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Gerard's Herbal - Part 3

Gerard's Herbal - CHAP. 310. Of White Saxifrage, or Golden Saxifrage.

CHAP. 310. Of White Saxifrage, or Golden Saxifrage.

Fig. 1249. White Saxifrage (1)

Fig. 1250. Golden Saxifrage (2)


The Description.

            1. The white Saxifrage hath round leaves spread upon the ground; and somewhat jagged about the edges, not much unlike the leaves of Ground Ivy, but softer and smaller, and of a more faint yellowish green: among which riseth up a round hairy stalk a cubit high, bearing at the top small white flowers, almost like Stock-Gillyflowers: the root is compact of a number of black strings, whereunto are fastened very many small reddish grains or round roots as big as peppercorns, which are used in medicine, and are called Semen Saxifragĉ albĉ; that is, the seed of white Saxifrage, or Stone-break, although (beside there foresaid round knobs) it hath also small seed contained in little husks, following his flower as other herbs have.

            2. Golden Saxifrage hath round compassed leaves, bluntly indented about the borders like the former, among which rise up stalks a handful high, at the top whereof grow two or three little leaves together: out of the middle of them spring small flowers of a golden color; after which come little husks, wherein is contained the red seed, not unlike the former: the root is tender, creeping in the ground with long threads or hairs.

Fig. 1251. White Rock Saxifrage (3)

            3. Pona hath set forth this plant by the name of Saxifraga alba petreĉa, and therefore I have placed it here though I think I might more fitly have ranked him with Paronychia rutaceo folio formerly described. It hath a small single root from which arise divers fat longish leaves, somewhat hairy, and divided into three parts: amongst these rises up a round knotty stallk, roughish, and of a purplish colour, some half foot high, divided into sundry branches, which carry white flowers, consisting of five leaves apiece, with some yellowish threads in their middles: these falling, there remains a cup containing a very small seed. It flowers at the end of June in the shadowy places of the Alps, whereas he first observed it.

The Place.

            The white Saxifrage groweth plentifully in sundry places of England, and especially in a field on the left hand of the highway, as you go from the place of execution called Saint Thomas Waterings unto Deptford by London. It groweth also in the great field by Islington called the Mantles: also in the green places by the seaside at Lee in Essex, along the rushes, and in sundry other places thereabout, and elsewhere; it also grows in Saint George's Fields behind Southwark.

            The golden Saxifrage groweth in the moist and marsh grounds about Bath and Wells, also in the moors by Bolton and Wisbech in Lincolnshire: and Mr. George Bowles hath found it growing in divers woods at Chislehurst in Kent: Mr. Goodyer also hath observed it abundantly on the shadowy moist rocks by Mapledurham in Hampshire and I have found it in the like places in Yorkshire.

The Time.

            The White Saxifrage flowereth in May and June: the herb with his flower are no more seen until the next year.

            The golden Saxifrage flowereth in March and April

The Names.

            The first is called in Latin Saxifraga Alba: in English, White Saxifrage, or White Stonebreak. The second is called Golden Saxifrage or Golden Stonebreak.

The Nature.

            The first of these, especially the root and seed thereof, is of a warm or hot complexion. Golden Saxifrage is of a cold nature as the taste doth manifestly declare.

The Virtues.

            A. The root of White Saxifrage boiled in wine and drunken, provoketh urine, cleanseth the kidneys and bladder, breaketh the stone, and driveth it forth, and is singular good against the strangury, and all other griefs and imperfections in the reins.

            B. The virtues of Golden Saxifrage are yet unto us unknown, notwithanding I am of this mind, that it is a singular wound herb, equal with Sanicle.

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