Book XI, Chapter II
On the herbs that that are natural to this island of Hispaniola and are similar to those of Spain, but were present before the Christians reached these parts.
Translated by Frederick Anderson ’19.
Firstly, there is chicory or cicoria, sow thistle or dandelions, which the herbalists call rostrum porcinum; purslane or pertulaca; vervain or verbena; black nightshade or hierba mora or solatrum; plantains or fleaworts, which the doctors call plantago; shepherd’s purse, alias bursa pastoris; mayweed, alias matricaria; white water lilies, alias nenufar; basil or ozimum gariophiolatum, alias basilipo; serpent fern or scolopendria; maidenhair fern, capillus Veneris; pennyroyal or politrique polytrichum; common ceterach or ceteraque; delta maidenhair fern or adiantos; mountain pennyroyal, poligium agreste; mountain fleece or herva maculaia; marshmallow or altea; southern polypody or polypodium; oak mistletoe or viscus querci, although it grows here on other trees as well; sea thistles or tribulus marinus; amaranth, or bletum; sage or lilifagus; sun millet or milium solis; round sedge or cyperus; and stinking clover or trifolium leporinum. All these herbs can be found here according to what I have understood from our apothecaries and herbalists and what I have seen myself in these Indies. Apart from those that I have mentioned, here there are many natural ferns of many different sizes, just as in Spain. There are so many that certain trees must appear to fit within this classification (or their leaves at the very least). There is also chamomile of the same variety as in Castile, with the same flowers and scent; blackberry bushes the same as in Spain, many different types as well, some thicker and with different flowers and certain among them emitting a very good scent; rosehip bushes of the same variety as in Castile, red and with the same leaves; horehound, but they do not smell good and are taller than those from Castile; sunflowers or heliotropia, but they are not male and do not produce the fruit or grain from which the blue ink used to illuminate the cardinal letters of manuscripts is made; mallows almost like those of Spain, but the apothecaries here say that in their effects they are perfect mallows; and cress and cilantro: these two herbs have the same flavor as the cress and cilantro from Castile, but they have different, much broader leaves and those of cilantro are somewhat spiny.
Image: Love-lies-bleeding (Amaranth caudatus) from John Edwards’s A Collection of Flowers (1795).