Herbs & Oils
~ V ~
VALERIAN: (Valeriana officinalis) Also
known as Garden Heliotrope, Vandal Root, and St. George's Herb.
Valerian has compound leaves with a fresh pea pod scent, and
clusters of honey scented flowers in midsummer. Both have
unpleasant fetid undertones. Their musky root is used in stews and
perfumes and unskinned root is a tranquilizer. The herb treats
headaches, muscle cramps and irritable bowel syndrome and is used
topically for wounds, ulcers, and eczema. Laboratory tests show
anti-tumor activity. Composted leaves are rich in minerals. Do not
take large doses or continuously. Although the root of the herb has
a strong pungent scent, some cats love it more than catnip. (Mine
Parts Used: Root
Magical Uses: A sprig of the plant pinned to a
woman's clothing will cause men to 'follow her like children'.
Valerian Root is added to Love Sachets. Put in pillows to promote
deep rest. Use in spells for: Protection; Purification; Harmony;
Peace; Happiness; Love; Creative Work; Money and
Aromatherapy Uses: Insomnia; Nervous Indigestion;
Migraine; Restlessness; Tension States. Key Qualities: Sedative;
Depressant of the Central Nervous System; Mildly Hypnotic;
Regulator; Calming; Soothing; Grounding.
VERVAIN: (Verbena officinalis) Also known
as Enchanters Herb, Holy Herb, Verbena, Blue Vervain, and Holy
Wort. A Druid sacred herb, common in their many rites and
incantations, this hardy perennial has deeply cut lower leaves and
smooth upper leaves with small dense spikes of pale lilac-pink
flowers. An ancient sacred herb of purification, visions, and love
potions, it was included in liqueurs and aphrodisiacs. Vervain was
so highly regarded by the Druids that offerings were placed on
is a derivative of the Celtic fer (to drive away)and
faen (stone), given to it because of its abbility to purge
calculi (gravel) from the bladder. A tea of the herb helps to
increase breast mild and is helpful in lowering fever, especially
of the intermittent type. It will benefit eczema and other skin
eruptions, as it is a kidney and liver cleanser. Jaundice, whooping
cough, edema, mastitis, and headaches fall under its sphere. To
make the tea, steem one tablespoon of the herb per cup of water for
Externally, vervain is used in poultices for ear infections,
rheumatism and wounds. Vervain is an emmenagogue (brings down the
menses) and soothes the nerves. It is reputed to have aphrodisiac
properties. It is a powerful lymphatic detoxifier and has a
cleansing effect on the female organs.
Vervain (Vervena hastata), the American variety, is a
natural tranquilizer and is helpful with colds and fevers,
especially when the upper sespiratory tract is involved. It will
eliminate intestinal worms and is used externally for wounds. It is
deistinguished from the European vervain by its deeper blue flowers
and denser, bristly flower spikes. Blue vervain is also prepared in
a standard infusion or tinctured in alcohol.
Parts Used: Above ground portions of the
Magical Uses: Vervain is a profoundly magical
herb belonging to the sphere of Venus. Roman priests and
priestesses used it as an altar plant - it was tied in bundles and
used to ritually "sweep" and purify the altar. Druids placed it in
water that was sprinkled on worshipers as a blessing.
was picked at the rising of the Dog Star, at the dark of the moon,
just before flowering. It was taken from the earth with the sacred
sickle and raised aloft in the left hand. After prayers of
thanksgiving were spoken the Druid or Druidess left a gift of honey
to recompense the Earth for her loss.
was once infused in wine and worn on the body to to ward off the
stings of insects and serpents. It is used in the bath as a
protection from enchantments and to make dreams come
bathing in vervain places one under the influence of Diana. After
washing your hands in the infusion, it will be possible to engender
love in the one you touch.
fears, light a candle daily and surround it with vervain. Speak
aloud a prayer to the Gods and Goddesses asking for release from
your fear. Do this as long as necessary.
night of the full moon, go outside with a chalice filled with
water, vervain and salt. Take also a candle and a piece of
petrified wood. Dip the stone into the water mixture and then pass
it through the candle flame. Touch the stone to your feet, hands,
shoulders, and head. As you do this ask for the belssings of youth
and beauty. Repeat the process seven times.
worn as a crown during Druidic initiatory rites and as protection
for those who are working magic. Sprinkle throughout the home for
protection and to bring peace. Keep some in the bedroom to bring
tranquil dreams. Keep it in the home to attract wealth and to keep
plants healthy. Sprinkle some on the garden as an offering to the
elementals and other nature spirits. Drinking the juice of fresh
vervain is said to cut sexual desire. Burn it to banish the pangs
of unrequited love. Vervain is worn to recover stolen articles.
Tucked into a child's cradle, the plant brings joy and a lively
intellect. When burned, Vervain is powerful for warding psychic
attack, but it is also used in spells for love, purification and
attracting wealth. It is a powerful attractant to the opposite sex.
Use for Anointing; Banishing; Gather and burn at Litha; Altar
Offering; Creativity; Energy; Strength; Power.
VETIVERT: (Vetivera zizanioides) Also
called Khus-khus. This perennial grass grows in dense clumps of
stout stems with long leaves and has an aromatic rhizome and roots.
The distilled root essential oil flavors Asian sherbets and sweets,
fixes perfumes, and scents quality soaps, cosmetics and
aftershaves. The scent is a deep yet refreshing, woody, resinous
mixture of myrrh and violets.
Parts Used: Root
Magical Uses: Vetivert root is burned to overcome
evil spells. It is also used in love powders, sachet and incenses
and is added to the bathwater in a sachet to make yourself more
attractive to the opposite sex. Vetivert is also used in money
spellls and mixtures, placed in the cash register to increase
business, carried to attract luck, and burned in anti-theft
Aromatherapy Uses: Acne; Cuts; Oily Skin; Wounds;
Arthritis; Muscular Aches and Pains; Rheumatism; Sprains;
Stiffness; Debility; Depression; Insomnia; Nervous Tension. Known
as the "Oil of Tranquillity". Key Qualities: Sedative; Soothing;
Calming; Tonic; Grounding; Uplifting; Protective.
VIOLET: (Viola odorata) Also called
Heartsease, Little Faces, and Viola. This stemless perennial has
scalloped, heart-shaped leaves and violet or white, sweetly scented
flowers from winter to spring. The crystallized flowers flavor
sweets and liqueurs and are tossed in salads with the leaves. The
root treats bronchitis The leaves are a folk remedy for breast and
lung cancer. The flower syrup is antiseptic and a mild laxative,
and with the leaves treats coughs, headaches, and insomnia. Ancient
Greeks wore the violet to calm tempers and to induce
plant is used, fresh or dry. The leaves can be eaten as a type of
wild spinach, and the flowers are used in salads and desserts. High
in iron, the fresh leaf is used internally and externally for
cancer, especially of the colon, throat, and tongue. For this
purpose, the fresh laves should be infused daily and taken as tea;
using one teaspoon of plant parts to a half cup of water, steep and
take a quarter cup four times a day. The tea can be applied
externally as a fomentation. The flowers are laxative; the roots
and stems are emetic and purgative. The fresh leaves are used in
salves and poultices for wounds.
Parts Used: Whole Plant
Magical Uses: violet crowns are said to cure
headache, bring sleep, and calm anger. Violets are mixed with
lavender, apple blossoms, yarrow, and roses in love potions. The
leaf is a protecion from all evil. Use for: Protection; Luck; Love;
Lust; Wishes; Peace; Healing. Mixed with Lavender, the flowers are
a powerful live stimulant and also arouse lust. Violets and
Periwinkle are used to decorate the graves and corpses of
Valeriana officinalis (LINN.)
Harvesting and Preparation for Market
Medicinal Action and Uses
Preparations and Dosages
---Synonyms---Phu (Galen). All-Heal. Great Wild Valerian.
Amantilla. Setwall. Setewale Capon's Tail.
---Habitat---Europe and Northern Asia.
species of Valerian, Valeriana officinalis and V. dioica, are
indigenous in Britain, while a third, V. pyrenaica, is naturalized
in some parts. The genus comprises about 150 species, which are
widely distributed in the temperate parts of the
medicine, the root of V. officinalis is intended when Valerian is
mentioned. It is supposed to be the Phu (an expression of aversion
from its offensive odour) of Dioscorides and Galen, by whom it is
extolled as an aromatic and diuretic.
afterwards found to be useful in certain kinds of epilepsy. The
plant was in such esteem in mediaeval times as a remedy, that it
received the name of All Heal, which is still given it in some
parts of the country.
is found throughout Europe and Northern Asia, and is common in
England in marshy thickets and on the borders of ditches and
rivers, where its tall stems may generally be seen in the summer
towering above the usual herbage, the erect, sturdy growth of the
plant, the rich, dark green of the leaves, their beautiful form,
and the crowning masses of light-coloured flowers, making the plant
roots tend to merge into a short, conical root-stock or erect
rhizome, the development of which often proceeds for several years
before a flowering stem is sent up, but slender horizontal branches
which terminate in buds are given off earlier, and from these buds
proceed aerial shoots or stolons, which produce fresh plants where
they take root. Only one stem arises from the root, which attains a
height of 3 or 4 feet. It is round, but grooved and hollow, more or
less hairy, especially near the base. It terminates in two or more
pairs of flowering stems, each pair being placed at right angles to
those above and below it. The lower flowering stems lengthen so as
to place their flowers nearly or often quite on a level with the
flowers borne by the upper branches, forming a broad and flattened
cluster at the summit, called a cyme. The leaves are arranged in
pairs and are united at their bases. Each leaf is made up of a
series of lance-shaped segments, more or less opposite to one
another on each side of the leaf (pinnate). The leaflets vary very
much in number, from six to ten pairs as a rule, and vary also in
breadth, being broad when few in number and narrower when more
numerous; they are usually 2 to 3 inches long. The margins are
indented by a few coarsely-cut teeth. The upper surface is strongly
veined, the under surface is paler and frequently more or less
covered with short, soft hairs. The leaves on the stem are attached
by short, broad sheaths, the radical leaves are larger and
long-stemmed and the margins more toothed.
flowers are in bloom from June to September. They are small, tinged
with pink and flesh colour, with a somewhat peculiar, but not
exactly unpleasant smell. The corolla is tubular, and from the
midst of its lobes rise the stamens, only three in number, though
there are five lobes to the corolla. The limb of the calyx is
remarkable for being at first inrolled and afterwards expanding in
the form of a feathery pappus, which aids the dissemination of the
fruit. The fruit is a capsule containing one oblong compressed
seed. Apart from the flowers, the whole plant has a foetid smell,
much accentuated when bruised.
more often growing in damp situations, Valerian is also met with on
dry, elevated ground. It is found throughout Britain, but in the
northern counties is more often found on higher and dryer ground -
dry heaths and hilly pastures - than in the south, and then is
usually smaller, not more than 2 feet high, with narrow leaves and
hairy, and is often named sylvestris. The medicinal qualities of
this form are considered to be especially strong.
none of the varieties differ greatly from the typical form,
Valerian is more subject than many plants to deviations, which has
caused several more or less permanent varieties to be named by
various botanists. One of the chief is V. sambucifolia (Mikan), the
name signifying 'Elder-leaved,' from the form of its foliage, the
segments being fewer (only four to six pairs) and broader than in
the type form, and having somewhat of the character of the
is supposed to be the Saliunca of ancient writers. It is used by
Eastern nations to aromatize their baths. The roots are collected
by the Styrian peasants, and are exported by way of Trieste to
Turkey and Egypt, whence they are conveyed to India and Ethiopia.
