Moschatel, Common

Medical Herbs Catalogue


Moschatel, Common

otanical: Adoxa Moschatellina
Family: N.O. Caprifoliaceae
Synonyms: Tuberous Moschatel. Musk Ranunculus.

This plant, belonging to the natural order Caprifoliaceae, is the only one of its species. The name Adoxa is from the Greek, signifying 'inglorious,' from its humble growth. It is an interesting little herbaceous plant, 4 to 6 inches high; stem four-angled; root-leaves long-stalked, ternate; leaflets triangular, lobed; cauline leaves or bracts two, smaller, with sheathing petioles; flowers arranged as if on five sides of a cube, small and pale green in colour; berry with one-seeded parchment-like chamber. Growing in hedgerows, local, but widely diffused, also in Asia and North America, even into the Arctic regions.

The flowers, and indeed the whole plant, has a musk-like scent, which it emits towards evening when the dew falls - this scent, however, disappears if the plant is bruised. It flowers in April and May.

John Ray, in his early system of plant classification, placed the Moschatel amongst the berry-bearing plants. The early writers found considerable difficulty in classifying it botanically. One calls it the muskranunculus, whilst another classes it with the fumitories, probably because of its leaves.