Herbal Encyclopedia - R
Herbs & Oils
~ R ~
The Rose has aromatic, cosmetic, medicinal, culinary, and craft uses. Fresh petals and rosewater flavor sweet and savory dishes and are crystallized for decoration. Rosewater revives tired skin and eyes. Dog Rose (Rosa canina) is the major source of hips for jam, syrup, tea and wine. Associated with pure love and femininity, it is valued by aromatherapists for it's rejuvenating qualities.
Rose petal syrup can be make by adding twice the petals' weight of sugar and infusing in hot water. Alternatively, the fresh petals can be ground with a little boiling water and strained, andt he liquid combined with honey. The resulting liquid is a natural laxative and a tonic for the stomach. The rose hips should be gathered after the first frost. They will be read and ready for drying or making into jam. The jam or jelly is used or coughs. The dried hips are opened, the seeds and hairs removed, and the skins used for an excellent sore throat tea; use two teaspoons per cup of water and simmer for ten minutes. An infusion of the petals, one ounce to one pint of water, makes a soothing eye lotion; strain it first through cheesecloth.
Parts Used:Flowers and hips
The Rose is a Goddess herb belonging to Venus and the Water element. Rose is the accepted love scent. Rose buds are added to bath water to conjure a lover. Place some in a red cloth bag and pin it under your clothes. Rose hips worn as beads attract love. True rose essential oil (known as Otto) and rose absolute are expensive but worth it, one drop has powerful properties. DO NOT use synthetics. Rose oil is used in formulas designed to attract love, confer peace, stimulate sexual appetites, and enhance beauty.
A tea of rosebuds drunk before sleep induces prophetic dreams. Rose petal and hips are used in healing spells and mixtures. Rose petals sprinkled around the house calm personal stress and household upheavals. Roses planted in the garden attract fairies and are said to grow best when stolen.
Burn as incense for : Healing; Health; Love; Luck; Creativity; Balance; Anointing; Divination; Clairvoyance; Protection; Psychic Awareness.
Thread Veins; Dry, Mature and Sensitive Skin; Wrinkles; Eczema; Herpes; Palpitations; Poor Circulation; Asthma; Coughs; Hay Fever; Cholecystities; Liver Congestion; Nausea; Irregular Menstruation; Leukorrhea; Menorrhagia; Uterine Disorders; Depression; Impotence; Insomnia; Frigidity; Headache; Nervous Tension; Stress Related Conditions. Key Qualities: Aphrodisiac; Soothing; Comforting; Antidepressant; Sedative; Uplifting; Appeasing; Regulating; Heart Tonic.
Rosemary leaves are an ancient savory herb, especially popular in Italian dishes, and with shellfish, pork and lamb. The antiseptic, antioxidant leaves help preserve food, aid digestion of fat, and are included in several slimming compounds. The flowers can be used fresh as a garnish or crystallized as decoration. Distilled flower water makes a soothing eyewash.
The leaf and flowers are stimulating to the liver and the digestion. For this reason, rosemary is a classic herb for migraine headache when associated with liver or stomach torpidity. Rosemary increases the circulation and slightly raises blood pressure. To make the tea, steep two teaspoon of the dried flowering tops in one cup of water for twenty minutes. Take one-fourth cup four times a day. Use rosemary in salves for eczema, wounds, and sores. The tea makes a mouthwash for bad breath. The oil benefits stomach and nerves. Steep the herb in white wine for a week and strain. Rub the rosemary wine into gouty or paralyzed limbs. Taken internally, the wine quiets the heart and stimulates the kidneys, brain, and nervous system. Rosemary tea relieves depression. Rosemary and coltsfoot are smoked as an herbal tobacco to relieve asthma and lung conditions.
CAUTION: When rosemary is used as a tea, the dose should not exceed one cup per day. Overdose can cause fatal poisoning.
Parts Used: Leaf and flower
"Any home where rosemary thrives is a home where the mistress rules." Rosemary when burned, emits powerful cleansing and purifying vibrations, and so is smoldered to rid a place of negativity, especially prior to performing magic. It is one of the oldest incenses. Burn for protection, exorcism, purification, healing, to cause sleep, To restore or maintain youth; to bring love and to increase intellectual powers. Rosemary infusion is used to wash the hands before healing work, and the leaves mixed with juniper berries are burned in sickrooms to promote healing. Rosemary may be substituted for any other herb, in any spell or mixture. It is generally used as a substitute for Frankincense.
Acne; Dermatitis; Eczema; Lice; Scabies; Hair; Scalp; Arteriosclerosis; Fluid Retention; Gout; Muscular Pain; Neuralgia; Palpitations; Poor Circulation; Varicose Veins; Rheumatism; Asthma; Bronchitis; Whooping Cough; Colitis; Dyspepsia; Flatulence; Hepatic Disorders; Jaundice; Dysmenorrhea; Leukorrhea; Colds; Flu; Infections; Headaches; Hypotension; Nervous Exhaustion; Stress Related Conditions. Key Qualities: Stimulant (nervous and mental); Analgesic; Tonic; Strengthening; Restorative; Purifying; Protective; Reviving; Refreshing.
Also known as Mountain Ash, Witchwood, Witchbane, and Sorb Apple. A Druid sacred tree and sacred to the goddess Bride/Bridgit, Rowan bears clusters of spring flowers and bright red berries in autumn, when the leaves may turn red. The berries, rich in vitamin C, can be made into a tart jelly, Ground into flour, fermented into wine, or distilled into spirit. The seeds should be removed as they can contain hydrocyanic acid and are considered poisonous. Rowan is a traditional country charm against witchcraft.(!)
Rowan is a close relative of Sorbus americana (American mountain ash) and can be used in the same way herbally. The bark is decocted for diarrhea and for vaginal douches; simmer two teaspoons of the bark per cup of water for twenty minutes. The bark is tinctured in alcohol for eight days to treat fevers (especially intermittant fevers). The berries are gathered when ripe and then dried or made into jam. The berries are very high in vitamin C and are useful for sore throats and tonsillitis. Take one teaspoon of the fresh berry juice or a quarter cup of of the tea made by simmering one teaspoon per cup of water for twenty minutes. The ancient Welsh made an ale from rowan berries.
Parts Used: Fruit
Rowan is said to have come from the land of Fairy and as such is a very magical tree used for wands, rods, amulets, and spells. All parts of the tree are sacred. Make a tea with a few of the ripe berries and add it to the ritual chalice. A forked branch can help find water. Wands are for knowledge, locating metal, and general divination. Fires made of Rowan serve to summon spirits, especially when facing conflicts. Incense of leaves and berries for divination. Grow for protection of home. Carrying Rowan wood increases psychic powers. Rowan carried on board whip will prevent its involvement in storms; kept in the house it guards against lightening strikes, and when planted on a grave Rowan keeps the deceased one from haunting the place. Rowans growing near stone circles are the most potent. The leaf and berry are used in incense to increase psychic powers. Wear a tiny cross of rowan wood somewhere in your clothing or protection.
Also known as Herb of Grace. This evergreen subshrub has yellow summer flowers and deeply divided, bluish, aromatic leaves. Rue is a stimulant and abortifacient and strengthens capillaries. Its antispasmodic action treats high blood pressure, epilepsy and colic. A leaf wash treats tired eyes and was used by da Vinci and Michelangelo. Rue's round-lobed leaves inspired the symbol for the suit of clubs.
CAUTION: Some people may experience skin irritation when picking the fresh plant.
The whole herb is used, fresh or dry. It is taken warm to bring on menstruation. The infusion benefits coughs, cramp, and colic. Steep two teaspoons of the dried herb in a cup of water for twenty minutes. Take no more than one-half cup per day. The leaves are used in poultices and salves to relieve sciatica, gout, and rheumatic pains. The fresh eaves are placed on the temples to relieve headache. Fomentations of the tea are placed ont he chest to help bronchitis. The juice or oil is placed in the ear to relieve earaches.
CAUTION: This is a strong herb. Use in dosages only as indicated. Overdose will lead to vomiting.
Parts Used: Above-ground portions of the herb
Ancient Celts considered Rue an antimagical herb, which is a defense against spells and dark magic. A fresh sprig can be used to sprinkle sacred water for consecration, blessings and healings. Burned in exorcism or purification incenses, it routs negativity and gets things moving. Used in altar oil, blessing, purifying, cleansing, consecration, protection, banishing, releasing, exorcism, inspiration, wisdom. Fresh Rue leaves placed on the forehead relieves headaches. Rue added to baths breaks all hexes and curses that may have been cast against you. Rue is another plant said to grow best when stolen, and indeed its presence in the garden beautifies and protects it. For some reason, toads have an aversion to Rue.
Botanical: Raphanus sativus
Family: N.O. Cruciferae
Medicinal Action and Uses
Europe, especially Britain, and temperate Asia. A native of China, Cochin-China and Japan.
The name of this familiar garden plant is suggested by its color, being derived from the Saxon, rude, rudo, or reod (ruddy), or from the Sanskrit rudhira, meaning blood. The genus is distinguished by its elongated pod, which has no longitudinal partition when ripe, but contains several seeds separated by a pithy substance filling the pod. The actual plant is unknown in a wild state, but is supposed to have come from Southern Asia, and may be descended from the wild Raphanus Raphanistrum of the Mediterranean shores, the long roots developing seeds sown in a loose soil, and the turniprooted kinds in a stiff soil. In the days of the Pharaohs, the Radish was extensively cultivated in Egypt, but apparently it did not reach Britain until A.D. 1548. Gerard mentions four varieties as being recognized in 1597. The leaves are rough and partly divided into segments, the outer one being larger and broader than the rest. The flower stem grows to about 3 feet in height, bearing medium-sized flowers that vary in color from white to pale violet, with stronglymarked, dark veins. Structurally, it resembles the turnip, as the swollen, fleshy portion is really a stem which gradually passes downwards into the real root. Many kinds are named, the best known being (1) turnip-rooted, both red and white, including the white and black Spanish kinds; (2) oliveshaped, including the white, scarlet, and French breakfast forms; (3) the long, tapering varieties, like Long Red and Lady's Finger. The flesh is white, crisp, and tender, not specially nourishing, but valued as an antiscorbutic because of its quantity of nitrous juice. When too large for eating raw, they can be steamed for half an hour and served like asparagus. They should be well washed, but never peeled except when preparing the juice for medicinal purposes; in dry weather the bed should be watered the day before they are pulled. The young, green, seed-pods may be used for pickling, alone or with other vegetables, and are considered a fair substitute for capers.
Phenyl-ethyl isothiocyanite, a pungent, volatile oil, and an amylclytic enzyme.
---Medicinal Action and Uses---
Radishes are an excellent food remedy for stone, gravel and scorbutic conditions. The juice has been used in the treatment of cholelithiasis as an aid in preventing the formation of biliary calculi. The expressed juice of white or black Spanish radishes is given in increasing doses of from 1/2 to 2 cupfuls daily. The 2 cupfuls are continued for two or three weeks. then the dose is decreased until 1/2 cupful is taken three times a week for three or four more weeks. The treatment may be repeated by taking 1 cupful at the beginning, then 1/2 daily, and later, 1/2 every second day.
The coloring matter is recommended as a sensitive indicator in alkalimetry.
R. Raphanistrum (Wild Radish, or Jointedpodded Charlock). It was stated by Linnaeus that in wet seasons this abounds as a weed among barley, in Sweden, and being ground with the corn, it is eaten in barley bread, causing violent convulsive complaints, or an epidemic, spasmodic disease. Other authorities say that it is harmless, liked by domestic animals and bees. It is bristly, and has rather large, straw-colored flowers.
R. Sibiricus, or Siberian Radish, has cylindrical pods.
R. caudatus, the Java, or Rat's Tail Radish, a native of Final, furnishes long, edible pods, purple or violet in color. They should be used half-grown. The root of this species is not used.
R. maritimus is an indigenous, seaside variety.
R. Erucoides, of Italy, has pods with a beak of their own length, and a simple, biennial root, scarcely thicker than the stem.
R. Tenellus, another native of Siberia, flowers in Britain in June and July, having awl-shaped, jointed, two-celled, smooth pods.
Botanical: Senecio Jacobaea (LINN.)
Family: N.O. Compositae
St. James-wort. Ragweed. Stinking Nanny. Staggerwort. Dog Standard. Cankerwort. Stammerwort.
Ragwort grows about 2 to 3 feet high, with a much branched, furrowed stem, without hairs, and deep, glossy, green leaves, irregularly divided and toothed. The root-leaves are broader, jagged at the base, those on the stalk deeply divided down to the rib. The flowers are arranged in rather large, flat-topped bunches (corymbs), into which the branches divide at the summit and are a beautiful bright yellow, 2/3 to 1 inch across, with narrow rays, toothed at the outer edge. The plant is a perennial and abundant in most parts of the country, on dry roadsides and waste ground and pastures, often growing in large patches and flowering in July and August. It is distributed over Europe, Siberia and North-West India. In the Highlands it is found at a height of 1,200 feet above sea-level.
Ragwort was formerly much employed medicinally for various purposes. The leaves are used in the country for emollient poultices and yield a good green dye, not, however, permanent. The flowers boiled in water give a fair yellow dye to wool previously impregnated with alum. The whole plant is bitter and aromatic, of an acrid sharpness, but the juice is cooling and astringent, and of use as a wash in burns, inflammations of the eye, and also in sores and cancerous ulcers - hence one of its old names, Cankerwort. It is used with success in relieving rheumatism, sciatica and gout, a poultice of the green leaves being applied to painful joints and reducing the inflammation and swelling. It makes a good gargle for ulcerated throat and mouth, and is said to take away the pain caused by the sting of bees. A decoction of the root has been reputed good for inward bruises and wounds. In some parts of the country Ragwort is accredited with the power of preventing infection.
In olden days it was supposed to be 'a certaine remedie to help the Staggers in Horses,' whence one of its popular names, Staggerwort. One of its other names, Stammerwort, probably indicates a belief in its efficacy as a remedy for impediment of speech.
Fluid extract, 1/2 to 1 drachm.
Ragwort is collected in August.
Culpepper says it is 'under the command of Dame Venus, and cleanses, digests, and discusses. In Sussex we call it Ragweed.'
Senecio aquaticus (MARSH RAGWORT) is a form of S. Jacobaea, common on the sides of rivers and ditches throughout the country, growing freely at an elevation of 1,500 feet above sea-level, in the Lake district and resembling the common Ragwort, but usually of laxer growth and readily distinguished by its less divided, longer-stalked leaves and larger heads of flowers, which are 1 to 1 1/4 inch in diameter.
All forms of this genus are not of beneficial use, and one at least has lately been found to be distinctly harmful, for Molteno disease, a cattle and horse disease prevalent in certain parts of South Africa, has been definitely traced to the presence of a poisonous alkaloid in S. latifolius, a near relative of the Common Groundsel.
Some botanists refer the genus Cineraria to the same order as the Senecio; these differ from Senecio in the achenes of the rayflorets being winged. The beautiful spring-flowering plants cultivated in greenhouses as Cinerarias belong, however, to Senecio, and have been obtained by horticulturists by intercrossing with each other a number of the Canary Island species, such as S. populifolius, S. Tussilaginis, etc. The deep blue color of some of the garden varieties of these plants is singular in the genus, and not at all common in the family.
From the report of the Board of Agriculture's Chief Veterinary Officer (1917):
'It is not generally recognized that the common British Ragwort is poisonous to cattle. This probably arises from the fact that poisoning under natural conditions is a slow process, that is to say, an animal does not receive, and could not eat enough of the weed at one meal to cause acute poisoning. On the other hand, the poison is cumulative in its action; with continuous doses the amount of poison which becomes available is sufficient in time to cause very serious symptoms which often end in death. Much more attention has been given to the subject of poisoning by certain species of Ragwort in South Africa, Canada, and New Zealand, and in certain districts where it is commonly met with it was believed to be a disease of cattle until its actual cause was discovered. Thus, we find such names applied to it as Pictou, Winton, and Molteno disease. The following represent broadly the circumstances of the cases which have recently come to the notice of the Board. Pastures containing a considerable proportion of the weed were cropped in the hope that the comparatively early cropping might help to get rid of it. The crop was made into hay, and owing to the prolonged spell of cold weather and the scarcity of other feeding stuffs, this was fed later and in considerable amount to animals at pasture.
'The actively poisonous agent in the plant seems to be one or two more alkaloids which have been extracted in more or less pure form from various species of Ragwort.... Some of the animals fed on the Ragwort died in a few days after the first appearance of definite symptoms. In others the symptoms continued for a month or more and deaths occurred at later dates. It would appear also that although animals which had received a toxic amount of Ragwort over a certain period may seem healthy at the time when feeding on the material is discontinued, they nevertheless develop active symptoms of poisoning and die at a later period. Thus in the cases investigated some of the animals did not show definite symptoms until twelve days or more after the feeding with Ragwort had been discontinued. In the early stages the animals have the appearance of being hide-bound. Later, they walk with a staggering gait, some appearing to be partially blind or heedless of where they go. Later they may become very excitable, and will charge at anyone who approaches them. In some there may be diarrhoea, but usually constipation is so marked that it causes violent straining. The pulse is weak and rapid, but the temperature remains normal. ... There is no cure, and prevention resolves itself into removing the Ragwort from the forage, or eradicating it from the pastures.
McGovern makes the following recommendations for eradicating the weed:
'Ragwort may be exterminated by preventing the plant from seeding. This may be done in the following ways:
'(a) By grazing infested land with sheep in the winter and early spring.
'(b) By cutting the plants in the flowering stage either
-- '(i) Twice, the first cut being made early inJuly, and the second about six weeks later, there being no necessity to gather up the cut portions; or
-- '(ii) Once only, cutting being done late in July or early in August. The cut portions of the plants must be gathered up at once and burnt.
'(c) By pulling the plants, if circumstances permit, preferably early in July, when there is no need to collect and burn the pulled plants. If pulled later the plants must be collected and burned to prevent seeding . . .
'It is not certain that sheep are absolutely immune to poisoning by Ragwort. Probably the flowering season -June, July, and early August - is when Ragwort is most actively poisonous.'
Botanical: Campanula rapunculus (LINN.)
Family: N.O. Campanulaceae
Medicinal Action and Uses
The plant is found wild in England, on gravelly roadsides and hedgebanks and in open pastures, from Stafford southwards, but it is uncertain whether it should be held as a true native in the localities in southern England, where it is now established.
The Rampion formerly regularly cultivated in English kitchen gardens, and much valued as a wholesome esculent vegetable, is seldom grown for use now, though its graceful flowers are sometimes seen to advantage in the borders as an ornamental plant.
The name Rampion is derived from its Latin specific name, Rapunculus, a diminutive of rapa (a turnip). It is still much cultivated in France, Germany and Italy, and occasionally here, for the roots which are boiled tender like parsnips and eaten hot with a sauce. They are sweetish, with a slight pungency, but though wholesome, are considered inferior to other roots now more widely grown for culinary use. The larger roots are reserved for boiling, sometimes the young roots are eaten raw with vinegar and pepper, and occasionally the leaves, as well as the roots, are eaten as a winter salad. The leaves can be used in the summer and autumn as a substitute for spinach. The young shoots may be blanched like asparagus and prepared in the same manner.
The roots are fleshy and biennial (but can be made perennial), the stems are 2 to 3 feet high, erect, stiff, though rather slender, generally simple, more or less covered with stiff, white hairs, which almost disappear when cultivated. The leaves are variable, 1 to 3 inches long, the radical leaves oblong or ovate, on long stalks and slightly crenate, the stem-leaves narrow and mostly entire, or obscurely toothed. The flowers, which bloom in July and August, are about 3/4 inch long, reddish purple, blue or white, on short peduncles, forming long, simple or slightly branched panicles. The corolla is divided to about the middle into five lanceolate segments. The capsule is short and erect, opening in small lateral clefts, close under the narrow linear segments of the calyx.
Drayton names it among the vegetables and pot-herbs of the kitchen garden, in his poem Polyolbion, and there is a reference to it in the slang of Falstaff, showing how generally it was in cultivation in this country in Shakespeare's time.
There is an Italian tradition that the possession of a rampion excites quarrels among children. The plant figures in one of Grimm's tales, the heroine, Rapunzel, being named after it, and the whole plot is woven around the theft of rampions from a magician's garden. In an old Calabrian tale, a maiden, uprooting a rampion in a field, discovers a staircase that leads to a palace far down in the depths of the earth.
Rampion is easily cultivated and will flourish in ordinary good soil, though a moist, sandy soil suits it best.
Seeds should be sown in shallow drills, a foot apart, in May, and thinned out to 5 or 6 inches in the rows. The young plants should be moderately watered at first.
If grown for culinary use, it must not be allowed to flower, and the roots should be earthed up several inches on each side in order to blanch them. They are fit for use in November, and should be lifted then and stored in a frost-proof place.
---Medicinal Action and Uses---
Gerard tells us: 'Some affirme that the decoction of the roots are good for all inflammation of the mouth and almonds of the throte and other diseases happening in the mouth and throte, as the other Throte warts.'
