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Gerard's Herbal Vol. 1

Gerard's Herbal V1 - CHAP. 103. Of Red Lilies.

CHAP. 103. Of Red Lilies.

Fig. 328. Gold-red Lily (1)

Fig. 329. Red Lily (2)


The Kinds.

            Here be likewise sundry sorts of Lilies, which we do comprehend under one general name in English, Red Lilies, whereof some are of our own country's growing, and others of beyond the seas, the which shall be distinguished severally in this chapter that followeth.

The Description.

            1. The gold-red Lily groweth to the height of two, and sometimes three cubits, and often higher than those of the common white Lily. The leaves be blacker and narrower, set very thick about the stalk. The flowers in the top be many, from ten to thirty flowers, according to the age of the plant, and fertility of the soil, like in form and greatness to those of the white Lily, but of a red colour tending to a saffron, sprinkled or powdered with many little black specks; like to rude unperfect drafts of certain letters. The roots be great bulbs, consisting of many cloves, as those of the white Lily.

            2. The many-flowered red Lily hath a root like that of the last described, as also leaves and stalks; the flower also in shape is like that of the former, but of a more light red colour, and in number of flowers it exceedeth the precedent, for sometimes it bears sixty flowers upon one stalk.


Fig. 330. Fiery Red Lily (3)

Fig. 331. Red Bulb-bearing Lily (4)

            3. This red Lily is like unto the former, but not so tall; the leaves be fewer in number, broader, and downy towards the top of the stalk, where it bears some bulbs. The flowers in shape be like the former, saving that the colour hereof is more red, and thick dashed with black specks. The root is scaly like the former.

            4. There is another red Lily which hath many leaves somewhat ribbed, broader than the last mentioned, but shorter, and not so many in number. The stalk groweth to the height of two cubits, and sometimes higher, whereupon do grow flowers like the former: among the foot-stalks of which flowers come forth certain bulbs or cloved roots, brown of colour, tending unto redness; which do fall in the end of August upon the ground, taking root and growing in the same place, whereby it greatly increaseth, for seldom or never it bringeth forth seed for his propagation.

Fig. 332. Red Lily with bulbs growing along the stalk (5)

Fig. 333. Small Red Lily (6)

            5. There is another sort of red Lily having a fair scaly or cloved root, yellow above, and brown toward the bottom; from which riseth up a fair stiff stalk crested or furrowed, of an overworn brown colour, set from the lower part to the branches, whereon the flowers do grow with many leaves, confusedly placed without order. Among the branches close by the stem grow forth certain cloves or roots of a reddish colour, like unto the cloves of Garlic before they are peeled which being fallen upon the ground at their time of ripeness, do shoot forth certain tender strings or roots that do take hold of the ground, whereby it greatly increaseth. The flowers are in shape like the other red Lilies, but of a dark orange colour, resembling a flame of fire spotted with black spots.

            6. This hath a much shorter stalk, being but a cubit or less in height, with leaves blackish, and narrower than those aforegoing. The flowers, as in the rest, grow out of the top of the stalk, and are of a purplish saffron colour, with some blackish spots. The root in shape is like the precedent.

The Place.

            These Lilies do grow wild in the ploughed fields of Italy and Languedoc, in the mountains and valleys of Etruria and those places adjacent. They are common in our English gardens, as also in Germany.

The Time.

            These red Lilies do flower commonly a little before the white Lilies, and sometimes together with them.

The Names.

            1. The first of these is thought by some to be the Bulbus cruentus of Hippocrates; as also the Lilium purpureum of Dioscorides: Yet Matthiolus and some others would have it his Hemerocallis. Dodonĉus and Bapt. Porta think it the Hyacinthus and Cosmosandalos of the poets, of which you shall find more hereafter. It is the Martagon Chymistarum of Lobel, and the Lilium aureum maius of Tabernamontanus.

            2. This is Martagon Chymistarum alterum of Lobel.

            3. This is Clusius his Martagon bulbiferum secundum.

            4. Martagon bulbiferum primum of Clusius.

            5. This Dodonĉus calls Lilium purpureum tertium, and it is Martagon bulbiferum tertium of Clusius.

            6. This last Lobel and Dodonĉus call Lilium purpureum minus.

            I have thought good here also to give you that discourse touching the poets' Hyacinth, which being translated out of Dodonĉus, was formerly unfitly put into the chapter of Hyacinths which therefore I there omitted, and have here restored to his due place, as you may see by Dodonĉus, Pempt. 2. lib. 2. Cap. 2.

            There is a Lily which Ovid, Metamorph. lib 10. calls Hyacinthus, of the boy Hyacinthus, of whose blood he feigneth that this flower sprang, when he perished as he was playing with Apollo, for whose sake, he saith, that Apollo did print certain letters and notes of his mourning. These are his words:

Ecce cruor, qui fusus humo signaverat herbas,
Definit esse cruor, Tyrioque nitentior ostro
Flos oritur, formamque capit, quam Lilia, si non
Purpureus color his argenteus esset in illis.
Non satis hoc Phœbo est, (is enim fuit auctor honoris)
Ispe suos gemitus foliis inscribit, & ai ai,
Flos habet inscriptum, funestaque litera ducta est.

