This section is from the book "An Experimental History Of The Materia Medica", by William Lewis.
Ctanus Pbarm. Paris. Cyanus fegetum C. B. Centaurea Cyanus Linn. Blue bottle: a greyish green plant, with long narrow leaves, of which the lower are deeply jagged, the upper entire, those between furnished with one or two long perpendicular ears on each side towards the bottom; the stalk divides, near the top, into several branches, each of which is terminated by a large blue flower, consisting of tubulous indented flofculi set in a smooth scaly head; the outer flofculi are larger than the inner, and widened in the upper part like a funnel; the scales are serrated about the edges. It is annual, common in corn fields, and found in flower greatest part of the summer.
(a) Bontius, Animadverf. in Garciam ab Orta, lib. 1. cap. 39.
The flowers of cyanus, hastily dried, preserve their colour better than most of the other blue flowers: they agree with the others in giving no blue tinge to spirit, and differ from most of them in giving none to water. In substance, they discover very little smell, and scarcely any taste: an extract made from them by rectisied spirit has a weak saline austerity mixed with a kind of sweetishness: an extract made by water is less auslere and more manifestly saline. From hence it may be presumed, that among the various and opposite virtues ascribed to these flowers, the antiphlogistic, aperient, and diuretic ones have the best foundation; though even these they appear to possess only in a low degree.
The varieties of this plant, produced by culture in gardens, are not materially different in quality from the wild sort. Another species, of oriental origin, cyanus orientalis major mofchatus flore purpureo & albo Moris, hist. ox. Centaurea mofchata Linn, commonly called sultan flower or sweet sultan, promises, by its musky fragrance, to have some claim to the cordial and antispas-modic virtues, which have been groundlessly ascribed to our indigenous cyanus.
Cydonia nora C. B. Pyrus Cydonea Linn. Quince: a low tree, with uncut leaves, bearing a fruit like a pear; a native of the rocky banks of the Danube, and common in our gardens.
This fruit has a pleasant strong smell, and a very austere acid taste. Its expressed juice, taken in little quantities, as a spoonful or two, proves a mild, cooling, restringent stomachic; of good service in nausea, vomitings, nidorous eructations, and some kinds of alvine fluxes. A grateful and lightly cordial restringent syrup is prepared, by digesting three pints of the depurated juice with a dram of cinnamon, half a dram of ginger, and half a dram of cloves, on warm ashes, for six hours, then adding a pint of red port, and dissolving in the drained liquor nine pounds of sugar. An useful restringent jelly or marmalade is made, by boiling the juice with fine sugar to a due consistence, in the proportion commonly of three pints to a pound. If the quinces, after they are gathered, be kept for some time in a dry airy place, their juice will become richer by the dissipation of a part of their aqueous humidity.
The seeds of quinces abound with a mucilaginous substance, which they readily give out to boiling water. A dram, boiled in six ounces of water by measure, renders the liquor slimy, almost like the white of an egg: two drams make it quite thick. On infpiffating the decoctions, the quantity of dry extract amounts to about half the weight of the seeds. This mucilage has a slight agreeable smell, and a sweet-ifh taste, more grateful than that of the other common mucilages. In keeping, in its soft state, it soon grows mouldy.
Mucilago fern. cydoni. Ph. Lond.