An old writer states that the distilled water of the whole plant is excellent for the complexion and 'maketh the face very splendent.'
Two other native species have been employed dietetically, Campanula rapunculoides and C. persicifolia, but they have fallen into disuse as culinary vegetables, though the latter is a favourite in the flower border.
All the plants of the genus have a milky juice, which is more or less acrid, though not sufficiently so to act poisonously.
Botanical: Rubus Idaeus (LINN.)
Family: N.O. Rosaceae
Medicinal Action and Uses
Raspbis. Hindberry. Bramble of Mount Ida.
The well-known Raspberry, grown so largely for its fruit, grows wild in some parts of Great Britain. It is a native of many parts of Europe. The stems are erect and shrubby, biennial, with creeping perennial roots. It flowers in May and June.
The plant is generally propagated by suckers, though those raisedfrom layers should be preferred, because they will be better rooted and not so liable to send out suckers. In preparing these plants their fibres should be shortened, but the buds which are placed at a small distance from the stem of the plant must not be cut off, as they produce the new shoots the following summer. Place the plants about 2 feet apart in the rows, allowing 4 or 5 feet between the rows. If planted too closely, without plenty of air between the rows, the fruit will not be so fine.
The most suitable soil is a good, strong loam. They do not thrive so well in a light soil.
In October, cut down all the old wood that has produced fruit in the summer and shorten the young shoots to about 2 feet in length. Dig the spaces between the rows well and dress with a little manure. Beyond weeding during the summer, no further care is needed. It is wise to form new plantations every three or four years, as the fruit on old plants is apt to deteriorate.
The Raspberry contains a crystallizable fruit-sugar, a fragrant volatile oil, pectin, citric and malic acids, mineral salts, coloring matter and water. The ripe fruit is fragrant, subacid and cooling: it allays heat and thirst, and is not liable to acetous fermentation in the stomach.
Raspberry vinegar is an acid syrup made with the fruit-juice, sugar and white-wine vinegar, and when added to water forms an excellent cooling drink in summer, suitable also in feverish cases, where the acid is not an objection. It makes a useful gargle for relaxed, sore throat.
A home-made wine, brewed from the fermented juice of ripe Raspberries, is antiscrofulous, and Raspberry syrup dissolves the tartar of the teeth.
The fruit is also utilized for dyeing purposes.
---Medicinal Action and Uses---
Astringent and stimulant. Raspberry Leaf Tea, made by the infusion of 1 OZ. of the dried leaves in a pint of boiling water, is employed as a gargle for sore mouths, canker of the throat, and as a wash for wounds and ulcers. The leaves, combined with the powdered bark of Slippery Elm, make a good poultice for cleansing wounds, burns and scalds, removing proud flesh and promoting healing.
An infusion of Raspberry leaves, taken cold, is a reliable remedy for extreme laxity of the bowels. The infusion alone, or as a component part of injections, never fails to give immediate relief. It is useful in stomach complaints of children.
Raspberry Leaf Tea is valuable during parturition. It should be taken freely - warm.
Fluid extract, 1 to 2 drachms. The Raspberry grows wild as far north as lat. 70 degrees, and southward it appears to have been abundant on Mount Ida, in Asia Minor, lat. 39 degrees 40'. It was known to the Ancients, and Linnaeus retained the classic name of Ida, with which it was associated by Dioscorides. It was called in Greek Batos Idaia, and in Latin Rubus Idaea, the Bramble of Mount Ida. Gerard calls it Raspis or Hindberry, and Hindberry is a derivation of the Saxon name Hindbeer.
"Twas only to hear the yorling sing,
And pu' the crawflower round the spring,
The scarlet hep and the hindberrie,
And the nut that hang frae the hazel tree.'
The Wild Raspberry differs from the cultivated variety mainly in its size.
To every 3 pints of fruit, carefully cleared from mouldy or bad, put 1 quart of water; bruise the former. In 24 hours strain the liquor and put to every quart 1 lb. of sugar, of good middling quality, of Lisbon. If for white currants, use lump sugar. It is best to put the fruit, etc., into a large pan, and when, in three or four days, the scum rises, take that off before the liquor be put into the barrel. Those who make from their own gardens may not have a sufficiency to fill the barrel at once; the wine will not hurt if made in the pan in the above proportions, and added as the fruit ripens, and can be gathered in dry weather.
Keep an account of what is put in each time.
Raspberry Vinegar is made either with malt vinegar or white vinegar (i.e. either white-wine vinegar or dilute acetic acid). Malt vinegar adds to the color, which with white vinegar generally needs the addition of a little caramel to deepen it. When made from the fruit 2 lb. of raspberries is required to a pint of vinegar. Another method is to acidulate Raspberry-juice with acetic acid and sweeten with plain syrup.
Another Recipe for the Same
Put 1 lb. of fine fruit into a china-bowl, and pour upon it 1 quart of the best white-wine vinegar; next day strain the liquor on 1 lb. of fresh raspberries; and the following day do the same, but do not squeeze the fruit, only drain the liquor as dry as you can from it. The last time pass it through a canvas, preciously wet with vinegar, to prevent waste. Put it into a stone jar, with 1 lb. of sugar to every pint of juice, broken into large lumps; stir it when melted, then put the jar into a saucepan of water or on a hot hearth, let it simmer and skim it. When cold, bottle it.
This is one of the most useful preparations that can be kept in a house, not only as affording the most refreshing beverage, but being of singular efficacy in complaints of the chest. A large spoonful or two in a tumbler of water. Be careful to use no glazed nor metal vessels for it.
Pick fine dry fruit, put it into a stone jar, and the jar into a kettle of water, or on a hot hearth, till the juice will run; strain, and to every pint add 1/2 lb. of sugar, give one boil and skim it; when cold, put equal quantities of juice and brandy, shake well and bottle. Some people prefer it stronger of the brandy.
Rattle, Dwarf Red
Botanical: Pedicularis sylvatica
Family: N.O. Labiatae
Red Rattle Grass. Lousewort. Lesser Red Rattle.
The Dwarf Red Rattle (Pedicularis sylvatica) and the Yellow Rattle or Cock's Comb (Rhinanthus Crista-galli) are very closely allied to the Eyebright. As remedies they have now fallen into disuse.
There are two Red Rattles, but the commoner and medicinal one is the Dwarf or Lesser Red Rattle, frequent in moist pastures and on swampy heaths. It is quite a small plant, generally nestling rather closely to the ground, the short root-stock sending up many prostrate and spreading, leafy sterns, 3 to 10 inches long, branching a good deal at the base and rarely more than 3 or 4 inches high when in flower. The leaves are very deeply cut into numerous segments. The flowers are in terminal, loose spikes, the calyx smooth on the outside, but woolly inside at the mouth, broadly inflated and marked over with a fine network of veins, and at the top, cut into five unequal, leaf-like lobes. The lower portion of the corolla forms a tube hidden within the calyx, but then emerging projects boldly beyond it; it is labiate in form, like the Eyebright, the upper lip tall and dome-like, but compressed at the sides, the lower lip flatly expanded and cut into three very distinct lobes. Both are of a bright rose color and the whole flower is very striking and quaint. As the seeds ripen, they may be heard rattling in their capsule within the inflated calyx, hence the popular name Red Rattle. Another name for the plant is 'Lousewort,' from a belief that sheep eating it became diseased and covered with parasites, but when sheep do suffer in this manner after eating this plant, it is really because the presence of it in a pasture indicates a very bad and unsuitable pasture, since marshy land, the best suited to its growth, is the worst from the health point of view for the sheep. The generic name, Pedicularis (from the Latin pediculus = a louse), refers also to the supposititious vermin-producing qualities of the plant.
The old herbalists considered the Red Rattle a wound herb and styptic. Culpepper tells us that:
'The Red Rattle is accounted profitable to heal fistulas and hollow ulcers and to stay the flux of humours in them as also the abundance of the courses or any other flux of blood, being boiled in port wine and drunk.'
Botanical: Rhinanthus Crista-galli
Family: N.O. Labiatae
Cock's Comb. Yellow Rattle Grass. Pennygrass.
(Welsh) Crivell Melyn.
(Gaelic) Boden chloigin.
The Yellow Rattle, a near relative of the Red Rattle, also obtains its name from the fact that the seeds rattle in the husky capsules when ripe. This is an erect, somewhat rigid plant, common in cultivated land, composed of a single stem, about a foot high, smooth and more or less spotted with purple, bearing pairs of stalkless, wedge-shaped leaves, with deeply notched margins and conspicuous veins, and terminated by a loose spike of yellow, labiate flowers, in which the calyx is large and very inflated (flattened so that its side view is much larger than its end view), of an uncommon pale green in color and contracting at the mouth, where it is divided into four equal teeth. The upper lip of the corolla is very convex and ordinarily has a purple spot upon it; the lower lip is divided into three segments, the middle one being the largest. The stamens, which rest closely under the upper lip, have curious anthers, covered with little, bristly hairs.
Culpepper and other old writers call this plant Rattle Grass, like the preceding species, but Gerard gives also the name of 'Pennygrass,' an allusion to the flattened, fairly circular outline of the capsules. The generic name, Rhinanthus, is derived from the two Greek words signifying nose and flower, from the projecting beak of the upper portion of the corolla. The specific name, Crista-galli, means the crest or comb of a cock, because, according to Pliny, it has numerous leaves resembling a cock's comb. Parkinson, writing in 1640, also explains the name by saying the deeply-dented edges of the leaves 'resemble therein the crest or combe of a cocke,' but others have thought the name 'Coxcomb' refers rather to the notched calyx. In France it is called the 'Crête-de-coq.'
Both the Red Rattle and the Yellow Rattle are semi-parasites like the Eyebright, in similar manner extracting nourishment from the roots of the grasses among which they grow, the Yellow Rattle, however, to a more considerable degree than the others, impoverishing thereby the pastures in which it flourishes, and on the Continent it is often harmful to Rye crops, if not eradicated in time.
The Yellow Rattle was considered to have certain properties in common with Eyebright. Culpepper tells us that it 'is held to be good for those that are troubled with a cough or dimness of sight, if the herb being boiled with beans and some honey; put thereto be drunk or dropped into the eyes. The whole seed being put into the eyes draweth forth any skin, dimness or film from the sight without trouble or pain.'
See Clover, Red
Botanical: Ceanothus americanus (LINN.)
Family: N.O. Rhamnaceae
New Jersey Tea. Wild Snowball.
Root or bark of the root.
This is a half-hardy shrub growing to 4 or 5 feet high. It has downy leaves and stems and small ornamental white flowers in great numbers, coming into bloom June or July, followed by bluntly triangular seedvessels. It is usually called 'New Jersey Tea' in America because its leaves were used as a substitute for tea during the War of Independence. In Canada it is used to dye wool a cinnamon color. It takes its name from its large red roots. Its wood is tough, pale brown red, with fine rays - taste bitter and astringent with no odour. Fracture hard, tough, splintering. Its bark is brittle, dark-colored and thin.
The leaves are said to contain tannin, a soft resin and bitter extract, a green coloring matter similar to green tea in color and taste, gum a volatile substance, lignin, and a principle called Ceanothine.
---Medicinal Action and Uses---
Astringent, antispasmodic, anti-syphilitic expectorant and sedative, used in asthma, chronic bronchitis, whooping-cough, consumption, and dysentery; also as a mouth-wash and gargle, and as an injection in gonorrhoea, gleet and leucorrhoea.
Of the decoction, 1/2 OZ. Fluid extract, 1 to 30 drops.
Mexican Ceanothus azurea (Desf.), a powerful febrifuge.
Botanical: Ononis arvensis
Family: N.O. Leguminosae
Wild Liquorice. Cammock. Stinking Tommy. Ground Furze. Land Whin.
A troublesome weed, with a root that affords a sweet, viscid juice. Common in arable land. Its long, thicklymatted root will arrest the progress of the harrow, hence its name.
It is a favourite food of the donkey, from which the generic name is derived, onos being the Greek word for an ass.
A tradition exists that this was the plant from which the crown of thorns was plaited for the Crucifixion.
The plant is obnoxious to snakes.
---Medicinal Action and Uses---
The young shoots were much used at one time as a vegetable, being boiled, eaten in salad or pickled.
In medicine it was used for stone in the bladder and to subdue delirium.
Botanical: Krameria triandra (R. and P.)
Family: N.O. Polygalaceae
Medicinal Action and Uses
Rhatanhia. Ratanhiawurzel. Krameria Root. Peruvian Rhatany. Mapato. Pumacuchu. Raiz para los dientes. Red Rhatany.
A low shrub with large red flowers, growing on dry, sandy places on mountain-slopes, 3,000 to 8,000 feet above sea-level in several provinces of Peru, especially near the city of Huanuco. The root, as found in commerce, consists of long, cylindrical pieces, varying in thickness from 1/4 to 1/2 inch or more (long Rhatany), or a short, thick portion, knotted, and as large as a man's fist (short, or stumpy Rhatany). The difference is caused by the diggers, the former being removed by them with care, and the latter torn up with force. The bark of the root is thin, readily separable, rough and scaly; of a dark, reddish-brown color outside, and bright brownish-red within. It breaks with a somewhat fibrous fracture, is tough and difficult to powder, and has a strong, purely astringent taste, tingeing the saliva red when chewed. The central woody portion is very hard and almost tasteless. Neither bark nor wood has any marked odour. As the virtues of Rhatany reside in the bark, the smaller pieces are preferable.
A strong tincture of these roots in brandy is used in Portugal to impart roughness to port wines.
The genus Krameria was named after Kramer, a Hungarian physician and botanist. The name Rhatany is said to describe the creeping character of the plant, in the language used by the Peruvian Indians, while its Spanish name is derived from its dental properties.
The dried roots of two species besides the Peruvian are official: Krameria Ixené, or Savanilla Rhatany, and Krameria Argentea, known in commerce as Para or Brazilian Rhatany.
Krameria was dropped from the United States Pharmacopceia but retained in the British Pharmacopceia and National Formulary.
The essential constituent is a peculiar tannic acid, known as Rhataniatannic acid or Krameria tannic acid, closely allied to catechu-tannic acid. By the action of dilute acid it is decomposed into a crystallizable sugar, and Rhatania-red. No gallic acid is present. Rhatanin is a homologue of tyrosine, and is identical with angelin, geoffrayin, and andirin. It appears to contain also lignin, and small quantities of gum starch, saccharine matter, and a peculiar acid, krameric acid. The mineral acids and most of the metallic salts throw down precipitates with the infusion, decoction and tincture of Rhatany, and are incompatible in prescription.
Cold water extracts all the astringency of Rhatany.
Very inferior extracts of Rhatany are often sold. Its virtues may be considered as in proportion to its solubility.
---Medicinal Action and Uses---
An active as tringent, and slightly tonic. It has beenfound useful for internal administration in chronic diarrhoea, dysentery, menorrhagia, incontinence of urine, haematuria, and passive haemorrhage from the bowels. In the form of an infusion it has been used locally in fissure of the anus, prolapsus ani, and leucorrhoea; as a gargle in relaxed, sore throat; and as an astringent wash for the mucous membrane of the eyes, nose, gums, etc.
The powder is also used as a dentifrice when mixed with equal parts of orris rhizome and charcoal, or with prepared chalk and myrrh.
---Preparations and Dosages---
Tincture of 20 per cent krameria and diluted alcohol, 1 fluid drachm. Syrup of 45 per cent fluid extract of krameria and syrup - as an intestinal astringent - 1 fluid drachm. Of the powder (rarely used), 20 to 30 grains. Lozenges are also prepared, with cocaine. Powdered root, 10 to 30 grains. Fluid extract, 10 to 60 drops. Tincture, B.P., and U.S.P., 1/2 to 1 drachm. Infusion, B.P., 1/2 to 1 OZ. Solid extract, U.S.P., 5 to 8 grains. Solid extract, B.P., 5 to 15 grains. Concentrated solution, B.P., 1/2 to 1 drachm.
A Rhatany from Guayaquil appeared on the London market, yielding a larger quantity of tannin than the Peruvian drug, but less than the other two species. A spurious Rhatany from Peru, of unknown botanical origin, has also been put on the market. The Krameria lanceolate (Texan Rhatany) of North America, is richer in tannin than the official drug. It takes a deep purple color when treated with iron, while Para gives a dirty brown and Savanilla violet.
The powder is of a reddish-brown color.
Botanical: Rhododendron Chrysanthum
Family: N.O. Ericaceae
---Synonyms---Rosebay. Snow Rose. Rosage Alpenrose.
---Habitat---Mountains of Siberia.
A small bush, stem 1 to 1 1/2 foot high, spreading, much branched, often concealed by moss, tips of shoots only being visible. Leaves alternate like laurel, ovate, somewhat acute, tapering to stalk, reticulated, rough above, paler and smoother underneath. Flowers large, showy, nodding, on clustered terminal, loose peduncles emerging from large downy scales. Corolla campanulate, five cleft, rounded segments, three upper largest and streaked with livid dots next the tube, lower unspotted. Stamens ten, unequal deflexed; anthers oblong, incumbent, without appendages, opening by two terminal pores, capsule ovate, rather angular,five-celled, five-valved, septicidal; seeds numerous, minute. The leaves should be gathered directly the capsules have ripened. They have a faint odour when first gathered and a bitter, acrid, astringent taste.
The leaves contain a stimulant narcotic principle, which they yield to water or alcohol.
---Medicinal Action and Other Uses---
(In homoeopathic medicine a tincture of the fresh leaves is said to be curative of diarrhoea, amenorrhoea, chorea, affections of the eyes and ears, and neuralgia. - EDITOR.) Much used in Siberia as a remedy for rheumatism. Also useful in gout and syphilis.
---Dosage---2 teaspoonsful of the infusion.
Family: N.O Polygonaceeae
Rhubarb is the root of different species of Rheum, growing in the mountains of the Western and North-western provinces of China and in the adjoining Thibetan terrtory.
Rhubarb occurs in commerce under various names: Russian, Turkey, East Indian and Chinese; but the geographical source of all species is the same, the commercial names of the drug indicating only the route by which it formerly reached the European market. Previous to 1842, Canton being the only port of the Chinese Empire holding direct communication with Europe, Rhubarb mostly came by overland routes: the Russian Rhubarb used to be brought by the Chinese to the Russian frontier town of Kiachta; the Turkey Rhubarb received its name because it came to us by way of Asiatic Turkey, through the Levant; East Indian came by way of Singapore and other East Indian ports, and Chinese Rhubarb was shipped from Canton. At the present day practically all is conveyed to Europe via Shanghai.
According to Lindley's Treasury of Botany, the technical name of the genus is said to be derived from Rha, the ancient name of the Volga, on whose banks the plants grow; other authorities derive the name from the Greek rheo ('to flow'), in allusion to the purgative properties of the root.
Botanical: Rheum palmatum, Rheum Rhaponticum
Medicinal Action and Uses
Preparations and Dosages
East Indian Rhubarb. China Rhubarb.
The leaves of the Turkey Rhubarb are palmate and somewhat rough. The root is thick, of an oval shape, sending off long, tapering branches; externally it is brown, internally a deep yellow color.
The stem is erect, round, hollow, jointed, branched towards the top, from 6 to 10 feet high.
This species is distinguished from our familiar garden Rhubarb by its much larger size, the shape of its leaves, with their oblong, sharpish segments, and the graceful looseness of its little panicles of greenish-white flowers. The first buds which appear in spring are yellow, not red.
It was not until the year 1732 that botanists knew any species of Rheum from which the true Rhubarb seemed likely to be obtained. Then Boerhaave, the celebrated Dutch physician, procured from a Tartarian Rhubarb merchant the seeds of the plant which produced the roots he annually sold, and which were admitted at St. Petersburg to be the real Rhubarb. These seeds on being sown produced two distinct species: Rheum Rhaponticum, our Garden Rhubarb, and Rheum and R. palmatum, Turkey Rhubarb.
The Turkey Rhubarb grows remarkably quickly - a six-year-old plant was found to grow between April, when the stalk first emerged from the ground, to the middle of July, when it was at its greatest height, to 11 feet 4 inches. In one day it was observed to grow 3 inches and over 4 inches in one night. Many of its leaves were 5 feet long. The root, taken up in October, weighed 36 lb. when cleaned, washed and deprived of its small fibres.
'J. D. B. (31/10). - The rhubarb rhizome official in the British Pharmacopoeia, 1914, must be collected in China and Thibet. English-grown rhubarb is inferior to the official rhubarb in medicinal qualities.'
We still depend upon Northern China and Thibet for Rhubarb; that grown in the English climate, near Banbury, does not command a high price in the market, although its medicinal properties are the same as those of the Chinese roots. If English growers would endeavour to produce a more marketable root by experimenting with different soils and methods of cultivation, the results might meet with success. It is possible that English roots are harvested when too young, and that not so much attention is paid to trimming the roots for market as is done by the Chinese. It is never collected from plants that are less than six years old.
