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Hylotelephium telephium syn. Sedum telephium 'Matrona'

  • Dr Henry Oakeley
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Credit: Hylotelephium telephium syn. Sedum telephium 'Matrona'. Dr Henry Oakeley. Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)

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Hylotelephium telephium (L.)H.Ohba previously Sedum telephium L. Crassulaceae. Cultivar 'Matrona'. Orpine, Stonecrop. Succulent herb. Distribution: UK to Japan. Culpeper (1650) writes: ‘Crassula. Orpine. ... Outwardly, used with vinegar it clears the skin, inwardly taken, it helps gnawings of the stomach and bowels, ulcers in the lungs, bloody flux and Quinsy in the throat: for which last disease, it is inferior to none. Take not too much of it ...’ Named after Telephus, the son of Hercules (Stearn, 1994). Lyte calls it Crassula minor, Orpyne, Faba crassa, Fabaria, and says its use is the same as a Houseleek or Syngreene. The latter are Sempervivum species - the name derived from the Anglo-Saxon singrene meaning 'always green', referring to the fact that it stays green even when not in the earth. Apropos Sempervivum, he describes the redness and blistering that the sap has on bare skin, and how it is good for poisons, for if taken with vinegar by mouth it causes vomiting, but only safe to do so in strong people. He tries to distinguish Stonecrops [Sedum], which he also calls Crassula major, Wild Prickmadam, and Sedum mlnor, Stone Hore, from Sengreene for he advises the latter (ie Sedum), alone or mixed with barley meal, applied topically to burns, scalds, St Anthony's fire [erysipelas], ulcers and sores, to cure them and for sore eyes. Not approved by the European Medicines Agency for Traditional Herbal Medicinal use. Photographed in the Medicinal Garden of the Royal College of Physicians, London.

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