V. sitchensis, a native of northwestern America, is considered by
the Russians the most powerful of all species.
is cultivated for the sake of the drug in England (in Derbyshire),
but to a much greater extent in Prussia, Saxony (in the
neighbourhood of Colleda, north of Weimar), in Holland and in the
United States (Vermont, New Hampshire and New York). English roots
have always commanded about four times the price of the imported.
In Derbyshire, the cultivation of Valerian takes place in many
villages near Chesterfield, the wild plants occurring in the
neighbourhood not being sufficient to supply the demand. Derbyshire
Valerian plants are of two varieties: V. Milkanii (Syme), on
limestone, and V. sambucifolia (Mikan) on the coal measures. The
former yields most of the cultivated Derbyshire
derivation of the name of this genus of plants is differently
given. It is said by some authors to have been named after
Valerius, who first used it in medicine; while others derive the
name from the Latin word valere (to be in health), on account of
its medicinal qualities. The word Valeriana is not found in the
classical authors; we first meet with it in the ninth or tenth
century, at which period and for long afterwards it was used as
synonymous with Phu or Fu; Fu, id est valeriana, we find it
described in ancient medical works of that period. The word
Valerian occurs in the recipes of the AngloSaxon leeches (eleventh
century). Valeriana, Amantilla and Fu are used as synonymous in the
Alphita, a mediaeval vocabulary of the important medical school of
Salernum. Saladinus of Ascoli (about 1450) directs the collection
in the month of August of radices fu, id est Valerianae. Referring
to the name Amantilla, by which it was known in the fourteenth
century, Professor Henslow quotes a curious recipe of that period,
a translation of which runs as follows: 'Men who begin to fight and
when you wish to stop them, give to them the juice of Amantilla id
est Valeriana and peace will be made immediately.' Theriacaria,
Marinella, Genicularis and Terdina are other old names by which
Valerian has been known in former days. Another old name met with
in Chaucer and other old writers is 'Setwall' or 'Setewale,' the
derivation of which is uncertain. Mediaeval herbalists also called
the plant 'Capon's Tail,' which has rather fantastically been
explained as a reference to its spreading head of whitish
(Polyolbion) mentions the use of Valerian for cramp; and a tea was
made from its roots.
---Cultivation---Valerian does well in all ordinary soils, but
prefers rich, heavy loam, well supplied with moisture.
Derbyshire, cultivation is from wild plants collected in local
woods and transplanted to the prepared land. Preference is given in
collecting to root offsets - daughter plants and young flowering
plants, which develop towards the close of summer, at the end of
slender runners given off by the perennial rhizomes of old plants.
These should be set 1 foot apart in rows, 2 or 3 feet apart. The
soil should first be treated with farmyard manure, and after
planting it is well to give liquid manure from time to time, as
well as plenty of water. The soil must be well manured to secure a
good crop. Weeding requires considerable attention.
Propagation may also be by seed, either sown when ripe in cold
frames, or in March in gentle heat, or in the open in April. In the
first two cases, transplant in May to permanent quarters. But to
ensure the best alkaloidal percentage, it is best to transplant and
cultivate the daughter plants of the wild Valerian.
Preparation for Market---The flowering tops must be cut off as they
appear, thus enabling the better development of the rhizome. Many
of the young plants do not flower in the first year, but produce a
luxuriant crop of leaves, and yield rhizome of good quality in the
September or early October, all the tops are cut off with a scythe
and the rhizomes are harvested, the clinging character of the
Derbyshire soil not allowing them to be left in the ground
as found in commerce consists usually of the entire or sliced erect
rhizome, which is dark yellowish-brown externally, about 1 inch
long and 1/2 inch thick, and gives off numerous slender brittle
roots from 2 1/2 to 4 inches long, whilst short, slender, lateral
branches (stolons) are also occasionally present. The root-stock,
which is sometimes crowned with the remains of flowering stems and
leaf-scales is usually firm, horny and whitish or yellowish
internally, but old specimens may be hollow. A transverse section
is irregular in outline and exhibits a comparatively narrow bark,
separated by a dark line from an irregular circle of wood bundles
of varying size.
may also consist of small, undeveloped rhizomes about 1/4 inch
long, crowned with the remains of leaves and bearing short slender
roots, the young rhizome having been formed where the stolons given
off from mature root-stocks have taken root and produced
of Valerian are of similar colour to the erect rhizome, about 1/10
inch thick, striated longitudinally and usually not shrivelled to
any great extent; a transverse section shows a thick bark and small
has a camphoraceous, slightly bitter taste and a characteristic,
powerful, disagreeable odour, which gradually develops during the
process of drying, owing to a change which occurs in the
composition of the volatile oil contained in the sub-epidermal
layer of cells: the odour of the fresh root, though not very
agreeable, is devoid of the unpleasant valerianaceous
and odour of Valerian rhizome distinguish it readily from other
drugs. The rhizome somewhat resembles Serpentary rhizome
(Aristolochia Serpentaria, Virginian Snakeroot), but may be
distinguished therefrom by its odour, erect method of growth, and
by the roots being thicker, shorter and less brittle.
---Substitutes---Valerian root is often fraudulently
adulterated with those of other species, notably with those of V.
dioica (Linn.) (Marsh Valerian), which are smaller and of much
feebler odour, and not possessed of such active properties. This
Valerian is also a native of Great Britain, found in wet meadows
and bogs, but rather scarce. It is a smaller plant than the
official Valerian, its stem only growing 6 to 18 inches high. The
leaves are very variable, the lower ones generally entire, oval but
broader at the base, the upper ones cut into pairs of leaflets, and
the flowers dioecious, i.e. stamens and pistil, or seed-producing
organs in different flowers, the male flowers being arranged rather
loosely, and the female flowers, which are smaller and darker,
being in more compact heads.
of V. Phu (Linn.) are also frequently found mingled with those of
the official plant in the imported drug. This species is a native
of Southern Europe and Western Asia, often grown in gardens for its
decorative golden foliage, being easy of culture. Its rhizome is
sometimes known as V. Radix Majoris. It is from 4 to 6 inches long,
1/2 inch in thickness, brown and with a feeble, valerian-like odour
and taste. Its thicker rhizome lies obliquely in the earth instead
of being erect like that of V. officinalis, and is rooted at the
bottom only, the roots being numerous and yellowish.
stated also that in Germany various Ranunculaceous (or Buttercup)
roots are a dangerous adulterant of Valerian; they may be readily
detected by their want of the peculiar odour of the official root.
The Valerian in the markets of Paris is often largely adulterated
with the roots of Scabious (Scabiosus succisa, Linn.) and S.
arvensis (Linn.). They are shorter than the genuine root, less
rough, very brittle, not striated, or channelled, and with a white
fracture. Though inodorous in themselves, they are very apt to
acquire odour from contact with the Valerian. The roots of Geum
urbanum, or Avens, which in themselves are pleasingly aromatic, but
may also on contact acquire some of the odour, have also
occasionally been found in parcels of imported Valerian
Constituents---The chief constituent of Valerian is a
yellowish-green to brownish-yellow oil, which is present in the
dried root to the extent of 0.5 to 2 per cent though an average
yield rarely exceeds 0.8 per cent. This variation in quantity is
partly explained by the influence of locality, a dry, stony soil,
yielding a root richer in oil than one that is moist and
Treasury of Botany states: 'What is known to chemists as volatile
oil of Valerian seems not to exist naturally in the plant, but to
be developed by the agency of water.'
The oil is
contained in the sub-epidermal layer of cells in the root, not in
isolated cells or glands. It is of complex composition, containing
valerianic, formic and acetic acids, the alcohol known as borneol,
and pinene. The valerianic acid present in the oil is not the
normal acid, but isovalerianic acid, an oily liquid to which the
characteristically unpleasant odour of Valerian is due. It is
gradually liberated during the process of drying, being yielded by
the decomposition of the chief constituent, bornyl-isovalerianate,
by the ferment present. It is strongly acid, burning to the palate
and with the odour of the plant. The oil is soluble in 30 parts of
water and readily in alcohol and ether. It is found in nature in
the oil of several plants, also in small proportion in train oil
and the oil of Cetacea (whales, porpoises, etc.), which owe their
smell to it. It is also one of the products of oxidation of animal
matters and of fat oils, and is secreted in certain portions of
animal bodies. Its salts are soluble and have a sweetish taste and
also contains two alkaloids - Chatarine and Valerianine - which are
still under investigation and concerning which little is known,
except that they form crystalline salts. There are also a
glucoside, alkaloid and resin all physiologically active,
discovered in the fresh rhizome by Chevalier as recently as 1907.
