hist-brewing: 1577 Recipe

Wylie A. & Gail D. Smith wyliesmith at isomedia.com
Sat Sep 27 11:38:05 PDT 1997


Here is the Modern Botanical Entry for Orris. From the long time needed to
get the violet odour, which I think is essential, I think that getting
Orris commercially is a better option than "growing my own". From what I
have read, it is very potent in the powdered state, and 1/3 oz. would be
quite a lot.

--Medicinal Action and Uses---The juice of the fresh roots of this Iris,
bruised with wine, has been employed as a strong purge of great efficiency
in dropsy, old physic writers stating that if the dropsy can be cured by
the hand of man, this root will effect it. The juice is also sometimes used
as a cosmetic and for the removal of freckles from the skin. 

IRIS PALLIDA (Lamarck) has sweet-scented flowers of a delicate, pale blue.
It is a native of the Eastern Mediterranean countries and grows very freely
in Italy. It yields, with I. Germanica, the bulk of the drug. 

IRIS FLORENTINA (Linn.), called by our old writers White Flower de Luce, or
Flower de Luce of Florence, has large, white flowers tinged with pale
lavender and a bright yellow beard on the falls. Less commonly, a purple
form occurs, of smaller growth. 

The fresh root, like that of I. Germanica, is a powerful cathartic, and for
this reason its juice has been employed in dropsy. 

It is chiefly used in the dry state, being said to be good for complaints
of the lungs, for coughs and hoarseness, but is now more valued for the
pleasantness of its violet-like perfume than for any other use. 

Fresh roots have an earthy smell, the characteristic violet odour is
gradually developed during the drying process and does not attain its
maximum for at least two years, and even intensifies after that time. The
essential oil may, therefore, be included in the class of socalled
'ferment-oils.' 

The rhizomes of I. Germanica, I. pallida and I. Florentina so closely
resemble one another that they are not easily distinguished. Contractions
occur at intervals of about two inches, indicating the limit of a year's
growth in each case. 

When fresh, the rhizomes are extremely acrid and when chewed excite a
pungent taste in the mouth, which continues some hours. This acridity is
almost entirely dissipated when dried, the taste then being slightly bitter
and the smell agreeable, closely approaching that of violets, though in the
fresh state the rhizomes are practically odourless. The loss of acridity
appears to be due to the disappearance of a volatile acrid principle on
drying the rhizome. 

All three species of Iris from which Orris root is derived were already
cultivated in England in the time of Gerard, though not on a commercial
scale. 


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