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Gerard's Herbal Vol. 5

Gerard's Herbal - CHAP. 122. Of the Bead Tree.

CHAP. 122. Of the Bead Tree.


Fig. 2087. Bead Tree (1)

Fig. 2088. Cappadocian Bead Tree (2)


The Description.

1. This tree was called Zizypha candida by the herbarists of Montpellier; and by the Venetians and Italians, Sycomorus, but untruly: the Portugals have termed it Arbor Paradizo: all which and each whereof have erred together, both in respect of the fruit and of the whole tree: some have called it Zizypha, though in faculty it is nothing like; for the taste of this fruit is very unpleasant, virulent, and bitter. But deciding all controversies, this is the tree which Avicenna calleth Azederach, which is very great, charged with many large arms, that are garnished with twiggy branches, set full of great leaves consisting of sundry small leaves, one growing right opposite to another like the leaves of the Ash tree or Wicken tree, but more deeply cut about the edges like the teeth of a saw: among which come the flowers, consisting of five small blue leaves laid abroad in manner of a star: from the midst whereof groweth forth a small hollow cup resembling a chalice: after which succeedeth the fruit, covered with a brownish yellow shell, very like unto the fruit of Jujubes (whereof Dodonĉus in his last edition maketh it a kind) of a rank, bitter, and unpleasant taste, with a six-cornered stone within, which being drawn on a string, serveth to make beads of, for want of other things.

2. Zizyphus Cappadocica groweth not so great as the former, but is of a mean stature, and full of boughs: the bark is smooth and even, and that which groweth upon the trunk and great boughs is of a shining scarlet colour: out of these great arms or boughs grow slender twigs, white and soft, which are set full of whitish leaves, but more white on the contrary or back part, and are like to the leaves of Willow, but narrower and whiter: amongst these leaves come forth small hollow yellowish flowers, growing at the joints of the branches, most commonly three together, and of a pleasant savour, with some few threads or chives in the middle thereof. After which succeedeth the fruit, of the bigness and fashion of the smallest Olive, white both within and without, wherein is contained a small stone which yieldeth a kernel of a pleasant taste, and very sweet.

The Place.

Matthiolus writeth, that Zizyphus candida is found in the cloisters of many monasteries in Italy; Lobel saith that it groweth in many places in Venice and Narbonne; and it is wont now of late to be planted and cherished in the goodliest orchards of all the Low Countries.

Zizyphus Cappadocica groweth likewise in many places of Italy, and specially in Spain: it is also cherished in gardens both in Germany and in the Low Countries. It groweth also here in the garden of Mr John Parkinson.

The Time.

These trees flower in June in Italy and Spain; their fruit is ripe in September; but in Germany and the Low Countries there doth no fruit follow the flowers.

The Names.

Zizyphus candida Avicenna calleth Azederach, or as divers read it, Azederaeth: and they name it, saith he, in Rechi, Arbor mirobalanorum, or the Mirobalan tree, but not properly, and in Tabrasten, and Kien, and Thihich. The later writers are far deceived in taking it to be the Sycomore tree; and they as much, that would have it to be the Lotus or Nettle tree: it may be named in English, Bead tree, for the cause before alleged.

The other is Zizyphi altera species, or the second kind of Jujube tree, which Columella in his ninth book and fourth chap. doth call Zizyphus alba, or white Jujube tree, for difference from the other that is surnamed rutila, or glittering red. Pliny calleth this Zizyphus cappadocica, in his 21st book; ninth chapter, where he entreateth of the honour of garlands, of which he saith there be two sorts, whereof some be made of flowers, and others of leaves: I would call the flowers (saith he) brooms, for of those is gathered a yellow flower, and Rhododendron, also Zizypha, which is called cappadocica. The flowers of these are sweet of smell, and like to Olive flowers. Neither doth Columella or Pliny unadvisedly take this for Zizyphus, for both the leaves and flowers grow out of the tender and young sprung twigs, as they likewise do out of the former: the flowers are very sweet of smell, and cast their savour far abroad: the fruit also is like that of the former.

The Temperature.

Avicenna writing and entreating of Azadaraeth, saith, that the flowers thereof be hot in the third degree, and dry in the end of the first.

Zizyphus cappadocica is cold and dry of complexion.

The Virtues.

A. The flowers of Zizyphus, or Azadaraeth open the obstructions of the brain.

B. The distilled water thereof killeth nits and lice, preserveth the hair of the head from falling, especially being mixed with white wine, and the head bathed with it.

C. The fruit is very hurtful to the chest, and a troublesome enemy to the stomach; it is dangerous, and peradventure deadly.

D. Moreover, it is reported, that the decotion of the bark and of Fumitory, with mirobalans added, is good for agues proceeding of phlegm.

E. The juice of the uppermost leaves with honey is a remedy against poison.

F. The like also hath Rhasis: the Bead tree, saith he, is hot and dry: it is good for stoppings of the head, it maketh the hair long; yet is the fruit thereof very offensive to the stomach, and oftentimes found to be pernicious and deadly.

G. Matthiolus writeth, that the leaves and wood bringeth death even unto beasts, and that the poison thereof is resisted by the same remedies that Oleander is.

H. Ziziphus cappadocica prevaileth against the diseases aforesaid, but the decoction thereof is very good for those whose water scaldeth them with the continual issuing thereof, as also for such as have the running of the reins and the exulcerations of the bladder and privy parts.

I. A lohoch or licking medicine made thereof, or the syrup, is excellent good against spitting of blood proceeding of the distillations of sharp or salt humours.

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