Orchis, or Orchis, L. a genus of plants, comprising sixty-five species, nine of which are indigenous; and the most remarkable of these are :
1. The mascula, Early Orchis, or Male Fool - stones, growing in meadows and pastures ; flowering in the month of May.— According to an account inserted in the 59th vol. of the " Philoso-phical Transactions," Mr. Moult maintains, that from the roots of this species is prepared the celebrated Salep-powder, which has been highly recommended in cases of consumption (see vol. ii. p. 50), bilious dysenteries, strangury, and disorders of the chest.- The roots should be gathered when the seed is formed, and the stalk is about to decay; for the new bulb (of which salep is prepared) has then attained its full size. After separating the new roots from the stalk, washing them in water, and removing the exterior thin skin, they are placed on a tin plate in an o\ en, previously heated to the degree requisite for baking bread. Thus, in about ten minutes, they will acquire the transparency of horn, without being diminished in size: next, they should be spread out in another room, where they will dry and harden in a few days : or the same object may be effected in a very moderate heat, within a few hours.
2. The morio, Meadow Orchis, or Female Fool-stones, grows on moist meadows and pastures; flowers in May and June.-. The roots are roundish ; the stalk is about a foot high; and the leaves have the shape of lancets. This species deserves to be mentioned here, on the authority of Bech-stein, who observes, that it is considered as possessing, and even surpassing, the virtues of the foreign salep-root; and, though some naturalists have been of opinion, that the Ear/y Orchis is the genuine root imported from Persia, yet we would recommend the culture of the meadow orchis.
Either of these species may be propagated by their roots ; which, as the seeds do not vegetate, must be planted in summer, about three inches deep, in a dry soil; where they should remain undisturbed for several years, because they will flourish in proportion to the length of time they have been suffered to grow in the same place.- If, at any future period, this excellent vegetable should be introduced into general use, by the patriotic efforts of enlightened agriculturists, its roots will furnish a cheap, wholesome, and most nutritious substitute for many foreign drugs, such as Sago, Tapioca, Arrow-root, etc. -See also Salep.