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Chap. 067. Bifoil, or Twa-blade.

Bifoil. I. The Names. It was not known to the Greeks, unless the Ορζυς of Pliny be it, which some Herborists believe, and therefore call this Plant by that name: in Latin it is also called Ophris and Bifolium and in English, Bifoil or Twablade.

II. The Kinds. There are two Kinds thereof, viz.

  • 1. Ophris seu Bifolium, Sylvestre vulgare, Common Wood Bifoil or Twablade. (Ophrys bifolia -> Neottia ovata -> Listera ovata? -Henriette)
  • 2. Bifolium Palustre, Marsh Bifoil. (Ophrys palustris -> Malaxis paludosa? -Henriette)

III. The Description. It has a Root somewhat sweet, with a head or top somewhat thick (which some call a Bulbe) shooting many long Fibres downwards, from which Root rises up a round green Stalk, bare or naked next to the ground, for an Inch, two, or three, to the middle thereof, as the Plant is in age and growth, as also from the middle upwards unto the Flowers, having only two broad and short ribb'd pale green or hoary Leaves, very like unto Plantane leaves, but whiter, and set at the middle of the Stalk, one on each side, and encompassing it at bottom: sometimes it will have three leaves, but is more rare; and this some account to be a different sort, but is rather to be looked upon to be Iusus Naturae, in ground which abounds with too much nourishment, the which happens also to many other Plants; (as in Herb Paris, which has sometimes five, six or seven leaves, and sometimes it wants a leaf of its ordinary number being but four, and in common Trefoil, which usually has but three leaves, yet oftentimes four are found upon several Stalks, &c.) the Flowers at top of the Stalks, are in a spiked head, and they are many, small, long, whitish green, and almost shapeless bodies, somewhat like unto some of the Orchides or Vulgar Satyrions: these passing away, there remains small heads, with a kind of dust in them, which is accounted to be the Seed.

IV. The Marsh Bifoil has a Root which runs or creeps in the Earth, and the whole plant is so little differing from the former, that the differences have scarcely been observed, whereby several have been deceived in their judgments; but in these following particulars it is distinguished

  • 1. In its Site, or place of growing,
  • 2. In the smallness of the Plant, this being much lesser, and having sometimes three leaves also.
  • 3. In the Greenness, the other being of a more hoary White.
  • 4. In the spike of Flowers, which although of the same fashion or colour, or very near, yet are less by far.

V. The Places. The first usually grows in Woods or Copses, and suchlike shady places, as between Highgate and Hamstead, also at Southfleet in Kent; in a Wood by Longfield Downs: in the Woods by Ovenden near to Clare in Essex; as also in the Woods by Dunmow in Essex. The other grows not only in the low wet grounds between Hatfield and St. Albans, but also in divers places in Rumney Marsh.

VI. The Times. They flower for the most part in May, and so continue to the middle or end of June, and then wholly wither away, and are gone in July.

VII. The Qualities. They are Temperate in their first qualities, Glutinative and Vulnerary; Neurotick, Arthritick, and Alterative.

VIII. The Specification. They are Adapted for the Cure of Green Wounds.

IX. The Preparations. These may be made from it:

  • 1. A liquid Juice.
  • 2. An Essence.
  • 3. A Decoction in Wine.
  • 4. A Pouder.
  • 5. An Ointment.
  • 6. A Balsam.
  • 7. A Cataplasm.

The Virtues.

X. The liquid Juice. If mixed with Nitre, it allays Inflammations; and gives ease in the Gout; so also if mixed with Vinegar.

XI. The Essence. It is Glutinous, and heals Wounds (if simple) by washing them therewith; more especially if at time of using, it is mixed with a third part of Wine, or Spirit of Wine: it prevails also against Ruptures.

XII. The Decoction. It is of admirable use in dilacerated Contusions, for it draws forth the scattered and bruised Blood, cleanses the Wound, and disposes it to healing.

XIII. The powder of the Leaves. It disposes green wounds to healing, dries and heals.

XIV. The Ointment. It softens, gives ease in pain, and cleanses Wounds without any sharpness, whether new or old: and is of good use in Ruptures.

XV. The Balsam. It cures all simple wounds commonly at one dressing, and if they be Contused and dilacerated, it digests them, cleanses them, and after an admirable manner speedily heals them.

XVI. The Cataplasm. It discusses soft Tumors, and Contusions, where the skin is not broken: and applied upon an old open Ulcer, causes a separation of the Stuff from the quick flesh, and disposes it for healing, to be accomplished by other proper Medicines.


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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