Herbs & Oils
~ W ~
WILLOW: (Salix alba) Also known as White
Willow, European Willow, Tree of Enchantment, and Witches Aspirin.
One of the Seven Sacred Trees of the Irish. A Druid sacred tree,
the willow is a Moon tree sacred to the White Lady. It's groves
were considered so magical that priests, priestesses and all types
of artisans sat among these trees to gain eloquence, inspiration,
skills, and prophecies. The stem bark is a painkiller, a
fever-reducer, and an original source for salicylic acid for
aspirin. The infused leaves make a tea for nervous insomnia and are
added to baths to ease rheumatism. The Salix species provide
the best-quality artists' charcoal, branches are used for weaving,
and the White Willow var. caerulea is the source of wood for
cricket bats. The genus name Salix comes from the Celtic
sal-lis, "near water".
willow (S. nigra) bark is used to treat gonorrhea and
ovarian pain. The white willow contains salicin, the active
constituent from which Aspirin was first synthesized. White willow
bark is used for rhematic complaints, arthirtis and headaches as
well as diarrhea and dysentary. Fevers, edema, and the aftereffects
of worms are treated with willow bark. To make the tea, steep three
teaspoons of the bark in on cup of cold water for two to five
hours, boil for one minute, and strain. Willow is also available as
a powder. The dose is one teaspoon, three times a day in tea or
capsules. The tincture can be taken in ten- to twenty-drop doses
four times a day.
Parts Used: Bark, collected in the
Magical Uses: Willows are commonly found near
ancient British burial sites. The willow is a guardian tree, said
to protect from evil influences. The willow tree has a healing aura
that blesses all it touches. All parts of the willow guard against
evil and can be carried or placed in the home for this purpose.
Burn bark with sandalwood for divination and love. Magical brooms,
especially Witch's brooms, are traditionally bound with a willow
WITCH HAZEL: (Hammamelis virginiana) Also
called Spotted Alder, and Winter Bloom, Witch Hazel, a distillation
from the leaves and flower-bearing twigs, is included in skin
products for its disinfectant and astringent properties. It is used
on chapped and sunburned skin, bruises, swellings, and rashes; to
stop bleeding; and to reduce varicose veins and hemorrhoids. The
seeds are edible and the leaves can be brewed for a warming tea.
Commercially distilled witch hazel contains 14 percent alcohol. It
must not be confused with tincture of Witch Hazel, which may be
much more astringent and could disfigure skin.
Parts Used: Leaf and young twigs
Magical Uses: Witch hazel has long been used to
fashion divining rods, hence the common name. The bark and twigs
are also used to protect against evil influences. If carried, witch
hazel helps to mend a broken heart and cool the
Aromatherapy Uses: Distilled witch hazel is one
of the basics in any home first aid kit. It is useful for stings,
bruises, cuts, scrapes, sprains, tissue swelling, and many other
minor conditions. It is also useful in skin care
ALOE: (Aquilaria agallocha) The prized elusive scent
of Wood Aloe exists only in resin-saturated diseased
Magical Uses: Wood Aloe possesses high spiritual
vibrations. Will bring love if worn. Use in incense for Love,
Protection, Money and Riches, and Spirituality.
WORMWOOD:(Artemisia absinthium) Also known
as Absinthe. A Druid sacred herb, Wormwood is very magical and
sacred to Moon deities. An accumulative poison if ingested.
Wormwood is a bitter herb used to flavor vermouth and the
now-banned liqueur absinthe. A leaf and flowering top
infusion is a tonic for the digestive system, liver, gallbladder,
and blood, reducing inflammation and clearing impurities. The plant
treats fever, expels worms, and reduces the toxicity of lead
poisoning. As a companion plant, it acts as a deterrent against
several insect pests. Toxic in high doses!
and flowers are used in a light infusion to help digestion,
flatulence, and heartburn. Wormwood improves circulation and
stimulates the liver. The tea is said to relieve labor pains. Use
one teaspoon per cup and steep for twenty minutes; take a quarter
cup up to four times a day; or use as a tincture, eight to ten
drops in water up to three times a day. A fomentation of the leaves
and flowers soothes bruises and sprains. The oil relieves
CAUTION: The oil is for external use only! Prolonged
use of wormwood can lead to nerve damage.
Parts Used: Leaf and flower
Magical Uses: The scent of wormwood is said to
increase psychic powers. Burned with incenses on Samhain to aid
evocation, divination, scrying and prophecy. Especially good when
combined with Mugwort. Strengthens incenses for exorcism and
protection. Hung from a rear-view mirror, wormwood protects
vehicles from accidents on treacherous roads. Use in spells for:
Binding; Psychic Awareness; Evocation; Love;
Arum triphyllum (LINN.)
Medicinal Action and Uses
---Synonyms---Dragon Root. Wild Turnip. Devil's Ear. Pepper
Turnip. Indian Turnip. Jack-in-the-Pulpit. Memory Root. Arisamae
Gouet à trois feuilles.
Used---The root (fresh corm).
---Habitat---Eastern North America in damp places. Indigenous
almost all over United States and Canada.
plant has a round flattened perennial rhizome, the upper part
tunicated as in the onion, the lower and larger portion tuberous
and fleshy, with numerous long white radicles in a circle from its
upper edge, the under-side covered with a dark, loose, wrinkled
epidermis. Spathe ovate, acuminate, convoluted into a tube at the
bottom, flattened and bent at top like a hood, varying in colour
internally, supported by an erect scape inverted at base by
petioles and their acute sheaths. Spadix club-shaped, shorter than
spathe, rounded at end, contracted at base, surrounded by stamens
or ovaries; the upper portions of the spadix withers together with
the spathe, whilst the ovaries grow into a large compact bunch of
shining scarlet berries. Leaves, one or two standing on long
sheathing foot-stalks, ternate. Leaflets oval, mostly entire,
acuminate,smooth, paler on under-side, becoming glaucous with
growth, the two lateral ones rhomboidal.
the recent state it has a peculiar odour and is violently acrid. It
has been found to contain besides the acrid principle, 10 to 17 per
cent of starch, albumen, gum, sugar, extractive, lignin and salts
of potassium and calcium.
and Uses---Acrid, expectorant, and diaphoretic. Used in flatulence,
croup, whooping-cough, stomatitis, asthma, chronic laryngitis,
bronchitis and pains in chest.
fresh state it is a violent irritant to the mucous membrane, when
chewed burning the mouth and throat; if taken internally this plant
causes violent gastro-enteritis which may end in
root, 10 grains two or three times daily.
perfectly fresh root should not be used and the fully dried root is
tea and stimulants.
See CUCKOO PINT.
Cherranthus cheiri (LINN.)
---Synonyms---Gillyflower. Wallstock-gillofer. Giroflier.
Gillyflower. Handflower. Keiri. Beeflower. Baton d'or.
---Habitat---All Southern Europe, on old walls, quarries and
---Description---his homely perennial plant of the cabbage
family was introduced into this country over 300 years ago, and its
delightful fragrance soon made it a general favourite. It has
single flowers, yellowy orange in its wild state, and quickly
spreads abundantly from seed, commencing to bloom in early spring,
and continuing most of the summer. In olden times this flower was
carried in the hand at classic festivals, hence it was called
Cherisaunce by virtue of its cordial qualities.
---Constituents---Oil, a powerful glucoside, of the digitalis
group, and cherinine, a crystalline alkaloid.
---Medicinal Action and Uses---(In homoeopathic medicine a
tincture of the whole plant has been found useful in the effects of
cutting the wisdom tooth. -EDITOR.) The oil has a pleasing perfume
if diluted, but in full strength a disagreeable odour. The alkaloid
is useful acting on nerve centres and on the muscles.
Juglans nigra (LINN.)
Medicinal Action and Uses
Parts Used Medicinally
---Synonyms---Carya. Jupiter's Nuts.
Carya persica. Carya basilike.
Nux persica. Nux regia.
---Habitat---According to Dr. Royle Juglans regia extends from
Greece and Asia Minor, over Lebanon and Persia, probably all along
the Hindu-Kush to the Himalayas. It is abundant in Kashmir, and is
found in Sirmore, Kumdon and Nepal. The walnuts imported into the
plains of India are chiefly from Kashmir. Dr. Hooker states that in
the Sikkim Himalaya, the Walnut inhabits the mountain slopes at an
elevation of 4,000 to 7,000 feet.
to Pliny, it was introduced into Italy from Persia, and it is
mentioned by Varro, who was born B.C. 116, as growing in Italy
during his lifetime.
no certain account of the time it was brought into this country.
Some say 1562; but Gerard, writing about thirty years later,
mentions the Walnut as being very common in the fields near common
highways, and in orchards.
Walnut, a large and handsome tree, with strong, spreading boughs,
is not a native of Britain. Its native place is probably Persia.
Other varieties of Walnut, the Black Walnut, the various kinds of
Hickory, etc., are mostly natives of North America.
called the tree nux, on account of its fruit. The English name
Walnut is partly of Teutonic origin, the Germans naming the nut
Wallnuss, or Welsche Nuss - Welsche signifying
said that in the 'golden age,' when men lived upon acorns the gods
lived upon Walnuts, and hence the name of Juglans, Jovis glans, or
tree grows to a height of 40 or 60 feet, with a large spreading
top, and thick, massive stem. One accurately measured by Professor
du Breuil, in Normandy, was upwards of 23 feet in circumference;
and in some parts of France there are Walnut trees 300 years old,
with stems of much greater thickness. In the southern parts of
England the trees grow vigorously and bear abundantly, when not
injured by late frosts in spring.
flowers of separate sexes are borne upon the same tree and appear
in early spring before the leaves. The male flowers have a calyx of
five or six scales, surrounding from eighteen to thirty-six
stamens; whilst the calyx of the female flowers closely envelops
the ovary, which bears two or three fleshy stigmas. The deciduous
leaves are pinnate.
indoors, a warm, sunny attic, or loft may be employed, the window
being left open by day, so that there is a current of air and the
moist, hot air may escape: the door may also be left open. The
leaves can be placed on coarse butter-cloth, stented - if hooks are
placed beneath the window and on the opposite wall the butter-cloth
can be attached by rings sewn on each side of it and hooked on so
that it is stretched taut. The temperature should be from 70
degrees to 100 degrees.
sun, any ordinary shed, fitted with racks and shelves, can be used
provided it is ventilated near the roof anl has a warm current of
air, caused by an ordinary coke or anthracite stove. Empty
glasshouses can readily be adapted into drying-sheds (especially if
heated by pipes) if the glass is shaded. Ventilation is essential,
and there must be no open tank in the house to cause
should be spread in a single layer, preferably not touching, and
may be turned during drying.
leaves should be packed away at once, in airtight, wooden or tin
boxes in a dry place, otherwise they re-absorb moisture from the
leaves are parchment-like when dry, and the leaf-stalks brown, but
the leaves themselves keep their good colour when dried. They have
a bitter and astringent taste. By long keeping, the leaves become
brown and lose their characteristic, aromatic odour.
is dried in the same manner as the leaves. When dry, it occurs in
quilled or curbed pieces, 3 to 6 inches long or more, and 3/4 inch
broad, dull blackish-brown, with traces of a thin, whitish
epidermal layer tough and fibrous and somewhat mealy. The inner
fibres are tough and flattened, the outer ones, white and silky.
