The Stitchworts, greater and less (Stellaria holostea), grow very

abundantly as herbal weeds in all our dry hedges and woods, having

tough stems which run closely together, and small white star-like

(stellaria) blossoms.

These plants are of the same order (Chickweed) as the Alsine and

the small Chickweed. Their second name, Holostea, signifies all

bones, because the whole plant is very brittle from the fl

elements which its structures contain.

As its title declares, the great Stitchwort has a widespread reputation

for curing the stitch, or sharp muscular pain, which often attacks one

or other side of the body about the lower ribs.

In the days of the old Saxon leechdoms it was customary against a

stitch to make the sign of the cross, and to sing three times over the


Longinus miles lancea pinxit dominum:

Restet sanguis, et recedat dolor!

The spear of Longinus, the soldier, pierced our Saviour's side:

May the blood, therefore, quicken: and the pain no longer abide!

Or some similar form of charm.

Gerard said of folk, in his day: They are wont to drink it in wine

(with the powder of acorns) against the pain in the side, stitches, and

such like. But according to Dr. Prior, the herb is named rather

because curing the sting (in German stich) of venomous reptiles.

In country places the Stitchwort is known as Adder's meat, and the

Satin Flower: also Miller's Star, Shirtbutton, and Milk Maid, in

Yorkshire: the early English name was Bird's Tongue.

[536] About, Plymouth, it is dedicated to the Pixies; whilst the

lesser variety is called White Sunday, because of its delicate white

blossoms, with golden-dusted stamens. These were associated with

the new converts baptised in white garments on Low Sunday--the

first Sunday after Easter--named, therefore, White Sunday.

But in some parts of Wales the Stitchwort bears the names of

Devil's-eyes and Devil's-corn. Boys in Devonshire nickname the

herb Snapjack, Snapcrackers, and Snappers.

Parkinson tells us that in former days it was much commended by

some to clear the eyes of dimness by dropping the fresh juice into

them. Again, Galen said: The seed is sharp and biting to him that

tastes it.

As a modern curative Simple, the Stitchworts, greater and less,

stand related to silica, a powerfully remedial preparation of highly

pulverised flint. This is because of the exquisitely subdivided flint

found abundantly dispersed throughout the structures of Stitchwort

plants; which curative principle is eminently useful in chronic

diseases, such as cancer, rickets, and scrofula. It exercises a deep

and slow action, such as is remedially brought to bear by the

Bethesda waters of America, and the powdered oyster shells of Sir

Spencer Wells.

The fresh infusion should be steadily taken, a tea-cupful three times

daily, for weeks or months together. It may be made with a pint of

boiling water to an ounce of the fresh herb. Likewise, the fresh plant

should be boiled and eaten as greens, so as to secure medicinally

the insoluble parts of the silica. This further serves against albumen,

and sugar in the urine.