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The Greeks give the name of "polygonos"1 to the plant known to us as "sanguinaria."2 It is but little elevated above the ground, has leaves like those of rue, and resembles grass in appearance. The juice of it, injected into the nostrils, arrests hæmorrhage: taken with wine, it has a similar effect upon bleeding at any other part of the body, as also spitting of blood. Those who distinguish several kinds of polygonos, make this to be the male3 plant, and say that it is so called from the large number of seeds, or else from its numerous branches. Some call it "polygonatos,"4 from the number of its joints, others, again, "teuthalis," and others, "carcinethron," "clema," or "myrtopetalos."

There are some authorities to be found, however, who say that this is the female plant, and that the male is more diminutive, less swarthy, and more jointed, with a seed protruding beneath all the leaves. However this may be, these plants are of an astringent, cooling nature. The seed is laxative, and, taken in large doses, acts as a diuretic, and arrests defluxions; indeed, if there is no defluxion, it is of no use taking it. For burning heats of the stomach, the leaves are applied topically; and they are used, in the form of a liniment, for pains in the bladder, and for erysipelas. The juice is used as an injection for suppurations of the ears, and by itself, for pains in the eyes. It is administered, also, in fevers, tertian and quartan fevers more particularly, in doses of two cyathi, just before the paroxysms come on; as also in cases of cholera, dysentery, and derangement of the stomach.

There is a third kind, which grows on the mountains, and is known as "orios,"5 similar to a delicate reed in appearance, and having but a single stem, with numerous joints running into one another; the leaves of it are similar to those of the pitchtree, and the root is never used. This variety, however, is not so efficacious as those already mentioned, and, indeed, is used exclusively for sciatica. A fourth kind is known as the wild6 polygonos: it is a shrub, almost a tree in fact, with a ligneous root, a red trunk like that of the cedar, and branches resem- bling those of spartum,7 a couple of palms in length, and with three or four dark-coloured, knotted joints. This kind, also, is of an astringent nature, and has a flavour like that of the quince. It is either boiled down in water to one third, or else dried and powdered for sprinkling upon ulcerations of the mouth and excoriations: it is chewed, also, for affections of the gums. It arrests the progress of corrosive ulcers and of all sores of a serpiginous nature, or which cicatrize with difficulty, and is particularly useful for ulcerations caused by snow. Herbalists employ it also for quinzy, and use it as a chaplet for head-ache; for defluxions of the eyes, they put it round the neck.

In cases of tertian fever, some persons pull it up with the left hand, and attach it as an amulet to the body; the same, too, in cases of hæmorrhage. There is no plant that is more generally kept by them in a dry state than the polygonos.

1 "Many-seeded."

2 "Blood plant."

3 Identified by Fée with the Polygonum aviculare of Linnæus, the Knot-grass.

4 "Many-knotted." Scribonius says that it received its name, "polygonos," from its being found everywhere.

5 Or "mountain" plant. Fée considers it to be the same as the second kind above mentioned, and to correspond with the female Polygonos of Dioscorides. He identifies it with the Hippuris vulgaris of Linnæus. Mare's tail, or female horse-tail; Littré gives the Equisetum pallidum of Bory as its synonym.

6 Identified by Fée with the Ephedra distachya of Linnæus, the Great shrubby horsetail.

7 See B, xix. c. 7.

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