Chap. 112. Of Catch-flie.

Catch Fly, German. Catch Fly, Candia or Clusius. I. The Names. It is called in Greek by Thalius, Ίξοκαῦλλευ: by others Λύχνισ άγρια γλοιώδης: In Latin, Lychnis Silvestris Viscosa, Muscipula (quia muscas capiunt) Viscaria, Silene Theophrasti… In English, Catch-flie, and Limewort: also by Gerard, Wild Williams.

II. The Kinds. Parkinson will have this plant to be of the kinds of Wild Lychins, or Wild Campion; but Gerard says, they are of the stock of Wild Pinks and Gilliflowers, and so calls them also with the other names Wild Williams. Those which we shall handle in this work are such as are usual in England, vis.
1. Muscipula Lobelii, Lychnis Sylvestris prima Clusius, sive Ben-rubrum Monspeliensium, the French Catch-flie.
2. Lychnis Sylvestris latifolia Clusii, Muscipula Cretica Auriculae Ursifacie, Catch-flie of Candia.
3. Muscipula sive Viscaria Lobelii, Viscago Camerarii, Lychnis Sylvestris terita Clusii, Gerard’s first Catch-flie, or Lime-wort.
4. Muscipula angustifolia, Lychnis Sylvestris quarta Clusii, Narrow-leav’d, or German Catch-flie.

III. The Descriptions. The first has a small root, somewhat fibrous, which perishes after it has given seed, and afterwards rises again of its own seed, if it is suffered to shed itself. If it sheds itself, it springs up in the latter end of the year for the most part, or else in the spring, with five or six small leaves, very like unto the leaves of Pinks, and of the same Willow, or whitish green color, but a little broader and shorter. When it begins to shoot up for flower, it bears smaller leaves on the clammy or viscous stalks, which viscosity is strong enough to hold any small thing or flie which lights on it. These leaves are broad at bottom, compassing the stalks and branches, being set two at a joint, one against another. The tops of the stalks are diversely branched into several parts, every branch having diverse small red flowers, not notched, but smooth, standing out of small, long, round, stript husks, which after the flowers are past, contain small, greyish seed. This Parkinson accounts of the species of Campions, being a pretty thing to furnish and deck out a garden.

IV. Gerard will have it to be a kind of Sweet Williams, and says, it has many broad leaves like the Sweet Williams, but shorter, set upon a stiff and brittle stalk, from the bosom of which leaves spring forth smaller branches, clothed with the like leaves, but much less; the flowers grow at top of the stalks, many together, tuft fashion, of a bright red color. The whole plant is possessed of a viscousness or Clammyness, like the other kinds, but in a less proportion.

V. The second has a root small and fibrous, from whence come forth many leaves lying upon the ground, which are thick, fat, and hoary, white, somewhat like to the leaves of the yellow Auriculi Ursi, Bears Ears, or French Cowflips, smooth on the edges, and a little pointed, which do so abide the first year of the springing: the stalk rises up the next year to the height of three or four feet, with two leaves at each joint, and spreading on both sides into branches from the ground, which are viscous, glutinous and clammy, causing every light or small thing to cleave thereto, as flies, pismires, down, straws, &c. At the tops whereof, and at the joints next below them come forth many flowers together, standing in clusters, but very small, whose small husks contain every one of them a small greenish yellow flower, parted in two at the broad end: the seed is small and blackish in the husks, and generally sows itself.

VI. The third, which is Gerard’s first, and by him called Viscaria or Lime-wort, and which he will have to be of the stock and kindred of Wild Gilliflowers, (notwithstanding Clusius has joined it with the Wild Campions, and Lobel among the Sweet Williams) has a root which is large, with many Fibres, from whence spring many leaves like those of the Crow-flower, or Wild Sweet William, among which rise up many reddish stalks, with knees or joints against another, at the top of which come forth fine red flowers. They being past, there comes in place small blackish seed. The whole plant, as well leaves and stalks as flowers, are in most places overspread with a very thick and viscous or clammy matter, like to bird-lime, which if you touch or take on your fingers, the viscousness is such, that your fingers will flick and cleave together, as if you had touched bird-lime. If flies also do light upon it, they will be so intangled therewith, that they cannot flie away, so that in some hot days you may see many flies caught thereby, from whence came the names, Catch-flie or Lime-wort.

VII. The fourth, or Narrow-Leav’d Catch-flie, has a root thick and black, with many fibres, putting up new shoots and stalks after the first year, and not dying every year, as the two last described: from this comes forth one stalk a foot, or more, high, of a green, purplish color: But Parkinson says, that the root sends forth diverse long and narrow dark green leaves, lying upon the ground, pointed at the ends, somewhat rough or rugged, and not fully smooth, as many of the other sorts are; and from among these leaves, there springs up one stalk, and sometimes two or three, brown of color, and two or three feet high, having two small leaves set at their joints, but much separate one from another, and which will be clammy like the other in the hot summer time: From the middle to the top of the stalk grow little branches, which upon pretty long footstalks bear flowers, every stalk one flower by itself, consisting of five little round leaves, yet divided in the middle at the tops. These flowers are of a lively deep red color, almost like the single red Rose Campion, but with a paler red circle at bottom, set in green husks smaller at bottom and larger at head, in which (after the flowers are past) there grows small seed, and of a brownish color.

VII. The Places. These plants, says Gerard, grow wild in the west of England, among corn: but they are also nursed up in gardens, merely for pleasure sake, more than for any virtues they are hitherto know to possess.

IX. The Times. They flourish and flower in the summer months; and they last not until near the winter season; and their seed ripens in the meanwhile.

X. As to their qualities, specification, preparations and virtues, they may be referr’d, says Parkinson, to those of the other Wild Campions, whereunto they are likest in face, and outward appearance. But Gerard says, the virtues of theses Wild Williams are to be referred to the Wild Pinks and Gilliflowers.

Botanologia, or The English Herbal, was written by William Salmon, M.D., in 1710.
This chapter has been proofread by Haley.

Add new comment