Home Wicca Wiccan Recipes Magic Spells And Charms Magic Links
Herbs & Oils
~ V ~
Also known as Garden Heliotrope, Vandal Root, and St. George's Herb. Valerian has compound leaves with a fresh pea pod scent, and clusters of honey scented flowers in midsummer. Both have unpleasant fetid undertones. Their musky root is used in stews and perfumes and unskinned root is a tranquilizer. The herb treats headaches, muscle cramps and irritable bowel syndrome and is used topically for wounds, ulcers, and eczema. Laboratory tests show anti-tumor activity. Composted leaves are rich in minerals. Do not take large doses or continuously. Although the root of the herb has a strong pungent scent, some cats love it more than catnip. (Mine do!!)
Parts Used: Root
A sprig of the plant pinned to a woman's clothing will cause men to 'follow her like children'. Valerian Root is added to Love Sachets. Put in pillows to promote deep rest. Use in spells for: Protection; Purification; Harmony; Peace; Happiness; Love; Creative Work; Money and Riches.
Insomnia; Nervous Indigestion; Migraine; Restlessness; Tension States. Key Qualities: Sedative; Depressant of the Central Nervous System; Mildly Hypnotic; Regulator; Calming; Soothing; Grounding.
Also known as Enchanters Herb, Holy Herb, Verbena, Blue Vervain, and Holy Wort. A Druid sacred herb, common in their many rites and incantations, this hardy perennial has deeply cut lower leaves and smooth upper leaves with small dense spikes of pale lilac-pink flowers. An ancient sacred herb of purification, visions, and love potions, it was included in liqueurs and aphrodisiacs. Vervain was so highly regarded by the Druids that offerings were placed on altars.
"Vervain" is a derivative of the Celtic fer (to drive away)and faen (stone), given to it because of its abbility to purge calculi (gravel) from the bladder. A tea of the herb helps to increase breast mild and is helpful in lowering fever, especially of the intermittent type. It will benefit eczema and other skin eruptions, as it is a kidney and liver cleanser. Jaundice, whooping cough, edema, mastitis, and headaches fall under its sphere. To make the tea, steem one tablespoon of the herb per cup of water for twenty minutes.
Externally, vervain is used in poultices for ear infections, rheumatism and wounds. Vervain is an emmenagogue (brings down the menses) and soothes the nerves. It is reputed to have aphrodisiac properties. It is a powerful lymphatic detoxifier and has a cleansing effect on the female organs.
Blue Vervain (Vervena hastata), the American variety, is a natural tranquilizer and is helpful with colds and fevers, especially when the upper sespiratory tract is involved. It will eliminate intestinal worms and is used externally for wounds. It is deistinguished from the European vervain by its deeper blue flowers and denser, bristly flower spikes. Blue vervain is also prepared in a standard infusion or tinctured in alcohol.
Parts Used: Above ground portions of the herb.
Vervain is a profoundly magical herb belonging to the sphere of Venus. Roman priests and priestesses used it as an altar plant - it was tied in bundles and used to ritually "sweep" and purify the altar. Druids placed it in water that was sprinkled on worshipers as a blessing.
Vervain was picked at the rising of the Dog Star, at the dark of the moon, just before flowering. It was taken from the earth with the sacred sickle and raised aloft in the left hand. After prayers of thanksgiving were spoken the Druid or Druidess left a gift of honey to recompense the Earth for her loss.
Vervain was once infused in wine and worn on the body to to ward off the stings of insects and serpents. It is used in the bath as a protection from enchantments and to make dreams come true.
Wearing or bathing in vervain places one under the influence of Diana. After washing your hands in the infusion, it will be possible to engender love in the one you touch.
To dispel fears, light a candle daily and surround it with vervain. Speak aloud a prayer to the Gods and Goddesses asking for release from your fear. Do this as long as necessary.
On the night of the full moon, go outside with a chalice filled with water, vervain and salt. Take also a candle and a piece of petrified wood. Dip the stone into the water mixture and then pass it through the candle flame. Touch the stone to your feet, hands, shoulders, and head. As you do this ask for the belssings of youth and beauty. Repeat the process seven times.
Vervain is worn as a crown during Druidic initiatory rites and as protection for those who are working magic. Sprinkle throughout the home for protection and to bring peace. Keep some in the bedroom to bring tranquil dreams. Keep it in the home to attract wealth and to keep plants healthy. Sprinkle some on the garden as an offering to the elementals and other nature spirits. Drinking the juice of fresh vervain is said to cut sexual desire. Burn it to banish the pangs of unrequited love. Vervain is worn to recover stolen articles. Tucked into a child's cradle, the plant brings joy and a lively intellect. When burned, Vervain is powerful for warding psychic attack, but it is also used in spells for love, purification and attracting wealth. It is a powerful attractant to the opposite sex. Use for Anointing; Banishing; Gather and burn at Litha; Altar Offering; Creativity; Energy; Strength; Power.
Also called Khus-khus. This perennial grass grows in dense clumps of stout stems with long leaves and has an aromatic rhizome and roots. The distilled root essential oil flavors Asian sherbets and sweets, fixes perfumes, and scents quality soaps, cosmetics and aftershaves. The scent is a deep yet refreshing, woody, resinous mixture of myrrh and violets.
Parts Used: Root
Vetivert root is burned to overcome evil spells. It is also used in love powders, sachet and incenses and is added to the bathwater in a sachet to make yourself more attractive to the opposite sex. Vetivert is also used in money spellls and mixtures, placed in the cash register to increase business, carried to attract luck, and burned in anti-theft incenses.
Acne; Cuts; Oily Skin; Wounds; Arthritis; Muscular Aches and Pains; Rheumatism; Sprains; Stiffness; Debility; Depression; Insomnia; Nervous Tension. Known as the "Oil of Tranquillity". Key Qualities: Sedative; Soothing; Calming; Tonic; Grounding; Uplifting; Protective.
Also called Heartsease, Little Faces, and Viola. This stemless perennial has scalloped, heart-shaped leaves and violet or white, sweetly scented flowers from winter to spring. The crystallized flowers flavor sweets and liqueurs and are tossed in salads with the leaves. The root treats bronchitis The leaves are a folk remedy for breast and lung cancer. The flower syrup is antiseptic and a mild laxative, and with the leaves treats coughs, headaches, and insomnia. Ancient Greeks wore the violet to calm tempers and to induce sleep
The whole plant is used, fresh or dry. The leaves can be eaten as a type of wild spinach, and the flowers are used in salads and desserts. High in iron, the fresh leaf is used internally and externally for cancer, especially of the colon, throat, and tongue. For this purpose, the fresh laves should be infused daily and taken as tea; using one teaspoon of plant parts to a half cup of water, steep and take a quarter cup four times a day. The tea can be applied externally as a fomentation. The flowers are laxative; the roots and stems are emetic and purgative. The fresh leaves are used in salves and poultices for wounds.
Parts Used: Whole Plant
violet crowns are said to cure headache, bring sleep, and calm anger. Violets are mixed with lavender, apple blossoms, yarrow, and roses in love potions. The leaf is a protecion from all evil. Use for: Protection; Luck; Love; Lust; Wishes; Peace; Healing. Mixed with Lavender, the flowers are a powerful live stimulant and also arouse lust. Violets and Periwinkle are used to decorate the graves and corpses of children.
Botanical: Valeriana officinalis (LINN.)
Family: N.O. Valerianaceae
Harvesting and Preparation for Market
Medicinal Action and Uses
Preparations and Dosages
-Phu (Galen). All-Heal. Great Wild Valerian. Amantilla. Setwall. Setewale Capon's Tail.
Europe and Northern Asia.
Two species of Valerian, Valeriana officinalis and V. dioica, are indigenous in Britain, while a third, V. pyrenaica, is naturalized in some parts. The genus comprises about 150 species, which are widely distributed in the temperate parts of the world.
In medicine, the root of V. officinalis is intended when Valerian is mentioned. It is supposed to be the Phu (an expression of aversion from its offensive odour) of Dioscorides and Galen, by whom it is extolled as an aromatic and diuretic.
It was afterwards found to be useful in certain kinds of epilepsy. The plant was in such esteem in mediaeval times as a remedy, that it received the name of All Heal, which is still given it in some parts of the country.
The plant is found throughout Europe and Northern Asia, and is common in England in marshy thickets and on the borders of ditches and rivers, where its tall stems may generally be seen in the summer towering above the usual herbage, the erect, sturdy growth of the plant, the rich, dark green of the leaves, their beautiful form, and the crowning masses of light-colored flowers, making the plant conspicuous.
The roots tend to merge into a short, conical root-stock or erect rhizome, the development of which often proceeds for several years before a flowering stem is sent up, but slender horizontal branches which terminate in buds are given off earlier, and from these buds proceed aerial shoots or stolons, which produce fresh plants where they take root. Only one stem arises from the root, which attains a height of 3 or 4 feet. It is round, but grooved and hollow, more or less hairy, especially near the base. It terminates in two or more pairs of flowering stems, each pair being placed at right angles to those above and below it. The lower flowering stems lengthen so as to place their flowers nearly or often quite on a level with the flowers borne by the upper branches, forming a broad and flattened cluster at the summit, called a cyme. The leaves are arranged in pairs and are united at their bases. Each leaf is made up of a series of lance-shaped segments, more or less opposite to one another on each side of the leaf (pinnate). The leaflets vary very much in number, from six to ten pairs as a rule, and vary also in breadth, being broad when few in number and narrower when more numerous; they are usually 2 to 3 inches long. The margins are indented by a few coarsely-cut teeth. The upper surface is strongly veined, the under surface is paler and frequently more or less covered with short, soft hairs. The leaves on the stem are attached by short, broad sheaths, the radical leaves are larger and long-stemmed and the margins more toothed.
The flowers are in bloom from June to September. They are small, tinged with pink and flesh color, with a somewhat peculiar, but not exactly unpleasant smell. The corolla is tubular, and from the midst of its lobes rise the stamens, only three in number, though there are five lobes to the corolla. The limb of the calyx is remarkable for being at first inrolled and afterwards expanding in the form of a feathery pappus, which aids the dissemination of the fruit. The fruit is a capsule containing one oblong compressed seed. Apart from the flowers, the whole plant has a foetid smell, much accentuated when bruised.
Although more often growing in damp situations, Valerian is also met with on dry, elevated ground. It is found throughout Britain, but in the northern counties is more often found on higher and dryer ground - dry heaths and hilly pastures - than in the south, and then is usually smaller, not more than 2 feet high, with narrow leaves and hairy, and is often named sylvestris. The medicinal qualities of this form are considered to be especially strong.
