Chap. 147. Of Colts-foot.
I. The Names. It is called in Greek, B_g% also Χ ΧΛμΛÎ_λÎ_νκη - In Latin, Tussilago, but by the Apothecaries, Farfara, and Jngula Caballina, of some Populago, ( from its likeness to the Popular Leaves;) farranum, and Farrugium Plinij of divers Pa/a Equina,zKo Bechium, Chamaleuce, (from the Poplar Tree, called in Greek, Λί^χ_ - ) In English, Coltsfoot, Fole-foot, and Horse hoof: Gerard says, it may very well be called Cough Wort.
III. The Descriptions. The English, or European Kind, has a Root small and white, spreading very much in the ground, so that where it once takes, the ground is very difficultly cleansed from it again; for if any little piece or bit of it remains therein, it will from it spring forth afrefk. From this Root slender naked Stalks shoot up very early in the beginning of March or April, about a fpan long, bearing at their tops small yellow Flowers, which quickly fade away, and after they are past, Leaves broad and somewhat roundish come up, yet sometimes a little dented about the edges, ?nuch lesser, thicker, and greener than those of Butter Burr, with a little downy hoariness, over the upper side of the green Leaf, which may be rubbed away, and whitish or mealy underneath the Leaf.
H. The Kinds. Camerarius makes three sorts of Bechium, or Tussilago, viz. 1. The True, which we intend in this Chapter. 2. The Petasites, of which we have treated before in Cap. 100. and the Caltha palustris, or Marsh Marigold, which he calls Tuf-J^o major, but is indeed no Colts-foot, and of which we shall treat in Cap. . folowing. The true Coltsfoot is either European or American, the Descriptions of both which we design here. The American is called Calcalia Americana.
IV. The American has a Root which consists of d Buff of blackish Threads or Fibres, ( which abide the hardness of the Winter, both the Stalks and Leaves perishing yearly,) but grow brownish at the end : From this Root rise up many round Stalks about a foot and half high, and two broad, and somewhat round, but pointed Leaves, a little dented about the edges, at each Joint of them the upper Leaves being smaller, and little or nothing dented : at the tops of the Stalks come forth several Branches with many pure white Flowers, being but small, and made of five Leaves apiece, rising out of each husk, which being past, there succeeds small long Seed, flicking each to a little Downe, which are carried away together with the Wind : The whole Plant has little or no Smell, neither Root, Leaf, nor Flower, whatsoever Cornutusy^yi- to the contrary.
V. The Places. It, viz. the first, usually grows in wet grounds, as also in dryer places: It is found likewise near unto Springs, and on the brinks of Brooks and Rivers, in wet Furrows, by Ditch sides, and in Ditches, and in other moist and watry places near unto the Sea, almost every where. The latter grows in America, in many places of Canada, New
England, New York, New Jersey, Pensylvania, Virginia, and Carolina, in which last place I have found it several times, travelling through moist, wet, and Moorish places.
VI. The Times. The first begins to Flower in the end of February, or beginning of March, and the Leaves appear about the middle or latter end of March, when the Flowers are all gone, and remain green all the Summer long _·, and for this cause it has been thought that Colts-foot had never born Flowers, as Pliny lib. 26. cap. 6. has hinted.
VII. The Qualities. They are cold and dry in the first Degree Apperitive, Astringent, Traumatick or Vulnerary, Pectoral, and Analeptick.
VIII. The Specification. They are peculiar against Coughs, and Diseases of the Lungs.
IX. The Preparations. You may have therefrom, I. A liquid Juice. 1. An Essence. 3. A Syrup. 4. A Decoction. 5. A Cataplasm. 6. Dryed Leaves. 7. A Distilled Water. 8. Tinder.
X. The liquid Juice. Taken alone, or sweetned with Sugar or Honey, it is prevalent against Coughs, Colds, Wheezing, Hoarsness, and other Distempers of the Lungs. Dose from one to three ounces, Morning and Night at Bed time ; and at other times of the Day, if the Cough is vehement.
XI. The Essence. It has all the Virtues of the Juice, but more powerful _·, besides which, it is singularly good to cure Ulcers of the Lungs, and Stomach, as also the Bloody Flux, and Ulcers of the Bowels _·, it stops thin Rheums and Distillations, or Catarrhs, and helps in Consumptions. Dole from one ounce to three, two 01 three times a day, either alone, or mixed with the Distilled Water.
XII. The Syrup. It cures Coughs, chiefly dry Coughs but has an Influence against all Distempers of the Breast and Lungs, being often taken, even by spoonfuls, as also with a Liquorice stick.
XIII. The Decoction. If it is made of the green Leaves and Roots, it cures a Cough proceeding from a thin Rheum, and helps Hoarsness, you may sweeten it with Sugar or Honey.
XIV. The Cntaplafm of the green Leaves. If it is made alone, or with Honey, it is good to abate hot Inflammations, and Anthonies fire, and to cure other hot excretions of the Skin _·, and being applied, it is good to heal Ulcers, and other old and running Sores.
XV. The Dryed Leaves. Taken as Tobacco, they are good for thin Rheums, Distillations and Coughs: so also the Root taken in like sort, as Dioscorides and Galen say : viz. the Fumes of it, taken ( from burning Coles) into the Mouth thro' a Funnel -, as also the Fumes of the Leaves so taken ( for I suppose the Ancients knew nothing of Tobacco Pipes, that being a Modern invention; ) they effectually help such as are troubled with shortness of Breath, and draw their Breath thick and often. The Fumes also ripen and break Apostems of the Thorax and Lungs, and that without any danger.
XVI. The Drilled Water. Used limply of it self, or mixed with Elder-flowers and Nightshade, it is a singular remedy against all hot Agues, to drink two ounces at a time, and to have Cloths wet therein, and to be applied to the Head and Stomach. The same applied to hot Swellings, or any Inflammation, does much good, and prevails against Burnings and Scaldings, and Anthonies fire. It is singular good also to take away red Pimples, Wheals, and other small eruptions of the Skin, which arise through heat _·, and is profitable against the inflammation of the Piles, and burning heat of the Privy Parts, cloths being wet therein and applied.
XVII. The Tinder. It is made, as Matthiolus says, of the Cotton or white Wool, which grows in some parts of the Root the laid Cotton being cleansed from the Roots, and bound up hard in Linen Cloths, and boiled in Lye for a while then adding some Salt-petre to it, it is to be dried in the Sun. This, says Parkinson, is the best Tinder to take Fire that can be, being struck from a Flint. Applied to moist Ulcers,it dries up their Humidities.