Sunday, May 06, 2012

Common Scurvygrass/ Læge-Kokleare

Common Scurvygrass/Læge-Kokleare

Cochlearia officinalis = Common Scurvygrass/ Danish: Læge- Kokleare, Skørbugsurt
Cochlearia danica L. = Danish Scurvygrass/ Dansk Kokleare.
Cochlearia officinalis ssp. anglica L. = English Scurvygrass / Engelsk Kokleare. 

The common scurvygrass has fleshy, on below kidney-shaped, long-stalked leaves and on top egg-shaped, seated leaves upon tall stems, the white flowers are gathered in half umbels, the siliques are in clusters and almost globular. The common scurvyplant grows along beaches.

The Danish scurvygrass is a delicate plant , it grows here and there on beaches, it has lying stems, spear-shaped  leaves on stems and sometimes reddish flowers.

The English scurvygrass has egg-shaped root leaves and oval puffed up siliques. It is rare in Denmark (found in the southeastern part of DK).   

Reference from 1738: Kokleare from Latin cochlear = a spoon to fetch the escargots out of their house, the leaves might be spoon-shaped.

Names in the North:
In 1450-1820 it was called iris-grass, which might origin from Old Norse eyrr = a gravel beach, but it was later changed into the male name Eirik, Erik: Eiriks gras. From 1619- 1906 also called skørbugsurt (scurvy herb) according to the use . It was also called skeurt (spoon wort).
Upon the Faroe Islands: mentioned as eiriksgras in 1780.
Greenland: kungordlek, kungulek, kumgullisak.

Folk Medicine:

Århus: the scurvygrass grows along the beach.
The plant has a very high content of C-vitamin, and it was used to counteract the deficiency disease scurvy, which was fairly widespread in earlier times, especially on sea-journeys.

1648: Simon Paulli said that "in the countries so close to the Baltic and in some other places the scurvy is a common and raging disease". The pharmacies made a strong medicine from scurvygrass against a blocked liver and spleen and against the loathing of food. Powders were given scurvy patients in destilled water from the plant. The juice mixed with whey or wine could also cure the scurvy disease.

The plant was known as a scurvy medicine in Denmark from the middle of the 1400s. It was given as kokleare water and laurel oil in the 1600s. A report from the town of Ribe informs that people gathered the plant from fields and gardens, eating them against scurvy.
1761: The fresh juice from the leaves to drink together with meat soup, fresh leaves upon sandwich or put in snaps ; it was always considered a strong medicine against scurvy , especially to sailors  (1806).

Linné (+ 1778) said that the Greenlanders did eat kokleare against scurvy, but this was contradicted in 1770 and 1909; it was instead told that they took other herbs and a kind of seaweed. In 1774 and 1880 the plant is however mentioned as a very popular food and a scurvy medicine in Greenland.
Herb and seeds were written into the pharmacopoeia in 1772.   

Toothache and other
1693: Scurvy was a part of an ointment for aching teeth. In 1736 it was used in a mouth water. The plant was also chewed 2-3 times a week, which meant that people would never get a toothache again.
1777:  kokleare spirits was used against tooth ache, and this spirits was also added to mouth water. The plant was an ingredient of a bronchitis-tea and a dropsy-tea. The scurvy plant has diuretic and dissolving properties

Scurvygrass was a means against pulmonary diseases in sheep. 

1761: The leaves have a horseradish-like, but fresh taste, they can be mixed with salad instead of cress.  In 1787 was given advice how to cultivate the plant in kitchen gardens for winter- and spring use. 1805: it was considered one of the healthiest salad herbs in the kitchen garden. 1806: It was commonly cultivated and used as a salad upon sandwiches. 1918: the leaves were mixed as a spice in salad, and finely chopped it was strewn upon scrambled eggs and potato salad. It was cultivated in kitchen gardens, and the young leaves were used like cress as a sprinkle upon salad, omelette, stewed potatoes, sandwich etc. It was also put on a snaps . 

See also wikipedia



Kittie Howard said...

Your post cheered me greatly, Grethe. Now you know why I haven't e-mailed -- couldn't get out of my funk and didn't want to weigh you down. And I knew you were okay which made me smile -- didn't want to drop this on you, so dropped it on everybody, LOL! Thank you for your beautiful words. You're inspiring me! HUGS!

Thyra said...

Hej Kittie! Thank you! I'm looking forward to a Bestseller.
I'm okay, not weighed down! See e-mail!
Grethe ´)

John said...

This is a very beautiful and interesting series of pictures, i enjoyed every picture, it has great detail in it, thanks for sharing the artistic work, i appreciate your work!

GED Online

Thyra said...

Hello John, thank you very much. That's very kind of you.
Grethe ´)