It is said that the odour of the best samples is so delicate that the assistants in the wholesale drug-houses are not permitted to touch it without gloves.
The root, scraped or rasped, halved longitudinally when very large, and then cut into transverse pieces and strung on cords to dry in the sun, the drying afterwards being completed by stove heat. It is dug in October.
Chinese or Turkey Rhubarb occurs in commerce in brownish-yellow pieces of various size, usually perforated, the holes often containing a portion of the cord used to hang the sections of the root on during drying. The outer surface is generally powdery (the bark having been removed) and shows a network of white lines.
The taste is astringent and nauseous, and there is a characteristic odour.
The preparations used in medicine are: the powdered root, a fluid extract, a tincture, syrup, infusion and solution. It is also employed as a principal ingredient in compound powder (Gregory's Powder) and in compound pills.
The chemical constituents of Rhubarb root are not yet completely known. Recent investigations indicate that the most important constituents are a number of substances which may be divided into two groups, viz. tannoid constituents and purgative constituents, several of which have been isolated in a free state: the former are astringent and the latter laxative.
Three crystalline tannoids have been extracted. The purgative constituents apparently exist in the form of an unstable crystalline substance: Rheopurgarin. This splits up into four glucosides: two of these yield Chrysophanic acid (so named from its forming yellow crystals) and Rheochrysidin respectively. The other two glucosides have not yet been isolated, but they appear to yield Emodin and Rhein.
There are also several resinous matters, one of which, Phaoretin, is purgative, and mineral compounds are also present, especially Oxalate of Calcium. The astringency of Rhubarb is due to a peculiar tannic acid (Rheo-tannic), which is soluble in water and alcohol.
---Medicinal Action and Uses---
Astringent, tonic, stomachic, aperient. In large doses, Rhubarb powder acts as a simple and safe purgative, being regarded as one of the most valuable remedies we possess, effecting a brisk, healthy purge, without clogging the bowels and producing constipation, too often consequent upon the use of the more active purgatives.
It is especially useful in cases of diarrhoea, caused by an irritating body in the intestines: the cause of irritation is removed and the after-astringent action checks the diarrhoea.
The following note from The Chemist and Druggist of March 31, 1923, supports this:
'Rhubarb in Bacillary Dysentery. - An investigation was undertaken to determine the way in which rhubarb acts in this disease and which constituent was responsible for its action, one writer having stated in regard to the treatment of bacillary dysentery that no remedy in medicine has such a magical effect. (Lancet, I, 1923, 382.) A solution containing all the purgative constituents of rhubarb soluble in water (1 gr. of B.P. rhubarb extract) was allowed to act on B. dysenterial Shiga and Flexner of the bacillus No. 1 of Morgan without affecting growth in the broth tubes. Fresh undiluted ox bile has not distinct action on the bacilli, thus indicating that the therapeutic effect of rhubarb is not due to its cholagogue action. Neither does the serum of a rabbit treated with rhubarb have any germicidal action. The nature of the therapeutic effect of rhubarb in bacillary dysentery therefore still remains obscure.'
And again, September 3, 1921, in the Lancet, by Dr. R. W. Burkitt:
'In the former journal, Dr. R. W. Burkitt, of Nairobi, British East Africa, states that acute bacillary dysentery has been treated in that colony almost exclusively with powdered rhubarb for the past three years. The dose given has been 30 grains every two or three hours until the rhubarb appears in the stools. After a few doses the stools become less frequent, haemorrhage ceases, and straining and the other symptoms of acute general poisoning, which characterize the disease, rapidly disappear. In children 5 grains is given every two hours for three doses only, as, if the administration is continued longer, the drug will cure the dysentery, but produce an obstinate simple diarrhoea. In both adults and children the thirst is combated by small, frequent doses of bicarbonate of soda and citrate of potash. Dr. Burkitt concludes: "I know of no remedy in medicine which has such a magical effect. No one who has ever used rhubarb would dream of using anything else. I hope others will try it in this dreadful tropical scourge." '
Rhubarb in small doses exhibits stomachic and tonic properties, and is employed in atonic dyspepsia, assisting digestion and creating a healthy action of the digestive organs, when in a condition of torpor and debility.
The tincture is chiefly used, but the powder is equally effective and reliable.
Rhubarb when chewed increases the flow of saliva.
---Preparations and Dosages---
Powdered root, 3 to 30 grains. Comp. powder, B.P. (Gregory's), 20 to 60 grains. Comp. pill, B.P., 4 to 8 grains. Solid extract, U.S.P., 4 grains. Solid extract, B.P., 2 to 8 grains. Tincture comp., B.P., 1/2 to 4 drachms. Tincture, U.S.P., 1 drachm. Tincture aromat., U.S.P., 1/2 drachm. Fluid extract, 10 to 30 drops. Syrup, B.P., 1/2 to 2 drachms. Infusion, B.P., 1/2 to 1 OZ. Syrup, B.P. and U.S.P., 1/2 to 2 drachms. Arom. syrup, U.S.P., 2 drachms. Rheum, 1 to 4 grains.
Botanical: Rheum Rhaponticum (WILLD.)
Part Used Medicinally and Preparation
Medicinal Action and Uses
Garden Rhubarb. Bastard Rhubarb. Sweet Round-leaved Dock.
English Rhubarb is similar in action to Turkey or Chinese Rhubarb, though milder. It is derived from Rheum Rhaponticum, the ordinary Garden Rhubarb, and from R. officinale.
It has blunt, smooth leaves; large, thick roots, running deep into the ground, reddishbrown outside and yellow within, and stems 2 to 3 feet high, jointed and purplish. The flowers are white.
About 1777, Hayward, an apothecary, of Banbury, in Oxfordshire, commenced the cultivation of Rhubarb with plants of R. Rhaponticum, raised from seeds sent from Russia in 1762, and produced a drug of excellent quality, which used to be sold as the genuine Rhubarb, by men dressed up as Turks. The Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce exerted itself for many years in promoting the cultivation of Rhubarb, granting medals not only to this original pioneer, but also, some years later, to growers of Rhubarb in Somersetshire, Yorkshire and Middlesex, some of whom, it appears, attempted also to cultivate R. palmatum. When Hayward died, he left his Rhubarb plantations to the ancestor of the present cultivators of the Rhubarb fields at Banbury, where R. officinale is also now cultivated, from specimens first introduced into this country in 1873. Both R. Rhaponticum and R. officinale are at the present time grown, not only in Oxfordshire but also in Bedfordshire. Although specimens of R. palmatum were raised from seed as early as 1764, in the Botanical Gardens in Edinburgh, it is not grown now in this country for medicinal purposes, experiments having shown that it is the least easily cultivated of the rhubarbs, the main root in this climate being liable to rot. R. officinale and R. Emodi have to some extent been grown also as an ornamental plant, being also quite hardy and readily propagated.
Rhubarb may be raised from seed, but it is better and more usual to obtain established roots. Seeds may be sown, however, in drills a foot or more apart, in the open, from March to April, and the young plants thinned out to 10 inches, transplanting them in the autumn, allowing about 4 feet every way to each plant.
Rhubarb roots may be planted at any time of the year, although mild weather in autumn or early spring is best; it should be planted on a clear, open spot, on good soil, which should be well trenched 3 feet deep, and before planting, a good substance of rotten manure should be worked into the soil.
When the plants are to be increased, it is merely necessary to take up large roots and divide them with a spade: every piece that has a crown to it will grow. Fresh plantations are generally made in February or March, but Rhubarb may still be divided early in May.
To ensure fine rhubarb for table use, a large dressing of well-rotted manure should be dug in about the roots as soon as the last of the leaves have been pulled. It is not right to wait until the winter, before the plants are dressed.
Old roots ought to be divided and replanted every fourth or fifth year, when the plants are grown for the use of the stems.
If Rhubarb be forced on the ground where it grows, nothing more is required than to cover with large pots, half casks, or boxes, round and over which should be placed plenty of stable manure. Roots forced in greenhouse or in frames do not need to have the light excluded from them. Such roots, however, require dividing and replanting in the spring out of doors.
---Part Used Medicinally and Preparation---
The roots of English Rhubarb are generally taken from plants from four years old and upwards. They are dug up in October, washed thoroughly and the fibres taken away. The bark of English Rhubarb is not usually removed.
The roots of both R. Officinale and R. Rhaponticum are much smaller than those of the Chinese Rhubarb and are easily distinguished by their distinctly radiate structure. They are also more shrunken, more or less distinctly pink in color, and have a diffuse circle of isolated star-spots on the transverse section. The roots of R. officinale cultivated in England resemble Chinese Rhubarb, but are more spongy, and shrink and wrinkle as they dry, and are softer to cut. They have a less rich color than the Chinese, and have no network of white lines on the outer surface, the dark red and white lines usually running parallel to each other and the star-spots being less developed, fewer and more scattered.
The English Rhubarb from R. Rhaponticum shows red veins, that of R. officinale is usually in larger pieces and has blackish veins.
The root is used as a drug in powdered form.
Root. The constituents of R. officinale are similar to those of Chinese Rhubarb.
Rhapontic or Garden Rhubarb contains no emodine, rhein or rhabarberine, but has in it a crystalline body, rhaponticin.
Stem and Leaves of R. Rhaponticum. Potassium oxalate is present in quantity in Rhubarb leaf-stems, and certain persons who are constitutionally susceptible to salts of oxalic acid, show symptoms of irritant poisoning after eating rhubarb stewed in the ordinary manner. Many people of a gouty tendency do well to avoid it, and those subject to urinary irritation should take it very sparingly or not at all.
Rhubarb stems did not come into general use as a substitute for fruit till about 100 years ago. We hear of a pioneer grower, Joseph Myatt, of Deptford, sending, in 1810, five bunches of Rhubarb to the Borough Market and only being able to dispose of three. But he persevered in his efforts to make a market for Rhubarb, raised improved varieties, and a few years after, Rhubarb had become established in public favour as a culinary plant.
It was, however, soon realized that the use of Rhubarb as food was sometimes attended with some risk to health. Lindley, in his Vegetable Kingdom, 1846, remarks that oxalic acid exists in both Docks and Rhubarb, and that the latter contains also an abundance of nitric and malic acid, and goes on to say that whilst these give an agreeable taste to the Rhubarb when cooked, he considers them illsuited to the digestion of some persons. The Penny Cyclopaedia, 1841, warned persons subject to calculous complaints against eating Rhubarb stalks, owing to the presence of oxalic acid, stating that 'the formation of oxalate of lime, or mulberry calculus, may be the consequence of indulgence.'
The chemical constituents of Rhubarb leaves were till recently not fully ascertained, but the analysis has lately been undertaken under orders from the Home Office, in consequence of fatal and injurious effects having resulted from eating the leaves cooked as spinach. The report of the official analyist states that the leaves contain some 0.3 per cent oxalates of potassium and calcium oxalates. It is possible that the recent cases of poisoning occurred in subjects specially susceptible to oxalic poisoning, as there are also many cases reported of no harm ensuing from a use of Rhubarb leaves as a vegetable.
In Maunders' Treasury of Botany Rhubarb leaves are mentioned as a pot-herb. Green (Universal Herbal, 1832) says: 'The leaves are also used by the French in their soups, to which they impart an agreeable acidity, like that of Sorrel.' Reference has recently been made in the press to a letter which appeared in the Gardeners' Chronicle for 1846, in which the gardener of the Earl of Shrewsbury at Alton Towers, Staffordshire, told how rhubarb leaves had been used there for many years as a vegetable. He also mentioned that the flower of the plant (before the leaves expanded) could be used like broccoli. A subsequent note by him makes it clear, however, that the leaf-stems were meant, for he then says:
'I have no experience in the eating of the leaves and think them nauseous to the taste and unpleasant to the smell.... I tasted them boiled and they did not appear to me to have one redeeming feature....'
The flower of the plant, when in bud form, has been eaten as a pleasant substitute for broccoli; when cooked au gratin, with white sauce over it, the cheese quite obviates any bitterness of taste.
Further reference to the Gardeners' Chronicle, of 1847, shows records of the varying results of eating the young inflorescence, producing no ill-effects in some cases and serious illness in others, and a case is recorded of severe sickness attacking a whole family after partaking of the leaves boiled as a vegetable. In 1853 we find the question again raised. In 1872 we hear of deaths from eating the leaves in America, and in 1899 we find a revival of interest in Rhubarb leaves as a vegetable, quite opposite opinions being expressed in a correspondence in the gardening papers. In 1901 we hear of a man dying after eating stewed Rhubarb leaves, the verdict at the inquest being: 'Accidental death, caused by eating rhubarb-leaves.' It was stated then that the leaves were used as a vegetable in parts of Hampshire. The British Medical Journal in December, 1910, mentions several cases of rhubarb poisoning.
The leaves are sometimes made use of in the fabrication of fictitious cigars and tobacco. The shape of the hairs, however, as seen under a microscope, can enable the observer to detect the presence or absence of tobacco, but it is not so easy to determine the source of the fraudulent admixtures.
It is possible that the chemical composition of Rhubarb varies to some extent according to the variety and the soil on which it is grown. It has been stated that the amount of water present is less when the plants are grown on poor soil, while the acid principle is more abundant.
As regards the method of cooking, the British Medical Journal points out that hard water would precipitate the oxalate, while a soft water might leave it in the form of soluble oxalate, more readily assimilated into the systems of those susceptible to this kind of poisoning. In a recent case that terminated fatally, the leaves were well washed, drained, cut up and put into boiling water, in an iron saucepan, for 20 minutes. A little salt and kitchen soda were added, but nothing else. Being acid, the leaves should, of course, not be cooked in a copper vessel.
---Medicinal Action and Uses---
Though the English Rhubarb root is milder as a purgative, it is more astringent, and has been considered a better stomachic than the foreign.
It is specially useful in infantile stomach troubles and looseness of the bowels.
In fairly large doses it acts as a laxative.
Dose of powdered root, 5 to 60 grains. The dose is entirely individual, 12 grains acting on some persons, as much as 20 on others of the same age. It has been held that 20 grains of the seed are equal to 30 of the root, as regards purgative power. The properties of the seeds are similar to those of the root.
A decoction of the seeds is supposed not only to ease pains in the stomach, but to strengthen it by increasing the appetite.
A strong decoction of the root has been employed as a good w ash for scrofulous sores.
If a portion of the root be infused in water, and when strained a few grains of salt of tartar be added, a very beautiful red tincture results, which might prove valuable for the purposes of a dye.
Culpepper says of Rhubarb:
'If your body be anything strong, you may take 2 drams of it at a time being sliced thin and steeped all night in white wine, in the morning strain it out and drink the white wine; it purges but gently, it leaves a binding quality behind it, therefore dried a little by the fire and beaten into powder, it is usually given in Fluxes.'
Botanical: Rumex alpinus (LINN.)
Monk's Rhubarb is, as Culpepper tells us, 'a Dock bearing the name of Rhubarb for some purging quality within.'
The root was formerly used medicinally, and the leaves as a pot-herb.
It is found on roadsides near cottages in the North of England and in Scotland, but is rare and naturalized.
The root-stock is very stout, of a yellow color; the stem 2 to 4 feet high, bearing pale green leaves, broad and very long, the edges waved, but not cut into. The tops of the stems are divided into many small branches, bearing reddish or purple flowers, succeeded by angular seeds, as in other docks.
The medicinal virtues of the root, when dried, are similar to the Garden or Bastard Rhubarb, but are not so strong.
'A dram of the dried root of Monk's Rhubarb with a scruple of Ginger made into powder, and taken fasting in a draught or mess of warm broth, purges choler and phlegm downwards very gently and safely without danger.... The distilled water thereof is very profitably used to heal scabs; also foul ulcerous sores, and to allay the inflammation of them....'
Botanical: Oryza sativa (LINN.)
Family: N.O. Graminaceae
Medicinal Action and Uses
Nivara. Dhan. O. montana. O. setegera. O. latifolia. Bras. Paddy.
Part Used---The seeds.
East Indies. Most sub-tropical countries.
Rice is an annual plant with several jointed culms or stems from 2 to 10 feet long, the lower part floating in water or prostrate, with roots at the nodes, the rest erect. The panicle is terminal and diffuse, bowing when the seed is weighty. It is probably indigenous to China, and certainly to India, where the wild form grows by tanks, ditches and rivers. It was early introduced into East Africa and Syria, and later into America, where it already appears as a native plant. In Europe, rice was brought into the Mediterranean basin from Syria by the Arabs in the Middle Ages, but is now grown largely only in the plain of Lombardy, and a little in Spain. In England it has been cultivated merely as a curiosity, and may be seen in the hothouses of most botanic gardens, treated as a water plant. The Cingalese distinguish 160 kinds, while 50 or 60 are cultivated in India, not including the wild form, from which the grain is collected, though it is never cultivated. Most kinds require irrigation, but some need little water, or can be grown on ordinary, dry ground.
Oryza (the classical name of the grain), or the husked seeds, is called Bras by the Malays, and Paddy when it is enclosed in the husk. Carolina and Patna rice are the most esteemed in England and the United States. The grain of the first is round and flat, and boils soft for puddings; the latter has a long and narrow grain that keeps its shape well for curries, etc.
The flour procured from the seeds is called Oryzae Farina, or rice flour, commonly known as ground rice.
The granules of rice starch are the smallest of all known starch granules.
A kind of spirit called Arrack is sometimes distilled from the fermented infusion, but the name Arrack is usually applied to Palm wine or Toddy.
---Medicinal Action and Uses---
The chief consumption of rice is as a food substance,but it should never be forgotten that the large and continued consumption of the white, polished rices of commerce is likely to be injurious to the health. The nations of which rice is the staple diet eat it unhusked as a rule, when it is brownish and less attractive to the eye, but much more nutritious as well as cheaper. Having no laxative qualities, rice forms a light and digestible food for those in whom there is any tendency to diarrhoea or dysentery, but it contains less potash and vegetable acids than potatoes.
A decoction of rice, commonly called ricewater is recommended in the Pharmacopceia of India as an excellent demulcent, refrigerant drink in febrile and inflammatory diseases, and in dysuria and similar affections. It may be acidulated with lime-juice and sweetened with sugar. This may also be used as an enema in affections of the bowels.
A poultice of rice may be used as a substitute for one of linseed meal, and finelypowdered rice flour may be used, like that of wheat flour, for erysipelas, burns, scalds, etc.
Rice starch may be used medicinally and in other ways in place of wheat starch.
A few years ago the injurious habit of chewing the raw white grains was practised by fashionable women and girls to produce a white velvety complexion.
Botanical: Hesperis matronalis
Family: N.O. Cruciferae
Medicinal Action and Uses
Eruca sativa. Dame's Rocket. White Rocket. Purple Rocket. Rucchette. Roquette. Dame's Violet. Vesper-Flower.
These biennial plants are natives of Italy, but are found throughout most of Central and Mediterranean Europe, and in Britain and Russian Asia as escapes from gardens. The stems are very erect, and grow from 2 to 3 feet in height, with spearshaped, pointed leaves. The flowers, white purple, or variegated, are produced in a simple thyrse at the top of the stalk. Johnson wrote of a double-white variety in 1633. The Siberian Rocket is almost identical. The seeds are like those of mustard, but larger.
The leaves are very acrid in taste, and in many countries, especially in Germany, they are eaten like cress in salads.
In the language of flowers, the Rocket has been taken to represent deceit, since it gives out a lovely perfume in the evening, but in the daytime has none. Hence its name of Hesperis, or Vesper-Flower, given it by the Ancients.
For eating purposes, the plant should be gathered before flowering, but for medicinal use, when in flower.
The properties of the cultivated Rocket resemble those of the Cochlearea, but its taste is less acrid and piquant.
---Medicinal Action and Uses---
In former days doctors combined with poets in attributing marvellous virtues to this plant. It is regarded principally as antiscorbutic.
A strong dose will cause vomiting, and may be taken in the place of ipecacuanha. Powdered, the effect is less strong than that of mustard.
The Sea-Rocket or Cakile maritima, Eruca marina, often found on sandhills, is very acrid, and can be used as an antiscorbutic, being prescribed in scrofulous affections, lymphatic disturbances, and the malaise that follows malaria. It is important not to confuse it with the real Rocket.
Botanical: Rosmarinus officinalis (LINN.)
Family: N.O. Labiatae
Medicinal Action and Uses
Polar Plant. Compass-weed. Compass Plant. Rosmarinus coronarium.
(Old French) Incensier.
---Parts Used---Herb, root.
The evergreen leaves of this shrubby herb are about 1 inch long, linear, revolute, dark green above and paler and glandular beneath, with an odour pungently aromatic and somewhat camphoraceous. The flowers are small and pale blue. Much of the active volatile principle resides in their calyces. There are silver and goldstriped varieties, but the green-leaved variety is the kind used medicinally.
