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Gerard's Herbal - Part 3

Gerard's Herbal - CHAP. 259. Of the Flower of the Sun, or the Marigold of Peru.

CHAP. 259. Of the Flower of the Sun, or the Marigold of Peru.

Fig. 1113. Greater Sunflower (1)

Fig. 1114. Lesser Sunflower (2)


The Description.

            1. The Indian Sun or the Golden Flower of Peru is a plant of such stature and tallness that in one summer being sown of a seed in April, it hath risen up to the height of fourteen foot in my garden, where one flower was in weight three pound and two ounces, and cross overthwart the flower by measure sixteen inches broad. The stalks are upright and straight, of the bigness of a strong man's arm, beset with large leaves even to the top, like unto the great Clot-Bur: at the top of the stalk cometh forth for the most part one flower, yet many times there spring out sucking buds which come to no perfection: this great flower is in shape like to the Camomile flower, beset round about with a pale or border of goodly yellow leaves, in shape like the leaves of the flowers of white Lilies: the middle part whereof is made as it were of unshorn velvet, or some curious cloth wrought with the needle, which brave works if you do thoroughly view and mark well, it seemeth to be an innumerable sort of small flowers, resembling the nose or nozzle of a candlestick, broken from the foot thereof: from which small nozzle sweateth forth excellent fine and clear Turpentine, in sight, substance, savour and taste. The whole plant in like manner being broken, smelleth of Turpentine: when the plant groweth to maturity, the flowers fall away, in place whereof appeareth the seed, black, and large, much like the seed of Gourds, set as though a cunning workman had of purpose placed them in very good order, much like the honeycombs of bees: the root is white, compact of many strings, which perish at the first approch of winter, and must be set in most perfect dunged ground: the manner how, shall be showed when upon the like occasion I shall speak of Cucumbers and Melons.

            2. The other golden Flower of Peru is like the former, saving that it is altogether lower, and the leaves more jagged, and very few in number.

            3. The male Flower of the Sun of the smaller sort hath a thick root, hard, and of a woody substance, with many thready strings annexed thereto, from which riseth up a grey or russet stalk, to the height of five or six cubits, of the bigness of one's arm, whereupon are set great broad leaves with long footstalks, very fragile or easy to break, of an overworn green colour, sharp pointed, and somewhat cut or hacked about the edges like a saw: the flower groweth at the top of the stalks, bordered about with a pale of yellow leaves: the thrummed middle part is blacker than that of the last described. The whole flower is compassed about likewise with divers such russet leaves as those are that do grow lower upon the stalks, but lesser and narrower. The plant and every part therof doth smell of Turpentine, and the flower yieldeth forth most clear Turpentine, as myself have noted divers years. The seed is also long and black, with certain lines or streaks of white running alongst the same. The root and every part thereof perisheth when it hath perfected his seed.

            4. The female or Marigold Sunflower hath a thick and woody root, from which riseth up a straight stem, dividing itself into one or more branches, set with smooth leaves sharp pointed, slightly indented about the edges. The flowers grow at the top of the branches, of a faint yellow colour, the middle part is of a deeper yellow tending to blackness, of the form and shape of a single Marigold, whereupon I have named it the Sun Marigold. The seed as yet I have not observed.

The Place.

            These plants do grow of themselves without setting or sowing, in Peru, and in divers other provinces of America, from whence the seeds have been brought into these parts of Europe. There hath been been in Spain and other hot regions a plant sown and nourished up from seed, to attain to the height of 24 foot in one year.

The Time.

            The seed must be set or sown in the beginning of April if the weather be temperate, in the most fertile ground that may be, and where the sun hath most power the whole day.

The Names.

            The Flower of the Sun is called in Latin Flos solis, taking that name from those that have reported it to turn with the sun, the which I could never observe, although I have endeavoured to find out the truth of it; but I rather think it was so called because it doth resemble the radiant beams of the sun, whereupon some have called it Corona solis and Sol indianis, the Indian Sunflower: others have called it Chrysanthemum peruvianum or the golden flower of Peru: in English, the Flower of the Sun, or the Sunflower.

The Temperature.

            They are thought to be hot and dry of complexion.

The Virtues.

            A. There hath not any thing been set down either of the ancient or later writers concerning the virtues of these plants, notwithstanding we have found by trial, that the buds before they be flowered, boiled and eaten with butter, vinegar, and pepper, after the manner of Artichokes, are exceeding pleasant meat, surpassing the Artichoke far in procuring bodily lust.

            B. The same buds with the stalks near unto the top (the hairiness being taken away) broiled upon a gridiron, and afterward eaten with oil, vinegar, and pepper, have the like property.

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