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Gerard's Herbal

Gerard's Herbal - CHAP. 447. Of Columbine.

CHAP. 447. Of Columbine.

Fig. 1562. Kinds of Columbine (1-4)

The Description.

            1. The Blue Columbine hath leaves like the great Celandine, but somewhat rounder, indented on the edges, parted into divers sections, of a bluish green colour, which being broken yield forth little juice or none at all: the stalk is a cubit and a half high, slender, reddish, and slightly haired: the slender sprigs whereof bring forth every one one flower with five little hollow horns, as it were hanging forth, with small leaves standing upright, of the shape of little birds. These flowers are of colour sometimes blue, at other times of a red or purple, often white, or of mixed colors which to distinguish severally would be to small purpose, being things so familiarly known to all: after the flowers grow up cods, in which is contained little black and glittering seed: the roots are thick, with some strings thereto belonging, which continue many years.

            2. The second doth not differ saving in the colour of the flowers; for like as the others are described to be blue, so these are of a purple red, or horse-flesh colour, which maketh the difference.

            3. The double Columbine hath stalks, leaves, and roots, like the former: the flowers hereof are very double, that is to say, many of those little flowers (having the form of birds) are thrust one into the belly of another, sometimes blue, often white, and other whiles of mixed colours, as nature list to play with her little ones, differing so infinitely, that to distinguish them apart would require more time than were rcquisite to lose: and therefore it shall suffice what hath been said for their descriptions.

            4. There are also other varieties of this double kind, which have the flowers of divers or party colours, as blue and white, and white and red variously marked or spotted.

Fig. 1563. Kinds of Columbine (5-8)

            5. This kind hath the flowers with their heels or spurs turned outward or in the middle of the flower, whence it is called Aquilina inversa: the flowers of this are commonly reddish, or of a light or dark purple colour, and double.

            6. This differs from the last in the colour of the flowers which are white, yet double, and inverted as the former.

            7. The roots, leaves, and stalks of this are not unlike those of the precedent, but the flower is much different in shape; For it hath no heels or spurs, but is made of sundry long leaves lying flat open, being sometimes more single, and otherwhiles more double. The colour of the flower is either red, white, blue, or variously mixed of these as the former.

            8. This though it be termed degenerate, is a kind of itself, and it differs from the last described in that the utmost leaves are the largest, and the colour thereof is commonly green, or green somewhat inclining to a purple.

The Place.

            They are set and sown in gardens for the beauty and variable colours of the flowers.

The Time.

            They flower in May, June, and July.

The Names.

            Columbine is called of the later herbarists Aquileia, Aquilina, and Aquilegia: of Costeus, Pothos: of Gesner, Leontostomum: of Dalechampius, Iovis flos: of some, Herba leonis, or the herb wherein the Lion doth delight: in High Dutch, Agley: in Low Dutch Akeleyn: in French, Ancoiles: in English, Columbine. Fabius Columna judges it to be the Isopyrum described by Dioscorides.

The Temperature.

            Columbines are thought to be temperate between heat and moisture.

The Virtues.

            A. Notwithstanding what temperature or virtues Columbines have is not yet sufficiently known, for they are used especially to deck the gardens of the curious, garlands, and houses: nevertheless Tragus writeth, that a dram weight of the seed, with half a scruple or ten grains of Saffron given in wine, is a good and effectual medicine for the stopping of the liver, and the yellow jaundice, but, saith he, that whoso hath taken it must be well covered with clothes, and then sweat.

            B. Most in these days following others by tradition, do use to boil the leaves in milk against the soreness of the throat, falling and excoriation of the uvula: but the ancient writers have said nothing hereof. Ruellius reporteth, that the flowers of Columbines are not used in medicine: yet some there be that do affirm they are good against the stopping of the liver, which effect the leaves do also perform.

            C. Clusius saith, that Dr. Francis Rapard a physician of Bruges in Flanders, told him that the seed of this common Columbine very finely beaten to powder, and given in wine, was a singular medicine to be given to women to hasten and facilitate their labour, and if the first taking it were not suffficiently effectual; that then they should repeat it again.

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