Illustris Auctor Americam adiit ante 40 annos, non superficiali Botanicaes cognition imbutus, nihilominus latuere ipsi plantae in novo orbe crescents, quas nulla ratione ad genera & species amandate potuit; hinc seposuit Botanices sacra per annos triginta, dum in manus Ejus incident opera Cl. Linnaei botanica, secundum cujus principia incepit plantas feliciter & facile examinare atque atque detegere, & ad genuinas familias reducere; Hac ratione Plantarum Coldenghamensium collectio nata est.

Plantas sic graphice delineatas misit illustris Auctor ad Cl. J. Fr. Gronovium & hic ad Linnaeum nostrum, qui demum ab auctore obtinuit veniam hac publici juris faciendi.


This famous author visited America 40 years ago, [and] not superficially was [deeply] inspired to learn the Botanicals, especially the plants growing in the new world for which no [study of the] relation between the types and species had been commissioned.  This work on the Botanica was set aside for thirty years, as the Work of botanist Cl. Linnaei on the principles of the plants began to develop, resulting in a successful review on an easy method to define plant sand to reduce it them their natural families.  This method was further developed as part of the work on the Plantarum Coldenghamensium collection.

Plants so graphically drawn were sent to the illustrious author Cl. J. Fr. Gronovium and then forwarded to Linnaeus, who finally got the permission from the author of this work the rights to make it public.



It is important to note here that it was with this introduction that Colden’s use of the binomial system of naming plants was first noted.  Rationalism is one term used by Linnaeans to  refer to this method of defining plant names at the time.   And even though throughout Colden’s two parts of this work, binomialism isn’t really fully employed, although there was an emphasis on this way in which he discussed his plants throughout this treatise.  This method of referring to plants would attributed to Colden at a later time in the Linnean writings about plants by Linnaeus himself.  This is most like what gave many authors for the time including the author who wrote the preface to this work the idea that a genus-species system had in fact been put in place as an important plant taxonomist skill.

Also note in the above preface to Colden’s work, the preface author’s phrase “quas nullae ratione ad genera & species manadare potuit . . . Hac ratione Plantarum Coldenhamensium collectio nata est”.  Roughly translated: ’and so this new naming [system/art] for plants–genus and species–as part of this study of the Coldenham plant collection–is born.’   The roles of Gronovius and Linnaeus within this process are referred to in the preface and appear throughout the taxonomic work in fairly standard format for this topic of writing for the time.

Scientists identifying a plant  with a lengthy Latin name refer to the creator of that name immediately afterwards.  This remains a standard for the more professional taxonomy work published to this day.  In Colden’s work we see him refer to the other scientists who ascribed a particular name to this plant as well.  Often, the different perspectives these specialists took to naming the plant resulted in considerably different identifications penned in Latin.    Such is the case for many of the plants of Coldenham.  In such cases, Colden provides you with his name for the plant followed by previously published alternative names given to the plant.  In the end, it was up to Linnaeus and his associates to identify the first authentic discovery of the plant and mounting of the pressed specimens.  Usually, it was this first discoverer who is associated with the most official name given to each plant, to this day.  Currently, Colden is associated with important discoveries about plants and their ethnobotany and medicinal uses, but not necessarily to the original or first discovery of the plant itself.  As noted elsewhere several times, there are several plants almost recognized as “an original Colden discovery.”



1.  VERONICA foliis inferioribus oppositis ovatis; superioribus lanceolatis alternis, floribus solitariis.  Linn. cliff.  9.  Gron. virg. 4.

CAL.  perianthium quadripartitum, usque ad basin, persistens, laciniis lanceolatis.

COR.  petalum unicum.  Tubus brevissimus.  Limbus quadripartitus, planus; laciniis ovatis: imsima minore.


PIST.  Germen ovatum.  Stylus unicus.  Stigma simplex.

PER.  Capsula cordata, compressa, bilocularis.

SEM. plurima.

Fola ovata, integra, inferius opposita, superius alterna.

