Domestic Encyclopædia (1802)/Angelica
ANGELICA, is a plant of which there are seven species, though only two of them may be ranked among the indigenous.
1. Angelica Archangelica, L. or the Garden Angelica, is a large umbelliferous plant, scarcely a native of Britain; for, according to the late Dr. Withering, the only place where it grows without culture is, Broadmoore, about seven miles N. W. from Birmingham.—An accurate botanical description and delineation of it may be seen in Dr. Woodville's Medical Botany; vol. i. p. 138. pl. 50. The stalk of this magnificent plant, when properly cultivated in a moist soil, rises to the height of seven or eight feet; its flowers are of a greenish white colour, or sometimes yellow.
Every part of this useful vegetable, the root, stalk, leaves, and seeds, partake of the aromatic properties; whence the Germans denominate it angel-root, or breast-root, being one of the most spicy plants of European growth. Its resinous root, and the seeds, are chiefly esteemed in medicine, and the former, when fresh, affords by distillation a strongly fragrant spirit, and an essential oil, in the proportion of a whole drachm, and upwards, from one pound. A tincture made of one ounce digested in twelve ounces of proof spirits, yields, on evaporation, two drachms ef a very pungent and spicy extract. This is generally preferred by the Medical College of Berlin; a valuable member of which, the late Dr. Gleditsh, gives the following account of its effects:
Fifteen grains of this extract, which are equal to one ounce, or two table-spoonfuls, of the tincture, diluted with water, and taken three times or oftener in a day, prove a gently stimulating medicine, well calculated to strengthen the solids, and especially serviceable for dispelling flatulency, removing pectoral complaints, and affording effectual relief in hysterics. Tire oily-spirituous and resinous part of it, tends to resolve viscid humours, while its gummy and balsamic constituents beneficially act on the fluids. Being very mild in its operation, the angelica deserves the preference to many other roots of this nature, and may therefore be usefully employed in flatulent colics, obstructions of the breast, and uterus, malignant fevers, and the true scurvy, in doses of two drachms in substance, conveyed either in tea, or mild wine. Externally it may be applied to scorbutic gums; and, when boiled in water, it affords a good gargle for swellings of the throat and fauces, as well as for cleansing ulcers. It may farther be used with advantage in a bruised state, as an ingredient in cataplasms and fomentations on the abdomen, to relieve painful distensions of the bowels, or to strengthen a weak and disordered stomach, if the patient at the same time pay proper attention to diet and regimen.
2. Angelica sylvestris, L. or Wild Angelica, is a much smaller plant, of a thinner and less succulent stem than the former. It grows in marshy woods and in hedges, flowers in June or July, and is represented in Gerard's Herbal, 999.1.
This species, however, possesses, but in an inferior degree, the medicinal properties of the preceding, which may always be more readily procured.
Both the garden and wild angelica, delight in a moist soil; the seeds should be sown immediately after they are perfectly ripe. As the leaves of the young plants spread wide, and require much ground, they should be transplanted at a considerable distance, when they are about six inches in height.
Unless the roots be thoroughly dried, they are apt to grow mouldy, and be preyed upon by insects: hence the necessity of keeping them in a dry place, which should be frequently aired. It has been suggested, for the preservation of these useful roots, that they should be dipped in boiling spirit, or exposed to its steam, in a dry state. We believe, however, that this expensive process may be rendered unnecessary, by gathering the root in a dry season, suspending it in an airy room, upon threads, and guarding against the attacks of vermin.
Cattle are exceedingly fond of eating the fresh spring leaves of the wild angelica, which to them are a good cleansing and strengthening medicine: bees visit its white flowers, and extract from them a more balsamic honey. Hence its growth should be encouraged, and even artificially promoted, especially as it is one of those plants which have lately been used with success as a substitute for oak-bark, in tanning leather, and particularly in perparing a kind of morocco from sheep, calf, and goat-skins.
Lastly, Dambourney asserts, that, from the leaves of the last mentioned species, he produced a beautiful and permanent gold colour, in dying wool properly prepared by a solution of bismuth.