A SEA plant of the hardness of a stone, and with very little of the appearance of an herb, The red coral, which is the sort used in medicine, grows a foot or more in height; the trunk is as thick as a man's thumb, and the branches are numerous. It is fastened to the rocks by a crust which spreads over them, and is covered all over with a crust also of a coarse substance and striated texture. Towards the top there are flowers and seeds, but very small; from these rise the young plants. The seeds have a mucilaginous matter about them, which sticks them to the rocks. The whole plant appears like a naked shrub without leaves or visible flowers.
It has heen supposed lately that coral is made by small insects, but this is an error; polypes live in coral as worms in wood, but these don't make the trees nor the other the plant. Coral is to be reduced to fine powder, by grinding it on a marble; and then it is given to stop purgings, to destroy acid humours in the stomach, and to sweeten the blood. They suppose it also a cordial. Probably for all its real uses, chalk is a better medicine.
There are several sorts of white coral, which have been sometimes used in medicine; but all allow the red to be better, so that they are not kept in the shops.
The Family Herbal, 1812, was written by John Hill.