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A Chronicle of Herbs: This Noble Harvest by Anne Ophelia Dowden

By Anne Ophelia Dowden

An creation to herbs, their heritage, features, and their many makes use of.

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Poison hemlock is a true witches' herb. ^ killer. It was the poisonous drink that executioners gave to the Greek philosopher Socrates when he was condemned to death for corrupting the minds of the young; and other ancient philosophers who wanted to commit suicide crowned themselves with garlands and drank hemlock. Throughout Europe, it was a plant of ill omen, a funereal and satanic herb. Hemlock, along with eye of newt, toe of frog, lizard's leg, and gall of goat, simmered in the cauldron of the three witches who met Macbeth on a wild heath and foretold his bloody future.

The New World, in fact, contributed to the physick gardens slaves before burying hundreds of new plants and vegetable plots of Europe. In North America, though the first English colonists brought their herbs and their herb lore along with them, they also soon began to gather information from the Indians and to learn the virtues of the native plants that the Indians grew or collected in the wild. The Spanish conquerors of the Incas and Aztecs of Central and South America sent out their doctors along with their armies, and the priests who converted the Indians also learned native medicine.

It was used as an anesthetic in surgery; a narcotic for river or — — 40 — convulsions and insanity; an aphrodisiac to inspire love and produce children; a renewer of youth; a cure for almost every kind of disease; and magical object to exorcise demons, as a bring good fortune, and foretell the future. Though mandrake was carried, with legends spread to its is native in the Mediterranean region, legends, all it over Europe. Eventually the China and were attached, almost — the ginseng — which the another root with a human Chinese then used in great quantities.

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