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We have spoken more than once1 of the marvels of the heliotropium, which turns2 with the sun, in cloudy weather even, so great is its sympathy with that luminary. At night, as though in regret, it closes its blue flower.

There are two species of heliotropium, the tricoccum3 and the helioscopium,4 the latter being the taller of the two, though they neither of them exceed half5 a foot in height. The helioscopium throws out branches from the root, and the seed of it, enclosed in follicules,6 is gathered at harvest-time. It grows nowhere but in a rich soil, a highly-cultivated one more particularly; the tricoccum, on the other hand, is to be found growing everywhere. I find it stated, that the helioscopium, boiled, is considered an agreeable food, and that taken in milk, it is gently laxative7 to the bowels; while, again, a decoction of it, taken as a potion, acts as a most effectual purgative. The juice of this plant is collected in summer, at the sixth8 hour of the day; it is usually mixed with wine, which makes9 it keep all the better. Combined with rose-oil, it alleviates head-ache. The juice extracted from the leaves, combined with salt, removes warts; from which circumstance our people have given this plant the name of "verrucaria,"10 although, from its various properties, it fully merits a better name. For, taken in wine or hydromel, it is an antidote to the venom of serpents and scorpions,11 as Apollophanes and Apollodorus state. The leaves, too, employed topically, are a cure for the cerebral affections of infants, known as "siriasis,"12 as also for convulsions, even when they are epileptic. It is very wholesome, too, to gargle the mouth with a decoction of this plant. Taken in drink, it expels tapeworm and gravel, and, with the addition of cummin, it will disperse calculi. A decoction of the plant with the root, mixed with the leaves and some suet of a he-goat, is applied topically for the cure of gout.

The other kind, which we have spoken13 of as being called the "tricoccum," and which also bears the name of "scorpiuron,"14 has leaves that are not only smaller than those of the other kind, but droop downwards towards the ground: the seed of it resembles a scorpion's tail, to which, in fact, it owes its latter appellation. It is of great efficacy for injuries received from all kinds of venomous insects and the spider known as the "phalangium," but more particularly for the stings of scorpions, if applied topically.15 Those who carry it about their person are never stung by a scorpion, and it is said that if a circle is traced on the ground around a scorpion with a sprig of this plant, the animal will never move out of it, and that if a scorpion is covered with it, or even sprinkled with tile water in which it has been steeped, it will die that instant. Four grains of the seed, taken in drink, are said to be a cure for the quartan fever, and three for the tertian; a similar effect being produced by carrying the plant three times round the patient, and then laying it under his head. The seed, too, acts as an aphrodisiac, and, applied with honey, it disperses inflamed tumours. This kind of heliotropium, as well as the other, extracts warts radically,16 and excrescences of the anus. Applied topically, the seed draws off corrupt blood from the vertebre and loins; and a similar effect is produced by taking a decoction of it in chicken broth, or with beet and lentils. The husks17 of the seed restore the natural colour to lividities of the skin. According to the Magi, the patient himself should make four knots in the heliotropium for a quartan, and three for a tertian fever, at the same time offering a prayer that he may recover to untie them, the plant being left in the ground meanwhile.

1 B. xviii c. 67, and B. xix. c. 58.

2 This apparent marvel is owing to the necessity of light to certain flowers for the purposes of fecundation, while those which open at night require more moisture than light for their reproduction.

3 Or "three-grained," probably, Fée says, from the three cells in the capsule. He identifies this plant with the Croton tinctorium of Linnæus, the turnsole, or sun-flower.

4 Fée identifies it with the Heliotropium Europæum of Linnæus, the heliotrope, or verrucaria. The Heliotropium of Ovid and other poets, with a violet or blue flower, is, no doubt, a different plant, and is identified by Sprengel, Desfontaines, and Fée with the Hesperis matronalis of Linnæus, rocket or julion, or, as we not inaptly call it, from its pleasant smell, cherry-pie. Pliny speaks of his Heliotropium as having a "blue flower," cœruleum. This is probably an error on his part, and it is supposed by commentators that lie read in the Greek text ὑποπόρφυρον, "somewhat purple," by mistake for ὑπόπυῤῥον, "somewhat red," as we find it.

5 As known at the present day, they grow to a much greater height than this.

6 This, Fée remarks, cannot apply to either the Heliotropium Europæum or the Croton tinctorium. He thinks it not improbable that Pliny may have named one plant, and given a description of another.

7 The Heliotropium Europæum, Fée says, has no medicinal properties.

8 Midday, namely.

9 "Sic firmior."

10 The "wart plant;" from "verruca," a "wart."

11 This notion arose probably, Fée thinks, from the clusters of its flowers resembling the tail of a scorpion in appearance.

12 Probably an inflammation of the membranes of the brain.

13 At the beginning of this Chapter.

14 "Scorpion's tail." Diouscorides gives this name to the Helioscopium, or great Heliotropium.

15 Fée is surprised that no mention is made of its colouring properties, it being extremely rich in the colouring principle, and having been much used in former times for dyeing purposes.

16 This notion, Fée says, was long attached to the Heliotropium Euro- pæum, and to it, it is indebted for its present name of "verrucaria."

17 "Cortex seminis."

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