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ufes in medicine, diet, or manufactures, may be collected, with the assistance of Hindu physicians, from the medical books in Sanscrit, and their accounts either disproved or established by repeated experiments, as fast as they can be made with exactness.
By way of example, I annex the descriptions of five Indian plants, but am unable, at this season, to re-examine them, and wholly despair of leisure to exhibit others, of which I have collected the names, and most of which I have seen in blossom.
Twenty, from One Base. Cal. Five-parted, thick ; leaflets, oblong. Cor. Five petals, oblong.
Stam. From twelve to fifteen, rather long, fertile ; five shorter, sterile. In some flowers, the unprolifick stamens, longer.
Pift. Style cylindrick.
One flower, steeped a whole night in a glass of water, forms a cooling rnucilage of use in virulent gonorrhæas. The Muchucunda, called also Pichucà, is exquisitely fragrant : its calyx is covered with an odoriferous duít; and the dried flowers in fine powder, taken like snuff, are said, in a Sanscrit book, almost instantaneously to remove a nervous head-ach.
Note. This plant differs a little from the Pentapetes of LINNÆUS.
II. BIL V A
II. BIL V A OR M AL U'R A.
Many on the Receptacle, and One.
Leaves: Ternate ; common petiole, long; leaflets, subovate ; obtusely notched, with short petioles ; some almost lanced.
Stem: Armed with sharp thorns.
Ufes: The fruit nutritious, warm, carthartick; in taste, delicious ; in fragrance, exquisite : its aperient and detersive quality, and its efficacy in removing habitual costiveness, have been proved by constant experience. The mucus of the feed is, for some purposes, a very good cement.
Note. This fruit is called Srip hala, because it sprang, say the Indian poets, from the milk of Srì, the goddess of abundance, who bestowed it on mankind at the request of Iswara, whence he alone wears a chaplet of Bilva flowers ; to him only the Hindus offer them ; and, when they see any of them fallen on the ground, they take them up with reverence,
and carry them to his temple. From the first blossom of this plant, that I could inspect, I had imagined, that it belonged to the same class with the Durio, because the filaments appeared to be distributed in five sets ; but in all, that I have since examined, they are perfectly distinct.
III. SRINGA'T A CA.
Four and One.
Cor. Four petals.
Seed: A Nut with four opposite angles (two of them sharp thorns) formed by the Calyx.
Leaves: Those, which float on the water, are rhomboïdal ; the two upper fides unequally notched, the two lower, right lines. Their petioles, buoyed up by spindle-shaped spongy substances, not bladders.
Root: Knotty, like coral.
Uses: The fresh kernel, in sweetness and delicacy, equals that of the filbered. A mucus, secreted by minute glands, covers the wet leaves, which are confidered as cooling.
Note. It seems to be the floating Trapa of LINNÆUS.
IV. PUTI CARA J A.
Ten and one.
Uses: The seeds are very bitter, and, perhaps, tonick; since one of them, bruised and given in two doses, will, as the Hindus affert, cure an intermittent fever.
V. MADHU'CA. (See Afiat. Research. vol. I, page 300.)
Many, not on the Receptacle, and One. Cal. Perianth four, or five, leaved. Cor. One-petaled. Tube inflated, fleshy. Border nine, or ten, parted. Stam. Anthers from twelve to twenty-eight, erect, acute, subvillous.
Pijt. Germ, roundish; Style, long, awl-Shaped.
Uses: The tubes, esculent, nutritious; yielding, by distillation, an inebriating spirit, which, if the sale of it were duly restrained by law, might be applied to good purposes. An useful oil is expressed from the seed.
Note. It resembles the Basia of KOENIG.
Such would be the method of the work, which I recommend; but even the specimen, which I exhibit, might, in skilful hands, have been more accurate. Engravings of the plants may be annexed; but I have more than once experienced, that the best anatomical and botanical prints give a very inadequate, and sometimes a very false, notion of the objects, which they were intended to represent. As we learn a new language, by reading approved compositions in it with the aid of a Grammar and Dictionary, so we can only study with effect the natural history of vegetables by analysing the plants themselves with the Philosophia Botanica, which is the Grammar, and the Genera et Species Plantarum, which may be considered as the Dictionary, of that beautiful language, in which nature would teach us what . plants we must avoid as noxious, and what we must cultivate as falutary, for that the qualities of plants are in fome degree connected with the natural orders and classes of them, a number of instances would abundantly prove.