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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
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House Leek (crassulaceoe)



Pimpernel








The Poor Man's Weather Glass or Shepherd's Dial, is a very
well-known and favourite little flower, of brilliant scarlet hue,
expanding only in bright weather, and closing its petals at two
o'clock in the day. It occurs quite commonly in gardens and open
fields, being the scarlet Pimpernel, or Anagallis arvensis, and
belonging to the Primrose tribe of plants. Old authors called it
Burnet; which is quite a distinct herb, cultivated now for kitchen
use, the Pimpinella Saxifraga, of so cheery and exhilarating a
quality, and so generally commended, [429] that its excellence has
passed into a proverb, l'insolata non buon, ne betta ove non e
Pimpinella. But this Burnet Pimpinella is of a different
(Umbelliferous) order, though similarly styled because its leaves are
likewise bipennate.

The Scarlet Pimpernel is named Anagallis, from the Greek
anagelao, to laugh; either because, as Pliny says, the plant
removes obstructions of the liver, and spleen, which would
engender sadness, or because of the graceful beauty of its flowers:--

No ear hath heard, no tongue can tell
The virtues of the Pimpernell.

The little plant has no odour, but possesses a bitter taste, which is
rather astringent. Doctors used to consider the herb remedial in
melancholy, and in the allied forms of mental disease, the decoction,
or a tincture being employed. It was also prescribed for
hydrophobia, and linen cloths saturated with a decoction were kept
applied to the bitten part.

Narcotic effects were certainly produced in animals by giving
considerable doses of an extract made from the herb. The flowers
have been found useful in epilepsy, twenty grains dried being given
four times a day. A medicinal tincture (H.) is prepared with spirit of
wine. It is of approved utility for irritability of the main urinary
passage, with genital congestion, erotism, and dragging of the loins,
this tincture being then ordered of the third decimal strength, in
doses of from five to ten drops every three or four hours, with a
spoonful of water.

A decoction of the plant is held in esteem by countryfolk as
checking pulmonary consumption in its early stages. Hill says there
are many authenticated cases of this dire disease being absolutely
cured by the herb, [430] The infusion is best made by pouring
boiling water on the fresh plant. It contains saponin, such as the
Soapwort also specially furnishes.

In France the Pimpernel (Anagallis) is thought to be a noxious
plant of drastic narcotico-acrid properties, and called Mouron--qui
tue les petits oiseaux, et est un violent drastique pour l'homme, et
les grands animaux; a dose tres elevee le mouron peut meme leur
donner la mort. In California a fluid extract of the herb is given for
rheumatism, in doses of one teaspoonful with water three times a
day.

The Burnet Pimpinella is more correctly the Burnet Saxifrage,
getting its first name because the leaves are brown, and the second
because supposed to break up stone in the bladder. It grows
abundantly in our dry chalky pastures, bearing terminal umbels of
white flowers. It contains an essential oil and a bitter resin, which
are useful as warmly carminative to relieve flatulent indigestion, and
to promote the monthly flow in women. An infusion of the herb is
made, and given in two tablespoonfuls for a dose. Cows which feed
on this plant have their flow of milk increased thereby. Small
bunches of the leaves and shoots when tied together and suspended
in a cask of beer impart to it an agreeable aromatic flavour, and are
thought to correct tart, or spoiled wines. The root, when fresh,
has a hot pungent bitterish taste, and may be usefully chewed for
tooth-ache, or to obviate paralysis of the tongue. In Germany a variety
of this Burnet yields a blue essential oil which is used for colouring
brandy. Again the herb is allied to the Anise (Pimpinella
Anisum). The term Burnet was formerly applied to a brown cloth.
Smaller than this Common Burnet is the Salad Burnet, Poterium
sanguisorba, quod sanguineos fluxus sistat, a useful [431] styptic,
which is also cordial, and promotes perspiration. It has the smell of
cucumber, and is, therefore, an ingredient of the salad bowl, or often
put into a cool tankard, whereto, says Gerard, it gives a grace in the
drynkynge. Another larger sort of the Burnet Pimpinella
(Magna), which has broad upper leaves less divided, grows in our
woods and shady places.

A bright blue variety of the true Scarlet Pimpernel (Anagallis) is
less frequent, and is thought by many to be a distinct species.
Gerard says, the Pimpernel with the blue flower helpeth the
fundament that is fallen down: and, contrariwise, red Pimpernel
being applied bringeth it down.

The Water Pimpernel (Anagallis aquatica) is more commonly
known as Brooklime, or Beccabunga, and belongs to a different
order of plants, the Scrophulariaceoe (healers of scrofula).

It grows quite commonly in brooks and ditches, as a succulent plant
with smooth leaves, and small flowers of bright blue, being found in
situations favourable to the growth of the watercress. It is the brok
lempe of old writers, Veronica beccabunga, the syllable bec
signifying a beck or brook; or perhaps the whole title comes from
the Flemish beck pungen, mouth-smart, in allusion to the pungent
taste of the plant.

It is eaten, says Gerard, in salads, as watercresses are, and is
good against that malum of such as dwell near the German seas,
which we term the scurvie, or skirby, being used after the same
manner that watercress and scurvy-grass is used, yet is it not of so
great operation and virtue. The leaves and stem are slightly acid
and astringent, with a somewhat bitter taste, and frequently
the former are mixed by sellers of water-cresses with their
stock-in-trade.

[432] A full dose of the juice of fresh Brooklime is an easy purge;
and the plant has always been a popular Simple for scrofulous
affections, especially of the skin. Chemically, this Water Pimpernel
contains some tannin, and a special bitter principle; whilst, in
common with most of the Cruciferous plants, it is endowed with a
pungent volatile oil, and some sulphur. The bruised plant has been
applied externally for healing ulcers, burns, whitlows, and for the
mitigation of swollen piles.

The Bog Pimpernel (Anagallis tenella), is common in boggy
ground, having erect rose-coloured leaves larger than those of the
Poor Man's Weather Glass.





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Previous: Periwinkle



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