This section is from the book "British Wild Flowers - In Their Natural Haunts Vol2-4", by A. R. Horwood. Also available from Amazon: A British Wild Flowers In Their Natural Haunts.
1. Greater Celandine (Chelidonium majus, L.). 2. Shepherd's Purse (Capsella Bursa-pastoris, Medic). 3. Mouse-ear Chickweed (Cerastium vulgatum. I,.). 4. Common or Marsh Mallow (Malva sylvestris, L.). 5. Stork's Bill (Erodium cicutarium, L'llerit.). 6. Melilot (Melilotus officinalis, Lam.).
The English names are Celandine, Celidony, Cock-foot, Devil's Milk, Fellon-wort, Jacob's Ladder, Killwart, Saladine, Selendine, Swallow-wort, Tetter-wort, Wart-flower, Wartweed, Wartwort, Wret-weed. It is named Sollendine in Ireland, where it is used for sore eyes. In allusion to the name Celandine it was believed the swallow found it to be an eye salve, and used it for its young. The acrid juice gave rise to the name Devil's Milk. It was also named Kenning Herb, a kenning being an ulcer in the corner of the eye, which it was held to cure. Gerarde calls it Swallow-wort "because it first springeth at the coming in of the swallows, or dieth when they go away, for it may be found all the year, but because some hold opinion that with this herbe the dams restore eyesight to their young ones when their eye be put out". Such was the peculiar belief our forefathers had about this peculiar plant. Thus further Coles, in The Art of Simples, says: "The swallow cureth her dim eyes with Celandine, the Wesell knoweth well the virtues of herb-grace, the dove the verven, the dogge dis-chargeth his mawe with a kind of grasse". Probably Pliny was the first to suggest the swallow legend, if he did not copy it from Aristotle.
The yellow juice is poisonous, and by the Doctrine of Signatures was used in the Middle Ages as a remedy for jaundice. It was used to make a plaster for sores in the head or eyes, and a drink made from it was used for the blood. The root is bitter, and used medicinally in Cochin China by the natives. The juice is bitter, and used for ringworm, and it was said to destroy warts and cure the itch; but it is not employed now except by the unexperienced as an eye salve.
Essential Specific Characters:20. Chelidonium majus, L. - Stem glaucous, delicate, with yellow juice; leaves pinnate; flowers small, yellow, in an umbel; petals 4, capsule linear, valved; stigma 2-lobed.