On the herb called coygaraca[1] and its properties.

Translated by Frederick Anderson ’19.

The herb coygaraca is so singular and well-known in our Indies, especially in Castilla de Oro, that the Indians hold it in high regard as a remedy for sores, even if they are old ones, because it eats away and purges the bad flesh. They are cured with such ease that it is a miraculous thing and a very effective medicine. And as the land is incredibly humid in these parts and poor for the health of the legs, very often the Indians walk around afflicted with sores, men as well as women. For their remedy they use this herb, as I will now describe. They take the herb and bring it to the fire so that it wilts, or they let it be for a period of time after it has been cut so that it withers and dries; they place it over the sore without doing any additional preparation. It works like a caustic agent, even better, and no solimán [or corrosive sublimate] compares. That which is put on the sore is the outer side of the leaf, which is not quite so green in its color as the inner side. Thin golden threads sprout from the center of this herb, which grow in stalks as tall as two or three palms or less, straight and no thicker than they are depicted here.[2] At the top or extreme of each of these stalks there is a flower or alcarchophillas (artichike), a broom-like flower that in the realm of Toledo (alias Carpentania) is called algaravia[3]—at least that is what they are called in Madrid, where I was born. And the top part of the lobe is a purple color, and instead of flowers it sprouts filaments that resemble colored silk, a dark white and red that looks like purple or violet. And some stalks or buds that grow out of the base of this herb are hollow, and each has its own head or lobe, and their tips curve downward. On the outside, the leaves are a very light green that tends towards white, and on the inside part they are very green. The stalks, from which these lobes usually sprout, number four or five, more or less, and the leaves number five or six put together in a bunch or cluster, like lettuce in its verdure and freshness (some would think that it is lettuce itself, if it did not have the lobes I have mentioned).

Underneath the earth it has roots, and I believe that although they are small they are not without beneficial properties, since its leaves do as I have described. The leaf is double the width or thicker than is depicted here, which was drawn in front of a specimen of the very same coygaraca, as it is known in the language of the Cueva, where I have seen it in Darién, in Acla, and in Nombre de Dios, and throughout other parts of the Mainland. After learning of it, some Christians customarily dry this herb and keep its powder for the effect I have described, and in the same way they draw the water from it with a still, from the leaves as well as the stalks and buds, and all of it as it is painted.[4] And when they suffer from sores they use that mixture to clean them before covering them with a clean cloth and they will heal, especially in the case of wounds not caused by weapons. But the Indians, as I have said, when they cure themselves with the leaves they replace them once or twice per day, and apply a fresh leaf before they go to bed. To me the depiction appears well done,[5] sufficient to familiarize oneself with the herb and showing where they can be found, so that one may inquire further as to its properties (which I well believe may be more than I have described here).

[1] Pinguicula. [EE]

[2] See Appendix 2 for illustration listed as Illus. 4, figure 8 in AR edition. [EE]

[3] Mantisalca salmantica. [EE]

[4] See Appendix 1 for illustrations from the 1535 edition of the Natural History.  [EE]

[5] See Appendix 1 for illustrations from the 1535 edition of the Natural History. [EE]