Herbs & Oils
~ T ~
TREE: (Melaleuca alternifolia) Tea tree oil has huge
healing potential. It is a powerful antiseptic and immunostimulant,
active against bacteria, viruses, and fungi such as athlete's foot
and thrush. It helps treat colds, flu, lesions, warts and acne.
Tea Tree is the best remedy for yeast
Aromatherapy Uses: Abscesses; Acne; Athlete's
Foot; Blisters; Burns; Bruises; Chicken Pox Rash; Cold Sores;
Dandruff; Herpes; Insect Bites; Oily Skin; Spots; Rashes; Warts;
Wounds (infected); Asthma; Bronchitis; Catarrh; Coughs; Sinusitis;
Tuberculosis; Whooping Cough; Thrush; Vaginitis; Colds; Fever; Flu;
Infectious Illnesses; Cystitis; Pruritis. Key Qualities:
Penetrating; Medicinal; Stimulating; Refreshing.
THYME: (Thymus vulgaris) Also known as
Common Thyme, Mother of Thyme, and Garden Thyme. A Druid sacred
herb, culinary Thyme aids the digestion of fatty foods and is part
of bouquet garni and Benedictine liqueur. Thyme oil is
distilled from the leaves and flowering tops and is a stimulant and
antiseptic. It is a nerve tonic used externally to treat
depression, colds, muscular pain and respiratory problems. The oil
is added to acne lotions and mouthwashes. Research has confirmed
Thyme strengthens the immune system.
an excellent lung cleanser. Use it to dry up and clear out moist
phlegm and to treat whooping cough. It makesa good tea for the
mother after childbirth, as it helps expel the placenta. Steem
one-half teaspoon fresh herb or one teaspoon dried herb in one-half
cup of hot water for five minutes. Take up to one and a half cups a
day in quarter-cup doses. A natural antiseptic, thyme is often used
in salves for wounds, swellings, sciatica, and failing eyes. The
tea relieves gas and colic (as does the oil, takin in one- to
five-drop doses). The tincturecan be used in ten- to twenty-drop
doses, taken three times a day. Use thyme for headaches and
Parts Used: Above-ground portions of the
Magical Uses: Thyme is burned in incense ot
purify an area. A place where wild thyme grows will be a
particularly powerful energy center on earth. A magical cleansing
bath can be make by pouring a tea made with thyme and marjoram into
the bathwater. A pillow stuffed with thyme cures nightmares. When
attending a funeral, wear a sprig of thyme to repel the negativity
of the mourners. Use as incense for: Health; Healing; Purification;
Clairvoyance; Courage; Love; Psychic Awareness; Energy; Power;
Strength. Thyme is often burned prior to magical rituals to cleanse
the area. Carried and smelled to give courage and
Aromatherapy Uses: Abscess; Acne; Bruises; Burns;
Cuts; Dermatitis; Eczema; Insect Bites; Lice; Arthritis; Gout;
Muscular Aches and Pains; Obesity; Edema; Poor Circulation;
Rheumatism; Sprains; Asthma; Bronchitis; catarrh; Coughs;
Laryngitis; Sinusitis; Tonsillitis; Diarrhea; Dyspepsia;
Flatulence; Chills; Colds; Flu; Infectious Diseases; Cystitis;
Urethritis; Headaches; Insomnia; Stress Related Conditions. Key
Qualities: Stimulating; Restorative; Warming; Reviving; Refreshing;
TOBACCO: (Nicotiana tabacum) This annual
or biennial has large, long leaves and green-white to rose tubulur
florwers. The cured, dried leaves are smoked as a narcotic, but the
poisonous incotine the contain causes heart and lung disease and
cancer. North and South American tribes smoke the leaves in
ceremonies and apply poultices to sprains, to infected cuts and
bites, and to problem skin. The juice is applied externally to
relieve facial neuralgia, and wet leaves offer a quick cure for
hemorrhoids. Research has revealed a chemical in the leaves that
Parts Used: Leaf
Magical Uses: Candidates for some shamanic
systems must drink tobacco juice to induce visions as part of their
trainng. Tobacco has long been used in religious ceremonies by some
of the American Indians. Indeed many peoples still regard the plant
a magical substitute for sulphur, as well as for datura and
nightshade, both of which are related to tobaco. It can be
substituted for any other poisonous herb in ritual incense blends.
Although it is regularly smoked by millions, tobacco is a very
poisonous plant and can kill.
See Alder, Tag.
---Habitat---Tropics of both Hemispheres and cultivated in
China and Paraguay.
---Description---It yields a milky juice, which is acrid and
even poisonous, the leaves are willow-like, and at their point of
union with the stalk have two round glands; the flowers are small
and greenish, and grow in terminal spikes, the lower portion
bearing the fertile, and the upper ones the sterile flowers. The
bark of Sapium Salicifolium yields a substance for tanning which is
used instead of oak; most modern writers unite this genus with
Stillingia, from which there are no reliable characters to
distinguish it. In America, S. Biglandulosum is a source for
rubber. Sapium or S. Indicum is known in Borneo under the name of
Booroo; the leaves are used for dyeing and staining rotang a dark
colour; theacrid milky juice burns the mouth as Capsicum does; the
young fruit is acid and eaten as a condiment; the fruit is also
used to poison alligators; the ripe fruit are woolly, trilobed
capsules, about 1 inch across, threecelled and containing only one
seed in each.
sebiyerum, the Chinese Tallow Tree, gives a fixed oil which
envelops the seeds. The tallow occurs in hard brittle opaque white
masses, which consists of palmatin and stearin. The oil is used for
lighting and the waste from the nuts for fuel and
See QUEEN S DELIGHT.
Larix Americana (MICHX.)
---Synonyms---American Larch. Black Larch. Hackmatack. Pinus
---Habitat---Eastern North America.
---Description---The tree has a straight slender trunk with
thin horizontal branches growing to 80 to 100 feet high; leaves
short, 1 or 2 inches long, very fine, almost thread-form, soft
deciduous, without sheaths in fascicles of from twenty to forty,
being developed early in the spring from lateral scaly and globular
buds which produce growing shoots on which the leaves are
scattered. Cones oblong of a few rounded scales widening upward
from 1/2 to 1 inch in length, deep purple colour, scales thin,
inflexed on the margin. Bracts elliptical, often hollowed at the
sides, abruptly acuminate, with a slender point and, together with
the scales, persistent.
---Medicinal Action and Uses---The bark used as a decoction is
laxative, tonic, diuretic and alterative, useful in obstructions of
the liver, rheumatism, jaundice and some cutaneous diseases. A
decoction of the leaves has been used for piles, haemoptysis,
menorrhagia, diarrhoea and dysentery.
---Dosage---2 tablespoonsful of the bark
Tamarindus Indica (LINN.)
Medicinal Action and Uses
---Synonyms---Imlee. Tamarindus officinalis
Used---The fruits freed from brittle outer part of
---Habitat---India; tropical Africa; cultivated in West
large handsome tree with spreading branches and a thick straight
trunk, ash-grey bark, height up to 40 feet. Leaves alternate,
abruptly pinnated; leaflets light green and a little hairy, in
twelve to fifteen pairs. In cold damp weather and after sunset the
leaflets close. Flowers fragrant, yellow-veined, red and purple
filaments, in terminal and lateral racemes. Legume oblong,
pendulous, nearly linear, curved, somewhat compressed, filled with
a firm acid pulp. Bark hard and scabrous, never separates into
valves; inside the bark are three fibres, one down, on the upper
concave margin, the other two at equal distances from the convex
edge. Seeds six to twelve, covered with a shiny smooth brown shell,
and inserted into the convex side of the pericarp. There are three
varieties of Tamarinds. The East Indian, with long pods containing
six to twelve seeds, the West Indian, with shorter pods containing
about four seeds, and a third, with the pulp of the pod a lovely
rose colour. West Indian Tamarinds are usually imported in syrup,
the outer shell having been removed; East Indian Tamarinds are
exported in a firm black mass of shelled legumes; the third kind
are usually preserved in syrup.
---Constituents---Citric, tartaric and malic acids, potassium,
bitartrate, gum, pectin, some grape sugar, and parenchymatous
and Uses---Cathartic, astringent, febrifuge, antiseptic,
refrigerant. There are no known constituents in Tamarinds to
account for their laxative properties; they are refrigerant from
the acids they contain, an infusion of the Tamarind pulp making a
useful drink in febrile conditions, and the pulp a good diet in
convalescence to maintain a slightly laxative action of the bowels;
also used in India as an astringent in bowel complaints. The pulp
is said to weaken the action of resinous cathartics in general, but
is frequently prescribed with them as a vehicle for jalap, etc.
Tamarind is useful in correcting bilious disorders, 3 drachms up to
2 OZ. of the pulp to render it moderately cathartic are required
according to the case. The leaves are some times used in subacid
infusions, and a decoction is said to destroy worms in children,
and is also useful for jaundice, and externally as a wash for sore
eyes and ulcers. A punch is made from the fruit in the West Indies,
mixed with a decoction of borage to allay the scalding of urine.
Tamarind Whey, made by boiling 1 OZ. of the pulp in 1 pint of milk
and then strained, makes a cooling laxative drink. In some forms of
sore throat the fruit has been found of service. In Mauritius the
Creoles mix salt with the pulp and use it as a liniment for
rheumatism and make a decoction of the bark for asthma. The
Bengalese employ Tamarind pulp in dysentery, and in times of
scarcity use it as a food, boiling the pods or macerating them and
removing the dark outer skin. The natives of India consider that
the neighbourhood in which Tamarind trees grow becomes unwholesome,
and that it is unsafe to sleep under the tree owing to the acid
they exhale during the moisture of the night. It is said that no
plant will live under the shade of it, but in the Author's
experience some plants and bulbs bloomed luxuriantly under the
Tamarind trees in her garden in Bengal. The wood is very hard and
durable, valuable for building purposes and furnishes excellent
charcoal for gunpowder; the leaves in infusion give a yellow dye.
Tamarinds in Indian cookery is an important ingredient in curries
and chutneys, and makes a delicious sauce for duck, geese and water
fowl, and in Western India is used for pickling fish, Tamarind fish
being considered a great delicacy.
Tanacetum vulgare (LINN.)
Medicinal Action and Uses
Preparations and Dosages
Steadman Shorter's Medical Dictionary, 1942, Poisons & Antidotes: Tansy Oil
---Habitat---Tansy, a composite plant very familiar in our
hedgerows and waste places, is a hardy perennial, widely spread
stem is erect and leafy, about 2 to 3 feet high, grooved and
angular. The leaves are alternate, much cut into, 2 to 6 inches
long and about 4 inches wide. The plant is conspicuous in August
and September by its heads of round, flat, dull yellow flowers,
growing in clusters, which earn it the name of 'Buttons.' It has a
very curious, and not altogether disagreeable odour, somewhat like
often naturalized in our gardens for ornamental cultivation. The
feathery leaves of the Wild Tansy are beautiful, especially when
growing in abundance on marshy ground, and it has a more refreshing
scent than the Garden Tansy.
---Cultivation---Tansy will thrive in almost any soil and may
be increased, either in spring or autumn, by slips or by dividing
the creeping roots, which if permitted to remain undisturbed, will,
in a short time, overspread the ground. When transplanting the
slips or portions of root, place therefore at least a foot
Tansy is probably derived from the Greek Athanaton (immortal),
either, says Dodoens, because it lasts so long in flower or, as
Ambrosius thought, because it is capital for preserving dead bodies
from corruption. It was said to have been given to Ganymede to make
one of the Strewing Herbs mentioned by Tusser in 1577, and was one
of the native plants dedicated to the Virgin Mary.
found additional favour as a 'Strewing Herb' because it was said to
be effectual in keeping flies away, particularly if mixed with
grew Tansy amongst other aromatic and culinary herbs in his
connected with some interesting old customs observed at Easter
time, when even archbishops and bishops played handball with men of
their congregation, and a Tansy cake was the reward of the victors.
These Tansy cakes were made from the young leaves of the plant,
mixed with eggs, and were thought to purify the humours of the body
after the limited fare of Lent. In time, this custom obtained a
kind of symbolism, and Tansies, as these cakes were called, came to
be eaten on Easter Day as a remembrance of the bitter herbs eaten
by the Jews at the Passover. Coles (1656) says the origin of eating
it in the spring is because Tansy is very wholesome after the salt
fish consumed during Lent, and counteracts the ill-effects which
the 'moist and cold constitution of winter has made on people . . .
though many understand it not, and some simple people take it for a
matter of superstition to do so.'
balsamic plant,' says Boerhaave (the Danish physician), 'will
supply the place of nutmegs and cinnamon,' and the young leaves,
shredded, serve as a flavouring for puddings and omelets. Gerard
tells us that Tansy Teas were highly esteemed in Lent as well as
old cookery book:
seven eggs, yolks and whites separately; add a pint of cream, near
the same of spinach-juice, and a little tansy-juice gained by
pounding in a stone mortar; a quarter of a pound of Naples biscuit,
sugar to taste, a glass of white wine, and some nutmeg. Set all in
a sauce-pan, just to thicken, over the fire; then put it into a
dish, lined with paste, to turn out, and bake it.'
says: 'Of Tansie. The root eaten, is a singular remedy for the
gout: the rich may bestow the cost to preserve it.'
sheep eat Tansy, but horses, goats and hogs refuse to touch it, and
if meat be rubbed with this plant, flies will not attack it. In
Sussex, at one time, Tansy leaves had the reputation of curing
ague, if placed in the shoes.
Finlanders employ it in dyeing green.
leaves and tops. The plant is cut off close above the root, when
first coming into flower in August.
---Constituents---Tanacetin, tannic acid, a volatile oil,
mainly thujone, waxy, resinous and protein bodies, some sugar and a
and Uses---Anthelmintic, tonic, stimulant,
largely used for expelling worms in children, the infusion of 1 OZ.
to a pint of boiling water being taken in teacupful doses, night
and morning, fasting.
It is also
valuable in hysteria and in kidney weaknesses, the same infusion
being taken in wineglassful doses, repeated frequently. It forms an
excellent and safe emmenagogue, and is of good service in low forms
of fever, in ague and hysterical and nervous affections. As a
diaphoretic nervine it is also useful.
moderate doses, the plant and its essential oil are stomachic and
cordial, being anti-flatulent and serving to allay
doses, it becomes a violent irritant, and induces venous congestion
of the abdominal organs.
Scotland, an infusion of the dried flowers and seeds (1/2 to 1
teaspoonful, two or three times a day) is given for gout. The roots
when preserved with honey or sugar, have also been reputed to be of
special service against gout, if eaten fasting every day for a
From 1 to
4 drops of the essential oil may be safely given in cases of
epilepsy, but excessive doses have produced seizures.
been used externally with benefit for some eruptive diseases of the
skin, and the green leaves, pounded and applied, will relieve
sprains and allay the swelling.
infusion, as a fomentation to sprained and rheumatic parts, will in
like manner give relief.
Dosages---Fluid extract, 1/2 to 2 drachms. Solid extract, 5 to 10
fourteenth century we hear of Tansy being used as a remedy for
wounds, and as a bitter tonic, and Tansy Tea has an old reputation
in country districts for fever and other illnesses.
Gerard also tells us that cakes were made
of the young leaves in the spring, mixed with eggs,
'which be pleasant in taste and good for
the stomache; for if bad humours cleave thereunder, it doth
perfectly concoct them and carry them off. The roote, preserved in
honie, or sugar, is an especiall thing against the gout, if everie
day for a certaine space, a reasonable quantitie thereof be eaten
Manihot utilissima (POHL.), Jatropha Manihot (LINN.)
Medicinal Action and Uses
---Synonyms---Cassara. Manioc. Manihot. Brazilian Arrowroot.
Cassara Starch. Janipha Manihot (Kunth.).
Used---The starch grains obtained from the Bitter and Sweet Cassara
---Habitat---Brazil and tropical America.
---Description---Irregular hard white rough grains possessing
little taste, partially soluble in cold water and affording a fine
blue colour when iodine solution is added to its filtered solution.
Many of the starch grains are swollen by the heat of drying. The
root of the Sweet Cassara may be eaten with impunity; that of the
Bitter, which is the more extensively cultivated, contains an acrid
milky juice, which renders it highly poisonous if eaten in the
recent state; this poison is entirely eliminated in the process of
washing and drying for the production of Tapioca.
'Tapioca' is that used by the Brazilian Indians.
and Uses---A nutritious diet for invalids; is baked into bread by
the natives of Central America; it is used to adulterate
arrowroot derived from Arum Dracunculus (see ARUM).
arrowroot, or Aircuma arrowroot, is derived from the tubers of
Aircuma angustifolia and C. Leucophiza, belonging, like the true
arrowroot, to the order Marantaceae, according to some botanists,
and by others assigned to the same order as the ginger, viz.
Artemisia Dracunculus (LINN.)
Medicinal Action and Uses
---Synonyms---Little Dragon, Mugwort.
Herbe au Dragon.
a member of the Composite tribe, closely allied to Wormwood, is a
perennial herb cultivated for the use of its aromatic leaves in
seasoning, salads, etc., and in the preparation of Tarragon
to a height of about 2 feet and has long, narrow leaves, which,
unlike other members of its genus, are undivided. It blossoms in
August, the small flowers, in round heads, being yellow mingled
with black, and rarely fully open. The roots are long and fibrous,
spreading by runners.
is more common in Continental than in English cookery, and has long
been cultivated in France for culinary purposes.
Tarragon is a corruption of the French Esdragon, derived from the
Latin Dracunculus (a little dragon), which also serves as its
specific name. It was sometimes called little Dragon Mugwort and in
French has also the name Herbe au Dragon. To this, as to other
Dragon herbs, was ascribed the faculty of curing the bites and
stings of venomous beasts and of mad dogs. The name is practically
the same in most countries.
One of the
legends told about the origin of Tarragon, which Gerard relates,
though without supporting it, is that the seed of flax put into a
radish root, or a sea onion, and set in the ground, will bring
forth this herb.
kinds of Tarragon are cultivated in kitchen gardens. The French
Tarragon, with very smooth, dark green leaves and the true Tarragon
flavour, which is a native of the South of Europe, and Russian
Tarragon, a native of Siberia, with less smooth leaves of a fresher
green shade and somewhat lacking the peculiar tartness of the
Tarragon rarely produces fertile flowers, either in England or
France, it is not often raised by seed, but it may be readily
propagated by division of roots in March or April, or by cuttings
struck when growth is commencing in spring or later in the summer,
under a hand-glass, placed outside. A few young plants should be
raised annually to keep up a supply.
warmth and sunshine and succeeds best in warm, rather dry
situations, and a little protection should also be afforded the
roots through the winter, as during severe frost they are liable to
be injured. Both varieties need a dry, rather poor soil, for if set
in a wet soil, they are likely to be killed by our
leaves should be picked between Midsummer and Michaelmas. The
foliage may also be cut and dried in early autumn for use in a dry
state afterwards. The beds should then be entirely cut down and
topdressed, to protect from frost. If green leaves are required
during winter, a few roots should be lifted in the autumn and
placed in heat: it will only need a small quantity to maintain a
herb is required dried, for winter use, gather in August, choosing
a fine day, in the morning after the sun has dried off the dew. Cut
off close above the root and reject any stained or insect-eaten
leaves. Tie in bunches - about six stalks in a bunch - spread out
fanwise, so that the air may penetrate freely to ail parts and hang
over strings, either on a hot, sunny day, in the open, but in
half-shade, or indoors, in a sunny room, or failing sun, in a
wellventilated room by artificial heat, care being taken that the
window be left open by day, so that there is a free current of air
and the moisture-laden air may escape. If dried in the open, bring
in before there is any risk of damp from dew or showers. A disused
green-house may be used as drying-shed, provided that the glass is
shaded and that there is no tank in the house to cause steaming.
Heating may be either by pipes or by any ordinary coke or
anthracite stove, should sun fail, but ventilation is in all cases
essential. The drying temperature for aromatic herbs should never
exceed 80 degrees.
bunches of herbs should be of uniform size and length, to
facilitate packing, and when quite dry and crisp, must be packed
away at once, in airtight boxes or tins, otherwise moisture will be
re-absorbed from the air.
and Uses---John Evelyn says of Tarragon:' 'Tis highly cordial and
friend to the head, heart and liver.'
Continental cookery its use is advised to temper the coolness of
other herbs in salads. The leaves, which have a fragrant smell in
addition to their aromatic taste, make an excellent
Tarragon possesses an essential volatile oil, chemically identical
with that of Anise, which becomes lost in the dried
Tarragon vinegar, fill a widemouthed bottle with the
freshly-gathered leaves, picked just before the herb flowers, on a
dry day. Pick the leaves off the stalks and dry a little before the
fire. Then place in a jar, cover with vinegar, allow to stand some
hours, then strain through a flannel jelly bag and cork down in the
bottles. The best white vinegar should be used.
vinegar is the only correct flavouring for Sauce Tantare, but must
never be put into soups, as the taste is too strong and pungent.
French cooks usually mix their mustard with Tarragon
Tarragon is eaten in Persia to induce appetite.
of Tarragon was formerly used to cure toothache.
