stone engendered
in them, and to expel it and the gravel by urine; to help the
stranguary; for which purpose the decoction of the herb or roots in
white wine, is most usual, or the powder of the small kernelly
root, which is called the seed, taken in white wine, or in the same
decoction made with white wine, is most usual. The distilled water
of the whole herb, root and flowers, is most familiar to be taken.
It provokes also women's courses, and frees and cleanses the
stomach and lungs from thick and tough phlegm that trouble them.
There are not many better medicines to break the stone than
Descript : The greater sort of our English Burnet
Saxifrage grows up with divers long stalks of winged leaves, set
directly opposite one to another on both sides, each being somewhat
broad, and a little pointed and dented about the edges, of a sad
green colour. At the top of the stalks stand umbels of white
flowers, after which come small and blackish seed. The root is long
and whitish, abiding long. Our lesser Burnet Saxifrage hath much
finer leaves than the former, and very small, and set one against
another, deeply jagged about the edges, and of the same colour as
the former. The umbels of the flowers are white, and the seed very
small, and so is the root, being also somewhat hot and quick in
Place : These grow in moist meadows of this land,
and are easy to be found being well sought for among the grass,
wherein many times they lay hid scarcely to be
Time : They flower about July, and their seed is
ripe in August.
Government and virtues : They are both of them
herbs of the Moon. The Saxifrages are hot as pepper; and Tragus
saith, by his experience, that they are wholesome. They have the
same properties the parsleys have, but in provoking urine, and
causing the pains thereof, and of the wind and colic, are much more
effectual, the roots or seed being used either in powder, or in
decoctions, or any other way; and likwise helps the windy pains of
the mother, and to procure their courses, and to break and void the
stone in the kidneys, to digest cold, viscous, and tough phlegm in
the stomach, and is an especial remedy against all kind of venom.
Castoreum being boiled in the distilled water thereof, is
singularly good to be given to those that are troubled with cramps
and convulsions. Some do use to make the seeds into comfits (as
they do carraway seeds) which is effectual to all the purposes
aforesaid. The juice of the herb dropped into the most grievous
wounds of the head, dries up their moisture, and heals them
quickly. Some women use the distilled water to take away freckles
or spots in the skin or face; and to drink the same sweetened with
sugar for all the purposes aforesaid.
SCABIOUS, THREE SORTS
Descript : Common field Scabious grows up with
many hairy, soft, whitish green leaves, some whereof are very
little, if at all jagged on the edges, others very much rent and
torn on the sides, and have threads in them, which upon breaking
may be plainly seen; from among which rise up divers hairy green
stalks, three or four feet high, with such like hairy green leaves
on them, but more deeply and finely divided and branched forth a
little. At the tops thereof, which are naked and bare of leaves for
a good space, stand round heads of flowers, of a pale blueish
colour, set together in a head, the outermost whereof are larger
than the inward, with many threads also in the middle, somewhat
flat at the top, as the head with the seed is likewise; the root is
great, white and thick, growing down deep into the ground, and
abides many years.
another sort of Field Scabious different in nothing from the
former, but only it is smaller in all respects.
Scabious differs little from the first, but that it is greater in
all respects, and the flowers more inclining to purple, and the
root creeps under the upper crust of the earth, and runs not deep
into the ground as the first doth.
Place : The first grows more usually in meadows,
especially about London every where.
in some of the dry fields about this city, but not so plentifully
as the former.
in standing corn, or fallow fields, and the borders of such like
Time : They flower in June and July, and some
abide flowering until it be late in August, and the seed is ripe in
the mean time.
many other sorts of Scabious, but I take these which I have here
described to be most familiar with us. The virtues of both these
and the rest, being much alike, take them as follow.
Government and virtues : Mercury owns the plant.
Scabious is very effectual for all sorts of coughs, shortness of
breath, and all other diseases of the breast and lungs, ripening
and digesting cold phlegm, and other tough humours, voids them
forth by coughing and spitting. It ripens also all sorts of inward
ulcers and imposthumes; pleurisy also, if the decoction of the herb
dry or green be made in wine, and drank for some time together.
