Imatges de pÓgina
PDF
EPUB

curved at the bottom. Stamens very short, inclosed within the tube of the blossom. Fl. Brit. E.) VERVAIN. SIMPLER'S JOY. (Welsh: Cas gan gythraul; Llys yr hudol, q. d. Enchanter's plant. E.) "A waste-loving plant." Stone walls, sides of great roads, (and about villages. Rare in Scotland. E.) At the foot of St. Vincent's Rocks along the course of the river, very plentiful. (Banks of Tyne at Bywell, and the Riding, Northumberland; and near Darlington, Durham. Winch Guide. On the Point, near Beaumaris. Welsh Bot. Without the gates of Inverkeithing. Dr. Parsons, in Lightf. In the lower part of the grounds of Wick House, Brislington, Somersetshire, near the Withy bed. Prevalent about Teignmouth. Undercliff, Isle of Wight. E.) P. Aug.-Sept.

* (Vervain has so little pretension to sensible qualities, or even to external attraction, that it is surprising it should have acquired such general notoriety, either for its medicinal virtues as a deobstruent, especially efficacious in the cure of scrophula; or for the more mystic powers in times past universally attributed to it; for it was believed to be capable of curing the bites of all rabid animals, arresting the progress of the venom of serpents, reconciling antipathies, conciliating friendships, &c. And yet there is no well-grounded reason to doubt our plant being the genuine "Herba Sacra" of the ancients; in honour of which Verbenalia were annually held; and one of several which were more immediately appropriated to the use of the altar and the decoration of the priesthood: though it must be admitted that the dry harsh nature of our herb but ill accords with the pinguis Verbena" of Virgil, any more than with the prevalent idea of an evergreen. Vervain was usually offered as a pledge of mutual good faith between the Romans and their enemies; as in the solemn league between Tullus Hostilius and the Albens; and may, in powerful protection, be deemed equivalent to the more modern flag of truce: for, on like occasions, as Drayton observes,

"A wreath of Vervain heralds wear."

66

Ambassadors and heralds at arms likewise wore chaplets of Vervain on denouncing war or conveying messages of defiance. But surely these usages would seem to imply some more ostensible production.

Where

"Dark superstition's whisper dread

Debarr'd the spot to vulgar tread,"

the sanctimonious Druid instilled veneration for the Vervain nearly equal to that claimed for the Misseltoe: and thus Mason describes its connexion with these solemn incantations,

"Lift your boughs of Vervain blue

Dipt in cold September dew;

And dash the moisture, chaste and clear,

O'er the ground, and through the air.

Now the place is purg'd and pure."

Vestiges of these superstitions, though extinct in Britain, may still be traced in Germany and some parts of France, where the rustics are wont to gather the plant under certain phases of the moon, accompanied by unintelligible cabalistic ejaculations, believing that the herb thus procured will operate as a charm against every calamity, natural or supernatural, and even possess the power

"That hind'reth witches of their will."

Vain were it to revive the recollection of what has long, to common understandings, been deservedly forgotten, (even though the neglected weed seems to hanker after its lost fame, and to linger around the dwellings of man,) did not the British public of the nineteenth century appear to be impelled (by a somewhat erratic "march of intellect,") towards the opposite extremes of superstition and infidelity. It may, therefore, possibly be profitable at least to one portion of the community, in such anticipation, to record the abundant efficacy of this amulet, when suspended round the neck, (as conscientiously accredited through successive ages, till recently denominated the darker); nor might it be imprudent in the simpler to anticipate a more extended demand for a commodity

MEN'THA.* Bloss. nearly equal, four-cleft: Filaments spreading wide.

(The numerous species of Mints are arranged according to the reformed plan of Smith, condensed from the Menthe Britannica' of Mr. Sole, whose accurate and finely executed figures have greatly facilitated the elucidation of this intricate genus, and not less so the valuable observations of the President of the Linnean Society. (Linn. Tr. vol. v.) Whence it appears that for specific distinction we must chiefly rely on the situation and direction of the hairs or bristles, especially those of the calyx and flower-stalk. E.)†

(1) Flowers in spikes.