Camellia Thea (LINK.)
Medicinal Action and Uses
---Synonyms---Thea sinensis (Sims). Thea Veridis. Thea bohea.
Thea stricta Jassamica. Camellia theifera (Griff.).
---Habitat---Assam; cultivated in Ceylon, Japan, Java, and
elsewhere where climate allows.
small evergreen shrub cultivated to a height of 7 to 8 feet, but
growing wild up to 30 feet high, much branched. Bark rough, grey.
Leaves dark green, lanceolate or elliptical, on short stalks, blunt
at apex, base tapering, margins shortly serrate, young leaves
hairy, older leaves glabrous. Flowers solitary or two or three
together on short branchlets in the leaf axils, somewhat drooping,
on short stalks with a few small bracts, 1 to 1 1/2 inches wide;
sepals five, imbricate, slightly united below, ovate or rounded,
blunt smooth, persistent; petals usually five or up to nine,
unequal, strongly rounded, concave, spreading, white, caducous;
stamens indefinite, adherent to petals at base in two rows,
filaments fiexuose, half the length of petals; anthers large,
versatile; ovary small, free, conical, downy, threecelled with
three or four pendulous ovules in each cell; styles three distinct
or combined at base, slender simple stigmas. Fruit a smooth,
flattened, rounded, trigonous three-celled capsule; seed solitary
in each cell; size of a small nut.
formerly supposed that black and green tea were the produce of
distinct plants, but they are both prepared from the same plant.
Green tea is prepared by exposing the gathered leaves to the air
until superfluous moisture is eliminated, when they are roasted
over a brisk wood fire and continually stirred until they become
moist and flaccid; after this they pass to the rolling table, and
are rolled into balls and subjected to pressure which twists them
and gets rid of the moisture; they are then shaken out on flat
trays, again roasted over a slow and steady charcoal fire, and kept
in rapid motion for an hour to an hour and a half, till they assume
a dullish green colour. After this they are winnowed, screened, and
graded into different varieties. With black tea, the gathered
leaves are exposed to the air for a longer period, then gathered up
and tossed until soft and flaccid, and after further exposure,
roasted in an iron pan for about five minutes. After rolling and
pressing, they are shaken out, exposed to the outer air for some
hours, re-roasted for three or four minutes, rerolled, spread out
in baskets and exposed to the heat of a charcoal fire for five or
six minutes and then rolled for the third time and again heated,
and finally dried in baskets over charcoal fires, from which
process they become black in colour. China is the great
tea-producing country, over four million acres of ground being
devoted to its cultivation. In India also it is a very important
---Constituents---Caffeine (theine), tannin (10 to 20 per cent
gallotannic acid), boheic acid, volatile oil, aqueous extract,
protein wax, resin, ash and theophylline.
and Uses---Stimulant, astringent. It exerts a decided influence
over the nervous system, generally evinced by a feeling of comfort
and exhilaration; it also causes unnatural wakefulness when taken
in quantity. Taken moderately by healthy individuals it is
harmless, but in excessive quantities it will produce unpleasant
nervous and dyspeptic symptoms, the green variety being decidedly
the more injurious. Tea is rarely used as a medicine, but, the
infusion is useful to relieve neuralgic headaches.
Fuller's Thistle was an old name for the Teazle, of which there are
three varieties in this country, Dipsacus Fullonum, the FULLER'S
TEAZLE, the COMMON TEAZLE (D. sylvestris), and the SMALL TEAZLE (D.
pilosus), a distinct species sometimes found in moist hedgerows,
but not generally distributed, being in height, shape of its
flower-heads and form of the foliage, quite distinct from the two
first named species and having more the habit of a Scabious than of
botanists consider the Fuller's Teazle only a variety of the Common
Wild Teazle, in which the spines of the flowerheads are strongly
developed into a hooked form, a feature preserved by cultivation
and apt to disappear by neglect, or on poor soil, causing it to
relapse into the ordinary wild variety.
Medicinal Action and Uses
---Synonyms---Venus' Basin. Card Thistle. Barber's Brush.
Brushes and Combs. Church Broom.
---Habitat---The Common Teazle is to be found on waste land, in
hedgerows and dykesides, mainly in the south of England, being
rarer in the north.
is a biennial, with a tall, rigid, prickly, furrowed stem,
generally attaining the height of 4 or 5 feet, bearing cylindrical
flower-heads, globular when young, but lengthening out to a
conelike shape when in full flower. The whole plant is very harsh
and prickly to the touch.
distance below the head, the stems are bare except for prickles,
then small pairs of leaves appear, joined directly by their bases
to the main stem, with a shining, white midrib, on the back of
which are many prickles. In the lower and larger pairs of leaves
the bases are joined round the stem and form deep cups, which are
capable of holding dew and rain. This conspicuous feature has
earned the plant its older name of Venus' Basin, and it was held
that the water which collects there acquired curative properties.
It was regarded as a remedy for warts, and was also used as a
cosmetic and an eye-wash. The generic name of the plant, Dipsacus,
also refers to this peculiarity in structure, being derived from
the Greek verb, to be thirsty.
English name, Teazle, is from the Anglo-Saxon taesan, signifying to
tease cloth, and refers to the use of the flowerheads by
cloth-workers. These heads are a mass of semi-stiff spines, the
spines longest at the top of the head, each head being enclosed by
curving, narrow, green bracts, set with small prickles, arising in
a ring at the base of the head and following the line of the head,
though a little outside it, curved inward at the tip. When the head
commences to flower, the purple petals of the floret show in a ring
about one-third of the way down and then spread upward and
and Uses---Culpepper tells us that the medicinal uses of both the
Wild and Fuller's Teazle are the same, and that 'the roots, which
are the only parts used, are said to have a cleansing faculty.' He
refers to the use of the water in the leaf-basins as a cosmetic and
eye-wash, and tells us, on the authority of Dioscorides, that an
ointment made from the bruised roots is good, not only for warts
and wens, but also against cankers and fistulas.
writers have recommended an infusion of the root for strengthening
the stomach and creating an appetite. Also for removing
obstructions of the liver, and as a remedy for
his translation of Dodoens, 1586, says that the small worms found
often within the heads 'do cure and heale the quartaine ague, to be
worne or carried about the necke or arme,' a theory which Gerard
contemptuously discards, from his own personal
principal use of the Teazle, dating from long before Gerard's time,
still remains unchallenged, and that is for wool 'fleecing,' or
raising the nap on woollen cloth. The cultivated variety, D.
Fullonum, Gerard's 'tame Teasell' is used, because, as already
mentioned, its spines are crooked, not straight. These heads are
fixed on the rim of a wheel, or on a cylinder, which is made to
revolve against the surface of the cloth to be 'fleeced,' thus
raising the nap. No machine has yet been invented which can compete
with the Teazle in its combined rigidity and elasticity. Its great
utility is that while raising the nap, it will yet break at any
serious obstruction, whereas all metallic substances in such a case
would cause the cloth to yield first and tear the
particular Teazle is grown largely in the west of England, and also
imported from France, Germany, Italy, Africa and America, to meet
the needs of our manufacturers. One large firm uses 20,000 Teazle
heads in a year.
are cut as soon as the flowers wither, about 8 inches of stem
remaining attached to them, and they are then dried and sorted into
of the Clothworkers' Company are three Teazle-heads.
allied to the Teazle, though very different in appearance, is the
Scabious, also belonging to the natural order Dipsaceae, a family
of plants having affinities with the large order Compositae, to
which the Thistles belong.
Medicinal Action and Uses
---Habitat---Southern Europe, from Spain to Greece, also
plant was well known to the Ancients who gave it its peculiar name,
believing it to be obtained originally from the Isle of Thapsus. It
is considered by the Algerians to be a specific against pain, every
part of the plant being efficacious, though deadly poisonous to
Camels. The root is a strong purgative. Thapsia Silphion is thought
to be identical with Thapsia Garganica, is found on the mountains
near the site of Ancient Cyrene, and is said to have yielded the
gum resin to the Ancients as Laser Cyrenaicum or Asa Dulces, the
Greek name being Silphion. Representations of it occur on Cyrene
and Uses---Theophrastus speaks of the purgative and emetic
properties of the root, and modern French doctors recognize its
value and include it in their Codex as Resin Thapsiae. An extract
is made from the bark of the root with alcohol, the moisture is
evaporated and made into a plaster with 7 per cent of the resin
combined with yellow wax, turps and colophony. Great caution has to
be exercised in unpacking the commercial bales of the roots because
the dust or powder arising in the process causes itching and
swelling of the face and hands. The French Thapsia plaster is a
very drastic counter-irritant, creating much inflammation with an
eczematous eruption (and intolerable itching) which leaves scars.
Another variety, T. Villosa, also contains in its root a vesicant
resin which acts more gently than T. Garganica.
Thistle, Creeping Plume
Thistle, Marsh Plume
Thistle, Common Star
Thistle, Yellow Star
the old English name - essentially the same in all kindred
languages - for a large family of plants occurring chiefly in
Europe and Asia, of which we have fourteen species in Great
Britain, arranged under the botanical groups Carduus, Carlina,
Onopordon and Carbenia, or Cnicus.
agriculture the Thistle is the recognized sign of untidiness and
neglect, being found not so much in barren ground, as in good
ground not properly cared for. It has always been a plant of ill
repute among us; Shakespeare classes 'rough Thistles' with 'hateful
Docks,' and further back in the history of our race we read of the
Thistle representing part of the primeval curse on the earth in
general, and on man in particular, for - 'Thorns also and Thistles
shall it bring forth to thee.'
will soon monopolize a large extent of country to the extinction of
other plants, as they have done in parts of the American prairies,
in Canada and British Columbia, and as they did in Australia, till
a stringent Act of Parliament was passed, about twenty years ago,
imposing heavy penalties upon all who neglected to destroy Thistles
on their land, every man being now compelled to root out, within
fourteen days, any Thistle that may lift up its head, Government
inspectors being specially appointed to carry out the enforcement
of the law.
of weeds in Great Britain, having, in the opinion of many, also
reached disturbing proportions, it is now proposed to enact a
similar law in this country, and the Smallholders' Union is
bringing forward a 'Bill to prevent the spread of noxious weeds in
England and Wales,' the provisions being similar to the Australian
law - weed-infested roadsides, as well as badly-cleared cultivated
land, to come within the scope of the enactment.
thirteen noxious weeds enumerated in the proposed Bill, the name of
Thistle is naturally to be found. And yet in medicine Thistles are
far from useless.
beaten up or crushed in a mill to destroy the prickles, the leaves
of all Thistles have proved excellent food for cattle and horses.
This kind of fodder was formerly used to a great extent in Scotland
before the introduction of special green crops for the purpose. The
young stems of many of the Thistles are also edible, and the seeds
of all the species yield a good oil by expression.
three of our native species are handsome enough to be worthy of a
place in gardens. Some species which flourish in hotter and drier
climates than our own, such as the handsome Yellow Thistles of the
south of Europe, Scolymus, are cultivated for that purpose, and
have a classical interest, being mentioned by Hesiod as the flower
of summer. This striking plant, crowned with its golden flowers, is
abundant throughout Sicily. The Fish-bone Thistle (Chamaepeuce
diacantha), from Syria, is also a very handsome plant. A grand
Scarlet Thistle from Mexico (Erythrolena conspicua) was grown in
England some fifty years ago, but is now never seen.
Carbenia benedicta (BERUL.)
Medicinal Action and Uses
---Synonyms---Blessed Thistle. Cnicus benedictus (Gaetn.).
Carduus benedictus (Steud.).
however, that has been cultivated for several centuries in this
country for its medicinal use is known as the Blessed or Holy
Thistle. It is a handsome annual, a native of Southern Europe,
occurring there in waste, stony, uncultivated places, but it grows
more readily in England in cultivation.
It is said
to have obtained its name from its high reputation as a heal-all,
being supposed even to cure the plague. It is mentioned in all the
treatises on the Plague, and especially by Thomas Brasbridge, who
in 1578 published his Poore Man's Jewell, that is to say, a
Treatise of the Pestilence, unto which is annexed a declaration of
the vertues of the Hearbes Carduus Benedictus and Angelica.
Shakespeare in Much Ado about Nothing, says: 'Get you some of this
distilled Carduus Benedictus and lay it to your heart; it is the
only thing for a qualm.... I mean plain Holy Thistle.' The
'distilled' leaves, it says 'helpeth the hart,' 'expelleth all
poyson taken in at the mouth and other corruption that doth hurt
and annoye the hart,' and 'the juice of it is outwardly applied to
the bodie' ('lay it to your heart,' Sh.), 'therefore I counsell all
that have Gardens to nourish it, that they may have it always to
their own use, and the use of their neighbours that lacke
sometimes been stated that the herb was first cultivated by Gerard
in 1597, but as this book was published twenty years previously it
would appear to have been in cultivation much earlier, and in fact
it is described and its virtues enumerated in the Herbal of Turner
stem of the Blessed Thistle grows about 2 feet high, is reddish,
slender, very much branched and scarcely able to keep upright under
the weight of its leaves and flowerheads. The leaves are long,
narrow, clasping the dull green stem, with prominent pale veins,
the irregular teeth of the wavy margin ending in spines. The
flowers are pale yellow, in green prickly heads, each scale of the
involucre, or covering of the head, ending also in a long, brown
bristle. The whole plant, leaves, stalks and also the flowerheads,
are covered with a thin down. It grows more compactly in some soils
than in others.
---Cultivation---Being an annual, Blessed Thistle is propagated
by seed. It thrives in any ordinary soil. Allow 2 feet each way
when thinning out the seedlings. Though occurring sometimes in
waste places in England as an escape from cultivation, it cannot be
considered indigenous to this country. The seeds are usually sown
in spring, but if the newly-ripened seeds are sown in September or
October in sheltered situations, it is possible to have supplies of
the herb green, both summer and winter.
whole herb. The leaves and flowering tops are collected in July,
just as the plant breaks into flower, and cut on a dry day, the
best time being about noon, when there is no longer any trace of
dew on them.
1/2 tons of fresh herb produce 1 ton when dried, and about 35 cwt.
of dry herb can be raised per acre.
Constituents---Blessed Thistle contains a volatile oil, and a
bitter, crystallineneutral body called Cnicin (soluble in alcohol
and slightly also in water) which is said to be analogous to
salicin in its properties.
and Uses---Tonic, stimulant, diaphoretic, emetic and emmenagogue.
In large doses, Blessed Thistle acts as a strong emetic, producing
vomiting with little pain and inconvenience. Cold infusions in
smaller draughts are valuable in weak and debilitated conditions of
the stomach, and as a tonic, creating appetite and preventing
sickness. The warm infusion - 1 OZ. of the dried herb to a pint of
boiling water - in doses of a wineglassful, forms in intermittent
fevers one of the most useful diaphoretics to which employment can
be given. The plant was at one time supposed to possess very great
virtues against fevers of all kinds.
extract, 1/2 to 1 drachm.
It is said
to have great power in the purification and circulation of the
blood, and on this account strengthens the brain and the
leaves, dried and powdered, are good for worms.
chiefly used now for nursing mothers the warm infusion scarcely
ever failing to procure a proper supply of milk. It is considered
one of the best medicines which can be used for the
Turner (1568) says:
'It is very good for the headache and the
megram, for the use of the juice or powder of the leaves,
preserveth and keepeth a man from the headache, and healeth it
being present. It is good for any ache in the body and
strengtheneth the members of the whole body, and fasteneth loose
sinews and weak. It is also good for the dropsy. It helpeth the
memory and amendeth thick hearing. The leaves provoke sweat. There
is nothing better for the canker and old rotten and festering sores
than the leaves, juice, broth, powder and water of Carduus
Culpepper (1652) writes of
'It is a herb of Mars, and under the Sign
Aries. It helps swimmings and giddiness in the head, or the disease
called vertigo, because Aries is the House of Mars. It is an
excellent remedy against yellow jaundice and other infirmities of
the gall, because Mars governs choller. It strengthens the
attractive faculty in man, and clarifies the blood, because the one
is ruled by Mars. The continual drinking the decoction of it helps
red faces, tetters and ringworm, because Mars causeth them. It
helps plague-sores, boils and itch, the bitings of mad dogs and
venomous beasts, all which infirmities are under Mars. Thus you see
what it doth by sympathy.
'By Antypathy to other Planets: it cures
the French Pox by Antypathy to Venus who governs it. It strengthens
the memory and cures deafness by Antypathv to Saturn, who hath his
fall in Aries which Rules the Head. It cures Quarten Agues and
other diseases of Melancholy, and a dust Choller by Sympathy to
Saturn, Mars being exalted in Capricorn. Also it provokes Urine,
the stopping of which is usually caused by Mars or the
Mattheolus and Fuschius wrote also of
'It is a plant of great virtue; it helpeth
inwardly and outwardly; it strengthens all the principal members of
the body, as the brain, the heart, the stomach, the liver, the
lungs and the kidney; it is also a preservative against all
disease, for it causes perspiration, by which the body is purged of
much corruption, such as breedeth diseases; it expelleth the venom
of infection; it consumes and wastes away all bad humours;
therefore, give God thanks for his goodness, Who hath given this
herb and all others for the benefit of our health.'
different ways of using Blessed Thistle have been recommended: It
may be eaten in the green leaf, with bread and butter for
breakfast, like Watercress; the dried leaves may be made into a
powder and a drachm taken in wine or otherwise every day; a
wineglassful of the juice may be taken every day, or, which is the
usual and the best method, an infusion may be made of the dried
herb, taken any time as a preventive, or when intended to remove
disease, at bed time, as it causes copious
the other Thistles may be used as substitutes for the Blessed
Thistle. The seeds of the Milk Thistle (Carduus Marianus), known
also as Silybum Marianum, have similar properties and uses, and the
Cotton Thistle, Melancholy Thistle, etc., have also been employed
for like purposes.
Medicinal Action and Uses
Used---Whole herb, root, leaves, seeds and hull.
Marian, or Milk Thistle, is perhaps the most important medicinally
among the members of this genus, to which all botanists do not,
however, assign it, naming it Silybum Marianum.
is a fine, tall plant, about the size of the Cotton Thistle, with
cutinto root-leaves, waved and spiny at the margin, of a deep,
glossy green, with milkwhite veins, and is found not uncommonly in
hedgebanks and on waste ground, especially by buildings, which
causes some authorities to consider that it may not be a true
native. In Scotland it is rare.
handsome plant is not unworthy of a place in our gardens and
shrubberies and was formerly frequently cultivated. The stalks,
like those of most of our larger Thistles, may be eaten, and are
palatable and nutritious. The leaves also may be eaten as a salad
when young. Bryant, in his Flora Dietetica, writes of it: 'The
young shoots in the spring, cut close to the root with part of the
stalk on, is one of the best boiling salads that is eaten, and
surpasses the finest cabbage. They were sometimes baked in pies.
The roots may be eaten like those of Salsify.' In some districts
the leaves are called 'Pig Leaves,' probably because pigs like
them, and the seeds are a favourite food of
statement that this bird lines its nest with thistledown is
scarcely accurate, the substance being in most cases the down of
Colt's-foot (Tussilago), or the cotton down from the willow, both
of which are procurable at the building season, whereas thistledown
is at that time immature.
Westmacott, writing in 1694, says of this Thistle: 'It is a
Friend to the Liver and Blood: the prickles cut off, they were
formerly used to be boiled in the Spring and eaten with other
herbs; but as the World decays, so doth the Use of good old things
and others more delicate and less virtuous brought
of this Thistle formerly were eaten, boiled, treated like those of
There is a
tradition that the milk-white veins of the leaves originated in the
milk of the Virgin which once fell upon a plant of Thistle, hence
it was called Our Lady's Thistle, and the Latin name of the species
has the same derivation.
and Uses---The seeds of this plant are used nowadays for the same
purpose as Blessed Thistle, and on this point John Evelyn wrote:
'Disarmed of its prickles and boiled, it is worthy of esteem, and
thought to be a great breeder of milk and proper diet for women who
It is in
popular use in Germany for curing jaundice and kindred biliary
derangements. It also acts as a demulcent in catarrh and pleurisy.
The decoction when applied externally is said to have proved
beneficial in cases of cancer.
Gerard wrote of the Milk Thistle
'the root if borne about one doth expel
melancholy and remove all diseases connected therewith. . . . My
opinion is that this is the best remedy that grows against all
which was another way of saying that it
had good action on the liver. He also tells us:
'Dioscorides affirmed that the seeds being
drunke are a remedy for infants that have their sinews drawn
together, and for those that be bitten of serpents:'
and we find in a record of old Saxon
remedies that 'this wort if hung upon a man's neck it setteth
snakes to flight.' The seeds were also formerly thought to cure
considered the Milk Thistle to be as efficient as Carduus
benedictus for agues, and preventing and curing the infection of
the plague, and also for removal of obstructions of the liver and
spleen. He recommends the infusion of the fresh root and seeds, not
only as good against jaundice, also for breaking and expelling
stone and being good for dropsy when taken internally, but in
addition, to be applied externally, with cloths, to the liver. With
other writers, he recommends the young, tender plant (after
removing the prickles) to be boiled and eaten in the spring as a
is prepared by homoeopathists for medicinal use from equal parts of
the root and the seeds with the hull attached.