He claims that the fresh root is of greater medicinal value than
the dry on this account.
incineration, the drug, if free from adherent earthy matter, yields
about 8 or 9 per cent of ash.
preparation of the British Pharmacopoeia is the Tinctura Valerianae
Ammoniata, containing Valerian, oil of Nutmeg, oil of Lemon and
Ammonia: it is an extremely nauseous and offensive preparation. An
etherial tincture and the volatile oil are official in some of the
Continental Pharmacopceias, and a distilled water and syrup in the
Valerianate of oxide of ethyl, or valerianic ether is a
fragrant compound occurring in some vegetable products. The
valerianic acid in use is not prepared from the root, but
synthetically from amyl alcohol. Valerianic acid combines with
various bases (the oxides of metals) to form salts called
Valerianates. Valerianate of zinc, prepared by double
decomposition, is used as an antispasmodic and is official in the
and Uses---Valerian is a powerful nervine, stimulant, carminative
It has a
remarkable influence on the cerebro-spinal system, and is used as a
sedative to the higher nerve centres in conditions ofnervous
unrest, St. Vitus's dance, hypochrondriasis, neuralgic pains and
allays pain and promotes sleep. It is of especial use and benefit
to those suffering from nervous overstrain, as it possesses none of
the after-effects produced by narcotics.
recent War, when air-raids were a serious strain on the overwrought
nerves of civilian men and women, Valerian, prescribed with other
simple ingredients, taken in a single dose, or repeated according
to the need, proved wonderfully efficacious, preventing or
minimizing serious results.
ordinary doses, it exerts an influence quieting and soothing in its
nature upon the brain and nervous system, large doses, too often
repeated, have a tendency to produce pain in the head, heaviness
commonly administered as Tinctura Valerianae Ammoniata, and often
in association with the alkali bromides, and is sometimes given in
combination with quinine, the tonic powers of which it appreciably
Valerian is employed to a considerable extent on the Continent as a
popular remedy for cholera, in the form of cholera drops, and also
to a certain extent in soap perfumery.
writes of its virtues in strengthening the eyesight, especially
when this is weakened by want of energy in the optic
of the fresh root, under the name of Energetene of Valerian, has of
late been recommended as more certain in its effects, and of value
as a narcotic in insomnia, and as an anti-convulsant in epilepsy.
Having also some slight influence upon the circulation, slowing the
heart and increasing its force, it has been used in the treatment
of cardiac palpitations.
was first brought to notice as a specific for epilepsy by Fabius
Calumna in 1592, he having cured himself of the disease with
Dosages---Fluid extract, 1/2 to 1 drachm. Solid extract, 5 to 10
grains. Tincture, B.P. and U.S.P., 1885, 1 to 2 drachms. Ammoniated
tincture, B.P. and U.S.P. 1898, 1/2 to 1 drachm.
Culpepper (1649) joins with many old
writers to recommend the use both of herb and root, and praises the
herb for its longevity and many comforting virtues, reminding us
that it is 'under the influence of Mercury, and therefore hath a
warming faculty.' Among other uses, he adds:
'The root boiled with liquorice, raisons
and aniseed is good for those troubled with cough. Also, it is of
special value against the plague, the decoction thereof being drunk
and the root smelled. The green herb being bruised and applied to
the head taketh away pain and pricking thereof.'
tells us that herbalists of his time thought it 'excellent for
those burdened and for such as be troubled with croup and other
like convulsions, and also for those that are bruised with falls.'
He relates that the dried root was held in such esteem as a
medicine among the poorer classes in the northern counties and the
south of Scotland, that 'no broth or pottage or physicall meats be
worth anything if Setewale (the old name for Valerian) be not
describes many varieties of Valerian, and himself grew the Indian
Valerian which is still sent to Mincing Lane, and offered on the
British market. Hanbury states that, according to its habitat, it
has many variations which some botanists take as separate species.
In the south of England, when once it obtains a hold of the ground,
nothing will eradicate it. It was well known to the Anglo-Saxons,
who used it as a salad.
has an effect on the nervous system of many animals, especially
cats, which seem to be thrown into a kind of intoxication by its
scent. It is scarcely possible to keep a plant of Valerian in a
garden after the leaves or root have been bruised or disturbed in
any way, for cats are at once attracted and roll on the unfortunate
plant. It is equally attractive to rats and is often used by
rat-catchers to bait their traps. It has been suggested that the
famous Pied Piper of Hamelin owed his irresistible power over rats
to the fact that he secreted Valerian roots about his
Middle Ages, the root was used not only as a medicine but also as a
spice, and even as a perfume. It was the custom to lay the roots
among clothes as a perfume (vide Turner, Herbal, 1568, Pt. III, p.
56), just as some of the Himalayan Valerians are still used in the
East, especially V. Jatamansi, the Nard of the Ancients, believed
to be the Spikenard referred to in the Scriptures. It is still much
used in ointments. Its odour is not so unpleasant as that of our
native Valerians, and this and other species of Valerian are used
by Asiatic nations in the manufacture of precious scents. Several
aromatic roots were known to the Ancients under the name of Nardus,
distinguished according to their origin or place of growth by the
names of Nardus indica, N. celtica, N. montana, etc., and supposed
to have been derived from different valerianaceous plants. Thus the
N. indica is referred to V. Jatamansi (Roxb.), of Bengal, the N.
celtica to V. celtica (Linn.), inhabiting the Alps and the N.
montana to V. tuberosa, which grows in the mountains of the south
VALERIAN, or Kesso Root, was formerly believed to be the product of
Patrinia scabiosaefolia (Link.), but is now known to be obtained
from a Japanese variety of V. officinalis. It yields a volatile
oil. By the absence of a well-marked, upright rhizome, it widely
differs from true Valerian, though at first sight agrees to some
extent with it. In colour and taste it is almost
of V. Mexicana (D.C.), MEXICAN VALERIAN, which occurs in Mexican
commerce in slices, or fleshy disks, contain a large percentage of
valerianic acid, which they yield readily and economically. As much
as 3.3 per cent of oil has been extracted from the roots of this
pyrenaica (Linn.), the HEART-LEAVED VALERIAN, a native of the
Pyrenees, is occasionally found in Great Britain naturalized in
plantations. It is a large, coarse herb, the stem 2 to 4 feet high,
the radical leaves sometimes very large, often a foot in diameter,
heart-shaped, the upper ones smaller, with a few basal leaflets,
the flowers much as in V. officinalis. It is not employed
and V. angustifolia are Alpine varieties, but can be grown in this
country with a little care. They are almost entirely grown for
decorative purposes, flowering from May to August, and possessing
none of the unpleasant smell of Valerian.
describes a plant which he calls 'Water Valerian' (V. Aquatica),
with 'much larger' flowers than the garden Valerian, which,
however, they resemble, and of a 'pale purple colour.' He states it
grows 'promiscuously in marshy grounds and moist meadows' and
flowers in May.
Cypripedium pubescens (WILD.), Cyprepedium parviflorum
---Synonyms---Lady's Slipper. Cypripedium hirsutum. American
Valerian. Noah's Ark. Yellow Lady's Slipper.
Valerian is one of the names given to the Yellow Lady's Slipper
(Cypripedium). The roots of several varieties, the principal being
Cypripedium pubescens and Cyprepedium parviflorum, are employed in
hysteria, being a gentle, nervous stimulant and antispasmodic, less
powerful than Valerian.
Valerian is official in the United States Pharmacopoeia for the
production of a fluid extract. Cypridenin is a complex, resinoid
substance, obtained by precipitating with water a concentrated
tincture of the rhizome.
---Preparations and Dosages---Powdered root, 1 drachm. Fluid
extract, 1/2 to 1 drachm. Cypripedin, 1 to 3 grains. Solid extract
alc., 5 to 10 grains.
Valeriana Wallichii (DE CANDOLLE)
Valerian is a perennial, herbaceous plant, indigenous to India,
being found in the temperate Himalayan region. The dried rhizome
and rootlets are used for medicinal purposes, and the drug is known
in India as 'tagar.' It possesses stimulant and antispasmodic
properties, and is official in the Indian and Colonial Addendum for
use in the Eastern Colonies. The chief preparation of the drug is
Tinctura Valerianae Indicae Ammoniata. Indian Valerian is
practically identical in its composition with the European drug,
but contains a slightly larger amount of volatile oil. It may be
employed in the same way as Valerian, but is more used as a perfume
than in medicine. It is largely employed in preparations for the
hair, and the dried rhizome is used as incense.
in commerce in crooked pieces of a dull brown colour, about 2
inches long, and from 1/4 to 1/2 inch in diameter, with a number of
bracts at the crown and blunt at the lower extremity. The rhizome
is marked with transverse ridges and studded thickly with prominent
circular tubercles to a few of which thick rootlets may be
attached. The crown usually bears the remains of the leafstalks. In
transverse section it is dark, with a large pith and diffuse ring
of small woodbundles. The drug is very hard and tough, and shows a
greenish-brown surface when fractured. This and its crooked form
distinguish it from Common Valerian. Its colour, due to the
presence of volatile oil resembles that of ordinary Valerian
rhizome, but is much stronger. The chief constituent of the drug is
this oil, but it also contains valerianic and other organic acids,
together with resin, tannin, etc. As in the case of ordinary
Valerian, the valerianic acid is probably formed by the gradual
decomposition of other constituents present in the volatile
---Preparations---Tincture Valerianae Indicae
NARD, or Spikenard, sometimes called Syrian Nard, is still
occasionally to be found in commerce. It is a small, delicate root,
from 1 to 3 inches long, beset with a tuft of soft, light brown,
slender fibres, of an agreeable odour and a bitter aromatic taste.
It was formerly very much esteemed as a medicine, but is now almost
out of use. Its properties are analogous to those of Valerian, but
it must not be confused with Indian Valerian.
Centranthus rubra (D. C.)
---Synonyms---Pretty Betsy. Bouncing Bess. Delicate Bess.
Drunken Sailor. Bovisand Soldier.
---Habitat---England, Scotland and the Mediterranean
Red-Spur Valerian, a plant with lance-shaped, untoothed leaves and
red flowers with a spur at the base, grouped in dense clusters,
must not be confounded with the true medicinal Valerian, though the
mistake is often made. It is destitute of the properties of the
official Valerian, and is not usefully applied in England, though
in some parts of Continental Europe the leaves are eaten. They are
exceedingly good in salad, or cooked as a vegetable, and in France
there is a sale for the roots for soups.
is not truly British, but is perfectly naturalized in the south of
England, being found quite often growing on rocks or walls, in old
chalk-pits, railway cuttings and waste places in Kent and
Devonshire, though less frequently in the northern counties and
only in a few places in Scotland. It is naturally a native of the
Mediterranean countries, and was probably originally introduced as
a decorative plant. It is mentioned by many of the older writers as
a garden flower. Gerard, writing in 1597, saying: 'It groweth
plentifully in my garden, being a great ornament to the same.'
Parkinson (1640) says that it grows 'in our gardens chiefly, for we
know not the natural place.'
root-stock is perennial and very freely branching, enabling it to
take a firm hold in the crevices in which it has once gained
possession. The stems are stout, somewhat shrubby at the base,
between 1 and 2 feet long, hollow and very smooth in texture. The
leaves 2 to 4 inches long and pointed, opposite one another in
pairs, are somewhat fleshy, their outlines generally quite entire.
