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ufes in medicine, diet, or manufactures, may be collected, with the affistance of Hindu phyficians, from the medical books in Sanscrit, and their accounts either disproved or established by repeated experiments, as faft as they can be made with exactness.
By way of example, I annex the defcriptions of five Indian plants, but am unable, at this season, to re-examine them, and wholly despair of leifure to exhibit others, of which I have collected the names, and most of which I have seen in bloffom.
Cal. Five-parted, thick; leaflets, oblong.
Cor. Five petals, oblong.
Stam. From twelve to fifteen, rather long, fertile; five fhorter, fterile. In fome flowers, the unprolifick stamens, longer.
Pift. Style cylindrick.
Peric. A capfule, with five cells, many-seeded.
Seeds: Roundish, compreffed, winged.
Uses: The quality, refrigerant.
One flower, steeped a whole night in a glass of water, forms a cooling mucilage of use in virulent gonorrhoeas. The Muchucunda, called also Pichuca, is exquifitely fragrant: its calyx is covered with an odoriferous dust; and the dried flowers in fine powder, taken like fnuff, are said, in a Sanferit book, almost instantaneously to remove a nervous head-ach.
Note. This plant differs a little from the Pentapetes of LINNÆUS.
II. BIL VA
Many on the Receptacle, and One.
Cal. Four, or five, cleft, beneath.
Cor. Four, or five, petals; mostly reflex.
Stam. Forty, to forty-eight, filaments; anthers, mostly erect.
Leaves: Ternate; common petiole, long; leaflets, fubovate; obtufely notched, with fhort petioles; fome almoft lanced.
Stem: Armed with sharp thorns.
Ufes: The fruit nutritious, warm, carthartick; in taste, delicious; in fragrance, exquifite: its aperient and deterfive quality, and its efficacy in removing habitual coftivenefs, have been proved by constant experience. The mucus of the feed is, for fome purposes, a very good cement.
Note. This fruit is called Srip'hala, because it sprang, fay 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 bloffom of this plant, that I could infpect, I had imagined, that it belonged to the fame clafs with the Durio, because the filaments appeared to be diftributed in five fets; but in all, that I have fince examined, they are perfectly distinct.
SRINGATA C A.
Cor. Four petals.
Stam. Anthers, kidney-fhaped.
Pift. Germ, roundifh; Style, long as the filaments; Stigma clubbed. Seed: A Nut with four oppofite angles (two of them sharp thorns) formed by the Calyx.
Leaves: Thofe, 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.
Ufes: The fresh kernel, in sweetness and delicacy, equals that of the filbered. A mucus, fecreted by minute glands, covers the wet leaves, which are confidered as cooling.
Note. It seems to be the floating Trapa of LINNÆUS.
Ten and one.
Cor. Five equal petals.
Peric. A thorny legumen; two feeds.
Leaves: Oval, pinnated.
Ufes: The feeds are very bitter, and, perhaps, tonick; fince one of them, bruised and given in two dofes, will, as the Hindus affert, cure an intermittent fever.
V. MADHU'CA. (See Afiat. Research. vol. I, page 300.)
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, fubvillous.
Pift. Germ, roundifh; Style, long, awl-shaped.
Ufes: The tubes, efculent, nutritious; yielding, by diftillation, an inebriating fpirit, which, if the fale of it were duly reftrained by law, might be applied to good purposes. An useful oil is expressed from the feed.
It resembles the Baffia 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 fometimes a very falfe, notion of the objects, which they were intended to reprefent. As we learn a new language, by reading approved compofitions in it with the aid of a Grammar and Dictionary, so we can only ftudy with effect the natural history of vegetables by analysing the plants themselves with the Philofophia Botanica, which is the Grammar, and the Genera et Species Plantarum, which may be confidered 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 claffes of them, a number of inftances would abundantly prove.