Rosemary is propagated by seeds, cuttings and layers, and division of roots. (1) Seeds may be sown upon a warm, sunny border. (2) Cuttings, taken in August, 6 inches long, and dibbled into a shady border, two-thirds of their length in the ground, under a hand-glass, will root and be ready for transplanting into permanent quarters the following autumn. (3) Layering may be readily accomplished in summer by pegging some of the lower branches under a little sandy soil.
Rosemary succeeds best in a light, rather dry soil, and in a sheltered situation, such as the base of a low wall with a south aspect. On a chalk soil it grows smaller, but is more fragrant. The silver- and gold-striped kinds are not quite so hardy.
The finest plants are said to be raised from seed.
The Ancients were well acquainted with the shrub, which had a reputation for strengthening the memory. On this account it became the emblem of fidelity for lovers. It holds a special position among herbs from the symbolism attached to it. Not only was it used at weddings, but also at funerals, for decking churches and banqueting halls at festivals, as incense in religious ceremonies, and in magical spells.
At weddings, it was entwined in the wreath worn by the bride, being first dipped into scented water. Anne of Cleves, we are told, wore such a wreath at her wedding. A Rosemary branch, richly gilded and tied with silken ribands of all colors, was also presented to wedding guests, as a symbol of love and loyalty. Together with an orange stuck with cloves it was given as a New Year's gift - allusions to this custom are to be found in Ben Jonson's plays.
Miss Anne Pratt (Flowers and their Associations) says:
'But it was not among the herbalists and apothecaries merely that Rosemary had its reputation for peculiar virtues. The celebrated Doctor of Divinity, Roger Hacket, did not disdain to expatiate on its excellencies in the pulpit. In a sermon which he entitles "A Marriage Present," which was published in 1607, he says: "Speaking of the powers of rosemary, it overtoppeth all the flowers in the garden, boasting man's rule. It helpeth the brain, strengtheneth the memorie, and is very medicinable for the head. Another property of the rosemary is, it affects the heart. Let this rosmarinus, this flower of men ensigne of your wisdom, love and loyaltie, be carried not only in your hands, but in your hearts and heads." '
Sir Thomas More writes:
'As for Rosmarine, I lett it runne all over my garden walls, not onlie because my bees love it, but because it is the herb sacred to remembrance, and, therefore, to friendship; whence a sprig of it hath a dumb language that maketh it the chosen emblem of our funeral wakes and in our buriall grounds.'
In early times, Rosemary was freely cultivated in kitchen gardens and came to represent the dominant influence of the house mistress 'Where Rosemary flourished, the woman ruled.'
The Treasury of Botany says:
'There is a vulgar belief in Gloucestershire and other counties, that Rosemary will not grow well unless where the mistress is "master"; and so touchy are some of the lords of creation upon this point, that we have more than once had reason to suspect them of privately injuring a growing rosemary in order to destroy this evidence of their want of authority.'
Rosemary was one of the cordial herbs used to flavour ale and wine. It was also used in Christmas decoration.
'Down with the rosemary and so,
Down with the baies and mistletoe,
Down with the holly, ivie all
Wherewith ye deck the Christmas Hall.'
In place of more costly incense, the ancients used Rosemary in their religious ceremonies. An old French name for it was Incensier.
The Spaniards revere it as one of the bushes that gave shelter to the Virgin Mary in the flight into Egypt and call it Romero, the Pilgrim's Flower. Both in Spain and Italy, it has been considered a safeguard from witches and evil influences generally. The Sicilians believe that young fairies, taking the form of snakes, lie amongst the branches.
It was an old custom to burn Rosemary in sick chambers, and in French hospitals it is customary to burn Rosemary with Juniper berries to purify the air and prevent infection. Like Rue, it was placed in the dock of courts of justice, as a preventative from the contagion of gaol-fever. A sprig of Rosemary was carried in the hand at funerals, being distributed to the mourners before they left the house, to be cast on to the coffin when it had been lowered into the grave. In many parts of Wales it is still a custom.
One old legend compares the growth of the plant with the height of the Saviour and declares that after thirty-three years it increases in breadth, but never in height.
There is a tradition that Queen Philippa's mother (Countess of Hainault) sent the first plants of Rosemary to England, and in a copy of an old manuscript in the library of Trinity College, Cambridge, the translator, 'danyel bain,' says that Rosemary was unknown in England until this Countess sent some to her daughter.
Miss Rohde gives the following quotation from Banckes' Herbal:
'Take the flowers thereof and make powder thereof and binde it to thy right arme in a linnen cloath and it shale make theee light and merrie.
'Take the flowers and put them in thy chest among thy clothes or among thy Bookes and Mothes shall not destroy them.
'Boyle the leaves in white wine and washe thy face therewith and thy browes, and thou shalt have a faire face.
'Also put the leaves under thy bedde and thou shalt be delivered of all evill dreames.
'Take the leaves and put them into wine and it shall keep the wine from all sourness and evill savours, and if thou wilt sell thy wine thou shalt have goode speede.
'Also if thou be feeble boyle the leaves in cleane water and washe thyself and thou shalt wax shiny.
'Also if thou have lost appetite of eating boyle well these leaves in cleane water and when the water is colde put thereunto as much of white wine and then make sops, eat them thereof wel and thou shalt restore thy appetite againe.
'If thy legges be blowen with gowte, boyle the leaves in water and binde them in a linnen cloath and winde it about thy legges and it shall do thee much good.
'If thou have a cough drink the water of the leaves boyld in white wine and ye shall be whole.
'Take the Timber thereof and burn it to coales and make powder thereof and rubbe thy teeth thereof and it shall keep thy teeth from all evils. Smell it oft and it shall keep thee youngly.
'Also if a man have lost his smellyng of the ayre that he may not draw his breath, make a fire of the wood, and bake his bread therewith, eate it and it shall keepe him well.
'Make thee a box of the wood of rosemary and smell to it and it shall preserve thy youth.'
From the Grete Herbal:
'ROSEMARY. - For weyknesse of ye brayne. Against weyknesse of the brayne and coldenesse thereof, sethe rosemaria in wyne and lete the pacyent receye the smoke at his nose and keep his heed warme.'
The oil of Rosemary, distilled from the flowering tops, as directedin the British Pharmacopceia, is a superior oil to that obtained from the stem and leaves, but nearly all the commercial oil is distilled from the stem and leaves of the wild plant before it is in flower. (Rosemary is one of the plants like lavender which grows better in England than anywhere, else, and English oil of Rosemary, though it is infinitely superior to what of other countries, is hardly found in commerce to-day. The bulk of the commercial oil comes from France, Dalamatia, Spain and Japan. - EDITOR)
The upper portions of the shoots are taken, with the leaves on and the leaves are stripped off the portions of the shoots that are very wooden.
The plant contains some tannic acid, together with a resin and a bitter principle and a volatile oil. The chief constituents of the oil are Borneol, bornyl acetate and other esters, a special camphor similar to that possessed by the myrtle, cineol, pinene and camphene. It is colorless, with the odour of Rosemary and a warm camphoraceous taste. The chief adulterants of oil of Rosemary are oil of turpentine and petroleum. Rosemary yields its virtues partly to water and entirely to rectified spirits of wine.
From 100 lb. of the flowering tops, 8 OZ. of the oil are usually obtained.
---Medicinal Action and Uses---
Tonic, astringent, diaphoretic, stimulant. Oil of Rosemary has the carminative properties of other volatile oils and is an excellent stomachic and nervine, curing many cases of headache.
It is employed principally, externally, as spiritus Rosmarini, in hair-lotions, for its odour and effect in stimulating the hair-bulbs to renewed activity and preventing premature baldness. An infusion of the dried plant (both leaves and flowers) combined with borax and used when cold, makes one of the best hairwashes known. It forms an effectual remedy for the prevention of scurf and dandruff.
The oil is also used externally as a rubefacient and is added to liniments as a fragrant stimulant. Hungary water, for outward application to renovate the vitality of paralysed limbs, was first invented for a Queen of Hungary, who was said to have been completely cured by its continued use. It was prepared by putting 1 1/2 lb. of fresh Rosemary tops in full flower into 1 gallon of spirits of wine, this was allowed to stand for four days and then distilled. Hungary water was also considered very efficacious against gout in the hands and feet, being rubbed into them vigorously.
A formula dated 1235, said to be in the handwriting of Elizabeth, Queen of Hungary, is said to be preserved in Vienna.
Rosemary Wine when taken in small quantities acts as a quieting cordial to a weak heart subject to palpitation, and relieves accompanying dropsy by stimulating the kidneys. It is made by chopping up sprigs of green Rosemary and pouring on them white wine, which is strained off after a few days and is then ready for use. By stimulating the brain and nervous system, it is a good remedy for headaches caused by feeble circulation.
The young tops, leaves and flowers can be made into an infusion, called Rosemary Tea, which, taken warm, is a good remedy for removing headache, colic, colds and nervous diseases, care being taken to prevent the escape of steam during its preparation. It will relieve nervous depression. A conserve, made by beating up the freshly gathered tops with three times their weight of sugar, is said to have the same effect.
A spirit of Rosemary may be used, in doses of 30 drops in water or on sugar, as an antispasmodic.
Rosemary and Coltsfoot leaves are considered good when rubbed together and smoked for asthma and other affections of the throat and lungs.
Rosemary is also one of the ingredients used in the preparation of Eau-de-Cologne.
Oil, 1/2 to 3 drops. Spirit, B.P., 5 to 20 drops.
Family: N.O. Rosaceae
Cyprus Otto of roses
Roses in Germany, Algiers and Morocco
Indian Rose Otto
Medicinal Action and Uses
Collection and Preparations
Constituents, Red Rose petals
Roses are a group of herbaceous shrubs found in temperate regions throughout both hemispheres. All the Roses of the Antipodes, South Africa and the temperate parts of South America have been carried there by cultivation.
The birthplace of the cultivated Rose was probably Northern Persia, on the Caspian, or Faristan on the Gulf of Persia. Thence it spread across Mesopotamia to Palestine and across Asia Minor to Greece. And thus it was that Greek colonists brought it to Southern Italy. It is beyond doubt that the Roses used in ancient days were cultivated varieties. Horace, who writes at length on horticulture, gives us an interesting account of the growing of Roses in beds. Pliny advises the deep digging of the soil for their better cultivation. In order to force their growth, it was the practice to dig a ditch round the plants and to pour warm water into the ditch just as the rose-buds had formed. The varieties were then very limited in number, but it would appear that the Romans, at all events, knew and cultivated the red Provins Rose (Rosa gallica), often mistakenly called the Provence Rose. The word rosa comes from the Greek word rodon (red), and the rose of the Ancients was of a deep crimson color, which probably suggested the fable of its springing from the blood of Adonis.
The voluptuous Romans of the later Empire made lavish use of the blossoms of the Rose. Horace enjoins their unsparing use at banquets, when they were used not only as a means of decoration, but also to strew the floors, and even in winter the luxurious Romans expected to have petals of roses floating in their Falernian wine. Roman brides and bridegrooms were crowned with roses, so too were the images of Cupid and Venus and Bacchus. Roses were scattered at feasts of Flora and Hymen, in the paths of victors, or beneath their chariot-wheels, or adorned the prows of their war-vessels. Nor did the self-indulgent Romans disdain to wear rose garlands at their feasts, as a preventive against drunkenness. To them, the Rose was a sign of pleasure, the companion of mirth and wine, but it was also used at their funerals.
As soon as the Rose had become known to nations with a wide literature of their own, it was not only the theme of poets, but gave rise to many legends. Homer's allusions to it in the Iliad and Odyssey are the earliest records, and Sappho, the Greek poetess, writing about 600 B.C., selects the Rose as the Queen of Flowers. (The 'Rose of Sharon' of the Old Testament is considered to be a kind of Narcissus, and the 'Rose of Jericho' is a small woody annual, also not allied to the Rose.)
It was once the custom to suspend a Rose over the dinner-table as a sign that all confidences were to be held sacred. Even now the plaster ornament in the centre of a ceiling is known as 'the rose.' It has been suggested that because the Pretender could only be helped secretly, sub rosa, that the Jacobites took the white rose as his symbol. Although we have no British 'Order of the Rose,' our national flower figures largely in the insignia of other orders, such as the Garter, the order of the Bath, etc.
The essential oil to which the perfume of the Rose is due is found in both flowers and leaves, sometimes in one, sometimes in both, and sometimes in neither, for there are also scentless roses. In the flower, the petals are the chief secreting part of the blossom, though a certain amount of essential oil resides in the epidermal layers of cells, both surfaces of the petals being equally odorous and secretive. An examination of the stamens, which are transformed into petals in the cultivated roses, shows that the epidermal cells also contain essential oil.
More than 10,000 roses are known in cultivation and three types of odours are recognized, viz. those of the Cabbage Rose (R. centifolia), the Damask Rose (R. damascena) and the Tea Rose (R. indica), but there are many roses of intermediate character as regards perfume, notably the 'perpetual hybrid' and 'hybrid tea' classes, which exhibit every gradation between the three types and no precise classification of roses by their odour is possible.
The flowers adapted for the preparation of essence of roses are produced by several species of rose trees. The varieties cultivated on a large scale for perfumery purposes are R. damascena and R. centifolia. R. damascena is cultivated chiefly in Bulgaria, Persia and India: it is a native of the Orient and was introduced into Europe at the period of the Crusades. R. centifolia is cultivated in Provence, Turkey and Tunis; it has been found wild in the forests of the Caucasus, where double-flowered specimens are often met with.
Although the Rose was highly esteemed in the dawn of history, it does not appear that it was then submitted to the still, the method of preserving the aroma being to steep the petals in oil, or possibly to extract it in the form of a pomade. The Oleum Rosarum, Ol. rosatum or Ol. rosacetum of the Ancients was not a volatile oil, but a fatty oil perfumed with rose petals. The first preparation of rosewater by Avicenna was in the tenth century. It was between 1582 and 1612 that the oil or OTTO OF ROSES was discovered, as recorded in two separate histories of the Grand Moguls. At the wedding feast of the princess Nour-Djihan with the Emperor Djihanguyr, son of Akbar, a canal circling the whole gardens was dug and filled with rose-water. The heat of the sun separating the water from the essential oil of the Rose, was observed by the bridal pair when rowing on the fragrant water. It was skimmed off and found to be an exquisite perfume. The discovery was immediately turned to account and the manufacture of Otto of Roses was commenced in Persia about 1612 and long before the end of the seventeenth century the distilleries of Shiraz were working on a large scale. The first mention of Persian Otto or Attar of Roses is by Kampfer (1683), who alludes to the export to India. Persia no longer exports Attar of Roses to any extent, and the production in Kashmir and elsewhere in India - probably as ancient as that of Persia - practically serves for local consumption only.
Through the Turks, the manufacture was introduced into Europe, by way of Asia Minor, where it has long been produced. It is probable that the first otto was distilled in Bulgaria, then part of the Turkish Empire, about 1690 - its sale in Europe, at a high cost, is first alluded to in 1694 - but the importance of the Turkish otto industry is of comparatively late growth, and Turkish otto is not mentioned as an article of English commerce until the beginning of the last century.
A small amount of Otto of Roses has been produced in the South of France for at least 150 years, having been an established industry there before the French Revolution, but these earlier French ottos, almost entirely derived from R. centifolia, as a by-product in rose-water distillation, were consumed in the country itself. French roses were almost exclusively used for the manufacture of rosepomade and of rose-water, the French rosewater having the reputation of being superior in odour to any that can be produced in England. In spite of their unrivalled delicacy of fragrance, which always commanded a high place in the estimation of connoisseurs, until recent years the high price and lack of body of French ottos did not enable them to compete for general purposes with the Balkan concrete oil. When, however, Bulgaria joined the Central Empires, the French seized their opportunity, and methods of distillation were modernized, improved stills were erected and many other blooms than those of R. centifolia were experimented with, until now French otto has made itself a place in perfumery. Large plantations of roses have been laid down, and the output of otto is increasing steadily, 10,000 to 20,000 OZ. being at present the annual production. French chemists, botanists and horticulturists have studied the scientific aspect of the Rose, and in the new roses introduced, the chief object has been to improve the odour rather than the appear ance of the flower. The variety of rose mostly cultivated is the Rose de Mai, a hybrid of R. gallica and R. centifolia, bearing recurved prickles on the flowering branches. Two types are grown in the Grasse district, one more spiny than the other. They are mingled in the plantations, but the more spiny is preferred for less irrigated ground and the one with fewer thorns for wellwatered land. The bushes are planted half a metre apart, in rows one metre asunder. The first fortnight in May sees the rose harvest. The buds open gradually and are numerous, as each stalk bears a dense cluster and all the annual stems are well-covered. In the second half of May, after flowering, they are cut back and the complete pruning takes place in the following November. A rose plantation lasts from eight to ten years. Five thousand rose-trees will occupy about 1/2 acre of land and will produce about 2,200 lb. of flowers during the season. It is necessary to distil about 10,000 lb. of roses to obtain 1 lb. of oil. By the volatile solvents process a similar quantity will give anything up to 10 lb. of concrete. The rose-trees cultivated at Grasse in the last few years have been much attacked by disease, and in the opinion of some authorities the variety most grown hitherto would appear to be degenerating. The plantations are all more or less attacked by the rose rust parasite (Pragmidium subcorticium).
Quite recently a new and very promising rose has been introduced, known as the Rose de Hai, produced by crossing R. damascena with 'General Jacqueminot,' which in its turn is derived from R. rugosa, or the Japanese and Kamschatkan Rose. It has the advantage of not being so sensitive to heat and cold as the Rose de Mai and can be cultivated in the north of France, or as far south as Algeria. Its flowering period is much longer than that of the Rose de Mai and it gives more blooms and the oil is of almost equal quality. A certain amount of French otto is also distilled from garden roses. 'Ulrich Brunner,' distilled with other garden blooms, give a fair quality oil or concrete, known as 'Roses de France.' Other varieties which frequently enter into the composition of 'Roses de France' concretes are 'Grussan Teplitz,' 'Frau Karl Druschky,' Narbonnand, Van Houtte, Safrano, Paul Neyron, Madame Gabriel Luizet, Madame Caroline Testout, Baronne de Rothschild, Mrs. John Laing, Madame Maurice de Luze, François Juranville, Gerbe Rose and Gloire d'un Enfant d'Hiram.
Oil of Rose is light yellow in color, sometimes possessing a green tint. It has a strong odour of fresh roses. When cooled, it congeals to a translucent soft mass, which is again liquefied by the warmth of the hand. The congealing point lies between 15 degrees and 22 degrees C., mostly between 17 degrees and 21 degrees C.
The composition of Rose oil is not quite uniform, the variation being due to a number of influences, the chief being the kind of flower and the locality in which it has been grown. The Rose oil from plants grown in colder climates contains a very high percentage of the waxy substance stearoptene, odourless and valueless as a perfume. This was the first constituent of Rose oil to be studied and was recognized as paraffin hydrocarbon by Fluckiger: it consists of a mixture of hydrocarbons. Sometimes this stearoptene is removed by large distillers and the resulting oil sold at a higher price as stearoptene-free Otto of Roses. Geraniol and Citronellol are the chief ingredients of Rose oil as regards percentage, though not the most characteristic as regards odour. Citronellol, a fragrant, oily liquid, forms about 35 per cent of the oil. Geraniol, which may be present to the amount of 75 per cent, is a colorless liquid, with a sweet, rose-like odour. It is also found in Palmarosa or Turkish Geranium oil and in oils of Citronella, Lavender, Neroli, Petit Grain, Ylang Ylang, Lemongrass and some Eucalyptus oils. It is largely obtained industrially from the oils of Palmarosa and Citronella and is much used to adulterate Otto of Roses. The temptation to adulterate so expensive an oil is great and it is widely practised. Bulgaria usually exports from 30 to 60 per cent more otto than is distilled in the country. This is due to the enormous amount of adulteration that takes place. This is so well done that a chemical analysis is imperative to ascertain the purity of the oil. The principal adulterant is Geraniol. The addition of this, or of Palmarosa oil, which contains it, either to the rose leaves before distillation, or to the product, reduces the congealing point, but this can be brought up to the normal standard by the addition of spermaceti. Hence in addition to the congealing point, the determination of the absence of spermaceti may become necessary. Another recent adulterant of importance, employed in Bulgaria, is the Guaiac Wood Oil, from Bulnesia sarmienti, which has an agreeable tea-rose-like odour. It can be recognized by the microscopic examination of the form of the crystals of guaicol, which separate from the oil on cooling. Guaicol forms needle-shaped crystals which are characterized by a channel-like middle-line. The crystals of the Rose oil paraflin are smaller and thinner and possess less sharply-outlined forms. The addition of Guaiac Wood oil to Rose oil raises the congealing point of the oil and increases the specific gravity and its presence may thus be detected.
A satisfactory artificial Otto of Rose cannot be obtained by the exclusive combination of aromatic chemicals, some of the natural oil must always enter into the composition of any artificial rose oil, or a purely synthetic oil may be distilled over a certain quantity of rose petals. A striking difference between synthetic and natural rose oils is that the former is almost entirely deodorized by iodine, while the latter is unaffected in this respect.
