Chap. 038. Of Garden Asparagus.

Botanical name: 

Asparagus. I. The Names. It is called in Arabick, Halion, & Helion: In Greek, *********, from provoking Lust: In Latin, Asparagus & Corurda: In English, Asparagus, Sparagus, and Sperage.

II. The Kinds.There are several Species of this Plant,
1. The Garden Kind.

2. The Wild Kinds, of which there is,

1. The Sea or Marsh.
2. The Rock Kind.
3. The Prickly

of which three last, in the two following Chapters. The Garden Kind is also 1. Asparagus Sativus vel hortensis vulgatior, seu Minor, The Common Garden Asparagus, or Lesser Kind. 2. Asparagus Sativus, vel hortensis Major, The Greater Garden Kind.

III. The Descriptions. The first or Smaller Kind, has very many Roots, dispersed from a Spongie head, which are long. thick, soft and spongie strings, hanging down, and spreading themselves all about, whereby it greatly encreases: from this Root there rises out of the Ground, divers whitish, green , scaly Sprouts, thick, tender, very soft and Brittle, of the thickness of the greatest Swans Quill, or somewhat thicker, in Taste not much unlike to Green Beans or Pease, having at top a certain scaly soft Bud, which in time does rise up into very long and slender round green Stalks, bigger or lesser as the Roots are in Growth, and growing to be three or four Feet high or more (as the Ground is in goodness) which Stalks fend forth divers smaller Branches, whereon are set many little green Leaves, like Fennel, but shorter and smaller, and growing up to the top, much finer than the Leaves of Dill: among which, at the Joynts thereof, come forth, small Mossie, yellowish Flowers. Which yield a Fruit or Berries, green at first, afterwards red as Coral, of the bigness of a White Pea; wherein is contained gross blackish Seed, and exceeding hard, which is the cause it lies so long in the Ground after sowing, before it Springs up.

IV. The other or Greater Kind differs nothing from the former, but in the Colour of the Shoots, their Magnitude, and Taste, they being much whiter, vastly larger, and much more sweet and pleasant. It is almost beyond belief the relation of the vast Magnitude to which this Great Kind will grow: This present Year 1696. a present was made to a Lady of one single Bunch containing but one hundred of Sprouts or Heads, which weighed (as was reported to me) above forty Pounds weight: and the last Year I cheapned a Bunch or hundred, of the same Kind in Newgate-Market, which they would not Sell me under eight Shillings, and warranted to weigh above twenty Pounds Weight. So that it is manifest that the larger sort is either another Kind, or else, the former sort vastly improved by Art and Industry.

V. The Places. They grow with us only in Gardens, where they are nourished up for the daily Service of the House, being an Excellent Boiled Sallet.

VI. The Times. The bare tender Shoots, which are Sold in Markets in Bunches or Hundreds, come up commonly in the Spring, and may be had all March, April, and May, and sometimes in June; but the Gardner has arrived now to such a dexterity in his Art, that if the Winter or Season is Warm, you may have them all January and February, as was manifest this present Year, when I could have had what quantity I pleased on New-Years Day. They spring up after that, to a kind of diminutive Bush, and Flower in June and July, and bear their ripe Berries in September, or late in the Year.

VII. The Qualities. They feem to be Temperate in respect to heat or coldness, dryness or moisture. They incide, attenuate, open, cleanse, and are very Diuretick: and seem to be chiefly Cephalick, Hysterick and Nephritick; and, if Authors say true, Spermatogenetick withal.

VIII. The Specification. They are peculiar against the Strangury, or stoppage of Urine, and difficulty of making Water, to provoke Urine, and to expel Sand, Gravel, and small Stones out of the Reins which even the signature of the hardness of the Seed seems also to intimate.

IX. The Preparations. You may have therefrom,
1. The Roots.
2. The Seed.
3. The Distilled Water of the whole Plant, Distilled in September, when its Berries are Red

which things the Shops are said to keep: But besides them, we have,
4. The tender Shoots or Heads.
5. The Decoction.
6. The Juice.
7. The Essence.
8. The Saline Tincture.
9. A Gargarism.
10. A Bath.

The Virtues.

X. The Roots. Being reduced into Pouder, and given from j. dram to ij. drams in White Wine, or the Distilled Water of the Plant, it provokes Urin, and opens the stoppages of the Urinary parts.

XI. The Seed. It is held to be very effectual for the purposes aforesaid, j. dram of it being given in White Wine; so also, if it is mixed in equal quantities with the Pouder of the Root, and given in like manner from j. to ij. drams.

XII. The Distilled Water. It is drawn from the whole Plant, and is to be rectified (as Schroder directs) by putting it upon more fresh Herbs. It provokes Urine, and gives ease in the Stone, beings drunk daily three times a day, from iv. to viij. ounces: It is used also as a Vehicle for other things.

XIII. The tender Shoots or Heads. They, are Boiled, and Eaten as a Sallet, with Butter, Vinegar and Pepper, being very Nutritive; and tho’ cleanfing, as to the Reins, Bladder, and Urinary Passages, yet they comfort the Stomach, are easie of Digestion, and restore in Consumptions.

XIV. The Decoction of the Roots in Wine. It opens Obstructions of the Bowels, provokes Urine, being stopped, and expels that Tartarous Matter in the Reins, Ureters and Bladder, which causes the Strangury. Dose from iv. to viij. ounces.

XV. The Juice of the Roots and young Sprouts. It prevails against the Strangury, or difficulty in making Water, when it is done by Drops it expels Gravel and the Stone out of the Reins and Bladder, and helps vehement pains in the Back. Dose iij. or iv. ounces in Wine, twice a day.

XVI. The Essence made of the Juice, or bruised Plant, it has all the Virtues of the Juice beforegoing; besides which, it is good against the Obstructions of the Lungs, Pains of the Stomach and Bowels, Falling-sickness, Fits of the Mother, Yellow Jaundice, and dimness of sight: and taken every Morning and Evening, from ij. to iv. ounces in a Glass of Generous Wine, it is said to stir up Bodily Lust, Generate Seed, and remove Impotency.

XVII. The Saline Tincture. It has all the Virtues of the Decoction, Juice, and Essence but more powerful in provoking Urine, and expelling Sand, Gravel, Stones and Slimy Tartarous Matter: besides it particularly Stimulates the Generative Faculty by its penetrating and subtil Quality, and effectually cures the Yellow Jaundice. Dose from j. to ij. drams in Wine.

XVIII. The Gargarism. The Roots bruised and boiled in White Wine Vinegar, being gargled in the Mouth warm, gives ease in the Tooth-ach: and the Root it self is said to be profitable to be applied to an Aneurism.

XIX. The Bath. It is made of a good quantity of the Roots and Seeds Bruised, and boiled in a great store of Water, which is to be put into a large Vessel, in which a Man may fit up to the Breasts at least: This has been found effectual against Fits of the Mother, Cholick, and Pains of the Back and Reins, and generally 'tis good against Cramps, Convulsions, Sciatica's and other vehement Pains of the lower Parts of the Body.

Botanologia, or The English Herbal, was written by William Salmon, M.D., in 1710.
This chapter has been proofread by Nick Jones.