Introduction to the second volume.

  • After some delay arising from various causes, I have the pleasure to present to the public the second and last Volume of my Medical Flora of the United States.
  • 2. It will be seen that although this second Volume has assumed somewhat a different shape, it has lost nothing by the change, but rather improved in matter and value.
  • 3. The plan closely pursued in the first Volume was that of Bigelow and Barton, with the improvements of alphabetical order, separation and condensation of facts. This plan was by no means the best, and limited very much the number of medical selections.
  • 4. If I. had pursued the same plan throughout, it was my intention to have added afterwards a third Volume or Supplement, including all the Medical plants omitted by this mode, with tables of Equivalents and other needful elucidations.
  • 5. By a trifling change effected in this Volume, I have been enabled to comprise these additional Plants and remarks without further extension of the work.
  • 6. If I had followed my own inclinations at the outset, I might have included all our Medical plants in a single thick Volume, and all the Figures in another Volume by itself, so as to answer still better the purpose of Manuals. (Most of the plant drawings in vol. 1 were taken from Bigelow and Barton. Dunno if a volume of copied plant pics would have been all that useful. -Henriette)
  • 7. To render this Volume adequate to answer the desirable purpose, it has been divided in two parts, the first of which contains the selected Articles and Plants that belong to the plan of the first Volume.
  • 8. While the second part shall include several other selected plants and figures, united to a general account of all our Medical plants and Equivalents, forming a second alphabetical series. Whereby this Volume may become a work by itself, or a kind of Lexicon of our Medical Plants.
  • 9. This Lexicon will include the whole of our actual acquired knowledge on such useful plants, by blending the officinal details of Schoepf and the early writers, with those of the latter observers, besides many new and unpublished facts collected by myself during many years of botanical and medical researches.
  • 10. I hope thereby to satisfy the wishes of those, who have so well received the first volume, notwithstanding its limited character, and have repeatedly urged me to complete this work.
  • 11. A list of our Medical equivalents was only promised by me and expected by them; but I have done more, and united together all our Medical plants, thus to be kept all in view, that by future experiments, their respective medical value may be further ascertained.
  • 12. It is a sad mistake of some Physicians to consider the increase of officinal tools as an evil. The lazy propensity that would reduce our stock of remedies to a few well known plants, is to be deplored as rendering the science stationary and lessening our resources.
  • 13. A very different course is pursued by active and zealous investigators of medical properties; they enlarge our circle of usefulness, increase our medical means, indicate all the available substitutes, and ascertain the best equivalents in specific cases.
  • 14. In Europe they extend their researches to all the parts of the globe. The Society of Pharmacy of Paris has published a monthly journal since 1812, in which are found numberless discoveries and Analyses of medical plants from all the parts of the world.
  • 15. In London a Medico-Botanical Society has been established, whose object is chiefly to ascertain the medical Properties of all the plants, and to send to the most remote regions in search of medical substances and equivalents.
  • 16. It is therefore our duty at least to study our own, and to increase rather than diminish our actual knowledge. Many of our medical substances are hardly known as yet, and require careful investigation; others will be discovered perhaps when inquiries and researches shall not be discouraged by lazy teachers.
  • 17. Thus we shall furnish our share towards a great work not yet undertaken, although greatly needed, a General and Comparative Account of all the Medical Plants of the whole globe, for which the Medical Floras of Europe, Hindostan, Brazil, West Indies, and the United States, begin to offer the materials.
  • 18. All our numberless officinal works on Materia Medica, are as yet mere rude or partial attempts of this kind. Not one has ever mentioned one tenth of the plants in actual use; the authors confining themselves to the narrow circle of their own experience or knowledge.
  • 19. During the period that has elapsed since the publication of the first volume, I have been able to consult many additional works and authors, and thus availed myself of their help. A list of them will follow this introduction.
  • 20. I have received considerable assistance in that war from some public Libraries, such as those of the Philosophical Society of Philadelphia, and the Lyceum of Nat. History of New York for instance, and also from the Medical Library of my friend Dr. S. Betton of Germantown.
  • 21. In Bartram's Botanical Garden near Philadelphia, now owned by Colonel Carr, which is the oldest and best of the kind in the United States, and particularly rich in native plants, I have met with the most liberal assistance, from the worthy owner.
  • 22. By these various means the practical value of this work has been increased; the first volume was well received, notwithstanding its limited range, and adopted as a text book in some Medical Institutions. I trust that this volume will be found still more practical and useful.
  • 23. The number of plates will amount to 100 as promised, but including 106 figures. A few of the figures of Bigelow and Barton belonging to well known plants may be omitted, but the number of those not figured by them will be increased, amounting to 32 in this volume, while only 14 were in the first.
  • 24. It might have been well if I had omitted the figures of the Dogwood, Persimon, and Hops in the first volume, being so well known to almost every body, and I will accordingly omit in this the Poke, Tobacco, Tulip tree, Sassafras, Blackberry, &c. so well known without this help.
  • 25. The other deviations from the previous plan will be easily perceived. None of them are very material. The chief aim has been to reduce the extent of the leading articles and to increase the indications.
  • 26. If the proposed extent of this volume allows of sufficient space, several useful tables will be added to it, with some Botanical Supplements. One of the additions will be an account of such doubtful medical plants as are only known as yet by their Indian or vulgar names.
  • 27. The labour required to complete this work, in such enlarged and improved style has been great; but I trust to have fulfilled by it one of the aims in view, the production of a complete and correct practical work.

Philadelphia, May, 1830. C. S. R.

Additional works consulted

AGARDH, Classes and Ordines Plantar, Lond. 1822.
AINSLIE, Materia Medica of the Hindoos.
ANNALS of New York Lyceum, 1820 to 28.
CASTIGLIONE, Travels in the U. States, Milan, 1789.
DOUGLASS, Plants of the North West.
EATON, Manual of Botany, 5th edition, 1829, is become almost a general Flora of the United States, but many omissions yet.
GAMBOLD, Medical Plants of the Cherokis.
HILAIRE, Medical Plants of Brazil, Paris.
JOSSELYN, Early account of New England.
JOURNAL DE PHARMACIE, Paris, 1812 to 1830.
LECONTE, Monographies of Viola, Ruellia, &c.
LODDIGES, Figures of Plants.
LONG, JAMES and KEATING, Travels in the U. States.
LOUDON, Encyclopedia of Plants, London, 1829.
LUNAN, Hortus Jamaicensis, 1814.
SCHOOLCRAFT, Travels in the United States.
SILLIMAN, American Jour. Sciences 1818 to 1830.
TOURTELLE, Principles of Health.
TANNER, Narrative and Indian plants.
WARE and WILLIAMS, Plants of Florida.

Medical Flora, or Manual of the Medical Botany of the United States of North America, Vol. 2, 1830, was written by C. S. Rafinesque.