The taste is bitter and astringent, but it has no
---Constituents---The active principle of the whole Walnut
tree, as well as of the nuts, is Nucin or Juglon. The kernels
contain oil, mucilage, albumin, mineral matter, cellulose and
and Uses---The bark and leaves have alterative, laxative,
astringent and detergent properties, and are used in the treatment
of skin troubles. They are of the highest value for curing
scrofulous diseases, herpes, eczema, etc., and for healing indolent
ulcers; an infusion of 1 OZ. of dried bark or leaves (slightly more
of the fresh leaves) to the pint of boiling water, allowed to stand
for six hours, and strained off is taken in wineglassful doses,
three times a day, the same infusion being also employed at the
same time for outward application. Obstinate ulcers may also be
cured with sugar, well saturated with a strong decoction of Walnut
dried and powdered, and made into a strong infusion, is a useful
shell and peel are sudorific, especially if used when the Walnuts
are green. Whilst unripe, the nut has wormdestroying
when young and unripe, makes a wholesome, anti-scorbutic pickle,
the vinegar in which the green fruit has been pickled proving a
capital gargle for sore and slightly ulcerated throats. Walnut
catsup embodies the medicinal virtues of the unripe
It is much
cultivated in some parts of Italy, France, Germany and Switzerland,
and formerly also in England, particularly on the chalk-hills of
Surrey, for the sake of its timber, as well as for its
Continent, the wood is still in great request for furniture, but
when mahogany became a favourite wood in this country, in the early
part of last century, the old walnut trees that were cut down were
not always replaced by young ones, so that plantations of this tree
time as much as L. (Lear) 600 was given for a single Walnut
have a very strong, characteristic smell, aromatic and not
unpleasant, but said to be injurious to sensitive people. They have
three, sometimes four pairs of leaflets and a terminal one, the
leaflets varying in size on the same leaf, being 2 1/4 to 4 inches
in length and 1 to 1 1/2 inch wide, entire, smooth, shining, and
flowers begin to open about the middle of April and are in full
bloom by the middle of May, before which time the tree is in full
the south of France, this tree is frequently injured by spring
has been much used, not only for furniture and wainscoting, but for
the wheels and bodies of coaches, for making gun-stocks, and by the
cabinet-maker for inlaying. It is unfit for use as beams because of
yielded by the kernel of the fruit (the part eaten) is used to
polish the wood. Not congealing by cold, it is found on this
account most useful for painters for mixing gold-size and varnish
with white and delicate colours. The oil has been used in some
parts of France for frying, eaten as butter and employed as lamp
oil. One bushel of nuts, producing about 15 lb. of peeled kernels,
will yield about 7 lb. of the oil.
husks of the fruit, boiled, make a good yellow dye.
will touch the leaves of the Walnut, which yield a brown dye, which
gypsies use to stain their skin. It is said to contain
and leaves, macerated in warm water impart to it an intense
bitterness, which will destroy all worms (if the liquid be poured
on to lawns and grass walks) without injuring the grass
Medicinally---The leaves and bark. The leaves are stripped off the
tree singly, in June and July and dried.
leaves only in fine weather, in the morning, after the dew has been
dried by the sun. The prevalence of an east wind is favourable, as
the dry air facilitates the process of drying. Reject all stained
be done in warm, sunny weather, out-of-doors, but in half-shade as
leaves dried in the shade retain their colour better than those
dried in the sun and do not become so tindery. They may be placed
on wire sieves, or frames covered with wire or garden netting - at
a height of about 3 or 4 feet from the ground, to ensure a current
of air - and must be taken indoors to a dry room or shed, before
there is any chance of them becoming damp from dew or
of the green husks, boiled with honey, is also a good gargle for a
sore mouth and inflamed throat, and the distilled water of the
green husks is good for quinsy and as an application for wounds and
internally is a cooling drink in agues.
yellow skin which clothes the inner nut is a notable remedy for
colic, being first dried, and then rubbed into powder. It is
administered in doses of 30 grains, with a tablespoonful of
extracted from the ripe kernels, taken inwardly in 1/2 OZ. doses,
has also proved good for colic and is efficacious, applied
externally, for skin diseases of the leprous type and wounds and
---Preparations---Fluid extract leaves, 1 to 2 drachms. Walnut
has been termed 'vegetable arsenic,' on account of its curative
effect in eczema and other skin diseases.
William Cole, an exponent of the doctrine
of signatures, says in Adam in Eden, 1657:
'Wall-nuts have the perfect Signature of
the Head: The outer husk or green Covering, represent the
Pericranium, or outward skin of the skull, whereon the hair
groweth, and therefore salt made of those husks or barks, are
exceeding good for wounds in the head. The inner wooddy shell hath
the Signature of the Skull, and the little yellow skin, or Peel,
that covereth the Kernell, of the hard Meninga and Pia-mater, which
are the thin scarfes that envelope the brain. The Kernel hath the
very figure of the Brain, and therefore it is very profitable for
the Brain, and resists poysons; For if the Kernel be bruised, and
moystned with the quintessence of Wine, and laid upon the Crown of
the Head, it comforts the brain and head mightily.'
Culpepper says of Walnuts:
'if they' [the leaves] 'be taken with
onions, salt, and honey, they help the biting of a mad dog, or the
venom or infectious poison of any beast, etc. Caius Pompeius found
in the treasury of Mithridates, King of Pontus, when he was
overthrown, a scroll of his own handwriting, containing a medicine
against any poison or infection; which is this: Take two dry
walnuts, and as many good figs, and twenty leaves of rue, bruised
and beaten together with two or three corns of salt and twenty
juniper berries, which take every morning fasting, preserves from
danger of poison, and infection that day it is taken. . . . The
kernels, when they grow old, are more oily, and therefore not fit
to be eaten, but are then used to heal the wounds of the sinews,
gangrenes, and carbuncles. . . . The said kernels being burned, are
very astringent . . . being taken in red wine, and stay the falling
of the hair, and make it fair, being anointed with oil and wine.
The green husks will do the like, being used in the same manner. .
. . A piece of the green husks put into a hollow tooth, eases the
preserve green Walnuts in Syrup
many green Walnuts as you please, about the middle of July, try
them all with a pin, if it goes easily through them they are fit
for your purpose; lay them in Water for nine days, washing and
shifting them Morning and Night; then boil them in water until they
be a little Soft, lay them to drain; then pierce them through with
a Wooden Sciver, and in the hole put a Clove, and in some a bit of
Cinnamon, and in some the rind of a Citron Candi'd: then take the
weight of your Nuts in Sugar, or a little more; make it into a
syrup, in which boil your Nuts (scimming them) till they be tender;
then put them up in Gally potts, and cover them close. When you lay
them to drain, wipe them with a Course cloth to take off a thin
green Skin. They are Cordial and Stomachal.' - (From The Family
Physician, 'by Geo. Hartman, Phylo Chymist, who liv'd and Travell'd
with the Honourable Sir Kenelm Digby, in several parts of Europe
the space of Seven Years till he died.')
is from a seventeenth-century household MS. Receipt Book inscribed
Madam Susanna Avery, Her Book, May ye 12th, Anno Domini
nutts be green as not to have any shell; then run a kniting pin two
ways through them; then put them into as much ordinary vinegar as
will cover them, and let them stand thirty days, shifting them
every too days in ffrech vinegar; then ginger and black peper of
each ounce, rochambole two ounces slised, a handfull of bay leaves;
put all togeather cold; then wrap up every wall nutt singly in a
vine leaf, and put them in putt them into [sic] the ffolloing
pickel: for 200 of walnutts take two gallans of the best whit
vineager, a pint of the best mustard seed, fore ounces of horse
radish, with six lemons sliced with the rin(d)s on, cloves and mace
half an ounce, a stone jar, and put the pickel on them, and cork
them close up; and they will be ffitt for use in three months, and
keep too years.'
Juglans cinerea (LINN.)
Medicinal Action and Uses
Used---Leaves, flowers, seeds.
---Habitat---Europe and Russian Asia.
hardy perennial found in abundance near springs and open running
watercourses, of a creeping habit with smooth, shining,
brownish-green, pinnatifid leaves and ovate, heart-shaped leaflets,
the terminal one being larger than the rest. Flowers small and
white, produced towards the extremity of the branches in a sort of
nasturtium or Indian Cress cultivated in gardens as a creeper has
brilliant orange-red flowers and produces the seeds which serve as
a substitute for capers in pickles.
poisonous Marshwort or 'Fool's Cress' is often mistaken for
Watercress, with which it is sometimes found growing. It may
readily be distinguished by its hemlock-like white flowers, and
when out of flower, by its finely toothed and somewhat pointed
leaves, much longer than those of the watercress and of a paler
green. The Latin name 'Nasturtium' is derived from the words nasus
tortus (a convulsed nose) on account of its pungency.
sulpho-nitrogenous oil, iodine iron, phosphates, potash, with other
mineral salts, bitter extract and water. Its volatile oil rich in
nitrogen combined with some sulphur in the sulpho-cyanide of
and Uses---Watercress is particularly valuable for its
antiscorbutic qualities and has been used as such from the earliest
times. As a salad it promotes appetite. Culpepper says that the
leaves bruised or the juice will free the face from blotches, spots
and blemishes, when applied as a lotion.
---Dosage---Expressed juice, 1 to 2 fluid ounces.
has also been used as a specific in tuberculosis. Its active
principles are said to be at their best when the plant is in
See Dropwort, Water.
See Fennel, Water.
