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Chap. 007. Of Alexanders.

Alexanders. Alexanders, Smyrnium. Alexanders, Candy. I. The Names. It is called in Greek Γππισζλινον, χγ Σμυζνιον. in Latin Hipposelinum, Smyrnium, Equapium, Olus atrum (from making the Pottage black:) in English Alexanders, Alisanders, and Horse Parsley.

II. The Kinds, or Species. It seems to be a Species of the Apia or Parsleys; this being the largest of all, and therefore called Hipposelinum or Horse-Parsley. This Species is said to be twofold,

  • 1. The Common or English Alexanders. (Smyrnium olusatrum. -Henriette.)
  • 2. The Cretick, or that which grows in Candy, but with us in some Gardens. (Smyrnium perfoliatum. -Henriette.)

III. The Description. The Root is great, thick and long, blackish on the cut side, and white within, of a hot and bitterish Taste, spreading under Ground. From thence rises up a Stalk or Stalks, thick and round, a Yard high, more or less, with sundry Leaves on them, parted into smaller divisions: from the Joynts issue Branches, from whence, upon foot Stalks, proceed Leaves, cut out into many parts, somewhat resembling Smallage, but greater, broader and rounder, and more cut in about the edges, smooth also, and of a deep green colour, having a somewhat hot and spicy Taste, and a little bitter withal. At the extremities of these Branches, grow large tufts or umbles of white Flowers: after which come great blackish Seed, almost round, but a little straked on the back, of a hot Taste, not much unlike that of the Root.

IV. The Cretick or Candy Alexanders has a Root almost round, yet a little long withal, white on the outside, which afterwards grows thicker and longer, and greatest at top, ending small, and perishing after it has born Seed. From whence rises up Leaves like some kind of Selinum, the whole Leaf being large, and more divided into smaller parts than the former, as if it were some great Parsley, of a darkgreen shining colour, and dented about the edges, from the midst of which Leaves rises up a Stalk, round and stiff, firm and not hollow, 4 feet high or higher, having commonly at all its Joynts whole and almost round Leaves, yet something longer than round, and here and there cut in on the edges, of a yellowish green colour, which do not so much compass the Stalk, at the bottom of them, as that the Stalk in a manner grows through them: from the Joynts likewise rise sundry Branches, with the like yellowish round Leaves on them, and the Stalks running thro’ them to the top, resembling Through-wax, or Through-leaf; where stand thick tufts or umbles of yellowish flowers, which afterwards yield small round blackish Seed, about the bigness of Radish Seed.

V. The Places. They are commonly Sown in Gardens throughout all Europe, but the first is also found Wild in several Places in England, as at Prestholm, an Island on the North of Anglesey; on the Rocks near the Sea-shoars in many places, in some places on the Rocks near the Scotch Shoars, not far from Berwick, and about Scarborough Castle.

VI. The Time. It Flowers in June and July, and the Seed becomes ripe in August: But Gerard will have it, that the Seed is not ripe till the second year, which I confess I have not observed. Yet being an annual Plant, I see not why its Seed should not be annual.

VII. The Qualities. It is hot and dry in the third degree: Attenuating, Carminative, Diuretick and Lithontriptick: by Appropriation, it is Stomatick, Hysterick and Nephritick and operates as an Alterative.

VIII. The Specification. It effectually provokes Urine, helps the Strangury, and prevails against Gravel and Tartarous Matter in Reins and Bladder.

IX. The Preparations. The Shops keep nothing of this Plant. But you may prepare from it,

  • 1. A Pouder from the Seed.
  • 2. A Decoction of the Roots and Leaves.
  • 3. An Expressed Juice.
  • 4. A Condite of the Roots.
  • 5. A Balsam of the Juice or green Herb.
  • 6. A Cataplasm.
  • 7. A Distilled Water of the Plant.
  • 8. An Oil of the Seed.
  • 9. A Spirit from the Seed or Plant.
  • 10. A Spirituous Tincture.
  • 11. The Saline Tincture.
  • 12. An Oily Tincture.
  • 13. A Salt from the whole Plant.
  • 14. An Essence.

