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Divers sorts there are of this plant; the first of which is an Italian by birth, and only nursed up here in the gardens of the curious. Two or three sorts are found commonly growing wild here, the description of two of which I shall give you.

Description. The first is a smooth, low plant, not a foot high, very bitter in taste, with many square stalks, diversly branched from the bottom to the top, with divers joints, and two small leaves at each joint, broader at the bottom than they are at the end, a little dented about the edges, of a sad green colour, and full of veins. The flowers stand at the joints, being of a fair purple colour, with some white spots in them, in fashion like those of dead nettles. The seed is small and yellow, and the roots spread much under ground.

The second seldom grows half a foot high, sending up many small branches, whereon grow many small leaves, set one against the other, somewhat broad, but very short. The flowers are like the flowers of the other fashion, but of a pale reddish colour. The seeds are small and yellowish. The root spreads like the other, neither will it yield to its fellow one ace of bitterness.

Place. They grow in wet low grounds, and by the water-sides; the last may be found among the bogs on Hampstead Heath.

Time. They flower in June or July, and the seed is ripe presently later.

Government and virtues. They are herbs of Mars, and as choleric and churlish as he is, being most violent purges, especially of choler and phlegm. It is not safe taking them inwardly, unless they be well rectified by the art of the alchymist, and only the purity of them given; so used they may be very helpful both for the dropsy, gout, and sciatica; outwardly used in ointments they kill worms, the belly anointed with it, and are excellently good to cleanse old and filthy ulcers.


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