19 JULY 1940, Page 13


Medicinal Herbs HERBS, to most of us, mean mint and parsley ; chervil and tarra- gon, perhaps, to the more ambitious. Of medicinal herbs our

generation knows little or nothing. Yet the importation of medicinal and other herbs into this country is, or was in peace time, a large and important trade. A great part of this trade was

with Italy, Spain and other countries of south and central Europe. It is now seriously curtailed. In a recent note I referred to the possibilities of flowers as food. The possibilities of flowers as medicine are something of obviously much greater importance. It is so important, and the shortage of medicinal and other herbs is now so serious, in fact, that at least one large firm of botanical importers has appealed for collectors of those commercial herbs that are indigenous to the English countryside. It has appealed specially to Women's Institutes, who have wide experience in doing such work on a communal basis. Many of these herbs are extremely common wild flowers, widely distributed ; some, such as henbane, foxglove, mandrake and hellebore, are poisonous ; a few, such as southernwood and violets, cultivated. According as to whether leaves, roots or seeds are needed, certain careful methods of collection and drying need to be used, and I give some idea of these in the next paragraph.