Adder's tongue is a little plant common in our meadows. It consists of a single leaf, with a little spike of seeds rising from its bottom, which is supposed to resemble the tongue of a serpent.
The leaf is of an oval shape, and of a fine bright green colour; it is thick and fleshy, and has no ribs or veins. The stalk on which it stands rises from a root composed of small fibres, and is four inches or more high. The spike rises to about the same height above it; and the tongue or seed vessel is notched on each side. The whole plant is buried among the grass, and must be sought in April and May, for it dies off soon after; and no thing is seen of it till the next season.
It is a fine cooling herb, and an excellent ointment is made from it. The leaves are to be chopped to pieces, and four pounds of them are to be put into three pounds of suet and one pint of oil melted together. The whole is to be boiled till the herb is a little crisp, and then the ointment is to be strained off: it will be of a beautiful green. Some give the juice of the plant, or the powder of the dried leaves, inwardly in wounds; but this is trifling.
The Family Herbal, 1812, was written by John Hill.