Chap. 113. Of Cats-tail.
I. The Names. It is Called in Greek, Τύφη: In Latin, Typha, and by some Cestrum Morionis, as Dodonaeus saith; by some Typha aquatica, or Palustris, to put a difference between it, and that kind of Typha which is among Corn, called Typhe Cerealis: and in English it is called Cats-tail, from its soft downiness, and Reed Mace.
II. The Kinds. Authors say it is a mean between the rushes and the reeds; and is threefold,
1. Typha maxima, the greater, or greatest Cats-tail.
2. Typha minor, the lesser Cats-tail.
3. Typha minima, the least Cats-tail.
III. The Descriptions. The first of these has a root which is white, somewhat thick, hard, knobby, jointed, spreading much in the water, full of many long fibres, and sweet in taste, if it is chewed; of good use to burn, where there is plenty of it: from this root shoots forth several very long, soft and narrow leaves, pointed at the ends, in a manner three square, because the middle on the back side is great, and sticks much out. Among which leaves rise up diverse smooth, round, and taper stalks, stuffed with a white pith, and not hollow, near a man’s height, with joints and leaves on them, from the lower part upwards a good way, but bare and naked from thence to the top, where they have small, long, and round heads, showing forth at first some yellowish flowers, which being past, the torch-head or spike grows greater, and consists wholly of a downy substance, of a blackish brown, and sometimes of a reddish brown color on the outside, and a whitish within; somewhat solid or weighty, which yet is in time blown away with the wind.
IV. The second differs nothing from the former, but in this, that it grows not so high, nor great, the heads being also less than them of the former.
V. The third differs not from the second, but in being smaller than it, in both leaf and stalk, which are more hard and rough; and in the head or top, which in some places bears a smaller spike above, the lower being greater, with a small distance between them, and a small leaf at bottom of it.
VI. The Places. They grow in pools and standing waters, and sometimes in running streams, as also in the middle of roatry ditches or ponds, and by their banks and sides in many places of this kingdom. Gerard says, he found the smaller sort growing in ditches and marshy grounds in the Isle of Shepey, going from Sherland-House to Feversham. I have also found them growing in many places in the Fens, and in moist and standing waters in fenny grounds in Cambridge-shire, and the Isle of Ely. And in the south part of Carolina, at the head of Stone River, in the marshes near the new cut leading into Wad-wadmalow River, which are overflowed with every tide, I have found them growing plentifully.
VII. The Times. They flower in June and July, and their heads, torches or maces, are ripe in August; but the down hardly flies away till the end of August, or month of September.
VIII. The Qualities.They are cold and dry in the first degree: Astringent, and very styptick, alterative, and analeptick.
IX. The Specification. The down is a specifick to stop the bleeding of external wounds.
X. The Preparations. You may have,
1. The down.
2. A pouder of it.
3. A cataplasm.
XI. The Down Itself. Applied dry to bleeding wounds, it presently stops their bleeding: applied to running ulcerated kibed heels, it quickly cures them: so also used to moist sores, and running ulcers, it drys almost to a miracle, incarnates and heals. In the Fen Countries it is sometimes used to make beds of, for poor people to lye on. And mixed with butter, as a bait for rats and mice, it kills them by choaking them.
XII. The Powder of the Down. Matthiolus says, it is good to help the burstenness or ruptures of children, wherein the intestines fall down into the cods. This others contest against, as being dangerous to be taken inwardly, as being rather fit to strangle than help them, because it choaks rats and mice. But this latter opinion I think to be an error, for as it is used to choak and kill rats and mice, it is used whole, and not in the pouder, as Matthiolus orders it, it can no ways be able to effect any such thing. This pouder may be given, says gerard, mixed with pouder of Betony, roots of Gladiol, and leaves of Horsetongue. This is to be mixed with the yolk of an egg, and so eaten; it is (says he) a most perfect remedy against ruptures in children, and must be administred every day fasting for thirty days together, one dram at a time: it not only helps children and striplings, but grown men also, if in time of their cure they use convenient ligatures or trussings, and fit proper emplasters upon the grieved place, according to art; thus be. For my part I have had no experience hereof, and therefore can say but little to it, having, I confess, not much faith in the perscription, yet think it not of such a dangerous consequence, as some would have it; nor have I any great opinion of any internals, given for this kind of rupture, for that those medicaments passing through the intestines can never come actually to the part where the wound is and so can do little in order to the cure.
XIII. The Cataplasm. Made into a cataplasm with hogs lard, it is said to heal burnings and scaldings with fire or water.
XIV. The Leaves are usually kept to make a fine sort of matts of, and other like purposes.
Botanologia, or The English Herbal, was written by William Salmon, M.D., in 1710.
This chapter has been proofread by Haley.