The Virtues

X. The Pouder from the Seed. Being taken from half a dram to j. dram in white Port or Rhenish Wine, or distilled Water of the Plant, it powerfully provokes the Terms, expels the Birth, moves Urine, helps the Strangury and Cholick, breaks Wind, and is good against the bitings of Serpents, Mad Dogs, or other Venomous Creatures.

XI. The Decoction. It opens Obstructions, provokes Urine and cleanses the Blood admirably: it is good also for such as have stoppages in their Urine, or are troubled with the Strangury. Dose from iv. to viij. ounces.

XII. The Expressed Juice. Given from iij. to vj. ounces mixt with Rhenish Wine, or white Port, it is a Specifick against Stone and Gravel, eases the Strangury, and brings away Urine or Matter obstructing the Urinary passages, when almost all other things fail.

XIII. The Condite, or Pickled Roots. They are Eaten raw as a Sallet, with Oil, Vinegar and Pepper: they strengthen the Stomach, create a good Appetite, cause Digestion, resist Crudities, and expel Tartarous and Viscous Juices from the Stomach.

XIV. The Balsam. It is an excellent Vulnerary, curing all sorts of green Wounds in a short time: it cleanses running Sores, and old rotten and putrified Ulcers, and causes them speedily to heal.

XV. The Cataplasm. It is made of the bruised Leaves, and applyed hot to the part afflicted: being made of the Leaves boiled, it drys up old Sores and fætid Ulcers, without any pain, and heals them, and either discusses or maturates Scrophulous Tumors: if it is made of the raw Herb, beaten in a Mortar with the Yolks of Eggs, and applyed cold, it stops bleeding in Wounds new made.

XVI. The Distilled Water. It may be Distilled either from the Seed, or from the whole green Plant: it is a Specifick against Gravel and stoppage of Urine.

XVII. The Distilled Oil of the Seed. It is given from iij. drops to x. in any convenient Vehicle, and comforts and warms a cold Stomach, strengthens it, causes a good Appetite and Digestion, expels Wind, gives ease in the Colick, provokes the Terms in Women, and facilitates the Birth; opens Obstructions of the Brest, Lungs, Liver, Spleen, Reins and Womb, helps shortness of Breath, and comforts the Head, Brain and Nerves, being singular good against Megrims, Vertigo’s, Lethargies, Apoplexies, Palsies, Convulsions, and the like; you may give it in Extremity, as also morning and evening.

XVIII. The Spirit. It is weaker than the Oil, but much pleasanter, and has all the same Virtues, but operates not in so powerful a manner. It is Carminative and Cordial, and given against fainting Fits. Dose j. ounce.

XIX. The Spirituous Tincture. The Virtues are the same with the Oil, but more penetrating; and is indeed much more powerful than the Spirit, for that it abounds much more with the Sulphur of the Vegetable: it may be given in the distilled Water, from j. dram to iij. drams, morning and night.

XX. The Saline Tincture. It is a Lithontriptick, or Stone-breaker, opens all Obstructions of the Reins, Ureters and Bladder; attenuates, cleanses, brings away Sand, Gravel and Tartarous Slime, opens the Womb, provokes the Terms, and strengthens that part, so as to cause Fruitfulness in Women, and brings away both Birth and After-birth: it eases the Spleen, and removes its stoppages. Dose from j. dram to iij. drams.

XXI. The Oily Tincture. It has the Virtues of the former, but is particularly good against the Palsie, being outwardly anointed on the part, and inwardly taken from vj. drops to xx. in a fit Vehicle.

XXII. The Salt of the whole Plant. It is Diuretick and Nephritick in a peculiar manner, provokes Urine, brings away Sand and Gravel; and is good against Diseases of the Brain and Nerves, by powerfully opening Obstructions. Dose from x. grains to j. scruple, in its own distilled Water.

XXIII. The Essence. It prevails against Phlegm, and a Phlegmatick habit of Body, opens Obstructions of the Viscera, cleanses and purifies the Blood, warms a cold Stomach, is Carminative, provokes the Courses, and brings away both Birth and Afterbirth. Dose j. ounce, more or less, according to the Necessity and Age of the Patient, in a Glass of Wine.


Botanologia, or The English Herbal, was written by William Salmon, M.D., in 1710.
This chapter has been proofread by Lisa Haller.



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