Apart from French Otto of Roses, the world's supply is mainly drawn from Bulgaria, the greater part being distilled by small peasant growers. The Bulgarian rose industry is confined to one special mountain district, having for its centre the town of Kazanlik. The rose district is about 80 miles long and about 30 miles wide and its average elevation about 1,300 feet above the sea-level. Attempts to extend the rose culture to other neighbouring districts in Bulgaria have proved a failure. The rose bush seems to thrive best in sandy soil, well exposed to the sun, protected from the cold winter winds and having perfect drainage. It is chiefly the mountain formation, the climatic peculiarities and the special sandy soil of the rose district which adapt it for this industry, in which, in addition to their other farm culture, about 180 villages are engaged. There are about 20,000 small proprietors of rose gardens, each one owning about 1 acre of rose plantation, which, when well tended, is calculated to yield at the average 100 lb. of flowers every day for three weeks.
Only two varieties of roses are cultivated in Bulgaria, the Damask Rose (R. damascena), light red in color and very fragrant, with 36 petals, and the Musk Rose (R. muscatta), a snow-white rose, far less fragrant, yielding an oil of poorer quality, very rich in stearoptene, but containing very little otto. It is of more vigorous growth and is grown chiefly for hedges between the plantations to indicate the divisions of the rose fields. The rose bushes only yield one crop a year, the harvest beginning in the latter half of May and lasting from two to five weeks, according to the weather. The weather during the rose harvest has a great influence on the quality and quantity of the crop - should it be exceptionally dry and hot, the crop may only last two weeks and be poor, but if it be cool, with some rainfall, there is a rich yield, lasting over four or even six weeks. The weather during the budding season has also to be reckoned with, dry and hot weather causing the bushes to throw out only very small clusters of buds, while in favourable weather 13, 21 and even 18 buds will be found in the clusters. The flowers are gathered in the early morning, just before the sun rises and the picking should cease by ten or eleven o'clock, unless the day be cloudy, when it continues all day. The flowers are distilled on the same day. It takes 30 roses to make 1 drop of otto and 60,000 roses (about 180 lb. of flowers) to make 1 OZ. of otto.
The small stills used by the farmers are very simple and primitive and are only capable of distilling at a time 24 lb. of flowers, but they are gradually being replaced by modern, improved, large steam stills, which obtain results immeasurably greater. In 1918, some far-sighted and influential roseessence producers in Bulgaria combined to unite all parties interested in this industry into an association for mutual advantage. Of the membership of 5,000 nearly half were collective members, i.e. co-operative societies, so that the membership represents a very large number of growers. The objects of the association are: (1) to procure cheap credit for its members; (2) to prevent adulteration; (3) to organize joint distillation; (4) to provide the societies with the requisite apparatus for producing the otto.
The Bulgarian rose industry has developed steadily since 1885, though the Great War seriously handicapped it.
Bulgarian rose distillers do not obtain all their otto direct from the petals, but draw the greater part by treating the water. They charge the alembic with ten kills of flowers (about 25 lb.) and about 50 litres of water. They draw from this charge, 10 litres of distilled water, from which they gather a very small quantity of green concrete essence. When they have made four distillations, they carefully collect the 40 litres of water and redistil, and obtain 10 or 15 litres of liquid. It is reckoned that 4,000 kilos of flowers yield 1 kilo of otto, of which only one-third - the green essence - comes from the first distillation and the other two-thirds - yellow - are the result of re-distilling the waters. This is the reason why in France, some 10,000 kilos of flowers are required for 1 kilo of oil, as French distillers do not re-distil the waters; these are sold separately. The product of the first operation is of markedly superior quality.
In 1919 the entire Bulgarian crop of Otto of Roses was taken over by the Government of that country in consequence of an agreement between the Bulgarian Government and the United States Food Administration, by which payment for food supplied to Bulgaria from America was to be made out of the proceeds of the Bulgarian otto crop.
---Cyprus Otto of Roses---
In Cyprus, rose cultivation for Otto has of late years beenkeenly developed. It had been prepared since 1897 in a very small way with native stills at the village of Milikouri, where the Damask Rose is abundant, but no attempt had been made to extract the Rose oil by means of a modern still. The closing of the market for Bulgarian Otto of Roses, owing to the War, gave an impetus to the industry, and in the spring of 1917 the Department of Agriculture of Cyprus sent qualified officers to superintend the work at Milikouri and to carry out an experimental distillation. The samples of 1917 oil sent to the Imperial Institute were found to be similar to the Bulgarian article, though rather weaker.
---Roses in Germany, Algiers and Morocco---Otto of Roses is also prepared in Algiers to a limited extent and in Germany, from large rose plantations near Leipzig.
The cultivation of roses is already extensively practised in Morocco for the distillation of rose-water, which enters so largely into native perfumery, but there is no production of Otto of Roses on a commercial scale.
---Indian Rose Otto---
The two main centres of the Rose industry in India are Ghazipore and Hathras, in Upper India. Rose plantations exist in the neighbourhood of both these places, but the industry is confined to the manufacture of rose-water and small quantities of Aytar - a mixture of Sandalwood oil and Otto of Roses.
---Medicinal Action and Uses---
The petals of the dark red Rose, R. gallica, known as the Provins Rose, are employed medicinally for the preparation of an infusion and a confection. In this country it is specially grown for medicinal purposes in Oxfordshire and Derbyshire.
The petals of this rose are of a deep, purplish-red, velvety in texture, paler towards the base. They have the delicate fragrance of the Damask Rose and a slightly astringent taste.
The British Pharmacopoeia directs that Red Rose petals are to be obtained only from R. gallica, of which, however, there are many variations, in fact there are practically no pure R. gallica now to be had, only hybrids, so that the exact requirements of the British Pharmacopoeia are difficult to follow. Those used in medicine and generally appearing in commerce are actually any scented roses of a deep red color, or when dried of a deep rose tint. The main point is that the petals suitable for medicinal purposes must yield a deep rose-colored and somewhat astringent and fragrant infusion when boiling water is poured upon them. The most suitable are the so-called Hybrid Perpetuals, flowering from June to October, among which may be specially recommended the varieties:
Eugène Furst, deep dark red, sweet-scented.
General Jacqueminot, a fine, rich crimson, scented rose.
Hugh Dickson, rather a large petalled one, but of a fine, deep red color and sweetscented.
Ulrich Brunner, bright-red.
Richmond, deep crimson-red.
---Collection and Preparation---
When employed for the preparation of the drug, only flower-buds just about to open are collected, no fully-expanded flowers. They must only be gathered in dry weather and no petals of any roses that have suffered from effects of damp weather must be taken. The whole of the unexpanded petals are plucked from the calyx so that they remain united in small conical masses, leaving the stamens behind. Any stamens that may have come away with the petals should be shaken out. The lighter-colored, lower portion is then cut off from the deep purplish-red upper part. The little masses, kept as entire as possible, are used in the fresh state for preparation of the 'confection,' but for making the infusion, they are dried carefully and quickly on trays in a good current of warm air. They are dried until crisp and while crisp packed in tins that the color and crispness may be retained. If exposed to the air, they will re-absorb moisture and lose color.
---Constituents, Red Rose Pedals---
The important constituent of Red Rose petals is the red coloring matter of an acid nature. There have also been isolated two yellow crystalline substances, the glucoside Quercitrin, which has been found in many other plants and Quercetin, yielded when Quercitrin is boiled with a dilute mineral acid. The astringency is due to a little gallic acid, but it has not yet been definitely proved whether quercitannic acid, the tannin of oak bark, is also a constituent. The odour is due to a very small amount of volatile oil, not identical with the official Ol. Rosae. A considerable amount of sugar, gum. fat, etc., are also present.
Red Rose petals are official in nearly all Pharmacopoeias. Though formerly employed for their mild astringency and tonic value, they are to-day used almost solely to impart their pleasant odour to pharmaceutical preparations. The British Pharmacopceia preparations are a Confection, Acid Infusion and a Fluid Extract. The Confection is directed to be made by beating 1 lb. of fresh Red Rose petals in a stone mortar with 3 lb. of sugar. It is mostly used in pill making. Formerly this was prescribed for haemorrhage of the lungs and for coughs. The United States official confection is made by rubbing Red Rose petals, powdered, with heated rose-water, adding gradually fine, white sugar and heating the whole together till thoroughly mixed. The Fluid Extract is made from powdered Red Rose petals with glycerine and dilute alcohol. It is of a deep red color, an agreeable odour of rose and of a pleasant, mildly astringent taste. The Acid Infusion is made from dried, broken-up, Red Rose petals, diluted with sulphuric acid, sugar and boiling water, infused in a covered vessel for 15 minutes and strained. It has a fine red color and agreeable flavour and has been employed for its astringent effects in the treatment of stomatitis and pharyngitis. Its virtue is principally due to the aromatic sulphuric acid which it contains and the latter ingredient renders it a useful preparation, in the treatment of nightsweats resulting from depression. A Simple (non-acid) Infusion is mainly used as a flavouring for other medicines. It is also used as a lotion for ophthalmia, etc.
Syrup of Red Rose, official in the United States Pharmacopceia, is used to impart an agreeable flavour and odour to other syrups and mixtures. The syrup is of a fine red color and has an agreeable, acidulous, somewhat astringent taste. Honey of Roses, also official in the United States Pharmacopoeia, is prepared from clarified honey and fluid extract of roses. It is considered more agreeable than ordinary honey and somewhat astringent. In olden days, Honey of Roses was popular for sore throats and ulcerated mouth and was made by pounding fresh petals in a small quantity of boiling water, filtering the mass and boiling the liquid with honey. Rose Vinegar, a specific on the Continent for headache caused by hot sun, is prepared by steeping dried rose petals in best distilled vinegar, which should not be boiled. Cloths or linen rags are soaked in the liquid and are then applied to the head.
Two liqueurs made by the French also have rose petals as one of the chief ingredients. A small quantity of spirits of wine is distilled with the petals to produce 'Spirit of Roses.' The fragrant spirit, when mixed with sugar, undergoes certain preparatory processes and makes the liqueur called 'L' Huile de Rose.' It is likewise the base of another liqueur, called 'Parfait Amour.
Medicinal Action and Uses
The pale petals of the Hundred-leaved Rose or Cabbage Rose are also used in commerce. On account of its fragrance, the petals of this variety of rose are much used in France for distillation of rose-water. Though possessing aperient properties, they are seldom now used internally and preparations of them are not official in the British Pharmacopoeia.
The roses grouped as varieties of R. centifolia have all less scent than R. gallica.
The best of them is the old Cabbage Rose. It is a large rose, sweet-scented, of a pink or pale rose-purple color, the petals whitish towards the base. Its branches are covered with numerous nearly straight spines: the petioles and peduncles are nearly unarmed, but more or less clothed with glandular bristles and the leaves have five or sometimes seven ovate, glandular leaflets, softly hairy beneath. This species and its varieties have given rise to innumerable handsome garden roses.
The flowers are collected and deprived of the calyx and ovaries, the petals alone being employed. In drying, they become brownish and lose some of their delicious rose odour.
The Constituents of the Pink Rose are closely similar to those of the Red. The very little coloring matter is apparently identical with that of the Red Rose. A little tannin is present.
Rose-water. The British Pharmacopceia directs that it shall be prepared by mixing the distilled rose-water of commerce, obtained mostly from R. damascena, but also from R. centifolia and other species, with twice its volume of distilled water immediately before use. It is used as a vehicle for other medicines and as an eye lotion. Triple rose-water is water saturated with volatile oil of Rose petals, obtained as a by-product in the distillation of oil of Roses. The finest rose-water is obtained by distillation of the fresh petals. It should be clear and colorless, not mucilaginous, and to be of value medicinally must be free from all metallic impurities, which may be detected by hydrogen sulphide and ammonium sulphide, neither of which should produce turbidity in the water.
Ointment of rose-water, commonly known as Cold Cream, enjoys deserved popularity as a soothing, cooling application for chapping of the hands, face, abrasions and other superficial lesions of the skin. For its preparation, the British Pharmacopceia directs that 1 1/2 OZ. each of spermaceti and white wax be melted with 9 OZ. of Almond oil, the mixture poured into a warmed mortar and 7 fluid ounces of rose-water and 8 minims of oil of Rose then incorporated with it.
---Medicinal Action and Uses---
The old herbalists considered the Red Rose to be more binding and more astringent than any of the other species:
'it strengtheneth the heart, the stomach, the liver and the retentive faculty; is good against all kinds of fluxes, prevents vomiting, stops tickling coughs and is of service in consumption. '
Culpepper gives many uses for the Rose, both white and red and damask.
'Of the Red Roses are usually made many compositions, all serving to sundry good uses, viz. electuary of roses, conserve both moist and dry, which is usually called sugar of roses, syrup of dry roses and honey of roses; the cordial powder called aromatic rosarum, the distilled water of roses, vinegar of roses, ointment and oil of roses and the rose leaves dried are of very great use and effect.'
'The electuary,' he tells us, 'is purging and is good in hot fevers, jaundice and jointaches. The moist conserve is of much use both binding and cordial, the old conserve mixed with aromaticum rosarum is a very good preservative in the time of infection. The dry conserve called the sugar of roses is a very good cordial against faintings, swoonings, weakness and trembling of the heart, strengthens a weak stomach, promotes digestion and is a very good preservative in the time of infection. The dry conserve called the sugar of roses is a very good cordial to strengthen the heart and spirit. The syrup of roses cooleth an over-heated liver and the blood in agues, comforteth the heart and resisteth putrefaction and infection. Honey of roses is used in gargles and lotions to wash sores, either in the mouth, throat or other parts, both to cleanse and heal them. Red rose-water is well known, it is cooling, cordial, refreshing, quickening the weak and faint spirits, used either in meats or broths to smell at the nose, or to smell the sweet vapours out of a perfume pot, or cast into a hot fire-shovel. It is of much use against the redness and inflammation of the eyes to bathe therewith and the temples of the head. The ointment of roses is much used against heat and inflammation of the head, to anoint the forehead and temples and to cool and heal red pimples. Oil of roses is used to cool hot inflammation or swellings and to bind and stay fluxes of humours to sores and is also put into ointments and plasters that are cooling and binding. The dried leaves of the red roses are used both outwardly and inwardly; they cool, bind and are cordial. Rose-leaves and mint, heated and applied outwardly to the stomach, stay castings, strengthen a weak stomach and applied as a fomentation to the region of the liver and heart, greatly cool and temper them, quiet the over-heated spirits and cause rest and sleep. The decoction of red roses made with white wine and used is very good for head-ache and pains in the eyes, ears, throat and gums.'
Rose-water, B.P., 1 to 2 OZ. Fluid extract, 1/2 to 1 drachm. Confec., B.P. and U.S.P., 2 to 4 drachms. Infusion acid, B.P., 1/2 to 1 OZ. Syrup U.S.P. Oil, B.P.
In modern herbal medicine the flowers of the common Red Rose dried are given in infusions and sometimes in powder for haemorrhage. A tincture is made from them by pouring 1 pint of boiling water on 1 OZ. of the dried petals, adding 15 drops of oil of Vitriol and 3 or 4 drachms of white sugar. The tincture when strained is of a beautiful red color. Three or four spoonsful of the tincture taken two or three times a day are considered good for strengthening the stomach and a pleasant remedy in all haemorrhages.
Culpepper mentions a syrup made of the pale red petals of the Damask Rose by infusing them 24 hours in boiling water, then straining off the liquor and adding twice the weight of refined sugar to it, stating that this syrup is an excellent purge for children and adults of a costive habit, a small quantity to be taken every night. A conserve of the buds has the same properties as the syrup.
The actual number of the roses indigenous to Great Britain is a subject open to dispute among botanists, as the roses found wild show many variations. Most authorities agree that there are only five distinct types or species: R. canina, the Dog Rose; R. arvensis, the Field Rose; R. rubiginosa, Sweet Briar; R. spinosissima, the Burnet Rose; and R. villosa, the Downy Rose.
Botanical: Rosa canina
The DOG ROSE (R. canina) is a flower of the early summer, its blossoms expanding in the first days of June and being no more to be found after the middle of July. The general growth of the Dog Rose is subject to so much variation that the original species defined by Linnaeus has been divided by later botanists into four or five subspecies. The flowers vary very considerably in color, from almost white to a very deep pink, and have a delicate but refreshing fragrance. The scarlet fruit, or hip (a name that has come down from the Anglo-Saxon hiope), is generally described as 'flask-shaped.' It is what botanists term a false fruit, because it is really the stalk-end that forms it and grows up round the central carpels, enclosing them as a case; the real fruits, each containing one seed, are the little hairy objects within it. Immediately the flower has been fertilized, the receptacle round the immature fruits grows gradually luscious and red and forms the familiar 'hip,' which acts as a bait for birds, by whose agency the seeds are distributed. At first the hips are tough and crowned with the fivecleft calyx leaves, later in autumn they fall and the hips are softer and more fleshy. The pulp of the hips has a grateful acidity. In former times when garden fruit was scarce, hips were esteemed for dessert. Gerard assures us that 'the fruit when it is ripe maketh the most pleasante meats and banketting dishes as tartes and such-like,' the making whereof he commends 'to the cunning cooke and teethe to eate them in the riche man's mouth.' Another old writer says:
'Children with great delight eat the berries thereof when they are ripe and make chains and other pretty geegaws of the fruit; cookes and gentlewomen make tarts and suchlike dishes for pleasure.'
The Germans still use them to make an ordinary preserve and in Russia and Sweden a kind of wine is made by fermenting the fruit.
Rose hips were long official in the Pritish Pharmacopceia for refrigerant and astringent properties, but are now discarded and only used in medicine to prepare the confection of hips used in conjunction with other drugs, the pulp being separated from the skin and hairy seeds and beaten up with sugar. It is astringent and considered strengthening to the stomach and useful in diarrhoea and dysentery, allaying thirst, and for its pectoral qualities good for coughs and spitting of blood. Culpepper states that the hips are 'grateful to the taste and a considerable restorative, fitly given to consumptive persons, the conserve being proper in all distempers of the breast and in coughs and tickling rheums' and that it has 'a binding effect and helps digestion.' He also states that 'the pulp of the hips dried and powdered is used in drink to break the stone and to ease and help the colic.' The constituents of rose hips are malic and citric acids, sugar and small quantities of tannin, resin, wax, malates, citrates and other salts.
The leaves of the Dog Rose when dried and infused in boiling water have often been used as a substitute for tea and have a grateful smell and sub-astringent taste. The flowers, gathered in the bud and dried, are said to be more astringent than the Red Roses. They contain no honey and are visited by insects only for their pollen. Their scent is not strong enough to be of any practical use for distillation purposes.
Two explanations have been put forward for the popular name of this wild rose. The first is founded on an ancient tradition that the root would cure a bite from a mad dog (Pliny affirming that men derived their knowledge of its powers from a dream); and the other and more probable theory that it was the Dag Rose - 'dag' being a dagger - because of its great thorns, and like the 'Dogwood' (originally Dagwood) became changed into 'Dog' by people who did not understand the allusion.
Botanical: Rosa arvensis
The FIELD ROSE (R. arvensis) is generally a much more trailing rose than the Dog Rose, a characteristic which distinguishes it from all our other wild roses. It is widely distributed throughout England, but is much less common in Scotland and Ireland.
The leaves in general form are similar to those of the Dog Rose, but are often rather smaller and their surfaces more shining. The prickles, too, are somewhat smaller in size, but are more hooked. The flowers are white, much less fragrant than those of the Dog Rose and sometimes even scentless. Though occasionally occurring singly on the stem, they are generally in small bunches of three or four at the ends of the twigs, though only one of these at a time will as a rule be found expanded. This species generally comes into blossom rather later than the Dog Rose and continues in bloom a good deal longer. It is one of the chief ornaments of our hedge-rows, in the summer, from the profusion of its blossoms and long trailing stems; and in the autumn, by its scarlet hips, which are more globular in form than those of the Dog Rose. It has its styles united into a central column and not free or separate, as in the Dog Rose.
Botanical: Rosa rubiginosa
The flowers of the Sweet Briar are a little smaller than those of the Dog Rose and generally of a deeper hue, though of a richer tint in some plants than in others. They are in bloom during June and July. The fruit is eggshaped, its broadest part being uppermost or farthest from the stem.
The specific name rubiginosa signifies, in Latin, 'rusty,' the plant having been thus named as both stems and leaves are often of a brownish-red tint. It delights in open copses, though is sometimes found also in old hedgerows and is more specially met with in chalk districts in the south of England.
Its fragrance of foliage is peculiarly its own and has led to it holding a cherished place in many old gardens. Under its older name of Eglantine its praises have been sung by poets.
It takes a shower to bring out the full sweetness of Sweet Briar, when its strong and refreshing fragrance will fill the air and be borne a long distance by the breeze. Though the leaves are so highly odorous, the flowers are almost entirely without scent.