Four ounces of the clarified juice of Scabious taken in the morning
fasting, with a dram of mithridate, or Venice treacle, frees the
heart from any infection of pestilence, if after the taking of it
the party sweat two hours in bed, and this medicine be again and
again repeated, if need require. The green herb bruised and applied
to any carbuncle or plague sore, is found by certain experience to
dissolve and break it in three hours space. The same decoction also
drank, helps the pains and stitches in the side. The decoction of
the roots taken for forty days together, or a dram of the powder of
them taken at a time in whey, doth (as Matthiolus saith)
wonderfully help those that are troubled with running or spreading
scabs, tetters, ringworms, yea, although they proceed from the
French pox, which, he saith he hath tried by experience. The juice
or decoction drank, helps also scabs and breakings-out of the itch,
and the like. The juice also made up into an ointment and used, is
effectual for the same purpose. The same also heals all inward
wounds by the drying, cleansing and healing quality therein. And a
syrup made of the juice and sugar, is very effectual to all the
purposes aforesaid, and so is the distilled water of the herb and
flowers made in due season, especially to be used when the green
herb is not in force to be taken. The decoction of the herb and
roots outwardly applied, doth wonderfully help all sorts of hard or
cold swellings in any part of the body, is effectual for shrunk
sinews or veins, and heals green wounds, old sores, and ulcers. The
juice of Scabious, made up with the powder of Borax and Samphire,
cleanses the skin of the face, or other parts of the body, not only
from freckles and pimples, but also from morphew and leprosy; the
head washed with the decoction, cleanses it from dandriff, scurf,
sores, itch, and the like, used warm. The herb bruised and applied,
doth in a short time loosen, and draw forth any splinter, broken
bone, arrow head, or other such like thing lying in the
Descript : The ordinary English Scurvygrass hath
many thick flat leaves, more long than broad, and sometimes longer
and narrower; sometimes also smooth on the edges, and sometimes a
little waved; sometimes plain, smooth and pointed, of a sad green,
and sometimes a blueish colour, every one standing by itself upon a
long foot-stalk, which is brownish or greenish also, from among
which arise many slender stalks, bearing few leaves thereon like
the other, but longer and less for the most part. At the tops
whereof grow many whitish flowers, with yellow threads in the
middle, standing about a green head, which becomes the seed vessel,
which will be somewhat flat when it is ripe, wherein is contained
reddish seed, tasting somewhat hot. The root is made of many white
strings, which stick deeply into the mud, wherein it chiefly
delights, yet it will well abide in the more upland and drier
ground, and tastes a little brackish and salt even there, but not
so much as where it hath the salt water to feed upon.
Place : It grows all along the Thames sides, both
on the Essex and Kentish shores, from Woolwich round about the sea
coasts to Dover, Portsmouth, and even to Bristol, where it is had
in plenty; the other with round leaves grows in the marshes in
Holland, in Lincolnshire, and other places of Lincolnshire by the
Descript : There is also another sort called
Dutch Scurvygrass, which is most known, and frequent in gardens,
which has fresh, green, and almost round leaves rising from the
root, not so thick as the former, yet in some rich ground, very
large, even twice as big as in others, not dented about the edges,
or hollow in the middle, standing on a long foot-stalk; from among
these rise long, slender stalks, higher than the former, with more
white flowers at the tops of them, which turn into small pods, and
smaller brownish seed than the former. The root is white, small and
thready. The taste is nothing salt at all; it hath a hot,
aromatical spicy taste.
Time : It flowers in April and May, and gives
seed ripe quickly after.
Government and virtues : It is an herb of
Jupiter. The English Scurvygrass is more used for the salt taste it
bears, which doth somewhat open and cleanse; but the Dutch
Scurvygrass is of better effect, and chiefly used (if it may be
had) by those that have the scurvy, and is of singular good effect
to cleanse the blood, liver, and spleen, taking the juice in the
Spring every morning fasting in a cup of drink. The decoction is
good for the same purpose, and opens obstructions, evacuating cold,
clammy and phlegmatic humours both from the liver and the spleen,
and bringing the body to a more lively colour. The juice also helps
all foul ulcers and sores in the mouth, gargled therewith; and used
outwardly, cleanses the skin from spots, marks, or scars that
Descript : The common Self-heal which is called
also Prunel, Carpenter's Herb, Hook-heal, and Sickle-wort, is a
small, low, creeping herb, having many small, roundish pointed
leaves, like leaves of wild mints, of a dark green colour, without
dents on the edges; from among which rise square hairy stalks,
scarce a foot high, which spread sometimes into branches with small
leaves set thereon, up to the top, where stand brown spiked heads
of small brownish leaves like scales and flowers set together,
almost like the heads of Cassidony, which flowers are gaping, and
of a blueish purple, or more pale blue, in some places sweet, but
not so in others. The root consists of many fibres downward, and
spreading strings also whereby it increases. The small stalks, with
the leaves creeping on the ground, shoot forth fibres taking hold
on the ground, whereby it is made a great tuft in a short
Place : It is found in woods and fields
Time : It flowers in May, and sometimes in
Government and virtues : Here is another herb of
Venus, Self-heal, whereby when you are hurt you may heal yourself.