Though none of the varieties differ greatly from the typical form, Valerian is more subject than many plants to deviations, which has caused several more or less permanent varieties to be named by various botanists. One of the chief is V. sambucifolia (Mikan), the name signifying 'Elder-leaved,' from the form of its foliage, the segments being fewer (only four to six pairs) and broader than in the type form, and having somewhat of the character of the elder.
V. celtica is supposed to be the Saliunca of ancient writers. It is used by Eastern nations to aromatize their baths. The roots are collected by the Styrian peasants, and are exported by way of Trieste to Turkey and Egypt, whence they are conveyed to India and Ethiopia. V. sitchensis, a native of northwestern America, is considered by the Russians the most powerful of all species.
Valerian is cultivated for the sake of the drug in England (in Derbyshire), but to a much greater extent in Prussia, Saxony (in the neighbourhood of Colleda, north of Weimar), in Holland and in the United States (Vermont, New Hampshire and New York). English roots have always commanded about four times the price of the imported. In Derbyshire, the cultivation of Valerian takes place in many villages near Chesterfield, the wild plants occurring in the neighbourhood not being sufficient to supply the demand. Derbyshire Valerian plants are of two varieties: V. Milkanii (Syme), on limestone, and V. sambucifolia (Mikan) on the coal measures. The former yields most of the cultivated Derbyshire rhizome.
The derivation of the name of this genus of plants is differently given. It is said by some authors to have been named after Valerius, who first used it in medicine; while others derive the name from the Latin word valere (to be in health), on account of its medicinal qualities. The word Valeriana is not found in the classical authors; we first meet with it in the ninth or tenth century, at which period and for long afterwards it was used as synonymous with Phu or Fu; Fu, id est valeriana, we find it described in ancient medical works of that period. The word Valerian occurs in the recipes of the AngloSaxon leeches (eleventh century). Valeriana, Amantilla and Fu are used as synonymous in the Alphita, a mediaeval vocabulary of the important medical school of Salernum. Saladinus of Ascoli (about 1450) directs the collection in the month of August of radices fu, id est Valerianae. Referring to the name Amantilla, by which it was known in the fourteenth century, Professor Henslow quotes a curious recipe of that period, a translation of which runs as follows: 'Men who begin to fight and when you wish to stop them, give to them the juice of Amantilla id est Valeriana and peace will be made immediately.' Theriacaria, Marinella, Genicularis and Terdina are other old names by which Valerian has been known in former days. Another old name met with in Chaucer and other old writers is 'Setwall' or 'Setewale,' the derivation of which is uncertain. Mediaeval herbalists also called the plant 'Capon's Tail,' which has rather fantastically been explained as a reference to its spreading head of whitish flowers.
Drayton (Polyolbion) mentions the use of Valerian for cramp; and a tea was made from its roots.
Valerian does well in all ordinary soils, but prefers rich, heavy loam, well supplied with moisture.
In Derbyshire, cultivation is from wild plants collected in local woods and transplanted to the prepared land. Preference is given in collecting to root offsets - daughter plants and young flowering plants, which develop towards the close of summer, at the end of slender runners given off by the perennial rhizomes of old plants. These should be set 1 foot apart in rows, 2 or 3 feet apart. The soil should first be treated with farmyard manure, and after planting it is well to give liquid manure from time to time, as well as plenty of water. The soil must be well manured to secure a good crop. Weeding requires considerable attention.
Propagation may also be by seed, either sown when ripe in cold frames, or in March in gentle heat, or in the open in April. In the first two cases, transplant in May to permanent quarters. But to ensure the best alkaloidal percentage, it is best to transplant and cultivate the daughter plants of the wild Valerian.
---Harvesting and Preparation for Market---
The flowering tops must be cut off as they appear, thus enabling the better development of the rhizome. Many of the young plants do not flower in the first year, but produce a luxuriant crop of leaves, and yield rhizome of good quality in the autumn.
In September or early October, all the tops are cut off with a scythe and the rhizomes are harvested, the clinging character of the Derbyshire soil not allowing them to be left in the ground longer.
The drug as found in commerce consists usually of the entire or sliced erect rhizome, which is dark yellowish-brown externally, about 1 inch long and 1/2 inch thick, and gives off numerous slender brittle roots from 2 1/2 to 4 inches long, whilst short, slender, lateral branches (stolons) are also occasionally present. The root-stock, which is sometimes crowned with the remains of flowering stems and leaf-scales is usually firm, horny and whitish or yellowish internally, but old specimens may be hollow. A transverse section is irregular in outline and exhibits a comparatively narrow bark, separated by a dark line from an irregular circle of wood bundles of varying size.
The drug may also consist of small, undeveloped rhizomes about 1/4 inch long, crowned with the remains of leaves and bearing short slender roots, the young rhizome having been formed where the stolons given off from mature root-stocks have taken root and produced independent plants.
The roots of Valerian are of similar color to the erect rhizome, about 1/10 inch thick, striated longitudinally and usually not shrivelled to any great extent; a transverse section shows a thick bark and small wood.
The drug has a camphoraceous, slightly bitter taste and a characteristic, powerful, disagreeable odour, which gradually develops during the process of drying, owing to a change which occurs in the composition of the volatile oil contained in the sub-epidermal layer of cells: the odour of the fresh root, though not very agreeable, is devoid of the unpleasant valerianaceous odour.
The color and odour of Valerian rhizome distinguish it readily from other drugs. The rhizome somewhat resembles Serpentary rhizome (Aristolochia Serpentaria, Virginian Snakeroot), but may be distinguished therefrom by its odour, erect method of growth, and by the roots being thicker, shorter and less brittle.
Valerian root is often fraudulently adulterated with those of other species, notably with those of V. dioica (Linn.) (Marsh Valerian), which are smaller and of much feebler odour, and not possessed of such active properties. This Valerian is also a native of Great Britain, found in wet meadows and bogs, but rather scarce. It is a smaller plant than the official Valerian, its stem only growing 6 to 18 inches high. The leaves are very variable, the lower ones generally entire, oval but broader at the base, the upper ones cut into pairs of leaflets, and the flowers dioecious, i.e. stamens and pistil, or seed-producing organs in different flowers, the male flowers being arranged rather loosely, and the female flowers, which are smaller and darker, being in more compact heads.
The roots of V. Phu (Linn.) are also frequently found mingled with those of the official plant in the imported drug. This species is a native of Southern Europe and Western Asia, often grown in gardens for its decorative golden foliage, being easy of culture. Its rhizome is sometimes known as V. Radix Majoris. It is from 4 to 6 inches long, 1/2 inch in thickness, brown and with a feeble, valerian-like odour and taste. Its thicker rhizome lies obliquely in the earth instead of being erect like that of V. officinalis, and is rooted at the bottom only, the roots being numerous and yellowish.
It is stated also that in Germany various Ranunculaceous (or Buttercup) roots are a dangerous adulterant of Valerian; they may be readily detected by their want of the peculiar odour of the official root. The Valerian in the markets of Paris is often largely adulterated with the roots of Scabious (Scabiosus succisa, Linn.) and S. arvensis (Linn.). They are shorter than the genuine root, less rough, very brittle, not striated, or channelled, and with a white fracture. Though inodorous in themselves, they are very apt to acquire odour from contact with the Valerian. The roots of Geum urbanum, or Avens, which in themselves are pleasingly aromatic, but may also on contact acquire some of the odour, have also occasionally been found in parcels of imported Valerian root.
The chief constituent of Valerian is a yellowish-green to brownish-yellow oil, which is present in the dried root to the extent of 0.5 to 2 per cent though an average yield rarely exceeds 0.8 per cent. This variation in quantity is partly explained by the influence of locality, a dry, stony soil, yielding a root richer in oil than one that is moist and fertile.
Lindley's Treasury of Botany states: 'What is known to chemists as volatile oil of Valerian seems not to exist naturally in the plant, but to be developed by the agency of water.'
The oil is contained in the sub-epidermal layer of cells in the root, not in isolated cells or glands. It is of complex composition, containing valerianic, formic and acetic acids, the alcohol known as borneol, and pinene. The valerianic acid present in the oil is not the normal acid, but isovalerianic acid, an oily liquid to which the characteristically unpleasant odour of Valerian is due. It is gradually liberated during the process of drying, being yielded by the decomposition of the chief constituent, bornyl-isovalerianate, by the ferment present. It is strongly acid, burning to the palate and with the odour of the plant. The oil is soluble in 30 parts of water and readily in alcohol and ether. It is found in nature in the oil of several plants, also in small proportion in train oil and the oil of Cetacea (whales, porpoises, etc.), which owe their smell to it. It is also one of the products of oxidation of animal matters and of fat oils, and is secreted in certain portions of animal bodies. Its salts are soluble and have a sweetish taste and fatty aspect.
The root also contains two alkaloids - Chatarine and Valerianine - which are still under investigation and concerning which little is known, except that they form crystalline salts. There are also a glucoside, alkaloid and resin all physiologically active, discovered in the fresh rhizome by Chevalier as recently as 1907. He claims that the fresh root is of greater medicinal value than the dry on this account.
On incineration, the drug, if free from adherent earthy matter, yields about 8 or 9 per cent of ash.
The chief preparation of the British Pharmacopoeia is the Tinctura Valerianae Ammoniata, containing Valerian, oil of Nutmeg, oil of Lemon and Ammonia: it is an extremely nauseous and offensive preparation. An etherial tincture and the volatile oil are official in some of the Continental Pharmacopceias, and a distilled water and syrup in the French Codex.
Valerianate of oxide of ethyl, or valerianic ether is a fragrant compound occurring in some vegetable products. The valerianic acid in use is not prepared from the root, but synthetically from amyl alcohol. Valerianic acid combines with various bases (the oxides of metals) to form salts called Valerianates. Valerianate of zinc, prepared by double decomposition, is used as an antispasmodic and is official in the British Pharmacopoeia.
---Medicinal Action and Uses--
-Valerian is a powerful nervine, stimulant, carminative and antispasmodic.
It has a remarkable influence on the cerebro-spinal system, and is used as a sedative to the higher nerve centres in conditions ofnervous unrest, St. Vitus's dance, hypochrondriasis, neuralgic pains and the like.
The drug allays pain and promotes sleep. It is of especial use and benefit to those suffering from nervous overstrain, as it possesses none of the after-effects produced by narcotics.