Flores singuli pedunculis ex foliorum superiorum angulis.

Caulis simplex, via pedalis.

1.  VERONICA with opposing lower leaves, ovate, lanceolate, upper alternate, and solitary flowers.  Linn. cliff.  9.  Gron. virg. 4.

CALYX  Four part perianth continuing down to the base, with lanceolate lobes.

COROLLA  Only petals  Tube short. Lamina fourfold, flat, ovate lobes: imsima less


PISTIL Oval Germen.  Unique Style.  Simple Stigma.

PERIANTH   Capsule cordate, compressed, bilocular

SEMEN abundant.

Leaf ovate, entire, the lower opposite, upper alternate.

Flowers on single peduncles,  from the leaves upper corners .

Stem simple,  from the foot (base)

2.  VERONICA cauliculis procumbentibus, foliis linearibus.

2.  VERONICA caulicular stem, linear leaves

CAL.  Perianthium quadripartium, laciniis lanceolatis, acutis; persistens.

CALYX  Perianth four parts, lobes lanceolate, acute, persistent

COR.  Petalum unicum.  Tubus brevissimus.  Limbus quadripartitus; laciniis ovalibus: inferiori minori.

COROLLA  Petals only. Tube short. Lamina four-parted; lobes oval, lower ones small

STAM.  Filamenta duo, corollae inserta.

STAMENS  Long filamentous, with corolla inserted

PIST.  Germen globulare.  Stylus longitudine staminum.

PISTIL Globular germen (base).  Stylus long as stamen

PER.  Capsula compressa, verticaliter cordata; margine membranaceo, pellucido, acuto; bilocularis.

PERIANTH compressed capsule, vertically cordate, margins membranous, translucent, spiky; bilocular (bifurcated at the tip?)

SEM.  Duo, parva, (sed de numero incertus sum).

Caulis tetragonus, procumbens.

Folia sessilia, bina opposita, longa, lanceolato-linearia, rigosa.

Flores in spica laxa ex alis doliorum, pedunculis longis insistentes.

Two, small, (but I am uncertain about the number).

Stem square, procumbent.

Leaves sessile, as opposing pairs, long, linear-lanceolate, rigose (hairy).

Flowers in the ear of the wings loose barrel(?), continuing along long peduncles

3.  VERONICA foliis quaternis quinisve.  Linn. cliff. 7. Gron. virg. 4.

3.  VERONICA four or five leafs.  Linn. cliff. 7.  Gron. Virg, 4.

Nostratibus Indian Physick.

Commonly called Indian Physick.

CAL.  perianthium quinquisidum, parum, persistens; laciniis lanceolatis.

CALYX  perianth five little parts, continuing; lobes lanceolate

COR.  Petalum unicum.  Tubus cylindraceus, calyce triplo longior.  Limbus parvus, quadrisidus; laciniis ovatis, aequalibus.

COROLLA Petals single, tube cylindrical, calyx three long parts.  Lamina small four (quadrisidus), lobes ovate, equal

STAM. Filamenta duo, longa, corollae inserta, extra corollam veluti duo cornua prominentia, a se invicem declinata.  Antherae globosae.

STAMENS  Two filaments two long, inserted in the corolla, outside the corolla are two horns projecting from one another declined, globose anthers.

PIST.  Germen ovatum.  Stylus unicus, filiformis, longitudine corollae, post occasum floris persistens.

PISTIL  Germen oval. Style single, filiform, corolla length, afterwards occasionally persistent (remaining on the plant?)

PER.  Capsula oblonga, ovata, apice acuminata, duobus sulcis longitudinalibus cavata, bilocularis, (nec cordata, nec compressa).

PERIANTH  Capsular oblong, ovate, apex or tip acuminates, with two longitudinal hollowed furrows, bilocular or two part (not cordate, not compressed).

SEM.  plurima, ovata.

SEMEN large, ovate

Folia quinata, verticillatim posita, lanceolata, tenuiter serrata, vix petiolata, acuminata, fibra unica longitudinali ramulos laterales alternatim emittente.

