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Gerard's Herbal - Part 3

Gerard's Herbal - CHAP. 259. Of French Marigold, or African Marigold.

CHAP. 259. Of French Marigold, or African Marigold.

Fig. 1110. Great Double African Marigold (1)

Fig. 1111. Great Single African or French Marigold (3)


The Description.

            1. The great double African Marigold hath a great long brown reddish stalk, crested, furrowed and somewhat knobby, dividing itself toward the top into other branches; whereupon do grow leaves composed of many small leaves set upon a middle rib by couples, much like unto the leaves of wild Valerian, bearing at the top very fair and beautiful double yellow flowers, greater and more double than the greatest Damask Rose, of a strong smell, but not unpleasant. The flowers being past, there suceeedeth long black flat seed: the whole plant perisheth at the first approach of winter.

            2. There is little difference between this and the precedent, or last described, saving that this plant is much lesser and bringeth forth more store of flowers, which maketh the difference. And we may therefore call it Flos aphricanus minor moltiflorus, the Small Double African Marigold.

            3. The Single Great African Marigold hath a thick root, with some fibres annexed thereto; from which riseth up a thick stalk chamfered and furrowed, of the height of two cubits, divided into other small branches; whereupon are set long leaves, compact or composed of many little ones like those of the Ash tree, of a strong smell, yet not very unpleasant: on the top of the branches do grow yellow single flowers composed in the middle of a bundle of yellow thrums hard thrust together, paled about the edges with a border of yellow leaves; after which cometh long black seed. The whole plant perisheth with the first frost, and must be sown yearly as the other sorts must be.

Fig. 1112. Small African or French Marigold (4)

            4. The Common African or as they vulgarly term it French Marigold hath small weak and tender branches trailing upon the ground, reeling and leaning this way and that way, beset with leaves consisting of many particular leaves, indented about the edges, which being, held up against the sun, or to the light, are seen to be full of holes like a sieve, even as those of Saint John's Wort: The flowers stand at the top of the springy branches forth of long cups or husks, consisting of eight or ten small leaves, yellow underneath, on the upper side of a deeper yellow tending to the colour of a dark crimson velvet, as also soft in handling: but to describe the colour in words, it is not possible, but this way; lay upon paper with a pencil a yellow colour called massicot, which being dry, lay the same over with a little saffron steeped in water or wine, which setteth forth most lively the colour. The whole plant is of a most rank and unwholesome smell, and perisheth at the first frost.

The Place.

            They are cherished and sown in gardens every year: they grow everywhere almost in Africa of themselves, from whence we first had them, and that was when Charles the Fifth Emperor of Rome made a famous conquest of Tunis; whereupon it was called Flos africanus, or Flos tunctanus.

The Time.

            They are to be sown in the beginning of April, if the season fall out to be warm, otherwise they must be sown in a bed of dung, as shall be showed in the chapter of Cucumbers. They bring forth their pleasant flowers very late, and therefore there is the more diligence to be used to sow them very early, because they shall not be overtaken with the frost before their seed be ripe.

The Names.

            The African or French Marigold is called in Dutch, Thunis Bloemen: in High Dutch, Indianisch Negelin, that is, the flower or Gillyflower of India: in Latin, Cariophillus indicus; whereupon the Frenchmen call it Oeilletz d'inde. Cordus calleth it Tanacetum peruvianum, of the likeness the leaves have with Tansy, and of Peru a province of America, from whence he thought, it may be, it was first brought into Europe. Gesner calleth it Caltha aphricana, and saith that it is called in the Carthaginian tongue, Pedua: some would have it to be Petilius flos plinii, but not properly: for Petilius flos is an autumn flower growing among briars and brambles. Andreas Lacuna calleth it Othonna, which is a certain herb of the Troglodytes, growing in that part of Arabia which lieth toward Egypt, having leaves full of holes as though they were eaten with moths. Galen in his first book Of the Faculties of Simple Medicines, maketh mention of an herb called Lycopersicum, the juice whereof a certain centurion did carry out of Barbary all Egypt over with so rank a smell, and so loathsome, as Galen himself durst not so much as talk of it, but conjectured it to be deadly; yet that centurion did use it against the extreme pains of the joints, and it seemeth to the patients themselves, to be of a very cold temperature; but doubtless of a poisonsome quality, very near to that of Hemlocks.

The Temperature and Virtues.

            A. The unpleasant smell, especially that common sort with single flowers (that stuffeth the head like to that of Hemlock, such as the juice of Lycopersicum had) doth show that is of a poisonsome and cooling quality; and also the same is manifested by divers experiments: for I remember, saith Dodonĉus, that I did see a boy whose lips and mouth when he began to chew the flowers did swell extremely; as it hath often happened unto them, that playing or piping with quills or kexes of Hemlocks, do hold them a while between their lips: likewise he saith, we gave to a cat the flowers with their cups, tempered with fresh cheese, she forthwith mightily swelled, and a little while after died: also mice that have eaten of the seed thereof have been found dead. All which things do declare that this herb is of a venomous and poisonsome faculty and that they are not to be hearkened unto, that suppose this herb to be an harmless plant: so to conclude, these plants are alike venomous and full of poison, and therefore not to be touched or smelled unto, much less used in meat or medicine.

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