During the recent War, when air-raids were a serious strain on the overwrought nerves of civilian men and women, Valerian, prescribed with other simple ingredients, taken in a single dose, or repeated according to the need, proved wonderfully efficacious, preventing or minimizing serious results.
Though in ordinary doses, it exerts an influence quieting and soothing in its nature upon the brain and nervous system, large doses, too often repeated, have a tendency to produce pain in the head, heaviness and stupor.
It is commonly administered as Tinctura Valerianae Ammoniata, and often in association with the alkali bromides, and is sometimes given in combination with quinine, the tonic powers of which it appreciably increases.
Oil of Valerian is employed to a considerable extent on the Continent as a popular remedy for cholera, in the form of cholera drops, and also to a certain extent in soap perfumery.
Ettmuller writes of its virtues in strengthening the eyesight, especially when this is weakened by want of energy in the optic nerve.
The juice of the fresh root, under the name of Energetene of Valerian, has of late been recommended as more certain in its effects, and of value as a narcotic in insomnia, and as an anti-convulsant in epilepsy. Having also some slight influence upon the circulation, slowing the heart and increasing its force, it has been used in the treatment of cardiac palpitations.
Valerian was first brought to notice as a specific for epilepsy by Fabius Calumna in 1592, he having cured himself of the disease with it.
---Preparations and Dosages---
Fluid extract, 1/2 to 1 drachm. Solid extract, 5 to 10 grains. Tincture, B.P. and U.S.P., 1885, 1 to 2 drachms. Ammoniated tincture, B.P. and U.S.P. 1898, 1/2 to 1 drachm.
Culpepper (1649) joins with many old writers to recommend the use both of herb and root, and praises the herb for its longevity and many comforting virtues, reminding us that it is 'under the influence of Mercury, and therefore hath a warming faculty.' Among other uses, he adds:
'The root boiled with liquorice, raisons and aniseed is good for those troubled with cough. Also, it is of special value against the plague, the decoction thereof being drunk and the root smelled. The green herb being bruised and applied to the head taketh away pain and pricking thereof.'
Gerard tells us that herbalists of his time thought it 'excellent for those burdened and for such as be troubled with croup and other like convulsions, and also for those that are bruised with falls.' He relates that the dried root was held in such esteem as a medicine among the poorer classes in the northern counties and the south of Scotland, that 'no broth or pottage or physicall meats be worth anything if Setewale (the old name for Valerian) be not there.'
Sutherland describes many varieties of Valerian, and himself grew the Indian Valerian which is still sent to Mincing Lane, and offered on the British market. Hanbury states that, according to its habitat, it has many variations which some botanists take as separate species. In the south of England, when once it obtains a hold of the ground, nothing will eradicate it. It was well known to the Anglo-Saxons, who used it as a salad.
Valerian has an effect on the nervous system of many animals, especially cats, which seem to be thrown into a kind of intoxication by its scent. It is scarcely possible to keep a plant of Valerian in a garden after the leaves or root have been bruised or disturbed in any way, for cats are at once attracted and roll on the unfortunate plant. It is equally attractive to rats and is often used by rat-catchers to bait their traps. It has been suggested that the famous Pied Piper of Hamelin owed his irresistible power over rats to the fact that he secreted Valerian roots about his person.
In the Middle Ages, the root was used not only as a medicine but also as a spice, and even as a perfume. It was the custom to lay the roots among clothes as a perfume (vide Turner, Herbal, 1568, Pt. III, p. 56), just as some of the Himalayan Valerians are still used in the East, especially V. Jatamansi, the Nard of the Ancients, believed to be the Spikenard referred to in the Scriptures. It is still much used in ointments. Its odour is not so unpleasant as that of our native Valerians, and this and other species of Valerian are used by Asiatic nations in the manufacture of precious scents. Several aromatic roots were known to the Ancients under the name of Nardus, distinguished according to their origin or place of growth by the names of Nardus indica, N. celtica, N. montana, etc., and supposed to have been derived from different valerianaceous plants. Thus the N. indica is referred to V. Jatamansi (Roxb.), of Bengal, the N. celtica to V. celtica (Linn.), inhabiting the Alps and the N. montana to V. tuberosa, which grows in the mountains of the south of Europe.
JAPANESE VALERIAN, or Kesso Root, was formerly believed to be the product of Patrinia scabiosaefolia (Link.), but is now known to be obtained from a Japanese variety of V. officinalis. It yields a volatile oil. By the absence of a well-marked, upright rhizome, it widely differs from true Valerian, though at first sight agrees to some extent with it. In color and taste it is almost identical.
The roots of V. Mexicana (D.C.), MEXICAN VALERIAN, which occurs in Mexican commerce in slices, or fleshy disks, contain a large percentage of valerianic acid, which they yield readily and economically. As much as 3.3 per cent of oil has been extracted from the roots of this species.
V. pyrenaica (Linn.), the HEART-LEAVED VALERIAN, a native of the Pyrenees, is occasionally found in Great Britain naturalized in plantations. It is a large, coarse herb, the stem 2 to 4 feet high, the radical leaves sometimes very large, often a foot in diameter, heart-shaped, the upper ones smaller, with a few basal leaflets, the flowers much as in V. officinalis. It is not employed medicinally.
V. montana and V. angustifolia are Alpine varieties, but can be grown in this country with a little care. They are almost entirely grown for decorative purposes, flowering from May to August, and possessing none of the unpleasant smell of Valerian.
Culpepper describes a plant which he calls 'Water Valerian' (V. Aquatica), with 'much larger' flowers than the garden Valerian, which, however, they resemble, and of a 'pale purple color.' He states it grows 'promiscuously in marshy grounds and moist meadows' and flowers in May.
Botanical: Cypripedium pubescens (WILD.), Cyprepedium parviflorum
Family: N.O. Orchidaceae
Lady's Slipper. Cypripedium hirsutum. American Valerian. Noah's Ark. Yellow Lady's Slipper. Nerve-root.
American Valerian is one of the names given to the Yellow Lady's Slipper (Cypripedium). The roots of several varieties, the principal being Cypripedium pubescens and Cyprepedium parviflorum, are employed in hysteria, being a gentle, nervous stimulant and antispasmodic, less powerful than Valerian.
American Valerian is official in the United States Pharmacopoeia for the production of a fluid extract. Cypridenin is a complex, resinoid substance, obtained by precipitating with water a concentrated tincture of the rhizome.
---Preparations and Dosages---
Powdered root, 1 drachm. Fluid extract, 1/2 to 1 drachm. Cypripedin, 1 to 3 grains. Solid extract alc., 5 to 10 grains.
Botanical: Valeriana Wallichii (DE CANDOLLE)
Family: N.O. Valerianaceae
Indian Valerian is a perennial, herbaceous plant, indigenous to India, being found in the temperate Himalayan region. The dried rhizome and rootlets are used for medicinal purposes, and the drug is known in India as 'tagar.' It possesses stimulant and antispasmodic properties, and is official in the Indian and Colonial Addendum for use in the Eastern Colonies. The chief preparation of the drug is Tinctura Valerianae Indicae Ammoniata. Indian Valerian is practically identical in its composition with the European drug, but contains a slightly larger amount of volatile oil. It may be employed in the same way as Valerian, but is more used as a perfume than in medicine. It is largely employed in preparations for the hair, and the dried rhizome is used as incense.
It occurs in commerce in crooked pieces of a dull brown color, about 2 inches long, and from 1/4 to 1/2 inch in diameter, with a number of bracts at the crown and blunt at the lower extremity. The rhizome is marked with transverse ridges and studded thickly with prominent circular tubercles to a few of which thick rootlets may be attached. The crown usually bears the remains of the leafstalks. In transverse section it is dark, with a large pith and diffuse ring of small woodbundles. The drug is very hard and tough, and shows a greenish-brown surface when fractured. This and its crooked form distinguish it from Common Valerian. Its color, due to the presence of volatile oil resembles that of ordinary Valerian rhizome, but is much stronger. The chief constituent of the drug is this oil, but it also contains valerianic and other organic acids, together with resin, tannin, etc. As in the case of ordinary Valerian, the valerianic acid is probably formed by the gradual decomposition of other constituents present in the volatile oil.
Tincture Valerianae Indicae Ammoniata.
The INDIAN NARD, or Spikenard, sometimes called Syrian Nard, is still occasionally to be found in commerce. It is a small, delicate root, from 1 to 3 inches long, beset with a tuft of soft, light brown, slender fibres, of an agreeable odour and a bitter aromatic taste. It was formerly very much esteemed as a medicine, but is now almost out of use. Its properties are analogous to those of Valerian, but it must not be confused with Indian Valerian.
Botanical: Centranthus rubra (D. C.)
Family: N.O. Valerianaceae
Pretty Betsy. Bouncing Bess. Delicate Bess. Drunken Sailor. Bovisand Soldier.
England, Scotland and the Mediterranean countries.
The Red-Spur Valerian, a plant with lance-shaped, untoothed leaves and red flowers with a spur at the base, grouped in dense clusters, must not be confounded with the true medicinal Valerian, though the mistake is often made. It is destitute of the properties of the official Valerian, and is not usefully applied in England, though in some parts of Continental Europe the leaves are eaten. They are exceedingly good in salad, or cooked as a vegetable, and in France there is a sale for the roots for soups.
This plant is not truly British, but is perfectly naturalized in the south of England, being found quite often growing on rocks or walls, in old chalk-pits, railway cuttings and waste places in Kent and Devonshire, though less frequently in the northern counties and only in a few places in Scotland. It is naturally a native of the Mediterranean countries, and was probably originally introduced as a decorative plant. It is mentioned by many of the older writers as a garden flower. Gerard, writing in 1597, saying: 'It groweth plentifully in my garden, being a great ornament to the same.' Parkinson (1640) says that it grows 'in our gardens chiefly, for we know not the natural place.'
The root-stock is perennial and very freely branching, enabling it to take a firm hold in the crevices in which it has once gained possession. The stems are stout, somewhat shrubby at the base, between 1 and 2 feet long, hollow and very smooth in texture. The leaves 2 to 4 inches long and pointed, opposite one another in pairs, are somewhat fleshy, their outlines generally quite entire. The very numerous flowers are in masses, either of a rich crimson color, a delicate pink, or much more rarely white, and are in bloom from June to September. The spur to the long, tubular corolla is a marked feature. Each flower only contains one stamen. The fruit is small and dry, the border of the surrounding calyx forming a feathery rosette or pappus.