Leaves quinate, placed vertically, lanceolate, slightly serrated, scarcely petiolated, acuminate, with unique longitudinal fiber that branches laterally, alternately emittently (outward)

Flores in spicis pluribus, densis, erectis, caulis terminatricibus; pedunculis brevissimis.  Foliolum unicum, lanceolatum, ad extortum pedunculi.

Flowers in several spikes, dense, erect stem terminating [abruptly?], peduncles short. Leaflets single, elongated, wresting the peduncle

Caulis simplex, saepe sexpedalis, foliis per totam longitudinem verticillatim postis.

Stem simple, often six footed (sexpedalis), through the whole length of verticillate leaves post

Radix fibrosa, perennis.

Fibrous perennial root.

Crescit in humidis.

OBS.  Haec-Planta tota facie a Veronicis diversa: & cum partes fructificationis etiam diversa sunt, ad diversum Genus referenda; vel distinctum Genus constituendum.

Decocto Radicum hujus plantae frequentius utumtur Nostrates ad purgandam alvum ab Indigenis docti.

Grows in damp places.

OBS. This Plant is totally different in appearance from all other Veronicas, with parts that bear fruit, that appear different the reference Genus, establishing a distinct constitution or style.

The root from this plant is frequently boiled, commonly known as a purgative check by indigenous scholars.

4.  VERBENA caule erecto, foliis ovatis serratis, binis oppositis, versus petiolum semel vel bis laciniatis

4.  VERBENA stems erect, ovate, serrate leaves, opposite paired, laciniated once or twice towards the petiole

Veronica sp. [1]



Veronica sp. [2]

Veronica sp. [3]  Early Indian Doctors.  In the Flora Virginica written by Gronovius, this is commonly known as “Indian Physick”, a name which refers to its emetic effects when consumed.  In the Observations section, Colden notes the use of a root decoction as a purgative by “Indigenis docti” (Indian doctors).  This is the earliest use of this specific phrase “Indian Doctor” that is noted in the local Hudson Valley writings.  Although it is likely that the term ‘Indian Doctor’ is a popular, vulgar, or colloquial term of common origin, this is important to note due to the later development of a popular form of medicine with a similar name.  For this reason, it can be speculated that ”Indian Medicine,” in the common popular culture sense for the time, most likely began in or near Western New York.  Canadian Hudson’s Bay Fur Trade documents demonstrate trapper behaviors and activities very much like those which the later “Indian Doctors” of European decent would have engaged in.  Likewise early Colonial medical documents (see Aesculapius Comes to the Colonies) suggest some local rural physicians may have taken on Indian practices, at least with the herbs.  What we can say for certain is that some time during the very early 1800s, the “Indian Doctor” fad became popular in Ohio, some of the more rural parts of Virginia, and several parts of rural Indiana.  Colden’s work played an important role in educating the people about an important part of early American history important to the development of this profession.

A more pragmatic take on the development of the Indian medicine belief system is that is was developed due to changes in lifestyle.  The earliest example of these practice appear in the writings about the Canada-Ohio/New York border during the 1790s.  Once again, a number of Hudson Bay Company and Fur Trade writings can be linked to this historical change in events.  These stories often involved storekeepers or traders, trappers, scouts, and company agents living day to day in association with native American groups, enough to find a spouse and later bear the first metis or “halfbreed” children.   More often than not, these true Indian Doctors were of non-Anglican descent.  Most of the richest accounts of these “physicians” tend to be non-Anglican, and certainly less literature and rarely published, except in the form of republished diaries, ledgers, logs and notebooks.  Colden of course had limited access to any such documents (most were not published for quite some time), so much of what he and his daughter Jane have to say about Indigenous medicine came as a direct result of personal experiences, local stories, conversations and tales that were told by the locals of the Hudson.