(M. SYLVESTRIS. Spikes hairy, scarcely interrupted: leaves with toothed serratures, downy chiefly beneath: floral-leaves awlshaped calyx hairy all over.

respecting which Ray, (doubtless in ignorance), presumed to exclaim, “Mirum tot viribus pollere plantam nulla insigni qualitate sensibili dotatam!" and which father Gerard himself, in honest simplicity, still more unceremoniously denounces, despite the authority of Dioscorides, Pliny, and a host of veracious commentators; "Many odde olde wives fables are written of Vervaine tending to witchcraft and sorcerie, which you may reade elsewhere, for I am not willing to trouble your eares with reporting such trifles as honest cares abhorre to heare. Most of the later Phisicians do give the juice or decoction heerof to them that have the plague; but these men are deceived, not onely in that they looke for some truth from the father of falshood and leasings, but also bicause insteede of a good and sure remedie they minister no remedie at all; for it is reported, that the divell did reveale it as a secret and divine medicine." p. 582. Nevertheless, as a charm to conciliate friendship, we would not willingly relinquish even this simple talisman.

"There are fairer flowers that bloom on the lea,

And give out their fragrant scent to the gale;

But the Vervain, with charmed leaf, shall be

The plant of our choosing, though scentless and pale.
For, wrapp'd in the veil of thy lowly flower,
They say that a powerful influence dwells,
And that, duly cull'd in the star-bright hour,
Thou bindest the heart by thy powerful spells.
We will plant thee beneath our sheltering tree,
In our bower we will bid thy blossoms unfold;
So faithful and firm may our friendships be,

So never may glowing hearts grow cold." Wild Garland. E.)

* (From the Greek Men the nymph MINTHE, daughter of Cocytus, and a favourite of Pluto, whom Proserpine, instigated by an evil passion, metamorphosed into this plant: though Ovid would appear somewhat incredulous of the fact.

"Could Pluto's queen with jealous fury storm,

And Menthè to a fragrant herb transform?" E.)

(The general utility of Mints is well known, and universally admitted, though we are not to expect the wonderful results described by some ancient writers. For culinary purposes Spear-Mint is preferred, as in sauce, salads, &c. but for medicine, Peppermint, and Pennyroyal are more efficacious. A conserve of the leaves is very grateful, and the distilled: waters, both simple and spirituous, are agreeable. The virtues of Mint are those of a. warm stomachic and carminative. In hysteria, nausea, and cholicky pains, as a cordial, few simples prove more beneficial. In such cases the best preparation is a strong infusion. of the dried herb in water, (which is much superior to the green,) or a tincture or extract with the rectified spirit. Pennyroyal has not undeservedly been held in esteem as a deobstruent. These herbs should be cut in a very dry season, and just when they are in flower; if cut in the wet they will change black, and be little worth. E.)

E. Bot. 686.

Stem nearly three feet high, upright, leafy, quadrangular, rough with hairs pointing downwards. Leaves sessile, opposite, varying in figure and breadth. Spikes terminal, panicled, sharpish, composed of numerous dense whorls, with but little space between even the lowermost: each whorl accompanied by a pair of tapering, projecting, awl-shaped floralleaves, the lowermost of which are dilated at the base. Calyx small, hairy all over with tapering teeth, longer than the tube. Blossom twice as long as the calyx, hairy, of a pale lilac colour. Stamens inclosed within the blossom. The whole herb has a strong aromatic smell, is of a hoary or greyish green, and clothed with soft hairs.

Var. 1. Leaves spear-shaped, acute.

M. sylvestris. Linn.-M. villosa prima, Sole. Menth. 3. t. 1-Dod. 96-Ger. Em. 684. 3—J. B. iii. 221.

Var. 2. Leaves egg-shaped, acute.

M. villosa secunda, Sole. Menth. 5. t. 2-Fl. Dan. 484-Riv. Mon. 51. 1Fuchs. 292-Cam. Epit. 479.

By the water side at Bottisham Load mill, Cambridgeshire; in the houseclose of an Inn at Hillington, Middlesex. Frequent in Hertfordshire. Sole.

Var. 3. Leaves shorter; spikes blunter. Plentiful in Kent.

Var. 4. Leaves elliptical, broad, and blunt.

M. rotundifolia, Sole. Menth. 9. t. 4-Fuchs. 289.

In Kent and Essex, but rare. Eleven miles from Norwich in the road to Hingham. Mr. Crowe. At Thorpe, near Norwich. E.)

HORSE MINT. Marshy and watery places. Burwelbeck. Lincolnshire; behind the alms-houses at Great Yeldham, Essex. Lewisham, Kent; between Ripley and Guildford. Bungay, frequent. Mr. Woodward. Thorn, Yorkshire. Mr. Robson. P. Aug.