It is said
that the empirical nostrum, antiglaireux, of Count Mattaei, is
prepared from this species of Thistle.
in general, according to Culpepper, are under the dominion of
Medicinal Action and Uses
---Synonyms---Cotton Thistle. Woolly Thistle.
Thistle, or Cotton Thistle (Onopordon Acanthium) is one of the most
beautiful of British plants, not uncommon in England, by roadsides
and in waste places, particularly in chalky and sandy soils in the
is a biennial, flowering in late summer and autumn. The erect stem,
18 inches to 5 feet high, is very stout and much branched,
furnished with wing-like appendages (the decurrent bases of the
leaves) which are broader than its own diameter. The leaves are
very large, waved and with sharp prickles on the margin. The
flowers are light purple and surrounded with a nearly globular
involucre, with scales terminating in strong, yellow
plant is hoary with a white, cottony down, that comes off readily
when rubbed, and causes the young leaves to be quite white. From
the presence of this covering, the Thistle has obtained its popular
name of Cotton or Woolly Thistle.
species is one of the stiffest and most thorny of its race, and its
sharp spines well agree with Gerard's description of the plant as
'set full of most horrible sharp prickles, so that it is impossible
for man or beast to touch the same without great hurt and
the true Scotch Thistle even the Scottish antiquarians cannot
decide, but it is generally considered to be this species of
Thistle that was originally the badge of the House of Stuart, and
came to be regarded as the national emblem of Scotland. The first
heraldic use of the plant would appear to be in the inventory of
the property of James III of Scotland, made at his death in 1458,
where a hanging embroidered with 'thrissils' is mentioned. It was,
undoubtedly, a national badge in 1503, in which year Dunbar wrote
his poetic allegory, 'The Thrissill and the Rose,' on the union of
James IV and Princess Margaret of England. The Order of the
Thistle, which claims, with the exception of the Garter, to be the
most ancient of our Orders, was instituted in 1540 by James V, and
revived by James VII of Scotland and Second of England, who created
eight Knights in 1687. The expressive motto of the Order, Nemo me
impune lacessit (which would seem to apply most aptly to the
species just described), appears surrounding the Thistle that
occupies the centre of the coinage of James VI. From that date
until now, the Thistle has had a place on our coins.
states, and mediaeval writers repeat, that a decoction of Thistles
applied to a bald head would restore a healthy growth of
and Uses---The Ancients supposed this Thistle to be a specific in
cancerous complaints, and in more modern times the juice is said to
have been applied with good effect to cancers and
decoction of the root is astringent and diminishes discharges from
tells us, on the authority of Dioscorides and Plinv, that 'the
leaves and root hereof are a remedy for those that have their
bodies drawn backwards,' and Culpepper explains that not only is
the juice therefore good for a crick in the neck, but also as a
remedy for rickets in children. It was considered also to be good
in nervous complaints.
of the genus is derived from the Greek words onos (an ass) and
perdon (I disperse wind), the species being said to produce this
effect in asses.
receptacle or disk on which the florets are placed was used in
earlier times as the Artichoke - which is also a member of the
Thistle tribe. The young stalks, when stripped of their rind, may
be eaten like those of the Burdock.
is occasionally collected from the stem and used to stuff pillows,
and the oil obtained from the seeds has been used on the Continent
for burning, both in lamps and for ordinary culinary purposes.
Twelve pounds of the seeds are said to produce, when heat is used
in expression, about 3 lb of oil.
greater number of the Thistles are assigned to the genus Carduus.
The derivation of the name of this genus is difficult to determine;
by some orders it is said to come from the Greek cheuro, a
technical word denoting the operation of carding wool, to which
process the heads of some of the species are
---Synonyms---Ground Thistle. Dwarf May Thistle
acaulis, the Dwarf Thistle, is found in pastures, especially chalk
downs, and is rather common in the southern half of England,
particularly on the east side. It is a perennial, with a long,
woody root-stock. The stem in the ordinary form is so short that
the flowers appear to be sessile, or sitting, in the centre of the
rosette of prickly leaves, but very occasionally it attains the
length of a foot or 18 inches, and then is usually slightly
branched. The leaves are spiny and rigid, with only a few hairs on
the upper side, and on the veins beneath, and are of a dark,
shining green. The flowers are large and dark crimson in colour,
and are in bloom from July to September.
Thistle is very injurious in pastures; it kills all plants that
grow beneath it, and ought not to be tolerated, even on the borders
of fields and waste places. At one time the root used to be chewed
as a remedy for toothache.
(Flowers of the Field) calls this the Ground Thistle, and Culpepper
calls it the Dwarf May Thistle, and says that 'in some places it is
called the Dwarf Carline Thistle.'
arvensis, the Creeping Plurne Thistle, or Way Thistle, has many
varieties. It is found in cultivated fields and waste places, and
is very common and widely distributed. The root-stock is perennial,
creeping extensively and sending up leafy barren shoots and
flowering stems about 3 feet high. The leaves are attenuated,
embracing the stems at their base, with strong spines at their
margins. The flowers are in numerous small heads, and are pale
purple in colour. The plant is bright green, the leaves often white
beneath, but varying much in this respect.
crispus, the Welted Thistle, or Field Thistle, is one of the taller
species. The stem, 3 to 4 feet high, is erect, branched,
continuously spinous-winged throughout. The leaves are green on
both sides, downy on the veins beneath, narrow, cut into numerous
lobes and very prickly. The flowers are purplish-crimson, not very
large, sometimes clustered three or four together on short stalks.
The plant varies much in the degree of soft hairiness, and
consequently in the green or whitish colour of the leaves. It is
common and generally distributed in England, growing in hedgebanks,
borders of fields and by roadsides, occurring less frequently in
Scotland. This is one of the least troublesome of the Thistles,
being an annual and less abundant than some others. Like the last
species, it has many variations of form.
eriophorus, the Woolly-headed Thistle, is a biennial. The stem is
elongated, branched, not winged, short and furrowed, woolly, 3 to 5
feet high. The lowest leaves are very large, often 2 feet long, the
stem leaves much smaller, all deeply cut into, with strap-shaped
lobes joined together in pairs in the lower ones. The flowers are
light reddish-purple, the large woolly heads covered with reddish
curled hairs. The whole plant is a deep dull green. It flowers in
Thistle is eaten when young as a salad. The young stalks, peeled
and soaked in water to take off the bitterness, are excellent, and
may be eaten either boiled or baked in pies after the manner of
Rhubarb, though Gerard says: 'concerning the temperature and
virtues of these Thistles we can allege nothing at
heterophyllus, the Melancholy Thistle, is said by some to have been
the original badge of the House of Stuart, instead of the Cotton
Thistle; it is the Cluas an fleidh of the Highlanders, and is more
common in Scotland than in England, where it only occurs in the
midland and northern counties, growing no farther south than the
northern counties of Wales. It is a perennial, with a long and
creeping root. The stems are tall and stout, often deeply furrowed,
and more or less covered with a white or cotton-like down. The
leaves clasp the stem at their bases and white dark green above,
have their under-surfaces thickly covered with white and down like
hairs. Unlike most of the Thistles, the leaves are not continued
down the stem at all, and are much simpler in form than the
ordinary type of Thistle foliage. Their edges have small
bristle-like teeth. The flowerheads are borne singly on long
stalks, the bracts that form the involucre being quite destitute of
considered that a decoction of this Thistle in wine 'being drank
expels superfluous melancholy out of the body and makes a man as
merry as a cricket.'
And he further adds:
'Dioscorides saith, the root borne about
one doth the like, and removes all diseases of melancholy: Modern
writers laugh at him: Let them laugh that win: my opinion is, that
it is the best remedy against all melancholy diseases that grows;
they that please may use it.'
lanceolatus, the Spear Thistle, is one of our most striking and
common Thistles. It grows in waste places, by roadsides, in
pastures and cultivated ground, and is generally distributed over
the whole kingdom. The plant is a biennial, the stem 1 to 5 feet
high, stout and strong, more or less woolly with narrow, spinous
wings. The leaves have the segments elongated or lanceshaped,
palmately cleft sometimes in large plants, but short and scarcely
cleft at all in weaker specimens, each lobe terminating in a long
and acute prickle. They are dark, dull green above, paler beneath,
where they are sometimes nearly white from the abundance of hair
present. The flowerheads stand singly and are large and
conspicuous. The flowers are a beautiful purple and, like those of
the Artichoke, have the property of curdling milk.
nutans, the Musk Thistle, or Nodding Thistle, occurs in waste
places, and is particularly partial to chalky and limestone soils.
It is not uncommon in England, but is rare in Scotland, where it is
confined to sandy seashores in the southern counties. The stem is
erect, 2 to 3 feet high, branched only in larger plants, furrowed,
interruptedly winged. The leaves are long, undulated, with
scattered hairs on both surfaces, somewhat shiny, green and
verydeeply cut. This is a common Thistle on a dry soil, and may be
known by its large drooping, crimson-purple flowers, the largest of
all our Thistle blooms, handsome both in form and colour, and by
its faint, musky scent.
of this, as of some other species, may be advantageously used as a
material in making paper.
palustris, or Cirsium Palustre, the Marsh Plume Thistle, is very
common in meadows, marshes and bogs, by the sides of ditches, etc.,
and is generally distributed over the country. It is a biennial,
the stem stout, erect, furrowed, 1 to 5 feet high, scarcely
branched at all, the branches, when occurring, being much shorter
than the main stem, which is narrowly winged, the wings having
numerous, long slender spines. The spines on the edges of the
narrow, long leaves are similar to those on the wings of the stem.
The flowers are dark, dull, crimson purple, small in themselves,
but grouped together in large clusters, which distinguish it from
most of our thistles, though one or two others exhibit their
characteristic in a lesser degree. The plant is a deep dull green,
the leaves sometimes slightly hoary beneath.
of this species are said to be as good as those of the Milk
Thistle, and in Evelyn's time were similarly employed.
tells us that, in his day, it was 'frequent in the Isle of
vulgaris, the Carline Thistle, closely related to the last-named
Thistles, but assigned to a special genus, of which it is the sole
representative in this country, is found on dry banks and pastures,
being rather scarce except on chalk, where it is plentiful. It is
rare in Scotland. It is a biennial, the root, a taproot, producing
in the first year a tuft of strap-shaped, nearly flat leaves,
hoary, especially beneath, very spinuous, but with the spines short
and weak. The flower stem, appearing in the second year, is from 3
inches to 2 feet high, purple, not winged, the leaves on it
decreasing in length and increasing in width from bottom to top,
strongly veined, spinous and waved at the edges. The whole plant is
pale green, the leaves rigid and scarcely altering after the plant
is dead, except in colour. The flowers are straw yellow, the inner
florets purplish, the heads distinguished by the strawcoloured,
glossy, radiating long inner scales of the involucre, or outer
floral cup. The outer bracts are very prickly. The flowers expand
in dry and close in moist weather. They retain this property for a
long time and form rustic hygrometers, being often seen on the
Continent nailed over cottage doors for this purpose. The presence
of the Carline Thistle indicates a very poor soil; it particularly
infests dry, sandy pastures.
describes the 'Wild Carline Thistle (C. vulgaris)' as having
flowers 'of a fine purple,' so he must have confused it with
another species, or given it a wrong name.
The original name of this plant was
Carolina, so called after Charlemagne, of whom the legend relates
'a horrible pestilence broke out in his
army and carried off many thousand men, which greatly troubled the
pious emperor. Wherefore he prayed earnestly to God, and in his
sleep there appeared to him an angel who shot an arrow from a
crossbow, telling him to mark the plant upon which it fell, for
with that plant he might cure his army of the
so miraculously indicated was this Thistle. Its medicinal qualities
appear to be very like those of Elecampane, it has diaphoretic
action, and in large doses is purgative. The herb contains some
resin and a volatile essential oil of a camphoraceous nature, like
that of Elecampane, which has made it of use for similar purposes
as a cordial and antiseptic.
Anglo-Saxon, the plant was called from the bristly appearance of
its flowerheads, ever throat, i.e. boar's throat. It was formerly
used in magical incantations.
texture of Carline Thistles is like that of Everlasting Flowers;
they scarcely alter their appearance when dead; and the whole plant
is remarkably durable.
Thistles are the SLENDER-FLOWERED THISTLE (C. pycnocephalous) which
has stems 2 to 4 feet high, slightly branched, hoary, with broad
continuous, deeply-lobed, spinous wings; leaves cottony underneath;
heads many, clustered, cylindrical, small; florets pink. It grows
in sandy, waste places, especially near the sea: frequent.
TUBEROUS PLUME THISTLE (C. tuberosus). The root is spindle-shaped
with tuberous fibres; stem 2 feet high, single, erect, round hairy,
leafless above; leaves not decurrent, deeply pinnatifid, fringed
with minute prickles; heads generally solitary, large, egg-shaped;
florets crimson. Grows only in Wiltshire. Perennial.
PLUME THISTLE (C. pratensis). A small plant, 12 to 18 inches high,
with fibrous roots; a cottony stem, giving off runners; few leaves,
mostly radical, soft, wavy, fringed with minute spines, not
decurrent; and generally solitary heads, with adpressed, slightly
cottony bracts and crimson florets. Found in wet meadows; not
general. Flowers in August. Perennial.
THISTLE is in no sense a Thistle, but is more nearly allied to the
Thistles belong to the genus Centaurea.
THISTLE (no listing)
Medicinal Action and Uses
Used---Herb, seeds, root.
Calcitrapa, the Common Star Thistle, occurs in waste places and by
roadsides, but is somewhat rare and chiefly found in south-east
stem is branched, not winged, like most of the true Thistles; the
lower leaves are much cut into, almost to the midrib, but the
uppermost are merely toothed or with entire margins. On the
flowerheads are long sharp spines, 1/2 inch to 1 inch long. The
flowers themselves are pale, purplish rose, the ray florets no
longer than the central ones. The plant is a dull green, somewhat
hairy, and flowers in July.
specific name of this species is due to the resemblance of the
flower-head to the Caltrops, or iron ball covered with spikes,
formerly used for throwing under horses' feet to lame them on a
field of battle.
It is a
troublesome weed to agriculturists in certain districts, and is
only eradicated by breaking up the ground.
and Uses---The seeds used to be made into powder and drunk in wine
as a remedy for stone, and the powdered root was considered a cure
for fistula and gravel.
Medicinal Action and Uses
---Synonym---St. Barnaby's Thistle.
Used---Herb, seeds, root.
solstitialis, the Yellow Star Thistle, St. Barnaby's Thistle, is
rare and hardly to be considered a native, though found in dry
pastures in south-east Kent.
plant forms a scrubby bush, 18 inches to 2 feet high, with the
lower part of the stems very stiff, almost woody, the branches when
young very soft, with broad wings, decurrent from the short,
strap-shaped leaves. The lower leaves are deeply cut into, the
upper ones narrow and with entire margins. The spines of the
flower-heads are very long, 1/2 inch to 1 inch in length, pale
yellow. The whole plant is hoary.
obtains its name from being supposed to flower about St. Barnabas'
Day, June 11 (old style). It is an annual.
and Uses---It has been used for the same purposes as the Common
species of Centaurea grow wild in Palestine, some of formidable
size. Canon Tristram mentions some in Galilee through which it was
impossible to make way till the plants had been beaten down.
'Thistle' mentioned several times in the Bible refers to some
member of this family (Centaurea), probably C. Calcitrapa, which is
a Palestinian weed.
Datura Stramonium (LINN.)
leaves are not regarded as poisonous. - EDITOR.)
Parts Used, Harvesting and Preparation for Market
Medicinal Action and Used
An Old Recipe 'for A Burne
---Synonyms---Stramonium. Datura. Devil's Apple.
Jamestown-weed. Jimson-weed. Stinkweed. Devil's Trumpet. Apple of
---Habitat---Throughout the world, except the colder or Arctic
Thornapple is, like the Henbane, a member of the order Solanceae.
It belongs to the genus Datura, which consists of fifteen species,
distributed throughout the warmer portion of the whole world, the
greatest number being found in Central America. Nearly all of them
are used locally in medicine, and are characterized by similar
properties to those of the official species, Datura Stramonium. The
plants vary from herbs to shrubs, and even trees.
question of the native country and early distribution of D.
Stramonium has been much discussed by botanical writers. It is
doubtful to what country this plant originally belonged. Many
European botanists refer it to North America, while there it is
looked on as a denizen of the Old World. Nuttall considers it
originated in South America or Asia, and it is probable that its
native country is to be found in the East. Alphonse de Candolle,
Géographie Botanique (1855), gives it as his opinion that D.
Stramonium is indigenous to the Old World, probably to the borders
of the Caspian Sea or adjacent regions, but certainly not India; it
grows wild abundantly in southern Russia from the borders of the
Black Sea eastward to Siberia. Its seeds are very retentive of
life, and being often in the earth put on shipboard for ballast,
from one country to another, the plant is thus propagated in all
regions, and it is now spread throughout the world, except in the
colder or Arctic regions. Gypsies are also said to have had a share
in spreading the plant by means of its seeds from western Asia into
Europe. In the United States, it is now a familiar weed, found
everywhere in the vicinity of cultivation, especially about
barnyards, timber-yards, docks and waste places, frequenting
dung-heaps, the roadsides and commons, and other places where a
rank soil is created by the deposited refuse of towns and villages.
Where the plant grows abundantly, its vicinity may be detected by
the rank odour which it diffuses. Notwithstanding the abundance of
the plant in North America, it is cultivated there in order to
obtain a drug of uniform quality. The Bureau of Plant Industry,
United States Department of Agriculture, has conducted experiments
on a large scale: several hundred pounds of leaf were grown and
cured by artificial heat in a tobacco barn, proving of excellent
quality, being marketed at a price in advance of the highest quoted
Britain, it is only occasionally found and can scarcely be
considered naturalized here, though it is sometimes met with in the
south of England, generally in rich, waste ground, chiefly near
gardens or dwellings. It is sometimes grown in private gardens in
England as an ornamental plant. It was cultivated in London towards
the close of the sixteenth century.
Stramonium is of uncertain origin: some authorities claim that it
is derived from the Greek name of the madapple. Stramonia was the
name of D. metel at Venice, in the middle of the sixteenth century,
and the plant is figured under that title in the great Herbals of
Tragus and Fuchsius. D. Stramonium seems to have been a later
introduction into Europe than D. metel, not becoming general till
after the middle of the sixteenth century, but as it rapidly spread
and became a common plant, the name of the latter was transferred
generic name, Datura, is from the Hindoo Dhatura, derived from the
Sanskrit, D'hustúra, applied to the Indian species fastuosa, well
known to the mediaeval Arabian physicians under the name of
Thornapple is a large and coarse herb, though an annual, branching
somewhat freely, giving a bushy look to the plant. It attains a
height of about 3 feet, its spreading branches covering an area
almost as broad. On rich soil it may attain a height of even 6
is very long - thick and whitish, giving off many fibres. The stem
is stout, erect and leafy, smooth, a pale yellowishgreen in colour,
branching repeatedly in a forked manner, and producing in the forks
of the branches a leaf and a single, erect flower. The leaves are
large and angular, 4 to 6 inches long, uneven at the base, with a
wavy and coarsely-toothed margin, and have the strong, branching
veins very plainly developed. The upper surface is dark and
greyish-green, generally smooth, the under surface paler, and when
dry, minutely wrinkled.
flowers nearly all the summer. The flowers are large and handsome,
about 3 inches in length, growing singly on short stems springing
from the axils of the leaves or at the forking of the branches. The
calyx is long, tubular and somewhat swollen below, and very sharply
five-angled, surmounted by five sharp teeth. The corolla, folded
and only half-opened, is funnel-shaped, of a pure white, with six
prominent ribs, which are extended into the same number of
sharppointed segments. The flowers open in the evening for the
attraction of night-flying moths, and emit a powerful
flowers are succeeded by large, eggshaped seed capsules of a green
colour, about the size of a large walnut and covered with numerous
sharp spines, hence the name of the plant. When ripe, this
seed-vessel opens at the top, throwing back four valve-like forms,
leaving a long, central structure upon which are numerous rough,
dark-brown seeds. The appearance of the plant when in flower and
fruit is so peculiar that it cannot be mistaken for any other
is smooth, except for a slight downiness on the younger parts,
which are covered with short, curved hairs, which fall off as
growth proceeds. It exhales a rank, very heavy and somewhat
nauseating narcotic odour. This foetid odour arises from the
leaves, especially when they are bruised, but the flowers are
sweet-scented, though producing stupor if their exhalations are
breathed for any length of time.
is strongly narcotic, but has a peculiar action on the human frame
which renders it very valuable as a medicine. The whole plant is
poisonous, but the seeds are the most active; neither drying nor
boiling destroys the poisonous properties. The usual consequences
of the poison when taken in sufficient quantity are dimness of
sight, dilation of the pupil, giddiness and delirium, sometimes
amounting to mania, but its action varies greatly on different
persons. Many fatal instances of its dangerous effects are
recorded: it is thought to act more powerfully on the brain than
Belladonna and to produce greater delirium. The remedies to be
administered in case of poisoning by Stramonium are the same as
those described for Henbane poisoning, and also Belladonna
poisoning. It is classed in Table II of the poison schedule. The
pupils have become widely dilated even by accidentally rubbing the
eyes with the fingers after pulling the fresh leaves of Stramonium
from the plant.
have in several instances caused death, and accidents have
sometimes occurred from swallowing an infusion of the herb in
mistake for other preparations, such as senna tea.
animals as a rule refuse to eat Thornapple, being repelled by its
disagreeable odour and nauseous taste, so that its presence is not
really dangerous to any of our domestic cattle. Among human beings
the greater number of accidents have occurred among children, who
have eaten the halfripe seeds which have a sweetish
poisonous properties of the seeds are well known in India, where
the Datura is abundant, the thieves and assassins not unfrequently
administering them to their victims to produce
it is called the 'Devil's Apple,' from its dangerous qualities and
the remarkable effects that follow its administration. When the
first settlers arrived in Virginia, some ate the leaves of this
plant and experienced such strange and unpleasant effects that the
colonists (so we are told) gave it this name by which it is still
known in the United States. It is also known very commonly there by
the name of 'Jamestown (or Jimson) Weed,' derived probably from its
having been first observed in the neighbourhood of that old
settlement in Virginia.
two varieties of this species of Datura, one with a green stem and
white flowers, the other with a dark-reddish stem, minutely dotted
with green and purplish flowers, striped with deep purple on the
inside. The latter is now considered as a distinct species, being
the D. Tatula of Linnaeus. The leaves are mostly of a deeper green,
and have purplish foot-stalks and mid-ribs.
