Editor of “Blacks Gardening Dictionary.
HOMOEOPATHISTS may be interested in a few notes concerning some of the herbs which they handle daily, and also concerning how to cultivate them. Many may be grown quite easily, as they are natives of the British Isles, and it is a matter of surprise to me that so many of these are imported in large quantities from abroad, and money paid away to foreigners for them.
The most important homoeopathic form of this is that botanically known as Aconitum napellus, though there are several other rather less active species, mainly of a foreign character. Aconite belongs to the great Natural Order Ranunculaceae, a point which homoeopathists should not overlook, as this plant family gives us many Homoeopathic herbs of a powerful nature.
Homoeopathists who have not seen aconite growing should make a note of the fact that it bears blue flowers from June to September, and that it succeeds best if treated as a hardy deciduous tuberous perennial. It grows wild all over Europe in the open air, and attains a height of about four feet per specimen.
In addition to the type there are several varieties or sub- species which are worthy of cultivation by homoeopathists. I recommend A.N. albus, with flowers which are white, and A.N. rubellus with blue flowers to be included in your collection.
All types of aconite prefer a damp site and a semi-shady situation, but will grow in other positions if necessary. They are, as homoeopathists will remember, the source of an important Homoeopathic principle or alkaloid Aconitine, and as to uses, the plant or the drug derived from it is employed as an anodyne, diuretic, febrifuge, etc. Owing to the poisonous character of the entire plant including its seeds and flowers, homoeopathists should only handle it when they are wearing gloves. Planting can be carried out from November to March, while seeds may be successfully sown in July.
This is Arctostaphylos Uva-ursi of the botanist and pharmacist. Homoeopathists should make a special note that its Natural Family is the great order Ericaceae, to which many heath-loving plants belong. Those who have not seen it growing wild (and it grows wild freely all over Great Britain) should jot down the fact that its white flowers appear from April to June, and that it is best treated as a hardy evergreen training subject, attaining the modest height only of six inches per specimen. If possible give it a rather dry place in your heath garden, which will imitate its natural home closely. In addition to the white form there is also a rose red kind, the flowers of this being followed by scarlet berries.
Homoeopathists will remember that berberry is very largely used as an astringent, bladder soother, diuretic, etc., and might be far more widely employed for these purposes than it has been in the past. It can be successfully planted any time from November to March, while seeds are best sown during the month of May.
The botanical and pharmaceutical name of this poisonous plant is Atropa belladonna, as homoeopathists will no doubt remember. It belongs to the great Natural Order Solanaceae, which gives us many active homoeopathic drugs, as well as edible tubers such as the potato.
Homoeopathists may probably not have seen belladonna growing wild, although it occurs quite freely in Great Britain. A note should be taken, therefore, of the fact that its flowers are of a violet hue, and that they are borne in June. the plant succeeds best if it is grown as a hardy herbaceous perennial, under which conditions it will attain a height of three to four feet per specimen.
Homoeopathists will be well aware of the fact that belladonna finds extensive employment as an anodyne, mydriatic, narcotic, etc., and that such alkaloids as atropine and belladonine can readily be extracted from it. They may probably not, however, remember to give it a lightly shaded site, and consisting largely of limestone rubbish unless they are reminded, but these points are of some importance if it is to be grown well. May I also remind homoeopathists that the best times for gathering the leaves are June and September, i.e., take them in two crops. The seeds should be harvested in September and October as soon as they are reasonably ripe, while the roots should be dug in November. Owing to the poisonous character of every part of this plant, homoeopathists should only handle it when they are wearing gloves.
This is Menyanthes trifoliata of homoeopathic pharmacopoeias, and belongs to another large Natural Order, namely the Gentianaceae, which gives us the Blue Gentian of our rock gardens. Homoeopathists may probably not have seen it growing wild in Great Britain, although it is quite a common plant, and should, therefore, make a note of the fact that its flowers are white and are borne in July on plants about a foot each in height. It is necessary in this instance to treat it as a hardy aquatic perennial, i.e., if you decide to grow it you must give it a wet boggy soil, otherwise it will not succeed. A form known as Menyanthes trifoliata americana might also be included in your collection with advantage,as it like the type can be used as a bitter tonic and febrifuge. Its flowers, however, are light red instead of white.
As to harvesting, homoeopathists should make a note that the whole herb is employed for medicinal purposes, and that the best time to gather it is in July.
This is Anthemis nobilis of homoeopathic medicinal stores, and belongs to another very large plant family, namely the Natural Order Compositae. Most homoeopathists will be familiar with it, but if they are not, they should make a note of the fact that its flowers are white or creamy-white, and are borne in August, on plants about six inches each in height. It succeeds best if treated as a hardy evergreen creeping plant, and grows wild with considerable freedom in Great Britain. The form Anthemis nobilis flore pleno with white or creamy-white flowers, is the one mostly in demand, and this should be grown, therefore, in preference to the type.
As every homoeopathists knows chamomile is largely used as a bitter tonic, etc., and might be even more widely employed for this purpose in the future than it has been in the past. Roots of it may be successfully planted in March, while existing plantations can be divided for replanting either in February or in March. The flowers are best harvested in August, choosing a dry day for the operation.
This homoeopathic herb is botanically known as Symphytum officinale, and belongs to the borage family (Natural Order Boraginaceae). Most homoeopathists will have handled it or one of its forms, and those who have not should take a note of the fact that it bears white flowers in June, on plants about three feet each in height, and succeeds best if treated as a hardy tuberous perennial. The type grows wild with considerable freedom in Great Britain, but in addition to it two forms, viz. Symphytum officinale bohemicum with crimson flowers, and Symphytum officinale patens with blue flowers are worthy of inclusion in collections of homoeopathic herbs.
Comfrey in its various forms is widely employed, as homoeopathists will remember, as an astringent, demulcent etc., and seems to be becoming daily more popular for these purposes. To get the best results plant it in a moist lightly shaded site, divide it in February or MArch, make new plantations in November or February, harvest the foliage in May, dig up the roots in October, and sow seeds in July.