Sweet Briar only obtains a place among perfumes in name, for like many other sweetscented plants, it does not repay the labour of collecting its odour, the fragrant part of the plant being destroyed more or less under treatment. An Essence under this name is, however, prepared, compounded of various floral essences so blended as to resemble the spicy fragrance of the growing plant. In olden days the Sweet Briar was used medicinally.
Briarwood pipes are not made from thewood of either the Sweet Briar or of any wild rose, but from that of the Tree Heath (Erica arborea).
Botanical: Rosa spinosissima
The BURNET ROSE (R. spinosissima), known also as the Pimpernel Rose, or Scotch Rose, is generally found on waste land near the sea, more rarely on dry, heath-clad hills inland. The whole plant rarely attains to more than a foot or so in height. Its stems are armed with numerous, straight thorns - hence its specific name, signifying in Latin 'exceedingly prickly.' The English name is given it from the fact that the general form of its small leaves, with seven or nine leaflets to each leaf, is very similar to those of the Burnet (Poterium sanguisorba) and the Burnet Saxifrage (Pimpinella).
The white or sulphur-tinted flowers are usually placed singly and are rather small. The roundish fruit is so deep a purple as to appear almost black. The juice of the ripe fruit has been used in the preparation of dye: diluted with water, it dyes silk and muslin of a peach color and mixed with alum gives a beautiful violet, but is considered too fugitive to be of any real economic value.
This rose is frequently cultivated in gardens and a great many varieties have been raised from it. The first double variety was found in a wild state in the neighbourhood of Perth and from this one were produced about 50 others. The French have over 100 distinct varieties.
Botanical: Rosa villosa
The DOWNY ROSE (R. villosa) is found only in England in the north and west, but is common in Scotland, Ireland and Wales. It receives its specific name from the downy texture of both sides of the leaves, the Latin word villosa meaning softly hairy.
This species is subject to many variations, five or six of which have been by some botanists considered separate species. The flowers are white or pale pink. The fruit, which is globular, is covered with fine prickles.
The stems of the various kinds of wild rose are often found tufted with little fluffy balls of what look like crimson moss. These are really galls and result from the puncture of a small insect, a kind of wasp - the Rose Gall - in a similar manner as Oak Galls are formed. The wasp punctures a leaf while it is yet undeveloped in the bud and there lays its eggs. Immediately the normal growth of the leaf alters and numerous larvae are formed, which hatch out and creep further into the leaf tissues until the whole swells into the moss-like gall we know. In the Middle Ages these Rose Galls, under the name of Bedeguar, were held in high repute in medicine for their astringency and supposed power of inducing sleep if placed under the pillow at night.
Pot-Pourri of Roses
A Devonshire Recipe
POT-POURRI OF ROSES
All varieties of both R. gallica and R. centifolia are used in the making of pot-pourri, the dried petals of all scented roses being valuable for the purpose as they retain their scent for a considerable time. Nearly every fragrant flower and scented leaf can be used as an ingredient of pot-pourri, blending with suitable spices to give charm to this favourite, old-fashioned sweet mixture, which in winter recalls so delightfully the vanished summer days. It must be understood that rose-petals should preponderate, and that the other component parts ought to be added in such proportions that the scent of one cannot kill the perfume of another.
There are two principal methods of making pot-pourri, the dry and the moist.
For the dry kind, the bulk of the rosepetals is fully dried and everything else - Sweet Geranium and Sweet Verbena leaves, Bay leaves and Lavender is also dried. The best way of drying is to spread out on sheets of paper in an airy room. Anything of lasting scent, such as cedar or sandalwood sawdust, or shavings, can be added. When all is ready, the spices and sweet gums, all in powder, are put together and the whole is thoroughly mixed. For two-thirds of a bushel of dried petals and leaves, the spice mixture is 2 OZ. each of Cloves, Mace and Cinnamon, 1/2 OZ. each of Coriander, Allspice, Gum Storax and Gum Benzoin, and 4 OZ. Violet Powder.
The moist method of preparation takes more time and needs greater care. The rose leaves are not fully, but only partly dried, so that they lose a good half of their bulk and acquire a kind of tough, leathery consistency. To preserve them and to maintain them in this state, a certain proportion of salt is added. The salt is a mixture of half Bay salt and half common salt. Bay Salt is sold in lumps, these are roughly pounded, so that some of it is quite small and the larger pieces are about the size of a small hazel nut, and then mixed with the common salt. The roses must be absolutely dry when picked. The petals are stripped off and carefully separated and laid out to partially dry. The length of time depends on the temperature and atmospheric conditions, but they are usually ready the second day after picking. Large jars of glazed earthenware should be employed for storing the rose leaves, the most convenient being cylindrical, with lids of the same glazed ware and with flat leaded disks (supplied with handles), for pressing down the contents. Put two good handsful of the rose leaves in at a time and press them down with the handled rammer. Then sprinkle a small handful of the salt mixture, then more rose leaves and so on. Then weight down till the next batch is put in. Besides rose leaves, the other chief ingredient is leaves of the Sweet Geranium, torn into shreds, dried like the Roses and put into the jars in the same way, rammed, salted and pressed. Bay leaves, Sweet Verbena and Lavender are all of a drier nature and can be put into the jars and salted just as they are. When all is ready, the contents of the preparation jars are taken out and broken up small; the mass, especially of the rose-petals, will come out in thick flakes, closely compacted. It is then mixed with the spices and sweet powders. If the freshly made mixture be rammed rather tightly into a jar or wooden barrel and left for six months, or better still for a year, the quality is much improved by being thus matured.
Mr. Donald McDonald, in Sweet-scented Flowers and Fragrant Leaves, gives the following pot-pourri recipes.
I. Gather early in the day and when perfectly dry, a peck of Roses, pick off the petals and strew over them 3/4 lb. common salt. Let them remain two or three days and if fresh flowers are added, some more salt must be sprinkled over them. Mix with the roses 1/2 lb. of finely powdered Bay salt, the same quantity of allspice, cloves and brown sugar, 1/4 lb. gum benzoin, and 2 OZ. Orris root. Add 1 gill of brandy and any sort of fragrant flowers, such as Orange and Lemon flowers, Lavender and lemon-scented Verbena leaves and any other sweet-scented flowers. They should be perfectly dry when added. The mixture must be occasionally stirred and kept in close-covered jars, the covers to be raised only when the perfume is desired in the room. If after a time the mixture seems to dry, moisten with brandy only, as essences too soon lose their quality and injure the perfume.
This mixture is said to retain its fragrance for fifty years.
II. Prepare 2 pecks of dry Rose leaves and buds, I handful each of Orange flowers, Violets and Jessamine, 1 OZ. sliced Orris root and Cinnamon, 1/4 OZ. Musk, 1/4 lb. sliced Angelica root, 1/4 lb. of red part of Cloves (carnations), 2 handsful of Lavender flowers, Heliotrope and Mignonette, 1 handful each of Rosemary flowers, Bay and Laurel leaves, 3 sweet Oranges stuck full of cloves and dried in the oven and then powdered in a mortar, 1/2 handful of Marjoram, 2 handfuls of Balm of Gilead dried, 1 handful each of Bergamot, Balm, Pineapple and Peppermint leaves. Mix well together and put in a large china jar; sprinkle salt between the layers, add a small bottle of extract of New-Mown Hay and moisten with brandy. If the mixture becomes too dry, stir it, adding liquid or additional leaves when wanted for use. If the jar is tightly corked, the preparation will keep and be fragrant for many years.
III. Take the rind of 2 Lemons, cut thin, 1 lb. Bay salt, 1 OZ. of powdered Orris root, 1 OZ. Gum Benzoin, 1 OZ. Cinnamon, 1/2 OZ. Cloves, 1 OZ. Nutmegs, 1 grain Musk, 12 Bay leaves, a few Sage leaves, Rosemary and Lavender, cut small, 1 OZ. Lavender Water, 1 OZ. Eau-de-Cologne, 1 OZ. Bergamot oil. Mix all together in a pan and add sweet flowers in their natural state as they come into blossom, stir up frequently - at least once a day. It must be put into a covered stone pot, with a wooden spoon to stir it with. At the end of two or three months, this will be a sweet-scented mass ready to fill any number of Japanese rose jars. From time to time throw in fresh Rose petals.
Lady Rosalind Northcote in The Book of Herbs gives:
I. A Devonshire Recipe
'Gather flowers in the morning when dry and lay them in the sun till the evening:
Roses, Orange flowers, Jasmine, Lavender.
In smaller quantities: Thyme, Sage, Marjoram, Bay.
'Put them into an earthen wide jar or hand basin in layers. Add the following ingredients:
6 lb. Bay Salt
4 OZ. Yellow Sandal Wood
4 OZ. Acorus Calamus Root
4 OZ. Cassia Buds
2 OZ. Cinnamon
2 OZ. Cloves
4 OZ. Gum Benzoin
1 OZ. Storax Calamite
1 OZ. Otto of Rose
1 drachm Musk
1/2 OZ. Powdered Cardamine Seeds.
'Place the rose leaves, etc., in layers in the jar. Sprinkle the Bay salt and other ingredients on each layer, press it tightly down and keep for two or three months before taking it out.'
'1/2 lb. Bay salt, 1/4 lb. saltpetre and common salt, all to be bruised and put on six baskets of rose-leaves, 24 bay leaves torn to bits, a handful of sweet myrtle leaves, 6 handfuls of lavender blossom, a handful of orange or syringa blossoms, the same of sweet violets and the same of the red of clove carnations. After having well stirred every day for a week add 1/2 OZ. cloves, 4 OZ. orris root, 1/2 OZ. cinnamon and 2 nutmegs, all pounded; put on the roses, kept well covered up in a china jar and stirred sometimes.
'Put alternate layers of rose leaves and Bay salt in an earthern pot. Press down with a plate and pour off the liquor that will be produced, every day for six weeks, taking care to press as dry as possible. Break up the mass and add the following ingredients well pounded and mixed together: Nutmeg, 1/4 OZ.; cloves, mace, cinnamon, gum benzoin, orrisroot (sliced) 1 OZ. each. Mix well with a wooden spoon. The rose leaves should be gathered on a dry, sunny afternoon, and the Bay salt roughly crushed before using. Orris root may be replaced With advantage by good violet powder.'
Besides the ingredients mentioned in these various recipes, the following may also be added: leaves of Basil, Bergamot, Mint, Lad's Love or Southernwood, Santolina, Costmary, Bog Myrtle, Anise and Sweet Woodruff and Cowslip and Agrimony flowers. The dried petals of Cornflower, Borage, Broom, Hollyhock and Marigold and any other bright petals that, though scentless, keep their color when dried, are also often added to give a brighter and more attractive appearance to the mixture.
Sweet oils and essences played an important part in the recipes of a hundred years ago, as, for example, the following formula:
Four grains of Musk, 1 OZ. of Pimento, crushed Cloves and powdered gum Benzoin, 80 drops of oil of Cassia, 6 drops of Otto of Roses, 150 drops of essence of Bergamot and the same quantity of oil of Lavender, the whole being thoroughly worked in and mixed with whatever petals are handy.
Another recipe (which was used by an oldfashioned Scottish chemist for some fifty years) was purely a liquid one, the essences consisting of Musk, Vanilla, Sandalwood, Patchouli, Verbena, Neroli and Otto of Roses. The mixture was bottled and sold under the all-bracing and appropriate title, 'A' the floers o' th' gairden in a wee bit bottle.'
Recipe for Crystallized Roses
Choose a dry day for gathering the roses and wait until the dew evaporates, so that the petals are dry. Before gathering the roses, dissolve 2 OZ. of gum-arabic in 1/2 pint of water. Separate the petals and spread them on dishes. Sprinkle them with the gumarabic solution, using as many petals as the solution will cover. Spread them on sheets of white paper and sprinkle with castor sugar, then let them dry for 24 hours. Put 1 lb. of sugar (loaf) and 1/2 pint of cold water into a pan, stir until the sugar has melted, then boil fast to 250 degrees F., or to the thread degree. This is ascertained by dipping a stick into cold water, then into the syrup and back into the water. Pinch the syrup adhering to the stick between the thumb and finger and draw them apart, when a thread should be formed. Keep the syrup well skimmed. Put the rosepetals into shallow dishes and pour the syrup over. Leave them to soak for 24 hours, then spread them on wire trays and dry in a cool oven with the door ajar. The syrup should be colored with cochineal or carmine, in order to give more color to the rose-petals.
Rose-petals have also been employed to flavour butter, for which the following recipe may be of interest:
Put a layer of Red Rose-petals in the bottom of a jar or covered dish, put in 4 OZ. of fresh butter wrapped in waxed paper. Cover with a thick layer of rose-petals. Cover closely and leave in a cool place overnight. The more fragrant the roses, the finer the flavour imparted. Cut bread in thin strips or circles, spread each with the perfumed butter and place several petals from fresh Red Roses between the slices, allowing edges to show. Violets or Clover blossoms may be used in place of Roses.
Botanical: Silphium Paciniatum (LINN.)
Family: N.O. Compositae
Medicial Action and Uses
Compass Plant. Compass-weed. Polar Plant.
Western United States, especially Ohio.
The plant is so closely allied to Silphium laciniatum (Compass Plant, Compass-weed, or Polar Plant) that some authorities identify them. Both are closely connected with S. perfoliatum (Indian CupPlant or Ragged Cup). They yield by exudation and incision a fragrant and bitter gum like frankincense, white or amber color, which is chewed by the American Indians to sweeten the breath. The taste of Compass-Plant roots is bitter and then acrid. They are odourless.
Rosin-weed yields an abundance of a resinous secretion, resembling mastic so closely that it might very well be used as an inexpensive substitute.
---Medicinal Action and Uses---
Tonic, diaphoretic, alterative.
The resin has diuretic properties and imparts a strong, aromatic odour to the urine. The root has been used as an expectorant in cough and other pulmonary troubles. It is cut into slices, arranged in a dish in layers, each layer being strewn with sugar and the whole covered with brandy. It is then expressed and strained, and after standing for a few days is bottled.
Both Rosin-weed and Compass-weed ate said to be emetic in decoction, and to have effected cures in intermittent fevers, and to have cured the heaves in horses. They are beneficial in dry, obstinate coughs, asthmatic affections, and pulmonary catarrhal diseases. A strong infusion or extract is said to be one of the best remedies for the removal of ague cake, or enlarged spleen, and for internal bruises, liver affections, and ulcers.
Of Silphium perfoliatum, 20 grains. Of fluid extract of Silphium laciniatum, 1/2 to 1 drachm.
See CUP PLANT.
Botanical: Ruta graveolens (LINN.)
Family: N.O. Rutaceae
Parts Used and Constituents
Medicial Action and Uses
Preparations and Uses
Herb-of-Grace. Herbygrass. Garden Rue.
Rue, a hardy, evergreen, somewhat shrubby plant, is a native of Southern Europe. The stem is woody in the lower part, the leaves are alternate, bluish-green, bi- or tripinnate, emit a powerful, disagreeable odour and have an exceedingly bitter, acrid and nauseous taste. The greenish-yellow flowers are in terminal panicles, blossoming from June to September. In England Rue is one of our oldest garden plants, cultivated for its use medicinally, having, together with other herbs, been introduced by the Romans, but it is not found in a wild state except rarely on the hills of Lancashire and Yorkshire. This wild form is even more vehement in smell than the garden Rue. The whole plant has a disagreeable and powerful odour. The first flower that opens has usually ten stamens, the others eight only.
The plant grows almost anywhere, but thrives best in a partially sheltered and dry situation. Propagation may be effected: (1) by seeds, sown outside, broadcast, in spring, raked in and the beds kept free from weeds, the seedlings, when about 2 inches high, being transplanted into fresh beds, allowing about 18 inches each way, as the plants become busy; (2) by cuttings, taken in spring and inserted for a time, until well rooted, in a shady border; (3) by rooted slips, also taken in spring. Every slip or cutting of the young wood will readily grow, and this is the most expeditious way of raising a stock.
Rue will live much longer and is less liable to be injured by frost in winter when grown in a poor, dry, rubbishy soil than in good ground.
Rue is first mentioned by Turner, 1562, in his Herbal, and has since become one of the best known and most widely grown simples for medicinal and homely uses.
The name Ruta is from the Greek reuo (to set free), because this herb is so efficacious in various diseases. It was much used by the Ancients; Hippocrates specially commended it, and it constituted a chief ingredient of the famous antidote to poison used by Mithridates. The Greeks regarded it as an antimagical herb, because it served to remedy the nervous indigestion they suffered when eating before strangers, which they attributed to witchcraft. In the Middle Ages and later, it was considered - in many parts of Europe - a powerful defence against witches, and was used in many spells. It was also thought to bestow second sight.
Piperno, a Neapolitan physician, in 1625, commended Rue as a specific against epilepsy and vertigo, and for the former malady, at one time, some of this herb used to be suspended round the neck of the sufferer.
Pliny, John Evelyn tells us, reported Rue to be of such effect for the preservation of sight that the painters of his time used to devour a great quantity of it, and the herb is still eaten by the Italians in their salads. It was supposed to make the sight both sharp and clear, especially when the vision had become dim through over-exertion of the eyes. It was with 'Euphrasy and Rue' that Adam's sight was purged by Milton's Angel.
At one time the holy water was sprinkled from brushes made of Rue at the ceremony usually preceding the Sunday celebration of High Mass, for which reason it is supposed it was named the Herb of Repentance and the Herb of Grace. 'There's rue for you and here's some for me; we may call it herb of grace o' Sundays.'
Gerard tells us: 'the garden Rue, which is better than the wild Rue for physic's use, grows most profitably, as Dioscorides said, under a fig tree.' But this is, probably, only a reference, originally, to the fact that it prefers a sheltered position.
Country-people boil its leaves with treacle, thus making a conserve of them. These leaves are curative of croup in poultry. It has also been employed in the diseases of cattle.
Shakespeare refers again to Rue in Richard III:
'Here in this place
I'll set a bank of rue, sour herb of grace;
Rue, even for ruth, shall shortly here be seen,
In the remembrance of a weeping queen.'
The following is a quotation from Drayton:
'Then sprinkles she the juice of rue,
With nine drops of the midnight dew
From lunarie distilling.'
The latter was the Moonwort (Lunaria), often called 'honesty' - a common garden flower, with cross-shaped purple blossoms, and round, clear silvery-looking seed-vessels.
Chaucer also calls it Lunarie.
'If a man be anointed with the juice of rue, the poison of wolf's bane, mushrooms, or todestooles, the biting of serpents, stinging of scorpions, spiders, bees, hornets and wasps will not hurt him.'
Rue-water sprinkled in the house 'kills all the fleas,' says an old book
The juice was used against earache.
Rue has been regarded from the earliest times as successful in warding off contagion and preventing the attacks of fleas and other noxious insects. It was the custom for judges sitting at assizes to have sprigs of Rue placed on the bench of the dock against the pestilential infection brought into court from gaol by the prisoner, and the bouquet still presented in some districts to judges at the assizes was originally a bunch of aromatic herbs, given to him for the purpose of warding off gaol-fever.
It is one of the ingredients in the 'Vinegar of the Four Thieves.'
Culpepper recommends it for sciatica and pains in the joints, if the latter be 'anointed' with it, as also for 'the shaking fits of agues, to take a draught before the fit comes.' He also tells us that:
'the juice thereof warmed in a pomegranate shell or rind, and dropped into the ears, helps the pains of them. The juice of it and fennel, with a little honey, and the gall of a cock put thereunto, helps the dimness of the eyesight.'
In Saxony Rue has given its name to an Order. A chaplet of Rue, borne bendwise on bars of the Coat Armour of the Dukedom of Saxony, was granted by Frederick Barbarossa to the first Duke of Saxony, in 1181. In 1902 the King of Saxony conferred the Order of the Rautenkrone (Crown of Rue) on our present King, then Prince of Wales. Since the latter half of the seventeenth century, sprigs of Rue have been interlaced in the Collar of our Order of the Thistle.
---Parts Used and Constituents---
The whole herb is used, the drug consisting of both the fresh and the dried herb. The tops of the young shoots contain the greatest virtues of any part of the plant. The shoots are gathered before the plant flowers.
The volatile oil is contained in glands distributed over the whole plant and contains caprinic, plagonic, caprylic and oenanthylic acids - also a yellow crystalline body, called rutin. Oil of Rue is distilled from the fresh herb. Water serves to extract the virtues of the plant better than spirits of wine. Decoctions and infusions are usually made from the fresh plant, or the oil may be given in a dose of from 1 to 5 drops. The dried herb - which is a greyish green - has similar taste and odour, but is less powerful. It is used, powdered, for making tea.
---Medicinal Action and Uses---
Strongly stimulating and antispasmodic - often employed, in form of a warm infusion, as an emmenagogue. In excessive doses, it is an acro-narcotic poison, and on account of its emetic tendencies should not be administered immediately after eating.
It forms a useful medicine in hysterical affections, in coughs, croupy affections, colic and flatulence, being a mild stomachic. The oil may be given on sugar, or in hot water.