Medicinal Action and Uses
---Synonyms---Water Houseleek. Water Aloe. Water Sengren. Sea
Green. Crab's Claws. Knight's Pondweed. Freshwater Soldier. Water
describes under the name of Water Houseleek, Water Sengren or
Seagreen, a plant that has nothing to do with any of these other
succulent plants, and that nowadays generally goes by one of its
other popular names, Water Soldier, and is botanically known as
It is an
aquatic plant, the only British representative of its genus, and is
found growing in ditches in the Eastern counties of England, mostly
in the Fen district. The roots extend some distance into the mud
and throw up numerous deep-green, spreading, narrow, rigid and
brittle leaves, from 6 to 18 inches long, very sharply pointed,
with sharp prickles on each margin. They are strikingly similar to
the foliage of an aloe hence its specific name, aloides, and
another of its popular English names, Water Aloe. The name of the
genus is derived from the Greek word for a soldier, in reference to
its crowded, sword-like leaves.
flower-stalk is stout and short, about 6 inches high, bearing at
its summit a two-leaved sheath, which is likened by old writers to
the claws of a crab, from which another of its names, Crab's Claws,
is derived. Stamens and pistils are on different plants. In the
case of the staminate flowers, the sheath contains several delicate
white flowers, with three petals and numerous stamens, twelve of
which are perfect, as well as many other imperfect ones. The
flowers containing the ovary - which is six-celled and six-angled,
and develops into a pulpy, flaskshaped berry - are solitary on the
flowering in the month of July, the plant sinks to the bottom and
ripens its fruit while submerged. It is a perennial and propagates
itself freely by stolons as well as by seed. Although each root
only flowers once, the parent plant rooted in the mud at the bottom
of the ditch, after flowering, sends out buds of leaves at the end
of long runners, which rise to the surface in the spring, and
become separate plants, forming roots, flower, and then sink to the
bottom, where they fix themselves in the mud, ripen their seeds and
become, in their turn, parents of another race of young offsets,
which in turn rise in the spring and float on the surface,
sometimes eight or ten in a circle, so thick as to entirely fill up
the surface of the ditches, and prevent all other plants from
and Uses---Culpepper tells us that the herb 'is good against St.
Anthony's Fire, and assuages swelling and inflammations in wounds;
an ointment made of it is good to heal them.' He also informs us it
is good for 'bruised kidneys.' It had in olden times the reputation
of being an unfailing cure for all wounds made by iron
See Lily, White Pond.
See Carrot, Wild.
See Cherry, Wild.
See Ginger, Wild.
See Indigo (Wild).
See Yam, Wild.
Salyx nigra (MARCH)
---Habitat---America (New York and Pennsylvania).
---Description---A tree growing on banks of rivers up to 15 to
25 feet high, with a rough blackish bark. Leaves narrowly
lanceolate, pointed, tapering at each end, serrulate, smooth, and
green on both sides, petioles and midveins tomentose. Stipules
small, decuduous, dentate; aments erect, cylindric, villous. Scales
oblong, very villous. Sterile aments 3 inches long, glands of
sterile flowers two large and deeply two or three cleft. Stamens
four to six, often but three in the upper scales, filaments bearded
at base. Ovary pedicillate, smooth, ovoid. Style very short,
---Constituents---The bark contains tannin and about 1 per cent
of Salinigrin, a white crystalline glucoside soluble in water and
---Medicinal Action and Uses---An aphrodisiac sedative, tonic.
The bark has been prescribed in gonorrhoea and to relieve ovarian
pain; a liquid extract is prepared and used in mixture with other
sedatives. Largely used in the treatment of nocturnal
extract, 1/2 to 1 drachm
Salix alba (LINN.)
---Habitat---Central and Southern Europe.
---Description---A large tree with a rough greyish bark, the
twigs being brittle at the base; the leaves are pubescent on both
surfaces and finely serrulate; it hybridizes with other species of
Salix, it flowers in April and May and the bark is easily separable
throughout the summer; flowers and leaves appear coincidently from
March to June.
---Constituents---The bark contains up to 13 per cent of tannin
as its chief constituent, also a small quantity of
---Medicinal Action and Uses---Tonic, antiperiodic and
astringent. It has been used in dyspepsia connected with debility
of the digestive organs. In convalescence from acute diseases, in
worms, in chronic diarrhoea and dysentery, its tonic and astringent
combination renders it very useful.
---Dosages---1 drachm of the powdered root. 1 or 2 fluid ounces
of the decoction.
Willow-Herb, Rose Bay
Willow-Herb, Great Hairy
Willow-herbs (Epilobium), nine species of which are natives of
Great Britain, belong to the order Onagraceae, to which belong also
the familiar garden flowers the Fuchsia, Clarkia and Godetia, and
the Evening Primrose (Cenothera biennis) (a native of North
America, which, as a garden escape, is sometimes found apparently
wild). The insignificant wild plant Circaea lutetiana, the
Enchanter's Nightshade, also belongs to the same family. Many of
the members of the order, being rich in tannin, find considerable
domestic use as astringents.
of the genus Epilobium is from two Greek words epi (upon) and lobos
(a pod), from the fact that the flowers stand upon the top of long,
thin, pod-like seed-vessels, having somewhat the appearance of
rather thick flower-stems. The name Willow-herb refers to the
willow-like form of the leaves.
WILLOW-HERB, ROSE BAY
Epilobium angustifolium (LINN.)
Medicinal Action and Uses
---Synonyms---Flowering Willow. French Willow. Persian Willow.
Rose Bay Willow. Blood Vine. Blooming Sally. Purple Rocket. Wickup.
Wicopy. Tame Withy.
angustifolium (Linn.), the Rose Bay Willow-herb, is one of our
handsomest wild flowers, and like the Foxglove, is for its beauty
often cultivated as a garden plant.
erect stems, 4 to 8 feet high, densely clothed with long, narrow,
minutely-toothed leaves, terminate in long, showy spikes of flowers
of a light rose-purple, hence the name Rose Bay, the leaves having
likewise been compared to those of the Bay Laurel. The plant has
also been named Blood Vine, because it has a red appearance. In
Ireland, we find it called 'Blooming Sally,' Sally being a
corruption of the Latin Salix, the Willow, really a reference to
the willow-like leaves.
Gerard calls it:
'A goodly and stately plant having leaves
like the greatest willow or osier, garnished with brave flowers of
great beautie, consisting of four leaves apiece of an orient purple
It is a
native of most countries of Europe. In this country, it has
apparently become more common than it was in Gerard's day. He tells
us he had received some plants of this species from a place in
Yorkshire, apparently as a rarity, 'which doe grow in my garden
very goodly to behold, for the decking up of houses and
It is to
be found by moist riversides and in copses, but will sometimes
spring up in a town, self-sown, on waste ground recently cleared of
buildings: the site of Kingsway and Aldwych in London, adjoining
the Strand, where many buildings, centuries old, had been pulled
down, was the following summer covered by the Rose Bay Willow-herb,
as by a crimson mantle, though no one could explain where the seeds
had come from. The same phenomenon was repeated, in Westminster,
when other old buildings were demolished for improvements and the
ground remained waste for a considerable time. In America, it
springs up on ground recently cleared by firing, being one of the
plants called 'Fireweed' in the United States where it is known as
the Great or Spiked Willow-herb, Bay Willow, Flowering Willow,
Purple Rocket, Wickup and Wicopy.
is in bloom for about a month.
individual flowers are about an inch in diameter, calyx and corolla
each four-parted; the stamens, eight in number, standing up, form
an arch or dome over the ovary, on the green, fleshy, upper surface
of which nectar is secreted. Sprengel, in 1790, showed that the
flowers, which open soon after sunrise, are protenandrous, i.e. the
anthers ripen first, and self-pollination would occur if insects
did not visit them. Bees, who much visit the flowers in search of
nectar, get smeared by the pollen, which is sticky. It is not left
by them on the stigma of the same flower, however, which at this
stage is a mere knob, immature and unable to receive the pollen
grains. On reaching another flower, further advanced, the stigma,
ripe for reception of pollen, has opened out to become a white,
four-rayed cross of great distinctness and perforce receives any
pollen the insect visitor may have collected as he pushes by to get
to the nectar below, and the ovules thus become
flowers, when fertilization has been effected, fall off cleanly
from the long, projecting, quadrangular pods, which later split
into four long strands, which stretch wide apart, disclosing a mass
of silky white hairs, in which are embedded the very tiny seeds, a
few hairs being attached to the top of each seed. The slightest
wind scatters them broadcast over the neighbourhood. All the
Willow-herbs distribute their seeds in the same manner, and as the
plant spreads extensively by creeping stems it is very difficult to
keep it within bounds.
of the Rose Bay Willow herb have been used as a substitute
andadulterant of Tea. Though no longer so employed in England, the
leaves of both this species and of the Great Hairy Willow-herb (E.
hirsutum, Linn.) are largely used in Russia, under the name of
Green (Universal Herbal, 1832)
'The young shoots are said to be eatable,
although an infusion of the plant produces a stupifying
'The pith when dried is boiled, and
becoming sweet, is by a proper process made into ale, and this into
vinegar, by the Kamtschatdales; it is also added to the Cow
Parsnip, to enrich the spirit that is prepared from that
'As fodder, goats are said to be extremely
fond of it and cows and sheep to eat it.
'The down of the seeds, mixed with cotton
or fur, has been manufactured into stockings, etc.'
shoots are boiled and eaten like asparagus.
made from the plant in Kamchatka is rendered still more
intoxicating with a toadstool, the Fly Agaric, Agaricus
and Uses---The roots and leaves have demulcent, tonic and
astringent properties and are used in domestic medicine in
decoction, infusion and cataplasm, as astringents.
in America as an intestinal astringent.
contains mucilage and tannin.
of the herb is 30 to 60 grains. It has been recommended for its
antispasmodic properties in the treatment of whoopingcough,
hiccough and asthma.
ointment, it has been used locally as a remedy for infantile
modern botanists, this species is now assigned to a separate genus
and designated: Chamcenerion angustifolium (Scop.).
WILLOW-HERB, GREAT HAIRY
Epilobium hirsutum (LINN.)
---Synonyms---Son-before-the-Father. Codlings and Cream. Apple
Pie. Cherry Pie. Gooseberry Pie. Sod Apple and Plum
Hairy Willowherb, though it has not so conspicuous a flower as the
Rose Bay, is yet a striking plant, growing in great masses by pond
sides, along the margins of lakes and rivers and in marshes and
It is tall
and erect, branched, with underground creeping shoots, like the
Rose Bay. The leaves are placed opposite one another on the stem,
are 3 to 5 inches long, their bases clasping the stem and like it,
very woolly, hence the specific Latin name hirsutum, and the common
flowers are numerous and large, rose purple, though not so
brilliant as those of theRose Bay, bell-shaped and partly drooping,
the petals broad and notched.
species, stigmas and anthers ripen together and the plant is
capable of selfpollination, but cross-pollination is ensured by
insect visitors by the more prominent position of the stigmas.
