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Wednesday, July 29, 2015


Flowers of East Crete
Photo from: Steve Lenton
ajonjera, achicoria dulce, L. Chondrilla juncea, Eng. rush skeletonweed, gum succory. It is a member of the chicory tribe of the sunflower family and a close relative of chicory and the dandelion as it too has a spindly habit of growth.

It thrives on sandy dry soils in France, Italy and Spain. The plant lives two years and grows from one to four feet high. Its taproot may grow to seven feet or more in length. When cut, the stems and root exude white latex sap. The yellow flower heads, appearing in summer, are ½” in diameter. They grow at branch tips, leaf axils and along the stem in clusters of two to five or individually. One plant can produce 1,500 flowers and 20,000 seeds.

Sheep particularly like to graze on the rosettes and early flowers, while cattle munch on the stems of early flowers. In the Spain during the Middle Ages, the whole plant was taken to the kitchen. Although a little bitter, the greens were eaten like salads dressed with oil. The rosettes were added for color. The sweet roots were cleaned and fried a little.

hauling out and burning rush skeletonweed
Photo from: myshell
Medicinally the stems and roots were ground with myrrh and administered to women in the form of oil to bring on menstruation. The roots were mashed and mixed with honey and made into round pills, which were dissolved in water and mixed with nitre to remove scales on skin. Hair was treated with the juice extracted from the tender roots. A needle was dipped into the juice and that was dropped on the roots of the hair to prevent lose.

Avenzoar directs that moderately heated, it has drying powers that act as a stomach and liver tonic, at the same time it improves the strength in both viscera and is useful to alleviate dropsy. Drunk like wine, it was useful for snakebites. Boiled juice was drunk alone or with wine to constipate the bowls. 

Today, it is considered a threat to farm lands as it reduces forage production, lowers the productivity of land and reduces crop production 50-70% and the entwined plant and latex sap gum up farm machinery.

[Ency Brit. 1998:6:Holderness:652:1d:10:Reti:244:3b-246:1a; and Ibn Zuhr/García Sánchez. 1992:103]

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