Candolle considered D. Tatula to be a native of Central America,
whence it was imported into Europe in the sixteenth century, and
naturalized first in Italy and then in South-west Europe, where it
is very common. It occurs in England more rarely than D.
Stramonium, under similar conditions and seems a more tender plant.
It is sometimes cultivated here. The properties of both species are
times, the Thornapple was considered an aid to the incantation of
witches, and during the time of the witch and wizard mania in
England, it was unlucky for anyone to grow it in his
---Cultivation---Thornapple is easily cultivated, growing well
in an open, sunnysituation. It will flourish in most moderately
good soils, but will do best in a rich calcareous soil, or in a
good sandy loam, with leaf mould added.
sown in the open in May, in drills 3 feet apart, barely covered.
Sow thinly, as the plants attain a good size and grow freely from
seed. Thin out the young plants to a distance of 12 to 15 inches
between each plant in the drill. From 10 to 15 lb. of seed to the
acre should be allowed.
should be kept free from weeds in the early stages, but the plants
are so umbrageous and strong that they need little care later. If
the summer is hot and dry, give a mulching of rotted
may also be raised from seeds, sown in a hot-bed in February or
March, or in April in boxes in a cool greenhouse, the seedlings,
when large enough, being transferred to small pots, in which they
are grown with as much light and air as possible till June, when
they are planted in the open. Thornapple transplants
for leaf crop, the capsules should be picked off as soon as formed,
as in a wind the spines tear the leaves. Some seed, for propagation
purposes, should always be collected from plants kept specially for
cultivated in this country, on some of the herb farms, such as Long
Melford and Brentford, Thornapple was not much grown on a
commercial scale before the War, considerable quantities of the
dried leaves having always been imported from Germany and
Harvesting and Preparation for Market---All parts of the Thornapple
have medicinal value, but only the leaves and seeds are official.
The United States Pharmacopceia formerly recognized leaves, root
and seeds, but since 1900 the leaves alone are recognized as
official. They are used in the dried state and are referred to as
leaves are official in all Pharmacopoeias. Many require that they
be renewed annually. The Belgian excludes discoloured leaves. The
Portuguese directs the use of the entire plant except the root, and
allows the substitution of D. Tatula. To how great an extent it is
true that the quality deteriorates on being kept is
commercial drug as imported into Great Britain consists of the
leaves and young shoots, collected while the plant is in flower,
and subsequently dried, and containing the shrivelled, bristly
young fruits, tubular calyx, and yellowish corolla, but the
official description, for medicinal purposes, permits of the use of
the leaves only.
should be gathered when the plant is in full bloom and carefully
dried. The United States Pharmacopoeia considers that they may be
gathered at any time from the appearance of the flowers till the
autumnal frosts. In this country they are generally harvested in
late summer, about August, the crop being cut by the sickle on a
fine day in the morning, after the sun has dried off the dew, and
the leaves stripped from the stem and dried carefully as quickly as
possible, as for Henbane.
leaves are usually much shrivelled and wrinkled, and appear in
commerce either loose, or more or less matted together, of a
dark-greyish green colour, especially on the upper surface, stalked
and often unequal at the base, and are characterized by the very
coarse pointed teeth. About 34 parts of dried leaves are produced
from 100 parts of fresh leaves.
leaves, when bruised, emit a foetid, narcotic odour, which they
lose on drying. Their taste is bitter and nauseous. These
properties, together with their medicinal virtues, are imparted to
water and alcohol and the fixed oils. The leaves if carefully dried
retain their bitter taste.
inspissated juice of the fresh leaves was formerly commonly
prescribed, but the alcoholic extract is now almost exclusively
seeds are official in a number of Pharmacopoeias. The thorny
capsules are gathered from the plants when they are quite ripe, but
still green. They should then be dried in the sun for a few days,
when they will split open and the seeds can be readily shaken out.
The seeds can then be dried, either in the sun or by artificial
ripe seeds are dark brown or dull black in colour, flattened,
kidney-shaped in outline, wrinkled and marked with small
depressions, and average about 1/6 inch in length. Though
ill-smelling when fresh, when dry they have a scarcely perceptible
odour till crushed, but a bitter, oily taste. They should not be
stored in a damp place, or will mildew. Kiln-dried seeds, it should
be noted, are no use for cultivation.
for the seed is very limited, but the dry leaves find a ready
market. The south of Europe furnishes a quantity, but owing to
careless collection and neglect of botanical characters, the South
European product is often mixed with other leaves of no value,
which are sometimes entirely substituted for it, especially species
of Xanthium, which has spiny though smaller fruits. Spanish
Stramonium which contains no Stramonium at all has been offered in
London and Liverpool. The imported commercial Stramonium leaves are
also frequently found freely adulterated with those of Carthamus
contain the same alkaloids as Belladonna, but in somewhat smaller
proportion, the average of commercial samples being about 0.22 per
cent: the percentage may, however, rise to as much as 0.4 per cent.
The mid-rib and footstalk of the leaf contain a far larger
proportion than the blade. It is generally considered that the main
stems and the root contain little alkaloid, and should, therefore,
not be present in the drug. The American Journal of Pharmacy
(January, 1919) directs attention to the fact that if the stems
could be utilized, the cost of labour in harvesting a crop of
Stramonium would be only onefourth or one-fifth of what it is where
the leaves alone are gathered, since machinery for the purpose
could be employed. Dr. G. B. Koch, of the Biological Laboratories
of the H.K. Mulford Co., Philadelphia, has been making careful
experiments on the relative value of the stem and root of this
plant, and has arrived at the following conclusions:
1. The whole plant, either with or without
the root, can be harvested and used for the commercial preparations
without fear of the total alkaloid content falling below 0.25 per
cent, which is the desired standard of the United States
2. The total mydriatic (pupil-dilating)
alkaloids of the leaf and secondary stems when analysed
individually, or the leaves with 10 per cent of the secondary
stems, run much higher than the United States Pharmacopoeia
3. Of the whole plant, including stem,
root and leaf, the leaf represents about 41 per cent.
4. Excluding the root, the ratio of the
leaf to the stem is about 47.5 to 52.3 per cent.
it has been found that fresh parts yielded more alkaloid than the
dried parts. The alkaloid consists chiefly of hyoscyamine,
associated with atropine and hyoscine (scopolamine), malic acid
also being present. The Daturin formerly described as a constituent
is now known to be a mixture of hyoscyamine and atropine. The
leaves also yield 17 to 20 per cent of ash, and are rich in
potassium nitrate, to which, doubtless, part of the antispasmodic
effects are due, and they contain also a trace of volatile oil,
gum, resin, starch, and other unimportant substances.
Except that they contain about 25 per cent of fixed oil, the
constituents of the seeds are practically the same as those of the
leaves, though considered to contain a much greater proportion of
alkaloid, which renders them more powerful than the leaves. But the
presence of the large amount of fixed oil makes it difficult to
extract the alkaloids or to make stable preparations and the leaves
have, therefore, greatly taken the place of the seeds.
and Uses---Antispasmodic, anodyne and narcotic. Its properties are
virtually those of hyoscyamine. It acts similarly to belladonna,
though without constipating, and is used for purposes similar to
those for which belladonna is employed, dilating the pupil of the
eyes in like manner. It is considered slightly more sedative to the
central nervous system than is belladonna.
is, in fact, so similar to belladonna in the symptoms produced by
it in small or large doses, in its toxicity and its general
physiological and therapeutic action, that the two drugs are
practically identical, and since they are about the same strength
in activity, the preparations may be used in similar
has been employed in all the conditions for which belladonna is
more commonly used, but acts much more strongly on the respiratory
organs, and has acquired special repute as one of the chief
remedies for spasmodic asthma, being used far more as the principal
ingredient in asthma powders and cigarettes than internally. The
practice of smoking D. ferox for asthma was introduced into Great
Britain from the East Indies by a certain General, and afterwards
the English species was substituted for that employed in Hindustan.
Formerly the roots were much used: in Ceylon, the leaves, stem and
fruit are all cut up together to make burning powders for asthma,
but in this country the dried leaves are almost exclusively
employed for this purpose. The beneficial effect is considered due
to the presence of atropine, which paralyses the endings of the
pulmonary branches, thus relieving the bronchial spasm. It has been
proved that the smoke from a Stramonium cigarette, containing 0.25
grams of Stramonium, leaves contains as much as 0.5 milligrams of
atropine. The leaves may be made up into cigarettes or smoked in a
pipe, either alone, or with a mixture of tobacco, or with cubebs,
sage, belladonna and other drugs. More commonly, however, the
coarsely-ground leaves are mixed into cones with some aromatic and
with equal parts of potassium nitrate, in order to inincrease
combustion and are burned in a saucer, the smoke being inhaled into
the lungs. Great relief is afforded, the effect being more
immediate when the powdered leaves are burnt and the smoke inhaled
than when smoked by the patient in the form of cigars or
cigarettes, but like most drugs, after constant use, the relief is
not so great and the treatment is only palliative, the causation of
the attack not being affected. Accidents have also occasionally
happened from the injudicious use of the plant in this
the throat and mouth are to be regarded as indications that too
large a quantity is being taken.
besides being employed to relieve asthma in the same manner as the
leaves, being smoked with tobacco, are employed as a narcotic and
anodyne, generally used in the form of an extract, prepared by
boiling the seeds in water, or macerating them in alcohol. A
tincture is sometimes preferred. The extract is given in pills to
allay cough in spasmodic bronchial asthma, in whooping-cough and
spasm of the bladder, and is considered a better cough-remedy than
opium, but should only be used with extreme care, as in over-doses
it is a strong narcotic poison.
locally, in ointment, plasters or fomentation, Stramonium will
palliate the pain of muscular rheumatism, neuralgia, and also pain
due to haemorrhoids, fistula, abscesses and similar
Dosages---Powdered leaves, 1/10 to 5 grains. Fluid extract leaves,
1 to 3 drops. Fluid extract seeds, 1 to 2 drops. Tincture leaves,
B.P. and U.S.P., 5 to 15 drops. Powdered extract, U.S.P., 1/5
grain. Solid extract, B.P., 1/4 to 1 grain. Ointment,
Gerard declared that:
'the juice of Thornapple, boiled with
hog's grease, cureth all inflammations whatsoever, all manner of
burnings and scaldings, as well of fire, water, boiling lead,
gunpowder, as that which comes by lightning and that in very short
time, as myself have found in daily practice, to my great credit
been conjectured that the leaves of D. Stramonium were used by the
priests of Apollo at Delphi to assist them in their prophecies, and
in the Temple of the Sun, in the city of Sagomozo the seeds of the
Floripondio (D. Sanguinea) are used for a similar purpose. The
Peruvians also prepare an intoxicating beverage from the seeds,
which induces stupefaction and delirium if partaken of in large
quantities. The Arabs of Central Africa are said to dry the leaves,
the flowers, and the rind of the rootlet, which is considered the
strongest preparation, and to smoke them in a common bowl, or in a
waterpipe. It is esteemed by them a sovereign remedy for asthma and
influenza, and although they do not use it like the Indian Datura
poisoners, accidents nevertheless occur from its narcotic
was at one time esteemed as a sedative in epilepsy, and in acute
mania and other forms of active insanity, but its action is very
introduction of Stramonium into medicine is due chiefly to the
exertions of Baron Storch, in the latter half of the eighteenth
century, who was also instrumental in re-introducing Henbane into
recent issue of an American medical journal, the opinion was
expressed that Stramonium was a remedy for hydrophobia, the writer
saying 'there is no drug so far proven that deserves as thorough
and careful a trial in this dread disease as
Turks are said to use Stramonium instead of opium, for
and the Eastern and West Indian Colonies, the leaves and seeds of
D. fastuosa var. alba are also official, under the name of Datura.
They possess similar properties, and are regarded as of equal
fastuosa is a small shrub indigenous to tropical India. There are
said to be several varieties of this species, and it is generally
conceded to be the most toxic of the Indian Daturas. The leaves are
ovate and more or less angular, the flowers being mostly purplish,
varieties of D. fastuosa, the British Pharmacopoeia recognizes that
known as alba. From it the Thugs prepared the poison Dhât, with
which they used to stupefy their victims. It is used in India as a
criminal poison, the professional poisoners being called
has a slight, unpleasant odour and a bitter taste. It contains the
alkaloid Hyoscine, a resin and a fixed oil, hyoscyamine being also
present and a small proportion of atropine.
It is used
by the native doctors (India) for the relief of rheumatic and other
drug produces effects more or less similar to those of belladonna,
its precise action has not been clearly determined.
species of Datura grows in abundance in almost all the islands of
the Philippine group, in some localities reaching a height of 6
feet, and might afford a favourable source of atropine and
hyoscyamine, though it has not so far been made use of
commercially, there being no attempt at cultivation or even
systematic collection of the drug, though attention was drawn to
its latent possibilities during the War.
names of Man t'o lo fa, Wan t'o hua and Nau Yeung fa the Chinese
use as a medicine the flowers of the D. alba.
is also an Indian plant and resembles D. fastuosa; it differs in
that the leaves are heart-shaped, almost entire and downy, and the
flowers always white. The leaves contain 0.55 per cent alkaloid,
the seeds 0.5 per cent, all hyoscine.
D. alba or
D. metel also produce similar effects. The Rajpoot mothers are said
to smear their breasts with the juice of the leaves, to poison
their newly-born female infants.
arborea, a South American species (the Tree Datura), growing freely
in Chile, contains about 0.44 per cent alkaloid, nearly all
hyoscine. A tincture of the flowers is used to induce
quercifolia, of Mexico, contains 0.4 per cent. in the leaves and
0.28 per cent of alkaloids in the seeds, about half hyoscyamine and
Bethene, a Datura of the Sahara Desert, is capable of causing
delirium, coma and death.
Purple Stramonium has already been mentioned. It owes its activity
to the same alkaloids as D. Stramonium, and its leaves are also
much used in the form of cigarettes as a remedy for spasmodic
Chinese Datura, is used in homoeopathy.
is made from the unripe fruit and a trituration of the
Recipe 'for A Burne'
the plant called Thorneaple, and Elder leaves, 2 good handfuls;
pound both leaves and apples very small in A stone mortar; then
take a pound of Barow hogs lard watered and putt them altogether in
an earthen pan, working them well together; lett itt stand till it
begins to hoare [grow musty], and then sett itt over A soft fire,
not letting it boyle; then strain it, and putt in fresh herbs;
order itt as before; this doe three times; and then keep itt for
your use, it will keep seven years.' - (A Plain
See Ceadar, Yellow.
---Synonyms---Common Calamint. Calamintha officinalis.
Calamintha menthifolia. Thymos acinos. Acinos vulgaris. Mountain
---Habitat---Rather scarce in England, though fairly generally
distributed over the country; it is rare in Scotland and very rare
---Description---This species is found on dry banks and in
fields, in chalky, gravelly and sandy soils: a small, bushy herb,
its stems 6 to 8 inches high, branching at the base, slender and
shortly stalked leaves, 1/4 to 1/2 inch long, with the veins
prominent beneath, are eggshaped and hairy. The flowers, in bloom
in July and August, are 1/2 inch long and grow in whorls from the
axils of the leaves, like in the preceding species, as well as at
the summit of the stem. The corollas are bluish-purple, variegated
with white on the lower lip, in the middle of which there is a
purple spot. The calyx is distinctly two-lipped, the lower lip
bulged at the base and has prominent ribs, fringed with bristly
varies much in degree of hairiness. It has a pleasant, aromatic
smell, somewhat similar, though weaker, than that of Thyme, to
which, however, in general appearance, it bears little
Basil Thyme was a great favourite with the
old herbalists. Gerard enumerates twelve uses to which it can be
applied without fear of failure. Among them he states
'it cureth them that are bitten of
serpents; being burned or strewed, it drives serpents away; it
taketh away black and blew spots that come by blows or by beatings,
making the skinne faire and white; but for such things, saith
Galen, it is better to be laid to greene than dry.'
Externally, its use has been recommended as an addition to warm
baths, especially for children, as a strengthener and nerve
which is very heating, is of service as a rubefacient, applied to
the skin in sciatica and neuralgia.
of the oil, on cotton wool, put into a decayed tooth, will
alleviate the pain.
flowering tops are used to flavour jugged hare, etc., they have a
milder and rather more grateful flavour than the common
it has been stated that animals will seldom eat this plant and that
rabbits do not touch it, it has been alleged that sheep love to
crop its fragrant leaves and that, as a consequence, a fine flavour
is imparted to their flesh.
It is said
that Wild Thyme and Marjoram laid by milk in the dairy will prevent
it being turned by thunder.
Teucrium Marum (LINN.)
Medicinal Action and Uses
Used---Leaves, root-bark, whole herb.
Thyme, or Marum, is not a British plant, but a native of Spain,
though with care it can be grown here and will live through the
winter in the open, on a dry soil and in a good situation, when the
frosts are not severe, though it is frequently killed in hard
winters, if unprotected by mats or other covering.
southern countries of Europe, this species of Teucrium forms a
shrub 3 or 4 feet high, but in England it rarely attains even half
that height. It has oval leaves, broader at the base, downy
beneath, with uncut margins. The flowers are in one-sided spikes,
the corollas crimson in colour.
and younger branches when fresh, on being rubbed emit a volatile,
aromatic smell, which excites sneezing, but in taste they are
somewhat bitter, accompanied with a sensation of heat.
and Uses---The plant is supposed to possess very active powers,
having been recommended in many diseases requiring medicine of a
stimulant, aromatic and deobstruent quality. It has been considered
good in most nervous complaints, the leaves being powdered and
given in wine. The powdered leaves, either alone, or mixed with
other ingredients of a like nature, when taken as snuff, have been
recommended as excellent for 'disorders of the head,' under the
name of compound powder of Assarabacca, but lavender flowers are
now generally substituted for Cat Thyme.
is more nearly related to the Germanders and to Wood Sage than to
of the root is considerably astringent and has been used for
homoepathic tincture is made from the whole herb, said to be
effectual against small thread-worms in children.
Thymus Vulgaris (LINN.)
Medicinal Action and Uses
Thyme is an 'improved' cultivated form of the Wild Thyme of the
mountains of Spain and other European countries bordering on the
Mediterranean, flourishing also in Asia Minor, Algeria and Tunis,
and is a near relation to our own Wild Thyme (Thymus serpyllum),
which has broader leaves (the margins not reflexed as in the Garden
Thyme) and a weaker odour.
cultivated now in most countries with temperate climates, though we
do not know at what period it was first introduced into northern
countries. It was certainly commonly cultivated in England before
the middle of the sixteenth century, and is figured and described
vulgaris is a perennial with a woody, fibrous root. The stems are
numerous, round, hard, branched, and usually from 4 to 8 inches
high, when of the largest growth scarcely attaining a foot in
height. The leaves are small, only about 1/8 inch long and 1/16
inch broad, narrow and elliptical, greenish-grey in colour,
reflexed at the margins, and set in pairs upon very small
foot-stalks. The flowers terminate the branches in whorls. The
calyx is tubular, striated, closed at the mouth with small hairs
and divided into two lips, the uppermost cut into three teeth and
the lower into two. The corolla consists of a tube about the length
of the calyx, spreading at the top into two lips of a pale purple
colour, the upper lip erect or turned back and notched at the end,
the under lip longer and divided into three segments. The seeds are
roundish and very small, about 170,000 to the ounce, and 24 OZ. to
the quart: they retain their germinating power for three years. The
plant has an agreeable aromatic smell and a warm pungent taste. The
fragrance of its leaves is due to an essential oil, which gives it
its flavouring value for culinary purposes, and is also the source
of its medicinal properties. It is in flower from May to
three varieties usually grown for use, the broad-leaved,
narrow-leaved and variegated: the narrow-leaved, with small,
greyish-green leaves, is more aromatic than the broad-leaved, and
is also known as Winter or German Thyme. The fragrant Lemon Thyme,
likewise grown in gardens, has a lemon flavour, and rather broader
leaves than the ordinary Garden Thyme, is not recurved at the
margins, and ranks as a variety of T. serpyllum, the Wild Thyme. It
is of a more trailing habit and of still smaller growth than the
common Garden Thyme, and keeps its foliage better in the winter,
though is generally considered to be not as hardy as the common
Thyme. Another variety, the Silver Thyme, is the hardiest of all
and has perhaps the best flavour. There is a variety, also, called
the Orange Thyme, which Dr. Kitchener, in The Cook's Oracle,
describes as a delicious herb that deserves to be better known.
