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Gerard's Herbal - Part 3

Gerard's Herbal - CHAP. 315. Of Ground-Ivy, or Ale-Hoof.

CHAP. 315. Of Ground-Ivy, or Ale-Hoof.

Fig. 1269. Ale-Hoof (1)

Fig. 1270. Rock Ale-Hoof (2)


The Description.

            1. Ground-Ivy is a low or base herb; it creepeth and spreads upon the ground hither and thither all about, with many stalks of an uncertain length, slender, and like those of the Vine, something cornered, and sometimes reddish: whereupon grow leaves something broad and round, wrinkled, hairy, nicked in the edges, for the most part two out of every joint: amongst which come forth the flowers gaping like little hoods, not unlike to those of Germander, of a purplish blue colour: the roots are very thready: the whole plant is of a strong smell and bitter taste.

            2. Upon the rocky and mountainous places of Provence and Dauphiné grows this other kind of Ale-Hoof, which hath leaves, stalks, flowers, and roots like in shape to those of the former, but the flowers and leaves are of a light purple colour, and also larger and longer. This by Lobel is called Asarina, sive Saxatilis hedera.

The Place.

            It is found as well in tilled as in untilled places, but most commonly in obscure and dark places, upon banks, under hedges, and by the sides of houses.

The Time.

            It remaineth green not only in summer, but also in winter at any time of the year: it flowereth from April till summer be far spent.

The Names.

            It is commonly called Hedera terrestris: also Corona terrę: in High Dutch, Gundelreb: in Low Dutch, Onderhave: in French, Lierre terrestre: Hedera humilis of some, and Chamęcissum: in English, Ground-Ivy, Ale-Hoof, Gill-go-by-ground, Tunhoof, and Cat's-Foot. Many question whether this be the Chamęcissus of the ancients: which controversy Dodonęus hath largely handled, Pempt. 3. lib. 3. cap. 4

The Temperature.

            Ground-Ivy is hot and dry, and because it is bitter it scoureth, and removeth stoppings out of the entrails.

The Virtues.

            A. Ground-Ivy is commended against the humming noise and ringing found of the ears, being put into them, and for them that are hard of hearing.

            B. Matthiolus writeth, That the juice being tempered with verdigris, is good against fistulas and hollow ulcers.

            C. Dioscorides teacheth, That half a dram of the leaves being drunk in four ounces and a half of fair water, for forty or fifty days together, is a remedy against the sciatica, or ache in the huckle bone.

            D. The same taken in like sort six or seven days doth also cure the yellow jaundice. Galen hath attributed (as we have said) all the virtue unto the flowers: Seeing the flowers of Ground-Ivy (saith he) are very bitter, they remove stoppings out of the liver, and are given to them that are vexed with the sciatica.

            E. Ground-Ivy, Celandine, and Daisies, of each a like quantity, stamped and strained, and a little sugar and rose-water put thereto, and dropped with a feather into the eyes, taketh away all manner of inflammation, spots, webs, itch, smarting, or any grief whatsoever in the eyes, yea although the sight were nigh hand gone: it is proved to be the best medicine in the world.

            F. The herbs stamped as aforesaid, and mixed with a little ale and honey, and strained, takes away the pin and web, or any grief out of the eyes of horse or cow, or any other beast, being squirted into the same with a syringe, or might have said the liquor injected into the eyes with a syringe. But I list not to be over-eloquent among gentlewomen, to whom especially my works are most necessary.

            G. The women of our Northern parts, especially about Wales and Cheshire do tun the herb Ale-Hoof into their ale, but the reason thereof I know not: notwithstanding without all controversy it is most singular against the griefs aforesaid: being tunned up in ale and drunk, it also purgeth the head from rheumatic humours flowing from the brain.

            I. Hedera terrestris boiled in water stayeth the terms;. and boiled in mutton broth it helps weak and aching backs,

            K. They have used to put it into ointments against burning with fire, gunpowder, and such like.

            L. Hedera terrestris being bound in a bundle, or chopped as herbs for the pot, and eaten or drunk as thin broth stayeth the flux in women.

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