It is a special herb for inward and outward wounds. Take it
inwardly in syrups for inward wounds: outwardly in unguents, and
plaisters for outward. As Self-heal is like Bugle in form, so also
in the qualities and virtues, serving for all the purposes whereto
Bugle is applied to with good success, either inwardly or
outwardly, for inward wounds or ulcers whatsoever within the body,
for bruises or falls, and such like hurts. If it be accompanied
with Bugle, Sanicle, and other the like wound herbs, it will be
more effectual to wash or inject into ulcers in the parts
outwardly. Where there is cause to repress the heat and sharpness
of humours flowing to any sore, ulcers, inflammations, swellings,
or the like, or to stay the fluxes of blood in any wound or part,
this is used with some good success; as also to cleanse the
foulness of sores, and cause them more speedily to be healed. It is
an especial remedy for all green wounds, to solder the lips of
them, and to keep the place from any further inconveniencies. The
juice hereof used with oil of roses to anoint the temples and
forehead, is very effectual to remove head ache, and the same mixed
with honey of roses, cleanses and heals all ulcers, in the mouth,
and throat, and those also in the secret parts. And the proverb of
the Germans, French, and others, is verified in this, That he
needs neither physician nor surgeon that hath Self-heal
and Sanicle to help himself.
It is so
well known in the place where it grows, that it needs no
Time : It flowers before the end of May, and the
fruit is ripe in October.
Government and virtues : Services, when they are
mellow, are fit to be taken to stay fluxes, scouring, and casting,
yet less than medlers. If they be dried before they be mellow, and
kept all the year, they may be used in decoctions for the said
purpose, either to drink, or to bathe the parts requiring it; and
are profitably used in that manner to stay the bleeding of wounds,
and of the mouth or nose, to be applied to the forehead and nape of
the neck; and are under the dominion of Saturn.
called Whoreman's Permacety, Shepherd's Scrip, Shepherd's Pounce,
Toywort, Pickpurse, and Casewort.
Descript : The root is small, white, and perishes
every year. The leaves are small and long, of a pale green colour,
and deeply cut in on both sides, among which spring up a stalk
which is small and round, containing small leaves upon it even to
the top. The flowers are white and very small; after which come the
little cases which hold the seed, which are flat, almost in the
form of a heart.
Place : They are frequent in this nation, almost
by every pathside.
Time : They flower all the Summer long; nay some
of them are so fruitful, that they flower twice a
Government and virtues : It is under the dominion
of Saturn, and of a cold, dry, and binding nature, like to him. It
helps all fluxes of blood, either caused by inward or outward
wounds; as also flux of the belly, and bloody flux, spitting blood,
and bloody urine, stops the terms in women; being bound to the
wrists of the hands, and the soles of the feet, it helps the yellow
jaundice. The herb being made into a poultice, helps inflammations
and St. Anthony's fire. The juice being dropped into the ears,
heals the pains, noise, and mutterings thereof. A good ointment may
be made of it for all wounds, especially wounds in the
also very well known, and therefore I shall not trouble the reader
with any description thereof.
Place : It grows naturally in dry and marshy
ground; but if it be sown in gardens, it there prospers very
Time : It abides green all the Winter, and seeds
Government and virtues : It is an herb of
Mercury. Smallage is hotter, drier, and much more medicinal than
parsley, for it much more opens obstructions of the liver and
spleen, rarefies thick phlegm, and cleanses it and the blood
withal. It provokes urine and women's courses, and is singularly
good against the yellow jaundice, tertian and quartan agues, if the
juice thereof be taken, but especially made up into a syrup. The
juice also put to honey of roses, and barley-water, is very good to
gargle the mouth and throat of those that have sores and ulcers in
them, and will quickly heal them. The same lotion also cleanses and
heals all other foul ulcers and cankers elsewhere, if they be
washed therewith. The seed is especially used to break and expel
wind, to kill worms, and to help a stinking breath. The root is
effectual to all the purposes aforesaid, and is held to be stronger
in operation than the herb, but especially to open obstructions,
and to rid away any ague, if the juice thereof be taken in wine, or
the decoction thereof in wine used.
