Water Plants (other)
(Water Dropwort, Water Lily, Water Pepper.)
The Water Dropwort--Hemlock (oenanthe crocata) is an umbelliferous
plant, frequent in our marshes and ditches.  It is named
from oinos, wine, and anthos, a flower, because its blossoms
have a vinous smell. A medicinal tincture is made (H.) from the
The leaves look like Celery, and the roots like parsnips. A country
of this plant is Dead-tongue, from its paralyzing effects on the
organs of the voice. Of eight lads who were poisoned by eating the
root, says Mr. Vaughan, five died before morning, not one of them
having spoken a word. Other names are Horsebane, from its being
thought in Sweden to cause in horses a kind of palsy; (due, as
Linnaeus thought, to an insect, curculio paraplecticus, which
breeds in the stem); and Five-fingered-root, from its five leaflets.
The roots contain a poisonous, milky juice, which becomes yellow
on exposure to the air, and which exudes from all parts of the plant
when wounded. It will be readily seen that because of so virulent a
nature the plant is too dangerous for use as a Herbal Simple, though
the juice has been known to cure obstinate and severe skin disease.
It yields an acrid emetic principle. The root is sometimes applied by
country folk to whitlows, but this has proved an unsafe proceeding.
The plant has a pleasant odour. Its leaves have been mistaken for
Parsley, and its root for the Skirret.
The OEnanthe Phellandrium (Water Fennel) is a variety of the
same species, but with finer leaves. Pliny gave the seeds, twenty
grains for a dose, against stone, and disorders of the bladder. Also
they have been commended for cancer.
In this country Water Lilies, or Pond Lilies, comprise the White
Water Lily--a large native flower inhabiting clear pools and slow
rivers--and the Yellow Water Lily, frequent in rivers and ditches,
with a yellow, globose flower smelling like brandy, so that it is
called Brandy  bottle in Norfolk and other parts. Its root and
stalks contain much tannin.
This latter Yellow Lily (Nuphar lutea) possesses medicinal
virtues against diarrhoea, such as is aggravated in the morning, and
against sexual weakness. A tincture is made (H.) from the whole
plant with spirit of wine. The second title, lutea, signifies
growing in the mud; whilst the large white Water Lily is called
Nymphoea, from occurring in the supposed haunts of the
nymphs: and Flatter-dock.
The root stocks of the Yellow Water Lily, when bruised, and
infused in milk, will destroy beetles and cockroaches. The smoke of
the same when burnt will get rid of crickets.
The small Yellow Pond Lily bears the name of Candock, from the
shape of its seed vessel, like that of a silver can or flagon, and this
perhaps has likewise to do with the appellations, Brandy bottle
and Water can: which latter may be given because of the half
unfolded leaves floating on the water like cans.
The root of the larger white Water Lily is acrid, and will redden the
skill if the juice is applied thereto.
An Ointment may be made with this juice to stimulate the scalp so
as to prevent falling out of the hair. The root contains tannin and
mucilage, it is therefore astringent and demulcent. Also the
expressed juice from the fresh leaves of this white Water Lily, the
one sinless flower, if used as a head wash, will preserve the hair.
Oh, destinee des choses d'ici bas! Descendre des austerities du
Cloitre dans l'officine Cancaniere du perruquier!
Dutch boys are said to be extremely careful about plucking or
handling the Water Lily, for, if a boy fall  with the flowers in
his possession, he is thought to immediately become subject to fits.
The Water Pepper (Polygonum Hydropiper) or Arsmart, Grows
abundantly by the sides of lakes and ditches in Great Britain. It
bears a vulgar English name signifying the irritation which it causes
when applied to the fundament; and its French sobriquet, Culrage,
conveys the same meaning:--
An erbe is the cause of all this rage,
In our tongue called Culrage.
The plant is further known to rustics as Cyderach, or Ciderage, and
as Red-knees, from its red angular points. It possesses an acrid,
biting taste, somewhat like that of the Peppermint, which resides in
the glandular dots sprinkled about its surface, and which is lost in
drying. Fleas will not come into rooms where this herb is kept. It is
called also lake weed. A tradition says that the plant when placed
under the saddle will enable a horse to travel for some long time
without becoming hungry or thirsty. The Scythians knew this herb
(Hippice) to be useful for such a purpose.
The Water Pepper has its virtues first taught by a beggar of Savoy.
It is admirable against syphilis, and to arrest sexual losses: being
long adored because healing the original sin.
Farriers use it for curing proud flesh in the sores of animals, and
when applied to the human skin, the leaves will serve the purpose of
a mustard poultice. Also, a piece of the plant may be chewed to
relieve toothache, as well as to cure small ulcers of thrush in the
mouth, and pimples on the tongue.
The expressed juice of the freshly-gathered plant has been found
very useful in jaundice. From one to three  tablespoonfuls may
be taken for a dose. A hot decoction made from the whole herb
(Water Persicaria) has a sheet soaked in it as an American remedy
for cholera, the patient being wrapped therein immediately when
seized. This herb, together with the Thuja Occidentalis (Arbor
vitoe) makes the Anti-venereo of Count Mattaei.
Another Polygonum, the great Bistort, or Snakeweed, and
Adderswort, is a common wild plant in the northern parts of Great
Britain, having bent or crooked roots, which are difficult to be
extirpated, and are strongly astringent.
This Bistort, twice twisted, on account of its snake-like
root, was at one time called Serpentaria, Columbrina, and
It has been thought to be the Oxylapathum Britannicum and
Limonium of the ancients.
The dose of the root in substance is from twenty to sixty grains. In
the North of England the plant is known as Easter Giant, and its
young shoots are eaten in herb pudding. About Manchester they are
substituted for greens, under the name of Passion's dock. The root
may be employed both externally as a poultice, and inwardly as a
decoction, when an astringent is needed. It is most useful for a
spongy state of the gums, attended with looseness of the teeth.
This plant grows in moist meadows, but is not common. Its roots are
reddish of colour inside.
The Bistort contains starch, and much tannin; likewise its rhizome
(crooked root) furnishes gallic acid. The decoction is to be made
with an ounce of the bruised root boiled in a pint of water; one
tablespoonful of this may be given every two hours in passive
bleedings, and for simple diarrhoea. Other names for the  plant
are Osterick, and Twice writhen (bis tort), Red legs, and Man
giant, from the French mangeant, eatable.