A COMMON wild plant in our woods and thickets, with narrow blackish leaves, and bright yellow flowers. It is eight or ten inches high, The stalks are square and slender; very brittle, weak, and seldom quite upright. The leaves are oblong and narrow; sometimes of a dusky green colour, but oftener purplish or blackish; they are broadest at the base, and small all the way to the point; and they are commonly, but not always indented a little about the edges. The flowers stand, or rather hang, all on one side of the stalk, in a kind of loose spike; they are small and yellow, and grow two together. The seeds which follow these are large, and have something of the aspect of wheat, from whence the plant has its odd name.
These seeds are the part used; they are to be dried and given in powder, but in small doses. They have virtues which few seem to imagine; they are a high cordial and provocative to venery; but if given in too large a dose, they occasion the head-ach and a strange giddiness. I knew an instance of a woman who had boiled the fresh tops of the plant in a large quantity in water, as a remedy for the jaundice, (I know not by what information,) and having drank this in large draughts, was as a person drunk and out of her senses; she complained of numbness in her limbs, and seemed in danger of her life, but nature recovered her after a few hours without other assistance.
The Family Herbal, 1812, was written by John Hill.