This section is from the book "An Experimental History Of The Materia Medica", by William Lewis.
Geranium Pharm. Paris. Cranesbill: a plant, so called from the remarkable long beak of its seed-veffel, which consists of five capsules opening inwards, and containing each a single seed: the flowers are pentapetalous.
1. Geranium sanguinarium seu haematodes. Geranium sanguineum maximo flore C. B. Geranium sanguineum Linn. Bloody cranesbill: with solitary flowers, on their first appearance red, but soon changing to a bluish; the leaves roundish, but divided almost to the pedicle into five segments, which are often subdivided at the extremities into three.
2. Geranium columbinum five Pes columbi-nus. Geranium folio malvae rotunda C. B. Geranium rotundifolium Linn. Dovessoot: with purple flowers standing two on one pedicle; and mallow-shaped leaves on long sootstalks.
3. Geranium batrachioides five Batra-chium. Geranium batrachioides gratia dei ger-manorum C. B. Geranium pratense Linn. Crow-foot cranesbill: with two blue (sometimes white) flowers on. one pedicle: and large wrinkled leaves, divided into five or seven segments, which are again deeply cut on the edges.
4. Herba Roberta five Gratia-dei. Geranium robertianum C. B. & .Linn.' Herb-robert: with two reddish or purplish flowers on one pedicle; the leaves divided quite to the footstalk into three segments 3 and thefe again deeply cut.
5. Geranium moschatum five Acus moschata. Geranium cicutae folio moschetum C. B, Geranium moschatum Linn. Musk cranesbill: with a number of red flowers on one pedicle; and oval indented leaves, set in pairs along a middle rib, which is terminated by an odd one.
All these plants are found wild in different parts of this kingdom: the four first are common, the last rare. They flower in May, June, and July; the fourth earliest, the first latest. The second and fifth are annual, the fourth biennial, the others perennial.
The above geraniums, formerly ranked among the officinals, and many other plants of the same genus, indigenous or commonly cultivated; discover to the tasle a considerable astringency, and strike an inky blackness with solution of chalybeate vitriol: some of them are, apparently, of the stronger kind of vegetable styptics. The three first sorts have no great smell; the fourth, an unpleasant one, somewhat like that of the dead nettle, but stronger; the fifth has an agreeable musky scent, which is destroyed by bruising the plant. The odoriferous principle is separated by distillation with water, and gives a moderate impregnation to the distilled sluid; but no essential oil was obtained on submitting to the operation moderate quantities either of the setid or the musky sorts. The styptic matter is extracted both by water and rectified spirit; and on evaporating the filtered liquors, remains entire in the in-fpiffated extracts: the watery infusions are yel-lowifh or brownish, the spirituous tinctures of a deep green colour. The watery extracts, those at least of the second and fourth kinds, on standing for some weeks, throw off to the fur-face a considerable quantity of small saline cry-flals, in shape somewhat like those of nitre, in tasle austere and bitterish. From these experiments it may be prefumed, that the geraniums have no ill claim to the vulnerary, that is, astringent virtues, commonly ascribed to them, as in alvine fluxes, hemorrhagies, defluxions on the breast, etc.*(a).
*(a) Our host at Carlifle told us that he ufed to be troubled with the stone, and the best remedy he ever had experience of to give him ease was the decoction of geranium robertianum. Ray's remains, published by Scott, 1760.