The Cayce Herbal 
 A Comprehensive Guide to the  
Botanical Medicine of Edgar Cayce
The Complete Herbalist
by Dr. O. Phelps Brown (1878)
    That the reader may more intelligently understand the description of the medicinal plants in this book, the author has deemed it prudent to preface the part of this work dedicated to Herbal Materia Medica with a brief analysis of the plant, as made by the botanist.  This becomes particularly necessary, inasmuch as a plant cannot be accurately described unless scientific language be employed; but, nevertheless, throughout this whole work it has been the aim of the author to use the plainest language, and not to weary the reader by as pedantic employment of technical terms and scientific language.

    Nothing more will be given than the anatomy of the plant, as nothing of systematic botany need be known to the reader to recognize the plant, or to acquaint himself with the medicinal properties thereof.  If he has not a common acquaintance with a medicinal plant, but desires it for domestic medication, it is important that he should know that he employs the proper herb, and not use one which simulates it.  It has therefore been the aim of the author to give accurate descriptions of the herbs, so that the gatherer may not err in his selection of the plant which his case may need.

    All parts of the plant are used in medicine--sometimes the seed only; in others the flower, the leaves, root, rhizome; in others two or more of these parts, and, again, in others the whole plant.



    The root of a plant is that portion which is usually found in the earth, the stem and leaves being in the air.  The point of union is called the collar or neck of the plant.

    A fibrous root is one composed of many spreading branches, as that of barley.

    A conical root is one where it tapers regularly from the crown to the apex, as that of the carrot.

    A fusiform root is one when it tapers up as well as down, as that of the radish.

    A napiform root is one when much swollen at the base, so as to become broader than long, as that of the turnip.

    A fasciculated root is one when some of the fibres or branches are thickened.

    A tuberiferous root is one when some of the branches assume the form of rounded knobs, as that of the potato.

    A palmate root is one when these knobs are branched.

    Aerial roots are those emitted from the stem into the open air, as that of Indian corn.

    A rhizome, or root stock, is a prostrate stem either subterranean or resting on the surface, as that of calamus, or blood-root.

    A tuber is an enlargement of the apex of a subterranean branch of the root, as that of the common potato or artichoke.

    A cormus is a fleshy subterranean stem of a round or oval figure, as in the Indian turnip.

    A bulb is an extremely abbreviated stem clothed with scales, as that of the lily.


    The stem is that portion of the plant which grows in an opposite direction from the root, seeking the light, and exposing itself to the air.  All flowering plants possess stems.  In those which are said to be stemless, it is either very short, or concealed beneath the ground.

    An herb is one in which the stem does not become woody, but dies down to the ground at least after flowering.

    A shrub is a woody plant, branched near the ground, and less than five times the height of man.

    A tree attains a greater height, with a stem unbranched near the ground.

    The stem of a tree is usually called the trunk; in grasses it has been termed the culm.

    Those stems which are too weak to stand erect are said to be decombent, procumbent, and prostrate.

    A stolon in a form of a branch which curves or falls down to the ground, where they often strike root.

    A sucker is a branch of subterraneous origin, which, after running horizontally and emitting roots in its course, at length rises out of the ground and forms an erect stem, which soon becomes an independent plant, as illustrated by the rose, raspberry, etc.

    A runner is a prostrate, slender branch sent off from the base of the parent stem.

    An offset is a similar but shorter branch, with a tuft of leaves at the end, as in the houseleek.

    A spine is a short and imperfectly developed branch of a woody plant, as exhibited in the honey-locust.

    A tendril is commonly a slender leafless branch, capable of coiling spirally, as in the grape vine.

    The leaf is commonly raised on an unexpanded part or stalk which is called the petiole, while the expanded portion is termed the lamina, limb or blade.  When the vessels or fibres of the leaves expand immediately on leaving the stem, the leaf is said to be senile.  In such cases the petiole is absent.  When the blade consists of a single piece the leaf is simple; when composed of two or three more with a branched petiole, the leaf is compound.

    The distribution of the veins or framework of the leaf in the blade is termed venation.

    A lanceolate leaf has the form of a lance.

    An ovate leaf has the shape of ellipsis.

    A cuneiform leaf has the shape of a wedge.

    A cordate leaf has the shape of a heart.

    A reniform leaf has the shape of a kidney.

    A sagittate leaf is arrow-shaped.

    A hastate leaf has the shape of an ancient halberd.

    A peltate leaf is shaped like a shield.