Descript : The roots creep under ground far and
near, with many joints therein, of a brown colour on the outside
and yellowish within, shooting forth in divers places weak round
stalks, full of joints, set with two leaves a-piece at every one of
them on a contrary side, which are ribbed somewhat like to
plantain, and fashioned like the common field white campion leaves,
seldom having any branches from the sides of the stalks, but set
with flowers at the top, standing in long husks like the wild
campions, made of five leaves a-piece, round at the ends, and
dented in the middle, of a rose colour, almost white, sometimes
deeper, sometimes paler; of a reasonable scent.
Place : It grows wild in many low and wet grounds
of this land, by brooks and the sides of running
Time : It flowers usually in July, and so
continues all August, and part of September, before they be quite
Government and virtues : Venus owns it. The
country people in divers places do use to bruise the leaves of
Sopewort, and lay it to their fingers, hands or legs, when they are
cut, to heal them up again. Some make great boast thereof, that it
is diuretical to provoke urine, and thereby to expel gravel and the
stone in the reins or kidneys, and do also account it singularly
good to void hydropical waters: and they no less extol it to
perform an absolute cure in the French pox, more than either
sarsaparilla, guiacum, or China can do; which, how true it is, I
leave others to judge.
ordinary Sorrel, which grows in gardens, and also wild in the
fields, is so well known, that it needs no
Government and virtues : It is under the dominion
of Venus. Sorrel is prevalent in all hot diseases, to cool any
inflammation and heat of blood in agues pestilential or choleric,
or sickness and fainting, arising from heat, and to refresh the
overspent spirits with the violence of furious or fiery fits of
agues; to quench thirst, and procure an appetite in fainting or
decaying stomachs. For it resists the putrefaction of the blood,
kills worms, and is a cordial to the heart, which the seed doth
more effectually, being more drying and binding, and thereby stays
the hot fluxes of women's courses, or of humours in the bloody
flux, or flux of the stomach. The root also in a decoction, or in
powder, is effectual for all the said purposes. Both roots and
seeds, as well as the herb, are held powerful to resist the poison
of the scorpion. The decoction of the roots is taken to help the
jaundice, and to expel the gravel and the stone in the reins or
kidneys. The decoction of the flowers made with wine and drank,
helps the black jaundice, as also the inward ulcers of the body and
bowels. A syrup made with the juice of Sorrel and fumitory, is a
sovereign help to kill those sharp humours that cause the itch. The
juice thereof, with a little vinegar, serves well to be used
outwardly for the same cause, and is also profitable for tetters,
ringworms, &c. It helps also to discuss the kernels in the
throat; and the juice gargled in the mouth, helps the sores
therein. The leaves wrapt in a colewort leaf and roasted in the
embers, and applied to a hard imposthume, botch, boil, or plague
sore, doth both ripen and break it. The distilled water of the herb
is of much good use for all the purposes aforesaid.
Descript : This grows upon the ground, having a
number of leaves coming from the root made of three leaves like a
trefoil but broad at the ends, and cut in the middle, of a
yellowish green colour, every one standing on a long foot-stalk,
which at their first coming up are close folded together to the
stalk, but opening themselves afterwards, and are of a fine sour
relish, and yielding a juice which will turn red when it is
clarified, and makes a most dainty clear syrup. Among these leaves
rise up divers slender, weak foot-stalks, with every one of them a
flower at the top, consisting of five small pointed leaves,
star-fashion, of a white colour, in most places, and in some dashed
over with a small show of blueish, on the back side only. After the
flowers are past, follow small round heads, with small yellowish
seed in them. The roots are nothing but small strings fastened to
the end of a small long piece; all of them being of a yellowish
Place : It grows in many places of our land, in
woods and woodsides, where they be moist and shadowed, and in other
places not too much upon the Sun.
Time : It flowers in April and May.