This and other varieties of Thyme, including the Caraway Thyme,
which was used to rub the baron of beef, before it was roasted, and
so came to be called 'Herbe Baronne,' are all worth
Thyme, in its Greek form, was first given to the plant by the
Greeks as a derivative of a word which meant 'to fumigate,' either
because they used it as incense, for its balsamic odour, or because
it was taken as a type of all sweet-smelling herbs. Others derive
the name from the Greek word thumus, signifying courage, the plant
being held in ancient and mediaeval days to be a great source of
invigoration, its cordial qualities inspiring courage. The
antiseptic properties of Thyme were fully recognized in classic
times, there being a reference in Virgil's Georgics to its use as a
fumigator, and Pliny tells us that, when burnt, it puts to flight
all venomous creatures. Lady Northcote (in The Herb Garden) says
that among the Greeks, Thyme denoted graceful elegance; 'to smell
of Thyme' was an expression of praise, applied to those whose style
was admirable. It was an emblem of activity, bravery and energy,
and in the days of chivalry it was the custom for ladies to
embroider a bee hovering over a sprig of Thyme on the scarves they
presented to their knights. In the south of France, Wild Thyme is a
symbol of extreme Republicanism, tufts of it being sent with the
summons to a Republican meeting.
little plant, so familiar also in its wild form, has never been
known in England by any familiar name, though occasionally 'Thyme'
is qualified in some way, such as 'Running Thyme,' or
'Mother-of-Thyme.' 'Mother Thyme' was probably derived from the use
of the plant in uterine disorders, in the same way that
'Motherwort' (Leonurus Cardiaca) has received its popular name for
use in domestic medicine.
affection of bees for Thyme is well known and the fine flavour of
the honey of Mount Hymettus near Athens was said to be due to the
Wild Thyme with which it was covered (probably T. vulgaris), the
honey from this spot being of such especial flavour and sweetness
that in the minds and writings of the Ancients, sweetness and Thyme
were indissolubly united. 'Thyme, for the time it lasteth, yieldeth
most and best honie and therefor in old time was accounted chief,'
says an old English writer. Large clumps of either Garden or Wild
Thyme may with advantage be grown in the garden about 10 feet away
from the hives.
apparently not in general use as a culinary herb among the
ancients, it was employed by the Romans to give an aromatic flavour
to cheese (and also to liqueurs).
about the middle of March or early April, in dry, mild weather,
moderately thin, in shallow drills about 1/2 inch deep, and 8 or 9
inches apart, in good, light soil, in a warm position. Cover in
evenly with the soil. Some of the plants may remain where planted,
after a thinning for early use, others plant out in the summer.
Thyme thrives best with lots of room to spread in. It is well to
make new beds annually. Selfsown plants will answer for this where
also be increased by dividing old roots, or making cuttings, by
slipping pieces off the plants with roots to them and planting out
with trowel or dibber, taking care to water well. This may be done
as soon as the weather is warm enough, from May to September. The
old clumps may be divided to the utmost extent and provided each
portion has a reasonable bit of root attached, success is assured.
The perfume of Lemon Thyme is sweeter if raised from cuttings or
division of roots, rather than from seed.
Thyme grows easily, especially in calcareous light, dry, stony
soils, it can be cultivated in heavy soils, but it becomes less
aromatic. It dislikes excess of moisture. To form Thyme beds,
choose uncultivated ground, with soil too poor to nourish cereals.
If Thyme grows upon walls or on dry, stony land, it will survive
the severest cold of this country. If the soil does not suit it
very well and is close and heavy, some material for lightening it,
such as a little road-sand or sweepings, ensuring reasonable
porosity, will be welcomed, and should be thoroughly incorporated -
in a gritty soil it will root quickly, but it does not like a
close, cold soil about its roots.
to Gattefosse, the Thyme is 'a faithful companion of the Lavender.
It lives with it in perfect sympathy and partakes alike of its good
and its bad fortune.' Generally speaking, the conditions most
suitable to the growth of Thyme are identical with those favoured
is often overrun by Dodder (Cuscuta epithymum). If this happens,
cut off the affected plants and burn them, or use a solution of
sulphate of iron.
close of the summer, as soon as the herbs have been cut
sufficiently, the beds should be attended to, all weeds cleared
away and the soil well forked on the surface.
protect the plants from frost by banking up with
roots soon extract the goodness from the soil, hence whatever is
sown or planted afterwards will seldom thrive unless the ground is
first trenched deeper than the Thyme was rooted, and is well
herb is used, fresh and dried. Though cultivated in gardens for
culinary use, Common Thyme is not grown in England on a large
scale, most of the dried Thyme on the market having been imported
from the Continent, mainly from Germany.
essential oil is distilled in the south of France, the flowering
herb being used for the production of oil of Thyme. In the
neighbourhood of Nimes, the entire plant is used and the
distillation is carried on at two periods of the year, in May and
June, and again in the autumn. In England, only a comparatively
small amount of the essential oil is distilled, but it is
considered to be of a high quality. For distilling, the fresh herb
should be collected on a dry day, when just coming into flower; the
lower portions of the stem, together with any yellow or brown
leaves, should be rejected and the herbs conveyed to the distillery
as soon as possible.
---Constituents---Oil of Thyme is the important commercial
product obtained by distillation of the fresh leaves and flowering
tops of T. vulgaris. Its chief constituents are from 20 to 25 per
cent of the phenols Thymol and Carvacrol, rising in rare cases to
42 per cent. The phenols are the principal constituents of Thyme
oil, Thymol being the most valuable for medicinal purposes, but
Carvacrol, an isomeric phenol, preponderate in some oils. Cymene
and Pinene are present in the oil, as well as a little Menthone.
Borneol and Linalol have been detected in the high boiling
fractions of the oil and a crystalline body, probably identical
with a similar body found in Juniper-berry oil.
commercial varieties of Thyme oil are recognized, the 'red,' the
crude distillate, and the 'white' or colourless, which is the 'red'
rectified by re-distilling. The yield of oil is very variable, from
2 per cent to 1 per cent in the fresh herb (100 lb. of the fresh
flowering tops yielding from 1/2 to 1 lb. of essential oil) and 2.5
per cent in the dried herb, the yield of oil from the dried German
herb being on the average 1.7 per cent and from the dried French
herb 2.5 to 2.6 per cent. The phenols present in French and German
oils consist mainly of Thymol, but under certain conditions the
latter may be replaced by Carvacrol. The value of Thyme oil depends
so much upon the phenols it contains, that it is important that
these should be estimated, as the abstraction of Thymol is by no
Red oil of
Thyme is frequently imported and sold under the name of oil of
Origanum: it is often adulterated with oils of turpentine, spike
lavender and rosemary, and coloured with alkanet root, and is not
infrequently more or less destitute of Thymol. True oil of Origanum
is extracted from Wild Marjoram, Origanum vulgare, and other
species of Origanum.
of Thyme is the most esteemed variety of the oil known. A
considerable quantity of Thyme oil is also distilled in Spain, but
probably from mixed species of Thyme oil, the origin of Spanish
Thyme oil not having been definitely proved; a certain amount is
also distilled in Algeria from T. Algeriensis. French oil (specific
gravity 0.905 to 0.935) contains 20 to 36 per cent of phenols,
chiefly Thymol, on which the value of the oil chiefly depends.
Spanish oil contains a much higher percentage of phenols, 50 to 70
per cent, mostly Carvacrol, but sometimes a fairly large proportion
of Thymol is present. The production of Thymol or Carvacrol seems
to depend on some variation in the soil or climatic conditions
which favours the formation of one or the other. The specific
gravity of Spanish oil is 0.928 to 0.958.
capitans also yields an oil of a specific gravity about 0.900,
closely resembling that obtained from T. vulgaris. A similar oil is
obtained from T. camphoratus. A somewhat different oil is obtained
from the Lemon Thyme, T. serpyllum, var citriodorus. This oil has
an odour resembling Thyme, Lemon and Geranium. It contains only a
very small amount of phenols. Admixture with the oil of T.
serpyllum does not alter the specific gravity of Thyme oil. T.
mastichina, the so-called Spanish Wood Marjoram, also yields an oil
of Thyme, of a bright yellow colour, turning darker with age and
with a camphoraceous odour like Thyme.
and Uses---Antiseptic, antispasmodic, tonic and
pounded herb, if given fresh, from 1 to 6 OZ. daily, mixed with
syrup, has been employed with success as a safe cure for whooping
cough. An infusion made from 1 OZ. of the dried herb to 1 pint of
boiling water, sweetened with sugar or honey, is also used for the
same purpose, as well as in cases of catarrh and sore throat, given
in doses of 1 or more tablespoonsful, several times daily. The wild
plant may be equally well used for this.
will arrest gastric fermentation. It is useful in cases of wind
spasms and colic, and will assist in promoting perspiration at the
commencement of a cold, and in fever and febrile complaints
medicine, Thyme is generally used in combination with other
extract, 1/2 to 1 drachm. Oil, 1 to 10 drops.
According to Culpepper, Thyme
'a noble strengthener of the lungs, as
notable a one as grows, nor is there a better remedy growing for
hooping cough. It purgeth the body of phlegm and is an excellent
remedy for shortness of breath. It is so harmless you need not fear
the use of it. An ointment made of it takes away hot swellings and
warts, helps the sciatica and dullness of sight and takes away any
pains and hardness of the spleen: it is excellent for those that
are troubled with the gout and the herb taken anyway inwardly is of
great comfort to the stomach.'
says it will 'cure sciatica and pains in the head,' and is healing
in leprosy and the falling sickness.
Thyme is employed as a rubefacient and counter-irritant in
enters into the formula for Herb Tobacco, and employed in this form
is good for digestion, headache and drowsiness.
Perfumery, Essence of Thyme is used for cosmetics and rice powder.
It is also used for embalming corpses.
flowers have been often used in the same way as lavender, to
preserve linen from insects.
country, Thyme is principally in request for culinary requirements,
for its use in flavouring stuffings, sauces, pickles, stews, soups,
jugged hare, etc. The Spaniards infuse it in the pickle with which
they preserve their olives.
different species of Thyme and Marjoram yield fragrant oils
extensively used by manufacturing perfumers for scenting soaps.
When dried and ground, they enter into the composition of sachet
most valuable crystalline phenol, is the basis of the fragrant
volatile Essence of Sweet Thyme, and is obtainable from Carum
copticum, Monarda punctata and various other plants, as well as
from T. vulgaris, being present to the extent of from 20 to 60 per
cent in the oils which yield it. Ajowan oil, its principal
commercial source (from the seeds of C. copticum) contains from 40
to 55 per cent of Thymol; the oil of T. vulgaris contains from 20
to 30 per cent as a rule of Thymol and Carvacrol in varying
proportions, while the oil of M. punctata contains 61 per cent of
extraction of Thymol is effected by treating the oil with a warm
solution of sodium hydroxide: this alkali dissolves the Thymol, and
on dilution with hot water the undissolved oil (terpenes, etc.)
rises to the surface. The alkaline thymol compound is decomposed by
treatment with hydrochloric acid and subsequent crystallization of
the oily layer into large, oblique, prismatic crystals. Thymol
(methyl-propyl-phenol) has been prepared
treated with caustic potash and iodine, it yields iodo-thymol,
commonly known as 'Aristol.'
Thyme was noticed first by Neumann, apothecary to the Court at
Berlin in 1725. It was called Thymol and carefully examined in 1853
by Lallemand and recommended instead of Phenol (carbolic acid) in
1868 by Bouilhon, apothecary, and Paquet, M.D., of
a powerful antiseptic for both internal and external use; it is
also employed as a deodorant and local anaesthetic. It is
extensively used to medicate gauze and wool for surgical dressings.
It resembles carbolic acid in its action, but is less irritant to
wounds, while its germicidal action is greater. It is therefore
preferable as a dressing and during recent years has been one of
the most extensively used antiseptics.
also a preservative of meat.
of its physiological action, Thymol appears to stand between
carbolic acid and oil of turpentine. Its action as a disinfectant
is more permanent and at the same time more powerful than that of
carbolic acid. It is less irritating to the skin, does not act as a
caustic like carbolic acid, and is a less powerful poison to
mammals. In the higher animals it acts as a local irritant and
anaesthetic to the skin and mucous membrane. It is used as an
antiseptic lotion and mouth wash; as a paint in ringworm, in
eczema, psoriasis, broken chilblains, parasitic skin affections and
burns; as an ointment, halfstrength, perfumed with lavender, to
keep off gnats and mosquitoes. Thymol in oily solution is applied
to the respiratory passages by means of a spray in nasal catarrh,
and a spirituous solution may be inhaled for laryngitis, bronchial
affections and whooping cough. It is most useful against septic
sore throat, especially during scarlet-fever. Internally, it is
given in large doses, to robust adults, in capsules, as a
vermifuge, to expel parasites, especially the miner's worm, and it
has also been used in diabetes and vesical catarrh.
finds no place in perfumery, but the residual oil after extracting
the crystalline Thymol from Ajowan oil, which amounts to about 50
per cent of the original oil, is generally sold as a cheap perfume
for soap-making and similar purposes, under the name of
outbreak of war, Thymol was manufactured almost exclusively in
Germany. One of the chief commercial sources of Thymol, Ajowan seed
(C. copticum), is an annual umbelliferous plant, a kind of caraway,
which is abundant in India, where it is widely cultivated for the
medicinal properties of its seeds. Almost the whole of the exports
of Ajowan seed from India, Egypt, Persia and Afghanistan went to
Germany for the distillation of the oil and extraction of Thymol,
the annual export of the seed from India being about 1,200 tons,
from which the amount of Thymoi obtainable was estimated at 20
tons. On the outbreak of war the export of Ajowan seed dropped to 2
tons per month, and there was a universal shortage of Thymol, just
when it was urgently needed for the wounded.
result of investigations by the Imperial Institute, Thymol is now
being made by several firms in this country, and the product is
equal in quality and appearance to that previously imported from
Germany. In India, also, good samples were obtained as a result of
experiments conducted in Government laboratories in the early
months of the War, and by the close of 1915 companies were already
established at Dehra and Calcutta for its manufacture on a large
scale. In the two years ending June, 1919, as much as 10,500 lb. of
Thymol were exported from Calcutta.
other plants can be utilized as sources of Thymol, although none
yield such high percentages as Ajowan seed. The following new
sources of Thymol were suggested when the scarcity of the valuable
antiseptic made itself so severely felt on curtailment of
Continental supplies: Garden Thyme and Wild Thyme (T. vulgaris and
serpyllum), American Horse Mint (M. punctata), Cunila mariana,
Mosla japonica, Origanum hirtum, Ocimim viride and Satureja
The oil of
Thyme obtained by distilling the fresh-flowering herb of T.
vulgaris is already an article of commerce, and contains varying
amounts of Thymol, but the actual amount present is not very high,
varying, as already stated, from 20 to 25 per cent, only in very
rare cases amounting to more; and the methods of separation in
order to obtain a pure compound are necessarily more complicated
than in the manufacture from Ajowan oil.
American Horsemint (M. punctata), native to the United States and
Canada, seems likely to prove a more valuable source of Thymol than
T. vulgaris. It yields from 1 to 3 per cent of a volatile oil,
which contains a large proportion of Thymol, up to 61 per cent
having been obtained; Carvacrol also appears to be a constituent.
The oil has a specific gravity of 0.930 to 0.940, and on prolonged
standing deposits crystals of Thymol.
species also found in America (M. didyma) (called also 'Oswego tea'
from the use sometimes made of its leaves in America) is said to
yield an oil of similar composition, though not to the same degree,
and so far M. punctata is considered the only plant indigenous to
North America which can be looked upon as a fruitful source of
Thymol, though from C. mariana, also found in North America, an oil
is derived - Oil of Dittany - which is stated to contain about 40
per cent of phenols, probably Thymol.
also contained in the oil distilled from the dry herb of Mosla
japonica, indigenous to Japan. It is stated to yield about 2.13 per
cent of oil, containing about 44 per cent of Thymol.
thymbra, which is used in Spain as a spice and is closely allied to
the Savouries grown in the English kitchen garden, yields an oil
containing about 19 per cent of Thymol. Other species of Satureja
source of Thymol is also Ocimum viride, the 'Mosquito Plant' of
West Africa and the West Indies, which yield 0.35 to 1.2 of oil
from which 32 to 65 per cent of Thymol can be extracted. This plant
occurs wild on all soils in every part of Sierra Leone, and is also
grown in the Seychelles. In Sierra Leone it bears the name of
'Fever-plant' on account of its febrifugal qualities; a decoction
is made from the leaves.
Origanum oils shipped from Trieste and Smyrna generally contain
only Carvacrol, the only species yielding Thymol exclusively and to
a considerable degree being Origanum hirtum, which may be regarded
as a promising source of Thymol.
Spanish species of Thyme has been used as a source of Thymol (T.
zygis, Linn.), known to Theophrastus as Serpyllum zygis. It is
common throughout Spain and Portugal, occurring in oak and other
woods, in desert and dry gravelly places among the sierras of the
central, eastern and southern provinces. In consequence of its wide
distribution, the common names for the plant vary greatly; in
Portugal it is known as Wood Marjoram, ouregao do mato; but the
most frequently recurring name in Spain is Tomillo salsero or Sauce
Thyme, from its use as a condiment. The species is very similar to
T. vulgaris, but is easily distinguished by the comparatively large
white hairs at the base of the leaves. The flowers are either
purple or white, the white form being the only one occurring in the
Balearic Islands, where it is called Senorida de flor blanca. There
are two well-known varieties, var. floribunda and var. gracillis, a
simpler, less-branched form, and it is the latter (not such a
decided alpine as floribunda) which is now being used by a British
manufacturer as a source of Thymol. See Chemist and Druggist, June
12th and July 17th, 1920. Var. gracilis is more easily collected on
account of its lower station, and further unguarded exploitation of
the wild plant might result in the substitution of var. floribunda,
which it seems probable yields an oil with quite different
characters and content from those of the oil obtained from var.
has not hitherto been employed in medicine, but the antiseptic
properties of Origanum oil, consisting principally of Carvacrol, as
well as of the phenol itself, have been investigated and Iodocrol -
iodide of Carvacrol - a reddish-brown powder, has been used lately
as an antiseptic in place of iodoform in treatment of eczema and
other skin diseases.
required, a British Possession can provide Carvacrol as a
substitute for Thymol. It can be obtained from oils derived from a
variety of plants, but most profitably from the Origanum of Cyprus
(Origanum dubium), which contains 82.5 per cent of Carvacrol. At
the instance of the Imperial Institute, this Cyprus Origanum oil
has been produced in commercial quantities from wild plants in
Cyprus, and already in 1913 was exported thence to the United
Kingdom to the value of L. (lear) 980. It is believed that the
plant can be cultivated profitably and on a large scale in Cyprus,
and experiments in this direction were begun shortly after the
outbreak of war. The oil from O. onites, var. Symrnaeum - Smyrna
Origanum oil - contains 68 per cent phenols, almost wholly
Carvacrol. Other sources of Carvacrol are Monarda fistulosa (Wild
Bergamot), which yields 52 to 58 per cent of Carvacrol; Satureja
montana (Winter Savoury or White Thyme), oil from wild plants of
this species containing 35 to 40 per cent of Carvacrol; while that
from cultivated plants has been found to contain as much as 65 per
cent. A sample of Dalmatian Satureja, a form of S. montana, yielded
at the Imperial Institute 68.75 of phenolic constituents,
consisting mostly of Carvacrol.
Thymus serpyllum (LINN.)
Medicinal Action and Uses
---Synonyms---other of Thyme. Serpyllum.
Thyme is indigenous to the greater part of the dry land of Europe,
though is a great deal less abundant than the Common Thyme so
widely cultivated. It is foundup to a certain height on the Alps,
on high plateaux, and in valleys, along ditches and roads, on
rocks, in barren and dry soil, and also in damp clay soil destitute
of chalk. It is seen in old stony, abandoned fields, dried-up lawns
and on clearings. In England it is found chiefly on heaths and in
mountainous situations, and is also often cultivated as a border in
gardens or on rockeries and sunny banks. It was a great favourite
of Francis Bacon, who in giving us his plan for the perfect garden,
directs that alleys should be planted with fragrant flowers:
'burnet, wild thyme and watermints, which perfume the air most
delightfully being trodden upon and crushed,' so that you may 'have
pleasure when you walk or tread.'
wherever it grows wild denotes a pure atmosphere, and was thought
to enliven the spirits by the fragrance which it diffuses into the
air around. The Romans gave Thyme as a sovereign remedy to
is a perennial, more thickset than the Garden Thyme, though subject
to many varieties, according to the surroundings in which it grows.
