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Pulsatilla vulgaris Mill. Ranunculaceae. Pasque flower. Distribution: Europe. Lindley (1838) and Woodville (1790) knew this as Anemone pulsatilla, the common name being Pasque (Easter) Flower. At the end of the 18th century it was recommended for blindness, cataracts, syphilis, strokes and much more, treatments which, as was clear to physicians at the time, were valueless. Gerard (1633) writes: ‘They serve only for the adorning of gardens and garlands, being floures of great beauty’. It is in the buttercup family, Ranunculaceae, all members of which are poisonous. It was recommended, by mouth, for ‘obstinate case of taenia’ (tapeworms). One hopes it was more toxic to the worm than the patient. Flowers with a central disc and radiating florets were regarded as being good for eye complaints under the Doctrine of Signatures. Porta (1588) writes (translated): ‘Argemone [Papaver argemone], and anemone, have flowers of this shape, from this they cure ulcers and cloudiness of the cornea’. There were occupational diseases even before there were words like pneumoconiosis, and Lindley writes that ‘the powder of the root causes itching of the eyes, colic and vomiting, if in pulverising it the operator do not avoid the fine dust which is driven up.’ Photographed in the Medicinal Garden of the Royal College of Physicians, London.

Dr Henry Oakeley

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view Pulsatilla vulgaris Mill. Ranunculaceae. Pasque flower. Distribution: Europe. Lindley (1838) and Woodville (1790) knew this as Anemone pulsatilla, the common name being Pasque (Easter) Flower. At the end of the 18th century it was recommended for blindness, cataracts, syphilis, strokes and much more, treatments which, as was clear to physicians at the time, were valueless. Gerard (1633) writes: ‘They serve only for the adorning of gardens and garlands, being floures of great beauty’. It is in the buttercup family, Ranunculaceae, all members of which are poisonous. It was recommended, by mouth, for ‘obstinate case of taenia’ (tapeworms). One hopes it was more toxic to the worm than the patient. Flowers with a central disc and radiating florets were regarded as being good for eye complaints under the Doctrine of Signatures. Porta (1588) writes (translated): ‘Argemone [Papaver argemone], and anemone, have flowers of this shape, from this they cure ulcers and cloudiness of the cornea’. There were occupational diseases even before there were words like pneumoconiosis, and Lindley writes that ‘the powder of the root causes itching of the eyes, colic and vomiting, if in pulverising it the operator do not avoid the fine dust which is driven up.’ Photographed in the Medicinal Garden of the Royal College of Physicians, London.
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Credit: Pulsatilla vulgaris Mill. Ranunculaceae. Pasque flower. Distribution: Europe. Lindley (1838) and Woodville (1790) knew this as Anemone pulsatilla, the common name being Pasque (Easter) Flower. At the end of the 18th century it was recommended for blindness, cataracts, syphilis, strokes and much more, treatments which, as was clear to physicians at the time, were valueless. Gerard (1633) writes: ‘They serve only for the adorning of gardens and garlands, being floures of great beauty’. It is in the buttercup family, Ranunculaceae, all members of which are poisonous. It was recommended, by mouth, for ‘obstinate case of taenia’ (tapeworms). One hopes it was more toxic to the worm than the patient. Flowers with a central disc and radiating florets were regarded as being good for eye complaints under the Doctrine of Signatures. Porta (1588) writes (translated): ‘Argemone [Papaver argemone], and anemone, have flowers of this shape, from this they cure ulcers and cloudiness of the cornea’. There were occupational diseases even before there were words like pneumoconiosis, and Lindley writes that ‘the powder of the root causes itching of the eyes, colic and vomiting, if in pulverising it the operator do not avoid the fine dust which is driven up.’ Photographed in the Medicinal Garden of the Royal College of Physicians, London. Credit: Dr Henry Oakeley. Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)


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