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CULPEPER'S COMPLETE HERBAL
Names. It is called alron, janus, barba-aron, calve's-foot, ramp, starch-wort, cuckow-pintle, priest's pintle and wake-robin.
Description. This shooteth forth three, four, or five leaves at the most, from one root, every one whereof is somewhat large and long, broad at the bottom next the stalk, and forked, but ending in a point, without a cut on the edges, of a full green colour, each standing upon a thick round stalk, of a handful breadth long, or more, among which, after two or three months that they begin to wither, riseth up a bare, round, whitish-green stalk, spotted and streaked with purple, somewhat higher than the leaves; at the top whereof standeth a long hollow house or husk, close at the bottom, but open from the middle upwards, ending in a point; in the middle whereof stands the small long pestle or clapper, smaller at the bottom than at the top, of a dark purple colour, as the husk is on the inside, though green without; which after it so abideth for some time, the husk with the clapper decayeth, and the foot or bottom thereof groweth to be a small long bunch of berries green at the first, and of a yellowish red colour when they are ripe, of the size of a hazel-nut kernel, which abideth thereon almost until winter; the root is round, and somewhat long, for the most part lying along, the leaves shooting forth at the bigger end, which, when it beareth its berries, are somewhat wrinkled and loose, another growing under it, which is solid and firm, with many small threads hanging thereat. The whole plant is of a very sharp biting taste, pricking the tongue as nettles do the hands, and so abideth for a great while without alteration. The root hereof was anciently used instead of starch to starch linen.
There is another sort of cuckow-point, with smaller leaves than the former, and some times harder, having blackish spots upon them, which for the most part abide longer green in the summer than the former, and both leaves and roots are more sharp and fierce than it; in all things else it is like the former.
Place. These two sorts grow frequently almost under every hedge-side in many places of this land.
Time. They shoot forth leaves in the spring, and continue but until the middle of summer, or somewhat later; their husks appearing before the fall away, and their fruit shewing in April.
Government and virtues . It is under the dominion of Mars. Tragus reporteth, that a drachm weight, or more, if need be, of the spotted wake-robin, either fresh and green, or dried, being eaten and taken, is a most present and sure remedy for poison and the plague. The juice of the herb taken to the quantity of a spoonful hath the same effect; but if there be a little vinegar added thereunto, as well as unto the root aforesaid, it somewhat allayeth the sharp biting taste thereof upon the tongue. The green leaves bruised, and laid upon any boil or plague-sore, do very wonderfully help to draw forth the poison. A drachm of the powder of the dried root taken with twice so much sugar, in the form of a licking electuary, or the green root doth wonderfully help those that are pursy or short-winded, as also those that have a cough; it breaketh, digesteth, and riddeth away phlegm from the stomach, chest, and lungs; the milk wherein the root hath been boiled, is effectual also for the same purpose. The said powder, taken in wine or other drink, or the juice of the berries, or the powder of them, or the wine wherein they have been boiled, provoketh urine, and bringeth down women's courses, and purgeth them effectually after child-bearing, to bring away the after-birth: taken with sheep's milk, it healeth the inward ulcers of the bowels. The distilled water hereof is effectual to all the purposes aforesaid. A spoonful taken at a time healeth the itch; and an ounce or more, taken at a time for some days together, doth help the rupture; the leaves, either green or dry, or the juice of them, doth cleanse all manner of rotten and filthy ulcers, in what part of the body soever, and healeth the stinking sores in the nose, called polypus. The water wherein the root hath been boiled, dropped into the eyes, cleanseth them from any film or skin, cloud or mist, which begin to hinder the sight, and helpeth the watering and redness of them; or when by accident they become black and blue. The root mixed with bean-flour, and applied to the throat or jaws that are inflamed, helpeth them; the juice of the berries boiled in oil of roses, or beaten into powder mixed with the oil, and dropped into the ears, easeth pains in them: the berries or the roots, beaten with hot ox-dung and applied, ease the pains of the gout: the leaves and roots boiled in wine with a little oil, and applied to the piles, or the falling down of the fundament, ease them, and so doth sitting over the hot fumes thereof: the fresh roots bruised, and distilled with a little milk, yield a most sovereign water to cleanse the skin from scurf, freckles, spots, or blemishes whatsoever. the country people about Maidstone in Kent use the herb and root, instead of soap.
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