- A Modern Herbal, by Mrs. M. Grieve Home Page

Mercury, Annual

Botanical: Mercurialis annua (LINN.)
Family: N.O. Euphorbiaceae

Annual Mercury (Mercurialis annua), known also to older writers as Garden Mercury and French Mercury, is a common weed in gardens.

It is taller than the Dog Mercury, and branched, and the leaves are smaller, perfectly smooth and of a light green hue.

Barren and fertile flowers are sometimes found on the same plant, the male flowers in peduncled axillary spikes.

It grows plentifully in waste places and seldom at any distance from inhabited districts.

It is in flower from July to October and increases so freely by the scattering of its rough seeds as to become a very troublesome weed in gardens, extremely hard to eradicate.

---Medicinal Action and Uses---The plant is mucilaginous and was formerly much employed as an emollient. The French made a syrup of the freshly-gathered herb, which was given as a purge, and the dried herb was used to make a decoction for injections, but as a herbal remedy it is now disregarded in England.

The seeds taste like those of hemp.

As a pot-herb, this plant had some reputation, the leaves being boiled and eaten as spinach, and it is still eaten in this way in some parts of Germany, the acrid qualities being dissipated, it is believed, by boiling. Pigs have also been fed with it in France.


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Bear in mind "A Modern Herbal" was written with the conventional wisdom of the early 1900's. This should be taken into account as some of the information may now be considered inaccurate, or not in accordance with modern medicine.

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