Linnaeus included this species with the Valerians, as Valeriana rubra, but De Candolle assigned it to a separate genus, Centranthus, in which all later botanists have followed him. The name of the genus comes from the Greek kentron (a spur) and anthos (a flower), in reference to the corolla being furnished with a spur at the base, which absolutely distinguishes it from the true Valerian, apart from other differences.
'Pretty Betsy' and 'Bouncing Bess' are popular names for the Red Valerian. Near Plymouth, we find the names 'Drunken Sailor' and 'Bovisand Soldier,' and in West Devon, the smaller, paler kind is known as 'Delicate Bess.
Botanical: Lippia citriodora
Family: N.O. Verbenaceae
Aloysia citriodora. Verveine citronelle or odorante. Herb Louisa. Lemonscented Verbena. Verbena triphylla. Lippia triphylla.
Leaves, flowering tops.
Chile and Peru. Cultivated in European gardens.
This deciduous shrub was introduced into England in 1784, reaching a height of 15 feet in the Isle of Wight and in sheltered localities. The leaves are very fragrant, lanceolate, arranged in threes, 3 to 4 inches long, with smooth margins, pale green in color, having parallel veins at right-angles to the mid-rib and flat bristles along the edges. The many small flowers are pale purple, blooming during August in slim, terminal panicles. The leaves, which have been suggested to replace tea, will retain their odour for years and are used in perfumery. They should be gathered at flowering time.
All the species of Lippia abound in volatile oil.
The odour is due to an essential oil obtainable by distillation. It has not been analysed in detail.
---Medicinal Action and Uses---
Febrifuge, sedative. The uses of Lemon Verbena are similar to those of mint, orange flowers, or melissa, as a stomachic and antispasmodic in dyspepsia, indigestion and flatulence, stimulating skin and stomach.
The decoction may be taken in several daily doses of three tablespoonsful.
Lippia Scaberrima, or Beukessboss ofSouth Africa, yields an essential oil with an odour like lavender, named Lippianol. It has a peculiar crystalline appearance, with the qualities of a monohydric alcohol.
From L. mexicana or possibly Cedronella mexicana, an essential oil resembling that of fennel was separated, and also a substance like camphor, called Lippioil.
The essence of Lemon-Grass, or Andropogon Schoenanthus, should not be confused with that of Lemon-Scented Verbena.
Sweet Vernal Grass
See Grasses, Vernal.
Family: N.O. Scrophulariaceae
The genus Veronica includes some of our most beautiful native flowers, the Speedwells, which differ from the other British Scrophularicece in having only two stamens, which project horizontally from the rotate, or wheel-shaped corolla, which has only four unequal spreading lobes, the lower segment being the smallest, the two posterior petals, according to the theory of botanists, being united into one large one. The numerous species found in England have generally blue petals with dark diverging lines at the base, though in a few cases, pinkish flowers are found.
All the species of Veronica possess a slight degree of astringency, and many of them were formerly used in medicine, some 20 of them have been employed as drugs, those with the chief reputation being Yeronica Chamcedrys, V. officinalis, and V. Beccabunga, all natives of Great Britain; the American species V. leptandra, now known as Leptandra veronica and another species, native to Asia Minor, called V. peduncularis (Bieb.) or V. nigricans (Koch.), the root of which is used there under the name Batitjoe.
The name of this genus of plants is said to have been derived from the Saint; others say it is from the Greek words phero (I bring) and nike (victory), alluding to its supposed efficacy in subduing diseases.
Botanial: Verbena officinalis (LINN.), Verbena hastata
Family: N.O. Verbenaceae
Medicinal Action and Uses
Herb of Grace. Herbe Sacrée. Herba veneris.
---Parts Used---Leaves, flowering heads.
Europe, Barbary, China, Cochin-China, Japan.
In England the Common Vervain is found growing by roadsides and in sunny pastures. It is a perennial bearing many small, pale-lilac flowers. The leaves are opposite, and cut into toothed lobes. The plant has no perfume, and is slightly bitter and astringent in taste. The name Vervain is derived from the Celtic ferfaen, from fer (to drive away) and faen (a stone), as the plant was much used for affections of the bladder, especially calculus. Another derivation is given by some authors from Herba veneris, because of the aphrodisiac qualities attributed to it by the Ancients. Priests used it for sacrifices, and hence the name Herba Sacra. The name Verbena was the classical Roman name for 'altar-plants' in general, and for this species in particular. The druids included it in their lustral water, and magicians and sorcerers employed it largely. It was used in various rites and incantations, and by ambassadors in making leagues. Bruised, it was worn round the neck as a charm against headaches, and also against snake and other venomous bites as well as for general good luck. It was thought to be good for the sight. Its virtues in all these directions may be due to the legend of its discovery on the Mount of Calvary, where it staunched the wounds of the crucified Saviour. Hence, it is crossed and blessed with a commemorative verse when it is gathered. It must be picked before flowering, and dried promptly.
The plant appears to contain a peculiar tannin, but it has not yet been properly analysed.
---Medicinal Action and Uses--
-It is recommended in upwards of thirty complaints, being astringent, diaphoretic, antispasmodic, etc. It is said to be useful in intermittent fevers, ulcers, ophthalmia, pleurisy, etc., and to be a good galactogogue. It is still used as a febrifuge in autumn fevers.
As a poultice it is good in headache, earneuralgia, rheumatism, etc. In this form it colors the skin a fine red, giving rise to the idea that it had the power of drawing the blood outside. A decoction of 2 OZ. to a quart, taken in the course of one day, is said to be a good medicine in purgings, easing pain in the bowels. It is often applied externally for piles. It is used in homoeopathy.
Fluid extract, 1/2 to 1 drachm.
Verbena Jamaicensis (JAMAICA VERVAIN) grows in Jamaica, Barbados, and other West Indian islands, bearing violet flowers. The juice is used in dropsy and for children as an anthelmintic and cooling cathartic. The negroes use it as an emmenagogue, and for sore and inflamed eyes. As a poultice, with wheat-flour, the bruised leaves are used for swelling of the spleen, and for hard tumours at their commencement.
V. Lappulaceae (BURRY VERVAIN), another West Indian herb, with pale blue flowers, is a vulnerary sub-astringent, being used even for very severe bleeding wounds in men and cattle, especially in Jamaica.
V. hastata (BLUE VERVAIN, Wild Hyssop, Simpler's Joy) is indigenous to the United States, and is used unofficially as a tonic emetic, expectorant, etc., for scrofula, gravel, and worms. A fluid extract is prepared from the dried, over-ground portion.
V. Urticifolia. The root, boiled in milk and water with the inner bark of Quercus Alba, is said to be an antidote to poisoning by Rhus Toxicodendron.
V. Sinuata. An infusion of the root, taken as freely as possible, is said to be a valuable antisyphilitic.
Botanical: Vitis vinifera (LINN.)
Family: N.O. Vitaceae
Medicinal Action and Uses
Fruit, leaves, juice.
Asia, Central and Southern Europe, Greece, California, Australia, and Africa.
The name vine is derived from viere (to twist), and has reference to the twining habits of the plant which is a very ancient one; in the Scriptures the vine is frequently mentioned from the time of Noah onward. Wine is recorded as an almost universal drink throughout the world from very early times. The vine is a very longlived plant. Pliny speaks of one 600 years old, and some existent in Burgundy are said to be 400 and over.
The stem of old vines attains a considerable size in warm climates, planks 15 inches across may be cut therefrom, forming a very durable timber.
Artificial heat for forcing the grapes was not used till the early part of last century and the first accounts of vineries enclosed by glass date from the middle of that period.
The vine is propagated by seeds, layers, cuttings and grafting and succeeds in almost any gravelly soil; that of a volcanic nature produces the finest wines. It is a climbing shrub with simple, lobed, cut or toothed leaves (seldom compound) with thyrsoid racemes of greenish flowers, the fruit consisting of watery or fleshy pulp, stones and skin, two-celled, four-seeded.
The leaves gathered in June contain a mixture of cane sugar and glucose, tartaric acid, potassium bi-tartrate, quercetine, quercitrin, tannin, amidon, malic acid, gum, inosite, an uncrystallizable fermentable sugar and oxalate of calcium; gathered in the autumn they contain much more quercetine and less trace of quercitrin.
The ripe fruit juice termed 'must' contains sugar, gum, malic acid, potassium bi-tartrate and inorganic salts; when fermented this forms the wine of commerce.
The dried ripe fruit commonly called raisins, contain dextrose and potassium acid tartrate.
The seeds contain tannin and a fixed oil.
The juice of the unripe fruit, 'Verjuice,' contains malic, citric, tartaric, racemic and tannic acids, potassium bi-tartrate, sulphate of potash and lime.
---Medicinal Action and Uses---
Grape sugar differs from other sugars chemically. It enters the circulation without any action of the saliva. The warming and fattening action of grape sugar is thus more rapid in increasing strength and repairing waste in fevers but is unsuitable for inflammatory or gouty conditions.
The seeds and leaves are astringent, the leaves being formerly used to stop haemorrhages and bleeding. They are used dried and powdered as a cure for dysentery in cattle.
The sap, termed a tear or lachryma, forms an excellent lotion for weak eyes and specks on the cornea.
Ripe grapes in quantity influence the kidneys producing a free flow of urine and are apt to cause palpitation in excitable and full-blooded people. Dyspeptic subjects should avoid them.
In cases of anaemia and a state of exhaustion the restorative power of grapes is striking, especially when taken in conjunction with a light nourishing diet.
In cases of small-pox grapes have proved useful owing to their bi-tartrate of potash content; they are also said to be of benefit in cases of neuralgia, sleeplessness, etc.
Three to 6 lb. of grapes a day are taken by people undergoing the 'grape cure,' sufferers from torpid liver and sluggish biliary functions should take them not quite fully ripe, whilst those who require animal heat to support waste of tissue should eat fully ripe and sweet grapes.
Dried grapes; the raisins of commerce, are largely used in the manufacture of galencials, the seeds being separated and rejected as they give a very bitter taste. Raisins are demulcent, nutritive and slightly laxative.
Vitis labrusca, indigenous to North America, is the Wild Vine or Foxgrape.
V. cordifolia, the Heart-leaved Vine or Chickengrape.
V. riparia, the Riverside or Sweet-scented Vine.
Botanical: Viola canina (LINN.)
Family: N.O. Violaceae
Leaves and flowers.