Government and virtues : Venus owns it. Wood
Sorrel serves to all the purposes that the other Sorrels do, and is
more effectual in hindering putrefaction of blood, and ulcers in
the mouth and body, and to quench thirst, to strengthen a weak
stomach, to procure an appetite, to stay vomiting, and very
excellent in any contagious sickness or pestilential fevers. The
syrup made of the juice, is effectual in all the cases aforesaid,
and so is the distilled water of the herb. Sponges or linen cloths
wet in the juice and applied outwardly to any hot swelling or
inflammations, doth much cool and help them. The same juice taken
and gargled in the mouth, and after it is spit forth, taken afresh,
doth wonderfully help a foul stinking canker or ulcer therein. It
is singularly good to heal wounds, or to stay the bleeding of
thrusts or scabs in the body.
Thistles are generally so well known, that they need no
Place : They grow in gardens and manured grounds,
sometimes by old walls, pathsides of fields, and high
Government and virtues : This and the former are
under the influence of Venus. Sow Thistles are cooling, and
somewhat binding, and are very fit to cool a hot stomach, and ease
the pains thereof. The herb boiled in wine, is very helpful to stay
the dissolution of the stomach, and the milk that is taken from the
stalks when they are broken, given in drink, is beneficial to those
that are short winded, and have a wheezing. Pliny saith, That it
hath caused the gravel and stone to be voided by urine, and that
the eating thereof helps a stinking breath. The decoction of the
leaves and stalks causes abundance of milk in nurses, and their
children to be well coloured. The juice or distilled water is good
for all hot inflammations, wheals, and eruptions or heat in the
skin, itching of the hæmorrhoids. The juice boiled or thoroughly
heated in a little oil of bitter almonds in the peel of a
pomegranate, and dropped into the ears, is a sure remedy for
deafness, singings, &c. Three spoonfuls of the juice taken,
warmed in white wine, and some wine put thereto, causes women in
travail to have so easy and speedy a delivery, that they may be
able to walk presently after. It is wonderful good for women to
wash their faces with, to clear the skin, and give it a
Wood is so well known to be an ordinary inhabitant in our gardens,
that I shall not need to trouble you with any description
Time : It flowers for the most part in July and
Government and virtues : It is a gallant
mercurial plant, worthy of more esteem than it hath. Dioscorides
saith, That the seed bruised, heated in warm water, and drank,
helps those that are bursten, or troubled with cramps or
convulsions of the sinews, the sciatica, or difficulty in making
water, and bringing down women's courses. The same taken in wine is
an antidote, or counter-poison against all deadly poison, and
drives away serpents and other venomous creatures; as also the
smell of the herb, being burnt, doth the same. The oil thereof
anointed on the back-bone before the fits of agues come, takes them
away. It takes away inflammations in the eyes, if it be put with
some part of a roasted quince, and boiled with a few crumbs of
bread, and applied. Boiled with barley-meal it takes away pimples,
pushes or wheals that arise in the face, or other parts of the
body. The seed as well as the dried herb, is often given to kill
the worms in children. The herb bruised and laid to, helps to draw
forth splinters and thorns out of the flesh. The ashes thereof
dries up and heals old ulcers, that are without inflammation,
although by the sharpness thereof it bites sore, and puts them to
sore pains; as also the sores in the privy parts of man or woman.
The ashes mingled with old sallad oil, helps those that have hair
fallen, and are bald, causing the hair to grow again either on the
head or beard. Daranters saith, That the oil made of Southern-wood,
and put among the ointments that are used against the French
disease, is very effectual, and likewise kills lice in the head.
The distilled water of the herb is said to help them much that are
troubled with the stone, as also for the diseases of the spleen and
mother. The Germans commend it for a singular wound herb, and
therefore call it Stabwort. It is held by all writers, ancient and
modern, to be more offensive to the stomach than
SPIGNEL, OR SPIKENARD
Descript : The roots of common Spignel do spread
much and deep in the ground, many strings or branches growing from
one head, which is hairy at the top, of a blackish brown colour on
the outside, and white within, from whence rise sundry long stalks
of most fine cut leaves like hair, smaller than dill, set thick on
both sides of the stalks, and of a good scent. Among these leaves
rise up round stiff stalks, with a few joints and leaves on them,
and at the tops an umbel of pure white flowers; at the edges
whereof sometimes will be seen a shew of the reddish blueish
colour, especially before they be full blown, and are succeeded by
small, somewhat round seeds, bigger than the ordinary fennel, and
of a brown colour, divided into two parts, and crusted on the back,
as most of the umbelliferous seeds are.
Place : It grows wild in Lancashire, Yorkshire,
and other northern counties, and is also planted in
Government and virtues : It is an herb of Venus.
