Chap. 077. Bitter-Sweet.

Botanical name: 

Bitter-Sweet. I. The Names. It is called in Greek *****, Glycypicron, i. e. Amara dulcis, and *****, Strychnodendron, i. e. Solanum Arborescens: but no Greek Author, that I know of, has said any thing of it; but some of the Moderns have imposed these Greek names upon it. The Latins call it, Solanum Lignosum, and Solanum Arborescens, and yet in Truth, it is not properly any Nightshade, but only so called for the conformity of its Leaves. Also Amara dulcis, and Dulcamara: Some will have it to be Melortum Plinij, others Vitis Sylvestris Theophrasti, as Camerarius in his Epitome: (but Vitis Sylvestris is truly Black Bryony, as Matthiolus has it.) In English, it is called Bittersweet, or Woody NightShade, and Fellon-wort.

II. The Kinds. It is twofold,

  • 1. Purple-flowered, called, as aforesaid. (Solanum dulcamara. -Henriette.)
  • 2. White-flowered, which Dondonaeus thinks to be Cyclammis altera Dioscoridis: Guillandinus took it to be Salicastrum Plinij, but very erroniously: Bauhinus calls it Solanum Scandens seu Dulcamara, flore Albo, Bittersweet, with the White flower. (Solanum dulcamara. -Henriette.)

III. The Description. It has a root which spreads it self with many stirings under the Earth, not growing into any great or thick Body: from whence comes up many slender, winding, brittle, woody Stalks, five or fix foot high, without any Claspers, or Tendrills, but folding it self about Hedges, or any other thing which stands near unto it: these stalks are covered with a whitish rough Bark, which being chewed in the Mouth, tastes bitter at first, but sweetish afterwards: and in the middle they have a Pith, and shoot out into many Branches on both sides, which are Green whilst young: whereon grow many Leaves without order, somewhat like unto those of Nightshade, but that they are something broad, long, and pointed at the ends, with two small Leaves, or rather pieces of Leaves at the bottom of most of them, something like the Sage with Ears; and many of them likewise, with but one piece on one side; sometimes also those pieces are close to the Leaves, making them seem as if they were jagged, or cut in on the edges into so many parts, and sometimes separate therefrom, making the Leaves seem winged, or composed of many Leaves, which are of a pale green color. At the tops and sides of the Branches come forth many Flowers, (standing in fashion of a long Umble ) upon short Foot-stalks one above another, which consist of five narrow and long violet purple colored Leaves, not spread like a Star, or very seldom, but mostly turning themselves backwards to the Stalks again on which they stand, with a long golden yellow Pointel in the midst, flicking forth, which afterwards turns into round, and somewhat long Berries, green at first, and very red, soft, and full of Juice when ripe, which are sweet at first tasting, but afterwards of an unpleasing bitter taste; in which Berry is contained many flat white Seeds.

IV, Dulcamara flore Albo, Bittersweet, with white flowers, differs in nothing from the former, but in the flowers, whose outward Leaves are white, and its Pointel yellow.

V. The Places. The first grows usually by Ditch sides and hedges, where it may climb up, almost everywhere: The second is more rare, and seldom to be met with, but grows by or near St. Margarets Church near Romney Marsh.

VI. The Times. The Root is Perennial; and the Branches, tho' they are dispoiled of their Leaves all the Winter, yet they perish not, but shoot forth new Leaves in the Spring: they flower in July, and the Berries are ripe in August.

VII. The Qualities. The Leaves and Berries are hot and dry in the first Degree; Astringent and Cleansing; Cephalick, Hepatick, Splenetick, Hysterick and Cathartick.

VIII. The Specification. It is a peculiar thing for the Cure of Jaundice and Dropsie.

IX. The Preparations. You may make there from,

  • 1. The Liquid Juice.
  • 2. The Essence.
  • 3. The Decoction
  • 4. The Spirituous Tincture.
  • 5. Acid Tincture.
  • 6. The Saline Tincture.
  • 7. The Cataplasm.

The Virtues.

X. The Liquid Juice. Being given to two or three ounces, it purges well, and powerfully opens Obstructions of the Liver and Spleen, and helps such as are Asthmatick, or are troubled with difficulty of breathing, being taken every Morning fasting for some time.

XI. The Essence. It has all the Virtues of the Juice aforegoing, besides which it is a powerful Medicament against a Phthisick, and for the Cure of the Yellow and Black Jaundice, as also the Dropsie: It brings away the After-birth, and effectually cleanses Women newly brought to Bed: you may give it from two ounces to four in a glass of White Port Wine every Morning fasting: It is also good for Inward Bruises caused by any fall or blow, dissolving the congealed Blood in what part of the Body so ever. It purges well, and not churlishly.

XII. The Decoction. You may make it thus: Of the young tender twigs or woody substance, and of the Leaves, tb iij fs. Bruise them well, and put them into a Glass Vesica, or Bolt-head; affuse thereon White Port Wine tb iij fs. cover it with a blind head, and infuse in a Sand heat for twelve hours and then make the heat so great as it may boil gently; which done, decant, and strain out for use. It has the Virtues of the Essence, is a Specifick for cure of the Jaundice and Dropsie, according to Tragus and Dodonaeus, is good against the Vertigo and Megrim, and other Head Diseases, cleanses Women in Childbed, and represses Hysterick Vapors. Dose four ounces every Morning: it purges the Body very gently.

XIII. The Spirituous Tincture. It purges not, but very much strengthens the Viscera, chiefly the Liver and Spleen, and represses Vapors Ascending from the Stomach, and other parts, to the Head and Brain, causing Vertigo's, Megrims, and other Distempers of that Ventricle. Dose two drams, or more, every Morning fasting, and Evening at Bedtime in a Glass of generous Wine.

XIV. The Acid Tincture. Let it be made with Spirit of Wine acuated with Spirit of Salt. It powerfully provokes Urine, cleanses the Reins, Ureters, and Bladder, and cures the Dropsie to a miracle; but it ought to be taken a considerable time, and always in the Decoction of the same Plant, or in a Decoction of Centory (Centuary), Gentian, and Roman Wormwood. Dose from half an ounce to an ounce, more or less, so as to give a pleasant Acidity, Morning and Evening: and it is to be put into all the Ale, Beer, or Wine the Patient drinks.

XV. The Saline Tincture. Bathed with, it takes away Scurf, Morphew, and salt, and sharp breakings out of the Skin: inwardly taken to one dram, it provokes Urine, and cleanses the Urinary passages of Slimy, Viscous, or Tartarous Matter, which is commonly the matter that breeds the Stone and Strangury.

XVI. The Cataplasm. It is to be made of the bruised Berries, and Rosin in fine Pouder. This applied to Felons, which commonly come on the Fingers ends, cures them in a very short time.

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