This section is from the book "An Experimental History Of The Materia Medica", by William Lewis.
Caryophylla Rubra Pharm. Lond. & Edinb. Caryophyllus altilis major C. B. Dianthus Caryophyllus Linn. Clove-july-flower, or gilliflower: a plant with many smooth round jointed stalks, and grass-like bluifh-green leaves standing in pairs at the joints: the flower is composed of five petals, narrow at the bases, broad and jagged at top, set in an oblong cylindrical cup, which is covered at bottom with four short scales forming as it were a se-condary cup: after the flower has fallen, the cup becomes a covering to a number of small, flat, wrinkled, black seeds. It is perennial, and said to be a native of Italy.
Many species or varieties of these flowers are common in our gardens. Those employed for medicinal uses, to which the name of clove-july-flower, is more particularly appropriated, are of a deep crimson colour, and a pleasant aromatic smell fomewhat akin to that of the clove spice: their taste is bitterish and subastringent. In drying, their taste becomes stronger, and their smell is not so soon dissipated as that of many other fragrant flowers.
Clove-july-flowers have been recommended as cardiacs and alexipharmacs. Simon Paulli relates, that he has often cured malignant fevers by the use of a decoction of them; which, he says, powerfully promotes sweat and urine without greatly irritating nature, and at the same time raises the spirits, and abates third.
At present, these flowers are valued chiefly for their fine flavour; which is readily extracted by infusion in water, and dissipated even by light coction. Three pounds of the fresh flowers clipt from the heels, communicate, by infusion in a close vessel for a night, a grateful and moderately strong smell, and a deep red colour, to five † and even to twelve ‡ pints of water: these liquors, with a proper quantity of fine sugar, form very agreeable syrups. On distil-ling the fresh flowers with water, the distilled liquor proves considerably impregnated with their fragrance, but no essential oil separates, though several pounds of the flowers be sub-mitted to the operation. The remaining decoction is of a deep red colour, and yields, upon being infpiffated, a dark purplish red extract, of little or no smell, and of a bitterish, austere, subsaline taste.
Syr. cary-oph. rubr. † Ph. Lond. ‡ Ph. Ed.
Rectified spirit, digested on the flowers, receives a much paler tincture than watery liquors, but extracts the whole of their active matter. In distillation or evaporation, spirit elevates much less than water; the spirituous extract retaining a considerable share of the fine smell of the flowers, as well as their taste: its colour is purplish, like that of the watery extract.