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SWORD-LILY. Class III. TRIANDRIA. Order I. MonogyNIA. Gen. Char. Spatha, two-valved, grassy. Corolla, six-parted and
garping. Stamens, three, rising upward. Stigma, trifid, re
curved, Capsule, oblong, three-sided. Seeds, winged. Spe. Char. Filaments, distinct. Anthers, bursting. Capsule, three
The root is tuberous, hard, internally white, externally brown, and sends off innumerable quantities of small threed-like fibres; the stalks rise from the root, and is surrounded at its base with three or five, long, pointed, narrow, sword-like leaves; the leaves are equitant, or alternately embrace each other, so as to enclose their edges ; the calyx and corolla are superior, confounded, their divisions either partially cohering, or entirely separate, sometimes irregular, the three petals being very short; the stamens are three, and rise from the base of the sepals; the filaments are distinct or cornate , the anthers bursting externaly, lengthwise, fixed by their base, two-celled; ovarium, three-celled; cells many-seeded; style, one; stigma, five, often petaloid, sometimes two-lipped; the capsule is three-celled, and three-valved, with a loculicidal dehiscence; the seeds are attached to the inner angle of the cell, and sometimes to a central column, which afterwards becomes loose.
The sword-lily, (by some called the corn-flag) belongs to a genus of tuberous plants, and is one of the finest ornaments of the flower garden. The Asiatic and European species, have long been
cultivated in many parts of England, formerly for medicinal purpossess, but more lately as an ornament. A vast accession of species nave, at different times, been received from the Cape of Good · Hope, and many of which are most beautiful and pleasing to the
eye. The European species thrive and do very well in hedges and borders; but the Cape species require careful nursing, and to be treated like other bulbous roots from the same country, that is, potted in sandy leaf-mould, kept dry when dormant, fresh potted in October, and afterwards placed in a frame and regularly watered after they begin to grow. They continue in blossom from May till the middle of July.
Medical Properties and Uses. This species of gladiolus, was extensively used in the time of Galen, and was then considered extremely useful in the treatment of many chronic diseases, but of late has fell into disuse, and like many other very valuable medicinal plants, is not recognized as being officinal, either by the Edinburgh, London, or United States Pharmacopæ's on which account it is, at the present time, but little known; although forgotten or neglected, its medical properties are valuable, and needs only to be tested to give it a place in our modern Materia Medica. It is both tonic and astringent, and can be safely employed both as an internal and external remedy.
The roots beaten up and mixed with a little meal, honey and lard, in the form of a poultice, is said to be a certain remedy for scrofulous swellings in the throat, tumors etc. The powder made from the leaves or seeds, taken freely, is highly recommended in cases of billious cholic, giving immediate relief. The fresh leaves bruised and applied to old sores and wounds, have proved very serviceable in cleansing them from putrid or foul matter, having a tendency to draw splinters, thorns and peices of broken bones out of the flesh. It is also found useful, applied externally, in reducing tumors, local swellings, inflamation, etc., in which cases the leaves or roots are powdered, made into a poultice, and applied.