Frederick (Jamie) Anderson ’19: Book XI, Chapter 6 (On the Herb that on this Island of Hispaniola is Called Curi-á)

On the herb that on this island of Hispaniola is called curi-á; I set the á apart because it is thus pronounced.

Translated by Frederick Anderson ‘19

An excellent herb grows on this island of Hispaniola, planted in many houses here to adorn gardens. They call it curi-á.[1] So, the á must be said slightly after curi, to pronounce it the way the Indian does. It is very fresh and has an attractive appearance. It grows very clustered together and low to the ground. Two things are necessary so that it remains green and does not dry out: first, it must be sprinkled with water in the afternoons, after the sun has set each day, or at least each third day; second, every eight days it must be trimmed or sheered with scissors (as they normally do with myrtle hedges in some monasteries or gardens). They say that there are male and female of this herb. It sprouts purple flowers, very small and beautiful, and they seed in the month of January. The leaf appears similar to that of salvia, although this one is more pointed, thinner, and greener, and it is somewhat similar to the leaves of the mastic-tree or myrtle, but nonetheless this one is thinner. Its odor is very similar to that of the trefoil, and so it is dried and distilled to spray onto clothing to add a good smell. This distilled water is sought after by women because it is warm and soothes their ailments, it intensifies and soothes them, and if they wash their loins with it it will incite the passions.

I leave other properties aside. It is much esteemed as a cure for ulcers and for healing sores, which are cleaned with this herb, and bandaged with clean cloths, as asserted by credible people who know this from experience. Cockroaches do not enter arcs or chests that have been sprinkled with the distilled curi-á mixture, which is extremely good and a singular benefit in these parts where there is an infinity of these cockroaches that destroy and sully clothes in this city and other villages.

[1] Justicia pectoralis. [EE]