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The world of herbs
J.E. Kinghorn

Popular Colonial Garden Herbs

The following partial listing was taken from an order for seeds from John Winthrop, Jr., an early colonist, to his contacts in England in the year 1631.  Winthrop served as Governor of Connecticut in Colonial times.

Alisander  =    Horse Parsley(English)
Bludwort  =     Dock
Burradg   =     Borage
Charnill   =     Chervil
Clary       =     Sage
Lavadg    =    Lovage
Nipp        =    Catnip

We can only speculate that the herb seeds ordered were used primarily for medicinal purposes based on the fact that Winthrop authored a book in regard to medicinal herbs. In seventeenth century America, herbs had `multi-purpose' uses; medicinal, culinary and for personal hygiene.

Hyssop for example:

The Herbalist Culpeper wrote,"The herb is Jupiter's and the sign Cancer.  It strenghtens all the parts of the body under Cancer and Jupiter."

It was used as an Anti-spasmodic, expectorant, sedative and carminative. The herb was primarily used in the form of tea and associated with easing the common cold, bronchitis and coughs.  As a sedative/carminative, it was given to individuals in the state of high anxiety, hysteria or to ease the condition petit mal ( a form of epilepsy).  Additionally, the essential oil derived from the herb was used by the Trappist Monks in the preparation of liqueurs and by the English in the preparation of eau de cologne,(perfume). Hyssop water was used externally as an astringent for maintaining a good complexion.

Culinary uses included salads, fruit cocktails, and fruit pies.  It adds a bitter minty taste.  Hyssop tea was considered excellent tasting and was a popular drink in colonial times.

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