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Gerard's Herbal

Gerard's Herbal - CHAP. 406. Of Skirret.

CHAP. 406. Of Skirret.

Fig. 1471. Skirret.

The Description.

            The leaves of the Skirret do likewise consist of many small leaves fastened to one rib, every particular one whereof is something nicked in the edges, but they are lesser, greener and smoother than those of the Parsnip. The stalks be short, and seldom a cubit high; the flowers in the spoked tufts are white, the roots be many in number, growing out of one head an hand breadth long, most commonly not a finger thick, they are sweet, white, good to be eaten, and most pleasant in taste.

The Place and Time.

            This Skirret is planted in gardens, and especially by the root, for the greater and thicker ones being taken away, the lesser are put into the earth again: which thing is best to be done in March or April, before the stalks come up, and at this time the roots which be gathered are eaten raw, or boiled.

The Names.

            This herb is called in Latin Sisarum, and also in Greek Sisaron; the Latins do likewise call it Siser; and divers of the later Herbari sts, Servillum or Chervillum, or Servilla: the Germans name it Sierlin: Tragus, Zam gartern rapunkelen: in the Low Countries, Zuyker wortelen, that is to say, Sugar roots, and oftentimes Serillen: in Spanish, Cherinia: Italian, Sisaro: in French, Chervy: in English, Skirret and Skirwort. And this is that Siser or Skirret which Tiberius the Emperor commanded to be conveyed unto him from Gelduba a castle about the river of Rhine, as Pliny reporteth in lib. 19. cap. 5. The Skirret is a medicinable herb, and is the same that the foresaid Emperor did so much commend, insomuch that he desired the same to be brought unto him every year out of Germany. It is not, as divers suppose, Serapio his Secacul, of which he hath written in his 89th chapter: for Secacul is described by the leaf of Iulben, that is to say, of the Pea, as Matthiolus Sylvaticus expoundeth it and it bringeth forth a black fruit of the bigness of a Chickpea, full of moisture, and of a sweet taste, which is called Granum culcul: but the Skirret hath not the leaf of the Pea, neither doth it bring forth fruit like to the Chickpea; whereupon it is manifest, that the Skirret doth very much differ from Serapio his Secacul: so far is it from being the same.

The Nature and Virtues.

            A. The roots of the Skirret be moderately hot and moist; they be easily concocted; they nourish meanly, and yield a reasonable good juice: but they are something windy, by reason whereof they also provoke lust.

            B. They be eaten boiled, with vinegar, salt, and a little oil, after the manner of a salad, and oftentimes they be fried in oil and butter, and also dressed after other fashions, according to the skill of the cook, and the taste of the eater.

            C. The women in Swabia, saith Hieronymus Heroldus, prepare the roots hereof for their husbands, and know full well wherefore and why, &c.

            D. The juice of the roots drunk with goat's milk stoppeth the lask. The same drunk with wine putteth away windiness out of the stomach, and gripings of the belly, and helpeth the hicket or yexing. They stir up appetite, and provoke urine.

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