The British Cyclopaedia: Boragineæ. (Osa)

The British Cyclopaedia
of the arts, sciences, history, geography, literature, natural history and biography; copiously illustrated by engravings on wood and steel by eminent artists.
Edited by Charles F. Partington, professor of mechanical philosphy, author of various works on natural and experimental philosophy, &c., assisted by authors of eminence in the various departments of science.
Complete in ten volumes.
Volume VI.
Natural history.
London: WM. S. Orr and Co., Amen Corner, Paternoster Row.

The roots of the Anchusa tinctoria, alkanet or dyer's bugloss, are imported into this country from France and Germany in a dried state, for the purpose of being used in dyeing. The alkanet is a native of Europe, and is frequently cultivated in Britain, Its roots have a bitter taste, and their bark yields a reddish-brown matter resembling resin, which is used for giving a red colour to oils, ointments, plasters and salves. The corks of Port-wine bottles are sometimes stained with it by way of deception. To alcohol it imparts a carmine-red colour, which by evaporation changes to blue, and then to green. This root is also used in compositions for rubbing and giving colour to furniture made of mahogany. Wax dyed with it and applied to the surface of warm marble, tinges it of a flesh-colour, which sinks deep into the stone. The small roots are best for dyeing. Anchusa sempervirens, or evergreen alkanet, is found in waste ground and among ruins in many places, both in England and Scotland, and is often cultivated in gardens on account of its beautiful blue flowers.

Lithospermum arvense, Corn gromwell, or bastard Alkanet, is also a native of Britain. The bark of its root abounds in a red dye, which imparts a fine colour to wax and oils. The country girls in Sweden and the north of Europe, are said to stain their faces with it on days of festivity. The seeds of the Lithospermum officinale, from their stony hardness, were gormerly supposed to be useful in calculous disorders. The roots of Anchusa virginica, Lithospermum tinctorum, Onosma echicoides, and Echium nitrum, are used by dyers.


Symphytum officinale, common comfrey, grows frequently on the banks of rivers, and in watery places in Britain. The plant abounds in mucilage, and may be conveniently substituted for the althea or marsh mallow. It is used in bowel complaints, haemoptysis, and pulmonary catarrh. The leaves give an agreeable flavour to cakes and panada. The young stems and leaves, when boiled, are employed as articles of food. The root is emollient, and has a somewhat astringent taste. A decoction of it is used by dyers, to extract the colouring matter of gum-lac.


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