    A serrate leaf is one in which the margin is beset with sharp teeth, which point forward towards the apex.

    A dentate leaf is one when these teeth are not directed towards the apex.

    A crenate leaf has rounded teeth.

    A sinuate leaf has alternate concavities and convexities.

    A pinnate leaf has the shape of a feather.

    A pectinate leaf is one having very close and narrow divisions, like the teeth of a comb.

    A lyrate leaf has the shape of a lyre.

    A runcinate leaf is a lyrate leaf with sharp lobes pointing towards the base, as in the dandelion.

    A palmate leaf is one bearing considerable resemblance to the hand.

    A pedate leaf is one bearing resemblance to a bird's foot.

    An obovate leaf is one having the veins more developed beyond the middle of the blade.

    When a leaf at its outer edge has no dentations it is said to be entire.  When the leaf terminates in an acute angle it is acute, when in an obtuse angle it is obtuse.  An obtuse leaf with the apex slightly depressed is retuse, or if more strongly notched, emarginate.  An obovate leaf with a wider or more conspicuous notch at the apex becomes obcordate, being a cordate leaf inverted When the apex is cut off by a straight transverse line the leaf is truncate; when abruptly terminated by a small projecting point it is mucronate; and when an acute leaf has a narrowed apex it is acuminate.  In ferns the leaves are called fronds.


    The flower assumes an endless variety of forms, and we shall assume in the dissection merely the typical form of it.

    The organs of a flower are of two sorts, viz.: 1st.  Its leaves or envelopes; and 2d, those peculiar organs having no resemblance to the envelopes.  The envelopes are of two kinds, or occupy two rows, one above or within the other.  The lower or outer row is termed the Calyx, and commonly exhibits the green color of the leaves.  The inner row, which is usually of more delicate texture and forms the most showy part of the flower, is termed the Corolla.  The several parts of the leaves of the Corolla are called Petals, and the leaves of the Calyx have received the analogous name of Sepals.  The floral envelopes are collectively called the Perianth.

    The essential organs enclosed within a floral envelope are also of two kinds and occupy two rows one within the other.  The first of these, those next within the petals, are the Stamens.  A stamen consists of a stalk called the Filament, which bears on its summit a rounded body termed the Anther, filled with a substance called the Pollen.

    The seed-bearing organs occupy the centre or summit of a flower, and are called Pistils.  A pistil is distinguished into three parts, viz.: lst, the Ovary, containing the Ovales; 2d, the Style, or columnar prolongation of the ovary; and 3d, the Stigma, or termination of the style.

    All the organs of the flower are situated on, or grown out of, the apex of the flower-stalk, into which they are inserted, and which is called the Torus or Receptacle.

    A plant is said to be monoecious, where the stamens and pitils are in separate flowers on the same individual, dioecious, where they occupy separate flowers on different individuals, and polygamous where the stamens and pistils are separate in some flowers and united in others, either on the same or two or three different plants.


    The principal kinds may be briefly stated as follows:

    A follicle is the name given to such fruit as borne by the larkspur or milkweed.

    A legume or pod is the name extended to such fruit as the pea or bean.

    A drupe is a stone fruit, as the plum, apricot, etc.

    An achenium is the name of the fruit as borne by the butter-cup, etc.

    A cremocarp is the fruit of the Poison Hemlock and similar plants.

    A caryopsis is such fruit as borne by the wheat tribe.

    A nut is exemplified by the fruit of the oak, chestnut, etc.

    A samara is the name applied to the fruit of the maple, birch, and elm.

    A berry is a fruit fleshy and pulpy throughout, as the grape, gooseberry, etc.

    A pome is such as the apple, pear, etc.

    A pepo is the name applied to the fruit of the pumpkin, cucumber, etc.

    A capsule is a general term for all dry fruits, such as lobelia, etc.

    A silique is such fruit as exhibited in Shepherd's purse, etc.

    A cone or strobile is a collective fruit of the fir tribe, magnolia, etc.


    The seed, like the ovule of which it is the fertilized and matured state, consists of a nucleus, usually enclosed within two integuments.  The outer integument or proper seed coat is variously termed the episterm, spermoderm, or testa.

    An annual plant is one which springs from the seed, flowers and dies the same year.

    A biennial plant, such as the radish, carrot, beet, etc., does not flower the first season.

    A perennial plant is one not absolutely depending upon the stock of the previous season, but annually produces new roots and new accumulations.

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