The Dog Violet differs principally from the Sweet Violet in its long straggling stems and paler blue flowers. It possesses the same properties, being powerfully cathartic and emetic. At one time a medicine made from it had some reputation in curing skin diseases. It may be found on dry hedge-banks and in the woods, flowering from April to August, a longer flowering period than the Sweet Violet. It is a very variable plant in size of leaf and blossom, form of leaf and other parts, but there seem to be no permanent and reliable differences to justify the division into distinct subspecies. The root-stock of the Dog Violet is short and from it rises a tuft of leaves. The flowering stems are at first short, but as time goes on they elongate considerably until sometimes they may be found nearly a foot long. The leaves are heart-shaped and with serrated edges, but vary much in their proportions. They are ordinarily, like the stems, quite smooth, while in the Sweet Violet we often get them more or less covered with soft hairs. The flowers are scentless, generally larger than those of the Sweet Violet, not only paler in color, but like most purple flowers, occasionally varying to white.
The popular name of this plant is a reproach for its want of perfume.
Botanical: Viola hirta
Family: N.O. Violaceae
The Hairy Violet (Viola hirta), the Dog Violet (V. canina), the Marsh Violet ( V. palustris) (which has pale lilac flowers) and the Heartsease or Pansy (V. tricolor) are other well-defined species of indigenous Violets, most of them, however, being subject to variations, which have been described by botanists as sub-species.
Henslow says V. palustris is not uncommon in the north, but rarer in southern counties. It has very smooth leaves, as is usually the case with semi-aquatic plants; the flowers are scentless. The same authority mentions another variety, Y. calcarea, a dwarfed, starved form of V. hirta.
The Hairy Violet bears a very considerable resemblance to V. odorata, the Sweet Violet. The main points of difference are as follows: in the Hairy Violet the flowers are almost or quite scentless; it but rarely throws out the trailing shoots that are so characteristic a feature in the Sweet Violet; the hairs on the stem are in the Sweet Violet deflexed, while in the Hairy Violet they are spreading and are thus more conspicuous, sufficiently so to give the popular name to the plant. The little scales on the flowerstems, called bracts, are in Sweet Violet ordinarily above the middle of the stalk, while in the Hairy Violet they are ordinarily (in neither case invariably) below this point. This species is more frequently found in the east of England than the west, and is common in chalk and limestone districts or near the sea.
Botanical: Viola odorata (LINN.)
Family: N.O. Violaceae
Parts Used Medicinally
Medicinal Action and Uses
Flowers and leaves dried, and whole plant fresh.
The Violet family comprises over 200 species, widely distributed in the temperate and tropical regions of the world, those natives of Europe, Northern Asia and North America being wholly herbaceous, whilst others, native of tropical America and South America, where they are abundant, are trees and shrubs. The genus Viola contains about 100 species, of which five are natives of Great Britain.
The sweet-scented Violet appears at the end of February and has finished blooming by the end of April.
The familiar leaves are heart-shaped, slightly downy, especially beneath, on stalks rising alternately from a creeping rhizome or underground stem, the blades of the young leaves rolled up from each side into the middle on the face of the leaf into two tight coils. The flower-stalks arise from the axils of the leaves and bear single flowers, with a pair of scaly bracts placed a little above the middle of the stalk.
The flowers are generally deep purple, giving their name to the color that is called after them, but lilac, pale rose-colored or white variations are also frequent, and all these tints may sometimes be discovered in different plants growing on the same bank.
They bear five sepals extended at their bases, and five unequal petals, the lower one lengthened into a hollow spur beneath and the lateral petals with a hairy centre line. The anthers are united into a tube round the three-celled capsule, the two lower ones furnished with spurs which are enclosed within the spur of the corolla.
The flowers are full of honey and are constructed for bee visitors, but bloom before it is really bee time, so that it is rare that a Violet flower is found setting seed. There is indeed a remarkable botanical curiosity in the structure of the Violet: it produces flowers both in the spring and in autumn, but the flowers are different. In spring they are fully formed, as described, and sweet-scented, but they are mostly barren and produce no seed, while in autumn, they are very small and insignificant, hidden away amongst the leaves, with no petals and no scent, and produce abundance of seed. This peculiarity is not confined to the Violet. It is found in some species of Oxalis, Impatiens, Campanula, Eranthemum, etc. Such plants are called cleistogamous and are all self-fertilizing. The cleistogamous flowers of the Violet are like flowers which have aborted instead of developing, but within each one are a couple of stamens and some unripe seeds. In warmer climates, like Italy, these 'cleistogamous' buds develop into perfect flowers. Only occasionally do they do so in England. In the woodland species (Viola sylvatica) all the flowers on the plant may be cleistogamous.
The Violet propagates itself, also, in another way by throwing out scions, or runners, from the main plant each summer after flowering, and these in turn send out roots and become new plants, a process that renders it independent of seed.
The Violet is very abundant in the neighbourhood of Stratford-on-Avon, where it is nowadays much cultivated for commercial purposes.
Violet is the diminutive form of the Latin Viola, the Latin form of the Greek name Ione. There is a legend that when Jupiter changed his beloved Io into a white heifer for fear of Juno's jealousy, he caused these modest flowers to spring forth from the earth to be fitting food for her, and he gave them her name. Another derivation of the word Violet is said to be from Vias (wayside).
Other flowers besides the Violet formerly bore that name, e.g. the Snowdrop was called the 'bulbous or narcissus Violet'; the plant now called 'Honesty' (or Moonwort) had the apellation of 'Strange Violet'; and two species of Gentian were called 'Autumn Bell-flower' or 'Calathian Violet,' and another 'Marion's Violet. ' The periwinkle, now generally known in France by the name of Pervenche, in other times was known as 'du lisseron' or 'Violette des sorciers'; and our own Violet was called, in distinction from the others, 'March Violet,' and in French Violette de Mars.
At Paestum, which has been and still is famous for its Violets as well as for its roses, several kinds of Violets are found, and one species that grows in the woods has exceedingly large leaves and seed-vessels; but the flower is so small that it can hardly be seen; this has given rise to the idea that it blooms underground. The flowers are of a pale yellow.
The Violet of India bears its blossom in an erect position, while our own native plant hangs down its head. It has been suggested by Professor Rennie that the drooping position of the purple petals shaded still more by the large green flower-cup, serves as an umbrella to protect the seed while unripe, from the rains and dews, which would injure it. As soon as the seed is matured and the little canopy no longer wanted, the flower rises and stands upright on its stem.
Some butterflies feed entirely on Violet, and the stem of the plant is often swelled and spongy in appearance, due to insects, whose eggs were deposited on the stalk during the preceding summer. The little animal, on hatching out, finds its food ready for it, and penetrating the plant, disturbs its juices and causes this excrescence.
Violets were mentioned frequently by Homer and Virgil. They were used by the Athenians 'to moderate anger,' to procure sleep and 'to comfort and strengthen the heart.' Pliny prescribes a liniment of Violet root and vinegar for gout and disorder of the spleen, and states that a garland or chaplet of Violets worn about the head will dispel the fumes of wine and prevent headache and dizziness. The ancient Britons used the flowers as a cosmetic, and in a Celtic poem they are recommended to be employed steeped in goats' milk to increase female beauty, and in the Anglo-Saxon translation of the Herbarium of Apuleius (tenth century), the herb V. purpureum is recommended 'for new wounds and eke for old' and for 'hardness of the maw.'
In Macer's Herbal (tenth century) the Violet is among the many herbs which were considered powerful against 'wykked sperytis.'
Askham's Herbal has this recipe for insomnia under Violet:
'For the that may not slepe for sickness seeth this herb in water and at even let him soke well hys feete in the water to the ancles, wha he goeth to bed, bind of this herbe to his temples.
Violets, like Primroses, have been associated with death, especially with the death of the young. This feeling has been constantly expressed from early times. It is referred to by Shakespeare in Hamlet and Pericles and by Milton in Lycidas.
In parts of Gloucestershire the country people have an aversion to bringing Violets into their cottages because they carry fleas. This idea may have arisen from these insects in the stem.
When Napoleon went to Elba his last message to his adherents was that he should return with Violets. Hence he was alluded to and toasted by them in secret as Caporal Violette, and the Violet was adopted as the emblem of the Imperial Napoleonic party.
Violets were also and still are used in cookery, especially by the French. 'Vyolette: Take flowrys of Vyolet, boyle hem, presse hem, bray (pound) hem smal,' and the recipe continues that they are to be mixed with milk and floure of rys and sugar or honey, and finally to be colored with Violets. A recipe called Mon Amy directs the cook to 'plant it with flowers of Violets and serve forth.'
A wine made from the flowers of the Sweet Violet was much used by the Romans.
Violets impart their odour to liquids, and vinegar derives not only a brilliant tint, but a sweet odour from having Violet flowers steeped in it.
The chief use of the Violet in these days is as a coloring agent and perfume, and as the source of the medicinally employed Syrup of Violets, for which purposes the plant is largely cultivated, especially in Warwickshire. The Syrup can be made as follows: To 1 lb. of Sweet Violet flowers freshly picked, add 2 1/2 pints of boiling water, infuse these for twenty-four hours in a glazed china vessel, then pour off the liquid and strain it gently through muslin; afterwards add double its weight of the finest loaf sugar and make it into a syrup, but without letting it boil. This is an old-fashioned recipe.
Another recipe, from a seventeenth century recipe book:
'Sirrup of Violets
'Take a quantity of Blew Violets, clip off the whites and pound them well in a stone morter; then take as much fair running water as will sufficiently moysten them and mix with the Violets; strain them all; and to every halfe pint of the liquor put one pound of the best loafe sugar; set it on the fire, putting the sugar in as it melts, still stirring it; let it boyle but once or twice att the most; then take it from the fire, and keep it to your use. This is a daynty sirrup of Violets.'
Syrup of Violet with Lemon Syrup and acetic acid makes an excellent dish in summer. The Syrup forms a principal ingredient in Oriental sherbet.
The Wild Violet has been developed by cultivation till its blossoms insome varieties are many times the original size.
One of the essential points for the successful cultivation of Violets, either for the sake of marketing the cut blooms, or for medicinal purposes, is clear atmosphere. They seldom do well near a town, because the undersides of the leaves are covered with hairs, which catch the grit, thus blocking the breathing pores.
Neglect of a few simple rules is invariably the cause of failure. One frequently finds a bed of Violets which produces nothing but leaves. The plants may have been healthy enough to begin with and they were probably well and truly planted, but after the first season of bloom they were allowed to spread and become overcrowded. The Violet must be renewed and replanted every year. Failure to perform this operation spells failure.