Physicians versus Shamans.  Colden’s use of the term “Docti” may or may not include anything to do with shamanics, another medical practiced documented fairly well by the Valley’s first physician to ascend the Hudson River during the very early 1600s and document for the first time an Iroquois shamanic process taking place within a traditional shelter (Dr. Harmenz Van Den Bogaert.)  Thus there was a distinction made between the practice of shamanism and Indian herbalism.  In most literature of the time published about the Missions and explorations, doctor is reserved for healers practicing physical medicine.  This probably relates to Colden’s use of the expression ‘Docti.’

Why the need to distinguish?  This use of emetics does match later recounts of native herbalism.  The use of emetics was common to native practices, although with a philosophy very different from that of the European settlers.  Aside from snake root remedies, emetics was perhaps one of the more common types of herbal medicines defined for the time.  Other popular forms of medicines for the time would be tonics (ginseng and non-ginseng or Sarsaparilla equivalents), diaphoretics (plants that cause a sweat to cool a fever), and strong laxatives.


floribus caerulis in spicis erectis tenuibus caules terminaericibus dense sitis.  An Clayt. [ii?] 431?  (Verbena tetranda spicis longis acuminatis, foliis hastatis.  Linn. upsal. 8.)

blue flowers on upright spikes slender stalks densely terminaericibus dry.  An. Clayt. [ii?] 431? (Verbena tetranda with spikes long acuminate, leaves hastati)

Habitat in humidis.

Lives in humid places/dampness.

5.  Verbena caule erecto. foliis ovatis serratis binis oppositis, floribus albis in spicis filiformibus horizontaliter positis sparsim sitis.  (Est Verbena retrandra, spicis filiformibus paniculatis.  Linn.  ups. 9).

5.  Verbena stems erect. two opposite leaves ovate serrate, white flowers in spikes filiform be sporadically placed horizontally.  (Is Verbena retrandra, spikes filiform, paniculate.  Linn. ups. 9)

Habitat in aridis.

Lives in arid/dry places.

6.  LYCOPUS foliis lanceolatis serratia vix petiolatis glabris: versus basin aliquando profundiius lacinatis.

LYCOPUS lanceolate with serrated leaves, scarcely petiolate, glabrous, sometimes more profoundly lacinate (lacy) towards the base

7.  MONARDA caule acutangulo, capitulis terminalibus.  Linn. cliff.  495.

Nostratibus Red-Mint.  Incolis Nova Angliae Assyrean-Baulm.

Commonly called Red Mint, by Inhabitants of New England Assyrian-Balm.

CAL.  Periantium monophyllum, tubulatum, cylindraceum, striatum, coloratum, persistens: ore quinquedentato.

CALYX  Periantium leaf divided, tubular,, cylindrical, striatum, color, persistent: opening with five teeth.

COR.  petalum unicum.  Tubus cylindraceus, calyce longior.  Limbus patens, parum compressus, non ringens: Labium superius longum rectum, angustum, integrum, marginibus lateralibus infelxis; Labium inferius longus, marginibus lateralibus reflexis, parum trifidum; lacinia media longiori, acuminata.

COROLLA  petals united. Cylindrical tube, longer than calyx. Lamina widening slightly compressed, not [ringens], the upper lip of a long straight, narrow, upright, curved lateral margins, lower lip long, lateral margins reflexed, slightly trifid; lacinia [skirt] medium length, acuminate

STAM.  Filamenta duo, inferiori parti saucis inserta, longitudine labii superioris, & duo eo onvoluta.  Antherae concretae.

STAMENS  Two filaments, the inferior part inserted [saucis] along the length of the upper lip, and the things wrapped up under him. Anthers concrete.

PIST.  Germen quadrifidum.  Stylus filiformis, cum staminibus involutos.  Stigma simplex.

PISTIL  Germen four. Style filiform, with the stamens involuted.  Stigma simple

PER. nullum.


SEM.  quatuor, parva, ovata.

SEMEN  four, small, ovate

Folia rugosa. ovata, acuminata, marginibus lateralibus serrata, bina opposita, petiolata.

