French Mercury.

Botanical name: 

Mercurialis mas et foemina.

A wild plant, but not very frequent in England, conspicuous for little else than that it has the male flowers on some plants, and the female flowers on others, in the manner of spinage, hemp, and some others, as has been explained already under the article date-tree. It grows ten inches high. The stalks are angular, green, thick, but not firm, and stand but moderately upright. The leaves are oblong, broadest in the middle, sharp at the point, serrated at the edges, and of a deep green colour. The female plants produce two seeds growing together at the top of a little spike. The male produce only one spike of dusty flowers, without any seeds or fruit at all. But people commonly mistake the matter, and call the female the male.

A decoction of the fresh gathered plant purges a little, and works by urine; it is cooling, and good for hot constitutions and over fulness. The dried herb is used in decoctions for clysters.

The Family Herbal, 1812, was written by John Hill.