Insect visitors are, however, not very numerous, and in their
absence the stigmas curl back and touch the anthers. (In another
smaller species, Epilobium parviflorum (Schreb.) rarely visited by
insects, four stamens are shorter, four longer than the style; the
former are only useful for cross-pollination, the latter
selfpollinate the flower. Stamens and stigma ripen
contained in similar long pods, are provided as in the Rose Bay,
with a tuft of hairs which aid in wind dispersal.
leaves, and particularly the topshoots, when slightly bruised, have
a delicate, cool fragrance, resembling scalded codlings, whence its
popular name of Codlings and Cream, but this fragrance is very soon
lost after the plant is gathered. It is also called, in allusion to
this delicate scent, Apple Pie, Cherry Pie, Gooseberry Pie, Sod
Apple and Plum Pudding. It is said to be the 'St. Anthony's Herb'
English country name of 'Son-before-the-Father' arises because, as
Lyte says: 'the long huskes in which the seede is contained doe
come forth and waxe great before that the flouere
'Hooded Willow-herb' does not refer to one of these species, but is
another name for the Scullcap (Scutellaria), and the 'Purple
Willow-herb' is also not this species, but another name for Lythrum
Salicaria, the Purple Loosestrife, a plant that is often present in
the same riverside situations.
the leaves of E. hirsutum have also been used as astringents there
are reports of violent poisoning with epileptic-like convulsions
having been caused by its employment.
Gaultheria procumbens (LINN.)
Medicinal Action and Uses
---Synonyms---Teaberry. Boxberry. Mountain Tea. Checkerberry.
Thé du Canada. Aromatic Wintergreen. Partridge Berry.
---Habitat---Northern United States from Georgia to
small indigenous shrubby, creeping, evergreen plant, growing about
5 to 6 inches high under trees and shrubs, particularly under
evergreens such as Kalmias and Rhododendrons. It is found in large
patches on sandy and barren plains, also on mountainous tracts. The
stiff branches bear at their summit tufts of leaves which are
petiolate, oval, shiny, coriaceous, the upper side bright green,
paler underneath. The drooping white flowers are produced singly
from the base of the leaves in June and July, followed by fleshy,
bright red berries (with a sweetish taste and peculiar flavour),
formed by the enlargement of the calyx. The leaves were formerly
official in the United States Pharmacopoeia, but now only the oil
obtained from them is official, though in some parts the whole
plant is used. The odour is peculiar and aromatic, and the taste of
the whole plant astringent, the leaves being particularly
---Constituents---The volatile oil obtained by distillation and
to which all the medicinal qualities are due, contains 99 per cent
Methyl Salicylate: other properties are 0.3 of a hydrocarbon,
Gaultherilene, and an aldehyde or ketone, a secondary alcohol and
an ester. To the alcohol and ester are due the characteristic odour
of the oil. The oil does not occur crudely in the plant, but as a
nonodorous glucoside, and before distillation, the leaves have to
be steeped for twelve to twenty-four hours for the oil to develop
by fermentation - a reaction between water and a neutral principle:
and Uses---Tonic, stimulant, astringent, aromatic. Useful as a
diuretic and emmenagogue and for chronic mucous discharges. Is said
to be a good galactogogue. The oil of Gaultheria is its most
important product. It has all the properties of the salicylates and
therefore is most beneficial in acute rheumatism, but must be given
internally in capsules, owing to its pungency, death from
inflammation of the stomach having been known to result from
frequent and large doses of it. It is readily absorbed by the skin,
but is liable to give rise to an eruption, so it is advisable to
use for external application the synthetic oil of Wintergreen,
Methyl Salicylate, or oil from the bark of Betula lenta, which is
almost identical with oil of Gaultheria. In this form, it is a very
valuable external application for rheumatic affections in all
chronic forms of joint and muscular troubles, lumbago, sciatica,
etc. The leaves have found use as a substitute for tea and as a
flavouring for genuine tea. The berries form a winter food for
animals, partridges, deer, etc. They have been used, steeped in
brandy, to produce a bitter tonic taken in small quantities. The
oil is a flavouring agent for tooth powders, liquid dentifrices,
pastes, etc., especially if combined with menthol and
---Dosage---Capsules of oil of
Gaultheris, 10 minims in each, 1, three times
hispidula, or Cancer Wintergreen, supposed to remove the cancerous
taint from the system. Is also used for scrofula and prolapsus of
is the Sallol of North-west America, whose edible fruit deserves to
be more widely known and cultivated.
rotundifolia, known as False Wintergreen or British Wintergreen,
was formerly considered a vulnerary.
Chimophila umbellata, the Bitter Wintergreen, Rheumatism Weed or
Pipsissewa, C. maculata, the Spotted Wintergreen was used
internally by North American Indians for rheumatism and scrofula.
For its diuretic action it is occasionally prescribed, in fluid
extract, for cystitis and considered useful in disordered
Europaea, the Chickweed Wintergreen, a British plant, was formerly
esteemed in ointment as a wound salve, and an infusion taken
internally for blood poisoning or eczema. The root is
Drimys winteri (FORST.)
Medicinal Action and Uses
---Synonyms---True Winter's Bark. Winter's Cinnamon. Wintera
---Habitat---Antarctic America, southern parts of South
America, along the Straits of Magellan and north to Chile,
---Description---This very large evergreen tree took its name
from Captain Winter, who discovered its medicinal properties while
attending Drake in his voyage round the world. It will grow to 50
feet high. The bark is green and wrinkled, that of the branches
smooth and green, erect and scarred, leaves alternate, oblong,
obtuse, with a midrib veinless, glabrous and finely dotted
underside. Flowers small on terminal peduncles, approximately
one-flowered, simple. Fruits up to six obovate, baccate, and many
seeded. The bark is the official part and is found in small carved
pieces 1/4 inch thick, dull yellow grey externally. Both Canella
and Cinnamodendron are found in its transverse section, exhibiting
radiating white lines at the end of the last rays, diverging
towards the circumference; odour aromatic with a warm pungent
inodorous acrid resin, pale yellow volatile oil, tannic acid, oxide
of iron, colouring matter and various salts.
and Uses---Stimulant, aromatic tonic, antiscorbutic, may be
substituted in all cases for canella and cinnamon barks. Dose, 30
grains powdered bark; this bark is becoming very scarce and is
seldom imported into Britain.
Under the name of Winter's Bark Malambo Bark was imported into the
United States (or Croton Malambo) or Matias bark, is the product of
a small shrubby tree, found on the coast of Venezuela and Columbia.
It has an aromatic smell and a pungent bitter taste with a calamus
flavour. Active contents, a volatile oil, and bitter extractive,
found most useful for dyspepsia, hemicrania, intermittent fever,
and as a general aromatic tonic, also a useful adjuvant to
diuretics and a good substitute for Peruvian bark.
Chilensis, growing in Chile, has analogous properties to Winter's
Cinnamodendron axillaris. The bark is used in fevers and called
aromatica. An Australian species.
See (WHITE) CINNAMON.
---Synonyms---Red Canella. Mountain Cinnamon.
---Description---This is pungent like Winter's Bark, but a much
paler brown colour, resembling canella bark, but without its chalky
white inner surface. It has a ferruginous grey-brown colour, darker
externally, with scars of the nearly circular subereous warts
smooth and finely striated on the inner surface. Like canella bark
in odour and pungent taste but is not bitter.
---Constituents---Volatile oil and tannic acid, it may be
distinguished from canella bark by its decoction becoming blackened
by a persalt of iron, can be used for the same diseases as Winter's
Bark. In South America it is much used for diarrhoea,
Hamamelis Virginiana (LINN.)
Medicinal Action and Uses
---Synonyms---Spotted Alder. Winterbloom. Snapping
Used---Bark, dried; leaves, fresh and dried.
---Habitat---The Eastern United States and Canada.
name Hamamelis was adopted from a Greek word to indicate its
resemblance to an apple-tree.
shrub, long known in cultivation, consists of several crooked
branching trunks from one root, 4 to 6 inches in diameter, 10 to 12
feet in height, with a smooth grey bark, leaves 3 to 5 inches long
and about 3 inches wide, on short petioles, alternate, oval or
obovate, acuminate, obliquely subcordate at the base, the margin
crenate, dentate, scabrous, with raised spots underneath, pinnately
veined and having stellate hairs. The leaves drop off in autumn,
then the yellow flowers appear, very late in September and in
October, in clusters from the joints, followed by black nuts,
containing white seeds which are oily and edible. In Britain, the
nut does not bear seeds, but in America, they are produced
abundantly, but often do not ripen till the following summer. The
seeds are ejected violently when ripe, hence the name Snapping
Hazelnut. The leaves are inodorous, with an astringent and
bitterish aromatic taste. The twigs are flexible and rough, colour
externally, yellowish-brown to purple, wood greeny white, pith
small. The bark as found in commerce is usually in quilled pieces
1/16 inch thick, 2 to 8 inches long, with silvery grey, scaly cork;
longitudinally striated; fracture fibrous and laminated; taste and
the leaves (official in the United States Pharmacopoeia), tannic
and gallic acids, an unknown bitter principle and some volatile
contains tannin, partly amorphous and partly crystal, gallic acid,
a physterol, resin, fat and other bitter and odorous
and Uses---The properties of the leaves and bark are similar,
astringent, tonic, sedative, valuable in checking internal and
external haemorrhage, most efficacious in the treatment of piles, a
good pain-killer for the same, useful for bruises and inflammatory
swellings, also for diarrhoea, dysentery and mucous
long been used by the North American Indians as poultices for
painful swellings and tumours.
decoction has been utilized for incipient phthisis, gleet,
ophthalmia, menorrhagia and the debilitated state resultingfrom
A tea made
of the leaves or bark may be taken freely with advantage, being
good for bleeding of the stomach and in complaints of the bowels,
and an injection of this tea is excellent for inwardly bleeding
piles, the relief being marvellous and the cure speedy. An ointment
made of 1 part fluid extract of bark to 9 parts simple ointment is
also used as a local application, the concentration Hamamelin being
also employed, mainly in the form of suppositories.
Hazel has been supposed to owe its utility to an action on the
muscular fibre of veins. The distilled extract from the fresh
leaves and young twigs forms an excellent remedy for internal or
external uses, being beneficial for bleeding from the lungs and
nose, as well as from other internal organs. In the treatment of
varicose veins, it should be applied on a lint bandage, which must
be constantly kept moist: a pad of Witch Hazel applied to a burst
varicose vein will stop the bleeding and often save life by its
Extract of Witch Hazel was much used in our grandmother's days as a
general household remedy for burns, scalds, and inflammatory
conditions of the skin generally and it is still in general
of bites of insects and mosquitoes a pad of cotton-wool, moistened
with the extract and applied to the spot will soon cause the pain
and swelling to subside.
with warm water, the extract is used for inflammation of the
Hamamelidis, 1/2 to 3 drachms (a distillate of the fresh leaves).
Used also with equal parts of glycerine as injection for
extract, 5 to 15 minims (preparation of the dried leaves made with
alcohol) externally for varicose veins. Injection for piles, 2 to 5
1/2 to 2 grains, in pill (powdered extractive from the bark). 1 to
3 grains with cacao butter is useful for piles.
