Thursday, January 21, 2016
South London Herbs - Nicholas Culpepper (1653)
The 17th century London herbalist, astrologer and radical republican Nicholas Culpepper was the author of The Complete Herbal (1653). As well as containing lots of information about herbs and their (presumed) medicinal properties, Culpepper also records places where some plants are to be found growing, including various South London locations:
Langue de Boeuf - 'It grows wild in many places of this land, and may be plentifully found near London, as between Rotherhithe and Deptford, by the ditch side.
Juniper Bush - 'They grow plentifully in divers woods in Kent, Warney Common near Brentwood in Essex, upon Finchley Common without Highgate; hard by the New-found Wells near Dulwich, upon a Common between Mitcham and Croydon, in the Highgate near Amersham in Buckinghamshire, and many other places'.
Loosestrife, 'with spiked heads of flowers': 'It is likewise called Grass-polly. It grows usually by rivers, and ditch-sides in wet ground, as about the ditches at and near Lambeth, and in many places of this land.'
Mithridate Mustard: 'They grow in sundry places in this land, as half a mile from Hatfield, by the river side, under a hedge as you go to Hatfield, and in the street of Peckham on Surrey side'.
Mallows and Marshmallows: 'The common Mallows grow in every county of this land. The common Marshmallows in most of the salt marshes, from Woolwich down to the sea, both on the Kentish and Essex shores, and in divers other places of this land... They flower all the Summer months, even until the Winter do pull them down. Venus owns them both'.