If the amateur contemplates growing Violets in order to obtain bloom during autumn and winter, April is a favourable time to set about the task of making a Violet bed. The Violet in summer time delights in partial shade, therefore the bed should be made if possible under the north-east side of a fence or hedge. The bed should be, however, placed fairly well in the open, and if grown in private gardens not in the dense shadow cast by house walls, nor under trees, though shade to a certain amount is absolutely essential in summer, as when exposed to sun the plants become overrun with red spider, an insect pest to which the Violet is specially liable. At the same time, it is as essential that the plants be exposed to the full sun in the autumn. If grown on a large scale, a suitable situation for summer quarters is between rows of sweet peas.
Ordinary garden soil will suffice for successful Violet culture, but the soil must be carefully prepared and deep digging is essential. This should be done some time before planting-out time; if possible in autumn, so that the ground may be left open to the effects of winter. Avoid, if possible, stiff clay, as in very wet soil Violets are apt to become diseased. Violets flourish best on a good medium soil, neither too heavy, nor too light. The ideal soil is a deep, sandy soil. Where the soil is heavy, it can be improved by an admixture of well-decayed manure, road grit, leaf-mould and burnt vegetable refuse. Rank stable manure must be avoided or the roots will produce any quantity of foliage and very few flowers. A dressing of leaf-mould is advantageous, as it w ill prevent the surface from becoming cracked in hot weather and will at the same time supply the roots with the medium in which they are most at home naturally.
The young plants should be rooted runners; plant not less than a foot apart each way. Choose a moist, dull day for planting, or if dry, puddle in the roots. If an inverted flower-pot be placed over each young Violet during the day in hot sunshine and lifted off during rain and at night, the plants will become established at much greater ease than if the ground were allowed to become baked by the sun. Water must be given copiously in dry weather, and the plants will also benefit at such times from a mulching or top dressing of leaf-mould or decayed manure, old mushroom-bed manure being useful for this purpose.
If the foliage assumes a yellow tint, it is almost an indication of the presence of red spider. The plants should then be sprinkled at frequent intervals with a mixture of sulphur and well-seasoned soot and a thorough syringing such as will reach the under-part of the foliage should also be given, using a solution of Gishurst compound, repeating the operation at intervals of a day or two, until the pest is eradicated.
The soil between the rows should be hoed frequently and the runners of most varieties must be removed in the summer. The single varieties, on account of their stronger growth, require more room than the double forms. Single varieties of the more modern kinds, such as the Princess of Wales, flower freely on the runners which issue from the parent plant, and for this reason such runners may be left. The double varieties, on the contrary, must have the runners removed so as to strengthen the crowns which give the finest blooms. Good single varieties besides the Princess of Wales are Wellsiana, La France, Admiral Avellan and California, and among the doubles Mrs. J. J. The double garden variety, especially the pale blue Neapolitan Violet which forms a stem 6 inches in height, is often called the Tree Violet.
From plants thus established in the open, a plentiful supply of blooms will be forthcoming in the following spring. It is, however, only in sheltered places that Violets will thrive in the open during winter. It is generally found necessary to transfer the plants to cold frames for flowering, and to grow the flowers for the sake of marketing the cut blooms for profit; this is absolutely essential, as without glass, Violets can only be obtained in March and April, when they are plentiful, cheap and unprofitable. Frames in which melon or cucumbers have been grown during the summer will be found eminently suitable for the purpose. A foundation of stable litter and leaves, a foot deep or more, turned frequently to allow the volatile gases to escape from the litter, and then well trodden, and covered with a layer of about 6 inches of rich loamy soil, makes a very suitable bed. A great point to bear in mind is the desirability of keeping the crowns of plants as near to the glass as possible. If therefore it is necessary to raise the bed this should be done before the plants are put in the winter quarters.
Water the Violets from the outdoor bed a day before lifting; by taking this precaution, it will be possible to lift the roots so that they bring away with them a good-sized ball of earth. All straggling runners should be cut away, leaving only two or three, already rooted probably, and showing flowers close up to the old plants. These reserved runners, if not already rooted, should be pegged down, and, in addition to flowering freely, will be just what are wanted for planting out next spring. There must be no crowding of the plants as, unless they are kept perfectly clear of each other, damping off is likely to take place, especially if the ventilation is faulty. They should be planted a foot apart, firmly and deeply, or sufficiently to bury the stems, keeping the crowns well out of the soil. Level all and give a good watering immediately to settle the roots, and keep the frame closed for a few days until the plants begin to make roots, but no longer. Plenty of air must be supplied day and night, as long as the weather remains mild. In frost keep the lights down, and when severe cover with mats, but do not keep the frames too close or dark from excessive covering. For Violets in frames, light and air cannot be overstudied, and whilst not allowing the frost to exercise a too severe influence upon them, it is advisable to expose them to all the fresh air and light obtainable, to keep the plants in healthy condition. The leaves when the plants are kept close and in darkness will turn yellow and lose their vitality, and under such conditions the plants soon become weakened and rendered incapable of producing flowers. It is a good plan to sprinkle the soil around the plants with a little finely-powdered charcoal, as the latter will absorb the moisture that unavoidably arises through the frames being kept closed and darkened during severe weather. Application of water to the roots of Violets in midwinter is not necessary, but later, when the sun exercises a greater evaporative influence and air in abundance can be admitted to the plants, it will be necessary to occasionally apply water as well as manure in liquid form. Care must be taken to keep the glass clean and free from any smoky deposit which obscures the light; in cleaning the glasses both sides regularly, avoid any drip on to the plants. Remove all decaying foliage and constantly watch for slugs. Fog is bad for Violets in frames: it causes the leaves to damp off and sometimes kills the plants outright.
Plants removed to frames in the latter half of September, if properly attended to, will begin to bloom early in October and continue to flower till April. In this month, after suitable cuttings and runners have been taken from them for next season's use, they may be thrown or given away, for each season young plants alone should be cultivated. If a little fresh soil is given early in March as a topdressing to the plants in the frames, the runners become stronger and better rooted for planting out-of-doors. Besides being kept moist at the roots by occasional watering, their growth is much benefited by an overhead sprinkling in the evening during the summer, when the surrounding soil is hot and dry. While this promotes a healthy growth, it tends also to keep down red spider.
Some growers raise their young plants from cuttings taken early in October, when lifting the plants to put them into frames or cool greenhouses. At this time, it is easy to secure a few hundreds of the healthiest cuttings, heeling them in till time permits of their being dealt with. Inserted in boxes of soil or preferably under spare lights, model plants for putting out in March or early April will result, which in turn give the finest flowering clumps.
---Parts Used Medicinally---The flowers dried and the leaves and whole plant fresh.
The odour of the flowers is in a great measure destroyed by desiccation and the degree to which they retain their color depends on the method of collecting and drying them.
The Violet flowers used for Syrup of Violets are not always the ordinary wild V. odorata, the color of which soon fades, except under special treatment. Other species with deeper-colored and larger blue flowers, and also deep-colored garden Violas and Pansies are often substituted for the Sweet Violet, for upon the color their value depends.
The chief chemical constituents of the flowers are the odorous principle and the blue coloring matter, which may be extracted from the petals by infusion with water and turns green and afterwards yellow with alkalis and red with acids. The flowers yield their odour and slightly bitter taste to boiling water and their properties may be preserved for some time by means of sugar in the form of Syrup of Violets.
A glucoside, Viola-quercitin, is also a constituent found throughout the plant and especially in the rhizome. It may be isolated by exhausting the fresh plant with warm alcohol, removing the alcohol by distillation and treating the residue with warm distilled water, from which it crystallizes in fine yellow needles, which are soluble in water, less so in alcohol and insoluble in ether. On boiling with mineral acids, the glucoside is split up into quercitin and a fermentable sugar. The activity of the plant, according to the British Pharmacopoeia, is probably due to this glucoside and its products of decomposition, or a ferment associated with it.
Salicylic acid has also been obtained from the plant.
The scientist Boullay discovered in the root, leaves, flowers and seeds of this plant an alkaloid resembling the Emetin of Ipecacuanha (which also belongs to the same group of plants), which he termed Violine. The same alkaloid was found by the French physician Orfila (1787-1853) to be an energetic poison, which may be identical with Emetin.
It has been found that the Toulouse Violet, which is without scent when cultivated in the land from which it takes its name, develops a very agreeable and pronounced perfume when raised at Grasse.
The growth of Violet flowers for the extraction of their perfume is not carried out to such an extent as formerly, as the natural perfume is suffering severely from the competition of the artificial product which forms the greater part of the Violet perfume of commerce. The natural perfume is very expensive to extract, an enormous quantity of flowers being required to scent a pomade. The largest Violet plantations are at Nice. The species used are the double Parma Violet and the Victoria Violet. A certain amount of perfume of a distinctive character is also now made from the green leaves of Violet plants, taken just before flowering.
---Medicinal Action and Uses---
The Violet is still found in the Pharmacopoeias.
Violet flowers possess slightly laxative properties. The best form of administration is the Syrup of Violets. Syrop Violae of the British Pharmacopoeia directs that it may be given as a laxative to infants in doses of 1/2 to 1 teaspoonful, or more, with an equal volume of oil of Almonds.
Syrup of Violets is also employed as a laxative, and as a coloring agent and flavouring in other neutral or acid medicines.
The older writers had great faith in Syrup of Violets: ague, epilepsy, inflammation of the eyes, sleeplessness, pleurisy, jaundice and quinsy are only a few of the ailments for which it was held potent. Gerard says: 'It has power to ease inflammation, roughness of the throat and comforteth the heart, assuageth the pains of the head and causeth sleep.'
The flowers are crystallized as an attractive sweetmeat, and in the days of Charles II, a favourite conserve, Violet Sugar, named then 'Violet Plate,' prepared from the flowers, was considered of excellent use in consumption and was sold by all apothecaries. The flowers have undoubted expectorant qualities.
The fresh flowers have also been used as an addition to salads; they have a laxative effect.
An infusion of the flowers is employed, especially on the Continent, as a substitute for litmus, as a test of acids and alkalis.
Of the leaves, Gerard tells us that they:
'are used in cooling plasters, oyles and comfortable cataplasms or poultices, and are of greater efficacies amongst other herbs as Mercury, Mallowes and such like in clisters for the purposes aforesaid.'
They are an old popular remedy for bruises.
