A WILD English plant, with narrow leaves and great yellow flowers, common in our gardens in its own form, and in a great variety of shapes that culture has given it. In its wild state, it is about a foot high. The leaves are long, narrow, grassy, and of a deep green, and they are nearly as tall as the stalk. The stalk is roundish, but somewhat flatted and edged. The flower is large and single; it stands at the top of the stalk, and by its weight presses it down a little. The root is round and white.
The fresh root is to be used, and 'tis very easy to have it always in readiness in a garden; and very useful, for it has great virtues. Given internally, in a small quantity, it acts as a vomit, and afterwards purges a little; and it is excellent against all obstructions. The best way of giving it is in form of the juice pressed out with some white wine, but its principal uses are externally. The eastern nations have a peculiar way of drying the thick roots of plants, especially if they are full of a slimy juice as this is: They put them to soak in water, and then hang them over the steam of a pot in which rice is boiling; after this they string them up, and they become in some degree transparent and horny. It would be worth while to try the method upon this root and some others of our own growth; which, because of this slimy juice, we cannot well dry any other way; probably this would lose its vomiting quality when dried, and would act only as an opener of obstructions, in which case, it might be given in repeated doses; for at present no body will be prevailed upon to take it often.
The fresh root bruised and applied to fresh wounds heals them very suddenly. Applied to strains and bruises, it is also excellent, taking away the swelling and pain.
The Family Herbal, 1812, was written by John Hill.