Welsh, Helyg lys. - French, Laurier de St. Antoine. - German, "Weiderich. - Italian and Spanish, Epilobio. - Russian, Kiprei.
The willow-herbs are indiscriminately called "cod-lins and cream," and "rose-bay," but properly speaking, these names are confined to two indivi-dual plants; the rose-bay of old people being the E. angustifolium, the Helyg lys hardd, or "beauti-ful willow-plant" of the Welsh, which has its long clusters of rose-coloured, or white, flowers delicately relieved by the colour of its blue pollen.
The "codlins and cream,"which takes its name from the nature of the fragrance sent forth on rubbing the top shoots, is the great hairy willow-herb (E. hirsutum), the Helyg lys per, or "sweet willow-herb," of Wales, which is so remarkable from its magnificent growth, and the rich colour of its blossoms. These plants are well known in our gardens, to which they give a great beauty; and they both furnish that soft downy substance which, alone, or mixed with cotton, is often woven into stockings, gloves, and such things. The leaves of the rose-bay (E. angustifolia) are used as a substi-tute for, or in the adulteration of, tea; being added, it is said, in a proportion of twenty-five per cent. to the real tea. Its young root-stalks and suckers are boiled and eaten, and the Kamschatkans make a beer from an infusion of the plant.
Great Hairy Willow-Herb, Codlins and Cream, Epilobium hirsutum.
The English name of willow-herb is, probably, given from some slight resemblance in the outline of the leaves to those of a species of willow; and perhaps, too, the situations in which the greater part of the tribe grow - namely, in the water, or by its margin, may partly account for it. This, how-ever, does not apply to the smooth-leaved, E. (mon-tanum), and others of the species, which grow on dry banks, cottage-roofs, and even walls. The botanical name (Epilobiwm), is happily expressive of a flower growing on a pod; the blossoms ap-pearing, as shewn in the woodcut, at the apex of the long seed-pod.
The British willow-herbs are divided into three classes, those with irregular flowers and stamens bent down, of which our only specimen is the rose-bay E. (angustifolium); those with erect stamens and stigmas four-cleft, which includes the "codlins and cream;" the small-flowered E. (parviflorum); and the E. montanum. The third division has its stamens erect, and the stigma undivided; it con-tains the pale E. (roseum), the square-stalked E. (te-tragonum), the marsh E. (palustre), the alpine E. (alpinum), which Sir William Hooker observes, has never been found in Wales, though it occurs in Scotland, - a statement borne out by the absence of any Welsh trivial name for it; as well as for the chick-weed willow-herb (E. alsinifolium.) Some writers affirm that the E. alpinum is unknown on the secondary formations. Gerarde says, the willow-herbs stop bleeding, heal wounds, and drive away snakes, gnats, and flies.