(M. ROTUNDIFO'lia. Spikes somewhat hairy, interrupted: leaves roundish, blunt, wrinkled, scolloped, downy beneath: floralleaves spear-shaped. E.)

E. Bot. 446-Sole. Menth. 7. t. 3-Riv. Mon. 51. 2—J. B. iii. 219. 2. Leaves rather serrated than scolloped. Whole plant woolly, grass green. Flowers pale red, much resembling those of the preceding species. Stems two to three feet high, upright, square, hairy or shaggy, the hairs pointing more or less downwards. Leaves underside shaggy, not hairy; all the veins fringed with close hairs. Spikes several, terminal, upright, sharpish, not very densely whorled. Calyx small, bell-shaped, covered with rough hairs. Stamens much longer than the blossom. The whole herb strong smelling, and tending to viscidity. Leaves occasionally variegated with white. E.)

ROUND-LEAVED MINT. (Welsh: Mintys lledcrynddail. E.) M. rotun◄ difolia. M. crispa. Linn. M. sylvestris. Sole. Watery places. River side, at Lydbrook, near Ross, Hertfordshire; near Falkburn Hall, Essex. Ray. Near Hally, Kent. Doody. Hornsey and Harefield churchyards. Blackstone. Near Saltburn, Yorkshire, by the sea, in a dry sandy place. Mr. Robson. (On the edge of an old moat at Shingham, Norfolk.

[ocr errors][ocr errors]

Rev. R. Forby. Waste places at North Bovey, Devon. Rev. J. P. Jones. Lowdore, Cumberland; Studley Woods, Yorkshire. Mr. Winch. About Lanvayer, and on the side of the road from Abergavenny to Monmouth, near to the last town. Purton. By the road side in Llanfairynghornwy, Anglesey. Welsh Bot. E.) P. Aug. M. VIR'IDIS. Spikes interrupted: leaves spear-shaped, naked, serrated, pointed, sessile: (floral-leaves bristle-shaped, somewhat hairy, as well as the teeth of the calyx: flower-stalks very smooth. E.) (Sole Menth. 11. t. 5-E. Bot. 2424. E.)-Woodv. 170-Cam. Epit. 477Ger. 552. 2—Dod. 95. 4-Lob. Obs. 271. 4, and Ic. i. 508. 1-Ger. Em. 680. 4-Park. 31-Dod. 95. 3-Lob. Obs. 271. 3, and Ic. i. 507. 2-Ger. Em. 680. 3-Pet. 31. 7-Fuchs. 290—J. B. iii. 220-Trag. 20. 2-Lonic. i. 113. 2-Matth. 712.

Leaves strap-spear-shaped. Spikes of flowers much longer than broad. (Stem two or three feet high, upright, smooth, sharply angular, branched, often tinged with purple. Flower-stalks and tube of the calyx perfectly smooth, though the teeth of the latter are not always free from hairiness. Floral-leaves generally ciliated. Flowers of a bright red colour, dotted within. Stamens tipped with red knobs. E.)

"

Var. 2. Stem red, taller, thicker, and stronger, and divided at the top into more flowering branches. Leaves blacker, shorter, and not so taperpointed, appearing blunter, more wrinkled, teeth not so fine. Flowers smaller and paler. Scent stronger, and not so agreeable. Ray.-(Teeth of the calyx fringed with hairs. E.)

Pluk. Mant. 129.

By the river side at Bocking, Essex. Dale. On the river Medway, near
Maidstone. Plukenet. At Babergh, near Norwich. Mr. Pitchford.
Var. 3. Narrow-leaved, smooth, with a broader spike; teeth of the calyx
fringed with longer and more numerous hairs.

Bauh. Pin. 227.

In a meadow at Bocking. Dale.

Var. 4. Spike smooth; leaves broader; teeth of the calyx fringed with hairs.

(M. sativa of Pharm. Lond. E.)

SPEAR MINT. (M. spicata, a viridis. Linn. Watery places and banks of rivers. Near Exmouth, and on the banks of the Thames. Hudson. (By the sides of rills in the vale of Cerig, near Chirk Castle, Denbighshire. Mr. Griffith. By the side of the Avon between Bath and Kelston, and on a common between Glastonbury and Wells. Mr. Sole. E.)

