Chap. 107. Caltrop, Water.

Botanical name: 

Caltrops, Water. I. The Names. It is called in Greek *********, in Latin, Tribulus aquaticus, Tribulus marinus, and by Cordus, Lacustris: in English, Water Caltrop; Saligot, and Water Nuts.

II. The Kinds. There are two sorts of Water Caltrops.
1. The Greater Water Caltrops.
2. The Lesser Water Caltrops.
And of the Lesser there are also two Kinds, viz. The former and the latter. The Greater Water Caltrop, is called in Latin, Tribulus Aquaticus major: Tribulus Aquatilis, and Castanae aquatiles. The lesser sorts are called by Clusius, Tribulus aquaticus minor and distinguished by him, the former of which he calls, Tribulus aquaticus minor prior; and the latter, Tribulus aquaticus minor alter.

III. The Description. The Greater Water Caltrop has a Root which grows somewhat long, and full of Joints, with a Tuft of Hairs or fibres at each of them. From the head of this Root lying under Water, rise up several long slender Footstalks, which rising from the bottom of the Water, mount above the same at the top of each of which, there are broad, and more than half round Leaves, in some places Spotted on the under side, and dented about the Edges. The Footstalks on which these Leaves stand, are smaller at the lower end next the Root, than they are at top of the Water next to the Leaves. Among these Leaves rise up sappy round Stalks, no higher than the Leaves, bearing whitish Flowers at the Tops. After which come thick, hard, and Woody, almost round heads, with three or four sharp pricks or points sticking out, of the bigness of Hasle Nuts, and blackish in some places: some of them are as large as great Walnuts, having a sweet white Kernel within, which is not much unlike to a Chesnut. This Fruit, with its outward Husk, or Shell, is hard, triangled, sharp pointed and prickly, in shape almost like to those things called Caltrops, which in War they cast in the way of the Enemy, to annoy the Feet of their Horses, and from whence this Plant took its name. The Kernel is tasted almost like a Chestnut, and are usually eaten green: And being dried, they, are ground to pouder, and so serve to make Bread of.

IV. The former lesser Caltrop, the whole Plant, is commonly covered over with Water, having very long, slender, creeping Roots, from whose several Parts or Joints come forth divers Tufts of small Fibres or Strings, which take hold of the Mud. From this Root, at the lower Joints thereof come forth thin, flat, knotty Stalks, of a reddish color, three, four, or five Feet long, or longer, according to the depth of the Water in which it grows; which being dry, are pliant, and flexible, and fit for many occasions. They are divided towards the Top, into many Parts or Branches, carrying single Leaves at the lower Joints, on both sides, being about two Inches long, and half an Inch broad, thin, and almost transparent, or as it were shining: so waved, wrinkled, or crumpled on the Edges, that they seem to be torn, and for the most part of a reddish green color. The Foot stalks are somewhat long and thick, and rise up from among those Leaves, which always grow two, one opposite against another, in a contrary manner to those which grow below on the Stalk. From the Joints with the Leaves come forth small foot stalks, bearing at their ends small, whitish, long and thick flowers. Gerard says, out of these Stalks, at the Tops, grows small Grape-like Husks, out of which spring small reddish flowers, like those of the Oak, every Flower having four very small round topt Leaves: after every Flower, there comes commonly four sharp punted Grains growing together, containing within them a little white Kernel.

V. The latter small Water Caltrop, has a Root not much unlike to the former, but longer, and fuller of single Fibres or Strings, From whence spring up Stalks, not fat, as the former, but round kneed, and always bearing two Leaves at every Joint, one opposite against the other, greener, shorter, and lesser than the other, sharp pointed, and not much wrinkled or crumpled on the Edges. Clusius says, that they are not at all crumpled. But our English Herborists never observed any without crumples or wrinkles. The flowers grow on short small Footstalks, of a whitish green color, like those of Muscatella Cordi, called by Gerard, Radix cava minima viridi flore, to wit, two flowers at the top of every Footfialk, one opposite against another, every flower containing four small Leaves: which two flowers being past, there comes up eight small Husks, making six several ways a square of flowers.

VI. The Places. The greater is found in several Lakes and moist places in Germany, as also in Brabant and Flanders, and in many places of Italy near the Sea. One Fincham a Merchant of London found it in the East Indies in the Mogul's Countrey, where it grew like a Weed in most Ponds there, the Kernel of which, he says, is much eaten by the Natives. See Purchas his Pilgrims, lib. 4. cap. 4 .Sect. 5 . pag. 429. Cordus says it grows in Germany in Muddy Lakes and Places, and in Ditches which have Mud in them, as also in Standing Waters, and sometimes also in Running Waters. And Matthiolus says, it grows not only in Lakes of Sweet Water, but also in Ditches by the Sea side near to Venice. The second or former lesser grows in Handing Waters, or Pools, Ditches, or Fish Ponds: It was found in Ponds adjoining to a dissolved Abby called Durford, which divide Hampshire and Sussex, and in other standing Waters in several places. The third or latter small grows plentifully in the River by Droxford in Hampshire.

VII. The Times. They all Flower in June and July, and give their Fruit or Seed in August.

VIII. The Vitalities. They are all cold and moist in the first Degree, and more Watry than the Land Caltrop. They are Emollient, Repercusive, Nephritick, Alterative and Alexipharmick.

IX. The Specification. They are good against the Obstructions of the Reins, Gravel, Tartar in the Urinary Passages, heat of Urine, and pilling of Blood.

X. The Preparations. You may make therefrom,
1. A liquid Juice.
2. A Decoction.
3. A distilled Water.
4. A Lotion.
5. A Cataplasm.
6. The Nuts.
7. A Pouder of the Nuts.

The Virtues.

XI. The liquid Juice.. Being applied, it cures an Erysipelas, and is good against Inflammations in any part of the Body; and cures the King's-Evil, Running Sores, or Ulcers, by washing with it.

XII. The Decoction. If made in White Wine, or in Wine and Water, it opens the Obstructions of the Reins and Ureters, expels Tartar, Sand and Gravel out of the Urinary Parts, and helps scalding of the Water.

XIII. The Distilled Water. If it is drunk with a little Roch Allum dissolved in it, it stops the pissing of Blood, and is profitable against the Diabetes.

XIV. The Lotion. It is made of the Decoction in Water with the addition of Honey; Gerard says, it perfectly cures Cankers of the Mouth,Throat, Almonds, and sore Gums.

XV. The Cataplasm of the Herbs. Dioscorides says, it is good against all sorts of Inflammations, or hot Swellings. It may be profitably applied in a hot Gout, after sufficient cleansing of the Body, both with Emeticks and Catharticks.

XVI. The Nuts. Eaten raw, they resist Poison, and are said to be good against the bitings of Venomous Beast: Eaten also, and drinking White Wine with them, they are said to be good against Stone and Gravel. In like manner eaten, and also beaten, and applied to the place, they resist the Poison of the bitings of Venomous Beasts.

XVII. The Pouder of the Nuts. Gerard says, it is given to such as piss Blood, and are troubled with Gravel, and that it binds the Belly. It is doubtless a singular thing against the Bloody Flux, and other Fluxes of the Bowels, if it is given from a dram, to two drams, in a Glass of Sherry, or Madera Wine: Being dried, and ground to Pouder in Quantities, a pleasant kind of Bread may be made thereof.

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