The very numerous flowers are in masses, either of a rich crimson
colour, a delicate pink, or much more rarely white, and are in
bloom from June to September. The spur to the long, tubular corolla
is a marked feature. Each flower only contains one stamen. The
fruit is small and dry, the border of the surrounding calyx forming
a feathery rosette or pappus.
included this species with the Valerians, as Valeriana rubra, but
De Candolle assigned it to a separate genus, Centranthus, in which
all later botanists have followed him. The name of the genus comes
from the Greek kentron (a spur) and anthos (a flower), in reference
to the corolla being furnished with a spur at the base, which
absolutely distinguishes it from the true Valerian, apart from
Betsy' and 'Bouncing Bess' are popular names for the Red Valerian.
Near Plymouth, we find the names 'Drunken Sailor' and 'Bovisand
Soldier,' and in West Devon, the smaller, paler kind is known as
---Synonyms---Aloysia citriodora. Verveine citronelle or
odorante. Herb Louisa. Lemonscented Verbena. Verbena triphylla.
Used---Leaves, flowering tops.
---Habitat---Chile and Peru. Cultivated in European
---Description---This deciduous shrub was introduced into
England in 1784, reaching a height of 15 feet in the Isle of Wight
and in sheltered localities. The leaves are very fragrant,
lanceolate, arranged in threes, 3 to 4 inches long, with smooth
margins, pale green in colour, having parallel veins at
right-angles to the mid-rib and flat bristles along the edges. The
many small flowers are pale purple, blooming during August in slim,
terminal panicles. The leaves, which have been suggested to replace
tea, will retain their odour for years and are used in perfumery.
They should be gathered at flowering time.
species of Lippia abound in volatile oil.
---Constituents---The odour is due to an essential oil
obtainable by distillation. It has not been analysed in
---Medicinal Action and Uses---Febrifuge, sedative. The uses of
Lemon Verbena are similar to those of mint, orange flowers, or
melissa, as a stomachic and antispasmodic in dyspepsia, indigestion
and flatulence, stimulating skin and stomach.
---Dosage---The decoction may be taken in several daily doses
of three tablespoonsful.
Scaberrima, or Beukessboss ofSouth Africa, yields an essential oil
with an odour like lavender, named Lippianol. It has a peculiar
crystalline appearance, with the qualities of a monohydric
mexicana or possibly Cedronella mexicana, an essential oil
resembling that of fennel was separated, and also a substance like
camphor, called Lippioil.
essence of Lemon-Grass, or Andropogon Schoenanthus, should not be
confused with that of Lemon-Scented Verbena.
See Grasses, Vernal.
Veronica includes some of our most beautiful native flowers, the
Speedwells, which differ from the other British Scrophularicece in
having only two stamens, which project horizontally from the
rotate, or wheel-shaped corolla, which has only four unequal
spreading lobes, the lower segment being the smallest, the two
posterior petals, according to the theory of botanists, being
united into one large one. The numerous species found in England
have generally blue petals with dark diverging lines at the base,
though in a few cases, pinkish flowers are found.
species of Veronica possess a slight degree of astringency, and
many of them were formerly used in medicine, some 20 of them have
been employed as drugs, those with the chief reputation being
Yeronica Chamcedrys, V. officinalis, and V. Beccabunga, all natives
of Great Britain; the American species V. leptandra, now known as
Leptandra veronica and another species, native to Asia Minor,
called V. peduncularis (Bieb.) or V. nigricans (Koch.), the root of
which is used there under the name Batitjoe.
of this genus of plants is said to have been derived from the
Saint; others say it is from the Greek words phero (I bring) and
nike (victory), alluding to its supposed efficacy in subduing
Verbena officinalis (LINN.), Verbena hastata
Medicinal Action and Uses
---Synonyms---Herb of Grace. Herbe Sacrée. Herba
Used---Leaves, flowering heads.
---Habitat---Europe, Barbary, China, Cochin-China,
England the Common Vervain is found growing by roadsides and in
sunny pastures. It is a perennial bearing many small, pale-lilac
flowers. The leaves are opposite, and cut into toothed lobes. The
plant has no perfume, and is slightly bitter and astringent in
taste. The name Vervain is derived from the Celtic ferfaen, from
fer (to drive away) and faen (a stone), as the plant was much used
for affections of the bladder, especially calculus. Another
derivation is given by some authors from Herba veneris, because of
the aphrodisiac qualities attributed to it by the Ancients. Priests
used it for sacrifices, and hence the name Herba Sacra. The name
Verbena was the classical Roman name for 'altar-plants' in general,
and for this species in particular. The druids included it in their
lustral water, and magicians and sorcerers employed it largely. It
was used in various rites and incantations, and by ambassadors in
making leagues. Bruised, it was worn round the neck as a charm
against headaches, and also against snake and other venomous bites
as well as for general good luck. It was thought to be good for the
sight. Its virtues in all these directions may be due to the legend
of its discovery on the Mount of Calvary, where it staunched the
wounds of the crucified Saviour. Hence, it is crossed and blessed
with a commemorative verse when it is gathered. It must be picked
before flowering, and dried promptly.
---Constituents---The plant appears to contain a peculiar
tannin, but it has not yet been properly analysed.
and Uses---It is recommended in upwards of thirty complaints, being
astringent, diaphoretic, antispasmodic, etc. It is said to be
useful in intermittent fevers, ulcers, ophthalmia, pleurisy, etc.,
and to be a good galactogogue. It is still used as a febrifuge in
poultice it is good in headache, earneuralgia, rheumatism, etc. In
this form it colours the skin a fine red, giving rise to the idea
that it had the power of drawing the blood outside. A decoction of
2 OZ. to a quart, taken in the course of one day, is said to be a
good medicine in purgings, easing pain in the bowels. It is often
applied externally for piles. It is used in
extract, 1/2 to 1 drachm.
Jamaicensis (JAMAICA VERVAIN) grows in Jamaica, Barbados, and other
West Indian islands, bearing violet flowers. The juice is used in
dropsy and for children as an anthelmintic and cooling cathartic.
The negroes use it as an emmenagogue, and for sore and inflamed
eyes. As a poultice, with wheat-flour, the bruised leaves are used
for swelling of the spleen, and for hard tumours at their
Lappulaceae (BURRY VERVAIN), another West Indian herb, with pale
blue flowers, is a vulnerary sub-astringent, being used even for
very severe bleeding wounds in men and cattle, especially in
(BLUE VERVAIN, Wild Hyssop, Simpler's Joy) is indigenous to the
United States, and is used unofficially as a tonic emetic,
expectorant, etc., for scrofula, gravel, and worms. A fluid extract
is prepared from the dried, over-ground portion.
Urticifolia. The root, boiled in milk and water with the inner bark
of Quercus Alba, is said to be an antidote to poisoning by Rhus
Sinuata. An infusion of the root, taken as freely as possible, is
said to be a valuable antisyphilitic.
Vitis vinifera (LINN.)
Medicinal Action and Uses
Used---Fruit, leaves, juice.
---Habitat---Asia, Central and Southern Europe, Greece,
California, Australia, and Africa.
name vine is derived from viere (to twist), and has reference to
the twining habits of the plant which is a very ancient one; in the
Scriptures the vine is frequently mentioned from the time of Noah
onward. Wine is recorded as an almost universal drink throughout
the world from very early times. The vine is a very longlived
plant. Pliny speaks of one 600 years old, and some existent in
Burgundy are said to be 400 and over.
of old vines attains a considerable size in warm climates, planks
15 inches across may be cut therefrom, forming a very durable
heat for forcing the grapes was not used till the early part of
last century and the first accounts of vineries enclosed by glass
date from the middle of that period.
is propagated by seeds, layers, cuttings and grafting and succeeds
in almost any gravelly soil; that of a volcanic nature produces the
finest wines. It is a climbing shrub with simple, lobed, cut or
toothed leaves (seldom compound) with thyrsoid racemes of greenish
flowers, the fruit consisting of watery or fleshy pulp, stones and
skin, two-celled, four-seeded.
---Constituents---The leaves gathered in June contain a mixture
of cane sugar and glucose, tartaric acid, potassium bi-tartrate,
quercetine, quercitrin, tannin, amidon, malic acid, gum, inosite,
an uncrystallizable fermentable sugar and oxalate of calcium;
gathered in the autumn they contain much more quercetine and less
trace of quercitrin.
fruit juice termed 'must' contains sugar, gum, malic acid,
potassium bi-tartrate and inorganic salts; when fermented this
forms the wine of commerce.
ripe fruit commonly called raisins, contain dextrose and potassium
contain tannin and a fixed oil.
of the unripe fruit, 'Verjuice,' contains malic, citric, tartaric,
racemic and tannic acids, potassium bi-tartrate, sulphate of potash
and Uses---Grape sugar differs from other sugars chemically. It
enters the circulation without any action of the saliva. The
warming and fattening action of grape sugar is thus more rapid in
increasing strength and repairing waste in fevers but is unsuitable
for inflammatory or gouty conditions.
and leaves are astringent, the leaves being formerly used to stop
haemorrhages and bleeding. They are used dried and powdered as a
cure for dysentery in cattle.
termed a tear or lachryma, forms an excellent lotion for weak eyes
and specks on the cornea.
grapes in quantity influence the kidneys producing a free flow of
urine and are apt to cause palpitation in excitable and
full-blooded people. Dyspeptic subjects should avoid
of anaemia and a state of exhaustion the restorative power of
grapes is striking, especially when taken in conjunction with a
light nourishing diet.
of small-pox grapes have proved useful owing to their bi-tartrate
of potash content; they are also said to be of benefit in cases of
neuralgia, sleeplessness, etc.
Three to 6
lb. of grapes a day are taken by people undergoing the 'grape
cure,' sufferers from torpid liver and sluggish biliary functions
should take them not quite fully ripe, whilst those who require
animal heat to support waste of tissue should eat fully ripe and
grapes; the raisins of commerce, are largely used in the
manufacture of galencials, the seeds being separated and rejected
as they give a very bitter taste. Raisins are demulcent, nutritive
and slightly laxative.
labrusca, indigenous to North America, is the Wild Vine or
cordifolia, the Heart-leaved Vine or Chickengrape.
riparia, the Riverside or Sweet-scented Vine.
Viola canina (LINN.)
Used---Leaves and flowers.
---Description---The Dog Violet differs principally from the
Sweet Violet in its long straggling stems and paler blue flowers.
