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Description. This is one of the fern tribe, a perennial herb, which is distinguished from the others by the seeds being in roundish spots, distributed on the under surface of the leaf. The root is shagged with hairs, and of the thickness of one's little finger, and, when broken, is found to be green within; and to the taste at once austere and sweet. The root lives long; in spring new leaves rise up, and those of the preceding year decay. There is no other part; for every leaf is itself a perfect plant, bearing its seeds upon its back; no other stalk arising.

Place. It is very common among mossy stones, upon the joints of old walls which are in the shade, and upon the stumps of old trees; but the best sort of it grows upon decayed parts of old oak trees.

Time. As its virtues depend upon the condition of its juices, it may be used as gathered at any time of the year; but it is in its greatest perfection in October and November, when the full grown leaves, having done their office, and perfected the seeds for a new succession, draw little more juices, then the body of the root swells, and acquires twice its former thickness: it then grows tender, and its juice, when broken, is saccharine, thick, and gummous.

Government and virtues. It is under Jupiter in Leo. With laxatives it gently carries off the contents of the bowels without irritation. By itself it is a very mild and useful purge; but being very slow, it is generally mixed by infusion or decoction with other purging ingredients, or in broths with beets, parsley, ammow, cummin, ginger, fennel and annise. With mucilaginous herbs, as white beet and mallow, it is excellent in cholics. The powder taken to half a drachm daily, and fasting three hours after, is good for the spleen, jaundice, and dropsy, for it is as fine an alternative as can be procured, and will penetrate farther than most other things yet known. Some use its distilled water in a cough, asthma, diseases of the lungs, pleurisies, obstructions of the mysentery, and in whatever cases acrimony is to be subdued. The best form to take it for any complaint of the intestines, is as follows: to an ounce of fresh polypody root bruised, add an ounce and a half of the fresh roots of white beets, and a handful of wild mallow; pour upon these a pint and a quarter of water, boiling hot, and let it stand till next day, then strain it off.

A quarter of a pint of this liquor contains the infusion of two drachms of the root. It should be sweetened with sugar-candy, or honey, which is much better.

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