Leaves wrinkled. ovate, acuminate, serrate lateral margins, opposing pairs, petiolate.

Caulis concavus, quandrangularis, quatnor sulcis oppositis.

Flores gerit rubros in Verticillo densissimo caulem vel ramulos terminante, cujus Involucrum multiplex, ex plurimus toliis lanceolatis constat: corum aurem exteriora longiora, interiora gradatim minora & coloratiora.

Intra verticillum saepe Caulis novus minor enaseitur, qui itidem florum verticillum minus, inferiori simillimum, sustinet.

OBS.  Supra omnes flores hos Aviculae The Humming Bird dicta frequentant, & quandiu floret, illas quotidie, mane praecipue circumvolitantes videre licet, mel ex floris tubo rostris suis longis exfugentes.

Stem concave four-angled (sided or edged), four furrows, opposing.

Flores wears Red Pegs dense stem or branch terminating whose Involucre manifold, most of Toli lanceolate evident: their external ear longer, progressively smaller and colored interiors.

Enter verticille often Stem new smaller enaseitur who likewise flowers verticille less like lower supports.

OBS. Above all the flowers of these little birds The Humming Bird said they frequent, and as long as flowers, those every day, especially in the morning round, we may see, the honey from the flower tube long exfugentes their beaks.

8.  COLLINSONIA.  Linn. Cliff. 14, f.5.

Nostratibus Horse-weed.

CAL.  Perianthium monophyllum, tubulatum, quinquedentatum; quorum tres superiores latiores, reflexi; duo inferiores lineares, recti.

COR.  Monopetal, tubulata, infundibuliformis, superius compressa, ita ut latus superius & inferius ad se mutuo adpropinquant & fiant latiora, quans duo interposita opposa latera.  Latus superius desinie in duos dentes: duo untrinque latera lateralia in dentum unum: Latus autem inferius extenditur in laciniam longam, reflexam, & in ramulos lineares divisam.

STAM.  Filamenta duo, setacea, longissima, veluti duo cornua utrinque ad latera opposita angustiora extensa.  Antherae simplices, distantes.

PIST.  Corpora quatuor, globularia, ad basin styli, germinibus plantarum verticillatarum simillima.  Germen autem ad horum latus aliud est corpus globulare, pallidioris coloris.  Stylus seraceuse, rubens, ad latus inclinatus, apice bifidus.

PER.  nullum.  Calyx auctus semen in sundo fovet.

SEM.  unicum, globosum.  Dum Semen crescit, corpora illa quatuor embryonum forma ad latus protrudit, & antequam semen maturescae, illa arescunt.

Folia magna, ovata, acuminata, serrata, bina opposita: pedunculis longis.

Caulis taepius simplex, aliquando autem & brachiatus ramulis ex alis foliorum.

Flores gerit in Spicis laxis caulis, vel ramulorum terminalibus.

Radix perennis, dura, glandulosa, inaequalis, compressa, ad superficiem terrae horizontaliter sita, fibras tenues emittens.

OBS.  Planta odorem Melissae spirat.

Radix ad dolores post partum valere dicitur.

Solo gaudet nigro & fertili.

8.  COLLINSONIA  Linn. Cliff. 14, f.5.

Common name Horseweed

CALYX  Perianth leaf divided tubular, five-teeth, with three superior that are wider reflected two lower linear, straightforward

COROLLA  Monopetalous, tubular, funnelform, already compressed, so that the upper and lower side of each form, and become wider, although the two sides have been filed opposite. Side above divided into two teeth, two lateral sides form one in the teeth, but the side of the market, the lower one longer, reflexed, and the branches, linearly divided

STAMENS  Two filaments, hairlike, the longest with two horns, as if it were extended on both sides to the opposite sides and made narrower.  Anthers are simple, distant.

PISTIL   Four globular bodies found at the base of the style, just like plant and its vertical leaves/branches.  The side by the Germen is also globular, paler in color. Style is hairlike, red, and leans to the side with its bifid apex.

