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Chap. 020. Of Mad Apples.

Botanical name:

Apples, Mad. I. TΗE Names. This Plant has no known Greek name, (except Στρυχνζ μανιχος, may be taken for it, which is more properly the name for Solanum Lethale:) but to supply the place, we may call it Μηχον μανιχον Pl. Μηλα μανιχα; in Latin, Malum insanum, Pl. Mala insana; in English, Mad Apple, and Mad Apples.

II. The Kinds. There are three Kinds,

  • 1. The Syrian. (Solanum elongena. -Henriette.)
  • 2. The European. (Solanum elongena, I think. -Henriette.)
  • 3. The Ethiopian, of which we shall say nothing in this Work.

III. The Description. 1. Of the Syrian. It has a Root composed of many strings, some great, others small, not thrusting down deep into the ground, which continues not all Winter, but perishes with the first frosts; from this Root rises up a great, hard, round, purplish or brownish green Stalk, two foot high, divided from the bottom into divers Branches, whereon are set many hairy, broad, rough Leaves, somewhat unevenly cut on the edges, and somewhat like the Thorn Apple Leaves: At the Joints with the Leaves come forth several large flowers, consisting of six large pointed Leaves; in some Plants white, in others of a pale, but deadish purple Colour, with yellow threads in the middle; which passing away, there comes forth large, somewhat long, and round fruit, in the warm Countries as large as a Cucumber; but in colder Countries seldom bigger than a large Duck or Goose Egg, set in the same Husk or Cup, which before contained the flower, whose Colour on the outside is usually according to the flower it bore, either of a whitish Green, more yellowish, or of a grayish Ash Colour, or of a Pale or Wan purplish Colour, with a very thin Skin or Peel, and full of a whitish Pulp, and Juice, having many small flat whitish Seeds within it, somewhat greater than these of the Love Apple.

IV. The Mala insana Europæa, have a Root stringy, and not much differing from the former, and perishing every year, after Seeding time from whence grows an upright round Stalk, about the thickness of a Man’s finger, and about a foot and half high, from whence spring forth at several Joints, sometimes on the one side, and sometimes on the other, divers long, and somewhat broad green Leaves, unevenly cut in on the edges, and ending in a long point, three for the most part coming together, each of them upon a short Foot-stalk; at the tops of the Stalks, come forth the Flowers, consisting of six several Leaves; after which succeeds the fruit, which are round reddish Berries or Apples, about the bigness of a Plum, and very full of Seed.

V. The Places. The first grows in Syria, and Ægypt, where it grows plentifully Wild, and in most of those Eastern Countries, where the Fruit grows to the bigness (as Bellonius reports) of a great Cucumber: It also grows with us in our Gardens, where it bears Flowers, and as Gerrard says, in a temperate or warm Year, Fruit also, which he saw of the bigness of a Goose Egg, but came not to ripeness. The European grows in shadowy places upon the Appenine Mountains, and has been translated also into our Gardens.

VI. The Times. The Seed must be sown in April, in a Bed of hot Horse Dung, as Musk Melons are, and then it will Flower in August. The European Flowers in August, and if the Summer is warm, its Fruit comes to perfection in September.

VII. The Qualities. They are cold and moist almost in the fourth Degree. They are Cleansing, Repercussive, Anodine, or rather Narcotick, and Vulnerary. And by Appropriation are dedicated to the Head, Stomach, Reins, Womb and Joints; acting only as Alteratives.

VIII. The Specification. Their chief use is for cooling an Erysipelas, and Inflammations, easing Pains proceeding from vehement hot and sharp Humors, and healing of Wounds; but they cause no Madness, as the name would seem to import.

IX. The Preparations. The Shops keep nothing of this Plant; but you may have therefrom,

  • 1. The Apples themselves.
  • 2. A Juice.
  • 3. An Essence.
  • 4. A Cataplasm.
  • 5. An Oil.
  • 6. A Balsam.

The Virtues.

X. The Apples. They are boiled in Fat Broth, or rather in Water and Vinegar, and so eaten, being served up with Oil, Vinegar, Pepper, and Salt, and this at Genoua is a great Dish. Fuchsius says, there is a superabundant coldness and moisture in them, as there is in Cucumbers and Mushrooms; but the beauty of the Fruit, and the wonderful delight they give to the Palate, also their inciting to Venery, (which most Windy things, as these are, do) are the great Motives which intice to the eating of them: Wherefore in Italy, and other hot Countries, where they come to their full Maturity, and proper Relish, they eat them with more Desire and Relish, than we do Cucumbers, and therefore Prepare and Dress them in divers manners; some eat them Raw, as we do Cucumbers; some Roast them under the Embers; some first Boil them, then Pare and Slice them, and so eat them as first related; some strew Flower over them, and Fry them with Oil or Butter, and serve them to the Table with Pepper and Salt; and some keep them in Pickle, to spend in Winter, and the next Spring. Yet Avicenna, lib. 2. cap. 455. Condemns them as hurtful things: On the contrary, Averrhoes Commends them. I believe it is true, that they yield but little Nourishment, and breed much Wind, whereby ‘tis possible they may provoke Bodily Lust. At Toledo in Spain, they eat them with great Desire, being Boiled with fat Flesh, then putting thereto some scraped Cheese, then keep them in Honey, or Vinegar and Salt Pickle all Winter, to eat as Viands, when they have a mind to it, to procure Lust.

XI. The Juice. It cools the heat of the Reins, and the scalding of the Urine, taken to j. ounce in Arsmart Water: Applied upon Inflammations, and bathed upon an Erysipelas, and Linen Cloahs wet therein being laid thereon, it abates the heat of the Inflammation, and cures the Erysipelas: It is also of singular use against Burnings and Scaldings, of what kind soever: if the Skin is not broken, dissolve in it a good quantity of Salt, and bathe therewith.

XII. The Essence. It is an excellent thing against hot vapors of the Womb, and Fits of the Mother; and is good against Sand, Gravel, and Tartarous matter obstructing the Urinary Passages. Dose from j. to ij. ounces.

XIII. The Cataplasm. It is good to be applied upon Burnings and Scaldings from what cause soever, it takes out the Fire, and allays the Heat and Inflammation: It may be good also in an Erysipelas, being often renewed; and is prevalent against the Gout in Elbows, Writs, Hands, Fingers, Legs, Feet, Toes, or any other Pain or Ach, proceeding from a cold Cause; and is good to be applied to a slight Contusion or Blow, being laid on before any Tumor arises.

XIV. The Oil. It is good against all sorts of Burnings and Scaldings, with Fire, Water, Soap Lees, Oil, Pitch, Tar, Lead, Gunpouder, &c. being anointed therewith, and the Cataplasm aforegoing presently after applied, and often renewed; and has all the Virtues of the Cataplasm, except in the case of an Erysipelas, where Oily Bodies rather inflame, than do any good: It gives ease in the Megrim, and Head-ach, from a hot Cause, and takes away the black and blew Marks which arise from Blows, Falls, &c.

XV. The Balsam. It is a Singular Vulnerary, prevents, and allays Inflammations in Wounds and Ulcers, coming from what accident soever: It cleanses Ulcers and Fistula’s, and speedily heals them afterwards.


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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