(from the bark), 30 to 60 minims. 1 drachm in 3 OZ. cold water
given as enema for piles. Lotion of 1 or 2 drachms with water to an
ounce useful for bruises.
employed externally for piles.
Ivatis tinctoria (LINN.)
Treatment of the Crop
Medicinal Action and Uses
and French) Pastel.
Woad, French Guède (supposed to be derived from Gaudum, now Gualdo,
the name of a town in the Roman States, where it was extensively
cultivated), was formerly much cultivated in Britain for the dye
extracted from the leaves. It is now nearly superseded by indigo,
but is still cultivated in the south of France and in Flanders, as
its dye is said to improve the quality and colour of indigo, when
mixed in certain proportions. Woad is cultivated to a small extent
in Lincolnshire and Woad mills are still worked at Wisbech, but not
for the dye itself, the produce fixes true indigo, and is also used
to form a base, or mordant, for a black dye.
belongs to a genus spread over Southern Europe and Western Asia,
and from having been much cultivated in many parts of Asia and
Europe, has become established in stony and waste places as far
north as Sweden. It is found in many parts of Great Britain, but
not fully naturalized, except near Tewkesbury, where, according to
Hooker, it appears to be indigenous. At the earliest time in the
history of Britain it must have been plentiful in the country,
since Caesar found the natives stained with it, but afterwards,
probably from its extensive use, it became less common, and we find
our Saxon forefathers importing Woad to dye their home-spun cloth.
Their name for it was Wad or Waad, whence the English name
'Glaston or Guadon, Woad is about three
feet high, with long, bluish-green leaves growing round and out of
the stalk, growing smaller as they reach the top, when they branch
out with small yellow flowers, which in turn produce seed like
little black tongues. The root is white and single. The Wild Woad
is similar except that the stalk is softer, smaller and browner,
and the leaves and tongues narrower. Where Woad is cultivated in
fields, the wild Woad grows. It flowers from June to September.
Caesar in his fifth book of the French wars mentions that the
British stained themselves blue with woad. Pliny in his 22nd book,
Chapter 1, says the French call it Glastum and British women and
girls colouring themselves with it went naked to some of their
'Garden Woad is dry but not sharp, Wild
Woad is drier and sharper and biting. The decoction made of Woad is
good for hardness of the spleen, also good for wounds and ulcers to
those of strong constitution and those accustomed to much physical
labour and coarse fare. It is used as a dye, profitable to some,
hurtful to many.'
'Some people affirm the plant to be
destructive to bees, and fluxes them, which if it be, I cannot help
it. I should rather think, unless bees be contrary to other
creatures, it possesses them with the contrary disease, the herb
being exceeding dry and binding. . . . A plaister made thereof, and
applied to the region of the spleen which lies on the left side,
takes away the hardness and pains thereof. The ointment is
excellently good for such ulcers as abound with moisture, and takes
away the corroding and fretting humours: It cools inflammations,
quenches St. Anthony's fire, and stays defluxion of the blood to
any part of the body.'
says that the seeds, if chewed, turn the saliva blue.
cultivation of Woad was formerly carried on by people who devoted
themselves entirely to it, and as crops of the plant are not
successful for more than two years on the same piece of land, they
never stayed long in one place, but hiring land in various
districts, led a wandering life with their families and gained
their living by their crops. Later, many farmers devoted a portion
of their land to the growth of Woad, alternating the spots year
soil is needed, land in good heart, repeatedly ploughed and
harrowed from autumn till the following August, when the seeds are
sown in drills, being thinned out by hoeing when about a fortnight
old, to a distance of about 6 inches apart. In the spring, careful
hoeing to remove weeds is necessary. The first crop can be gathered
as soon as the leaves are fully grown, while perfectly green. The
leaves are picked off when the plant is coming into flower. If the
land be good and the crop well husbanded, it will produce three or
more gatherings, repeated at intervals of a few weeks, but the
first two gatherings are the best. An acre of land will produce a
ton of Woad, and in good seasons, a ton and a half. If the land in
which the seed is sown should have been in culture before for other
crops, it will require dressing before it is sown - about twenty
loads of stable manure to the acre being laid on and ploughed in
with the last ploughing before the seeds are sown, this being
enough to keep the ground in heart till the final crop of Woad is
---Treatment of the
Crop---The leaves are dried a little in the sun, then ground in a
mill to a pasty mass, which is formed into heaps exposed to the air
but protected from rain, until it ferments. A crust which forms
over it is carefully prevented from breaking, and when fermentation
is complete, usually in about a fortnight, the mass is again mixed
up and formed into cakes. Before being used by the dyer, these
cakes have to be again broken up, moistened and subjected to
further fermentation. Much of the quality of the dye is said to
depend on the way in which this operation is
is brought out by mixing an infusion of the Woad thus prepared with
Woad used to be worth L. (Lear) 20 or more a ton, till its price
declined on the introduction of indigo, to which it is inferior in
richness of colour, but is more permanent.
stated, also, that Woad leaves, covered with boiling water,
weighted down for half an hour and the water poured off, treated
with caustic potash and subsequently with hydrochloric acid, yield
a good indigo dye. If the time of infusion be increased, greens and
browns are obtained.
Ancients prepared the blue dye is not known.
and Uses---The herb is so astringent, that it is not fit to be
given internally as a medicine, and has only been used medicinally
as a plaster, applied to the region of the spleen, and as an
ointment for ulcers, inflammation and to stanch
indigotica is cultivated as a tinctorial plant in the north of
China, where it is called Tein-ching. It is a small, halfshrubby
plant, with a decumbent stem, bearing at its extremity several long
drooping racemes of small yellow flowers, and smooth black
fiddle-shaped pods about 1/2 inch long. The lower leaves are rather
fleshy, on long stalks, oval, lance-shaped, and pointed, with the
edges slightly toothed, the upper ones very much narrower and
smaller. In the north of China, this plant takes the place of the
indigo of the south, and its colouring matter is obtained by a
process closely analogous to that employed in the preparation of
indigo, but instead of being thoroughly inspissated so as to form
solid cakes, it is used by the Chinese dyers in a semi-liquid or
pasty state. It is commonly employed for dyeing cotton cloth, to
which it imparts a dark-blue colour.
Asperula odorata (LINN.)
Medicinal Action and Uses
---Synonyms---(Old English) Wuderove. Wood-rova.
Woodruff, a favourite little plant growing in woods and on shaded
hedgebanks, may be readily recognized by its small white flowers
(in bloom in May and June) set on a tender stalk, with narrow,
bright-green leaves growing beneath them in successive, star-like
whorls, just as in Clivers or Goosegrass, about eight leaves to
every whorl. Unlike the latter, however, its stems are erect and
smooth: they rarely exceed a foot in height, their average being 8
or 9 inches. The plant is perennial, with creeping, slender
lover of woods and shady places, its deep-green foliage develops
best in the half-shade, where the sunlight penetrates with
difficulty. Should the branches over shadowing it be cut away, and
the full lightfall upon it, it loses its colour and rapidly becomes
seed is quite ripe and dry, it is a rough little ball covered
thickly with flexible, hooked bristles, white below, but
black-tipped, and these catch on to the fur and feathers of any
animal or bird that pushes through the undergrowth, and thus the
seed is dispersed.
of the plant appears in the thirteenth century as 'Wuderove,' and
later as 'Wood-rove' - the rove being derived, it is said, from the
French rovelle, a wheel, in allusion to the spoke-like arrangement
of the leaves in whorls. In old French works it appears as
Muge-de-boys, musk of the woods.
Some of the old herbalists spelt the name
Woodruff with an array of double consonants: Woodderowffe. Later
this spelling was written in a rhyme, which children were fond of
W O O D D E,
R O W F F E.
a rule, the plant is not cultivated, but collected from the woods,
but it might be grown under orchard trees and can be propagated,
(1) by seeds, sown as soon as ripe, in prepared beds of good soil,
in the end of July or beginning of August, (2) by division of roots
during the spring and early summer, just after flowering. Plant in
moist, partially shaded ground, 1 foot apart.
Constituents---The agreeable odour of Sweet Woodruff is due to a
crystalline chemical principle called Coumarin, which is used in
perfumery, not only on account of its own fragrance, but for its
property of fixing other odours. It is the odorous principle also
present in melilot, tonka beans, and various other plants belonging
to the orders Leguminosae, Graminae and Orchidaceae. It is employed
in pharmacy to disguise disagreeable odours, especially that of
iodoform, for which purpose 1 part of coumarin is used to 50 parts
of iodoform. The plant further contains citric, malic and
rubichloric acids, together with some tannic acid.
powdered leaves are mixed with fancy snuffs, because of their
enduring fragrance, and also put into potpourri.
and Uses---Woodruff was much used as a medicine in the Middle
leaves, bruised and applied to cuts and wounds, were said to have a
healing effect, and formerly a strong decoction of the fresh herb
was used as a cordial and stomachic. It is also said to be useful
for removing biliary obstructions of the liver.
The plant when newly gathered has but
little odour, but when dried, has a most refreshing scent of
new-mown hay, which is retained for years. Gerard tells
'The flowers are of a very sweet smell as
is the rest of the herb, which, being made up into garlands or
bundles, and hanged up in houses in the heat of summer, doth very
well attemper the air, cool and make fresh the place, to the
delight and comfort of such as are therein. It is reported to be
put into wine, to make a man merry, and to be good for the heart
and liver, it prevaileth in wounds, as Cruciata and other vulnerary
Germany, one of the favourite hockcups is still made by steeping
the fresh sprigs in Rhine wine. This forms a specially delightful
drink, known as Maibowle, and drunk on the first of
herb may be kept among linen, like lavender, to preserve it from
insects. In the Middle Ages it used to be hung and strewed in
churches, and on St. Barnabas Day and on St. Peter's, bunches of
box, Woodruff, lavender and roses found a place there. It was also
used for stuffing beds.
See Sanicle, Wood.
See Sorrel, Wood.
Chenopodium anthelminticum (BERT.)
Constituents of the Oil
Medicinal Action and Uses
---Synonyms---Chenopodium Ambrosioides (Linn.). Mexican Tea.
Jesuit's Tea. Herba Sancti Mariae.
---Habitat---Indigenous to Mexico and South America, Missouri,
New England, and eastern United States.