It possesses the same properties, being powerfully cathartic and
emetic. At one time a medicine made from it had some reputation in
curing skin diseases. It may be found on dry hedge-banks and in the
woods, flowering from April to August, a longer flowering period
than the Sweet Violet. It is a very variable plant in size of leaf
and blossom, form of leaf and other parts, but there seem to be no
permanent and reliable differences to justify the division into
distinct subspecies. The root-stock of the Dog Violet is short and
from it rises a tuft of leaves. The flowering stems are at first
short, but as time goes on they elongate considerably until
sometimes they may be found nearly a foot long. The leaves are
heart-shaped and with serrated edges, but vary much in their
proportions. They are ordinarily, like the stems, quite smooth,
while in the Sweet Violet we often get them more or less covered
with soft hairs. The flowers are scentless, generally larger than
those of the Sweet Violet, not only paler in colour, but like most
purple flowers, occasionally varying to white.
popular name of this plant is a reproach for its want of
Violet (Viola hirta), the Dog Violet (V. canina), the Marsh Violet
( V. palustris) (which has pale lilac flowers) and the Heartsease
or Pansy (V. tricolor) are other well-defined species of indigenous
Violets, most of them, however, being subject to variations, which
have been described by botanists as sub-species.
says V. palustris is not uncommon in the north, but rarer in
southern counties. It has very smooth leaves, as is usually the
case with semi-aquatic plants; the flowers are scentless. The same
authority mentions another variety, Y. calcarea, a dwarfed, starved
form of V. hirta.
Hairy Violet bears a very considerable resemblance to V. odorata,
the Sweet Violet. The main points of difference are as follows: in
the Hairy Violet the flowers are almost or quite scentless; it but
rarely throws out the trailing shoots that are so characteristic a
feature in the Sweet Violet; the hairs on the stem are in the Sweet
Violet deflexed, while in the Hairy Violet they are spreading and
are thus more conspicuous, sufficiently so to give the popular name
to the plant. The little scales on the flowerstems, called bracts,
are in Sweet Violet ordinarily above the middle of the stalk, while
in the Hairy Violet they are ordinarily (in neither case
invariably) below this point. This species is more frequently found
in the east of England than the west, and is common in chalk and
limestone districts or near the sea.
Viola odorata (LINN.)
Parts Used Medicinally
Medicinal Action and Uses
Used---Flowers and leaves dried, and whole plant
---Habitat---The Violet family comprises over 200 species,
widely distributed in the temperate and tropical regions of the
world, those natives of Europe, Northern Asia and North America
being wholly herbaceous, whilst others, native of tropical America
and South America, where they are abundant, are trees and shrubs.
The genus Viola contains about 100 species, of which five are
natives of Great Britain.
sweet-scented Violet appears at the end of February and has
finished blooming by the end of April.
familiar leaves are heart-shaped, slightly downy, especially
beneath, on stalks rising alternately from a creeping rhizome or
underground stem, the blades of the young leaves rolled up from
each side into the middle on the face of the leaf into two tight
coils. The flower-stalks arise from the axils of the leaves and
bear single flowers, with a pair of scaly bracts placed a little
above the middle of the stalk.
flowers are generally deep purple, giving their name to the colour
that is called after them, but lilac, pale rose-coloured or white
variations are also frequent, and all these tints may sometimes be
discovered in different plants growing on the same
five sepals extended at their bases, and five unequal petals, the
lower one lengthened into a hollow spur beneath and the lateral
petals with a hairy centre line. The anthers are united into a tube
round the three-celled capsule, the two lower ones furnished with
spurs which are enclosed within the spur of the
flowers are full of honey and are constructed for bee visitors, but
bloom before it is really bee time, so that it is rare that a
Violet flower is found setting seed. There is indeed a remarkable
botanical curiosity in the structure of the Violet: it produces
flowers both in the spring and in autumn, but the flowers are
different. In spring they are fully formed, as described, and
sweet-scented, but they are mostly barren and produce no seed,
while in autumn, they are very small and insignificant, hidden away
amongst the leaves, with no petals and no scent, and produce
abundance of seed. This peculiarity is not confined to the Violet.
It is found in some species of Oxalis, Impatiens, Campanula,
Eranthemum, etc. Such plants are called cleistogamous and are all
self-fertilizing. The cleistogamous flowers of the Violet are like
flowers which have aborted instead of developing, but within each
one are a couple of stamens and some unripe seeds. In warmer
climates, like Italy, these 'cleistogamous' buds develop into
perfect flowers. Only occasionally do they do so in England. In the
woodland species (Viola sylvatica) all the flowers on the plant may
propagates itself, also, in another way by throwing out scions, or
runners, from the main plant each summer after flowering, and these
in turn send out roots and become new plants, a process that
renders it independent of seed.
is very abundant in the neighbourhood of Stratford-on-Avon, where
it is nowadays much cultivated for commercial
the diminutive form of the Latin Viola, the Latin form of the Greek
name Ione. There is a legend that when Jupiter changed his beloved
Io into a white heifer for fear of Juno's jealousy, he caused these
modest flowers to spring forth from the earth to be fitting food
for her, and he gave them her name. Another derivation of the word
Violet is said to be from Vias (wayside).
flowers besides the Violet formerly bore that name, e.g. the
Snowdrop was called the 'bulbous or narcissus Violet'; the plant
now called 'Honesty' (or Moonwort) had the apellation of 'Strange
Violet'; and two species of Gentian were called 'Autumn
Bell-flower' or 'Calathian Violet,' and another 'Marion's Violet. '
The periwinkle, now generally known in France by the name of
Pervenche, in other times was known as 'du lisseron' or 'Violette
des sorciers'; and our own Violet was called, in distinction from
the others, 'March Violet,' and in French Violette de
Paestum, which has been and still is famous for its Violets as well
as for its roses, several kinds of Violets are found, and one
species that grows in the woods has exceedingly large leaves and
seed-vessels; but the flower is so small that it can hardly be
seen; this has given rise to the idea that it blooms underground.
The flowers are of a pale yellow.
of India bears its blossom in an erect position, while our own
native plant hangs down its head. It has been suggested by
Professor Rennie that the drooping position of the purple petals
shaded still more by the large green flower-cup, serves as an
umbrella to protect the seed while unripe, from the rains and dews,
which would injure it. As soon as the seed is matured and the
little canopy no longer wanted, the flower rises and stands upright
on its stem.
butterflies feed entirely on Violet, and the stem of the plant is
often swelled and spongy in appearance, due to insects, whose eggs
were deposited on the stalk during the preceding summer. The little
animal, on hatching out, finds its food ready for it, and
penetrating the plant, disturbs its juices and causes this
were mentioned frequently by Homer and Virgil. They were used by
the Athenians 'to moderate anger,' to procure sleep and 'to comfort
and strengthen the heart.' Pliny prescribes a liniment of Violet
root and vinegar for gout and disorder of the spleen, and states
that a garland or chaplet of Violets worn about the head will
dispel the fumes of wine and prevent headache and dizziness. The
ancient Britons used the flowers as a cosmetic, and in a Celtic
poem they are recommended to be employed steeped in goats' milk to
increase female beauty, and in the Anglo-Saxon translation of the
Herbarium of Apuleius (tenth century), the herb V. purpureum is
recommended 'for new wounds and eke for old' and for 'hardness of
Herbal (tenth century) the Violet is among the many herbs which
were considered powerful against 'wykked sperytis.'
Askham's Herbal has this recipe for
insomnia under Violet:
'For the that may not slepe for sickness
seeth this herb in water and at even let him soke well hys feete in
the water to the ancles, wha he goeth to bed, bind of this herbe to
like Primroses, have been associated with death, especially with
the death of the young. This feeling has been constantly expressed
from early times. It is referred to by Shakespeare in Hamlet and
Pericles and by Milton in Lycidas.
of Gloucestershire the country people have an aversion to bringing
Violets into their cottages because they carry fleas. This idea may
have arisen from these insects in the stem.
Napoleon went to Elba his last message to his adherents was that he
should return with Violets. Hence he was alluded to and toasted by
them in secret as Caporal Violette, and the Violet was adopted as
the emblem of the Imperial Napoleonic party.
were also and still are used in cookery, especially by the French.
'Vyolette: Take flowrys of Vyolet, boyle hem, presse hem, bray
(pound) hem smal,' and the recipe continues that they are to be
mixed with milk and floure of rys and sugar or honey, and finally
to be coloured with Violets. A recipe called Mon Amy directs the
cook to 'plant it with flowers of Violets and serve
made from the flowers of the Sweet Violet was much used by the
impart their odour to liquids, and vinegar derives not only a
brilliant tint, but a sweet odour from having Violet flowers
steeped in it.
use of the Violet in these days is as a colouring agent and
perfume, and as the source of the medicinally employed Syrup of
Violets, for which purposes the plant is largely cultivated,
especially in Warwickshire. The Syrup can be made as follows: To 1
lb. of Sweet Violet flowers freshly picked, add 2 1/2 pints of
boiling water, infuse these for twenty-four hours in a glazed china
vessel, then pour off the liquid and strain it gently through
muslin; afterwards add double its weight of the finest loaf sugar
and make it into a syrup, but without letting it boil. This is an
Another recipe, from a seventeenth century
'Sirrup of Violets
'Take a quantity of Blew Violets, clip off
the whites and pound them well in a stone morter; then take as much
fair running water as will sufficiently moysten them and mix with
the Violets; strain them all; and to every halfe pint of the liquor
put one pound of the best loafe sugar; set it on the fire, putting
the sugar in as it melts, still stirring it; let it boyle but once
or twice att the most; then take it from the fire, and keep it to
your use. This is a daynty sirrup of Violets.'
Violet with Lemon Syrup and acetic acid makes an excellent dish in
summer. The Syrup forms a principal ingredient in Oriental
Wild Violet has been developed by cultivation till its blossoms
insome varieties are many times the original size.
One of the
essential points for the successful cultivation of Violets, either
for the sake of marketing the cut blooms, or for medicinal
purposes, is clear atmosphere. They seldom do well near a town,
because the undersides of the leaves are covered with hairs, which
catch the grit, thus blocking the breathing pores.
a few simple rules is invariably the cause of failure. One
frequently finds a bed of Violets which produces nothing but
leaves. The plants may have been healthy enough to begin with and
they were probably well and truly planted, but after the first
season of bloom they were allowed to spread and become overcrowded.
