Chap. 100. Of Butter-Bur.
I. The Names. It is called in Greek *******. In Latin, Petasites; (from the largeness of the Leaf, it being large like ******, a Hat:) some take it to be ***** Theophrasti, and some to be Persolata Plinij: In English it is called also Petasites, and Butter-Bur: The Germans call it pestilence-wort, or Plague-wort.
II. The Kinds. It is of two sorts, a Greater, and a lesser, and differing also in the Flowers; but so very like one another, that one description will serve for both. Camerarius calls the more common Mas, the other Foemina: but in his Epitome of Matthiolus, he calls the Greater, Tussilago major, for that some will have it to be a kind of Coltsfoot.
III. The Description. It has a long Root and thick, spreading under ground, blackish on the out-side, and whitish within, oftentimes Worm eaten, and of a bitter and unpleasant taste: It springs up very early in the year, with a thick Stalk about a foot high, on which are set a few small Leaves, or rather pieces, and at the Tops a long spiked head Flowers, in the one (which is the less, and the more rare to find) wholly white, and of a better scent than the other (though some say it has no scent) in the Greater, which is the more common with us, of a blush, or deep red color, according to the Soil in which it grows; a clay ground bringing forth a paler color somewhat weak; and before the Stalk has stood with the Fllowers a Month above ground, it will be faded away and gone, and blown away with the Wind: after which the Leaves will begin to spring, which when they are full grown, will be very broad and large, big enough to cover the whole Body, at least the Head, like an Umbrella, which hides from Sun and Rain; they are somewhat thin, and almost round; whose thick red Footstalks, being about a foot or more long, stand under, or towards the middle of the Leaves, the lower parts of which, are divided into two round parts, close almost one to another, of a pale green color above, and hoary underneath. That which brings white flowers, brings forth also smaller leaves than the other doth, having divers ribs and veins therein.
IV. Gerard has another kind of Description, which in some measure explicates the former, for which reason I think it necessary to insert it here: Butter-Bur (says he) does in a manner bring forth its Flowers before the Leaves, as Colts-foot does (for which reason some have thought it to be one of the kin is of Colts-foot, and for which reason Matthiolus and Camerarius in their Epitome, have called it Tussilago major, as is before mentioned:) These Flowers, says he, are Small and Mossie, tending to a purple color, which are made up into a big Ear, as it were, and quickly after, together with its Stem, (which is thick, full of substance, and brittle) fade and fall away: then comes up the Leaves, which are very great, like a round Cap or Hat, called in Latin Petasus, of such a wideness or largeness, as that of it self one leaf is big enough to keep a Man from a shower of Rain, or from the heat of the Sun, and therefore are much larger than the Leaves of the great Burdock; their color is somewhat white, but whiter underneath; every Stem bears his Leaf, which is sometimes a Cubit long, thick and full of substance, which stands, as it were, under the Leaf in the Center or Middle almost of the Circumference like to one of the greatest Mushrooms, setting aside The Cleft at the lower part of the Leaf near the Stem, especially when they are perishing or withering away: at first the upper superficial or out side of the Mushroom stands out, and when they are in withering it stands more in, and the edges, as it were turn up; so is it in the Butter Bur Leaf which has on the out side a certain shallow hollowness.
V. The Places. They both grow in wet and moist Grounds by Rivers and Water sides, and upon the Brinks and Banks of Lakes and Ponds, almost every where.
VI. The Times. The Flowers rise and decay in February and March, and then fade away; Gerard says, in March or April: when they are gone, then come up the Leaves, which remain all Summer, even till Winter, new ones still growing up, and being added to the former.
VII. The Qualities. The Roots, which are mostly used, are hot and dry in the third Degree, Digestive, Discussive, and Sudorifick; Cephalick, Neurotick, Stomatick, Hysterick, and Cordial; Alterative, and Alexipharmick.
VIII. The Specification. It has a peculiar power and force against Poison of all kinds, and the Infection of the Plague.
I. A Pouder.
2. A Juice.
3. An Essence.
4. A Spirituous Tincture.
5. A Decoction.
6. A Mixture.
XI. The Juice. It is expressed out of the Root by being beaten in a Mortar, and squeezed out with White Port Wine. It has all the Virtues of the Pouder, and may be given from one ounce, to two to three ounces, Morning and Evening, as a preventive against the Plague, and every six hours after Infection.
XII. The Essence. It has all the Virtues of the Pouder and Juice, but more powerful to all the Intentions: It provokes Urine, and the Courses, and kills the flat, broad Worms in the Belly. Dose one or two ounces mixed with Wine. It is a powerful thing in the cure of the Yellow Jaundice, and the bitings of Vipers, &c.
XIII. The Spirituous Tincture. It is good against Poison, and the Bitings of Mad Dogs, prevails against Fainting and Swooning Fits, and is a famous thing to rectifie the Distemper of the Stomach. Dose one or two drams in a Glass of Canary.
XIV. The Decoction. It is good against Coughs, Colds, Asthma's, Wheezings, difficulty of Breathing, and other Distempers of the Lungs, causing Expectoration. It kills Worms, provokes the terms, and has all the other Virtues of the Pouder and Essence aforegoing, but not full out so powerful: Dose from two ounces to four or six, as hot as it can well be taken, Morning and Evening, to prevent the Infection of the Plague; and as much every six hours, for those who are already seized with it.
XV. The Mixture. It is thus made: Take of the Juice expressed with Vinegar, or the Essence, twelve ounces: Juice of Rue four ounces: Venice Treacle, or Mithridate two ounces: mix them well together by shaking. It is an Antidote against the Plague or Pestilence, Spotted Fever, Purples, Small Pox, Measles, Poison, biting of Vipers, or other Serpents, and the bitings of Mad-Dogs, or of any other Venomous Creature. Dose two ounces at a time, as often as need requires.
Botanologia, or The English Herbal, was written by William Salmon, M.D., in 1710.
This chapter has been proofread by Nick Jones.