PERIANTH.  None.  Calyx enhanced seed supported

SEMEN  unique, globular. While the seed grows, the bodies of four embryos form at the side, pushing it; before the seed matures, it fades.

Leaves large, ovate, acuminate, serrate, two opposites, with long peduncles.

Stems are often simple, but sometimes have wings for the leaves and twigs.

Flowers have a loose bend or fold in the spike, or the terminal branches..

Root perennial, hard, glandular, irregular, compressed horizontally to the surface of the land is located, emitting a thin fibers.

OBSERVATIONS Plant odor Melissa like.

After giving birth the root is said to be in good for the pain and for good health.

Favors black and fertile soil.


Monarda sp. The common name “Red-Mint” suggests the species with the red flower Monarda didyma, as noted by House in Wild Flowers in New York,this is Monarda Fistulosa, var. Crimson Monarda, locally known also as Oswego Tea or American Bee Balm.  According to William Curtis (1794) in the periodical The Botanical Magazine; Or, Flower-Garden Displayed, Linne referred to this as: MONARDA fistulosa capitulis terminalibus, caule obtusangulo (Linn. Syst. Vegetab. p. 68. ed. 14. Murr. Hort. Kew. v. 1. p. 36), and Canadian explorer Cornet as ORIGANUM fistulosum Canadense. (Corn. Canad. 13. t. 14.)

Note the phrase “Incolis Nova Anglia Assyrean-Baulm”  which roughly translates to ‘to inhabitants of New England, Assyrian Balm’.   The Assyrian balm referred to is the Balm of Gilead in the Old Testament, a biblical herb symbolic of the discovery of the “Garden of Eden” to earlier settlers (see Adrian Van der Donck’s listing of plants for example for other Garden of Eden plant symbols).  This represents a very common practice during this period in American history, one that continued in later periods of explorations of the New World.  Other examples of Biblical herbs with some sort of religious-minded “Doctrine” in Nature produced by God include Sassafras and the Wild Iris, each a sign of the trinity and the latter also a sign of British royalty.  Van der Donck, Colden and others tended to behave in such a way as to document their satisfaction with understanding the symbolism that nature (God) put forth for them to see and document.   The early identifications for some of these plants would later be found to be wrong due to this behavior on behalf of the new taxonomists.  Colden’s Waltheria for example may have been the original southern species then escaped from colonial gardens of from livestock coats and imported feed storage, but may have also just been the result of Colden drawing parallels between a plant seen locally and one he was already well aware of due to his training.  The same can be said for Paris (of Europe), Colden’s name for Trillium (of NY), and several of the legumes and mustard species reviewed later.

Collinsonia.    Commonly known as Horseweed, this genus is named for the famous British Botanist Peter Collinson.  There is an interesting relationship between Collinson, who had a plant named after him, and Cadwallader Colden, who, at the time, had yet to have a plant named in his honor.  Even following the publications of his works on Coldenhamia flora, a while would pass before Coldenia was recommended for use as a Genus name, decades after Cadwallader’s death.   The lack of British support for Colden’s work in botany continued to be ‘a thorn in his side’ so to speak, which lasted for decades following his death in 1776.   Whereas Colden obtained global support and respect for his work by his colleagues in most of the major non-anglican universities and associations well distanced from Great Britain, he received minimal respect back home.  This lack of interest in Colden’s work lasted until about 1810, when his successes through the Linnean Society were finally acquired by a British Botanist Sir Hans Sloane.  Of course, this respect and recognition of the name Collinson by Colden occured decades before he began feeling the consequences professionally of some of the British attitudes about his work in government and somewhat anti-Newtonian character as a natural philosopher and physicist.

Observations on this plant (next page) include mention of a similarity this plant has with Melissa essential oil extracts (‘spirat.’ of Lemon Balm).  The root is used to treat women post-partum (following the delivery of a child).  The sentence “Solo gaudet nigro & fertili” perhaps translates as ‘grows best or very well in soil that is black and fertile.”

