Chap. 058. Bear's Breech.
I. The Names. It is called in Greek, *Ανϑνθοσ ϗ Ανανθα· in Latin, Acanthus, Acantha, Branca Ursina: and in English, Brank Ursine, or Bears-breech.
II. The Kinds. It is twofold:
II. The Garden kind, called in Greek: άνϧυθοσπαιϯεςοσ, μελάμφυλλοσ, Εςπάχανθα: in Latin Acanthos Sativus, Acantha Hortensis, Paderos, Melamphyllos, and Herpacantha, Acanthus verus & lavis, Branca Ursina laevis : and in English, Garden Brank Ursine, or Bears Breech. (Acanthus mollis -Henriette)
2. The Wild Kind, is called in Greek, άχϗνθοσ άνeιοσ, in Acanthus Sylvestris, and Aculeatus, Acantha Spinosa & aculeata, Herbacantha : in English, the Wild or Prickly Bears-breech. Acanthos is the common name for all Thistles, but here it is used by the figure, Antonomasu, qua loco proprij nomins ponitur Appellativum, ut Civitas pro Londino. (Acanthus spinosus -Henriette)
III. The Description. Garden Bears Breech has a Root thick and long, with many long strings spreading far and deep in the ground, of a blackish or dark colour on the outside, and white within, full of a very clammy Juice, more mucilaginous than the Leaves, so full of life, that if a small piece be but left in the ground, it will spring up again, and bring forth the whole Plant, but requires a shelter or defence from the extremity of the Winter. From this Root there shoots forth many large, thick, smooth, sad green Leaves upon the ground, with a thick middle rib, divided into many parts, with great and deep gashes on the edges, from among which (after it has stood long in a convenient place ) rises up a reasonable great Stalk, three or four foot high, without either joint or branch thereon, set with some Leaves, and from the middle upwards, set with a spike, as it were, of white hooded or gaping Flowers, standing in brownish Husks somewhat sharp at the points, and a small long undivided Leaf under each Flower: after which come (in more hot Countries, but not in ours that I know of ) broad, flat, round, thick, brownish yellow Seed. Dodoneus says, that the Leaves are great, large, of a sad green colour, thick, gross, smooth, and deeply cut in by the sides, like the leaves of Rocket.
IV. Wild Bears Breech has a Root not spreading so deep, or so far as the former, nor so great in magnitude, but more tender, as less able to endure the Winters cold. From this Root rises up several long Leaves lying upon the ground, but much narrower, and more divided on the edges into smaller parts, and each part with small incisions, set with very sharp white prickles ; from among which a lesser and lower Stalk arises, with the like spiked heads of Flowers, and a few prickly Leaves thereon, in their way coming up, standing in more sharp and prickly husks than the former after which comes Seed, small as a little Pea, hard, black, and round. Gerard saith, that this Thistle is in Stalk, colour of Leaves, Flowers and Seed much like the first kind, but the Plant is shorter and lower, and the Leaves pretty large, dented or jagged with many cuts and incisions, not only in some few parts of the Leaves, as some other Thistles, but very thickly dented or cloven, and having many sharp, large, white and hard prickles, about the sides of the divisions and cuts, not very easie to be handled or touched, without danger to the hands and fingers.
V. The Places. They naturally grow in Greece, Italy, Spain, and France; but with us, and in Holland, Germany, and other cold Countries, it is only to be found nourished up in Gardens. Dioscorides says it grows only in moist and stony places. The Wild grows in many places of Italy near the Sea, and Pena says, he found it in moist and gravelly places near to the Walls of Mompelier but with us it is only in Gardens.
VI. The Times. The Root keeps alive in Winter in hot Countries, and so with us, but sometimes it dies, if the weather is too cold: but in England that is rare in the Garden kind. The former flowers in June and sometimes in July ; but yields no perfect Seed with us: the latter flowers later; seldom or never giving with us any ripe Seed: but in those Countries where the Seed comes to perfection, it is always in Autumn, or latter end of Summer.
VII. The Qualities. They seem to be Temperate in respect of heat, and drying in the first degree. They are Arthritick, and whilst green, Digestive, afterwards Astringent, Drying, Restorative and Alterative.
VIII. The Specification. They are peculiar against Consumptions and Spitting of Blood.
IX. The Preparations. The Shops keep nothing of it: but you may make thereof,
1. An Inspissate Juice, or Liquid.
2. An Essence.
3. A Decoction in Wine.
4. A Syrup.
5. A Clyster.
6. A Cataplasm.
7. A Saline Tincture.
X. The Liquid or Inspissate Juice, prevails against spitting of Blood, pissing of Blood, and the Phthisick, being laid to cure Consumptions, meaning those of the Lungs. Dose of the Liquid, one or two spoonfuls ; of the Inspissate one or two drams, dissolved in Red Wine, or Tent, and so either of them to be taken.
XI. The Essence. It has the Virtues of the former, besides which it stops Fluxes, and the Courses in Women, and is prevalent against Ruptures in Children, and vehement Coughs. Dose one spoonful in Red Wine or Tent, Morning and Evening. Applied it is good against burnings.
XII. The Decoction in White Wine. It provokes Urine, and binds the Belly.
XIII. The Syrup. It is good against Coughs, Colds, Asthma's, Phthisicks, spitting and pissing of Blood, Bloody Fluxes, &c. Dose two spoonfuls in Wine.
XIV. The Clyster. By reason the whole Plant is of a Glutinous, Clammy, and Slimy Mucilaginous Nature; it is given Clyster-wise to procure Stools, and heal the Excoriations of the Bowels.
XV. The Cataplasm. From its Glutinous and Mucilaginous property, it is (like Comfrey) applyed to weak parts to strengthen them; and applyed to the Gout in the Joints, it eases the Pain, discusses the Humor, and cures the Disease: It also is profitable against Cramps in any part, and Ruptures in Children, being timely applied to the Part: made into form of an Emplaster, and applied to the Back, it eases Pains there, and strengthens a weak Back.
XVI. The Saline Tincture. It opens obstructions of the Urinary Passages, and powerfully provokes Urine. Dose, one or two drams in a draught of White Wine: and Cloths dipt in it, and applied to parts burned (where the skin is not broken) it presently draws forth the fire.
XVII. The Wild Bears Breech has the same Preparations, Virtues and Uses.
Botanologia, or The English Herbal, was written by William Salmon, M.D., in 1710.
This chapter was proofread by Helena P. and Therese Richardson.