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Chap. 045. Of Barren-Wort.

Botanical name:

Barrenwort. I. The Names. It is called in the Greek,********: In Latin, Epimedium; Epipetron, Epimenidium: In English, Barren-wort.

II. The Kinds. It seems to be a singular Plant of the Kind, without any Species, tho Parkinson talks of an Alterum fruticosum, &c.

III. The Description. It has a Root small and Reddish, spreading much under ground, in shaddowy rather than Sunny places; from whence springs up several hard round Stalks, twenty or twenty four inches high, each Stalk divided for the most part into three Branches, and each of them bearing three Leaves apiece, which are several, somwhat broad and round, yet pointed at the ends, hard or dry in feeling, and a little sharply dented about the edges, of a light green Colour on the upper side, and whiter underneath: from the middle of some of the Stalks of Leaves, shoots forth with them, from the first rising up of them, a small long Foot Stalk of Flowers, not much higher than the Stalks of Leaves, divided into Branches, containing on each of them, three Flowers apiece, separated into four parts, as if the Flower consisted but of four Leaves, when as each part has two leaves, one lying close upon another, the inner being yellow, and smaller than the lower which are red, so that the red edge appears round about the yellow, making it seem a yellow Flower of four Leaves with red edges, having also a few yellow Threads in the middle, set with green, the under side of the Flowers being of a yellowish red Colour, striped with white lines. Gerard says, the Flower is but small consisting of four Leaves, whose out sides are purple, the edges of the innerside red, the bottom yellow, the middle part of a bright red Colour, and the whole Flower somewhat hollow. The Flower being past, small long Pods or Cods appear much like to Saracens Confound, but shorter, in which is contained flattish red seed. It is a pretty shrubby Plant, and its smell is rather strong than pleasant.

IV. The Places. It grows on the Mountains of Liguria, and in most Meadows in Italy, about Bononia and Vicentia; also in Romania, and on the Euganian Hills. It grows with us in Gardens only, in moist and shadowy places, where it brings forth its Seed to perfection, tho' Dioscorides and Pliny say, that it is without either Flower or Seed.

V. The Times. It Flowers at its first coming forth, or first Year of its growth from June till the middle of August; but after it has taken fast hold, and well Rooted it self in the Earth, a Year before, it then Flowers in April and May.

VI. The Qualities. Galen affirms it to be moderately cold and moist: I judge it to be cold and moist in the first Degree: it is Repercussive and Discutient, and appropriated to the Joints.

VII. The Specification. Parkinson says, it is without any special property, more than to keep Womens Breasts from growing over great.

VIII. The Preparations. By reason much of the Virtues of this Plant is not known, there are not many Preparations from the same: the chief being

  • 1. A Juice.
  • 2. A Pouder of the Roots and Leaves.
  • 3. A Cataplasm.

The Virtues.

IX. The Juice. Whether it is taken out of the Roots or Leaves, it is good to cool Inflamations, and is profitable to bath with in an Erysipilas.

X. The Pouder. It may be made of the Roots or Leaves, for of either the Virtue is the same, tho if made of the Root it is thought to be stronger; Parkinson says it is reported, that being taken inwardly for some time, it makes Women Barren: from whence possibly the Name might come.

XI. The Cataplasm. The Leaves made into a Pultise, by beating them up with Oil, and applyed to Womens Breasts, keeps them from growing great; and is good to discusses a slight Contusion.


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



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