            Which lately were elegantly thus rendered in English by Mr. Sands:

Behold! the blood which late the grass had dyed
Was now no blood: from thence a flower full blown,
Far brighter than the Tyrian scarlet shone:
Which seem'd the same, or did resemble right
A Lily, changing but the red to white.
Nor so contented, (for the youth received
That grace from Phoebus) in the leaves he weaved
The sad impression of his sighs, Ai, Ai,
They now in funeral characters display, &c.

            Theocritus also hath made mention of this Hyacinth, in Bion's Epitaph; in the 19th Idyll which IDyll by some is attributed to Moschus, and made his third. The words are in English thus:

Now Hyacinth speak thy letters, and once more
Imprint thy leaves with Ai, Ai, as before.

            Likewise Virgil hath written hereof in the third Eclogue of his Bucolics.

Et me Phoebus amat, Phoebo sua semper apud me
Munera sunt, lauri & suave rubens Hyacinthus.

Phoebus loves me, his gifts I always have,
The e'er green Laurel, and the Hyacinth brave.

            In like manner also Nemesianus in his second Eclogue of his Bucolics:

Te sine me, misero mihi Lilia nigra videntur,
Pallentesque Rosĉ, nec dulce rubens Hyacinthus:
At si tu venias, & candida Lilia fient
Purpureĉque Rosĉ, & dulce rubens Hyacinthus.

Without thee, Love, the Lilies black do seem;
The Roses pale, and Hyacinths I deem
Not lovely red. But if thou com'st to me,
Lilies are White, red Rose and Hyacinths be.

            The Hyacinths are said to be red which Ovid calleth purple; for the red colour is sometimes termed purple. Now it is thought this Hyacinthus is called Ferrugineus, for that it is red of a rusty iron colour: for as the putrefaction of brass is named Ĉrugo; so the corruption of iron is called Ferrugo, which from the reddish colour is stled also Rubigo. And certainly they are not a few that would have Color ferrugineus to be so called from the rust which they think Ferrugo. Yet this opinion is not allowed of by all men; for some judge, that Color ferrugineus is inclining to a blue, for that when the best iron is heated and wrought, when as it is cold again it is of a colour near unto blue, which from Ferrum (or iron) is called ferrugineus. These latter ground themselves upon Virgil's authority, who in the sixth of his Ĉneidos describeth Charon's ferrugineous barge or boat, and presently calleth the same blue. His words are these:

Ipse ratem conto subigit velisque minstrat,
Et ferruginea subuectat corpora Cymba.

He thrusting with a pole, and setting sails at large,
Bodies transports in ferrugineous barge.

            And then a little after he adds:

Cœruleam advertit puppim, ripĉque propinquat,

He then turns in his blue barge, and the shore
Approches nigh to.

            And Claudius also, in his second book of the carrying away of Proserpina, doth not a little confirm their opinions; who writeth, That the Violets are painted, ferrugine dulci, with a sweet iron colour.

Sanguineo splendore rosas, vaccinea nigro
Induit, & aulci violas ferrugine pingit.

He trims the Rose with bloody bright,
And prime-tree berries black he makes,
And decks the Violet with a sweet
Dark iron colour which it takes.

            But let us return to the proper names from which we have digressed. Most of the later herbarists do call this plant Hyacinthus Poeticus, or the Poets' Hyacinth: Pausanias in his second book of his Corinthiacs hath made mention of Hyacinthus called of the Hermonians, Comosandalos, setting down the ceremonies done by them on their festival days, in honour of the goddess Chthonia. The priests (saith he) and the magistrates for that year being, do lead the troupe of the pomp; the women and men follow after; the boys solemnly lead forth the goddess with a stately show: they go in white vestures, with garlands on their heads made of a flower which the inhabitants call Comosandalos, which is the blue or sky-coloured Hyacinth, having the marks and letters of mourning as aforesaid.

The Nature

            The flower of the red Lily (as Galen saith) is of a mixed temperature, partly of thin, and partly of an earthly essence. The root and leaves do dry and cleanse, and moderately digest, or waste and consume away.

The Virtues.

            A. The leaves of the herb applied are good against the stinging of serpents.

            B. The same boiled and tempered with vinegar are good against burnings, and heal green wounds and ulcers.

            C. The root roasted in the embers, and pounded with oil of roses cureth burnings, and softeneth hardness of the matrix.

            D. The same stamped with honey cureth the wounded sinews and members out of joint. It takes away the morphew, wrinkles, and deformity of the face.

            E. Stamped with vinegar, the leaves of Henbane, and wheat meal, it removeth hot swellings of the stones, the yard, and matrix.

            F. The roots boiled in wine (saith Pliny) causeth the corns of the feet to fall away within few days, with removing the medicine until it have wrought his effect.

            G. Being drunk in honeyed water, they drive out by siege unprofitable blood.

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