The Stitchworts, greater and less (Stellaria holostea), grow very
abundantly as herbal weeds in all our dry hedges and woods, having
tough stems which run closely together, and small white star-like
These plants are of the same order (Chickweed) as the Alsine and
the small Chickweed. Their second name, Holostea, signifies all
bones, because the whole plant is very brittle from the fl
elements which its structures contain.
As its title declares, the great Stitchwort has a widespread reputation
for curing the stitch, or sharp muscular pain, which often attacks one
or other side of the body about the lower ribs.
In the days of the old Saxon leechdoms it was customary against a
stitch to make the sign of the cross, and to sing three times over the
Longinus miles lancea pinxit dominum:
Restet sanguis, et recedat dolor!
The spear of Longinus, the soldier, pierced our Saviour's side:
May the blood, therefore, quicken: and the pain no longer abide!
Or some similar form of charm.
Gerard said of folk, in his day: They are wont to drink it in wine
(with the powder of acorns) against the pain in the side, stitches, and
such like. But according to Dr. Prior, the herb is named rather
because curing the sting (in German stich) of venomous reptiles.
In country places the Stitchwort is known as Adder's meat, and the
Satin Flower: also Miller's Star, Shirtbutton, and Milk Maid, in
Yorkshire: the early English name was Bird's Tongue.
 About, Plymouth, it is dedicated to the Pixies; whilst the
lesser variety is called White Sunday, because of its delicate white
blossoms, with golden-dusted stamens. These were associated with
the new converts baptised in white garments on Low Sunday--the
first Sunday after Easter--named, therefore, White Sunday.
But in some parts of Wales the Stitchwort bears the names of
Devil's-eyes and Devil's-corn. Boys in Devonshire nickname the
herb Snapjack, Snapcrackers, and Snappers.
Parkinson tells us that in former days it was much commended by
some to clear the eyes of dimness by dropping the fresh juice into
them. Again, Galen said: The seed is sharp and biting to him that
As a modern curative Simple, the Stitchworts, greater and less,
stand related to silica, a powerfully remedial preparation of highly
pulverised flint. This is because of the exquisitely subdivided flint
found abundantly dispersed throughout the structures of Stitchwort
plants; which curative principle is eminently useful in chronic
diseases, such as cancer, rickets, and scrofula. It exercises a deep
and slow action, such as is remedially brought to bear by the
Bethesda waters of America, and the powdered oyster shells of Sir
The fresh infusion should be steadily taken, a tea-cupful three times
daily, for weeks or months together. It may be made with a pint of
boiling water to an ounce of the fresh herb. Likewise, the fresh plant
should be boiled and eaten as greens, so as to secure medicinally
the insoluble parts of the silica. This further serves against albumen,
and sugar in the urine.