For more, see, and





9.  Alsine foliis ellipticus succulentis.

CAL.  perianthemum pentaphyllum: foliolis ovato-lanceolatis, persistentibus.

COR.  Petala quinque, calyce minora, ad ungvem bifida.

STAM.  Filamenta tria, corolla breviora, inter divarications, magnae, rubentes.

PIST. Germen ovatum.  Stylus brevissimus. Stigma trifidum; ramulis horizontaliter reflexis, & inter se angulos aequales persicientibus.

PER.  Capsula conica, unilocularis.

SEM.  plurima, globularia.

Folia bina opposita, obverse elliptica, integra, glabra, succulenta.

Caulis repens.

OBS.  Haec plantae facillime Stamina dejicit; sed nunquam plura quam tria observati

9. ALSINE leaves elliptical succulent

CALYX perianthemum five-leaved: leaflets ovate-lanceolate, persistent

COROLLA Petals five, calyx small, split

STAMENS  Filaments three, corolla shorter, divaricating between, large, and red

PISTIL   German oval. Style very short. Stigma 3-part frond, horizontally twisted at perfect angles equal to each other

PERIANTH  Capsule conical, unilocular

SEMEN  many, globular

Leaves of two opposites, obverse elliptical, entire, glabrous, succulent.

Stem creeping.

OBS. These plants are very easily lose their form/strength: I have never observed more than three

10.  IRIS corollis imberbibus, germine trigono.

Loculi capsularum interius cylindracei, repleti seminibus semiorbicularibus, compressis, ita ut bina juncta forment circulum completum.

STAMINA sub stigmate trisfido foliaceo styli reconditae.

OBS.  Ex situe staminum nihil pulveris antherarum intrare potest per aperturam ullam in stigmate ad divaricationem ejus; verisimile igitur videtur, quod gliscat per exteriorem styli superficiem ad receptaculum seminis; v.g. in Zea vel Mays; in quibus superficies styli glabra & lubrica.

10.  IRIS, with beardless corolla and triangular seed.

Coffin inside cylindrical capsules filled with half-round seeds, flat or compressed, so that two joined form a circle.

STAMEN under three part foliaceo (leaf?).  Styles stored (held compacted??).

OBS. From the position of the stamens no anther powder (spores) can enter through any opening in the brand to divaricationem its seems likely, therefore, the surface of the receptacle [is coated] by exterior style semen (pollen), for example in Corn or Maize, in this the surface is slippery and the style glabrous (smooth, shiny).



11. CEPHALANTHUS capitulis terminalibus.


Perianthium commune nullum.

11. CEPHALANTHUS terminal flowerheads.


Perianth  not common

CAL.  infundibuliformis, angulatus; limbo quadrifido; plurimi super fundum globulare congesti.

CALYX  infundibular, angular, four bordered; many congested to form a tight globular form

COR.  universalis aequalis perfecte globularis.  Propria monopetala, tubulata, longa: limbo quadrisido.

COROLLA  Universally equal, perfectly globular.  Each monopetaled, TUBULAR, long; four sided limbs

STAM.  Filamenta quatuor, corolla breviora.  Antherae globosae.

STAMENS  four filamentsm brief or short corolla (crownshape).  Anther globose.

PIST.  Germen infra florem.  Stylus unicus, corolla duplo longior.  Stigma globulare.

PISTIL  Branching below the flower. The stylus is unique, with a corolla twice as long.  Stigma is globular.

PER.  nullum.


SEM.  Solitare, pyramidale, ad basin acuminatum, angulatum.

SEMEN  Solitary, pyramidal, pointed at the base, angular

Plurisma super fundum globulare villis tectum, dense sita.

Many found over globular base/body, with villis (hairy) top, densely situated

Folia ovata, glabra, integra, bine opposita, petiolata.

Caulis lignosus, glaber.

Flores ad extremicates ramulorum in perfectum globum collinguntur.

Leaves ovate, glabrous, entire, in opposing pairs, petiolate.