Externally, Rue is an active irritant, being employed as a rubefacient. If bruised and applied, the leaves will ease the severe pain of sciatica. The expressed juice, in small quantities, was a noted remedy for nervous nightmare, and the fresh leaves applied to the temples are said to relieve headache. Compresses saturated with a strong decoction of the plant, when applied to the chest, have been used beneficially for chronic bronchitis.
If a leaf or two be chewed, a refreshing aromatic flavour will pervade the mouth and any nervous headache, giddiness, hysterical spasm, or palpitation will be quickly relieved.
---Preparations and Dosages---
Powdered herb, 15 to 30 grains. Fluid extract, 1/2 to 1 drachm.
Botanical: Galega officinalis (LINN.)
Family: N.O. Leguminosae
Medicinal Action and Uses
Herba ruta caprariae. Italian Fitch.
Leaves, flowering tops.
Goat's Rue, known in the old Herbals as Herba rutae caprariae, is a leguminous plant that in former times was much employed on account of its diaphoretic properties in malignant fevers and the plague, hence one of its German popular names of Pestilenzkraut.
'The leaves, gathered just as the plant is going into flower and dried, with the addition of boiling water, make an infusion which being drunk plentifully, excites sweating and is good in fevers.' (Hill's Universal Herbal, 1832.)
It was also used as a remedy for worms and recommended as a cure for the bites of serpents. Parkinson says it is 'good for fattening hens.
This profuse-flowering, hardy perennial herb is a native of Southern Europe and the Mediterranean - Gerard calls it Italian Fitch - and it is widely cultivated in gardens in England.
From the several-headed root, rise erect stems, about 3 feet high, smooth and branched, bearing pinnate leaves with from six to eight pairs of lance-shaped leaflets, 3/4 to 2 inches long, and an odd terminal one. The leaflets are bright green, smooth (or very slightly hairy), on short foot-stalks.
The small lilac, purplish or white flowers are in axillary racemes and produce narrow, almost cylindrical pods.
The plant is without scent, unless bruised, when it emits a disagreeable odour, whence perhaps its name of Goat's Rue.
It has a mucilaginous and somewhat bitter and astringent taste. It colors the saliva yellowish-green, if chewed.
Being pea-like in character, its chief requirements are deep soil and moisture. Given these it will grow strongly each season, producing great masses of flowers, and will grow undisturbed for many years. Autumn planting is best.
The constituents of Goat's Rue have not been investigated fully. It contains a bitter principle and tannin and yields not more than 12 per cent of ash.
---Medicinal Action and Uses---
Diaphoretic, galactagogue. The herb is official in the National Formulary IV attached to the United States Pharmacopoeia; the dried flowering tops are made into a fluid extract with diluted alcohol.
In 1873 Gillet-Damitte, in a communication to the French Academy, stated that this plant when given to cows would increase the secretion of milk from 35 to 50 per cent, since which time, Cerisoli, Millbank and several French physicians have affirmed that Goat's Rue is a powerful galactagogue. The best preparation is stated to be an aqueous extract prepared from the fresh plant. This almost black extract has a pronounced odour and is recommended to be given in doses of from 8 to 15 grains, from three to five times a day.
'A bath made of it is very refreshing to wash the feet of persons tired with overwalking. In the northern countries they use this herb for making their cheeses instead of Rennet, whence it is called also "CheeseRennet"; the flowers contain an acidity, which may be got by distillation. This plant is seldom used in the shops.'
The root of an American species of Goat's Rue (Galega virginiana, Linn.) is said to be diaphoretic and powerfully anthelmintic. It is given in decoction.
Botanical: Herniaria glabra (LINN.)
Family: N.O. Caryophyllaceae
Temperate and Southern Europe and Russian Asia, extending into Scandinavia, but not to high latitudes. A native of Britain, especially southern and central England.
The Herniaria were formerly included in the Illecebraceae. They are small annuals or undershrubs, with small green flowers crowding along the stems intermixed with leaves.
There are very few species of the genus.
H. hirsuta is a common Continental and west Asiatic species, and has been found near Christchurch, in Hampshire.
The taste is insipid and the plant is odourless.
A crystalline principle has been obtained, called Herniarine, which proved to be methylumbelliferone.
An alkaloid, Paronychine, has also been found.
---Medicinal Action and Uses---
Very active diuretic properties have been attributed to Herniarine, which has been found successful in the treatment of dropsy, whether of cardiac or nephritic origin.
It is recommended for catarrh of the bladder.
RADDISH, OR HORSE-RADDISH
The garden Raddish is so well known, that it needs no description.
The Horse-Raddish hath its first leaves, that rise before Winter, about a foot and a half long, very much cut in or torn on the edges into many parts, of a dark green color, with a great rib in the middle; after these have been up a while, others follow, which are greater, rougher, broader and longer, whole and not divided at first, but only somewhat rougher dented about the edges; the stalks when it bears flowers (which is seldom) is great, rising up with some few lesser leaves thereon, to three or four feet high, spreading at the top many small branches of whitish flowers, made of four leaves a-piece; after which come small pods, like those of Shepherd's Purse, but seldom with any seed in them. The root is great, long, white and rugged, shooting up divers heads of leaves, which may be parted for increase, but it doth not creep in the ground, nor run above ground, and is of a strong, sharp, and bitter taste almost like mustard.
It is found wild in some places, but is chiefly planted in gardens, and joys in moist and shadowy places.
It seldom flowers, but when it doth, it is in July.
Government and virtues :
They are both under Mars. The juice of Horse-raddish given to drink, is held to be very effectual for the scurvy. It kills the worms in children, being drank, and also laid upon the belly. The root bruised and laid to the place grieved with the sciatica, joint-ache, or the hard swellings of the liver and spleen, doth wonderfully help them all. The distilled water of the herb and root is more familiar to be taken with a little sugar for all the purposes aforesaid.
Garden Raddishes are in wantonness by the gentry eaten as a sallad, but they breed but scurvy humours in the stomach, and corrupt the blood, and then send for a physician as fast as you can; this is one cause which makes the owners of such nice palates so unhealthful; yet for such as are troubled with the gravel, stone, or stoppage of urine, they are good physic, if the body be strong that takes them; you may make the juice of the roots into a syrup if you please, for that use: they purge by urine exceedingly.
It is called also St. James'-wort, and Stagger-wort, and Stammer-wort, and Segrum.
The greater common Ragwort hath many large and long, dark green leaves lying on the ground, very much rent and torn on the sides in many places: from among which rise up sometimes but one, and sometimes two or three square or crested blackish or brownish stalks, three or four feet high, sometimes branched, bearing divers such-like leaves upon them, at several distances upon the top, where it branches forth into many stalks bearing yellow flowers, consisting of divers leaves, set as a pale or border, with a dark yellow thrum in the middle, which do abide a great while, but at last are turned into down, and with the small blackish grey seed, are carried away with the wind. The root is made of many fibres, whereby it is firmly fastened into the ground, and abides many years.
There is another sort thereof differs from the former only in this, that it rises not so high; the leaves are not so finely jagged, nor of so dark a green color, but rather somewhat whitish, soft and woolly, and the flowers usually paler.
They grow, both of them, wild in pastures, and untilled grounds in many places, and oftentimes both in one field.
They flower in June and July, and the seed is ripe in August.
Government and virtues :
Ragwort is under the command of Dame Venus, and cleanses, digests, and discusses. The decoction of the herb is good to wash the mouth or throat that hath ulcers or sores therein: and for swellings, hardness, or imposthumes, for it thoroughly cleanses and heals them; as also the quinsy, and the king's evil. It helps to stays catarrhs, thin rheums, and defluxions from the head into the eyes, nose, or lungs. The juice is found by experience to be singularly good to heal green wounds, and to cleanse and heal all old and filthy ulcers in the privities, and in other parts of the body, as also inward wounds and ulcers; stays the malignity of fretting and running cankers, and hollow fistulas, not suffering them to spread farther. It is also much commended to help aches and pains either in the fleshy part, or in the nerves and sinews, as also the sciatica, or pain of the hips or knuckle-bone, to bathe the places with the decoction of the herb, or to anoint them with an ointment made of the herb bruised and boiled in old hog's suet, with some Mastick and Olibanum in powder added unto it after it is strained forth. In Sussex we call it Ragweed
Of this there are two kinds which I shall speak of, viz. the red and yellow.
The common Red Rattle hath sundry reddish, hollow stalks, and sometimes green, rising from the root, lying for the most part on the ground, some growing more upright, with many small reddish or green leaves set on both sides of a middle rib, finely dented about the edges. The flowers stand at the tops of the stalks and branches, of a fine purplish red color, like small gaping hooks; after which come blackish seed in small husks, which lying loose therein, will rattle with shaking. The root consists of two or three small whitish strings with some fibres thereat.
The common Yellow Rattle hath seldom above one round great stalk, rising from the foot, about half a yard, or two feet high, and but few branches thereon, having two long and somewhat broad leaves set at a joint, deeply cut in on the edges, resembling the comb of a cock, broadest next to the stalk, and smaller to the end. The flowers grow at the tops of the stalks, with some shorter leaves with them, hooded after the same manner that the others are, but of a fair yellow color, or in some paler, and in some more white. The seed is contained in large husks, and being ripe, will rattle or make a noise with lying loose in them. The root is small and slender, perishing every year.
They grow in meadows and woods generally through this land.
They are in flower from Mid-summer until August be past, sometimes.
Government and virtues :
They are both of them under the dominion of the Moon. The Red Rattle is accounted profitable to heal up fistulas and hollow ulcers, and to stay the flux of humours in them, as also the abundance of women's courses, or any other fluxes of blood, being boiled in red wine, and drank.
The yellow Rattle, or Cock's Comb, is held to be good for those that are troubled with a cough, or dimness of sight, if the herb, being boiled with beans, and some honey put thereto, be drank or dropped into the eyes. The whole seed being put into the eyes, draws forth any skin, dimness or film, from the sight, without trouble, or pain.
REST HARROW, OR CAMMOCK
Common Rest Harrow rises up with divers rough woody twigs half a yard or a yard high, set at the joints without order, with little roundish leaves, sometimes more than two or three at a place, of a dark green color, without thorns while they are young; but afterwards armed in sundry places, with short and sharp thorns. The flowers come forth at the tops of the twigs and branches, whereof it is full fashioned like pease or broom blossoms, but lesser, flatter, and somewhat closer, of a faint purplish color; after which come small pods containing small, flat, round seed. The root is blackish on the outside, and whitish within, very rough, and hard to break when it is fresh and green, and as hard as an horn when it is dried, thrusting down deep into the ground, and spreading likewise, every piece being apt to grow again if it be left in the ground.
It grows in many places of this land, as well in the arable as waste ground.
It flowers about the beginning or middle of July, and the seed is ripe in August.
Government and virtues :
It is under the dominion of Mars. It is singularly good to provoke urine when it is stopped, and to break and drive forth the stone, which the powder of the bark of the root taken in wine performs effectually. Matthiolus saith, The same helps the disease called Herma Carnosa, the fleshy rupture, by taking the said powder for three months together constantly, and that it hath cured some which seemed incurable by any other means than by cutting or burning. The decoction thereof made with some vinegar, gargled in the mouth, eases the tooth-ache, especially when it comes of rheum; and the said decoction is very powerful to open obstructions of the liver and spleen, and other parts. A distilled water in Balneo Mariæ, with four pounds of the root hereof first sliced small, and afterwards steeped in a gallon of Canary wine, is singularly good for all the purposes aforesaid, and to cleanse the urinary passages. The powder of the said root made into an electuary, or lozenges, with sugar, as also the bark of the fresh roots boiled tender, and afterwards beaten to a conserve with sugar, works the like effect. The powder of the roots strewed upon the brims of ulcers, or mixed with any other convenient thing, and applied, consumes the hardness, and causes them to heal the better.
In regard the Garden Rocket is rather used as a sallad herb than to any physical purposes, I shall omit it, and only speak of the common wild Rocket. The description whereof take as follows.
The common wild Rocket has longer and narrower leaves, much more divided into slender cuts and jags on both sides the middle rib than the garden kinds have; of a sad green color, from among which rise up divers stalks two or three feet high, sometimes set with the like leaves, but smaller and smaller upwards, branched from the middle into divers stiff stalks, bearing sundry yellow flowers on them, made of four leaves a-piece, as the others are, which afterwards yield them small reddish seed, in small long pods, of a more bitter and hot biting taste than the garden kinds, as the leaves are also.
It is found wild in divers places of this land.
It flowers about June or July, and the seed is ripe in August.
Government and virtues :
The wild Rockets are forbidden to be used alone, in regard their sharpness fumes into the head, causing aches and pains therein, and are less hurtful to hot and choleric persons, for fear of inflaming their blood, and therefore for such we may say a little doth but a little harm, for angry Mars rules them, and he sometimes will be restive when he meets with fools. The wild Rocket is more strong and effectual to increase sperm and venerous qualities, whereunto all the seed is more effectual than the garden kind. It serves also to help digestion, and provokes urine exceedingly. The seed is used to cure the biting of serpents, the scorpion, and the shrew mouse, and other poisons, and expels worms, and other noisome creatures that breed in the belly. The herb boiled or stewed, and some sugar put thereto, helps the cough in children, being taken often. The seed also taken in drink, takes away the ill scent of the arm-pits, increases milk in nurses, and wastes the spleen. The seed mixed with honey, and used on the face, cleanses the skin from morphew, and used with vinegar, takes away freckles and redness in the face, or other parts; and with the gall of an ox, it mends foul scars, black and blue spots, and the marks of the small-pox.
WINTER-ROCKET, OR CRESSES
Winter-Rocket, or Winter-Cresses, hath divers somewhat large sad green leaves lying upon the ground, torn or cut in divers parts, somewhat like unto Rocket or turnip leaves, with smaller pieces next the bottom, and broad at the ends, which so abide all the Winter (if it spring up in Autumn, when it is used to be eaten) from among which rise up divers small round stalks, full of branches, bearing many small yellow flowers of four leaves a-piece, after which come small pods, with reddish seed in them. The root is somewhat stringy, and perishes every year after the seed is ripe.
It grows of its own accord in gardens and fields, by the way-sides, in divers places, and particularly in the next pasture to the Conduit-head behind Gray's Inn, that brings water to Mr. Lamb's conduit in Holborn.
It flowers in May, seeds in June, and then perishes.
Government and virtues :
This is profitable to provoke urine, to help stranguary, and expel gravel and stone. It is good for the scurvy, and found by experience to be a singularly good wound herb to cleanse inward wounds; the juice or decoction being drank, or outwardly applied to wash foul ulcers and sores, cleansing them by sharpness, and hindering or abating the dead flesh from growing therein, and healing them by their drying quality.
I hold it altogether needless to trouble the reader with a description of any of these, since both the garden Roses, and the Roses of the briars are well enough known: take therefore the virtues of them as follows. And first I shall begin with the garden kinds.
Government and virtues :
What a pother have authors made with Roses! What a racket have they kept! I shall add, red Roses are under Jupiter, Damask under Venus, White under the Moon, and Provence under the King of France. The white and red Roses are cooling and drying, and yet the white is taken to exceed the red in both the properties, but is seldom used inwardly in any medicine. The bitterness in the Roses when they are fresh, especially the juice, purges choler, and watery humours; but being dried, and that heat which caused the bitterness being consumed, they have then a binding and astringent quality. Those also that are not full blown, do both cool and bind more than those that are full blown, and the white Rose more than the Red. The decoction of red Roses made with wine and used, is very good for the head-ache, and pains in the eyes, ears, throat, and gums; as also for the fundament, the lower part of the belly and the matrix, being bathed or put into them. The same decoction with the Roses remaining in it, is profitably applied to the region of the heart to ease the inflammation therein; as also St. Anthony's fire, and other diseases of the stomach. Being dried and beaten to powder, and taken in steeled wine or water, it helps to stay women's courses. The yellow threads in the middle of the Roses (which are erroneously called the Rose Seed) being powdered and drank in the distilled water of Quinces, stays the overflowing of women's courses, and doth wonderfully stay the defluctions of rheum upon the gums and teeth, preserving them from corruption, and fastening them if they be loose, being washed and gargled therewith, and some vinegar of Squills added thereto. The heads with the seed being used in powder, or in a decoction, stays the lask and spitting of blood. Red Roses do strengthen the heart, the stomach and the liver, and the retentive faculty. They mitigate the pains that arise from heat, assuage inflammations, procure rest and sleep, stay both whites and reds in women, the gonorrhea, or running of the reins, and fluxes of the belly. The juice of them doth purge and cleanse the body from choler and phlegm. The husks of the Roses, with the beards and nails of the Roses, are binding and cooling, and the distilled water of either of them is good for the heat and redness in the eyes, and to stay and dry up the rheums and watering of them. Of the Red Roses are usually made many compositions, all serving to sundry good uses, viz. Electuary of Roses, Conserve, both moist and dry, which is more usually called Sugar of roses, Syrup of dry Roses, and Honey of Roses. The cordial powder called Diarrhoden Abbatis, and Aromatica Rosarum. The distilled Water of Roses, Vinegar of Roses, Ointment, and Oil of Roses, and the Rose leaves dried, are of great use and effect. To write at large of every one of these, would make my book swell too big, it being sufficient for a volume of itself, to speak fully of them. But briefly, the Electuary is purging, whereof two or three drams taken by itself in some convenient liquor, is a purge sufficient for a weak constitution, but may be increased to six drams, according to the strength of the patient. It purges choler without trouble, it is good in hot fevers, and pains of the head arising from hot choleric humours, and heat in the eyes, the jaundice also, and joint-aches proceeding of hot humours. The moist Conserve is of much use, both binding and cordial; for until it be about two years old, it is more binding than cordial, and after that, more cordial than binding. Some of the younger Conserve taken with mithridate mixed together, is good for those that are troubled with distillations of rheum from the brain to the nose, and defluctions of rheum into the eyes; as also for fluxes and lasks of the belly; and being mixed with the powder of mastich, is very good for the gonorrhea, and for the looseness of the humours in the body. The old Conserve mixed with Aromaticum Rosarum, is a very good cordial against faintings, swoonings, weakness, and tremblings of the heart, strengthens both it and a weak stomach, helps digestion, stays casting, and is a very good preservative in the time of infection. The dry Conserve, which is called the Sugar of Roses, is a very good cordial to strengthen the heart and spirits; as also to stay defluctions. The syrup of dried red Roses strengthens a stomach given to casting, cools an over-heated liver, and the blood in agues, comforts the heart, and resists putrefaction and infection, and helps to stay lasks and fluxes. Honey of Roses is much used in gargles and lotions to wash sores, either in the mouth, throat, or other parts, both to cleanse and heal them, and to stay the fluxes of humours falling upon them. It is also used in clysters both to cool and cleanse. The cordial powders, called Diarrhoden Abbatis and Aromaticum Rosarum, do comfort and strengthen the heart and stomach, procure an appetite, help digestion, stay vomiting, and are very good for those that have slippery bowels, to strengthen them, and to dry up their moisture. Red Rose-water is well known, and of familiar use on all occasions, and better than Damask Rose-water, being cooling and cordial, refreshing, quickening the weak and faint spirits, used either in meats or broths, to wash the temples, to smell at the nose, or to smell the sweet vapours thereof out of a perfuming pot, or cast into a hot fire shovel. It is also of much good use against the redness and inflammations of the eyes to bathe them therewith, and the temples of the head; as also against pain and ache, for which purpose also Vinegar of Roses is of much good use, and to procure rest and sleep, if some thereof, and Rose-water together, be used to smell unto, or the nose and temples moistened therewith, but more usually to moisten a piece of a red Rose-cake, cut for the purpose, and heated between a double folded cloth, with a little beaten nutmeg, and poppy-seed strewed on the side that must lie next to the forehead and temples, and bound so thereto all night. The ointment of Roses is much used against heat and inflammations in the head, to anoint the forehead and temples, and being mixt with Unguentum Populneum, to procure rest: it is also used for the heat of the liver, the back and reins, and to cool and heal flushes, wheals, and other red pimples rising in the face or other parts. Oil of Roses is not only used by itself to cool any hot swellings or inflammations, and to bind and stay fluxes of humours unto sores, but is also put into ointments and plaisters that are cooling and binding, and restraining the flux of humours. The dried leaves of the red Roses are used both inwardly and outwardly, both cooling, binding, and cordial, for with them are made both Aromaticum, Rosarum, Diarrhoden Abbatis, and Saccharum Rosarum, each of whose properties are before declared. Rose leaves and mint, heated and applied outwardly to the stomach, stays castings, and very much strengthen a weak stomach; and applied as a fomentation to the region of the liver and heart, do much cool and temper them, and also serve instead of a Rose-cake (as is said before) to quiet the over-hot spirits, and cause rest and sleep. The syrup of Damask Roses is both simple and compound, and made with Agaric. The simple solutive syrup is a familiar, safe, gentle and easy medicine, purging choler, taken from one ounce to three or four, yet this is remarkable herein, that the distilled water of this syrup should notably bind the belly. The syrup with Agaric is more strong and effectual, for one ounce thereof by itself will open the body more than the other, and works as much on phlegm as choler. The compound syrup is more forcible in working on melancholic humours; and available against the leprosy, itch, tetters, &c. and the French disease. Also honey of Roses solutive is made of the same infusions that the syrup is made of, and therefore works the same effect, both opening and purging, but is oftener given to phlegmatic than choleric persons, and is more used in clysters than in potions, as the syrup made with sugar is. The conserve and preserved leaves of those Roses are also operative in gently opening the belly.
