HERB - Tobacco and other Smoking Herbs

Gaylin Walli gwalli at infoengine.com
Thu Jan 21 08:18:28 PST 1999

Lord Stefan li Rous wrote on the SCA-Cooks list:

>Thank you for this input. I will add it to the smoking-msg file in
>the Florilegium. Please let me know if you find out anything more.

I did some serious looking into Calluna vulgaris (Heather) and
could find no reference to its use in smoking or lung soothing other
than the reference I found in the etymology of the name parts for
"Tussilinge." The dictionaries I found this in were online and
the one on my desk which says "Merriam Webster's Collegiate
Dictionary 10th Edition." It would be interesting to know what
the OED says (someday I'll be able to get that CD-ROM, darn it
all) but I have been unable to look in a copy of said tome.

I did look up a number of different references to Mountain Coltsfoot
on the suggestion and commentary of responses to the smoking
question. I traced the name "Coltsfoot" in its various forms through
the documentation I have at home and in our meager public library
and I think that the comments saying that Tussilinge is Coltsfoot (or
Bullsfoot, Horsefoot, Farfugium, Bechium and any number of others)
are correct.

Dioscordies, Doedens, Pliny, and a number of other pre-period
and period authors all seem to agree. Maude Grieve's "Herbal," while
OOP, goes has an excellent summary of the details for these authors.
She writes:

  The smoking of the leaves for a cough has the recommendation
  of Dioscorides, Galen, Pliny, Boyle, and other great authorities,
  both ancient and modern, Linnaeus stating that the Swedes of
  his time smoked it for that purpose. Pliny recommended the
  use of both roots and leaves. The leaves are the basis of
  the British Herb Tobacco, in which Coltsfoot predominates,
  the other ingredients being Buckbean, Eyebright, Betony,
  Rosemary, Thyme, Lavender, and Chamomile flowers. This relieves
  asthma and also the difficult breathing of old bronchitis.
  Those suffering from asthma, catarrh and other lung troubles
  derive much benefit from smoking this Herbal Tobacco, the use
  of which does not entail any of the injurious effects of
  ordinary tobacco. (from the online copy at www.botanical.com)

In the interest of expanding people's minds, let me give you another
tidbit I found about the plant. There's been a lot of information
on ergot and poisoning from food and crops posted recently on SCA-
Cooks. According to John Gerard in his "Herbal or General History of
Plants," not only is Coltsfoot excellent smoked to treat shortness
of breath (there's a certain contradiction there in my mind) but also:

   The green leaus of Fole-foot pound with hony, do cure and
   heale the hot inflammation called Saint Anthonies fire, and
   all other inflammations. (pg, Yyy, 1633 edition)

>If you ever see items in the Florilegium that you think are wrong
>or need to be elaborated on, please send me email.

Oh my, I sincerely hope my comments weren't misconstrued. I was
happy to find any information on tussilinge at all on the web.
And I thought it incredible and incredibly amusing that the
only search with positive results was the Florilegium and not
an alternate site like a botanical garden or college botany program.
That speaks volumes to me. I've found jump points for SO many projects
just based on commentary in the those files. Thank you for
keeping them. :)


Iasmine Isabella Maria Magdelena de Cordoba, Midrealm
jasmine at infoengine.com or gwalli at infoengine.com
Go to http://lists.ansteorra.org/lists.html to perform mailing list tasks.

More information about the Herbalist mailing list