The Violet must be renewed and replanted every year. Failure to
perform this operation spells failure.
amateur contemplates growing Violets in order to obtain bloom
during autumn and winter, April is a favourable time to set about
the task of making a Violet bed. The Violet in summer time delights
in partial shade, therefore the bed should be made if possible
under the north-east side of a fence or hedge. The bed should be,
however, placed fairly well in the open, and if grown in private
gardens not in the dense shadow cast by house walls, nor under
trees, though shade to a certain amount is absolutely essential in
summer, as when exposed to sun the plants become overrun with red
spider, an insect pest to which the Violet is specially liable. At
the same time, it is as essential that the plants be exposed to the
full sun in the autumn. If grown on a large scale, a suitable
situation for summer quarters is between rows of sweet
garden soil will suffice for successful Violet culture, but the
soil must be carefully prepared and deep digging is essential. This
should be done some time before planting-out time; if possible in
autumn, so that the ground may be left open to the effects of
winter. Avoid, if possible, stiff clay, as in very wet soil Violets
are apt to become diseased. Violets flourish best on a good medium
soil, neither too heavy, nor too light. The ideal soil is a deep,
sandy soil. Where the soil is heavy, it can be improved by an
admixture of well-decayed manure, road grit, leaf-mould and burnt
vegetable refuse. Rank stable manure must be avoided or the roots
will produce any quantity of foliage and very few flowers. A
dressing of leaf-mould is advantageous, as it w ill prevent the
surface from becoming cracked in hot weather and will at the same
time supply the roots with the medium in which they are most at
plants should be rooted runners; plant not less than a foot apart
each way. Choose a moist, dull day for planting, or if dry, puddle
in the roots. If an inverted flower-pot be placed over each young
Violet during the day in hot sunshine and lifted off during rain
and at night, the plants will become established at much greater
ease than if the ground were allowed to become baked by the sun.
Water must be given copiously in dry weather, and the plants will
also benefit at such times from a mulching or top dressing of
leaf-mould or decayed manure, old mushroom-bed manure being useful
for this purpose.
foliage assumes a yellow tint, it is almost an indication of the
presence of red spider. The plants should then be sprinkled at
frequent intervals with a mixture of sulphur and well-seasoned soot
and a thorough syringing such as will reach the under-part of the
foliage should also be given, using a solution of Gishurst
compound, repeating the operation at intervals of a day or two,
until the pest is eradicated.
between the rows should be hoed frequently and the runners of most
varieties must be removed in the summer. The single varieties, on
account of their stronger growth, require more room than the double
forms. Single varieties of the more modern kinds, such as the
Princess of Wales, flower freely on the runners which issue from
the parent plant, and for this reason such runners may be left. The
double varieties, on the contrary, must have the runners removed so
as to strengthen the crowns which give the finest blooms. Good
single varieties besides the Princess of Wales are Wellsiana, La
France, Admiral Avellan and California, and among the doubles Mrs.
J. J. The double garden variety, especially the pale blue
Neapolitan Violet which forms a stem 6 inches in height, is often
called the Tree Violet.
plants thus established in the open, a plentiful supply of blooms
will be forthcoming in the following spring. It is, however, only
in sheltered places that Violets will thrive in the open during
winter. It is generally found necessary to transfer the plants to
cold frames for flowering, and to grow the flowers for the sake of
marketing the cut blooms for profit; this is absolutely essential,
as without glass, Violets can only be obtained in March and April,
when they are plentiful, cheap and unprofitable. Frames in which
melon or cucumbers have been grown during the summer will be found
eminently suitable for the purpose. A foundation of stable litter
and leaves, a foot deep or more, turned frequently to allow the
volatile gases to escape from the litter, and then well trodden,
and covered with a layer of about 6 inches of rich loamy soil,
makes a very suitable bed. A great point to bear in mind is the
desirability of keeping the crowns of plants as near to the glass
as possible. If therefore it is necessary to raise the bed this
should be done before the plants are put in the winter
Violets from the outdoor bed a day before lifting; by taking this
precaution, it will be possible to lift the roots so that they
bring away with them a good-sized ball of earth. All straggling
runners should be cut away, leaving only two or three, already
rooted probably, and showing flowers close up to the old plants.
These reserved runners, if not already rooted, should be pegged
down, and, in addition to flowering freely, will be just what are
wanted for planting out next spring. There must be no crowding of
the plants as, unless they are kept perfectly clear of each other,
damping off is likely to take place, especially if the ventilation
is faulty. They should be planted a foot apart, firmly and deeply,
or sufficiently to bury the stems, keeping the crowns well out of
the soil. Level all and give a good watering immediately to settle
the roots, and keep the frame closed for a few days until the
plants begin to make roots, but no longer. Plenty of air must be
supplied day and night, as long as the weather remains mild. In
frost keep the lights down, and when severe cover with mats, but do
not keep the frames too close or dark from excessive covering. For
Violets in frames, light and air cannot be overstudied, and whilst
not allowing the frost to exercise a too severe influence upon
them, it is advisable to expose them to all the fresh air and light
obtainable, to keep the plants in healthy condition. The leaves
when the plants are kept close and in darkness will turn yellow and
lose their vitality, and under such conditions the plants soon
become weakened and rendered incapable of producing flowers. It is
a good plan to sprinkle the soil around the plants with a little
finely-powdered charcoal, as the latter will absorb the moisture
that unavoidably arises through the frames being kept closed and
darkened during severe weather. Application of water to the roots
of Violets in midwinter is not necessary, but later, when the sun
exercises a greater evaporative influence and air in abundance can
be admitted to the plants, it will be necessary to occasionally
apply water as well as manure in liquid form. Care must be taken to
keep the glass clean and free from any smoky deposit which obscures
the light; in cleaning the glasses both sides regularly, avoid any
drip on to the plants. Remove all decaying foliage and constantly
watch for slugs. Fog is bad for Violets in frames: it causes the
leaves to damp off and sometimes kills the plants
removed to frames in the latter half of September, if properly
attended to, will begin to bloom early in October and continue to
flower till April. In this month, after suitable cuttings and
runners have been taken from them for next season's use, they may
be thrown or given away, for each season young plants alone should
be cultivated. If a little fresh soil is given early in March as a
topdressing to the plants in the frames, the runners become
stronger and better rooted for planting out-of-doors. Besides being
kept moist at the roots by occasional watering, their growth is
much benefited by an overhead sprinkling in the evening during the
summer, when the surrounding soil is hot and dry. While this
promotes a healthy growth, it tends also to keep down red
growers raise their young plants from cuttings taken early in
October, when lifting the plants to put them into frames or cool
greenhouses. At this time, it is easy to secure a few hundreds of
the healthiest cuttings, heeling them in till time permits of their
being dealt with. Inserted in boxes of soil or preferably under
spare lights, model plants for putting out in March or early April
will result, which in turn give the finest flowering
Medicinally---The flowers dried and the leaves and whole plant
of the flowers is in a great measure destroyed by desiccation and
the degree to which they retain their colour depends on the method
of collecting and drying them.
flowers used for Syrup of Violets are not always the ordinary wild
V. odorata, the colour of which soon fades, except under special
treatment. Other species with deeper-coloured and larger blue
flowers, and also deep-coloured garden Violas and Pansies are often
substituted for the Sweet Violet, for upon the colour their value
---Constituents---The chief chemical constituents of the
flowers are the odorous principle and the blue colouring matter,
which may be extracted from the petals by infusion with water and
turns green and afterwards yellow with alkalis and red with acids.
The flowers yield their odour and slightly bitter taste to boiling
water and their properties may be preserved for some time by means
of sugar in the form of Syrup of Violets.
glucoside, Viola-quercitin, is also a constituent found throughout
the plant and especially in the rhizome. It may be isolated by
exhausting the fresh plant with warm alcohol, removing the alcohol
by distillation and treating the residue with warm distilled water,
from which it crystallizes in fine yellow needles, which are
soluble in water, less so in alcohol and insoluble in ether. On
boiling with mineral acids, the glucoside is split up into
quercitin and a fermentable sugar. The activity of the plant,
according to the British Pharmacopoeia, is probably due to this
glucoside and its products of decomposition, or a ferment
associated with it.
acid has also been obtained from the plant.
scientist Boullay discovered in the root, leaves, flowers and seeds
of this plant an alkaloid resembling the Emetin of Ipecacuanha
(which also belongs to the same group of plants), which he termed
Violine. The same alkaloid was found by the French physician Orfila
(1787-1853) to be an energetic poison, which may be identical with
been found that the Toulouse Violet, which is without scent when
cultivated in the land from which it takes its name, develops a
very agreeable and pronounced perfume when raised at
of Violet flowers for the extraction of their perfume is not
carried out to such an extent as formerly, as the natural perfume
is suffering severely from the competition of the artificial
product which forms the greater part of the Violet perfume of
commerce. The natural perfume is very expensive to extract, an
enormous quantity of flowers being required to scent a pomade. The
largest Violet plantations are at Nice. The species used are the
double Parma Violet and the Victoria Violet. A certain amount of
perfume of a distinctive character is also now made from the green
leaves of Violet plants, taken just before flowering.
and Uses---The Violet is still found in the
flowers possess slightly laxative properties. The best form of
administration is the Syrup of Violets. Syrop Violae of the British
Pharmacopoeia directs that it may be given as a laxative to infants
in doses of 1/2 to 1 teaspoonful, or more, with an equal volume of
oil of Almonds.
Violets is also employed as a laxative, and as a colouring agent
and flavouring in other neutral or acid medicines.
writers had great faith in Syrup of Violets: ague, epilepsy,
inflammation of the eyes, sleeplessness, pleurisy, jaundice and
quinsy are only a few of the ailments for which it was held potent.
Gerard says: 'It has power to ease inflammation, roughness of the
throat and comforteth the heart, assuageth the pains of the head
and causeth sleep.'
flowers are crystallized as an attractive sweetmeat, and in the
days of Charles II, a favourite conserve, Violet Sugar, named then
'Violet Plate,' prepared from the flowers, was considered of
excellent use in consumption and was sold by all apothecaries. The
flowers have undoubted expectorant qualities.
flowers have also been used as an addition to salads; they have a
infusion of the flowers is employed, especially on the Continent,
as a substitute for litmus, as a test of acids and
Of the leaves, Gerard tells us that
'are used in cooling plasters, oyles and
comfortable cataplasms or poultices, and are of greater efficacies
amongst other herbs as Mercury, Mallowes and such like in clisters
for the purposes aforesaid.'
an old popular remedy for bruises.
