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Botanical: Muscari racemosum (MILL.)
Family: N.O. Liliaceae
The Grape Hyacinth, very much cultivated in England as a garden plant and occasionally met with in sandy soils in the eastern and southern counties, has, like the Wild Hyacinth, a poisonous bulb. The leaves are narrow and rather thick, 6 inches to a foot long, the flower-stem usually shorter, with a close, terminal raceme, or head of small, dark blue flowers, looking almost like little berries and having a sweet scent. A few of the uppermost are of a pale blue, erect, much narrower and without stamens or pistils. As the flowers of the various species of Muscari secrete much nectar, they are like the garden Scillas - to be reckoned among the useful bee plants of the spring.
The Grape Hyacinth has sometimes been called Starch Hyacinth, as the flowers have been supposed to smell of wet starch. The name of the genus, Muscari, comes from the Greek word for musk, a smell yielded by some species.
---Medicinal Action and Uses---The American species Muscari comosum (Mill.) (Feather Hyacinth), or Purse Tassel, has been used, as well as other species of Muscari, for its diuretic and stimulant properties. Comisic acid has been extracted from the bulb, and apparently acts like Saponin.
The innumerable varieties of Garden Hyacinth are derived from an Eastern plant, Hyacinthus orientalis.
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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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