Bog Bean (or Marsh-trefoil)

The Buck-bean, or Bog-bean, which is common enough in stagnant

pools, and on our spongy bogs, is the most serviceable of

all known herbal tonics. It may be easily recognised growing in

water by its large leaves overtopping the surface, each being

composed of three leaflets, and resembling the leaf of a Windsor

Broad Bean. The flowers when in bud are of a bright rose [59]

color, and when fully blown they have the inner
urface of their

petals thickly covered with a white fringe, on which account the

plant is known also as white fluff. The name Buckbean is

perhaps a corruption of scorbutus, scurvy; this giving it another

title, scurvy bean. And it is termed goat's bean, perhaps from

the French le bouc, a he-goat. The plant flowers for a month

and therefore bears the botanical designation, Menyanthes

(trifoliata) from meen, a month, and anthos, a flower. It

belongs to the Gentian tribe, each of which is distinguished by a

tonic and appetizing bitterness of taste. The root of the Bog Bean

is the most bitter part, and is therefore selected for medicinal use.

It contains a chemical glucoside, Menyanthin, which consists of

glucose and a volatile product, Menyanthol. For curative

purposes druggists supply an infusion of the herb, and a liquid

extract in combination with liquorice. These preparations are in

moderate doses, strengthening and antiscorbutic; but when given

more largely they are purgative and emetic. Gerard says if the

plant be taken with mead, or honied water, it is of use against a

cough; in which respect it is closely allied to the Sundew (another

plant of the bogs) for relieving whooping-cough after the first

feverish stage, or any similar hacking, spasmodic cough. A

tincture is made (H.) from the whole plant with spirit of wine, and

this proves most useful for clearing obscuration of the sight, when

there is a sense, especially in the open-air, of a white vibrating

mist before the eyes; and therefore it has been given with marked

success in early stages of amaurotic paralysis of the retina. The

dose should be three or four drops of the tincture with a

tablespoonful of cold water three times in the day for a week at a