Galen saith, The roots of Spignel are available to provoke urine,
and women's courses; but if too much thereof be taken, it causes
head-ache. The roots boiled in wine or water, and drank, helps the
stranguary and stoppings of the urine, the wind, swellings and
pains in the stomach, pains of the mother, and all joint-aches. If
the powder of the root be mixed with honey, and the same taken as a
licking medicine, it breaks tough phlegm, and dries up the rheum
that falls on the lungs. The roots are accounted very effectual
against the stinging or biting of any venomous
SPLEENWORT, CETERACH, OR HEART'S
Descript : The smooth Spleenwort, from a black
thready and bushy root, sends forth many long single leaves, cut in
on both sides into round dents almost to the middle, which is not
so hard as that of polypody, each division being not always set
opposite unto the other, cut between each, smooth, and of a light
green on the upper side, and a dark yellowish roughness on the
back, folding or rolling itself inward at the first springing
Place : It grows as well upon stone walls, as
moist and shadowy places, about Bristol, and other the west parts
plentifully; as also on Framlingham Castle, on Beaconsfield church
in Berkshire, at Stroud in Kent, and elsewhere, and abides green
all the Winter.
Government and virtues : Saturn owns it. It is
generally used against infirmities of the Spleen. It helps the
stranguary, and wasteth the stone in the bladder, and is good
against the yellow jaundice and the hiccough; but the juice of it
in women hinders conception. Matthiolus saith, That if a dram of
the dust that is on the back-side of the leaves be mixed with half
a dram of amber in powder, and taken with the juice of purslain or
plantain, it helps the gonorrhea speedily, and that the herb and
root being boiled and taken, helps all melancholy diseases, and
those especially that arise from the French diseases. Camerarius
saith, That the distilled water thereof being drank, is very
effectual against the stone in the reins and bladder; and that the
lye that is made of the ashes thereof being drank for some time
together, helps splenetic persons. It is used in outward remedies
for the same purpose.
Descript : A common Star Thistle has divers
narrow leaves lying next the ground, cut on the edges somewhat
deeply into many parts, soft or a little woolly, all over green,
among which rise up divers weak stalks, parted into many branches,
all lying down to the ground, that it seems a pretty bush, set with
divers the like divided leaves up to the tops, where severally do
stand small whitish green heads, set with sharp white pricks (no
part of the plant else being prickly) which are somewhat yellowish;
out of the middle whereof rises the flowers composed of many small
reddish purple threads; and in the heads, after the flowers are
past, come small whitish round seed, lying down as others do. The
root is small, long and woody, perishing every year, and rising
again of its own sowing.
Place : It grows wild in the fields about London
in many places, as at Mile-End green, and many other
Time : It flowers early, and seeds in July, and
sometimes in August.
Government and virtues : This, as almost all
Thistles are, is under Mars. The seed of this Star Thistle made
into powder, and drank in wine, provokes urine, and helps to break
the stone, and drives it forth. The root in powder, and given in
wine and drank, is good against the plague and pestilence; and
drank in the morning fasting for some time together, it is very
profitable for fistulas in any part of the body. Baptista Sardas
doth much commend the distilled water thereof, being drank, to help
the French disease, to open the obstructions of the liver, and
cleanse the blood from corrupted humours, and is profitable against
the quotidian or tertian ague.
so well known through this land, that they need no
Time : They flower in May ordinarily, and the
fruit is ripe shortly after.
Government and virtues : Venus owns the herb.
