152. Rumex Hydrolapathum, Hudson.—Great Water Dock.
Rumex aquaticus, D.
Sex. Syst. Hexandria, Trigynia.
History.—This is not the R. aquaticus of Linnaeus.
Botany. Gen. Char.—See Rumex Acetosa.
Sp. Char.—Inner sepals (petals) ovate-triangular, entire or slightly toothed, all tubercled. Racemes panicled, leafless. Leaves lanceolate, narrowed at the base; petiole flat on the upper side.—Stem 3—5 feet high. Leaves often more than a foot long.
Hab.—Indigenous. Ditches and river sides. Perennial. Flowers in July and August.
Description.—The herb and root were formerly used under the name of herba et radix britannicae. The root is inodorous, but has an acrid bitter taste. The flowers are called, by Pliny, [Hist. Nat. lib. xxv. cap. vi. ed. Valp.] vibones.
Composition.—I am unacquainted with any analysis of the plant. The root contains tannic acid.
Physiological Effects.—The root is astringent, and is reputed antiscorbutic.
Uses.—Scarcely employed. Has been exhibited internally in scurvy, skin diseases, and rheumatism. The powdered root has been used as a dentifrice; the decoction of the root as an astringent gargle for ulcerated or spongy gums. The druids entertained a superstitious veneration for this plant.