Notice

Colin Mills, compiler of the Hortus Camdenensis, died in late November 2012 after a short illness. As he always considered the Hortus his legacy, it is his family's intention to keep the site running in perpetuity. It will not, however, be updated in the near future.

Medicinal Plants

A wide-ranging category, including many of the ancient garden plants. Emphasis is placed on the plants that were probably introduced primarily for their medicinal value.

Capparis spinosa L. var. inermis Tierra.

The species is a frost tender, perennial, evergreen shrub with roundish, leathery leaves and creamy-white flowers in summer.  To 90cm.  Inermis is without the thorns of the type.  [RHSD, Hortus].

Centaurea cyanus L.

Fully hardy annual with dark blue to pale blue, sometimes pink or white, flower heads in spring and summer. Highly variable in height, to 80cm.  [RHSE, Hortus].

Chamaemelum nobile (L.) All.

Fully hardy, mat-forming, hairy, aromatic perennial with feathery leaves, to 5cm long, and long-staked daisy-like flowers, to 1.5cm across, in summer.  To 30cm.  [RHSE, Hortus].

Chrysanthemum parthenium (L.) Pers. var. flore pleno

Upright perennial with much dissected leaves and dene panicles of small, double white flowers.  To 1m.  [RHSD, Hortus].

Cinnamomum zeylanicum Blume

Frost tender tree with ovate leaves, to 18cm long, and long panicles of yellowish-white flowers.  To 13m.  [RHSD, Hortus].

Cistus villosus L. var. undulatus

Frost hardy, compact shrub with ovate, wavy-margined, deeply veined leaves and terminal cymes of 3-5 purple-pink flowers, to 6cm across, in summer.  To 1m.  [RHSE, Hortus, Hilliers'].

Consolida ambigua (L.) P.W.Ball & Heyw.

Fully hardy annual with fern-like leaves and tall spires of flowers in pink, white or violet-blue.  Many garden cultivars exist.  To 1.2m.  [RHSE, Hortus].

Convallaria majalis L.

Hardy, rhizomatous perennial, the lance-shaped to elliptic basal leaves and arching racemes of pendent, bell-shaped, strongly scented white flowers produced in spring.  To 25cm.  [RHSE, Hortus].  

Crataegus azarolus L.

Fully-hardy, thorny, deciduous shrub or small tree with fragrant white flowers with purple anthers in late spring, followed by edible, apple-flavoured, usually orange fruits.  To 4.5m.  [RHSD, Hortus, Hilliers'].

Crataegus monogyna Jacq.

Fully-hardy, rounded, thorny, deciduous tree with 3-5-lobed glossy leaves and corymbs of up to 10 white to pink flowers in late spring, followed by round red fruit.  To 8m.  [RHSE, Hortus, Hilliers'].

Cydonia oblonga Mill.

Small deciduous tree with broadly ovate leaves, often turning yellow before falling, and solitary white or pink flowers followed by large, edible, down-covered, pear-shaped yellow fruit, to 15cm or more long.  To 6m or more.  [RHSD, Hortus, Hilliers'].

Cymbopogon schoenanthus (L.) Spreng.

Frost tender tufted grass with erect stems and a much-branched, ornamental inflorescence.  To 30cm.  [RHSD, Hortus].

Daphne mezereum L.

Fully hardy, upright, deciduous shrub with inversely lance-shaped leaves and lateral clusters of 2-4 fragrant, pink to purplish pink flowers covering the previous year’s shoots, in late winter and spring, before the leaves, followed by spherical, red, poisonous fruit.  To 1.2m.  [RHSE, Hortus, Hilliers'].

Datura metel L.

Datura metel is a frost tender annual species with greenish stems in yellow-flowered plants and purplish in darker forms, and upright, dark purple, blue, white or yellow trumpet-shaped flowers, white to pale violet inside, frequently double or triple, in summer.  To 1.5m. [RHSD, Hortus]. Fastuosa has dark foliage and double or triple flowers, purple on the outside, paler within.

The RHSD [1951] commented that Datura fastuosa was perhaps a hybrid of D. cornigera with D. chlorantha but I have not seen this substantiated.  

Dianthus caryophyllus L.

The plant referred to here is most likely the popular plant that has been in cultivation for centuries, known as the ‘Clove pink’, ‘Carnation’ or ‘Border Carnation’.  ‘Dianthus caryophyllus is considered the source whence have sprung the numerous varieties of the Carnation and the Picotee.’  [Don].  The parentage is obscure, but certainly includes Dianthus caryophyllus with D. chinensis and possibly others, depending on type and form.  Half-hardy to fully-hardy, very variable perennial with characteristic lance-shaped leaves and mounded to spreading habit.  The flowers, in a wide range of form and colour, are born mainly in the summer.  Numerous garden cultivars exist.  To 1.5m by 40cm.  [RHSE, Hortus].  Picotee is a division of the Florists’ Carnation, considered separately in the Hortus because this division is further sub-divided to complicate things and there are a large number of Picotees in the record.  ‘In the Florists’ Magazine for 1836 there is a concise statement upon the rules governing the Carnation.  It is divided, we are told, into three sections: Flakes, Bizarres, and Picotees.  Flakes have, generally, one colour on a white ground; and that colour is scarlet, purple, rose or pink.  Bizarres have two colours on a white ground, and are called Scarlet or Crimson Bizarres, according to the most dominant of these two colours.  The Bizarres are variegated in irregular spots or stripes.  Piquettes, or Picotees, have a white ground, spotted or pounced with scarlet, red, purple, or other colours.  The Picotees, it is confusing to read, are further divided into six distinct classes, red edged, maroon, chocolate, purple, rose, or scarlet edged, of each of these there being two divisions known as heavy and light edged.’  [Sitwell p.93].  See Dianthus caryophyllus L. var. Mathew’s ‘Ne Plus Ultra’ for further information on Victorian Picotees.

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