The Agrimony is a Simple well known to all country folk, and

abundant throughout England in the fields and woods, as a popular

domestic medicinal herb. It belongs to the Rose order of plants,

and blossoms from June to September with small yellow flowers,

which sit close along slender spikes a foot high, smelling like

apricots, and called by the rustics Church Steeples. Botanically

it bears the names Agrimonia Eupatoria
of which the first is

derived from the Greek, and means shining, because the herb is

thought to cure cataract of the eye; and the second bears reference

to the liver, as indicating the use of this plant for curing diseases

of that organ. Chemists have determined that the Agrimony possesses

a particular volatile oil, and yields nearly five per cent. of tannin,

so that its use in the cottage for gargles, and as an astringent

application to indolent wounds, is well justified. The herb does not

seem really to own any qualities for acting medicinally on the

liver. More probably the yellow colour of its flowers, which, with

the root, furnish a dye of a bright nankeen hue, has given it a

reputation in bilious disorders, according to the doctrine of

signatures, because the bile is also yellow. Nevertheless, Gerard

says: A decoction of the leaves is good for them that have

naughty livers. By pouring a pint of boiling water on a handful of

the plant--stems, flowers and leaves--an [19] excellent gargle may

be made for a relaxed throat; and a teacupful of the same infusion

may be taken cold three or four times in the day for simple

looseness of the bowels; also for passive losses of blood. In

France, Agrimony tea is drank as a beverage at table. This herb

formed an ingredient of the genuine arquebusade water, as

prepared against wounds inflicted by an arquebus, or hand-gun,

and it was mentioned by Philip de Comines in his account of the

battle of Morat, 1476. When the Yeomen of the Guard were first

formed in England--1485--half were armed with bows and arrows,

whilst the other half carried arquebuses. In France the eau de

arquebusade is still applied for sprains and bruises, being

carefully made from many aromatic herbs. Agrimony was at one

time included in the London Materia Medica as a vulnerary

herb. It bears the title of Cockleburr, or Sticklewort, because its

seed vessels cling by the hooked ends of their stiff hairs to any

person or animal coming into contact with the plant. A strong

decoction of the root and leaves, sweetened with honey, has been

taken successfully to cure scrofulous sores, being administered

two or three times a day in doses of a wineglassful persistently for

several months. Perhaps the special volatile oil of the plant, in

common with that contained in other herbs similarly aromatic, is

curatively antiseptic. Pliny called it a herb of princely


The Hemp Agrimony, or St. John's Herb, belongs to the Composite

order of plants, and grows on the margins of brooks, having

hemp-like leaves, which are bitter of taste and pungent of

smell, as if it were an umbelliferous herb. Because of these

hempen leaves it was formerly called Holy Rope, being thus

named after the rope with which Jesus was bound. They contain a

volatile [20] oil, which acts on the kidneys; likewise some tannin,

and a bitter chemical principle, which will cut short the chill of

intermittent fever, or perhaps prevent it. Provers of the plant have

found it produce a bilious fever, with severe headache, redness of

the face, nausea, soreness over the liver, constipation, and

high-coloured urine. Acting on which experience, a tincture, prepared

(H.) from the whole plant, may be confidently given in frequent

small well-diluted doses with water for influenza, or for a similar

feverish chill, with break-bone pains, prostration, hot dry skin, and

some bilious vomiting. Likewise a tea made with boiling water

poured on the dried leaves will give prompt relief if taken hot at

the onset of a bilious catarrh, or of influenza. This plant also is

named Eupatorium because it refers, as Pliny says, to Eupator, a

king of Pontus. In Holland it is used for jaundice, with swollen

feet: and in America it belongs to the tribe of bone-sets. The Hemp

Agrimony grows with us in moist, shady places, with a tall reddish

stem, and with terminal crowded heads of dull lilac flowers. Its

distinctive title is Cannabinum, or Hempen, whilst by some it

is known as Thoroughwort.