In its most natural state, when found on dry exposed downs, it is
small and procumbent, often forming dense cushions; when growing
among furze or other plants which afford it shelter, it runs up a
slender stalk to a foot or more in height, which gives it a totally
different appearance. The specific name, serpyllum, is derived from
a Greek word meaning to creep, and has been given it from its
usually procumbent and trailing habit.
root is woody and fibrous, the stems numerous, hard, branched,
procumbent, rising from 4 inches to 1 foot high, ordinarily
reddish-brown in colour. The bright green oval leaves 1/8 inch
broad, tapering below into very short foot-stalks, are smooth and
beset with numerous small glands. They are fringed with hairs
towards the base and have the veins prominent on the under
surfaces. Their margins are entire and not recurved as in Garden
Thyme. As with all other members of the important order Labiatae,
to which the Thymes belong, the leaves are set in pairs on the
stem. The plant flowers from the end of May or early June to the
beginning of autumn, the flowers, which are very similar to those
of the Garden Thyme, being purplish and in whorls at the top of the
especially fond of the Thyme blossoms, from which they extract much
honey. Spenser speaks of the 'bees-alluring time,' and everyone is
familiar with Shakespeare's the 'bank whereon the wild thyme
blows,' the abode of the queen of the Fairies. It was looked upon
as one of the fairies' flowers, tufts of Thyme forming one of their
parts it was a custom for girls to wear sprigs of Thyme, with mint
and lavender, to bring them sweethearts!
also been associated with death. It is one of the fragrant flowers
planted on graves (in Wales, particularly), and the Order of
Oddfellows still carry sprigs of Thyme at funerals and throw them
into the grave of a dead brother. An old tradition says that Thyme
was one of the herbs that formed the fragrant bed of the Virgin
is the badge of the Drummond clan.
---Cultivation---Wild Thyme will grow on any soil, but prefers
light, sandy or gravel ground exposed to the sun.
by seeds, cuttings, or division of roots. Care must be taken to
weed. Manure with farmyard manure in autumn or winter and nitrates
in full flower, in July and August, and dry in the same manner as
It is much
picked in France, chiefly in the fields of the Aisne, for the
extraction of its essential oil.
---Constituents---When distilled, 100 kilos (about 225 lb.) of
dried material yield 150 grams of essence (about 5 or 6 OZ.). It is
a yellow liquid, with a weaker scent than that of oil of Thyme
extracted from T. vulgaris, and is called oil of Serpolet. It
contains 30 to 70 per cent of phenols: Thymol, Carvacrol, etc. It
is made into an artificial oil, together with the oil of Common
Thyme. In perfumery, oil of Serpolet is chiefly used for
flowering tops, macerated for 24 hours or so in salt and water, are
made into a perfumed water.
and Uses---In medicine, Wild Thyme or Serpolet has the same
properties as Common Thyme, but to an inferior degree. It is
aromatic, antiseptic, stimulant, antispasmodic, diuretic and
infusion is used for chest maladies and for weak digestion, being a
good remedy for flatulence, and favourable results have been
obtained in convulsive coughs, especially in whooping cough,
catarrh and sore throat. The infusion, prepared with 1 OZ. of the
dried herb to a pint of boiling water, is usually sweetened with
sugar or honey and made demulcent by linseed or acacia. It is given
in doses of 1 or more tablespoonfuls several times
infusion is also useful in cases of drunkenness, and Culpepper
recommends it as a certain remedy taken on going to bed for 'that
troublesome complaint the nightmare,' and says: 'if you make a
vinegar of the herb as vinegar of roses is made and annoint the
head with it, it presently stops the pains thereof. It is very good
to be given either in phrenzy or lethargy.'
Tea, either drunk by itself or mixed with other plants such as
rosemary, etc., is an excellent remedy for headache and other
several preparations of this plant were kept in shops, and a
distilled spirit and water, which were both very
See Lily, Tiger.
Linaria vulgaris (MILL.)
Part Used Medicinally, Cultivation
Medicinal Action and Uses
---Synonyms---Fluellin. Pattens and Clogs. Flaxweed. Ramsted.
Snapdragon. Churnstaff. Dragon-bushes. Brideweed. Toad. Yellow Rod.
Larkspur Lion's Mouth. Devils' Ribbon. Eggs and Collops. Devil's
Head. Pedlar's Basket. Gallwort. Rabbits. Doggies. Calves' Snout.
Eggs and Bacon. Buttered Haycocks. Monkey Flower.
---Habitat---The genus Linaria, to which it belongs, contains
125 species, native to' the Northern Hemisphere and South America,
seven of which are found in England.
Toadflax grows wild in most parts of Europe, on dry banks, by the
wayside, in meadows by hedge sides, and upon the borders of fields.
It is common throughout England and Wales, though less frequent in
Ireland. In Scotland, it is found, as a rule, only in the southern
counties. Having been introduced into North America, probably
originally with grain, it has become there a troublesome weed. It
is especially abundant in sandy and gravelly soil and in chalk and
---Description---From a perennial and creeping root, the
Toadflax sends up severalslender stems, erect and not much
branched, generally between 1 and 2 feet long, bearing numerous
leaves, which are very long and narrow in form. Both stems and
leaves are glaucous, i.e. of a pale bluish tint of green, and are
quite destitute of hairs.
terminate in rather dense spikes of showy yellow flowers, the
corolla in general shape like that of the Snapdragon, but with a
long spur, and with the lower lip orange. The Toadflax flowers
throughout the summer, from late June to October.
of the flower is completely closed and never opens until a bee
forces its entrance. The only visitors are the large bees - the
humble-bee, honey-bee, and several wild bees - which are able to
open the flower, and whose tongues are long enough to reach the
nectar, which is so placed in the spur that only long-lipped
insects can reach it. The closing of the swollen lower lip excludes
beetles from the spur. When the bee alights on the orange palate,
the colour of which is specially designed to attract the desired
visitor, acting as a honey-guide, it falls a little, disclosing the
interior of the flower, which forms a little cave, on the floor of
which are two ridges of orange hairs, a track between them leading
straight to the mouth of the long, hollow spur. Above this is the
egg-shaped seed-vessel with the stamens. Between the bases of the
two longer stamen filaments, nectar trickles down along a groove to
the spur, from the base of the ovary where it is secreted. The bee
pushes into the flower, its head fitting well into the cavity below
the seed-vessel and thrusting its proboscis down the spur, sucks
the nectar, its back being meanwhile well coated by the pollen from
the stamens, which run along the roof, the stigma being between the
short and long stamens. It is reckoned that a humble-bee can easily
take the nectar from ten flowers in a minute, each time
transferring pollen from a previous flower to the stigma of the one
visited, and thus effecting cross-fertilization.
Toadflax is very prolific. Its fruit is a little rounded, dry
capsule, which when ripe, opens at its top by several valves, the
many minute seeds being thrown out by the swaying of the stems. The
seeds are flattened and lie in the centre of a circular wing,
which, tiny as it is, helps to convey the seed some distance from
the parent plant.
a curiously-shaped Toadflax blossom will be found: instead of only
one spur being produced, each of the five petals whose union builds
up the toad-like corolla forms one, and the flower becomes of
regular, though almost unrecognizable shape. This phenomenon is
termed by botanists, 'peloria,' i.e. a monster. As a rule it is the
terminal flower that is thus symmetrical in structure, but
sometimes flowers of this type occur all down the
Toadflax originated in the resemblance of the flower to little
toads, there being also a resemblance between the mouth of the
flower and the wide mouth of a toad. Coles says that the plant was
called Toadflax, 'because Toads will sometimes shelter themselves
amongst the branches of it.'
general resemblance of the plant in early summer to a Flax plant,
accounts for the latter part of its name, and also for another of
its country names, 'Flaxweed.' The Latin name, Linaria, from linum
(flax), was given it by Linnaeus, from this likeness to a flax
plant before flowering. The mixture of light yellow and orange in
the flowers has gained for it the provincial names of 'Butter and
Eggs,' 'Eggs and Bacon,' etc.
'Linaria being a kind of Antyrrhinum, hath
small, slender, blackish stalks, from which do grow many long,
narrow leaves like flax. The floures be yellow with a spurre
hanging at the same like unto a Larkesspurre, having a mouth like
unto a frog's mouth, even such as is to be seene in the common
Snapdragon; the whole plant so much resembleth Esula minor, that
the one is hardly knowne from the other but by this olde verse:
"Esula lactescit, sine lacte Linaria crescit."
' "Esula with milke doth
Toadflax without milke doth grow."
is one of the smaller spurge, Euphorbia esula, which before
flowering so closely resembles Toadflax that care must be taken not
to collect it in error, the milky juice contained in its stems (as
in all the Spurges) will, however, at once reveal its
of the Toadflax also contain an acrid, rather disagreeable, but not
milky juice, which renders them distasteful to cattle, who leave
them untouched. Among the many old local names given to this plant
we find it called 'Gallwort,' on account of its bitterness, one old
writer affirming that it received the name because an infusion of
the leaves was used 'against the flowing of the gall in cattell.'
The larvae of several moths feed on the plant, and several beetles
are also found on it.
Medicinally---Cultivation. For medicinal purposes, Toadflax is
generally gathered in the wild condition, but it can be cultivated
with ease, though it prefers a dry soil. No manure is needed. Seeds
may be sown in spring. All the culture needed is to thin out the
seedlings and keep them free of weeds. Propagation may also be
carried out by division of roots in the autumn.
herb is gathered just when coming into flower and employed either
fresh or dried.
fresh, Toadflax has a peculiar, heavy, disagreeable odour, which is
in great measure dissipated by drying. It has a weakly saline,
bitter and slightly acrid taste.
---Constituents---Toadflax abounds in an acrid oil, reputed to
be poisonous, but no harm from it has ever been recorded. Little or
nothing is known of its toxic principle, but its use in medicine
was well known to the ancients.
constituents are stated to be two glucosides, Linarin and
Pectolinarian, with linarosin, linaracin, antirrhinic, tannic and
citric acids, a yellow colouring matter, mucilage and
and Uses---Astringent, hepatic and detergent. It has some powerful
qualities as a purgative and diuretic, causing it to be recommended
in jaundice, liver, skin diseases and scrofula; an infusion of 1
OZ. to the pint has been found serviceable as an alterative in
these cases and in incipient dropsy. The infusion has a bitter and
unpleasant taste, occasioned by the presence of the acrid essential
oil. It was at one time in great reputation among herb doctors for
dropsy. The herb distilled answers the same purpose, as a decoction
of both leaves and flowers in removing obstructions of the liver.
It is very effectual if a little Peruvian bark or solution of
quinine and a little cinnamon be combined with it. Gerard informs
us that 'the decoction openeth the stopping of the liver and
spleen, and is singular good against the jaundice which is of long
continuance,' and further states that 'a decoction of Toadflax
taketh away the yellownesse and deformitie of the skinne, being
washed and bathed therewith.'
plant is sometimes applied as a poultice or fomentation to
haemorrhoids, and an ointment of the flowers has been employed for
the same purpose, and also locally in diseases of the skin. A
cooling ointment is made from the fresh plant - the whole herb is
chopped and boiled in lard till crisp, then strained. The result is
a fine green ointment, a good application for piles, sores, ulcers
and skin eruptions.
of the herb, or the distilled water, has been considered a good
remedy for inflammation of the eyes, and for cleansing ulcerous
milk, the plant is said to yield an excellent fly poison, and it is
an old country custom in parts of Sweden to infuse Toadflax flowers
in milk, and stand the infusion about where flies are
flowers have been employed in Germany as a yellow dye.
Medicinal Action and Uses
---Synonyms---Ivywort. Aaron's Beard. Climbing Sailor. Creeping
Jenny. Mother of Millions. Mother of Thousands. Thousand Flower.
Oxford-weed. Pedlar's Basket. Pennywort. Rabbits. Roving Jenny.
Toadflax (Mill.) (Linaria Cymbalaria). This little trailing plant,
with ivylike leaves and small lilac flowers, was not originally a
British plant, but a native of the Mediterranean region, but it has
become naturalized over almost the whole of Europe, from Holland
southwards, except in Turkey, and is now thoroughly at home in
England, having first been introduced into the Chelsea Botanic
Gardens from Italy.
mostly found near houses, on old garden walls, where it hangs down
from the interstices between the stones, the roots being thin and
fibrous, and finding their way into crevices The stems are purple
in colour and very numerous, slender and stringy, rooting at
intervals and very long, growing to a length of 2 or 3
ivy-like leaves, some what thick in texture, and smooth, are cutup
into five prominent, rounded lobes or divisions, and are on long
stalks. The backs of the leaves are of a reddish-purple. The
flower-stalks, about equal in length to the leaf-stalks, arise
singly from the axils of the leaves and bear small flowers similar
in form to those of the common Toadflax, of a delicate lilac
colour, the palate being bright yellow and each blossom ending in a
spur, which in this case is only as long as the calyx. Before
fertilization each flower pushes itself out into the light and sun,
standing erect, but when the seeds are mature, it bends downward,
buries the capsule in the dark crannies between the stones on which
it grows, the seeds being thus dispersed by direct action of the
little Toadflax is in flower from May right up to November, and is
visited only by bees. It has become a favourite garden flower for
planting on rockeries.
illustrates the plant in his Herbal, springing from brickwork, but
the block of his illustration was incorrectly placed upside down,
so that the plant instead of being represented as growing
downwards, stands erect. Parkinson, in 1640, also figures this
plant in the same way, and names it Cymbalaria
it is the 'plant of the Madonna.'
and Uses---The Ivy-leaved Toadflax has anti-scorbutic properties,
and has been eaten as a salad in southern Europe, being acrid and
pungent like Cress.
reported to have been successfully administered in India for
flowers yield a clear but not permanent yellow dye.
Nicotiana Tabacum (LINN.)
Medicinal Action and Uses
Steadman Shorter's Medical Dictionary, 1942, Poisons & Antidotes: Tobacco
---Synonyms---Tabacca. Tabaci Folia (B.P.C.).
Used---Leaves, cured and dried.
---Habitat---Virginia, America; and cultivated with other
species in China, Turkey, Greece, Holland, France, Germany and most
genus derives its name from Joan Nicot, a Portuguese who introduced
the Tobacco plant into France. The specific name being derived from
the Haitian word for the pipe in which the herb is smoked. Tobacco
is an annual, with a long fibrous root, stem erect, round, hairy,
and viscid; it branches near the top and is from 3 to 6 feet high.
Leaves large, numerous, alternate, sessile, somewhat decurrent,
ovate, lanceolate, pointed, entire, slightly viscid and hairy,
pale-green colour, brittle, narcotic odour, with a nauseous, bitter
acrid taste. Nicotine is a volatile oil, inflammable, powerfully
alkaline, with an acrid smell and a burning taste. By distillation
with water it yields a concrete volatile oil termed nicotianin or
Tobacco camphor, which is tasteless, crystalline, and smells of
Tobacco; other constituents are albumen, resin, gum, and inorganic
---Constituents---The most important constituent is the
alkaloid Nicotine, nicotianin, nicotinine, nicoteine, nicoteline.
After leaves are smoked the nicotine decomposes into pyridine,
furfurol, collidine, hydrocyanic acid, carbon-monoxide, etc. The
poisonous effects of Tobacco smoke are due to these substances of
and Uses---A local irritant; if used as snuff it causes violent
sneezing, also a copious secretion of mucous; chewed, it increases
the flow of saliva by irritating the mucous membrane of the mouth;
injected into the rectum it acts as a cathartic. In large doses it
produces nausea, vomiting, sweats and great muscular
alkaloid nicotine is a virulent poison producing great disturbance
in the digestive and circulatory organs. It innervates the heart,
causing palpitation and cardiac irregularities and vascular
contraction, and is considered one of the causes of arterial
is very like coniine and lobeline in its pharmacological action,
and the pyridines in the smoke modify very slightly its
was once used as a relaxant, but is no longer employed except
occasionally in chronic asthma. Its active principle is readily
absorbed by the skin, and serious, even fatal, poisoning, from a
too free application of it to the surface of the skin has
acts on the brain, causing nausea, vomiting and
Medicinally it is used as a sedative, diuretic, expectorant,
discutient, and sialagogue, and internally only as an emetic, when
all other emetics fail. The smoke injected into the rectum or the
leaf rolled into a suppository has been beneficial in strangulated
hernia, also for obstinate constipation, due to spasm of the
bowels, also for retention of urine, spasmodic urethral stricture,
hysterical convulsions, worms, and in spasms caused by lead, for
croup, and inflammation of the peritoneum, to produce evacuation of
the bowels, moderating reaction and dispelling tympanitis, and also
in tetanus. To inject the smoke it should be blown into milk and
injected, for croup and spasms of the rima glottides it is made
into a plaster with Scotch snuff and lard and applied to throat and
breast, and has proved very effectual. A cataplasm of the leaves
may be used as an ointment for cutaneous diseases. The leaves in
combination with the leaves of belladonna or stramonium make an
excellent application for obstinate ulcers, painful tremors and
spasmodic affections. A wet Tobacco leaf applied to piles is a
certain cure. The inspissated juice cures facial neuralgia if
rubbed along the tracks of the affected nerve. The quantity of the
injection must never exceed a scruple to begin with; half a drachm
has been known to produce amaurosis and other eye affections,
Tobacco plant was introduced into England by Sir Walter Raleigh and
his friends in 1586, and at first met with violent
prohibited it, Popes pronounced against it in Bulls, and in the
East Sultans condemned Tobacco smokers to cruel deaths. Three
hundred years later, in 1885, the leaves were official in the
nicotine is an antiseptic. It is eliminated partly by the lungs,
but chiefly in the urine, the secretion of which it increases.
Formerly Tobacco in the form of an enema of the leaves was used to
relax muscular spasms, to facilitate the reduction of
smoked after breakfast assists the action of the
plant contains an alkaloid, Pitarine, similar to nicotine, and the
leaves are used in Australia instead of Tobacco. An infusion of
Tobacco is generally used in horticulture as an
of nicotine poisoning, the stomach should be quickly emptied, and
repeated doses of tannic acid given, the person kept very warm in
bed, and stimulants such as caffeine, strychnine, or atropine
given, or if there are signs of respiratory failure, oxygen must be
given at once.
(Nicotiana rustica). Turkish Tobacco is grown in all parts of the
quadrivalis, affording Tobacco to the Indians of the Missouri and
Columbia Rivers, has, as the name implies, four-valved
fruticosa - habitat, China - is a very handsome plant and differs
from the other varieties in its sharp-pointed
persica. Cultivated in Persia; is the source of Persian
repandu. Cultivated in Central and southern North America. Havannah
is used in the manufacture of the best cigars.
Tobacco (syn. N. Tabacum) is the only species cultivated in
latissima yields the Tobacco known as Orinoco.
multivulvis has several valved capsules.
See: BALSAM OF TOLU.
Dipteryx odorata (WILLD.)
---Synonyms---Tonka Bean. Coumarouna odorata.
---Habitat---A forest tree native to Brazil and British Guiana
and called there 'Rumara'.
---Description---The odour of coumarin, which distinguishes the
Tonka Bean, is found in many plants, especially in Melilotus, sweet
vernal grass, and related grasses.
of the beans has yielded 108 grains of coumarin, which is the
anhydride of coumaric acid. In addition to its use in perfurnery as
a fixative, coumarin is used to flavour castor-oil and to disguise
the odour of iodoform.
substance of the beans is sold in Holland as Tonquin
---Medicinal Action and Uses---Aromatic, cardiac, tonic,
narcotic. The fluid extract has been used with advantage in
whooping cough, but it paralyses the heart if used in large
---Dosage---For children of five years' old, 5 to 8
Potentilla Tormentilla (NECK.)
Medicinal Action and Uses
---Synonyms---Septfoil. Thormantle. Biscuits. Bloodroot.
Earthbank. Ewe Daisy. Five Fingers. Flesh and Blood. Shepherd's
Knapperty. Shepherd's Knot. English Sarsaparilla.
Potentilla Tormentilla the flowers are yellow as in P. reptans, but
smaller, and have four petals instead of five, and eight sepals,
not ten so separated as to form a Maltese cross when regarded from
root-stock come leaves on long stalks, divided into three or five
oval leaflets (occasionally, but rarely, seven, hence the names
Septfoil and Seven Leaves), toothed towards their tips. The
stem-leaves, in this species, are stalkless with three
small-flowered form is very frequent on heaths and in dry pastures,
a larger-flowered, in which the slender stems do not rise, but
trail on the ground, is more general in woods, and on hedge-banks.