'It is a fine pleasing plant of Venus, of a mild nature and no way hurtful. All the Violets are cold and moist, while they are fresh and green, and are used to cool any heat or distemperature of the body, either inwardly or outwardly, as the inflammation in the eyes, to drink the decoction of the leaves and flowers made with water or wine, or to apply them poultice wise to the grieved places; it likewise easeth pains in the head caused through want of sleep, or any pains arising of heat if applied in the same manner or with oil of Roses. A drachm weight of the dried leaves or flowers of Violets, but the leaves more strongly, doth purge the body of choleric humours and assuageth the heat if taken in a draught of wine or other drink; the powder of the purple leaves of the flowers only picked and dried and drank in water helps the quinsy and the falling sickness in children, especially at the beginning of the disease. It is also good for jaundice. The flowers of the Violets ripen and dissolve swellings. The herbs or flowers while they are fresh or the flowers that are dry are effectual in the pleurisy and all diseases of the lungs. The green leaves are used with other herbs to make plasters and poultices for inflammation and swellings and to ease all pains whatsoever arising of heat and for piles, being fried with yoke of egg and applied thereto.'
The underground stems or rhizomes (the so-called roots) are strongly emetic and purgative. They have occasionally been used as adulterants to more costly drugs, notably to ipecacuanha. A dose of from 40 to 50 grains of the powdered root is said to act violently, inciting nausea and great vomiting and nervous affection, due to the pronounced emetic qualities of the alkaloid contained.
The seeds are purgative and diuretic and have been given in urinary complaints, and are considered a good corrective of gravel.
A modern homoeopathic medicinal tincture is made from the whole fresh plant, with proof spirit, and is considered useful for a spasmodic cough with hard breathing, and also for rheumatism of the wrists.
The glucosidal principles contained in the leaves have not yet been fully investigated, but would appear to have distinct antiseptic properties.
Of late years, preparations of fresh Violet leaves have been used both internally and externally in the treatment of cancer, and though the British Pharmacopoeia does not uphold the treatment, it specifies how they are employed. From other sources it is stated that Violet leaves have been used with benefit to allay the pain in cancerous growths, especially in the throat, which no other treatment relieved, and several reputed cures have been recorded.
An infusion of the leaves in boiling water (1 in 5) has been administered in doses of 1 to 2 fluid ounces. A syrup of the petals and a liquid extract of the fresh leaves are also used, the latter taken in teaspoonful doses, or rubbed in locally. The fresh leaves are also prepared as a compress for local application.
The infusion is generally drunk cold and is made as follows: Take 2 1/2 OZ. of Violet leaves, freshly picked. Wash them clean in cold water and place them in a stone jar and pour over them 1 pint of boiling water. Tie the jar down and let it stand for twelve hours, till the water is green. Then strain off the liquid into a well-stoppered bottle and the tea is ready for drinking cold at intervals of every two hours during the day, taking a wineglassful at a time till the whole has been consumed each day. It is essential that the tea should be made fresh every day and kept in a cool place to prevent it turning sour. If any should be left over it should be thrown away.
As a cure for cancer of the tongue, it is recommended to drink half this quantity daily at intervals and apply the rest in hot fomentations.
Injection. - About a couple of wineglassfuls made tepid can be used, if required, as an injection, night and morning, but this infusion should be made separate from the tea and should not be of greater strength than 1 OZ. of leaves to 1/2 pint of water.
As a hot Compress, for external use, dip a piece of lint into the infusion, made the same strength as the tea, of which a sufficient quantity must be made warm for the purpose. Lay the lint round or over the affected part and cover with oilskin or thin mackintosh. Change the lint when dry or cold. Use flannel, not oilskin, for open wounds, and in cold weather it should be made fresh about every alternate day. Should this wet compress cause undue irritation of the skin, remove at once and substitute the following compress or poultice: Chop some fresh-gathered young Violet leaves, without stems, and cover with boiling water. Stand in a warm place for a quarter of an hour and add a little crushed linseed.
A concentrated preparation is also recommended, made as follows: Put as many Violet leaves in a saucepan as can boil in the water. Boil for 1/2 hour, then strain, squeezing tightly. Evaporate this decoction to one-fourth its bulk and add alcohol (spirits of wine 1 in 15); 1 1/2 OZ. or 3 tablespoonsful of spirits of wine will keep 24 OZ. for a month. This syrupy product is stated to be extremely efficacious, applied two or three times a day, or more, on cotton-wool about the throat. This will not cause irritation unless applied to the skin with waterproof over for a considerable time, as under such circumstances moisture will cause irritation.
For lubricating the throat, dry and powder Violet leaves and let them stand in olive oil for six hours in a water bath. Make strong. It will keep any time.
A continuous daily supply of fresh leaves is necessary and a considerable quantity is required. It is recorded that during the nine weeks that a nurseryman supplied a patient suffering from cancer in the colon - which was cured at the end of this period - a Violet bed covering six rods of ground was almost entirely stripped of its foliage.
Violet Ointment. - Place 2 OZ. of the best lard in a jar in the oven till it becomes quite clear. Then add about thirty-six fresh Violet leaves. Stew them in the lard for an hour till the leaves are the consistency of cooked cabbage. Strain and when cold put into a covered pot for use. This is a good oldfashioned Herbal remedy which has been allowed to fall into disuse. It is good as an application for superficial tubercles in the glands of the neck, Violet Leaves Tea being drunk at the same time.
Botanical: Hottonia palustris
Family: N.O. Violaceae
Water Milfoil. Water Yarrow. Feather Foil.
The Water Violet, an aquatic plant, is in no wise related to the familiar Violets and Pansies, but is a member of the Primrose tribe - named after Hotton, an early Leyden professor of Botany.
It is common in ponds and ditches. From the abundance of its finely divided leaves, which are all submersed, it was also called Millefolium by older writers and Water Milfoil, Water Yarrow and Feather Foil popularly. It flowers in May and June, the flowers being large and handsome, pink or pale purple, with a yellow eye, arranged in whorls one above the other around a leafless stalk, which rises several inches out of the water and forms a handsome spike.
Botanical: Vitis Hederacea (WILLD.)
Family: N.O. Vitaceae
Medicinal Action and Uses
American Ivy. Five-leaved Ivy. Ampolopsis quinquefolia (Mich.). Cissus Hederacea (Ross.). Cissus quinquefolia (Desf.). Vitis quinquefolia (LINN.). Wood Vine.
Bark, twigs, fresh leaves, berries, resin.
This common creeper is familiar to all on account of its rapid growth and the magnificence of its autumn coloring. It is specially useful in town gardens, where it is not affected by the smoky atmosphere.
The stem is extensively climbing, reaching out in all directions and fastening itself by the disk-like appendages of the tendrils, and also by rootlets. It will shoot about 20 feet in one year, and in time it becomes very woody.
The flowering branches become converted into tendrils, as in the case of the Vine. An inspection of any vine in summer will generally show some tendrils with buds upon them, revealing their origin. Occasionally, what ought to have been a tendril becomes a flowering branch and bears a full bunch of grapes. The two together are called a 'double cluster.'
The leaves have long petioles, or foot-stalks, and are divided into five leaflets. The flowers are in small clusters - yellowish-green in color and open in July, a few at a time. They are much liked by bees, and are succeeded by dark purplish-blue berries, which are ripe in October, being then about the size of a pea.
Under the name of Hedera quinquefolia, this creeper was first brought to Europe from Canada, and was cultivated here as early as1629. Parkinson, in whose days it was introduced, described it -
'The leaves are crumpled or rather folded together at the first coming forth and very red, which after growing forth are very fair, large and green, divided into four, five, six or seven leaves standing together upon a small foot-stalk - set without order on the branches, at the ends whereof, as also at other places sometimes, come forth short tufts of buds for flowers, but we could never see them open themselves to show what manner of flower it would be or what fruit would follow in our country.'
Bark and twigs. A tincture is made of the fresh young shoots and bark, which are chopped and pounded to a pulp, mixed with 2 parts by weight of alcohol, and left for 8 days in the dark before being strained and filtered off. The tincture is not official in either the United States or the British Pharmacopoeia.
The generic name Hedera is supposed to be derived either from the Celtic haedra (a cord), or from the Greek hedra (a seat). The specific name Helix was given by Linnaeus, on account of its being a great harbourer of snails, Helix being the scientific name of the Snail family. The English name of Ivy is said to be from iw (green), from its evergreen character. Yew is derived from the same word.
The properties depend on the special balsamic resin contained in its leaves and stems, as well as in its particular aromatic gum. The berries contain a very bitter principle somewhat like quinine. The alkaloid contained in it is termed Hederin.
Pyrocatachin (Oxyphenic acid) in the green leaves. Cisso-tannic acid has been determined as the pigment of the red coloration in the autumnal colored leaves, and has an astringent, bitter taste. The leaves when green contain also free tartaric acid and its salts, with sodium and potassium. Glycollic acid and calcium glycollate exist in the ripe berries.
In scrofulous affections the drug is principally employed in the form of a syrup.
---Medicinal Action and Uses---
Stimulating, diaphoretic and cathartic. Many virtues were attributed by our forefathers to this plant. Its berries have been found of use in febrile disorders, and were regarded as a specific against the plague and similar disorders, for which they were infused in vinegar. During the Great Plague of London, Ivy berries were given with some success for their antiseptic virtues and to induce perspiration.
In India the leaves are used as an aperient, and a resinous matter that in warm climates exudes from the bark of the main stems (and may be procured by wounding them) is considered a useful stimulant, antispasmodic and emmenagogue. This gum possesses mildly aperient properties, and was at one time included as a medicine in the Edinburgh Pharmacopoeia, but has now fallen out of use. Dissolved in vinegar it had the reputation of being a good filling for a hollow tooth causing neuralgic toothache.
The leaves have a very unpleasant taste. Taken inwardly in infusion, they act as an aperient and emetic, but are sudorific. They have been given on the Continent to children suffering from atrophy. The juice is said to cure headache, when applied to the nostrils. An infusion of the leaves and berries will also mitigate a severe headache.
The fresh leaves of Ivy, boiled in vinegar and applied warm to the sides of those who are troubled with the spleen, or stitch in the sides, will give much ease. The same applied with Rose-water, and oil of Roses to the temples and forehead eases headaches. Cups made from Ivywood have been employed, from which to sip hot or cold water for diseases of the spleen.
A decoction of the leaves applied externally will destroy head lice in children, and fresh Ivy leaves bruised and applied will afford great relief to bunions and shooting corns, a remedy to the excellence of which John Wesley has testified.