American Wormseed plant (Chenopodium ambrosioides, Linn.), and
still more a variety of it, C. ambrosioides, var. anthelminticum
(Bert), furnishes the important drug Chenopodium.
indigenous to Mexico and South America, but has become thoroughly
naturalized as far north as Missouri and New England, where it
grows about dwellings and in manured soils. It is now found in
almost all parts of the eastern United States, a coarse, perennial
weed of the roadside and waste places, smoothish, more or less
viscidglandular, the stout, erect, angular and grooved stem growing
to a height of about 2 feet.
leaves are slightly petioled, oblong-lanceolate, toothed, the upper
ones entire and tapering at both ends. The small, very numerous
flowers are yellowish-green in colour and occur in numerous small
clusters, or globular spikes, arranged in the axils of slender,
lateral, leafy branches. The calyx is five-cleft, the lobes ovate,
pointed. Stamens five, ovary covered on the top with small, oblong,
stalked glands; styles, two to three. The fruit is perfectly
enclosed in the calyx, obtusely angled, the seed smooth and
shining, the embryo forming about three-quarters of a ring around
the mealy albumen.
consists of these small, irregular, globular fruits, not larger
than the head of a pin. They are very light and of a greenishyellow
or brown colour. On rubbing the fruit, the membraneous pericarp is
removed and the single, small, brownish-black seed is
of the fruit is strong, resembling somewhat that of eucalyptus; the
taste, pungent and bitter.
of C. ambrosioides, var. anthelminticum is even more
varieties of the plant flower from July to September and the fruits
ripen successively through the autumn and are collected in
herb has a strong, peculiar, somewhat aromatic odour, which is due
to the presence of a volatile oil and is retained on drying. The
leaves have been used in place of tea in Mexico.
American aborigines used the whole herb in decoction in painful
menstruation, but its principal use has been - both leaves and
seeds - as a vermifuge, and it is to-day considered one of the best
expellents of lumbricoids.
parts of the plant possess anthelmintic properties, the fruits and
the oil extracted from them are alone employed, being official in
the United States Pharmacopoeia. It was long customary for the
seeds to be administered in the form of a powder, or an electuary,
but although the activity of the seed is unquestioned, it has now
been entirely displaced in America by the volatile oil obtained by
distillation from the crushed fruits, to which the medicinal
importance of the fruit is due.
was first isolated in 1895 by a German pharmacist who lived in
Brazil, where the seeds had long been used as a
this oil is distilled in Maryland, and since Baltimore is the
commercial centre of that state, this oil is commonly known as
Baltimore oil, in distinction from Western Missouri oil, which has
at times played a role in the market. The plant is now cultivated
in large quantities near Baltimore.
the Oil---American Worm seed oil, known as Chenopodium oil, is
colourless or yellowish, when freshly distilled, becoming deeper
yellow and even brownish by use. It has a peculiar, penetrating,
somewhat camphoraceous odour (the peculiar odour of the plant), and
a pungent, bitter taste.
of oil from the crushed fruits is 0.6 to 1.0 per cent.
constituent is Ascaridole, to the high percentage of 60 to 70 per
cent, an unstable substance, allied to cineal, readily decomposed
on heating, with the production of a hydrocarbon. It also contains
p-cymene, a-perpinene, probably dihydro-p-cymene and possibly
sylvestrene. Betzine and choline have also been
to the researches of De Langen, Flue and Welhuizen, of the
Dutch-Indian Medical Service, in 1919, the oil contains Glycol and
Safrol, and these authors ascribe the powerful effect of the oil to
the combination of Ascaridole and Safrol.
The characters of the oil
Specific gravity, 0.950 to
Optical rotation, - 5 degrees to 10
Refraction index, 1.4723 to
Saponification number, 246 to
Soluble in three volumes of 70 per cent
Adulteration with American turpentine oil causes lowering of
the specific gravity and insolubility in alcohol.
plant yields the alkaloid Chenopodine, a white tasteless and
odourless crystalline powder, soluble in 11 parts of cold water, 3
of boiling water and 20 per cent of alcohol.
and Uses---Chenopodium, being a very active anthelmintic, is
frequently used for the expulsion of lumbricoid (round) worms,
especially in children. Because of its efficacy, ease of
administration and low toxicity, it is perhaps the most valuable of
all the vermifuge remedies.
bruised fruit may be given in doses of 20 grains, in the form of an
extract is prepared, of which the dose is 1/2 to 1
expressed juice of the fresh plant is also employed, in
tablespoonful doses. A decoction made by boiling 1 OZ. of the fresh
plant with 1 pint of milk or water has sometimes been given in
doses of a wineglassful.
volatile oil is now much used, the dose of which, for a child, is
from 5 to 10 mimims.
should be given in one full dose, fasting, and then be followed, in
about two hours, by an active purgative, such as castor oil. When
the purge has acted, the patient can take food. The treatment
should be repeated ten days later. In view of the uncertain
ascaridole contents of some samples, small doses should be given at
symptoms are transient dizziness and vomiting.
has been recommended in the treatment of malaria, chorea, hysteria
and other nervous diseases.
has been employed, under the name of Herba Sancti Mariae, in
pectoral complaints, as an expectorant, in catarrh and
oil of Chenopodium has been official in the United States
Pharmacopoeia for many years, it does not appear to have received
official recognition elsewhere. It owes its modern popularity to
the investigations of Brüning, who repeatedly drew attention to it
(see Zeitschrift für exot. Path., 1906).
two Dutch physicians, both working in Delhi (Dutch East Indies),
stated that this essential oil is the most effective remedy against
ankylostomiasis, the Hookworm disease. Originally, this disease was
exclusively a tropical and subtropical one, but about thirty years
ago, it appeared in mineworkers in Europe north of the
Hookworm, which causes the disease, is called Ankylostos duodenale,
the male of which attains a length of 10 mm., the female 14 mm. The
living hookworm is fleshcoloured, the dead one has a grey or white
colour. At the foot of the hook-formed teeth, glands, each
consisting of a single cell, pour their contents into the wounds
which the worm makes in the mucous membrane of the intestinal canal
and into the blood-vessels by means of the teeth. It is supposed
that the phenomena of the disease must be attributed to the
mechanical changes brought about by the hookworm, as well as to a
poisonous substance secreted by the worm. The worm deposits its
eggs in the intestinal canal of its host. Together with the faeces,
these eggs leave the body of the host. At a temperature of 25
degrees to 30 degrees C., the larva develops, and after two changes
of skin, enters into the body of the new host by means of
vegetables, drinking-water, or through the skin.
medicaments have been tried against the hookworm; thymol had
appeared to be the only remedy that had been used with some
success, but it is much surpassed by Chenopodium oil, which gives
better results than eucalyptus, betanaphthol, or
The use of
this oil commenced when thymol was not available during the early
days of the Great War. It proved to be satisfactory in every way
and is the drug commonly used in Ceylon since 1917. Statistics
indicate that in three treatments, about 95 per cent of the worms
are removed from the body. It has also been used in Fiji and has
proved an anthelmintic of great potency. It is said there that over
80 per cent. of the worms are expelled after a single
maximum individual dose would appear to be 1 c.c., but it is best
given in three cacheta of 0.5 c.c. each, at two-hourly intervals,
followed three hours later by a saline purge of 1 OZ. of magnesium
observances of the two Dutch physicians Schuffner and Vervoort have
been confirmed by other medical men, and at present, Chenopodium
oil has become the specific remedy against the Hookworrn
however, a dangerous remedy in the hands of the layman on account
of its activity, for unfortunately, the oil as it appears in
commerce contains markedly varying quantities of the active
principle Ascaridole, and the amount lessens with keeping, making
it desirable that dealers should always mention the Ascaridole
percentage of the oil they are selling and the date of
distillation. The freshly-distilled oil in cases of overdoses has
been known to cause symptoms of poisoning. Ascaridole, extracted
and administered in place of the whole oil, is effective, and the
use of it eliminates uncertainty of the strength of a dose of the
oil, but it is relatively costly.
tetrachloride, recently introduced as a remedy for Hookworm, has
proved most efficient. It is the cheapest of all advocated
treatments, but the dose of 3 mils., at present given, sometimes
proves dangerous and would appear to require reduction. A
combination of this drug with Ascaridole is being now
Chenopodium oil has also been shown to be of great service
against the tapeworm and is employed in veterinary practice in a
worm mixture for dogs, combined with oil of turpentine, oil of
aniseed, castor oil and olive oil.
oil has proved so important, steps have been taken to cultivate the
plant in the Dutch East Indies, and these endeavours have met with
great success, and manufacture of the oil in Netherlands India is
now being extensively carried on.
glaucum (Linn.), the Oak-leaved Goosefoot of the United States, a
medicinal tincture is made, which is used for expelling
round-worms. There exists some doubt as to whether the properties
of the tincture are not also due in part to the aphis that infests
species is also a native of Great Britain.
European and Asiatic C. Botrys, Jerusalem Oak, or Feather Geranium,
is considered an expectorant in France.
Artemisia cina (BERG.)
Medicinal Action and Uses
---Synonyms---Sea Wormwood. Santonica. Semen Sanctum. Semen
Cinae. Semen Contra. Semen Santonici. Artemesia Lercheana.
Artemisia maritima, var. Stechmanniana. Artemisia maritima, var.
pauciflora. Artemesia Chamaemelifolia.
Wormseed, largely imported into Britain, is derived from a variety
of the Sea Wormwood. Several species of Wormwood are mentioned by
Dioscorides as being effective as a vermifuge, one of which was
reported as growing in the country of the Santones in Gaul. Its
ancient reputation has been maintained in modern times, for the
universally employed vermifuge Santonin (the very name derived from
classic days) is produced from Santonica - popularly called
Wormseed - which consists of the minute, dried, unexpanded
flower-heads of a Russian variety of the Sea Wormwood (Artemisia
maritima, var. Stechmanniana, Bess.). This variety, which some
botanists consider to be a distinct species, under the name of A.
