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Gallicrus liber antiquus de simplici medicina dicitur sanguinaria eo quod naribus imposita sanguinem suaviter fluere facit, nascitur circa vias et saxosis locis, habet in sumitate velut pedes gali.


Gallicrus AC e | Galicrus f | Galierus B {'c' misread as 'e'}

{imposita} mox add. f

sumitate (sũi- e) B ef | sũmitate AC

velut AC | uelud (ve- ms. e) B e | ut f

gali ABC | galli ef


Gallicrus: in an ancient book entitled De simplici medicina {"On simples, i.e. non-compound, medicine"} it is also called sanguinaria because when it is inserted in the nose it makes blood flow out smoothly. It grows in roads and in rocky places, and at its top it has an arrangement resembling the feet of a cockerel.


Galli crus means literally "cockerel's foot" and sanguinaria {sc. herba} "blood herb".

Simon's liber antiquus de simplici medicina is very likely the Herbarius of Ps.Apuleius, {online: [[1]], the only extant work of antiquity that mentions gallicrus and its synonym sanguinaria, cf. 44, ed. Howald (1927: 93). HERBA GALLICRUS, it reads: Alii sanguinariam vocant. Nascitur locis solidis et circa vias – "Some people call it also sanguinaria {i.e. the blood herb}. It grows on firm ground and around roads".

In an appendix to the Herbarius, Howald and Sigerist have added passages they consider as having been inserted in some codices. Of interest here are the codices of their class β, which must be very similar to the source Simon had in hand; e.g. in op.cit. p. 291, it states: 2) Ut sanguis de naribus currat et caput leviorem faciat. Herbam sanguinariam si in naribus mittas, continuo sanguinem mira celeritate emittit et caput leviorem facit. - "So that blood runs from the nose and makes the head lighter. If you insert the herb sanguinaria into the nose, it will immediately make the blood flow at miraculous speed out of the nose and thereby makes the head lighter."

For further references in the medieval literature cf. Tractatus de herbis, ed. Ventura (2009: 758, 463). DE SANGUINARIA.

Botanical identification:

Cf. André (1985: 108), s.v. gallicrūs identifies it "sans doute" as Digitaria sanguinalis (L.) Scop., "hairy crabgrass or finger-grass" [[2]] [[3]]

Zotter in another version of the Ps.-Apuleian Herbarius in Medicina antiqua, ed. Howald (1927: 117), mentions Panicum crus-galli L. syn. Echinochloa crus-galli (L.) Beauv "cockspur" [[4]] as another possibility.

N.b. The phytonym sanguinaria is used by other authors for different plants.

WilfGunther 12:19, 18 September 2014 (BST)

See also: Sanguinaria poligonia

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