The leaves have also been employed as poultices and fomentations in glandular enlargements, indolent ulcers, etc.
A decoction of the leaves has been used as a black dye.
The berries possess much the same properties as the leaves, being strongly purgative and emetic. An infusion of the berries has been frequently found serviceable in rheumatic complaints and is reported to have cured the dropsy.
The dried bark is also used in a decoction. When stripped from the branches (after the berries have ripened) and dried in the sun, it occurs in quilled pieces 2 to 3 inches long and from 1/4 to 1/2 inch in diameter, externally brown with enlarged transverse scars, the fracture showing a white bark with coarse flattened fibres in the inner portion. One ounce of the bark to a pint of boiling water is taken in wineglassful doses.
A fluid extract is also prepared from the bark and twigs, of which the dose is 1/2 to 1 drachm; another preparation, Ampelopsin, is taken in doses of 2 to 4 grains.
This hath a thick short greyish root, lying for the most part above ground, shooting forth on all other sides such like small pieces of roots, which have all of them many long green strings and fibres under them in the ground, whereby it draws nourishment. From the head of these roots spring up many green leaves, which at first are somewhat broad and long, without any divisions at all in them, or denting on the edges; but those that rise up after are more and more divided on each side, some to the middle rib, being winged, as made of many leaves together on a stalk, and those upon a stalk, in like manner more divided, but smaller towards the top than below; the stalk rises to be a yard high or more, sometimes branched at the top, with many small whitish flowers, sometimes dashed over at the edges with a pale purplish color, of a little scent, which passing away, there follows small brownish white seed, that is easily carried away with the wind. The root smells more strong than either leaf or flower, and is of more use in medicines.
It is generally kept with us in gardens.
It flowers in June and July, and continues flowering until the frost pull it down.
Government and virtues :
This is under the influence of Mercury. Dioscorides saith, That the Garden Valerian hath a warming faculty, and that being dried and given to drink it provokes urine, and helps the stranguary. The decoction thereof taken, doth the like also, and takes away pains of the sides, provokes women's courses, and is used in antidotes. Pliny saith, That the powder of the root given in drink, or the decoction thereof taken, helps all stoppings and stranglings in any part of the body, whether they proceed of pains in the chest or sides, and takes them away. The root of Valerian boiled with liquorice, raisins, and anniseed, is singularly good for those that are short-winded, and for those that are troubled with the cough, and helps to open the passages, and to expectorate phlegm easily. It is given to those that are bitten or stung by any venomous creature, being boiled in wine. It is of a special virtue against the plague, the decoction thereof being drank, and the root being used to smell to. It helps to expel the wind in the belly. The green herb with the root taken fresh, being bruised and applied to the head, takes away the pains and prickings there, stays rheum and thin distillation, and being boiled in white wine, and a drop thereof put into the eyes, takes away the dimness of the sight, or any pin or web therein. It is of excellent property to heal any inward sores or wounds, and also for outward hurts or wounds, and drawing away splinters or thorns out of the flesh.
The common Vervain hath somewhat long broad leaves next the ground deeply gashed about the edges, and some only deeply dented, or cut all alike, of a blackish green color on the upper side, somewhat grey underneath. The stalk is square, branched into several parts, rising about two feet high, especially if you reckon the long spike of flowers at the tops of them, which are set on all sides one above another, and sometimes two or three together, being small and gaping, of a blue color and white intermixed, after which come small round seed, in small and somewhat long heads. The root is small and long.
It grows generally throughout this land in divers places of the hedges and way-sides, and other waste grounds.
It flowers in July, and the seed is ripe soon after.
Government and virtues :
This is an herb of Venus, and excellent for the womb to strengthen and remedy all the cold griefs of it, as Plantain doth the hot. Vervain is hot and dry, opening obstructions, cleansing and healing. It helps the yellow jaundice, the dropsy and the gout; it kills and expels worms in the belly, and causes a good color in the face and body, strengthens as well as corrects the diseases of the stomach, liver, and spleen; helps the cough, wheezings, and shortness of breath, and all the defects of the reins and bladder, expelling the gravel and stone. It is held to be good against the biting of serpents, and other venomous beasts, against the plague, and both tertian and quartan agues. It consolidates and heals also all wounds, both inward and outward, stays bleedings, and used with some honey, heals all old ulcers and fistulas in the legs or other parts of the body; as also those ulcers that happen in the mouth; or used with hog's grease, it helps the swellings and pains in the secret parts in man or woman, also for the piles or hæmorrhoids; applied with some oil of roses and vinegar unto the forehead and temples, it eases the inveterate pains and ache of the head, and is good for those that are frantic. The leaves bruised, or the juice of them mixed with some vinegar, doth wonderfully cleanse the skin, and takes away morphew, freckles, fistulas, and other such like inflammations and deformities of the skin in any parts of the body. The distilled water of the herb when it is in full strength, dropped into the eyes, cleanses them from films, clouds, or mists, that darken the sight, and wonderfully strengthens the optic nerves. The said water is very powerful in all the diseases aforesaid, either inward or outward, whether they be old corroding sores, or green wounds. The dried root, and peeled, is known to be excellently good against all scrophulous and scorbutic habits of body, by being tied to the pit of the stomach, by a piece of white ribband round the neck.
The leaves of the English vine (I do not mean to send you to the Canaries for a medicine) being boiled, makes a good lotion for sore mouths; being boiled with barley meal into a poultice, it cools inflammations of wounds; the dropping of the vine, when it is cut in the Spring, which country people call Tears, being boiled in a syrup, with sugar, and taken inwardly, is excellent to stay women's longings after every thing they see, which is a disease many women with child are subject to. The decoction of Vine leaves in white wine doth the like. Also the tears of the Vine, drank two or three spoonfuls at a time, breaks the stone in the bladder. This is a very good remedy, and it is discreetly done, to kill a Vine to cure a man, but the salt of the leaves are held to be better. The ashes of the burnt branches will make teeth that are as black as a coal, to be as white as snow, if you but every morning rub them with it. It is a most gallant Tree of the Sun, very sympathetical with the body of men, and that is the reason spirit of wine is the greatest cordial among all vegetables.
Both the tame and the wild are so well known, that they need no description.
They flower until the end of July, but are best in March, and the beginning of April.
Government and virtues :
They are a fine pleasing plant of Venus, of a mild nature, no way harmful. All the Violets are cold and moist while they are fresh and green, and are used to cool any heat, or distemperature of the body, either inwardly or outwardly, as inflammations in the eyes, in the matrix or fundament, in imposthumes also, and hot swellings, to drink the decoction of the leaves and flowers made with water in wine, or to apply them poultice-wise to the grieved places: it likewise eases pains in the head, caused through want of sleep; or any other pains arising of heat, being applied in the same manner, or with oil of roses. A dram weight of the dried leaves or flower of Violets, but the leaves more strongly, doth purge the body of choleric humours, and assuages the heat, being taken in a draught of wine, or any other drink; the powder of the purple leaves of the flowers, only picked and dried and drank in water, is said to help the quinsy, and the falling-sickness in children, especially in the beginning of the disease. The flowers of the white Violets ripen and dissolve swellings. The herb or flowers, while they are fresh, or the flowers when they are dry, are effectual in the pleurisy, and all diseases of the lungs, to lenify the sharpness in hot rheums, and the hoarseness of the throat, the heat also and sharpness of urine, and all the pains of the back or reins, and bladder. It is good also for the liver and the jaundice, and all hot agues, to cool the heat, and quench the thirst; but the syrup of Violets is of most use, and of better effect, being taken in some convenient liquor: and if a little of the juice or syrup of lemons be put to it, or a few drops of the oil of vitriol, it is made thereby the more powerful to cool the heat, and quench the thirst, and gives to the drink a claret wine color, and a fine tart relish, pleasing to the taste. Violets taken, or made up with honey, do more cleanse and cool, and with sugar contrary-wise. The dried flower of Violets are accounted amongst the cordial drinks, powders, and other medicines, especially where cooling cordials are necessary. The green leaves are used with other herbs to make plaisters and poultices to inflammations and swellings, and to ease all pains whatsoever, arising of heat, and for the piles also, being fried with yolks of eggs, and applied thereto.
This hath many long rough leaves lying on the ground, from among which rises up divers hard round stalks, very rough, as if they were thick set with prickles or hairs, whereon are set such like rough, hairy, or prickly sad green leaves, somewhat narrow; the middle rib for the most part being white. The flowers stand at the top of the stalk, branched forth in many long spiked leaves of flowers bowing or turning like the turnsole, all opening for the most part on the one side, which are long and hollow, turning up the brims a little, of a purplish violet color in them that are fully blown, but more reddish while they are in the bud, as also upon their decay and withering; but in some places of a paler purplish color, with a long pointel in the middle, feathered or parted at the top. After the flowers are fallen, the seeds growing to be ripe, are blackish, cornered and pointed somewhat like the head of a viper. The root is somewhat great and blackish, and woolly, when it grows toward seed-time, and perishes in the Winter.There is another sort, little differing from the former, only in this, that it bears white flowers.
The first grows wild almost every where. That with white flowers about the castle-walls at Lewis in Sussex.
They flower in Summer, and their seed is ripe quickly after.
Government and virtues :
It is a most gallant herb of the Sun; it is a pity it is no more in use than it is. It is an especial remedy against the biting of the Viper, and all other venomous beasts, or serpents; as also against poison, or poisonous herbs. Dioscorides and others say, That whosoever shall take of the herb or root before they be bitten, shall not be hurt by the poison of any serpent. The root or seed is thought to be most effectual to comfort the heart, and expel sadness, or causeless melancholy; it tempers the blood, and allays hot fits of agues. The seed drank in wine, procures abundance of milk in women's breasts. The same also being taken, eases the pains in the loins, back, and kidneys. The distilled water of the herb when it is in flower, or its chief strength, is excellent to be applied either inwardly or outwardly, for all the griefs aforesaid. There is a syrup made hereof very effectual for the comforting the heart, and expelling sadness and melancholy.
Disclaimer: The purpose of this site is to give general information to the reader. I or any directly, or indirectly affiliated entity disclaim any liability to any person, arising directly, or indirectly from the use of or from any errors or omissions in the information within these page and their links. The adoption and the application of any information is at the discretion of the reader, and is their sole responsibility. All the information here is believed to be from public domain. If you think otherwise please contact here
wiccazone.net 2014-NOW . All rights reserved