21st December – The Fig Tree

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The Fig Tree

‘The Fig Tree’ illustration from Elizabeth Blackwell’s Herbal Vol. 1

Plate 125. The Fig Tree. Ficus.

It seldome grows to be a Tree of any great Bigness in England; the Leaves are a grass Green and the Fruit when ripe of a brownish Green; it beareth no visible Flowers, which makes it believed they are hid in the Fruit.

Its Native soils are Turky, Spain and Portugal; and its time of Bearing is in Spring and Autumn; the Figs are cured by dipping them in scalding hot Lye, made of ye Ashes of the Guttings of the Tree, and afterwards they dry them carefully in the Sun.

Figs are esteem’d cooling and moistning, good for coughs, shortness of Breath, and all Diseases of the Breast; as also the Stone and Gravel, – and the small Pox and Measels, which they drive out. – Outwardly they are dissolving and ripening, good for Imposthumations and Swellings; and pestilential buboes.

Latin, Ficus. Spanish, Igos. Italian, Fichi: French, Figues. German, Fengen. Dutch Uygen.

Taken from Volume 1 of Elizabeth Blackwell’s Herbals found in our Rare Books Collection available here.

12th December – Mistletoe

Mistletoe

Mistletoe. Viscum or Visscus quercinus.

1. This plant takes root on the Branches of Trees, and sometimes grows two or three Foot long; The Leaves are a yellow Green, the Flowers yellow and the Berries almost the colour of white Currans.

2. It grows upon several Trees, as the Apple, Crab, Hasel, Ash, Mapple, Lime, Willow, White-thorn and Oak. The last of which is hardly to be met with here in England, which perhaps added to the Honour that the Ancient Druids paid to this Mistletoe.

3. Mistletoe is accounted cephalic and nervine, particuarly useful for all kinds of Convulsion Fits, the Apoplexy, Palsy, and Vertigo, for which Purposes some commend the Mistletoe of the Hasel as better than the Others. The Viscus Aucupum or Bird Lime, was formerly made of the Berries of this Plant; but now in England it is made of the Bark of the Holly Tree. Bird Lime is a powerfull Attractive, good to ripen hard Tumours and Swellings. See Sir John Colebatche’s Discourse of Mistletoe.

4. Latin, Viscum. Spanish, Visco. Italian, Vischio or Panio. French, Guy. German, Bogelleim.

Taken from Volume 1 of Elizabeth Blackwell’s Herbals found in our Rare Books Collection available here.

11th December – The Holly-Tree

Holly

The Holly-Tree. Aquifolium.

1. This Tree grows to be pretty large; the Leaves are a deep Green, the Flowers yellowish, and the Berries red.

2. It grows wild in the Warm Countries, and flowers in the Spring.

3. From this Tree is made our Bird-lime, which is a powerfull attractive and good to ripen hard Tumous and Swellings, and is an Ingredient in Emplastrum Diachilon magnum.

4. Latin, Aquifolium. Italian, Agrifolio. French, Houx. German, Baldtdisteln oder Stechpalmen. Dutch, Hulst.

Taken from Volume 1 of Elizabeth Blackwell’s Herbals found in our Rare Books Collection available here.