'It is a fine pleasing plant of Venus, of
a mild nature and no way hurtful. All the Violets are cold and
moist, while they are fresh and green, and are used to cool any
heat or distemperature of the body, either inwardly or outwardly,
as the inflammation in the eyes, to drink the decoction of the
leaves and flowers made with water or wine, or to apply them
poultice wise to the grieved places; it likewise easeth pains in
the head caused through want of sleep, or any pains arising of heat
if applied in the same manner or with oil of Roses. A drachm weight
of the dried leaves or flowers of Violets, but the leaves more
strongly, doth purge the body of choleric humours and assuageth the
heat if taken in a draught of wine or other drink; the powder of
the purple leaves of the flowers only picked and dried and drank in
water helps the quinsy and the falling sickness in children,
especially at the beginning of the disease. It is also good for
jaundice. The flowers of the Violets ripen and dissolve swellings.
The herbs or flowers while they are fresh or the flowers that are
dry are effectual in the pleurisy and all diseases of the lungs.
The green leaves are used with other herbs to make plasters and
poultices for inflammation and swellings and to ease all pains
whatsoever arising of heat and for piles, being fried with yoke of
egg and applied thereto.'
underground stems or rhizomes (the so-called roots) are strongly
emetic and purgative. They have occasionally been used as
adulterants to more costly drugs, notably to ipecacuanha. A dose of
from 40 to 50 grains of the powdered root is said to act violently,
inciting nausea and great vomiting and nervous affection, due to
the pronounced emetic qualities of the alkaloid
are purgative and diuretic and have been given in urinary
complaints, and are considered a good corrective of
homoeopathic medicinal tincture is made from the whole fresh plant,
with proof spirit, and is considered useful for a spasmodic cough
with hard breathing, and also for rheumatism of the
glucosidal principles contained in the leaves have not yet been
fully investigated, but would appear to have distinct antiseptic
years, preparations of fresh Violet leaves have been used both
internally and externally in the treatment of cancer, and though
the British Pharmacopoeia does not uphold the treatment, it
specifies how they are employed. From other sources it is stated
that Violet leaves have been used with benefit to allay the pain in
cancerous growths, especially in the throat, which no other
treatment relieved, and several reputed cures have been
infusion of the leaves in boiling water (1 in 5) has been
administered in doses of 1 to 2 fluid ounces. A syrup of the petals
and a liquid extract of the fresh leaves are also used, the latter
taken in teaspoonful doses, or rubbed in locally. The fresh leaves
are also prepared as a compress for local application.
infusion is generally drunk cold and is made as follows: Take 2 1/2
OZ. of Violet leaves, freshly picked. Wash them clean in cold water
and place them in a stone jar and pour over them 1 pint of boiling
water. Tie the jar down and let it stand for twelve hours, till the
water is green. Then strain off the liquid into a well-stoppered
bottle and the tea is ready for drinking cold at intervals of every
two hours during the day, taking a wineglassful at a time till the
whole has been consumed each day. It is essential that the tea
should be made fresh every day and kept in a cool place to prevent
it turning sour. If any should be left over it should be thrown
As a cure
for cancer of the tongue, it is recommended to drink half this
quantity daily at intervals and apply the rest in hot
- About a couple of wineglassfuls made tepid can be used, if
required, as an injection, night and morning, but this infusion
should be made separate from the tea and should not be of greater
strength than 1 OZ. of leaves to 1/2 pint of water.
As a hot
Compress, for external use, dip a piece of lint into the infusion,
made the same strength as the tea, of which a sufficient quantity
must be made warm for the purpose. Lay the lint round or over the
affected part and cover with oilskin or thin mackintosh. Change the
lint when dry or cold. Use flannel, not oilskin, for open wounds,
and in cold weather it should be made fresh about every alternate
day. Should this wet compress cause undue irritation of the skin,
remove at once and substitute the following compress or poultice:
Chop some fresh-gathered young Violet leaves, without stems, and
cover with boiling water. Stand in a warm place for a quarter of an
hour and add a little crushed linseed.
concentrated preparation is also recommended, made as follows: Put
as many Violet leaves in a saucepan as can boil in the water. Boil
for 1/2 hour, then strain, squeezing tightly. Evaporate this
decoction to one-fourth its bulk and add alcohol (spirits of wine 1
in 15); 1 1/2 OZ. or 3 tablespoonsful of spirits of wine will keep
24 OZ. for a month. This syrupy product is stated to be extremely
efficacious, applied two or three times a day, or more, on
cotton-wool about the throat. This will not cause irritation unless
applied to the skin with waterproof over for a considerable time,
as under such circumstances moisture will cause
lubricating the throat, dry and powder Violet leaves and let them
stand in olive oil for six hours in a water bath. Make strong. It
will keep any time.
continuous daily supply of fresh leaves is necessary and a
considerable quantity is required. It is recorded that during the
nine weeks that a nurseryman supplied a patient suffering from
cancer in the colon - which was cured at the end of this period - a
Violet bed covering six rods of ground was almost entirely stripped
of its foliage.
Ointment. - Place 2 OZ. of the best lard in a jar in the oven till
it becomes quite clear. Then add about thirty-six fresh Violet
leaves. Stew them in the lard for an hour till the leaves are the
consistency of cooked cabbage. Strain and when cold put into a
covered pot for use. This is a good oldfashioned Herbal remedy
which has been allowed to fall into disuse. It is good as an
application for superficial tubercles in the glands of the neck,
Violet Leaves Tea being drunk at the same time.
---Synonyms---Water Milfoil. Water Yarrow. Feather
Violet, an aquatic plant, is in no wise related to the familiar
Violets and Pansies, but is a member of the Primrose tribe - named
after Hotton, an early Leyden professor of Botany.
---Description---It is common in ponds and ditches. From the
abundance of its finely divided leaves, which are all submersed, it
was also called Millefolium by older writers and Water Milfoil,
Water Yarrow and Feather Foil popularly. It flowers in May and
June, the flowers being large and handsome, pink or pale purple,
with a yellow eye, arranged in whorls one above the other around a
leafless stalk, which rises several inches out of the water and
forms a handsome spike.
Vitis Hederacea (WILLD.)
Medicinal Action and Uses
---Synonyms---American Ivy. Five-leaved Ivy. Ampolopsis
quinquefolia (Mich.). Cissus Hederacea (Ross.). Cissus quinquefolia
(Desf.). Vitis quinquefolia (LINN.). Wood Vine.
Used---Bark, twigs, fresh leaves, berries, resin.
common creeper is familiar to all on account of its rapid growth
and the magnificence of its autumn colouring. It is specially
useful in town gardens, where it is not affected by the smoky
is extensively climbing, reaching out in all directions and
fastening itself by the disk-like appendages of the tendrils, and
also by rootlets. It will shoot about 20 feet in one year, and in
time it becomes very woody.
flowering branches become converted into tendrils, as in the case
of the Vine. An inspection of any vine in summer will generally
show some tendrils with buds upon them, revealing their origin.
Occasionally, what ought to have been a tendril becomes a flowering
branch and bears a full bunch of grapes. The two together are
called a 'double cluster.'
leaves have long petioles, or foot-stalks, and are divided into
five leaflets. The flowers are in small clusters - yellowish-green
in colour and open in July, a few at a time. They are much liked by
bees, and are succeeded by dark purplish-blue berries, which are
ripe in October, being then about the size of a pea.
Under the name of Hedera quinquefolia,
this creeper was first brought to Europe from Canada, and was
cultivated here as early as1629. Parkinson, in whose days it was
introduced, described it -
'The leaves are crumpled or rather folded
together at the first coming forth and very red, which after
growing forth are very fair, large and green, divided into four,
five, six or seven leaves standing together upon a small foot-stalk
- set without order on the branches, at the ends whereof, as also
at other places sometimes, come forth short tufts of buds for
flowers, but we could never see them open themselves to show what
manner of flower it would be or what fruit would follow in our
and twigs. A tincture is made of the fresh young shoots and bark,
which are chopped and pounded to a pulp, mixed with 2 parts by
weight of alcohol, and left for 8 days in the dark before being
strained and filtered off. The tincture is not official in either
the United States or the British Pharmacopoeia.
generic name Hedera is supposed to be derived either from the
Celtic haedra (a cord), or from the Greek hedra (a seat). The
specific name Helix was given by Linnaeus, on account of its being
a great harbourer of snails, Helix being the scientific name of the
Snail family. The English name of Ivy is said to be from iw
(green), from its evergreen character. Yew is derived from the same
---Constituents---The properties depend on the special balsamic
resin contained in its leaves and stems, as well as in its
particular aromatic gum. The berries contain a very bitter
principle somewhat like quinine. The alkaloid contained in it is
Pyrocatachin (Oxyphenic acid) in the green leaves. Cisso-tannic
acid has been determined as the pigment of the red coloration in
the autumnal coloured leaves, and has an astringent, bitter taste.
The leaves when green contain also free tartaric acid and its
salts, with sodium and potassium. Glycollic acid and calcium
glycollate exist in the ripe berries.
scrofulous affections the drug is principally employed in the form
of a syrup.
and Uses---Stimulating, diaphoretic and cathartic. Many virtues
were attributed by our forefathers to this plant. Its berries have
been found of use in febrile disorders, and were regarded as a
specific against the plague and similar disorders, for which they
were infused in vinegar. During the Great Plague of London, Ivy
berries were given with some success for their antiseptic virtues
and to induce perspiration.
the leaves are used as an aperient, and a resinous matter that in
warm climates exudes from the bark of the main stems (and may be
procured by wounding them) is considered a useful stimulant,
antispasmodic and emmenagogue. This gum possesses mildly aperient
properties, and was at one time included as a medicine in the
Edinburgh Pharmacopoeia, but has now fallen out of use. Dissolved
in vinegar it had the reputation of being a good filling for a
hollow tooth causing neuralgic toothache.
have a very unpleasant taste. Taken inwardly in infusion, they act
as an aperient and emetic, but are sudorific. They have been given
on the Continent to children suffering from atrophy. The juice is
said to cure headache, when applied to the nostrils. An infusion of
the leaves and berries will also mitigate a severe
leaves of Ivy, boiled in vinegar and applied warm to the sides of
those who are troubled with the spleen, or stitch in the sides,
will give much ease. The same applied with Rose-water, and oil of
Roses to the temples and forehead eases headaches. Cups made from
Ivywood have been employed, from which to sip hot or cold water for
diseases of the spleen.
decoction of the leaves applied externally will destroy head lice
in children, and fresh Ivy leaves bruised and applied will afford
great relief to bunions and shooting corns, a remedy to the
excellence of which John Wesley has testified.
have also been employed as poultices and fomentations in glandular
enlargements, indolent ulcers, etc.
decoction of the leaves has been used as a black dye.
berries possess much the same properties as the leaves, being
strongly purgative and emetic. An infusion of the berries has been
frequently found serviceable in rheumatic complaints and is
reported to have cured the dropsy.
bark is also used in a decoction. When stripped from the branches
(after the berries have ripened) and dried in the sun, it occurs in
quilled pieces 2 to 3 inches long and from 1/4 to 1/2 inch in
diameter, externally brown with enlarged transverse scars, the
fracture showing a white bark with coarse flattened fibres in the
inner portion. One ounce of the bark to a pint of boiling water is
taken in wineglassful doses.
extract is also prepared from the bark and twigs, of which the dose
is 1/2 to 1 drachm; another preparation, Ampelopsin, is taken in
doses of 2 to 4 grains.
