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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)



Fumitory








The common Fumitory (Fumaria officinalis) is a small grey-green
plant, bearing well known little flowers, rose coloured, and tipped
with purple, whilst standing erect in every cornfield, vineyard, or
such-like manured place throughout Great Britain. It is so named
from the Latin fumus terroe, earth smoke, which refers either to
the appearance of its pretty glaucous foliage on a dewy summer
morning, or to the belief that it was produced not from seed but
from vapours rising out of the earth. The plant continues to flower
throughout the year, and was formerly much favoured for making
cosmetic washes to purify the skin of rustic maidens in the spring
time:--

Whose red and purpled mottled flowers
Are cropped by maids in weeding hours
To boil in water, milk, or whey,
For washes on a holiday;
To make their beauty fair and sleek,
And scare the tan from summer's cheek.

In many parts of Kent the Fumitory bears the name of Wax Dolls,
because its rose coloured flowers, with their little, dark, purple
heads, are by no means unlike the small waxen toys given as
nurslings to children.

Dioscorides affirmed: The juice of Fumitory, of that which
groweth among barley, with gum arabic, doth take away unprofitable
hairs that prick, being first plucked away, for it will not
suffer others to grow in their places. It helpeth, says Gerard, in
the summer time those that are troubled with scabs.

Pliny said it is named because causing the eyes to water as smoke
does. In Shakespeare the name is written Fumiter. It continues to
flower throughout the year, and its presence is thought to indicate
good deep rich land. There is also a ramping Fumitory [208]
(capreolata) which climbs; being found likewise in fields and
waste places, but its infusion produces purgative effects.

The whole plant has a saline, bitter, and somewhat acrid taste. It
contains fumaric acid, and the alkaloid fumarina, which are
specially useful for scrofulous diseases of the skin. A decoction of
the herb makes a curative lotion for the milk-crust which disfigures
the scalp of an infant, and for grown up persons troubled with
chronic eruptions on the face, or freckles.

The fresh juice may be given as a medicine; or an infusion made
with an ounce of the plant to a pint of boiling water, one
wineglassful for a dose twice or three times in the day.

By the ancients Fumitory was named Capnos, smoke: Pliny wrote
Claritatem facit inunctis oculis delachrymationemque, ceu fumus,
unde nomen. They esteemed the herb specially useful for
dispelling dimness of the sight, and for curing other infirmities of
the eyes.

The leaves, which have no particular odour, throw up crystals of
nitre on their surface when cool. The juice may be mixed with
whey, and taken as a common drink, or as a medicinal beverage for
curing obstinate skin eruptions, and for overcoming obstructions of
the liver and digestive organs. Dr. Cullen found it most useful in
leprous skin disease. The juice from the fresh herb may be given
two ounces in the day, but the virtues remain equally in the dried
plant. Its smoke was said by the ancient exorcists to have the power
of expelling evil spirits. The famous physician, John of Milan,
extolled Fumitory as a sovereign remedy against malarious fever.

It is a remarkable fact, that the colour of the hair and the complexion
seem to determine the liability, or [209] otherwise, of a European to
West Coast fever in Africa. A man with harsh, bright-coloured red
hair, such as is common in Scotland, has a complete immunity,
though running the same risks as another mall, dark and with a dry
skin, who seems absolutely doomed. A red-haired European will, as
a rule, keep his health where even the natives are attacked. Old
negresses have secret methods of cure which can, undoubtedly, save
life even in cases which have become hopeless to European medical
science.





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Previous: Foxglove



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