I. THE Names. I find no Greek Name that this Plant has: but it is called in Latin, Paralytica Alpina, Primula veris minor; by some Sanicula angustifolia: in English, Birds-Eye, and Birds-eine, and Birds-eyne.
II. The Kinds. This Plant doubtless belongs to the tribe of the Cowslips, of which it is a special Kind, as being a lesser sort. There are also two Species of Birds-Eye, viz.
- 1. Paralysis minor flore rubro, the lesser Cowslip, which is also the lesser Birds-Eye with Red Flowers. (Primula farinosa. -Henriette.)
- 2. Paralysis minor flore albo, the lesser Cowslip, which is the greater Birds-Eye with White Flowers. (Primula vulgaris? -Henriette.)
III. The Description. Red Birds-Eye, which is the smaller Plant, has Roots small, white and thready, from which arises up a head of Leaves so closed together, that it seems a small white head: this afterwards opening it self spreads round upon the ground, and has small long and narrow Leaves snipt about the edges, of a pale green colour, on the upper side, but very white or mealy underneath: among these Leaves rise up one or two Stalks, small and hoary, half a foot high, bearing at top a bush or tuft of much smaller flowers, standing upon short Foot-stalks, something like to Cowslips, but more like unto Bears-Ears, of a fine reddish purple colour, in some deeper, in others paler, with a yellowish Circle in the bottoms of the Flowers, like unto many of the Bears-Ears, of a faint, but little scent; after which comes a Seed, smaller than that of Cowslips.
IV. White Birds-Eye, which is the greater of the two, differs little from the former, save that it is a little larger both in its Leaf and Flower, and that the Flowers hereof are wholly white, without any great appearance of a Circle in the bottom of them, unless it is well observed, at least it is not so conspicuous as the former: both these Kinds of Cowslips have sometimes, though but seldom, from the midst of the Flower on the Stalk, sent forth another small Stalk, bearing Flowers thereon likewise.
V. The Places. They have been found growing wild in closes and Pasture Grounds in many places of England, from whence they have been transplanted into Gardens for the pleasantness of their Flowers.
VI. The Times. The Red Birds-Eye, for all the care and industry we can use to keep it, will scarcely endure in our Gardens, but all the Winter long till the Spring begins, its Leaves are so closed together, that it seems a white head of Leaves. They both flower in the Spring of the Year, some earlier, and some later, according to the mildness of the Season.
Botanologia, or The English Herbal, was written by William Salmon, M.D., in 1710.
This chapter has been proofread by Nick Jones.