This hath a thick short greyish root, lying for the most part above
ground, shooting forth on all other sides such like small pieces of
roots, which have all of them many long green strings and fibres
under them in the ground, whereby it draws nourishment. From the
head of these roots spring up many green leaves, which at first are
somewhat broad and long, without any divisions at all in them, or
denting on the edges; but those that rise up after are more and
more divided on each side, some to the middle rib, being winged, as
made of many leaves together on a stalk, and those upon a stalk, in
like manner more divided, but smaller towards the top than below;
the stalk rises to be a yard high or more, sometimes branched at
the top, with many small whitish flowers, sometimes dashed over at
the edges with a pale purplish colour, of a little scent, which
passing away, there follows small brownish white seed, that is
easily carried away with the wind. The root smells more strong than
either leaf or flower, and is of more use in
Place : It
is generally kept with us in gardens.
Time : It
flowers in June and July, and continues flowering until the frost
pull it down.
and virtues : This is under the influence of Mercury. Dioscorides
saith, That the Garden Valerian hath a warming faculty, and that
being dried and given to drink it provokes urine, and helps the
stranguary. The decoction thereof taken, doth the like also, and
takes away pains of the sides, provokes women's courses, and is
used in antidotes. Pliny saith, That the powder of the root given
in drink, or the decoction thereof taken, helps all stoppings and
stranglings in any part of the body, whether they proceed of pains
in the chest or sides, and takes them away. The root of Valerian
boiled with liquorice, raisins, and anniseed, is singularly good
for those that are short-winded, and for those that are troubled
with the cough, and helps to open the passages, and to expectorate
phlegm easily. It is given to those that are bitten or stung by any
venomous creature, being boiled in wine. It is of a special virtue
against the plague, the decoction thereof being drank, and the root
being used to smell to. It helps to expel the wind in the belly.
The green herb with the root taken fresh, being bruised and applied
to the head, takes away the pains and prickings there, stays rheum
and thin distillation, and being boiled in white wine, and a drop
thereof put into the eyes, takes away the dimness of the sight, or
any pin or web therein. It is of excellent property to heal any
inward sores or wounds, and also for outward hurts or wounds, and
drawing away splinters or thorns out of the flesh.
The common Vervain hath somewhat long broad leaves next the ground
deeply gashed about the edges, and some only deeply dented, or cut
all alike, of a blackish green colour on the upper side, somewhat
grey underneath. The stalk is square, branched into several parts,
rising about two feet high, especially if you reckon the long spike
of flowers at the tops of them, which are set on all sides one
above another, and sometimes two or three together, being small and
gaping, of a blue colour and white intermixed, after which come
small round seed, in small and somewhat long heads. The root is
small and long.
Place : It
grows generally throughout this land in divers places of the hedges
and way-sides, and other waste grounds.
Time : It
flowers in July, and the seed is ripe soon after.
and virtues : This is an herb of Venus, and excellent for the womb
to strengthen and remedy all the cold griefs of it, as Plantain
doth the hot. Vervain is hot and dry, opening obstructions,
cleansing and healing. It helps the yellow jaundice, the dropsy and
the gout; it kills and expels worms in the belly, and causes a good
colour in the face and body, strengthens as well as corrects the
diseases of the stomach, liver, and spleen; helps the cough,
wheezings, and shortness of breath, and all the defects of the
reins and bladder, expelling the gravel and stone. It is held to be
good against the biting of serpents, and other venomous beasts,
against the plague, and both tertian and quartan agues. It
consolidates and heals also all wounds, both inward and outward,
stays bleedings, and used with some honey, heals all old ulcers and
fistulas in the legs or other parts of the body; as also those
ulcers that happen in the mouth; or used with hog's grease, it
helps the swellings and pains in the secret parts in man or woman,
also for the piles or hæmorrhoids; applied with some oil of roses
and vinegar unto the forehead and temples, it eases the inveterate
pains and ache of the head, and is good for those that are frantic.
The leaves bruised, or the juice of them mixed with some vinegar,
doth wonderfully cleanse the skin, and takes away morphew,
freckles, fistulas, and other such like inflammations and
deformities of the skin in any parts of the body. The distilled
water of the herb when it is in full strength, dropped into the
eyes, cleanses them from films, clouds, or mists, that darken the
sight, and wonderfully strengthens the optic nerves. The said water
is very powerful in all the diseases aforesaid, either inward or
outward, whether they be old corroding sores, or green wounds. The
dried root, and peeled, is known to be excellently good against all
scrophulous and scorbutic habits of body, by being tied to the pit
of the stomach, by a piece of white ribband round the
of the English vine (I do not mean to send you to the Canaries for
a medicine) being boiled, makes a good lotion for sore mouths;
being boiled with barley meal into a poultice, it cools
inflammations of wounds; the dropping of the vine, when it is cut
in the Spring, which country people call Tears, being boiled in a
syrup, with sugar, and taken inwardly, is excellent to stay women's
longings after every thing they see, which is a disease many women
with child are subject to. The decoction of Vine leaves in white
wine doth the like. Also the tears of the Vine, drank two or three
spoonfuls at a time, breaks the stone in the bladder. This is a
very good remedy, and it is discreetly done, to kill a Vine to cure
a man, but the salt of the leaves are held to be better. The ashes
of the burnt branches will make teeth that are as black as a coal,
to be as white as snow, if you but every morning rub them with it.
It is a most gallant Tree of the Sun, very sympathetical with the
body of men, and that is the reason spirit of wine is the greatest
cordial among all vegetables.
tame and the wild are so well known, that they need no
They flower until the end of July, but are best in March, and the
beginning of April.
and virtues : They are a fine pleasing plant of Venus, of a mild
nature, no way harmful. All the Violets are cold and moist while
they are fresh and green, and are used to cool any heat, or
distemperature of the body, either inwardly or outwardly, as
inflammations in the eyes, in the matrix or fundament, in
imposthumes also, and hot swellings, to drink the decoction of the
leaves and flowers made with water in wine, or to apply them
poultice-wise to the grieved places: it likewise eases pains in the
head, caused through want of sleep; or any other pains arising of
heat, being applied in the same manner, or with oil of roses. A
dram weight of the dried leaves or flower of Violets, but the
leaves more strongly, doth purge the body of choleric humours, and
assuages the heat, being taken in a draught of wine, or any other
drink; the powder of the purple leaves of the flowers, only picked
and dried and drank in water, is said to help the quinsy, and the
falling-sickness in children, especially in the beginning of the
disease. The flowers of the white Violets ripen and dissolve
swellings. The herb or flowers, while they are fresh, or the
flowers when they are dry, are effectual in the pleurisy, and all
diseases of the lungs, to lenify the sharpness in hot rheums, and
the hoarseness of the throat, the heat also and sharpness of urine,
and all the pains of the back or reins, and bladder. It is good
also for the liver and the jaundice, and all hot agues, to cool the
heat, and quench the thirst; but the syrup of Violets is of most
use, and of better effect, being taken in some convenient liquor:
and if a little of the juice or syrup of lemons be put to it, or a
few drops of the oil of vitriol, it is made thereby the more
powerful to cool the heat, and quench the thirst, and gives to the
drink a claret wine colour, and a fine tart relish, pleasing to the
taste. Violets taken, or made up with honey, do more cleanse and
cool, and with sugar contrary-wise. The dried flower of Violets are
accounted amongst the cordial drinks, powders, and other medicines,
especially where cooling cordials are necessary. The green leaves
are used with other herbs to make plaisters and poultices to
inflammations and swellings, and to ease all pains whatsoever,
arising of heat, and for the piles also, being fried with yolks of
eggs, and applied thereto.
This hath many long rough leaves lying on the ground, from among
which rises up divers hard round stalks, very rough, as if they
were thick set with prickles or hairs, whereon are set such like
rough, hairy, or prickly sad green leaves, somewhat narrow; the
middle rib for the most part being white. The flowers stand at the
top of the stalk, branched forth in many long spiked leaves of
flowers bowing or turning like the turnsole, all opening for the
most part on the one side, which are long and hollow, turning up
the brims a little, of a purplish violet colour in them that are
fully blown, but more reddish while they are in the bud, as also
upon their decay and withering; but in some places of a paler
purplish colour, with a long pointel in the middle, feathered or
parted at the top. After the flowers are fallen, the seeds growing
to be ripe, are blackish, cornered and pointed somewhat like the
head of a viper. The root is somewhat great and blackish, and
woolly, when it grows toward seed-time, and perishes in the
Winter.There is another sort, little differing from the former,
only in this, that it bears white flowers.
The first grows wild almost every where. That with white flowers
about the castle-walls at Lewis in Sussex.
They flower in Summer, and their seed is ripe quickly
and virtues : It is a most gallant herb of the Sun; it is a pity it
is no more in use than it is. It is an especial remedy against the
biting of the Viper, and all other venomous beasts, or serpents; as
also against poison, or poisonous herbs. Dioscorides and others
say, That whosoever shall take of the herb or root before they be
bitten, shall not be hurt by the poison of any serpent. The root or
seed is thought to be most effectual to comfort the heart, and
expel sadness, or causeless melancholy; it tempers the blood, and
allays hot fits of agues. The seed drank in wine, procures
abundance of milk in women's breasts. The same also being taken,
eases the pains in the loins, back, and kidneys. The distilled
water of the herb when it is in flower, or its chief strength, is
excellent to be applied either inwardly or outwardly, for all the
griefs aforesaid. There is a syrup made hereof very effectual for
the comforting the heart, and expelling sadness and