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Gerard's Herbal Vol. 5

Gerard's Herbal - CHAP. 118. Of the Maple Tree.

CHAP. 118. Of the Maple Tree.


Fig. 2078. Great Maple (1)

Fig. 2079. Lesser Maple (2)


The Description.

1. The Great Maple is a beautiful and high tree, with a bark of a mean smoothness: the substance of the wood is tender and easy to work on; it sendeth forth on every side very many goodly boughs and branches, which make an excellent shadow against the heat of the sun; upon which are great, broad, and cornered leaves, much like to those of the Vine, hanging by long reddish stalks: the flowers hang by clusters, of a whitish green colour; after them cometh up long fruit fastened together by couples, one right against another, with kernels bumping out near to the place in which they are combined: in all the other parts flat and thin like unto parchment, or resembling the innermost wings of grashoppers: the kernels be white and little.

2. There is a small Maple which doth oftentimes come to the bigness of a tree, but most commonly it groweth low after the manner of a shrub: the bark of the young shoots hereof is likewise smooth; the substance of the wood is white, and easy to be wrought on: the leaves are cornered like those of the former, slippery, and fastened with a reddish stalk, but much lesser, very like in bigness and smoothness to the leaf of Sanicle, but that the cuts are deeper: the flowers be as those of the former, green, yet not growing in clusters, but upon spoked roundels: the fruit standeth by two and two upon a stem or footstalk.

The Place

The small or hedge Maple groweth almost everywhere in hedges and low woods.

The great Maple is a stranger in England, only it groweth in the walks and places of pleasure of noblemen, where it especially is planted for the shadow's sake, and under the name of Sycamore tree.

The Time.

These trees flower about the end of March, and their fruit is ripe in September.

The Names.

This tree is called in Greek, Sphendamnos: in Latin, Acer: in English, Maple, or Maple tree.

The great Maple is called in High Dutch, Ahorne, and Waldescherne: the French men, Grand Erable, and Plasne abusively, and this is thought to be properly called Sphendamnos: but they are far deceived that take this for Platanus, or the Plane tree, being drawn into this error by the nearness of the French word; for the Plane tree doth much differ from this. This is now commonly (yet not rightly) called the Sycamore tree. And seeing use will have it so, I think it were not unfit to call it the bastard Sycamore.

The other is called in Latin, Acer minor: in High Dutch, Wassholder: in Low Dutch, Booghout: in French, Erable: in English, small Maple, and common Maple.

The Temperature and Virtues

A. What use the Maple hath in medicine we find nothing written of the Grecians, but Pliny in his 14th book, 8th chapter affirmeth, that the root pounded and applied, is a singular remedy for the pain of the liver. Serenus Sammonicus writeth, that it is drunk with wine against the pains of the side:

Si latus immeritum morbo tentatur acuto,
Accensum tinges lapidem stridentibus undis.
Hinc bibis: aut Aceris radicem tundis, & una
Cum vino capis: hoc pręsens medicamen habetur.

Thy harmless side if sharp disease invade,
In hissing water quench a heated stone:
This drink. Or Maple root in powder made,
Take off in wine, a present med'cine known.

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