From the ascending form, 6 to 12 inches high, this species has been
called P. erecta, but even in this case the long stems are more
often creeping and ascending rather than actually
Tormentil is said to be derived from the Latin tormentum, which
signifies such gripings of the intestines as the herb will serve to
relieve, likewise the twinges of toothache.
is very astringent, and has been used in some places for
been official in various Pharmacopoeias and was formerly in the
Secondary List of the United States Pharmacopoeia.
considered one of the safest and most powerful of our native
aromatic astringents, and for its tonic properties has been termed
of the plant are astringent, especially the red, woody
rhizome is 1 to 2 inches long, as thick as the finger, or smaller,
tapering to one end, usually with one to three short branches near
the larger end, ridged, with several strong, longitudinal wrinkles
between them, bearing numerous blunt indentations. It is brown or
blackish externally; internally, light brownish red; the fracture
short and somewhat resinous, showing a thin bark, one or two
circles of small, yellowish wood-wedges, broad medullary rays and a
large pith. It has a peculiar faint, slightly aromatic odour and a
strongly astringent taste.
Constituents---It contains 18 to 30 per cent of tannin, 18 per cent
of a red colouring principle - Tormentil Red, a product of the
tannin and yielding with potassium hydroxide, protocatechuic acid
and phloroglucin. It is soluble in alcohol, but insoluble in water.
Also some resin and ellagic and kinovic acids have been
and Uses---There is a great demand for the rhizome, which in modern
herbal medicine is used extensively as an astringent in diarrhoea
and other discharges, operating without producing any stimulant
effects. It also imparts nourishment and support to the
employed as a gargle in sore, relaxed and ulcerated throat and also
as an injection in leucorrhoea.
It may be
given in substance, decoction or extract. The dose of the powdered
root or fluid extract is 1/2 to 1 drachm.
extract acts as a styptic to cuts, wounds, etc.
strongly-made decoction is recommended as a good wash for piles and
inflamed eyes. The decoction is made by boiling 2 OZ. of the
bruised root in 50 OZ. of water till it is reduced one-third. It is
then strained and taken in doses of 1 1/2 OZ. It may be used as an
If a piece
of lint be soaked in the decoction and kept applied to warts, they
decoction for internal use should be made with 4 drachms to 1/2
pint of water, boiled for 10 minutes, adding 1/2 drachm of cinnamon
stick at the end of boiling. Dose, 1 or 2
Powder of Tormentil. (A very reliable medicine in diarrhoea and
dysentery.) Powdered Tormentil, 1 OZ; Powdered Galangal, 1 OZ.;
Powdered Marshmallow root, 1 OZ.; Powdered Ginger, 4
infusion is made of the powdered ingredients by pouring 1 pint of
boiling water upon them, allowing to cool and then straining the
liquid. Dose, 1 or 2 fluid drachms, every 15 minutes, till the pain
is relieved - then take three or four times a day.
infusion is made by scalding 1 OZ. of the powdered Tormentil with 1
pint of water and taking as required in wineglassful doses for
chronic diarrhcea, fluxes, etc.
continental recipe for an astringent decoction is equal parts of
Tormentilla, Bistort and Pomegranate.
Thornton declared that in fluxes of blood, 1 drachm of Tormentil
given four times a day in an infusion of Hops did
tells of a poor old man who made wonderful cures of ague, smallpox,
whooping cough, etc., from an infusion of this herb and became so
celebrated locally that Lord William Russell gave him a piece of
ground in which to cultivate it, which he did, keeping it a secret
much given for cholera, and also sometimes in intermittent fevers,
and used in a lotion for ulcers and long-standing sores. The juice
of the fresh root, or the powder of the dried, was used in
compounding ointments and plasters for application to wounds and
root, bruised, and applied to the throat and jaws was held to heal
the King's Evil.
'Tormentil is most excellent to stay all
fluxes of blood or humours, whether at nose, mouth or belly. The
juice of the herb and root, or the decoction thereof, taken with
some Venice treacle and the person laid to sweat, expels any venom
or poison, or the plague, fever or other contagious disease, as the
pox, measles, etc., for it is an ingredient in all antidotes or
counterpoisons.'. . . 'It resisteth putrefaction.' . . . 'The root
taken inwardly is most effectual to help any flux of the belly,
stomach, spleen or blood and the juice wonderfully opens
obstructions of the spleen and lungs and cureth yellow jaundice.
Tormentil is no less effectual and powerful a remedy against
outward wounds, sores and hurts than for inward and is therefore a
special ingredient to be used in wound drinks, lotions and
injections. . . . It is also effectual for the piles. . . . The
juice or powder of the root, put into ointments, plasters and such
things that are applied to wounds or sores is very
Western Isles of Scotland and in the Orkneys the roots were used
for tanning leather and considered superior even to oak bark, being
first boiled in water and the leather steeped in the cold liquor.
The Laplanders employed the thickened red juice of the root for
staining leather red.
Americans use the name Tormentil for Geranium maculatum, the
Spotted Cranesbill, which has similar properties.
of the 150 species of Potentilla have been similarly used in
Astragalus gummifer (LABILL.)
---Synonyms---Gum Tragacanth. Syrian Tragacanth. Gum Dragon
(known in commerce as Syrian Tragacanth).
---Habitat---Asia Minor, Persia and Kurdistan.
---Description---The plant is a small branching thorny shrub,
the stem of which exudes a gum, vertical slits giving flat
ribbon-shaped pieces and punctures giving tears; these have a horny
appearance, are nearly colourless or faintly yellow, marked with
numerous concentric ridges; the flakes break with a short fracture,
are odourless and nearly tasteless; soaked in cold water, they
swell and form a gelatinous mass 8 or 10 per cent only
---Constituents---The portion soluble in water contains chiefly
polyarabinan-trigalaetangeddic acid; the insoluble part is called
bassorin. Tragacanth also contains water, traces of starch,
cellulose, and nitrogenous substances, yielding about 3 per cent
---Medicinal Action and Uses---Demulcent, but owing to its
incomplete solubility is not often used internally. It is much used
for the suspension of heavy, insoluble powders to impart
consistence to lozenges, being superior to gum arabic, also in
making emulsions, mucilago, etc. Mucilage of Tragacanth has been
used as anapplication to burns; it is also employed by
manufacturers for stiffening calico, crape, etc.
B.P. and U.S.P. Comp. Powder, B.P., 20 to 60 grains.
---Adulterants---The Indian gum, the product of Coplospermum
gossypium, also acacia, dextrin wheat and corn starch.
Ailanthus glandulosa (DESF.)
Medicinal Action and Uses
---Synonyms---Chinese Sumach. Vernis de Japon. Ailanto. (Trans.
as Tree of the Gods. - Götterbaum.).
Used---Inner bark of tree, root.
---Habitat---China and India. Cuitivated throughout Europe and
the United States.
large, handsome tree of rapid growth, bearing leaves from 1 to 2
feet long, and greenish flowers of a disagreeable odour. Was
introduced into England in 1751 and is frequently found in gardens
as a shade tree.
Ailanthus imberiflora occurs in Australia, and in India the A.
excelsa has a bark used as a bitter tonic.
it is cultivated for its leaves, on which the caterpillar of the
silk-spinning Ailanthus Moth (Bombyx Cynthia) is fed, yielding a
silk more durable and cheaper than Mulberry silk, though inferior
to it in fineness and gloss. Its name of Japan Varnish shows that
it was mistaken for the true Japanese Varnish Tree, a species of
Sumach. At one time it was classed as a Rhus.
is satiny, yellowish-white, and well suited for cabinet-making when
climates permit of adequate growth.
has a nauseating, bitter taste, and, when fresh, a sickening
have been found in commerce adulterated with those of
---Constituents---Lignin, chlorophyll, a yellow colouring
matter, a gelatinous substance (pectin), quassin, an odorous resin,
traces of a volatile oil, a nitrogenous, fatty matter, and several
salts. A later analysis found starch, tannin, albumen, gum, sugar,
oleoresin, and a trace of volatile oil, potash, phosphoric acid,
sulphuric acid, iron, lime, and magnesia.
characteristic properties of eitherthe fresh or carefully dried
bark can be exhausted by alcohol, to which a deep, green colour
will be imparted, changing to yellowish-brown with age and more
quickly if exposed to air.
and Uses---Antispasmodic, cardiac depressant, astringent. The
effect produced by Hetet when experimenting on dogs, was copious
stools and the discharge of worms. The resin purges, but rarely
acts as an anthelmintic. In China the bark is popular for dysentery
and other bowel complaints. A smaller dose of the oleoresin
produces similar results, and keeps better than the
vapours of the evaporating extract have a prostrating effect, as
have the emanations from the blossoms, while the action upon
patients of powder or extract is disagreeable and nauseating,
though they have been successfully used in dysentery and diarrhoea,
gonorrhoea, leucorrhoea, prolapsus ani, etc., and also as a
infusion may be given in sweetened orange-flower or other aromatic
water, to lessen the bitterness and resultant sickness. Though it
produces vomiting and great relaxation, it is stated not to be
of the root-bark has been used successfully in cardiac palpitation,
asthma and epilepsy.
of the trees in malarial districts is considered to resemble that
of the Eucalyptus.
statement that the resin is purgative has been disputed, some
asserting that it is inert.
to 20 grains. Of the tincture, 5 to 60 drops from two to four times
aday. Of the infusion, a teaspoonful, night and morning, cold. (50
grams of the rootbark infused for a short time in 75 grams of hot
water, then strained.)
Dicentra Canadensis (D.C.)
Medicinal Action and Uses
---Synonyms---Turkey Pea. Squirrel Corn. Staggerweed. Bleeding
Heart. Shone Corydalis. Corydalis. Corydalis Canadensis (Goldie).
Bicuculla Canadensis (Millsp.).
---Habitat---Westward and south of New York to North
---Description---This plant is essentially indigenous to
America, a perennial 6 to 10 inches high, with a tuberous root,
flowering in early spring (often in March) having from six to
nineteen nodding, greenish-white, purple-tinged flowers, the root
or tuber small and round. It should be collected only when the
plant is in flower. It grows in rich soil on hills and mountains.
The tubers are tawny yellow-coloured, the colour being a
distinctive character. The plant must not be confounded with
Corydalis (Dicentra) Cuccularia (Dutchman's Breeches), which
flowers at the same time and very much resembles it (though
smaller), except in the root, the rind of which is black with a
white inside, and when dried, turns brownish-yellow, and under the
microscope is full of pores. It has also a peculiar faint odour,
the taste at first slightly bitter, then followed by a penetrating
taste, which influences the bowels and increases the saliva; the
differences in the colour after drying may be caused by the age of
the root. Under the microscope, it is porous, spongy, resinous,
with a glistening fracture. Another Corydalis also somewhat like
Turkey Corn is C. Formosa, the fresh root of which is darkish
yellow throughout and has a fracture much resembling honeycomb. The
true Turkey Corn is much used by American eclectic practitioners.
It is slightly bitter in taste and almost odourless. Tannic acid
and all vegetable astringents are incompatible with preparations
containing Turkey Corn, or with its alkaloid,
---Constituents---The amount of alkaloids in the dried tubers
is about 5 per cent; they have been found to contain corydalin,
fumaric acid, yellow bitter extractive, an acrid resin and starch.
The constituents of the drug have not been exactly determined, but
several species of the closely allied genus Corydalis have been
carefully studied and C. tuberosa, cava and bulbosa have been found
to yield the following alkaloids: Corycavine, Bulbocapnine and
Corydine; Corydaline is a tertiary base, Corycavine is a difficult
soluble base; Bulbocapnine is present in largest amount and was
originally called Corydaline. Corydine is a strong base found in
the mother liquor of Bulbocapnine and several amorphous unnamed
bases have been found in it. All these alkaloids have narcotic
action. Protopine, first isolated from opium, has been found in
several species of Dicentra and in C. vernyim, ambigua and
and Uses---Tonic, diuretic and alterative; useful in
chroniccutaneous affections, syphilis and scrofula and in some
menstrual complaints. The corydalin sold by druggists is often
Corn is often combined with other remedies, such as Stillingia,
Burdock or Prickly Ash.
infusion is prepared of 5 grams of the powdered Corydalin in 100
c.c. of hot distilled water stirred for 10 minutes and then
filtered. This gives a light amber fluid and a precipitate with
mercuric-potassium iodide T.S. and a dark blue colour with Iodine
1/2 OZ. in 1 pint of boiling water, in wineglassful doses three or
four times daily. Fluid extract, 1/2 to 1 drachm. Corydalin, in 1/2
grains, three or four times daily. Saturated tincture, 1/2 drachm
to 2 fluid drachms.
pusilla (Sieb et Zuce), of Japan, is there popularly used for
ambigua, used by the Chinese in medicine. A number of the same
alkaloids are found in it and others closely allied.
commonly understood in medicine, the name Corydalis applies to the
tubers of Turkey Corn, but several others of the genus Dicentra and
Corydalis are used.
Curcuma longa (LINN.)
Medicinal Action and Uses
---Synonyms---Curcuma. Curcuma rotunda (LINN.). Amomum curcuma
---Habitat---Southern Asia. Cultivated in China, Bengal and
perennial plant with roots or tubers oblong, palmate, and deep
orange inside; root-leaves about 2 feet long, lanceolate, long,
petioled, tapering at each end, smooth, of a uniform green;
petioles sheathing spike, erect, central, oblong, green; flowers
dull yellow, three or five together surrounded by bracteolae. It is
propagated by cuttings from the root, which when dry is in curved
cylindrical or oblong tubers 2 or 3 inches in length, and an inch
in diameter, pointed or tapering at one end, yellowish externally,
with transverse, parallel rings internally deep orange or reddish
brown, marked with shining points, dense, solid, short, granular
fracture, forming a lemon yellow powder. It has a peculiar fragrant
odour and a bitterish, slightly acrid taste, like ginger, exciting
warmth in the mouth and colouring the saliva yellow. It yields its
properties to water or alcohol.
acrid, volatile oil, brown colouring matter, gum, starch, chloride
of calcium, woody fibre and a yellowish colouring matter named
curcumin; this is obtained by digesting tumeric in boiling alcohol,
filtering and evaporating the solution to dryness, the residue
being digested in ether, filtered and evaporated.
and Uses---Tumeric is a mild aromatic stimulant seldom used in
medicine except as a colouring. It was once a cure for jaundice.
Its chief use is in the manufacture of curry powders. It is also
used as an adulterant of mustard and a substitute for it and forms
one of the ingredients of many cattle condiments. Tincture of
Turmeric is used as a colouring agent, but the odour is fugitive.
It dyes a rich yellow. Turmeric paper is prepared by soaking
unglazed white paper in the tincture and then drying. Used as a
test for alkaloids and boric acid.
Medicinal Action and Uses
---Synonyms---Turpeth Root. Indian Jalap. Trivrit. Nisoth.
Used---Dried root, stem.
---Habitat---India. Ceylon, Pacific Islands, China,
---Description---There are two varieties of this
convolvulaceous plant, the Sveta, or White Turpeth, preferred as a
mild cathartic, and the black or Kirshna, a powerful drastic. The
pieces of root are cylindrical, somewhat twisted, and dull grey
outside. The drug has a faint odour, and the taste becomes nauseous
after it has been in the mouth for some time, though less so than
the true jalap. The genus Ipomoea are closely related to the
---Constituents---Resin, a fatty substance, volatile oil,
albumen, starch, a yellow colouring matter, lignin, salts, and
ferric oxide. The root contains 10 per cent of resin, which is a
glucoside, Turpethin, insoluble in ether, but soluble in alcohol,
to which it gives a brown colour not removable by animal charcoal.
To obtain pure, the alcoholic solution is concentrated; the resin
is precipitated by, and afterwards boiled with, water, then dried,
reduced to powder, digested with ether, and finally redissolved by
absolute alcohol and deposited by ether. After being treated
several times in this way, it is obtained in the state of a
brownish resin, yielding on pulverization a grey powder, which
irritates the mucous membrane of the nostrils and mouth. It is
inflammable, burning with a smoky flame and emitting irritant
vapours. With strong bases it acts like jalapin, takes up water,
and is transferred into a soluble acid, while with dilute acids it
is decomposed into turpetholic acid, and glucose.
and Uses---Cathartic and purgative. It is rather slow in its
action, less powerful and less unpleasant than jalap.
---Dosage---5 to 20
This rises up with a round thick stalk, about two feet high,
whereon do grow thick, flat green leaves, nothing so large as the
other Indian kind, somewhat round pointed also, and nothing dented
about the edges. The stalk branches forth, and bears at the tops
divers flowers set on great husks like the other, but nothing so
large: scarce standing above the brims of the husks, round pointed
also, and of a greenish yellow colour. The seed that follows is not
so bright, but larger, contained in the like great heads. The roots
are neither so great nor woody; it perishes every year with the
hard frosts in Winter, but rises generally from its own
This came from some parts of Brazil, as it is thought, and is more
familiar in our country than any of the other sorts; early giving
ripe seed, which the others seldom do.
Time : It
flowers from June, sometimes to the end of August, or later, and
the seed ripens in the mean time.
and virtues : It is a martial plant. It is found by good experience
to be available to expectorate tough phlegm from the stomach,
chest, and lungs. The juice thereof made into a syrup, or the
distilled water of the herb drank with some sugar, or without, if
you will, or the smoak taken by a pipe, as is usual, but fainting,
helps to expel worms in the stomach and belly, and to ease the
pains in the head, or megrim, and the griping pains in the bowels.
It is profitable for those that are troubled with the stone in the
kidneys, both to ease the pains by provoking urine, and also to
expel gravel and the stone engendered therein, and hath been found
very effectual to expel windiness, and other humours, which cause
the strangling of the mother. The seed thereof is very effectual to
expel the tooth ache, and the ashes of the burnt herb to cleanse
the gums, and make the teeth white. The herb bruised and applied to
the place grieved with the king's evil, helps it in nine or ten
days effectually. Monardus saith, It is a counter poison against
the biting of any venomous creature, the herb also being outwardly
applied to the hurt place. The distilled water is often given with
some sugar before the fit of an ague, to lessen it, and take it
away in three or four times using. If the distilled fæces of the
herb, having been bruised before the distillation, and not
distilled dry, be set in warm dung for fourteen days, and
afterwards be hung in a bag in a wine cellar, the liquor that
distills therefrom is singularly good to use in cramps, aches, the
gout and sciatica, and to heal itches, scabs, and running ulcers,
cankers, and all foul sores whatsoever. The juice is also good for
all the said griefs, and likewise to kill lice in children's heads.
The green herb bruised and applied to any green wounds, cures any
fresh wound or cut whatsoever: and the juice put into old sores,
both cleanses and heals them. There is also made hereof a
singularly good salve to help imposthumes, hard tumours, and other
swellings by blows and falls.
Tansy is so well known, that it needs no description.
Time : It
flowers in June and July.
and virtues : Dame Venus was minded to pleasure women with child by
this herb, for there grows not an herb, fitter for their use than
this is; it is just as though it were cut out for the purpose. This
herb bruised and applied to the navel, stays miscarriages. I know
no herb like it for that use. Boiled in ordinary beer, and the
decoction drank, doth the like; and if her womb be not as she would
have it, this decoction will make it so. Let those women that
desire children love this herb, it is their best companion, their
husbands excepted. Also it consumes the phlegmatic humours, the
cold and moist constitution of Winter most usually affects the body
of man with, and that was the first reason of eating tansies in the
Spring. The decoction of the common Tansy, or the juice drank in
wine, is a singular remedy for all the griefs that come by stopping
of the urine, helps the stranguary and those that have weak reins
and kidneys. It is also very profitable to dissolve and expel wind
in the stomach, belly, or bowels, to procure women's courses, and
expel windiness in the matrix, if it be bruised and often smelled
unto, as also applied to the lower part of the belly. It is also
very profitable for such women as are given to miscarry. It is used
also against the stone in the reins, especially to men. The herb
fried with eggs (as it is the custom in the Spring-time) which is
called a Tansy, helps to digest and carry downward those bad
humours that trouble the stomach. The seed is very profitably given
to children for the worms, and the juice in drink is as effectual.
Being boiled in oil, it is good for the sinews shrunk by cramps, or
pained with colds, if thereto applied.
WILD TANSY, OR SILVER WEED
also so well known, that it needs no description.
Place : It
grows in every place.
Time : It
flowers in June and July.
and virtues : Now Dame Venus hath fitted women with two herbs of
one name, the one to help conception, and the other to maintain
beauty, and what more can be expected of her? What now remains for
you, but to love your husbands, and not be wanting to your poor
neighbours? Wild Tansy stays the lask, and all the fluxes of blood
in men and women, which some say it will do, if the green herb be
worn in the shoes, so it be next the skin; and it is true enough,
that it will stop the terms, if worn so, and the whites too, for
ought I know. It stays also spitting or vomiting of blood. The
powder of the herb taken in some of the distilled water, helps the
whites in women, but more especially if a little coral and ivory in
powder be put to it. It is also recommended to help children that
are bursten, and have a rupture, being boiled in water and salt.