Cina (Berg.), or A. chamaemelifolia (Vill.), grows in profusion in
Siberia, Turkestan and Chinese Mongolia. The greater part of the
Wormseed is used in Turkestan, where it grows in enormous
quantities in the desert of the Kirghiz, especially near the town
of Chimkent, where a factory has been erected in which large
quantities of Santonin are produced from the Wormseed collected in
the vicinity, not more than 10 per cent of the drug being now
exported in the crude state, in which condition it is known in this
country as Levant Wormseed. The plant is low and shrubby, throwing
up a number of erect stems on which the little greenish-yellow,
oblong flower-heads are borne. Each head is about 1/8 inch long and
1/16 inch in diameter, and contains three to five minute, tubular
flowers. In July and August, before the flowers expand, they are
stripped from the stems and dried, being brought into Chimkent by
the Kirghiz and other tribes.
has long been used as an anthelmintic. Tragus, in 1531, in
Brunfels' Herbal, mentions Wormseed as being imported by way of
Genoa; it was employed in Italy under the name of Semenzina
(diminutive of Semenza, seed), in the belief that it consisted of
small seeds. From this word is derived the name of Semen cinae, by
which the drug is often known: Semen contra (another of its names)
is an abbreviation of Semen contra vermes. The drug at first sight
appears to consist of a number of small brownish, ridged seeds, and
it is not till they are closely examined that their true nature
exhales when crushed an agreeable aromatic odour, and possesses a
bitter, aromatic camphoraceous taste. As imported, it frequently
contains considerable fragments of the leaves and slender
---Constituents---The chief constituent of Wormseed is a
crystalline principle, Santonin, to which the anthelmintic property
of the drug is due. Santonin attains its maximum 2.3 to 3.6 per
cent in July and August; after the flowerheads have expanded, it
rapidly diminishes in quantity. It is extracted from the
flower-heads by treating them with Milk of Lime, the Santonin being
converted into soluble calcium santonate. It occurs in colourless,
shining, flat prisms, without odour and almost tasteless at first,
but afterwards developing a bitter taste. It is sparingly soluble
in water, but soluble in alcohol and ether.
also contains a crystalline substance, Artemisin, and a yellow
volatile oil consisting of Cineol, to which its odour is
and Uses---Wormseed is one of the oldest and most common
anthelmintics, especially for children. In domestic practice the
seeds are used powdered, combined with honey or treacle, the dose
of the seeds taken thus in substance being 10 to 30 grains. The
seeds have also been employed in infusion or decoction, but in
these forms their bitterness is a strong objection. As a general
rule, however, the crude drug Wormseed is seldom administered, its
active constituent Santonin being employed. It acts as a direct
poison to parasites, and is used as a remedy for round-worms, which
it rapidly expels; it has also an effect on thread-worms to a
lesser degree, but has no action on tapeworms. It is usually
administered as a powder or in lozenges, not in solution, and is
often given with calomel, or compound powder of
---Preparations---Santonin, 2 to 5 grains. Santonin lozenges,
cases are on record of fatal poisoning by Santonin, and Santonin
rendered yellow by exposure to direct sunlight is sometimes
preferred, it being stated to be less poisonous. It is known as
yellow Santonin, or Photosantonin.
doses of Santonin will produce remarkable effects on the vision,
appreciation of colour being so disturbed that objects appear to
have a yellowish tinge, which is sometimes preceded by a faint
colour. Santonin may also cause headache, nausea and vomiting, and
in large doses, epileptiform convulsions.
Wormwoods are members of the great family of Compositae and belong
to the genus Artemisia, a group consisting of 180 species, of which
we have four growing wild in England, the Common Wormwood, Mugwort,
Sea Wormwood and Field Wormwood. In addition, as garden plants,
though not native, Tarragon (A. dracunculus) claims a place in
every herb-garden, and Southernwood (A. abrotanum), an
old-fashioned favourite, is found in many borders, whilst others,
such as A. sericea, A. cana and A. alpina, form pretty rockwork
family is remarkable for the extreme bitterness of all parts of the
plant: 'as bitter as Wormwood' is a very Ancient
In some of
the Western states of North America there are large tracts almost
entirely destitute of other vegetation than certain kinds of
Artemisia, which cover vast plains. The plants are of no use as
forage: and the few wild animals that feed on them are said to
have, when eaten, a bitter taste. The Artemisias also abound in the
arid soil of the Tartarean steppes and in other similar
The genus is named Artemisia from Artemis,
the Greek name for Diana. In an early translation of the Herbarium
of Apuleius we find:
'Of these worts that we name Artemisia, it
is said that Diana did find them and delivered their powers and
leechdom to Chiron the Centaur, who first from these Worts set
forth a leechdom, and he named these worts from the name of Diana,
Artemis, that is Artemisias.'
Artemisia Absinthium (LINN.)
Medicinal Action and Uses
---Habitat---Europe, Siberia, and United States of
The Common Wormwood held a high reputation
in medicine among the Ancients. Tusser (1577), in July's Husbandry,
'While Wormwood hath seed get a handful or
To save against March, to make flea to
Where chamber is sweeped and Wormwood is
What saver is better (if physick be
For places infected than Wormwood and
It is a comfort for hart and the
And therefore to have it it is not in
being strewn in chambers as Tusser recommended, it used to be laid
amongstuffs and furs to keep away moths and insects.
to the Ancients, Wormwood counteracted the effects of poisoning by
hemlock, toadstools and the biting of the seadragon. The plant was
of some importance among the Mexicans, who celebrated their great
festival of the Goddess of Salt by a ceremonial dance of women, who
wore on their heads garlands of Wormwood.
exception of Rue, Wormwood is the bitterest herb known, but it is
very wholesome and used to be in much request by brewers for use
instead of hops. The leaves resist putrefaction, and have been on
that account a principal ingredient in antiseptic
An Old Love Charm
'On St. Luke's Day, take marigold flowers,
a sprig of marjoram, thyme, and a little Wormwood; dry them before
a fire, rub them to powder; then sift it through a fine piece of
lawn, and simmer it over a slow fire, adding a small quantity of
virgin honey, and vinegar. Anoint yourself with this when you go to
bed, saying the following lines three times, and you will dream of
your partner "that is to be":
"St. Luke, St. Luke, be kind to
In dreams let me my true-love see."
writing of the three Wormwoods most in use, the Common Wormwood,
Sea Wormwood and Roman Wormwood, tells us: 'Each kind has its
particular virtues' . . . the Common Wormwood is 'the strongest,'
the Sea Wormwood, 'the second in bitterness,' whereas the Roman
Wormwood, 'to be found in botanic gardens' - the first two being
wild - 'joins a great deal of aromatic flavour with but little
Wormwood grows on roadsides and waste places, and is found over the
greater part of Europe and Siberia, having been formerly much
cultivated for its qualities. In Britain, it appears to be truly
indigenous near the sea and locally in many other parts of England
and Scotland, from Forfar southwards. In Ireland it is a doubtful
native. It has become naturalized in the United
---Description---The root is perennial, and from it arise
branched, firm, leafy stems, sometimes almost woody at the base.
The flowering stem is 2 to 2 1/2 feet high and whitish, being
closely covered with fine silky hairs. The leaves, which are also
whitish on both sides from the same reason, are about 3 inches long
by 1 1/2 broad, cut into deeply and repeatedly (about three times
pinnatifid), the segments being narrow (linear) and blunt. The
leaf-stalks are slightly winged at the margin. The small, nearly
globular flowerheads are arranged in an erect, leafy panicle, the
leaves on the flower-stalks being reduced to three, or even one
linear segment, and the little flowers themselves being pendulous
and of a greenish-yellow tint. They bloom from July to October. The
ripe fruits are not crowned by a tuft of hairs, or pappus, as in
the majority of the Compositae family.
and flowers are very bitter, with a characteristic odour,
resembling that of thujone. The root has a warm and aromatic
---Cultivation---Wormwood likes a shady situation, and is
easily propagated by division of roots in the autumn, by cuttings,
or by seeds sown in the autumn soon after they are ripe. No further
care is needed than to keep free from weeds. Plant about 2 feet
apart each way.
Used---The whole herb - leaves and tops - gathered in July and
August, when the plant is in flower and dried.
only on a dry day, after the sun has dried off the dew. Cut off the
upper green portion and reject the lower parts of the stems,
together with any discoloured or insect-eaten leaves. Tie loosely
in bunches of uniform size and length, about six stalks to a bunch,
and spread out in shape of a fan, so that the air can get to all
parts. Hang over strings, in the open, on a fine, sunny, warm day,
but in half-shade, otherwise the leaves will become tindery; the
drying must not be done in full sunlight, or the aromatic
properties will be partly lost. Aromatic herbs should be dried at a
temperature of about 70 degrees. If no sun is available, the
bunches may be hung over strings in a covered shed, or disused
greenhouse, or in a sunny warm attic, provided there is ample
ventilation, so that the moist heated air may escape. The room may
also be heated with a coke or anthracite stove, care being taken
that the window is kept open during the day. If after some days the
leaves are crisp and the stalks still damp, hang the bunches over a
stove, when the stalks will quickly finish drying. Uniformity in
size in the bunches is important, as it facilitates packing. When
the drying process is completed, pack away at once in airtight
boxes, as otherwise the herbs will absorb about 12 per cent
moisture from the air. If sold to the wholesale druggists in
powdered form, rub through a sieve as soon as thoroughly dry,
before the bunches have had time to absorb any moisture, and pack
in tins or bottles at once.
---Constituents---The chief constituent is a volatile oil, of
which the herb yields in distillation from 0.5 to 1.0 per cent. It
is usually dark green, or sometimes blue in colour, and has a
strong odour and bitter, acrid taste. The oil contains thujone
(absinthol or tenacetone), thujyl alcohol (both free and combined
with acetic, isovalerianic, succine and malic acids), cadinene,
phellandrene and pinene. The herb also contains the bitter
glucoside absinthin, absinthic acid, together with tannin, resin,
starch, nitrate of potash and other salts.
Action and Uses---Tonic, stomachic, febrifuge,
tonic, particularly helpful against the falling sickness and for
flatulence. It is a good remedy for enfeebled digestion and
---Preparations---Fluid extract, 1/2 to 1 drachm. Wormwood Tea,
made from 1 OZ. of the herb, infused for 10 to 12 minutes in 1 pint
of boiling water, and taken in wineglassful doses, will relieve
melancholia and help to dispel the yellow hue of jaundice from the
skin, as well as being a good stomachic, and with the addition of
fixed alkaline salt, produced from the burnt plant, is a powerful
diuretic in some dropsical cases. The ashes yield a purer alkaline
salt than most other vegetables, except Beanstalks and
of the larger leaves which grow from the root before the stalk
appears has been used as a remedy for jaundice and dropsy, but it
is intensely nauseous. A light infusion of the tops of the plant,
used fresh, is excellent for all disorders of the stomach, creating
an appetite, promoting digestion and preventing sickness after
meals, but it is said to produce the contrary effect if made too
flowers, dried and powdered, are most effectual as a vermifuge, and
used to be considered excellent in agues. The essential oil of the
herb is used as a worm-expeller, the spirituous extract being
preferable to that distilled in water. The leaves give out nearly
the whole of their smell and taste both to spirit and water, but
the cold water infusions are the least offensive.
intensely bitter, tonic and stimulant qualities have caused
Wormwood not only to be an ingredient in medicinal preparations,
but also to be used in various liqueurs, of which absinthe is the
chief, the basis of absinthe being absinthol, extracted from
Wormwood. Wormwood, as employed in making this liqueur, bears also
the name 'Wermuth' - preserver of the mind - from its medicinal
virtues as a nervine and mental restorative. If not taken
habitually, it soothes spinal irritability and gives tone to
persons of a highly nervous temperament. Suitable allowances of the
diluted liqueur will promote salutary perspiration and may be given
as a vermifuge. Inferior absinthe is generally adulterated with
copper, which produces the characteristic green
absinthium, is rarely employed, but it might be of value in nervous
diseases such as neurasthenia, as it stimulates the cerebral
hemispheres, and is a direct stimulant of the cortex cerebri. When
taken to excess it produces giddiness and attacks of epileptiform
convulsions. Absinthium occurs in the British Pharmacopoeia in the
form of extract, infusion and tincture, and is directed to be
extracted also from A. maritima, the Sea Wormwood, which possesses
the same virtues in a less degree, and is often more used as a
stomachic than the Common Wormwood. Commercially this often goes
under the name of Roman Wormwood, though that name really belongs
to A. Pontica. All three species were used, as in Culpepper's
Dr. John Hill (1772) recommends Common
Wormwood in many forms. He says:
'The Leaves have been commonly used, but
the flowery tops are the right part. These, made into a light
infusion, strengthen digestion, correct acidities, and supply the
place of gall, where, as in many constitutions, that is deficient.
