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Name. The Arabians call it balessan, the Greeks balsamin, and the Latins balsamum; the liquor they called opobalsamum, the berries or fruit of the tree carpobalsamum, and the sprigs or young branches thereof zylobalsamum.

Description. The balsam or balm-tree, in the most natural places where it groweth, is never very large, seldom more than eight or nine feet high and in some places much lower, with divers small and straight slender branches issuing from them, of a brownish-red colour, especially the younger twigs, covered with a double bark, the red first and a green one under it, which are of a very fragrant smell, and of an aromatical quick taste, somewhat astringent and gummy, cleaving to the fingers; the wood under the bark is white, and as insipid as any other wood; on these branches come forth, sparsedly and without order, many stalks of winged leaves, somewhat like unto those of the mastic-tree, the lowest and those that first come forth consisting but of three leaves, others of five or seven leaves, but seldom more; which are set by couples, the lowest smallest, and the next bigger, and the uppermost largest of all; of a pale green colour, smelling and tasting somewhat like the bark of the branches, somewhat clammy also, and abide on the bushes all the year; the flowers are many and small, standing by three together on small stalks at the ends of the branches, made of six small white leaves a-piece, after which follow small brownish hard berries, little bigger than juniper berries, small at both ends, crested on the sides, and very like unto the berries of the turpentine tree, of a very sharp scent, having a yellow honey-like substance in them, somewhat bitter, but aromatical in taste, and biting on the tongue like the opobalsamum; from the body hereof being cut there issueth forth a liquor (which sometimes floweth without scarifying) of a thick whitish colour at the first, but afterwards groweth oily, and is somewhat thicker than oil in summer, and of so sharp a scent that it will pierce the nostrils of those that smell thereto; it is almost like unto oil of spike, but as it groweth older so it groweth thicker, and not so quick in the smell, and in colour becoming yellow like honey or brown thick turpentine as it groweth old.

Place and time. The most reputed natural places where this tree hath been known to grow, both in these and former days, are Arabia Felix, about Mecca and Medina,and a small village near them called Bedrumia, and the hills, valleys, and sandy grounds, about them and the country of Sabeans adjoining next thereunto; and from thence transplanted into India and Egypt; it likewise grew on the hills of Gilead. It is reported, that the Queen of Sheba brought of the balsam-trees to Solomon, as the richest of her presents, who caused them to be planted in orchards, in the valley of Jericho, where they flourished, and were tended and yearly pruned, until they together with the vineyards in that country, were destroyed by that monster of mankind, the savage bestial ***** (editors licence).

Government and Virtues. This balsam-tree is a solar plant, of temperature hot and dry in the second degree, and is sweet in smell, being of thin parts, but the liquor or opobalsamum is of good use against the poisons or infections of vipers, serpents, and scorpions, the pestilence and spotted fever, and other putrid and intermissive agues that arise from obstructions, and crude cold humours, to take a scruple or two in drink for some days together, and to sweat thereon; for this openeth the obstructions of the liver and spleen, and digesteth raw humours, cherishing the vital spirits, radical moisture, and natural heat; and is very effectual in cold griefs and diseases of the head or stomach, helping the swimmings and turning of the brain, weak memories, and falling sickness; it cleareth the eyes of films or skins, and easeth pains in the ears: it helpeth a cough, shortness of breath, and consumption of the lungs, warming and drying up the distillations of rheums upon them, and all other diseases of the stomach proceeding of cold or wind; the cold or windy distempers of the bowels, womb, or mother, which cause torments or pains, or the cold moistures procuring barrennes. It provoketh the courses, expelleth the dead and after-births, cures the flux of the whites and stopping of urine; it cleanseth the reins and kidneys, and expelleth the stone and gravel; it is very good against the palsy, cramp, tremblings, convulsions, shrinkings of the sinews and green wounds.



Government and virtues.

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