Being boiled in water and drank, it eases the griping pains of the
bowels, and is good for the sciatica and joint-aches. The same
boiled in vinegar, with honey and allum, and gargled in the mouth,
eases the pains of the tooth-ache, fastens loose teeth, helps the
gums that are sore, and settles the palate of the mouth in its
place, when it is fallen down. It cleanses and heals ulcers in the
mouth, or secret parts, and is very good for inward wounds, and to
close the lips of green wounds, and to heal old, moist, and corrupt
running sores in the legs or elsewhere. Being bruised and applied
to the soles of the feet and hand wrists, it wonderfully cools the
hot fits of agues, be they never so violent. The distilled water
cleanses the skin of all discolourings therein, as morphew,
sun-burnings, &c. as also pimples, freckles, and the like; and
dropped into the eyes, or cloths wet therein and applied, takes
away the heat and inflammations in them.
are many kinds growing here in England which are so well known,
that they need no description. Their difference is easily known on
the places where they grow, viz.
Some grow in fields, some in meadows, and some among the corn;
others on heaths, greens, and waste grounds in many
They flower in June and August, and their seed is ripe quickly
and virtues : Surely Mars rules it, it is such a prickly business.
All these thistles are good to provoke urine, and to mend the
stinking smell thereof; as also the rank smell of the arm-pits, or
the whole body; being boiled in wine and drank, and are said to
help a stinking breath, and to strengthen the stomach. Pliny saith,
That the juice bathed on the place that wants hair, it being fallen
off, will cause it to grow speedily.
THE MELANCHOLY THISTLE
It rises up with tender single hoary green stalks, bearing thereon
four or five green leaves, dented about the edges; the points
thereof are little or nothing prickly, and at the top usually but
one head, yet sometimes from the bosom of the uppermost leaves
there shoots forth another small head, scaly and prickly, with many
reddish thrumbs or threads in the middle, which being gathered
fresh, will keep the colour a long time, and fades not from the
stalk a long time, while it perfects the seed, which is of a mean
bigness, lying in the down. The root hath many strings fastened to
the head, or upper part, which is blackish, and perishes
another sort little differing from the former, but that the leaves
are more green above, and more hoary underneath, and the stalk
being about two feet high, bears but one scaly head, with threads
and seeds as the former.
They grow in many moist meadows of this land, as well in the
southern, as in the northern parts.
They flower about July or August, and their seed ripens quickly
and virtues : It is under Capricorn, and therefore under both
Saturn and Mars, one rids melancholy by sympathy, the other by
antipathy. Their virtues are but few, but those not to be despised;
for the decoction of the thistle in wine being drank, expels
superfluous melancholy out of the body, and makes a man as merry as
a cricket; superfluous melancholy causes care, fear, sadness,
despair, envy, and many evils more besides; but religion teaches to
wait upon God's providence, and cast our care upon him who cares
for us. What a fine thing were it if men and women could live so!
And yet seven years' care and fear makes a man never the wiser, nor
a farthing richer. Dioscorides saith, The root borne about one doth
the like, and removes all diseases of melancholy. Modern writers
laugh at him. Let them laugh that win: my opinion is, that it is
the best remedy against all melancholy diseases that grows; they
that please may use it.
OUR LADY'S THISTLE
Our Lady's Thistle hath divers very large and broad leaves lying on
the ground cut in, and as it were crumpled, but somewhat hairy on
the edges, of a white green shining colour, wherein are many lines
and streaks of a milk white colour, running all over, and set with
many sharp and stiff prickles all about, among which rises up one
or more strong, round, and prickly stalks, set full of the like
leaves up to the top, where at the end of every branch, comes forth
a great prickly Thistle-like head, strongly armed with prickles,
and with bright purple thumbs rising out of the middle; after they
are past, the seed grows in the said heads, lying in soft white
down, which is somewhat flattish in the ground, and many strings
and fibres fastened thereunto. All the whole plant is bitter in
Place : It
is frequent on the banks of almost every ditch.
Time : It
flowers and seeds in June, July, and August.
and virtues : Our Lady's Thistle is under Jupiter, and thought to
be as effectual as Carduus Benedictus for agues, and to prevent and
cure the infection of the plague: as also to open the obstructions
of the liver and spleen, and thereby is good against the jaundice.
It provokes urine, breaks and expels the stone, and is good for the
dropsy. It is effectual also for the pains in the sides, and many
other inward pains and gripings. The seed and distilled water is
held powerful to all the purposes aforesaid, and besides, it is
often applied both outwardly with cloths or spunges to the region
of the liver, to cool the distemper thereof, and to the region of
the heart, against swoonings and the passions of it. It cleanses
the blood exceedingly: and in Spring, if you please to boil the
tender plant (but cut off the prickles unless you have a mind to
choak yourself) it will change your blood as the season changes,
and that is the way to be safe.
THE WOOLLEN, OR COTTON
This has many large leaves lying upon the ground, somewhat cut in,
and as it were crumpled on the edges, of a green colour on the
upper side, but covered over with a long hairy wool or cotton down,
set with most sharp and cruel pricks; from the middle of whose
heads of flowers come forth many purplish crimson threads, and
sometimes white, although but seldom. The seed that follow in those
white downy heads, is somewhat large and round, resembling the seed
of Lady's Thistle, but paler. The root is great and thick,
spreading much, yet usually dies after seed time.
Place : It
grows in divers ditch-banks, and in the corn-fields, and highways,
generally throughout the land, and is often growing in
and virtues : It is a plant of Mars. Dioscorides and Pliny write,
That the leaves and roots hereof taken in drink, help those that
have a crick in their neck, that they cannot turn it, unless they
turn their whole body. Galen saith, That the roots and leaves
hereof are good for such persons that have their bodies drawn
together by some spasm or convulsion, or other infirmities; as the
rickets (or as the college of physicians would have it, Rachites,
about which name they have quarrelled sufficiently) in children,
being a disease that hinders their growth, by binding their nerves,
ligaments, and whole structure of their body.
THE FULLER'S THISTLE, OR
It is so
well known, that it needs no description, being used with the
Teasle is in all things like the former, but that the prickles are
small, soft, and upright, not hooked or stiff, and the flowers of
this are of a fine blueish, or pale carnation colour, but of the
manured kind, whitish.
The first grows, being sown in gardens or fields for the use of
clothworkers. The other near ditches and rills of water in many
places of this land.
They flower in July, and are ripe in the end of
and virtues : It is an herb of Venus. Dioscorides saith, That the
root bruised and boiled in wine, till it be thick, and kept in a
brazen vessel, and after spread as a salve, and applied to the
fundament, doth heal the cleft thereof, cankers and fistulas
therein, also takes away warts and wens. The juice of the leaves
dropped into the ears, kills worms in them. The distilled water of
the leaves dropped into the eyes, takes away redness and mists in
them that hinder the sight, and is often used by women to preserve
their beauty, and to take away redness and inflammations, and all
other heat or discolourings.
It rises up with a hard round stalk, about a foot high, parted into
some branches, having divers soft green leaves long and narrow, set
thereon, waved, but not cut into the edges, broadest towards the
ends, somewhat round pointed; the flowers are white that grow at
the tops of the branches, spike-fashion, one above another; after
which come round pouches, parted in the middle with a furrow,
having one blackish brown seed on either side, somewhat sharp in
taste, and smelling of garlick, especially in the fields where it
is natural, but not so much in gardens. The roots are small and
thready, perishing every year.
leave here to add Mithridate Mustard, although it may seem more
properly by the name to belong to M, in the alphabet.
This grows higher than the former, spreading more and higher
branches, whose leaves are smaller and narrower, sometimes unevenly
dented about the edges. The flowers are small and white, growing on
long branches, with much smaller and rounder vessels after them,
and parted in the same manner, having smaller brown seeds than the
former, and much sharper in taste. The root perishes after seed
time, but abides the first Winter after springing.
They grow in sundry places in this land, as half a mile from
Hatfield, by the river side, under a hedge as you go to Hatfield,
and in the street of Peckham on Surrey side.
They flower and seed from May to August.
and virtues : Both of them are herbs of Mars. The Mustards are said
to purge the body both upwards and downwards, and procure women's
courses so abundantly, that it suffocates the birth. It breaks
inward imposthumes, being taken inwardly; and used in clysters,
helps the sciatica. The seed applied, doth the same. It is an
especial ingredient in mithridate and treacle, being of itself an
antidote resisting poison, venom and putrefaction. It is also
available in many cases for which the common Mustard is used, but
THE BLACK THORN, OR SLOE-BUSH
It is so
well known, that it needs no description.
Place : It
grows in every country in the hedges and borders of
Time : It
flowers in April, and sometimes in March, but the fruit ripens
after all other plums whatsoever, and is not fit to be eaten until
the Autumn frost mellow them.
and virtues : All the parts of the Sloe-Bush are binding, cooling,
and dry, and all effectual to stay bleeding at the nose and mouth,
or any other place; the lask of the belly or stomach, or the bloody
flux, the too much abounding of women's courses, and helps to ease
the pains of the sides, and bowels, that come by overmuch scouring,
to drink the decoction of the bark of the roots, or more usually
the decoction of the berries, either fresh or dried. The conserve
also is of very much use, and more familiarly taken for the
purposes aforesaid. But the distilled water of the flower first
steeped in sack for a night, and drawn therefrom by the heat of
Balneum and Anglico, a bath, is a most certain remedy, tried and
approved, to ease all manner of gnawings in the stomach, the sides
and bowels, or any griping pains in any of them, to drink a small
quantity when the extremity of pain is upon them. The leaves also
are good to make lotions to gargle and wash the mouth and throat,
wherein are swellings, sores, or kernels; and to stay the
defluctions of rheum to the eyes, or other parts; as also to cool
the heat and inflammations of them, and ease hot pains of the head,
to bathe the forehead and temples therewith. The simple distilled
water of the flowers is very effectual for the said purposes, and
the condensate juice of the Sloes. The distilled water of the green
berries is used also for the said effects
THOROUGH WAX, OR THOROUGH
Common Thorough-Wax sends forth a strait round stalk, two feet
high, or better, whose lower leaves being of a bluish colour, are
smaller and narrower than those up higher, and stand close thereto,
not compassing it; but as they grow higher, they do not encompass
the stalks, until it wholly pass through them, branching toward the
top into many parts, where the leaves grow smaller again, every one
standing singly, and never two at a joint. The flowers are small
and yellow, standing in tufts at the heads of the branches, where
afterwards grow the seed, being blackish, many thick thrust
together. The root is small, long and woody, perishing every year,
after seed-time, and rising again plentifully of its own
Place : It
is found growing in many corn-fields and pasture grounds in this
Time : It
flowers in July, and the seed is ripe in August.
and virtues : Both this and the former are under the influence of
Saturn. Thorough-Wax is of singular good use for all sorts of
bruises and wounds either inward or outward; and old ulcers and
sores likewise, if the decoction of the herb with water and wine be
drank, and the place washed therewith, or the juice of the green
herb bruised, or boiled, either by itself, or with other herbs, in
oil or hog's grease, to be made into an ointment to serve all the
year. The decoction of the herb, or powder of the dried herb, taken
inwardly, and the same, or the leaves bruised, and applied
outwardly, is singularly good for all ruptures and burstings,
especially in children before they be too old. Being applied with a
little flour and wax to children's navels that stick forth, it
It is in
vain to describe an herb so commonly known.
and virtues : It is a noble strengthener of the lungs, as notable a
one as grows; neither is there scarce a better remedy growing for
that disease in children which they commonly call the Chin-cough,
than it is. It purges the body of phlegm, and is an excellent
remedy for shortness of breath. It kills worms in the belly, and
being a notable herb of Venus, provokes the terms, gives safe and
speedy delivery to women in travail, and brings away the after
birth. It is so harmless you need not fear the use of it. An
ointment made of it takes away hot swellings and warts, helps the
sciatica and dullness of sight, and takes away pains and hardness
of the spleen. Tis excellent for those that are troubled with the
gout.It eases pains in the loins and hips. The herb taken any way
inwardly, comforts the stomach much, and expels wind.
WILD THYME, OR MOTHER OF
also is so well known, that it needs no description.
Place : It
may be found commonly in commons, and other barren places
throughout the nation.
and virtues : It is under the dominion of Venus, and under the sign
Aries, and therefore chiefly appropriated to the head. It provokes
urine and the terms, and eases the griping pain of the belly,
cramps, ruptures, and inflammation of the liver. If you make a
vinegar of the herb, as vinegar of roses is made (you may find out
the way in my translation of the London Dispensatory) and anoint
the head with it, it presently stops the pains thereof. It is
excellently good to be given either in phrenzy or lethargy,
although they are two contrary diseases. It helps spitting and
voiding of blood, coughing, and vomiting; it comforts and
strengthens the head, stomach, reins, and womb, expels wind, and
breaks the stone.
TORMENTIL, OR SEPTFOIL
This hath reddish, slender, weak branches rising from the root,
lying on the ground, rather leaning than standing upright, with
many short leaves that stand closer to the stalk than cinquefoil
(to which this is very like) with the foot-stalk compassing the
branches in several places; but those that grow to the ground are
set upon long foot stalks, each whereof are like the leaves of
cinquefoil, but somewhat long and lesser dented about the edges,
many of them divided into five leaves, but most of them into seven,
whence it is also called Septfoil; yet some may have six, and some
eight, according to the fertility of the soil. At the tops of the
branches stand divers small yellow flowers, consisting of five
leaves, like those of cinquefoil, but smaller. The root is smaller
than bistort, somewhat thick, but blacker without, and not so red
within, yet sometimes a little crooked, having blackish fibres
Place : It
grows as well in woods and shadowy places, as in the open champain
country, about the borders of fields in many places of this land,
and almost in every broom field in Essex.
Time : It
flowers all the Summer long.
and virtues : This is a gallant herb of the Sun. Tormentil is most
excellent to stay all kind of fluxes of blood or humours in man or
woman, whether at nose, mouth, or belly. The juice of the herb of
the root, or the decoction thereof, taken with some Venice treacle,
and the person laid to sweat, expels any venom or poison, or the
plague, fever, or other contagious diseases, as pox, measles,
&c. for it is an ingredient in all antidotes or counter
poisons. Andreas Urlesius is of opinion that the decoction of this
root is no less effectual to cure the French pox than Guiacum or
China; and it is not unlikely, because it so mightily resists
putrefaction. The root taken inwardly is most effectual to help any
flux of the belly, stomach, spleen, or blood; and the juice
wonderfully opens obstructions of the liver and lungs, and thereby
helps the yellow jaundice. The powder or decoction drank, or to sit
thereon as a bath, is an assured remedy against abortion, if it
proceed from the over flexibility or weakness of the inward
retentive faculty; as also a plaster made therewith, and vinegar
applied to the reins of the back, doth much help not only this, but
also those that cannot hold their water, the powder being taken in
the juice of plaintain, and is also commended against the worms in
children. It is very powerful in ruptures and burstings, as also
for bruises and falls, to be used as well outwardly as inwardly.
The root hereof made up with pellitory of Spain and allum, and put
into a hollow tooth, not only assuages the pain, but stays the flux
of humours which causes it. Tormentil is no less effectual and
powerful a remedy against outward wounds, sores and hurts, than for
inward, and is therefore a special ingredient to be used in wound
drinks, lotions and injections, for foul corrupt rotten sores and
ulcers of the mouth, secrets, or other parts of the body. The juice
or powder of the root put in ointments, plaisters, and such things
that are to be applied to wounds or sores, is very effectual, as
the juice of the leaves and the root bruised and applied to the
throat or jaws, heals the king's evil, and eases the pain of the
sciatica; the same used with a little vinegar, is a special remedy
against the running sores of the head or other parts; scabs also,
and the itch or any such eruptions in the skin, proceeding of salt
and sharp humours. The same is also effectual for the piles or
hæmorrhoids, if they be washed or bathed therewith, or with the
distilled water of the herb and roots. It is found also helpful to
dry up any sharp rheum that distills from the head into the eyes,
causing redness, pain, waterings, itching, or the like, if a little
prepared tutia, or white amber, be used with the distilled water
thereof. And here is enough, only remember the Sun challengeth this
TURNSOLE, OR HELIOTROPIUM
The greater Turnsole rises with one upright stalk, about a foot
high, or more, dividing itself almost from the bottom,into divers
small branches, of a hoary colour; at each joint of the stalk and
branches grow small broad leaves, somewhat white and hairy. At the
tops of the stalks and branches stand small white flowers,
consisting of four, and sometimes five small leaves, set in order
one above another, upon a small crooked spike, which turns inwards
like a bowed finger, opening by degrees as the flowers blow open;
after which in their place come forth cornered seed, four for the
most part standing together; the root is small and thready,
perishing every year, and the seed shedding every year, raises it
again the next spring.
Place : It
grows in gardens, and flowers and seeds with us, notwithstanding it
is not natural to this land, but to Italy, Spain, and France, where
it grows plentifully.
and virtues : It is an herb of the Sun, and a good one too.
Dioscorides saith, That a good handful of this, which is called the
Great Turnsole, boiled in water, and drank, purges both choler and
phlegm; and boiled with cummin, helps the stone in the reins,
kidneys, or bladder, provokes urine and women's courses, and causes
an easy and speedy delivery in child-birth. The leaves bruised and
applied to places pained with the gout, or that have been out of
joint and newly set, and full of pain, do give much ease; the seed
and juice of the leaves also being rubbed with a little salt upon
warts and wens, and other kernels in the face, eye-lids, or any
other part of the body, will, by often using, take them
MEADOW TREFOIL, OR
It is so
well known, especially by the name of Honeysuckles, white and red,
that I need not describe them.
They grow almost every where in this land.
and virtues : Mercury hath dominion over the common sort. Dodoneus
saith, The leaves and flowers are good to ease the griping pains of
the gout, the herb being boiled and used in a clyster. If the herb
be made into a poultice, and applied to inflammations, it will ease
them. The juice dropped in the eyes, is a familiar medicine, with
many country people, to take away the pin and web (as they call it)
in the eyes; it also allays the heat and blood shooting of them.
Country people do also in many places drink the juice thereof
against the biting of an adder; and having boiled the herb in
water, they first wash the place with the decoction, and then lay
some of the herb also to the hurt place. The herb also boiled in
swine's grease, and so made into an ointment, is good to apply to
the biting of any venomous creature. The herb also bruised and
heated between tiles, and applied hot to the share, causes them to
make water who had it stopt before. It is held likewise to be good
for wounds, and to take away seed. The decoction of the herb and
flowers, with the seed and root, taken for some time, helps women
that are troubled with the whites. The seed and flowers boiled in
water, and afterwards made into a poultice with some oil, and
applied, helps hard swellings and imposthumes.
the ordinary sort of Trefoil, here are two more remarkable, and one
of which may be properly called Heart Trefoil, not only because the
leaf is triangular, like the heart of a man, but also because each
leaf contains the perfection of a heart, and that in its proper
colour, viz. a flesh colour.
Place : It
grows between Longford and Bow, and beyond Southwark, by the
highway and parts adjacent.
and virtues : It is under the dominion of the Sun, and if it were
used, it would be found as great a strengthener of the heart, and
cherisher of the vital spirits as grows, relieving the body against
fainting and swoonings, fortifying it against poison and
pestilence, defending the heart against the noisome vapours of the
not from the common sort, save only in this particular, it hath a
white spot in the leaf like a pearl. It is particularly under the
dominion of the Moon, and its icon shews that it is of a singular
virtue against the pearl, or pin and web in the eyes.
TUSTAN, OR PARK LEAVES
It hath brownish shining round stalks, crested the length thereof,
rising two by two, and sometimes three feet high, branching forth
even from the bottom, having divers joints, and at each of them two
fair large leaves standing, of a dark blueish green colour on the
upper side, and of a yellowish green underneath, turning reddish
toward Autumn. At the top of the stalks stand large yellow flowers,
and heads with seed, which being greenish at the first and
afterwards reddish, turn to be of a blackish purple colour when
they are ripe, with small brownish seed within them,and they yield
a reddish juice or liquor, somewhat resinous, and of a harsh and
stypick taste, as the leaves also and the flowers be, although much
less, but do not yield such a clear claret wine colour, as some say
it doth, the root is brownish, somewhat great, hard and woody,
spreading well in the ground.
Place : It
grows in many woods, groves, and woody grounds, as parks and
forests, and by hedge-sides in many places in this land, as in
Hampstead wood, by Ratley in Essex, in the wilds of Kent, and in
many other places needless to recite.
Time : It
flowers later than St. John's or St. Peter's-wort.
and virtues : It is an herb of Saturn, and a most noble
anti-venerean. Tustan purges choleric humours, as St. Peter's-wort
is said to do, for therein it works the same effects, both to help
the sciatica and gout, and to heal burning by fire; it stays all
the bleedings of wounds, if either the green herb be bruised, or
the powder of the dry be applied thereto. It hath been accounted,
and certainly it is, a sovereign herb to heal either wound or sore,
either outwardly or inwardly, and therefore always used in drinks,
lotions, green wounds, ulcers, or old sores, in all balms, oils,
ointments, or any other sorts of which the continual experience of
former ages hath confirmed the use thereof to be admirably good,
though it be not so much in use now, as when physicians and
surgeons were so wise as to use herbs more than now they