The Dwarf-Elder

Descript : This is but an herb every year, dying with his stalks to the ground, and rising afresh every Spring, and is like unto the Elder both in form and quality, rising up with a square, rough, hairy stalks, four feet high, or more sometimes. The winged leaves are somewhat narrower than the Elder, but else like them. The flowers are white with a dash of purple, standing in umbels, very like the Elder also, but more sweet in scent, after which come small blackish berries, full of juice while they are fresh, wherein is small hard kernels, or seed. The root doth creep under the upper crust of the ground, springing in divers places, being of the bigness of one's finger or thumb sometimes.

Place : The Elder-tree grows in hedges, being planted there to strengthen the fences and partitions of ground, and to hold the banks by ditches and water-courses.

The Dwarf Elder grows wild in many places of England, where being once gotten into a ground, it is not easily gotten forth again.

Time : Most of the Elder Trees, flower in June, and their fruit is ripe for the most part in August. But the Dwarf Elder, or Wall-wort, flowers somewhat later, and his fruit is not ripe until September.

Government and virtues : Both Elder and Dwarf Tree are under the dominion of Venus. The first shoots of the common Elder boiled like Asparagus, and the young leaves and stalks boiled in fat broth, doth mightily carry forth phlegm and choler. The middle or inward bark boiled in water, and given in drink, works much more violently; and the berries, either green or dry, expel the same humour, and are often given with good success to help the dropsy; the bark of the root boiled in wine, or the juice thereof drank, works the same effects, but more powerfully than either the leaves or fruit. The juice of the root taken, doth mightily procure vomitings, and purges the watery humours of the dropsy. The decoction of the root taken, cures the biting of an adder, and biting of mad dogs. It mollifies the hardness of the mother, if women sit thereon, and opens their veins, and brings down their courses. The berries boiled in wine perform the same effect; and the hair of the head washed therewith is made black. The juice of the green leaves applied to the hot inflammations of the eyes, assuages them; the juice of the leaves snuffed up into the nostrils, purges the tunicles of the brain; the juice of the juice of the berries boiled with honey and dropped into the ears, helps the pains of them; the decoction of the berries in wine, being drank, provokes urine; the distilled water of the flowers is of much use to clean the skin from sun-burning, freckles, morphew, or the like; and takes away the head-ache, coming of a cold cause, the head being bathed therewith. The leaves or flowers distilled in the month of May, and the legs often washed with the said distilled water, it takes away the ulcers and sores of them. The eyes washed therewith, it takes away the redness and bloodshot; and the hands washed morning and evening therewith, helps the palsy, and shaking of them.

The Dwarf Elder is more powerful than the common Elder in opening and purging choler, phlegm, and water; in helping the gout, piles, and women's diseases, colours the hair black, helps the inflammations of the eyes, and pains in the ears, the biting of serpents, or mad dogs, burnings and scaldings, the wind cholic, cholic, and stone, the difficulty of urine, the cure of old sores and fistulous ulcers. Either leaves or bark of Elder, stripped upwards as you gather it, causes vomiting. Also, Dr. Butler, in a manuscript of his, commends Dwarf Elder to the sky of dropsies, viz. to drink it, being boiled in white wine; to drink the decoction I mean, not the Elder.

  By PanEris using Melati.

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