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the fingers of Mercury: hermodactyles;

Original French:  les doigtz de Mercure: Hermodactyles:

Modern French:  les doigtz de Mercure: Hermodactyles:


Among the plants that are named for a higher resemblance.


Notes

Hermodattulus

Hermodattulus

Schöffer, Peter (ca. 1425–ca. 1502.), [R]ogatu plurimo[rum] inopu[m] num[m]o[rum] egentiu[m] appotecas refuta[n]tiu[m] occasione illa, q[uia] necessaria ibide[m] ad corp[us] egru[m] specta[n]tia su[n]t cara simplicia et composita. Mainz: 1484. Plate 71. Botanicus

Hermodactilus

Hermodactilus

Meydenbach, Jacob, Ortus Sanitatis. Mainz, Germany: 1491. 104r. University of Cambridge Digital Library

Hermodactilus (text)

Hermodactilus (text)

Meydenbach, Jacob, Ortus Sanitatis. Mainz, Germany: 1491. 104r. University of Cambridge Digital Library

Crocus

Crocus

Meydenbach, Jacob, Ortus Sanitatis. Mainz, Germany: 1491. 69v. University of Cambridge Digital Library

Crocus (text)

Crocus (text)

Meydenbach, Jacob, Ortus Sanitatis. Mainz, Germany: 1491. 69v. University of Cambridge Digital Library

Hermodactylus tuberosus

Hermodactylus tuberosus
Hermodactylus tuberosus

Redouté, Pierre-Joseph (1759–1840), Les Liliacées, 8 vols.. 1802–1816. Wikipedia

hermodactyles

Ce mot signifie les doigts d’Hermès ou de Mercure.

Rabelais, François (ca. 1483–1553), Œuvres de Rabelais (Edition Variorum). Tome Cinquième. Charles Esmangart (1736–1793), editor. Paris: Chez Dalibon, 1823. p. 270. Google Books

Mercury’s Fingers

There is Hermodactylus legitimus, orientalis, or Colchicum album, and H. spurius, Colchicum commune, autumnale, the lilac autumn Crocus (R.), or it might be Foxglove (Digitalis purpurea). Possibly plants deriving their names from Mercury are so called because they possess ‘active’ principles. (The last four notes are mainly due to the kindness of Mr. Acton, Fellow of St. John’s Coll.)

Rabelais, François (ca. 1483–1553), The Five Books and Minor Writings. Volume 1: Books I-III. William Francis Smith (1842–1919), translator. London: Alexader P. Watt, 1893. Internet Archive

hermodactyles

Ὲρμοδάχτυλοζ, (Diosc. IV, 42), Hermodacte (Jacques Psychriste in Alexandre de Tralles), Hermodette (Aldebrandin), Hermodacte (Hortus sanit., A. Paré), Hermodactile (Mondeville), Ermodaucle, Hermodaucle (Platearius). Ce nom désigne un tubercule importé du Levant, connu de Dioscorides sous le nom d’éphémère ou colchique, déjà vanté par Mésué contre la goutte, et d’ailleurs encore usité en thérapeutique anti-goutteuse. C’est le Colchicum autumnale, L. Plancon a voulu — à tort — y reconnaître le C. variegatum, L. Sainéan (H.N.R., 124) y discerne soit C. illyricum (?), soit Iris tuberosa, L. Le nom d’hermodacte a été aussi appliqué par les Arabes au Sisyringium de Théophraste, qui est le petit colchique d’Égypte, C. motanum, L. Enfin Hermodactyle, doigt d’Hermès, est encore le nom magique de la potentille quintefeuille, dite aussi hermobotane ou hermopsoa (Potentilla reptans, L.). Cf. sur cette question fort embrouillée A. Delpeuch, La goutte et le rhumatisme, Paris, 1900.

Rabelais, François (ca. 1483–1553), Oeuvres. Édition critique. Tome Cinquieme: Tiers Livre. Abel Lefranc (1863-1952), editor. Paris: Librairie Ancienne Honoré Champion, 1931. p. 356. Internet Archive

hermodactyl

hermodactyl. Obsolete except historical. Also ermodattile, hermodactule [adaptation of medieval Latin hermodactylus, adopted from Greek eermodaktuloj lit. Hermes’ finger.]

A bulbous root, probably that of a species of Colchicum, formerly imported from the East and used in medicine. Also, the plant itself.

C. 1350 Med. MS. in Archæol. XXX. 380 Medelyd wt rosalgere And ermodattilis of on 3ere.

C. 1400 Lanfranc’s Science of cirurgie 236 Also take… hermodactulis wiþ sugre & coold watir.

C. 1550 Humphrey Lloyd, translator The tresury of health contynyng many profitable medycines gathered out of Hypocrates, Galen and Avycen, by one Petrus Hyspanus (1585) Q vi, A plaster made of the rote of walwort and Hermodactiles stampte wyth Hogges grese.

1616 John Bullokar An English expositor, Hermodactiles, little roots white, and round, solde by Apothecaries, etc.

1681 tr. Willis’ Rem. Med. Wks. Vocab., Hermodactils, or mercuries finger, white and red.

1727 Bradley Fam. Dict. s.v. Head ach, [To clear the Brain] you may take two Drams of Hermodactil, with some Betony and Pimpernel-Leaves.

Applied by Lyte to the Meadow Saffron, Colchicum autumnale; and later to the Snake’s-head Iris, Iris tuberosa (Hermodactylus tuberosus), which was supposed to be the source of the drug.

1578 Henry Lyte, tr. Dodoens’ Niewe herball or historie of plantes iii. xxxv. 366 Of Hermodactil or Mede Saffron.

1664 John Evelyn Kalendarium hortense (1729) 199 March… Flowers in Prime, or yet lasting, Chelidonium small with double Flowers, Hermodactyls, Tuberous Iris.

1768 Miller Gard. Dict. (ed. 8), Hermodactylus,… by some botanic writers… supposed the true Hermodactyl, but what has been long used in Europe for that is the root of a Colchicum.


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Posted 25 January 2013. Modified 5 July 2017.

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