The simple water of Damask Roses is chiefly used for fumes to sweeten things, as the dried leaves thereof to make sweet powders, and fill sweet bags; and little use they are put to in physic, although they have some purging quality; the wild Roses also are few or none of them used in physic, but are generally held to come near the nature of the manured Roses. The fruit of the wild briar, which are called Hips, being thoroughly ripe, and made into a conserve with sugar, besides the pleasantness of the taste, doth gently bind the belly, and stay defluctions from the head upon the stomach, drying up the moisture thereof, and helps digestion. The pulp of the hips dried into a hard consistence, like to the juice of the liquorice, or so dried that it may be made into powder and taken into drink, stays speedily the whites in women. The briar ball is often used, being made into powder and drank, to break the stone, to provoke urine when it is stopped, and to ease and help the cholic; some appoint it to be burnt, and then taken for the same purpose. In the middle of the balls are often found certain white worms, which being dried and made into powder, and some of it drank, is found by experience of many to kill and drive forth the worms of the belly.
ROSA SOLIS, OR SUN DEW
It is likewise called Red-rot, and Youth-wort.
It hath, divers small, round, hollow leaves, somewhat greenish, but full of certain red hairs, which make them seem red, every one standing upon his own foot-stalk, reddish, hairy likewise. The leaves are continually moist in the hottest day, yea, the hotter the sun shines on them, the moister they are, with a sliminess that will rope (as we say,) the small hairs always holding the moisture. Among these leaves rise up slender stalks, reddish also, three or four fingers high, bearing divers small white knobs one above another, which are flowers; after which in the heads are contained small seeds. The root is a few small hairs.
It grows usually in bogs and wet places, and sometimes in moist woods.
It flowers in June, and the leaves are then fittest to be gathered.
Government and virtues :
The Sun rules it, and it is under the sign Cancer. Rosa Solis is accounted good to help those that have a salt rheum distilling on their lungs, which breeds a consumption, and therefore the distilled water thereof in wine is held fit and profitable for such to drink, which water will be of a good yellow color. The same water is held to be good for all other diseases of the lungs, as phthisicks, wheezings, shortness of breath, or the cough; as also to heal the ulcers that happen in the lungs; and it comforts the heart and fainting spirits. The leaves, outwardly applied to the skin will raise blisters, which has caused some to think it dangerous to be taken inwardly; but there are other things which will also draw blisters, yet nothing dangerous to be taken inwardly. There is an usual drink made thereof with aqua vitæ and spices frequently, and without any offence or danger, but to good purpose used in qualms and passions of the heart.
Our garden Rosemary is so well known, that I need not describe it.
It flowers in April and May with us, sometimes again in August.
Government and virtues :
The Sun claims privilege in it, and it is under the celestial Ram. It is an herb of as great use with us in these days as any whatsoever, not only for physical but civil purposes. The physical use of it (being my present task) is very much used both for inward and outward diseases, for by the warming and comforting heat thereof it helps all cold diseases both of the head, stomach, liver, and belly. The decoction thereof in wine, helps the cold distillations of rheum into the eyes, and all other cold diseases of the head and brain, as the giddiness or swimmings therein, drowsiness or dullness of the mind and senses like a stupidness, the dumb palsy, or loss of speech, the lethargy, and fallen-sickness, to be both drank, and the temples bathed therewith. It helps the pains in the gums and teeth, by rheum falling into them, not by putrefaction, causing an evil smell from them, or a stinking breath. It helps a weak memory, and quickens the senses. It is very comfortable to the stomach in all the cold griefs thereof, helps both retention of meat, and digestion, the decoction or powder being taken in wine. It is a remedy for the windiness in the stomach, bowels, and spleen, and expels it powerfully. It helps those that are liver-grown, by opening the obstructions thereof. It helps dim eyes, and procures a clear sight, the flowers thereof being taken all the while it is flowering every morning fasting, with bread and salt. Both Dioscorides and Galen say, That if a decoction be made thereof with water, and they that have the yellow jaundice exercise their bodies directly after the taking thereof, it will certainly cure them. The flowers and conserve made of them are singularly good to comfort the heart, and to expel the contagion of the pestilence; to burn the herb in houses and chambers, corrects the air in them. Both the flowers and leaves are very profitable for women that are troubled with the whites, if they be daily taken. The dried leaves shred small, and taken in a pipe, as tobacco is taken, helps those that have any cough, phthisic, or consumption, by warming and drying the thin distillations which cause those diseases. The leaves are very much used in bathings; and made into ointments or oil, are singularly good to help cold benumbed joints, sinews, or members. The chymical oil drawn from the leaves and flowers, is a sovereign help for all the diseases aforesaid, to touch the temples and nostrils with two or three drops for all the diseases of the head and brain spoken of before; as also to take one drop, two, or three, as the case requires, for the inward griefs. Yet must it be done with discretion, for it is very quick and piercing, and therefore but a little must be taken at a time. There is also another oil made by insolation in this manner: Take what quantity you will of the flowers, and put them into a strong glass close stopped, tie a fine linen cloth over the mouth, and turn the mouth down into another strong glass, which being set in the sun, an oil will distil down into the lower glass, to be preserved as precious for divers uses, both inward and outward, as a sovereign balm to heal the disease beforementioned, to clear dim sights, and to take away spots, marks, and scars in the skin.
RHUBARB, OR REPHONTIC
Do not start, and say, This grows, you know not how far off: and then ask me, How it comes to pass that I bring it among our English simples? For though the name may speak it foreign, yet it grows with us in England, and that frequent enough in our gardens; and when you have thoroughly pursued its virtues, you will conclude it nothing inferior to that which is brought out of China, and by that time this hath been as much used as that hath been, the name which the other hath gotten will be eclipsed by the fame of this; take therefore a description at large of it as follows.
At the first appearing out of the ground, when the winter is past, it hath a great round brownish head, rising from the middle or sides of the root, which opens itself into sundry leaves one after another, very much crumpled or folded together at the first, and brownish: but afterwards it spreads itself, and becomes smooth, very large and almost round, every one standing on a brownish stalk of the thickness of a man's thumb, when they are grown to their fulness, and most of them two feet and more in length, especially when they grow in any moist or good ground; and the stalk of the leaf, from the bottom thereof to the leaf itself, being also two feet, the breadth thereof from edge to edge, in the broadest place, being also two feet, of a sad or dark green color, of a fine tart or sourish taste, much more pleasant than the garden or wood sorrel. From among these rise up some, but not every year, strong thick stalks, not growing so high as the Patience, or garden Dock, with such round leaves as grow below, but small at every joint up to the top, and among the flowers, which are white, spreading forth into many branches, consisting of five or six small leaves a-piece, hardly to be discerned from the white threads in the middle, and seeming to be all threads, after which come brownish three square seeds, like unto other Docks, but larger, whereby it may be plainly known to be a Dock. The root grows in time to be very great, with divers and sundry great spreading branches from it, of a dark brownish or reddish color on the outside, having a pale yellow skin under it, which covers the inner substance or root, which rind and skin being pared away, the root appears of so fresh and lively a color, with fresh colored veins running through it, that the choicest of that Rhubarb that is brought us from beyond the seas cannot excel it, which root, if it be dried carefully, and as it ought (which must be in our country by the gentle heat of a fire, in regard the sun is not hot enough here to do it, and every piece kept from touching one another) will hold its color almost as well as when it is fresh, and has been approved of, and commended by those who have oftentimes used them.
It grows in gardens, and flowers about the beginning and middle of June, and the seed is ripe in July.
The roots that are to be dried and kept all the year following, are not to be taken up before the stalk and leaves be quite turned red and gone, and that is not until the middle or end of October, and if they be taken a little before the leaves do spring, or when they are sprung up, the roots will not have half so good a color in them.
I have given the precedence unto this, because in virtues also it hath the pre-eminence. I come now to describe unto you that which is called Patience, or Monk's Rhubarb; and the next unto that, the great round-leaved Dock, or Bastard Rhubarb, for the one of these may happily supply in the absence of the other, being not much unlike in their virtues, only one more powerful and efficacious than the other. And lastly, shall shew you the virtues of all the three sorts.
GARDEN-PATIENCE, OR MONK'S RHUBARB
This is a Dock bearing the name of Rhubarb for some purging quality therein, and grows up with large tall stalks, set with somewhat broad and long, fair, green leaves, not dented at all. The tops of the stalks being divided into many small branches, bear reddish or purplish flowers, and three-square seed, like unto other Docks. The root is long, great and yellow, like unto the wild Docks, but a little redder; and if it be a little dried, shews less store of discolored veins than the other does when it is dry.
GREAT ROUND-LEAVED DOCK, OR BASTARD RHUBARB
This has divers large, round thin yellowish green leaves rising from the root, a little waved about the edges, every one standing upon a reasonably thick and long brownish footstalk, from among which rises up a pretty big stalk, about two feet high, with some such high leaves growing thereon, but smaller; at the top whereof stand in a long spike many small brownish flowers, which turn into a hard three square shining brown seed, like the garden Patience before described. The root grows greater than that, with many branches or great fibres thereat, yellow on the outside, and somewhat pale; yellow within, with some discolored veins like to the Rhubarb which is first described, but much less than it, especially when it is dry.
Place and Time :
These also grow in gardens, and flower and seed at or near the same time that our true Rhubarb doth, viz. they flower in June, and the seed is ripe in July.
Government and virtues :
Mars claims predominancy over all these wholesome herbs. You cry out upon him for an unfortunate, when God created him for your good (only he is angry with fools). What dishonour is this, not to Mars, but to God himself. A dram of the dried root of Monk's Rhubarb, with a scruple of Ginger made into powder, and taken fasting in a draught or mess of warm broth, purges choler and phlegm downwards very gently and safely without danger. The seed thereof contrary doth bind the belly, and helps to stay any sort of lasks or bloody-flux. The distilled water thereof is very profitably used to heal scabs; also foul ulcerous sores, and to allay the inflammation of them; the juice of the leaves or roots or the decoction of them in vinegar, is used as the most effectual remedy to heal scabs and running sores.
The Bastard Rhubarb hath all the properties of the Monk's Rhubarb, but more effectual for both inward and outward diseases. The decoction thereof without vinegar dropped into the ears, takes away the pains; gargled in the mouth, takes away the tooth ache; and being drank, heals the jaundice. The seed thereof taken, eases the gnawing and griping pains of the stomach, and takes away the loathing thereof unto meat. The root thereof helps the ruggedness of the nails, and being boiled in wine helps the swelling of the throat, commonly called the king's evil, as also the swellings of the kernels of the ears. It helps them that are troubled with the stone, provokes urine, and helps the dimness of the sight. The roots of this Bastard Rhubarb are used in opening and purging diet-drinks, with other things, to open the liver, and to cleanse and cool the blood.
The properties of that which is called the English Rhubarb are the same with the former, but much more effectual, and hath all the properties of the true Italian Rhubarbs, except the force in purging, wherein it is but of half the strength thereof, and therefore a double quantity must be used: it likewise hath not that bitterness and astriction; in other things it works almost in an equal quantity, which are these: It purges the body of choler and phlegm, being either taken of itself, made into powder, and drank in a draught of white wine, or steeped therein all night, and taken fasting, or put among other purges, as shall be thought convenient, cleansing the stomach, liver and blood, opening obstructions, and helping those griefs that come thereof, as the jaundice, dropsy, swelling of the spleen, tertian and daily agues, and pricking pains of the sides; and also stays spitting of blood. The powder taken with cassia dissolved, and washed Venice turpentine, cleanses the reins and strengthens them afterwards, and is very effectual to stay the gonorrhea. It is also given for the pains and swellings in the head, for those that are troubled with melancholy, and helps the sciatica, gout, and the cramp. The powder of the Rhubarb taken with a little mummia and madder roots in some red wine, dissolves clotted blood in the body, happening by any fall or bruise, and helps burstings and broken parts, as well inward as outward. The oil likewise wherein it hath been boiled, works the like effects being anointed. It is used to heal those ulcers that happen in the eyes or eyelids, being steeped and strained; as also to assuage the swellings and inflammations; and applied with honey, boiled in wine, it takes away all blue spots or marks that happen therein. Whey or white wine are the best liquors to steep it in, and thereby it works more effectual in opening obstructions, and purging the stomach and liver. Many do use a little Indian Spikenard as the best corrector thereof.
Meadow-rue rises up with a yellow stringy root, much spreading in the ground, shooting forth new sprouts round about, with many herby green stalks, two feet high, crested all the length of them, set with joints here and there, and many large leaves on them, above as well as below, being divided into smaller leaves, nicked or dented in the forepart of them, of a red green color on the upper-side, and pale green underneath. Toward the top of the stalk there shoots forth divers short branches, on every one whereof stand two, three or four small heads, or buttons, which breaking the skin that incloses them, shoots forth a tuft of pale greenish yellow threads, which falling away, there come in their places small three-cornered cods, wherein is contained small, long and round seed. The whole plant has a strong unpleasant scent.
It grows in many places of this land, in the borders of moist meadows, and ditch-sides.
Time : It flowers about July, or the beginning of August.
Government and virtues :
Dioscorides saith, That this herb bruised and applied, perfectly heals old sores, and the distilled water of the herb and flowers doth the like. It is used by some among other pot-herbs to open the body, and make it soluble; but the roots washed clean, and boiled in ale and drank, provokes to stool more than the leaves, but yet very gently. The root boiled in water, and the places of the body most troubled with vermin and lice washed therewith while it is warm, destroys them utterly. In Italy it is good against the plague, and in Saxony against the jaundice, as Camerarius saith.
Garden-rue is so well known by this name, and the name Herb of Grace, that I shall not need to write any farther description of it, but shall shew you the virtue of it, as follows.
Government and virtues :
It is an herb of the Sun, and under Leo. It provokes urine and women's courses, being taken either in meat or drink. The seed thereof taken in wine, is an antidote against all dangerous medicines or deadly poisons. The leaves taken either by themselves, or with figs and walnuts, is called Mithridate's counter-poison against the plague, and causes all venomous things to become harmless; being often taken in meat and drink it abates venery. A decoction thereof with some dried dill leaves and flowers, eases all pains and torments, inwardly to be drank, and outwardly to be applied warm to the place grieved. The same being drank, helps the pains both of the chest and sides, as also coughs and hardness of breathing, the inflammations of the lungs, and the tormenting pains of the sciatica and the joints, being anointed, or laid to the places; as also the shaking fits of agues, to take a draught before the fit comes. Being boiled or infused in oil, it is good to help the wind cholic, the hardness and windiness of the mother, and frees women from the strangling or suffocation thereof, if the share and the parts thereabouts be anointed therewith. It kills and drives forth the worms of the belly, if it be drank after it is boiled in wine to the half, with a little honey; it helps the gout or pains in the joints, hands, feet or knees, applied thereunto; and with figs it helps the dropsy, being bathed therewith. Being bruised and put into the nostrils, it stays the bleeding thereof. It takes away wheals and pimples, if being bruised with a few myrtle leaves, it be made up with wax, and applied. It cures the morphew, and takes away all sorts of warts, if boiled in wine with some pepper and nitre, and the place rubbed therewith, and with almond and honey helps the dry scabs, or any tetter or ringworm. The juice thereof warmed in a pomegranate shell or rind, and dropped into the ears, helps the pains of them. The juice of it and fennel, with a little honey, and the gall of a cock put thereunto, helps the dimness of the eye-sight. An ointment made of the juice thereof with oil of roses, ceruse, and a little vinegar, and anointed, cures St. Anthony's fire and all running sores in the head: and the stinking ulcers of the nose, or other parts. The antidote used by Mithridates, every morning fasting, to secure himself from any poison or infection, was this: Take twenty leaves or rue, a little salt, a couple of walnuts, and a couple of figs, beaten together into a mess, with twenty juniper berries, which is the quantity appointed for every day. Another electuary is made thus: Take of nitre, pepper, and cummin seed, of each equal parts; of the leaves of Rue clean picked, as much in weight as all the other three weighed; beat them well together, and put as much honey as will make it up into an electuary (but you must first steep your cummin seed in vinegar twenty four hours, and then dry it, or rather roast it in a hot fire-shovel, or in an oven) and is a remedy for the pains or griefs in the chest or stomach, of the spleen, belly, or sides, by wind or stitches; of the liver by obstructions; of the reins and bladder by the stopping of urine; and helps also to extenuate fat corpulent bodies. What an infamy is cast upon the ashes of Mithridates, or Methridates (as the Augustines read his name) by unworthy people. They that deserve no good report themselves, love to give none to others, viz. That renowned King of Pontus fortified his body by poison against poison. (He cast out devils by Beelzebub, Prince of the devils.) What a sot is he that knows not if he had accustomed his body to cold poisons, but poisons would have dispatched him? On the contrary, if not, corrosions would have done it. The whole world is at this present time beholden to him for his studies in physic, and he that uses the quantity but of an hazel-nut of that receipt every morning, to which his name is adjoined, shall to admiration preserve his body in health, if he do but consider that Rue is an herb of the Sun, and under Leo, and gather it and the rest accordingly.
This spreads very many thready branches round about upon the ground, about a span long, divided into many other smaller parts full of small joints set very thick together, whereat come forth two very small leaves of a French yellow, green colored branches and all, where grows forth also a number of exceedingly small yellowish flowers, scarce to be discerned from the stalks and leaves, which turn into seeds as small as the very dust. The root is very long and small, thrusting down deep into the ground. This has neither smell nor taste at first, but afterwards has a little astringent taste, without any manifest heat; yet a little bitter and sharp withal.
It grows in dry, sandy, and rocky places.
It is fresh and green all the Summer.
Government and virtues :
They say Saturn causes ruptures; if he do, he does no more than he can cure; if you want wit, he will teach you, though to your cost. This herb is Saturn's own, and is a noble antivenerean. Rupture-wort hath not its name in vain: for it is found by experience to cure the rupture, not only in children but also in elder persons, if the disease be not too inveterate, by taking a dram of the powder of the dried herb every day in wine, or a decoction made and drank for certain days together. The juice or distilled water of the green herb, taken in the same manner, helps all other fluxes either of man or woman; vomitings also, and the gonorrhea, being taken any of the ways aforesaid. It doth also most assuredly help those that have the stranguary, or are troubled with the stone or gravel in the reins or bladder. The same also helps stitches in the sides, griping pains of the stomach or belly, the obstructions of the liver, and cures the yellow jaundice; likewise it kills also the worms in children. Being outwardly applied, it conglutinates wounds notably, and helps much to stay defluctions of rheum from the head to the eyes, nose, and teeth, being bruised green and bound thereto; or the forehead, temples, or the nape of the neck behind, bathed with the decoction of the dried herb. It also dries up the moisture of fistulous ulcers, or any other that are foul and spreading.
Although there are many kinds of Rushes, yet I shall only here insist upon those which are best known, and most medicinal; as the bulrushes, and other of the soft and smooth kinds, which grow so commonly in almost every part of this land, and are so generally noted, that I suppose it needless to trouble you with any description of them. Briefly then take the virtues of them as follows.
Government and virtues :
The seed of the soft Rushes, (saith Dioscorides and Galen, toasted, saith Pliny) being drank in wine and water, stays the lask and women's courses, when they come down too abundantly: but it causes head-ache; it provokes sleep likewise, but must be given with caution. The root boiled in water, to the consumption of one third, helps the cough.
Thus you see that conveniences have their inconveniences, and virtue is seldom unaccompanied with some vices. What I have written concerning Rushes, is to satisfy my countrymen's questions: Are our Rushes good for nothing? Yes, and as good let them alone as taken. There are remedies enough without them for any disease, and therefore as the proverb is, I care not a rush for them; or rather they will do you as much good as if one had given you a Rush.
This is so well known in all the countries of this land, and especially to the country-population distributed thereon, that if I did describe it, they would presently say, I might as well have spared that labour. Its virtue follows.
Government and virtues :
Rye is more digesting than wheat; the bread and the leaven thereof ripens and breaks imposthumes, boils, and other swellings. The meal of Rye put between a double cloth, and moistened with a little vinegar, and heated in a pewter dish, set over a chafing dish of coals, and bound fast to the head while it is hot, doth much ease the continual pains of the head. Matthiolus saith, that the ashes of Rye straw put into water, and steeped therein a day and a night, and the chops of the hands or feet washed therewith, doth heal them.
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