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Finocchio
Southernwood
(archangelica Officinalis Hoffm)
And There Is Pansies That's For Thoughts
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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)



Flax (linseed)








The common Flax plant, from which we get our Linseed, is of great
antiquity, dating from the twenty-third century before Christ, and
having been cultivated in all countries down to the present time. But
it is exhausting to the soil in England, and therefore not favoured in
home growth for commercial uses. The seeds come to us chiefly
from the Baltic. Nevertheless, the plant (Linum usitatissimum) is
by no means uncommon in our cornfields, flowering in June, and
ripening its seed in September. Provincially it is called Lint and
Lyne. A rustic proverb says if put in the shoes it preserves [203]
from poverty; wherever found it is probably an escape from
cultivation.

The word flax is derived from filare, to spin, or, filum, a
thread; and the botanical title, linum, is got from the Celtic lin
also signifying thread. The fibres of the bark are separated from the
woody matter by soaking it in water, and they then form tow, which
is afterwards spun into yarn, and woven into cloth. This water
becomes poisonous, so that Henry the Eighth prohibited the
washing of flax in any running stream.

The seeds ate very rich in linseed oil, after expressing which, the
refuse is oil-cake, a well-known fattening food for cattle. The oil
exists chiefly in the outer skins of the seeds, and is easily extracted
by boiling water, as in the making a linseed poultice. These seeds
contain gum, acetic acid, acetate and muriate of potash, and other
salts, with twenty-two parts per cent. of the oil. They were taken as
food by the ancient Greeks and Romans, whilst Hippocrates knew
the demulcent properties of linseed. An infusion of the seeds has
long been given as Linseed tea for soothing a sore chest or throat in
severe catarrh, or pulmonary complaints; also the crushed seed is
used for making poultices. Linseed oil has laxative properties, and
forms, when mixed with lime water, or with spirit of turpentine, a
capital external application to recent burns or scalds.

Tumours of a simple nature, and sprains, may be usefully rubbed
with Linseed oil; and another principal service to which the oil is
put is for mixing the paints of artists. To make Linseed tea, wash
two ounces of Linseed by putting them into a small strainer, and
pouring cold water through it; then pare off as thinly as possible the
yellow rind of half a lemon; to the Linseed and lemon rind add a
quart of cold water, [204] and allow them to simmer over the fire for
an hour-and-a-half; strain away the seeds, and to each half-pint of
the tea add a teaspoonful of sugar, or sugar candy, with some lemon
juice, in the proportion of the juice of one lemon to each pint of tea.

The seeds afford but little actual nourishment, and are difficult of
digestion; they provoke troublesome flatulence, though sometimes
used fraudulently for adulterating pepper. Flax seed has been mixed
with corn for making bread, but it proved indigestible and hurtful to
the stomach. In the sixteenth century during a scarcity of wheat, the
inhabitants of Middleburgh had recourse to Linseed for making
cakes, but the death of many citizens was caused thereby, it bringing
about in those who partook of the cakes dreadful swellings on the
body and face. There is an Act of Parliament still in force which
forbids the steeping of Flax in rivers, or any waters which cattle are
accustomed to drink, as it is found to communicate a poison
destructive to cattle and to the fish inhabiting such waters. In
Dundee a hank of yarn is worn round the loins as a cure for
lumbago, and girls may be seen with a single thread of yarn round
the head as an infallible specific for tic douloureux.

The Purging Flax (Linum catharticum), or Mill Mountain
(Kamailinon), or Ground Flax, is a variety of the Flax common
on our heaths and pastures, being called also Fairy Flax from its
delicacy, and Dwarf Flax. It contains a resinous, purgative principle,
and is known to country folk as a safe, active purge. They infuse the
herb in water, which they afterwards take medicinally. Also a
tincture is made (H.) from the entire fresh plant, which may be
given curatively for frequent, wattery, painless diarrhoea, two or
three [205] drops for a dose with water every hour or two until the
flux is stayed.





Next: Foxglove

Previous: Flag (common)



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