Strawberries, when they are green, are cool and dry; but when they
are ripe, they are cool and moist. The berries are excellently good
to cool the liver, the blood, and the spleen, or an hot choleric
stomach; to refresh and comfort the fainting spirits, and quench
thirst. They are good also for other inflammations; yet it is not
amiss to refrain from them in a fever, lest by their putrifying in
the stomach they increase the fits. The leaves and roots boiled in
wine and water, and drank, do likewise cool the liver and blood,
and assuage all inflammations in the reins and bladder, provoke
urine, and allay the heat and sharpness thereof. The same also
being drank stays the bloody flux and women's courses, and helps
the swelling of the spleen. The water of the Berries carefully
distilled, is a sovereign remedy and cordial in the panting and
beating of the heart, and is good for the yellow jaundice. The
juice dropped into foul ulcers, or they washed therewith, or the
decoction of the herb and root, doth wonderfully cleanse and help
to cure them. Lotions and gargles for sore mouths, or ulcers
therein, or in the privy parts or elsewhere, are made with the
leaves and roots thereof; which is also good to fasten loose teeth,
and to heal spungy foul gums. It helps also to stay catarrhs, or
defluctions of rheum in the mouth, throat, teeth, or eyes. The
juice or water is singularly good for hot and red inflamed eyes, if
dropped into them, or they bathed therewith. It is also of
excellent property for all pushes, wheals and other breakings forth
of hot and sharp humours in the face and hands, and other parts of
the body, to bathe them therewith, and to take away any redness in
the face, or spots, or other deformities in the skin, and to make
it clear and smooth. Some use this medicine: Take so many
Strawberries as you shall think fitting, and put them into a
distillatory, or body of glass fit for them, which being well
closed, set it in a bed of horse dung for your use. It is an
excellent water for hot inflamed eyes, and to take away a film or
skin that begins to grow over them, and for such other defects in
them as may be helped by any outward medicine.
SUCCORY, OR CHICORY
Descript : The garden Succory hath long and
narrower leaves than the Endive, and more cut in or torn on the
edges, and the root abides many years. It bears also blue flowers
like Endive, and the seed is hardly distinguished from the seed of
the smooth or ordinary Endive.
Succory hath divers long leaves lying on the ground, very much cut
in or torn on the edges, on both sides, even to the middle rib,
ending in a point; sometimes it hath a rib down to the middle of
the leaves, from among which rises up a hard, round, woody stalk,
spreading into many branches, set with smaller and less divided
leaves on them up to the tops, where stand the flowers, which are
like the garden kind, and the seed is also (only take notice that
the flowers of the garden kind are gone in on a sunny day, they
being so cold, that they are not able to endure the beams of the
sun, and therefore more delight in the shade) the root is white,
but more hard and woody than the garden kind. The whole plant is
Place : This grows in many places of our land in
waste untilled and barren fields. The other only in
Government and virtues : It is an herb of
Jupiter. Garden Succory, as it is more dry and less cold than
Endive, so it opens more. An handful of the leaves, or roots boiled
in wine or water, and a draught thereof drank fasting, drives forth
choleric and phlegmatic humours, opens obstructions of the liver,
gall and spleen; helps the yellow jaundice, the heat of the reins,
and of the urine; the dropsy also; and those that have an evil
disposition in their bodies, by reason of long sickness, evil diet,
&c. which the Greeks call Cachexia. A decoction thereof made
with wine, and drank, is very effectual against long lingering
agues; and a dram of the seed in powder, drank in wine, before the
fit of the ague, helps to drive it away. The distilled water of the
herb and flowers (if you can take them in time) hath the like
properties, and is especially good for hot stomachs, and in agues,
either pestilential or of long continuance; for swoonings and
passions of the heart, for the heat and headache in children, and
for the blood and liver. The said water, or the juice, or the
bruised leaves applied outwardly, allay swellings, inflammations,
St. Anthony's fire, pushes, wheals, and pimples, especially used
with a little vinegar; as also to wash pestiferous sores. The said
water is very effectual for sore eyes that are inflamed with
redness, for nurses' breasts that are pained by the abundance of
Succory, as it is more bitter, so it is more strengthening to the
stomach and liver.
STONE-CROP, PRICK-MADAM, OR
Descript : It grows with divers trailing branches
upon the ground, set with many thick, flat, roundish, whitish green
leaves, pointed at the ends. The flowers stand many of them
together, somewhat loosely. The roots are small, and run creeping
Place : It grows upon the stone walls and mud
walls, upon the tiles of houses and pent-houses, and amongst
rubbish, and in other gravelly places.
Time : It flowers in June and July, and the
leaves are green all the Winter.
Government and virtues : It is under the dominion
of the Moon, cold in quality, and something binding, and therefore
very good to stay defluctions, especially such as fall upon the
eyes. It stops bleeding, both inward and outward, helps cankers,
and all fretting sores and ulcers; it abates the heat of choler,
thereby preventing diseases arising from choleric humours. It
expels poison much, resists pestilential fevers, being exceeding
good also for tertian agues. You may drink the decoction of it, if
you please, for all the foregoing infirmities. It is so harmless an
herb, you can scarce use it amiss. Being bruised and applied to the
place, it helps the king's evil, and any other knots or kernels in
the flesh; as also the piles.