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CHAP. 13—THE ASTAPHISAGRIA, OTHERWISE CALLED STAPHIS OR TAMINIA: TWELVE REMEDIES.

The wild astaphis, otherwise called staphis,1 is by some persons erroneously called "uva taminia;"2 for it is altogether a distinct plant from the other. It has a black, upright stein, with leaves resembling those of the labrusca,3 and bears what we may call a pod,4 rather than a grape, green, similar to a chick-pea in appearance, and enclosing a kernel of triangular form. The fruit of it ripens with the vintage and turns black, while the berries of the taminia,5 as is well known, are red; this last, too, as we are aware, grows only in shaded spots, while the wild astaphis, on the other hand, loves a site that is exposed to the sun.

I would not recommend any one to use the kernels6 of the wild astaphis as a purgative, as it is very doubtful whether they might not choke the patient; nor would I advise them to be employed for the purpose of attenuating the phlegm, as they are extremely irritating to the throat. Beaten up, however, and applied topically, they kill vermin7 in the head and other parts of the body, more particularly if they are used with sandarach; they are very useful, too, for itch-scabs and prurigo. A decoction of the kernels is made with vinegar, for the cure of tooth-ache, diseases of the ears, cicatrices8 that are slow in healing, and running sores.

The blossoms of the plant are beaten up and taken in wine for stings9 inflicted by serpents; but, as to the seed, I would strongly recommend its rejection, on account of its extremely pungent properties. Some persons give to this plant the name of "pituitaria,"10 and use it as a common application for stings inflicted by serpents.

1 Identified with the Delphinium staphis agria of Linnæus.

2 "Taminian grape."

3 Or wild vine.

4 The fruit is formed of three oblong capsules, containing a triangular seed of black brown colour, about the size of a kidney bean.

5 This is not the white vine or bryony, mentioned in c. 16 of this Book, but the Tamus communis of Linnæus.

6 The seeds, which are remarkably pungent and powerful in their effects, are only used, at the present day, in medicinal preparations for cattle.

7 This is still done at the present day; to which it is indebted for its French name l'herbe pediculaire, or louse-plant.

8 Pliny seems again to have fallen into the error of mistaking οὐλον, the "gums" for οὐλὴ, a "cicatrix;" the corresponding passage in Dioscorides, B. iv. c. 156, being "defluxions of the gums."

9 They would be of no use whatever, Fée says, for such a purpose.

10 As tending to carry off "pituita," or phlegm.

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