previous next


The plant known to the Greeks as "batrachion,"1 we call ranunculus.2 There are four varieties of it,3 one of which has leaves somewhat thicker than those of coriander, nearly the size of those of the mallow, and of a livid hue: the stem of the plant is long and slender, and the root white; it grows on moist and well-shaded embankments. The second4 kind is more foliated than the preceding one, the leaves have more numerous incisions, and the stems of the plant are long. The third5 variety is smaller than the others, has a powerful smell, and a flower of a golden colour. The fourth6 kind is very like the one last mentioned, but the flower is milk-white.

All these plants have caustic properties: if the leaves are applied unboiled, they raise blisters like those caused by the action of fire; hence it is that they are used for the removal of leprous spots, itch-scabs, and brand marks upon the skin. They form an ingredient also in all caustic preparations, and are applied for the cure of alopecy, care being taken to remove them very speedily. The root, if chewed for some time, in cases of tooth-ache, will cause7 the teeth to break; dried and pulverized, it acts as a sternutatory.

Our herbalists give this plant the name of "strumus," from the circumstance of its being curative of strumous8 sores and inflamed tumours, for which purpose a portion of it is hung up in the smoke. It is a general belief, too, with them, that if it is replanted, the malady so cured will reappear9—a criminal practice, for which the plantago is also employed. The juice of this last-mentioned plant is curative of internal ulcerations of the mouth; and the leaves and root are chewed for a similar purpose, even when the mouth is suffering from defluxions. Cinquefoil effects the cure of ulcerations and offensive breath; psyllium10 is used also for ulcers of the mouth.

1 "Frog-plant."

2 "Little frog." Called "Crow-foot" by us.

3 Sprengel identifies it with the Ranunculus Seguieri, Fée with the R. Asiaticus, also a native of Greece.

4 Identified by Desfontaines with the Ranunculus hirsutus, or philonotis. Fée, with Hardouin, considers it to be the same as the Apiastrum of }1. xx. c. 45, and identifies it with the Ranunculus Sardoüs of Crantz, the plant probably which produces a contraction of the mouth, rendered famous as the "Sardonic grin," and more commonly known as the Ranunculus sceleratus, Apium risus, or Apium Sardoüm, "Laughing parsley," or "Sardinian parsley."

5 Identified by Sprengel and Desfontaines with the Ranunculus repens or Creeping crow-foot; but by Fée, with the Ranunculus muricatus of Linnæus.

6 Identified by Desfontaines with the Ranunculus aconitifolius; by Fée with the Ranunculus aquatilis of Linnæus, the Water crowfoot. The Ranunculi are all active poisons.

7 A fabulous assertion, probably, and it is very doubtful if any one ever made the trial of its efficacy.

8 Or scrofula.

9 See 1B. xxi c. 83, and B. xxvi. c. 5.

10 See e. 90 of this Book.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

hide Places (automatically extracted)

View a map of the most frequently mentioned places in this document.

hide References (6 total)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: