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(archangelica Officinalis Hoffm)
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Least Viewed Herbs

Finocchio
Southernwood
(archangelica Officinalis Hoffm)
And There Is Pansies That's For Thoughts
Acorn
Poppy
Bluebell (wild Hyacinth)
Asparagus
Anemone (wood)
House Leek (crassulaceoe)



Celandine (greater And Lesser)








This latter flower is a conspicuous herald of spring, which is
strikingly welcome to everyone living in the country throughout
England, and a stranger to none. The Pilewort, or lesser Celandine,
bespangles all our banks with its brilliant, glossy, golden stars,
coming into blossom on or about March 7th, St. Perpetua's day.
They are a timely tocsin for five o'clock tea, because punctually at
that hour they shut up their showy petals until 9.0 a.m. on the
following morning. The well-known little herb, with its heart-shaped
leaves, is a Ranunculus, and bears the affix ficaria from
its curative value in the malady called ficus--a red sore in the
fundament. (Littleton, 1684).

[91] The popular title, Pilewort, from Pila, a ball, was probably
first acquired because, after the doctrine of signatures, the small
oval tubercles attached to its stringy roots were supposed to
resemble and to cure piles. Nevertheless, it has been since proved
practically that the whole plant, when bruised and made into an
ointment with fresh lard, is really useful for healing piles; as
likewise when applied to the part in the form of a poultice or hot
fomentation. There be those also who thinke that if the herbe be
but carried about by one that hath the piles the paine forthwith
ceaseth. It has sometimes happened that the small white tubercles
collected about the roots of the plant, when washed bare by heavy
rains, and lying free on the ground, have given rise to a supposed
shower of wheat. After flowering the Pilewort withdraws its
substance of leaf and stem into a small rounded tube underground,
so as to withstand the heat of summer, and the cold of the
subsequent winter.

With the acrid juice of this herb, and of others belonging to the
same Ranunculous order, beggars in England used to produce
sores about their body for the sake of exciting pity, and getting
alms. They afterwards cured these sores by applying fresh mullein
leaves to heal them. The lesser Celandine furnishes a golden
yellow volatile oil, which is readily converted into anemonic acid.

Wordsworth specially loved this lesser Celandine, and turned his
lyre to sing its praises:--

There is a flower that shall be mine,
'Tis the little Celandine;
I will sing as doth behove
Hymns in praise of what I love.

In token of which affectionate regard these flowers have been
carved on the white marble of his tomb.

[92] The greater Celandine, or Coeli donum (Chelidonium
majus), though growing freely in our waste places and hedgerows,
is, perhaps, scarcely so well known as its diminutive namesake.
Yet most persons acquainted with our ordinary rural plants
have repeatedly come across this conspicuous herb, which
exudes a bright yellow juice when bruised. It has sharply cut vivid
leaves of a dull green, with a small blossom of brilliant yellow,
and is not altogether unlike a buttercup, though growing to the
height of a couple of feet. But this Celandine belongs to the Poppy
tribe, whilst the Buttercup is a Ranunculus. The technical name of
the greater Celandine (Chelidonium) comes from the Greek
word Chelidon, a swallow, because of an ancient tradition that
the bird makes use of this herb to open the eyes of its young, or to
restore their sight when it has been lost:--

Caecatis pullis hac lumina mater hirundo
(Plinius ut scripsit) quamvis sint eruta, reddit.

The ancients entertained a strong belief that birds are gifted with a
knowledge of herbs; the woodpecker, for instance, seeking out the
Springwort to remove obstructions, and the linnet making use of
the Eyebright to restore its vision.

Queen Elizabeth in the forty-sixth year of her age was attacked
with such a grievous toothache that she could obtain no rest by
night or day because of the torture she endured. The lords of her
council decided on sending for an outlandish physician named
Penatus, who was famous for curing this agonising pain. He
advised that when all was said and done, if the tooth was hollow, it
were best to have it drawn; but as Her Majesty could not bring
herself to submit to the use of [93] chirugical instruments, he
suggested that the Chelidonius major--our greater Celandine--
should be put into the tooth, and this stopped with wax, which
would so loosen the tooth that in a short time it might be pulled
out with the fingers. Aylmer, Bishop of London, tried to
encourage the Queen by telling her that though he was an old man,
and had not many teeth to spare, she should see a practical
experiment made on himself. Thereupon he bade the surgeon who
was in attendance extract one of his teeth in Her Majesty's
presence.

This plant, the Chelidonium majus, is still used in Suffolk for
toothache by way of fomentation. It goes also by the name of
Fenugreek (Foenum Groecum), Yellow Spit, Grecian Hay,
and by that of Tetterwort. The root contains chemically chelidonin
and sanguinarin.

On the doctrine of signatures the herb, because of its bright
orange-coloured juice, was formerly believed to be curative of
jaundice. A medicinal tincture (H.) made from the entire plant
with spirit of wine is at the present time held in high esteem by
many physicians for overcoming torpid conditions of the liver. Eight
or ten drops of this tincture, or of the fresh juice of the plant,
may be given for a dose three times in the day in sweetened water
when bilious yellowness of the skin is present, with itching, and
with clayey stools, dark thick urine, constipation, and a pain in the
right shoulder; also for neuralgia of the head and face on the right
side. It is certainly remarkable that though the fanciful theory of
choosing curative plants by their signatures has been long since
exploded, yet doctors of to-day select several yellow medicines for
treating biliary disorders--to wit, this greater Celandine with its
ochreous juice; the Yellow Barberry; the Dandelion; [94] the
Golden Seal (Hydrastis); the Marigold; Orange; Saffron; and
Tomato. Animals poisoned by the greater Celandine have developed
active and pernicious congestion of the lungs and liver.
Clusius found by experience that the juice of the greater
Celandine, when squeezed into small green wounds of what sort
so ever, wonderfully cured them. If the juice to the bigness of a
pin's head be dropped into the eye in the morning in bed, it takes
away outward specks, and stops incipient suffusions. Also if the
yellow juice is applied to warts, or to corns, first gently scraped,
it will cure them promptly and painlessly. The greater Celandine is
by genus closely allied to the horned Poppy which grows so
abundantly on our coasts. Its tincture given in small doses proves
of considerable service in whooping-cough when very spasmodic.

Curious remedies for this complaint have found rustic favour: in
Yorkshire owl broth is considered to be a specific; again in
Gloucestershire a roasted mouse is given to be eaten by the
patient; and in Staffordshire the child is made to look at the new
moon whilst the right hand of the nurse is rubbed up and down its
bare belly.





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