P. July-Aug.t

(Mr. Sole states this to be the true Menthastrum of the shops, and deduces that the Monks, the physicians of their times, were well acquainted with its virtues, from its still being frequently found about the ruins of abbeys and monasteries. He finds it speedily cure chlorosis, and wonderfully refresh the brain, removing the dull stupid langour subsequent to epileptic fits. E.)

The flavour of this species being more agreeable than that of the others, it is generally - preferred for medical and culinary purposes. A conserve of the leaves is very grateful, and the distilled waters, both simple and spirituous, are universally thought pleasant. The leaves are used in spring salads; and the juice of them, boiled up with sugar, is formed into tablets. The distilled waters, and the essential oil, are often given to stop vomiting, and frequently with success. From the circumstances noticed under M. arvensis, it has been

M. PIPERITÀ. (Spikes blunt, interrupted below: leaves egg-shaped, stalked, smoothish: calyx very smooth at the base. E.)

Stem upright, branched, a little hairy, with recurved hairs, often purplish. Leaves dark green, sharpish, serrated, rather smooth above, more or less hairy, but never downy or shaggy beneath. Spike terminal, the lowest whorl remote, stalked, sometimes spiked. Floral-leaves spear-shaped, fringed. Calyx slender, furrowed, dotted, the teeth dark purple and fringed. Blossom purplish.

Var. 1. Leaves egg-spear-shaped; spikes elongated to a point. Sole Menth. 15. t. 7—E. Bot. 687-Woodv. Med. Bot. t. 169-Pet. t. 31. f. 10-Blackw. 291. 2. stamens represented too long.

The true Peppermint of the London Pharmacopoeia: first discovered by Dr. Eales in Hertfordshire. Ray. In a swampy place on Lansdown, near Bath, called the Wells; also by the side of the Avon in Newton Mead. Mr. Sole. In a rivulet in Bonsall Dale, near Matlock. Sir J. E. Smith. Near the river at Tamworth.

Var. 2. Leaves egg-shaped; spikes with their points abridged, almost capitate.

Sole Menth. 19. t. 8-R. Syn. t. 10. f. 2.

Herb Sherard. By Wandsworth river. About Bath in various watery places; between Wells and Glastonbury; also in Chiltern bottom, Wilts. Mr. Sole.

Var. 3. Larger in every respect than the other varieties; leaves broad, almost heart-shaped; spikes long and thick.

Sole Menth. 53. t. 24.

At Lyncomb Spa, and other wet places about Bath. Mr. Sole. At the south-west corner of Saham Meer, near Watton, Norfolk. Sir J. E. Smith. PEPPER MINT. M. piperita. Hudson; not of Linnæus, his plant so named being only a variety of M. hirsuta. E.) Watery places and sides of rivulets. (Rare in Scotland. Near Edinburgh. Mr. Greene. Grev. Edin. E.) P. Aug. Sept.

(M. CITRA'TA. Spikes capitate, very blunt: leaves on short leaf-stalks, heart-shaped, naked on both sides: calyx and flower-stalks smooth.

imagined, that cataplasms and fomentations of Mint, would dissolve coagulations of milk in the breasts; but Dr. Lewis says, that the curd of milk, digested in a strong infusion of Mint, could not be perceived to be any otherwise affected than by common water; however, milk in which Mint leaves were set to macerate, did not coagulate so soon as an of the same milk kept by itself. Dr. Lewis observes tant dry Mint, digested in rectified spirits of wine, gives out a tincture, which appears, by day-light, of a fine dark green, but, by candle light, of a bright red colour. The fact is, that a small quantity of this tincture is green, either by day-light or by candle-light, but a large quantity of it seems impervious to common day-light; and, when held between the eye and a candle, or between the eye and the sun, it appears red; so that if put into a flat bottle it may show either green, or red, as it is viewed through the flat side or through the edge of a bottle. (It is credibly reported that mice are so averse to the smell of mint, either recent or dried, that they will desist from their depredations on grain, cheese, and other stores, over which it is scattered. Probably the essential oils might prove equally preservative. E.)

The stein and leaves are beset with numbers of very minute glands, containing the essential oil, which rises plentifully in distillation. Peppermint water is well known as a carminative and antispasmodic. The essence of Peppermint is an elegant medicine, and possesses the most active properties of the plant.

« AnteriorContinua »