CrosswortBotanical Name: Galium cruciata (SCOPOLI)
Family: N.O. Rubiaceae Parts Used: Herb, leaves.
Description: The Crosswort (Galium cruciata, Scopoli), like G. verum, has yellow flowers, but they are not so showy, being only in short clusters of about eight together, in the axils of the upper whorls of leaves and of a dull, pale yellow. The stems are slender and scarcely branched, 1 to 2 feet long, and bear soft and downy leaves oblong in shape, arranged four in a whorl, hence the name Crosswort.
Medicinal Action and Uses: This species though now practically unused, was considered a very good wound herb for both inward and outward wounds. A decoction of the leaves in wine was also used for obstructions in the stomach or bowels and to stimulate appetite. It was also recommended as a remedy for rupture, rheumatism and dropsy.
We have only one representative in Great Britain of the genus Rubia (name from Latin ruber, red), from which this large natural order takes its name, namely the Wild Madder (R. peregrina, Linn.), common in bushy places in the south-west of England.
It is a long, straggling, perennial plant, many feet in length, with remarkably rough stems and leaves, the latter glossy above and growing in whorls of four to six, their margins recurved and bearing prickles, which are also present on the angles of the stem and the midribs of the leaves, the plant being otherwise smooth.
The flowers, in bloom from June to August, are yellowish-green and grow in loose panicles. They are followed by black berries, about as large as currants, which remain attached to the plant till late in winter.
The properties of this native Wild Madder are not made use of, although it yields a good dye, said to be but little inferior to that of the cultivated species, R. tinctorum, the Dyer's Madder, formerly a plant of much greater importance than it is now, owing to the researches of chemical science having discovered an easier source of the important dye it yields.