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The helxine1 is called by some, "perdicium," from the circumstance of its forming the principal food of partridges.2 Other persons, however, give it the name of "sideritis," and to some it is known as "parthenium." It has leaves, the shape of which is a mixture of those of the plantago and the marrubium;3 the stalks are slight and closely packed, and are of a light red colour. The seeds, enclosed in heads resembling those of the lappa,4 adhere to the clothes, a circumstance, it is said, to which it owes its name5 of "helxine." We have already stated in the preceding Book6 what are the characteristics of the plant properly so called.

The one of which we are now speaking is used for dyeing7 wool, and is employed for the cure of erysipelas, tumours, all kinds of abscesses, and burns. The juice of it, taken in doses of one cyathus with white lead, is a cure for inflamed tumours, incipient swellings of the throat, and inveterate coughs.8 It is good, too, for all maladies of the humid parts of the body, the tonsillary glands, for instance; and, in combination with rose oil, it is useful for varicose veins. It is employed topically for the gout, with goat suet and Cyprian wax.

1 It must not be confounded, Fée says, with the Helxine, a tuberous root, mentioned in B. xxi. c. 56. He thinks also that Pliny is in error in giving it the name of "Perdicium," which may possibly have been a synonym of the other Helxine. Fée comes to the conclusion that the Perdicium of B. xxi. c. 62, if not the same as the Helxine of c. 56, cannot be identified; that the Helxine of BN. xxi. c. 56, is the Acarna gummifera; and that the Helxine here mentioned is identical with the Perdicium of this and the next Chapter, being the Parietaria officinalis of Linnæus, parietary or wall pellitory. The confusion has probably arisen from the similarity of the name of the ἰξἰνη, the plant mentioned in B. xxi. c. 56, and the ἑλξίνη, the Helxine of the present Chapter.

2 "Perdices." As stated in the last Note, the name has probably been given in error to the Helxine or pellitory.

3 Or horebound.

4 See B. xxi. c. 64.

5 From ἕλκω, to "drag."

6 In c. 56. Properly the "Ixine." See Note1 above.

7 Pellitory possesses no colouring properties whatever.

8 It has no medicinal virtues beyond acting, possibly, in some degree, as a diuretic.

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