One ounce of the Flowers and Buds should be put into an earthen
vessel, and a pint and a half of boiling water poured on them, and
thus to stand all night. In the morning the clear liquor with two
spoonfuls of wine should be taken at three draughts, an hour and a
half distance from one another. Whoever will do this regularly for
a week, will have no sickness after meals, will feel none of that
fulness so frequent from indigestion, and wind will be no more
troublesome; if afterwards, he will take but a fourth part of this
each day, the benefit will be lasting.'
tells us that if an ounce of these flowers be put into a pint of
brandy and let to stand six weeks, the resultant tincture will in a
great measure prevent the increase of gravel - and give great
relief in gout. 'The celebrated Baron Haller has found vast benefit
by this; and myself have very happily followed his
Wormwood (Artemesia Pontica) is not indigenous to this country,
being a native of Southern Europe. It grows about the same height
as the Common Wormwood, but has smaller and more finely cut leaves,
the segments being narrower, the upper leaves more resembling those
of Southernwood; the leaves are white with fine hairs on both upper
and under surfaces. The flowers, which blossom in July, are
numerous, at the tops of the branches, and are darker and much
smaller than those of Common Wormwood.
the most delicate though the least strong of the Wormwoods; the
aromatic flavour with which its bitterness is mixed causes it to be
employed in making the liqueur Vermuth.
Medicinally, the fresh tops are used, and also the whole herb,
dried. Much of the A. Pontica in commerce is A.
considered the Roman Wormwood 'excellent to strengthen the
stomach.' Also that 'the juice of the fresh tops is good against
obstructions of the liver and spleen. . . . An infusion of the
flowering tops strengthens digestion. A tincture is good against
gravel and gives great relief in the gout.'
Hill says of this plant that it is the 'most delicate, but of least
strength. The Wormwood wine, so famous with the Germans, is made
with Roman Wormwood, put into the juice and work'd with it; it is a
strong and an excellent wine, not unpleasant, yet of such efficacy
to give an appetite that the Germans drink a glass with every other
mouthful, and that way eat for hours together, without sickness or
Medicinal Action and Uses
Used---Young flowering tops and shoots.
---Habitat---In Britain it is found as far-as Wigton on the
West and Aberdeen on the East; also in north-east Ireland and in
the Channel Islands.
Wormwood, in its many variations of form, has an extremely wide
distribution in the northern hemisphere of the Old World, occurring
mostly in saltish soils. It is found in the salt marshes of the
British Isles, on the coasts of the Baltic, of France and the
Mediterranean, and on saline soils in Hungary; thence it extends
eastwards, covering immense tracts in Southern Russia, the region
of the Caspian and Central Siberia to Chinese
---Description---It somewhat resembles Artemesia Absinthium,
but is smaller. Thestems rise about a foot or 18 inches in height.
The leaves are twice pinnatifid, with narrow, linear segments, and,
like the whole plant, are covered on both sides with a white
cottony down. The small, oblong flower-heads - each containing
three to six tubular florets - are of a yellowish or brownish tint;
they are produced in August and September, and are arranged in
racemes, sometimes drooping, sometimes erect.
this species is called 'Old Woman,' in distinction to 'Old Man' or
Southernwood, which it somewhat resembles, though it is more
delicate-looking and lacks the peculiar refreshing scent of 'Old
Dr. Hill says of this
'This is a very noble bitter: its peculiar
province is to give an appetite, as that of the Common Wormwood is
to assist digestion; the flowery tops and the young shoots possess
the virtue: the older Leaves and the Stalk should be thrown away as
useless. . . . The apothecaries put three times as much sugar as of
the ingredient in their Conserves; but the virtue is lost in the
sweetness, those will not keep so well that have less sugar, but
'tis easy to make them fresh as they are wanted.'
abounds in salt marshes in which cattle have been observed to
fatten quickly, and thus the herb has acquired the reputation of
being beneficial to them, but they do not eat it generally, and the
richness of maritime pasturage must be regarded as the true reason
of their improvement under such circumstances.
Used---The flowering tops and young shoots are used, collected and
dried in the same manner as Wormwood.
Action and Uses---The plant possesses the same properties as the
otherWormwoods, but is less powerful. It is a bitter tonic and
it is not now employed in regular medical practice, it is often
made use of by country people for intermittent fever, and for
various other medicinal purposes instead of the true
Thornton, in his Family Herbal, tells us
'beat up with thrice its weight of fine
sugar, it is made up into a conserve ordered by the London College,
and may be taken where the other preparations disgust too
It acts as a tonic and is good in worm
cases, and Culpepper gives the following uses for it:
'Boiling water poured upon it produces an
excellent stomachic infusion, but the best way is taking it in a
tincture made with brandy. Hysteric complaints have been completely
cured by the constant use of this tincture. In the scurvy and in
the hypochondriacal disorders of studious, sedentary men, few
things have a greater effect: for these it is best in strong
infusion. The whole blood and all the juices of the body are
effected by taking this herb. It is often used in medicine instead
of the Roman Wormwood, though it falls far short of it in
Stachys sylvatica (LINN.)
Stachys, or Hedge Woundwort, the most frequent of the Stachys, is a
coarse, hairy, malodorous plant, common in woods and hedges. It has
thick, creeping roots that throw up tall stems, 2 or 3 feet high.
Like the rest of the genus and labiate plants in general, these are
quadrangular, but instead of being hollow (like the Deadnettles)
they are filled with pith and solid; they are very hairy and often
more or less red in colour.
branches a good deal, though the upright character of the plant is
preserved, the branches being very similar in character to the main
stem and issuing from it in pairs, opposite to each other, at the
same spot from which the leaf-stalks arise, the leaves being thrown
off from the stem in pairs, each at right angles to the pair above
and below it. The blades of the leaves are heart-shaped, similar in
form to those of the nettle, with bold, saw-like teeth to the
margins, and are on rather long footstalks.
flowers grow in rings or whorls upon the stem, as in the other
species of Stachys, each ring having narrow, leafy bracts beneath
it, and being separated from the other by an intervening space of
stem, the whole forming a long, terminal spike. There are rarely
more than six flowers in each whorl. The lower lip of each flower
is entire, beautifully variegated with white upon the dull
crimson-purple ground and with its sides folded back. The upper lip
is also entire and very convex, slightly viscid to the touch. The
four stamens are beneath the protecting hood formed by the upper
part of the flower, two of them longer than the others, their
anthers first dull violet, then becoming black and containing pure
white pollen. When in seed, the calyx teeth become rigid, and as
the calyx tube dries and contracts, the four little nutlets
enclosed are shot out. The corolla tube is often half filled with
honey, and the mouth of the tube is provided with stiff white hairs
to keep insect visitors to the centre of the channel, this flower
laying itself out to be fertilized by hive bees, humble bees and
long-tongued flies, who settle on the lower lip, and as they creep
up the channel of the petal tube, get dusted with the pollen from
the stamens in the hooded petal.
authority tells us that this herb 'stamped with vinegar and applied
in manner of a pultis, taketh away wens and hard swellings, and
inflammation of the kernels under the eares and jawes,' and also
that the distilled water of the flowers 'is used to make the heart
merry, to make a good colour in the face, and to make the vitall
spirits more fresh and lively.'
It is said
that a yellow dye can be obtained from the plant, and it has been
suggested that the very tough fibres of its stem might be utilized
commercially; it has also been classed among the Woundworts good
for stanching blood. Referring to its pungent foetid smell when
rubbed, Green, in his Universal Herbal (1832), considers that
'being one of those that powerfully affect the nerves, it might
prove no contemptible stimulant if judiciously used.' He informs us
also that toads are thought to be fond of living under its shade,
and that though sheep and goats eat it, cows and hogs refuse
Stachys palustris (LINN.)
---Synonyms---All-Heal. Panay. Opopanewort. Clown's Woundwort.
Rusticum Vulna Herba. Downy Woundwort. ---Part
Woundwort is common in marshy meadows and by the sides of rivers
and ditches in most parts of Great Britain.
---Description---From its root-stock, which is perennial, with
numerous, white, fleshy, subterranean stolons, which creep in all
directions, it throws up stout stems, 2 or 3 feet high,
quadrangular, having many pairs of rather elongated, oblong leaves,
tapering to a point and usually clasping the stem at the base. The
light purple labiate flowers are arranged in a long spike
terminating the stem, usually with only six flowers in each whorl.
The long-stalked leaves that spring directly from the root, as in
the Wood Betony, have mostly faded off by the time the flowers
appear in late summer. The whole plant is very hairy.
This plant had formerly a great reputation
as a vulnerary, being strongly recommended by Gerard in his Herbal.
He tells us that once being in Kent, visiting a patient, he
accidentally heard of a countryman who had cut himself severely
with a scythe, and had bound a quantity of this herb, bruised with
grease and 'laid upon in manner of a poultice' over the wound,
which healed in a week, though it would 'have required forty daies
with balsam itself.' Gerard continues:
'I saw the wound and offered to heal the
same for charietie, which he refused, saying I could not heal it so
well as himself - a clownish answer, I confesse, without any thanks
for my good-will: whereupon I have named it "Clown's Woundwort."
gives the same origin of the name.
himself, according to his own account, afterwards 'cured many
grievous wounds, and some mortale with the same herbe.' The plant
was regarded as a valuable remedy in such cases long before
Gerard's time, having long borne the names, among country people,
All-heal and Woundwort. The Welsh have an ancient name for it
bearing the same signification.
edible roots. These are tuberous and attain a considerable size;
when boiled they form a wholesome and nutritious food, rather
agreeable in flavour. The young shoots may likewise be eaten cooked
like Asparagus, but though pleasant in taste they have a
herbal medicine this plant (which is collected in July, when just
coming into flower and dried in the same manner as Wood Betony) is
employed for its antiseptic and antispasmodic properties. It
relieves gout, cramp and pains in the joints and vertigo. The
bruised leaves, which have an unpleasant odour and an astringent
taste, when applied to a wound will stop bleeding and heal the
wound, as is claimed for them by old tradition, and the fresh juice
is made into a syrup and taken internally to stop haemorrhages,
See BETONY, WOOD.