Stem woody, hairless.

Flowers form as a collection of branchlets that together form a perfect ball.

12.  CEPHALANTHUS capitulis pendulis.

Arbore Nostratibus Button-wood.  D. Clayton.





PER. nullum.

SEM. solitare, longum, pyramidale, ad basin acuminatum, angulatum, lanugine ad cuspidem baseos adhaerente.

Plurisma super fundum globulare dense compacta.

Folia lata angulata.

Flores & Fructus ad extremitates ramulorum pedunculis longis dependence.

12.  CEPHALANTHUS with pendulant flower head

Tree commonly called Button-wood.  D. Clayton.






SEM. single, long, pyramidal, pointed at the base, angular,  the spear sticky down to the base.

Many over globular parts, densely compacted.

Leaves are broad angulated.

The flowers at the ends of branches and fruit have very long peduncles.

13.  APARINE vulgaris.

Foliis senis, verticillatis, ovatis, costa media & marginibus hispidis, vestibus adhaerentibus.  Caulis quadratus, angulis acutis

13. APARINE  Common.

Leaves sensitive, vertical, ovate, hairy on the edges and along the middle rib, clinging to the garments. Stem square, with sharp corners.

14.  PLANTAGO latifolia quinquenervia vulgris, foliis obverse ellipticis.

14.  PLANTAGO leaved, five-nerved (veined) commonly, leaves obverse and elliptical

15.  PLANTAGO angustifolia trinervia.

OBS. Has duas plantas, quamvis spintaneas crescentes, puto non indigenes esse, sed ex Europa cum Graminum & Frumentorum seminibus allatas, ut plures aliae; in locis namque cultis & ad vias publicas duntaxat inveniuntur.

15.  PLANTAGO narrow leaved, three-veined

OBSERVATIONS  These two plants, increasing their amounts voluntary, not indigenously grown here, instead came in with grass and corn seeds brought from Europe, like many other weeds’ located in places of worship and along public roads.


Alsine (Stellaria spp. – Chickweeds).  Colden’s latin phrase ‘foliis ellipticis’ refers to the leaf form, which helps to distinguish this species from other Stellarias (also known as Alsine species in past Botany books).    Probably Stellaria alsine, as above, not to be confused with plants with similar structures that fit the Latin description such as other Stellaria or Portulaca oleraceae.  Differentiation of the many Stellaria species may have not been perfected by local botanists.

Public Domain Photos by Leo Michels

See also

Iris. According to House, the locally common Iris is Larger Blue Flag – Iris versicolor Linnaeus (see House).There is also the Narrow Blue Flag Iris or Poison Flagroot (Iris prismatica Pursh) (ibid).   Iris virginica may also have been noted by Colden.  According to Colden, then young plants tend to resemble corn.   Colden’s description makes an absolute identification of this plant difficult.  In terms of distribution, I. virginica is favored.  In terms of habitat, in particular fields in which Corn is grown, perhaps I. versicolor.  Unfortunately, no color pattern for the flower is provided and the flower form is too generic is nature.

Cephalanthus. Only one species of Cephalanthus native to the New York area is noted at the US Department of Agriculture website.    Colden notes two forms: one with an erect flower at the end of a branch, the second with a pendulous flower.  These are probably the same plant, different variety or different genetic or genotypic/phenotypic character.  This plant is also noted in Clayton’s review of Flora of the Virginia area.



Cephalanthus (see above).

Aparine vulgaris.   Galium species or bedstraw.  The latin term “marginibus hispidus” is give away for identification–referring to the prickly,  hairy leaf edges that cause this plant to adhere to animals and fabrics.  “Caulis quadratis, angulus acutis” is the second give away, referring to the square stem, posessed by few other plant families.  (This is Rubiaceae, many of which bear square stems; the more commonly known family with square stems is Mint or Menthaceae/Lamiaceae).

There are number Galium species native to New York.  Based on shared features in the name (Latin and common) for several of these species, the two species above appear to be the most likely candidates.  However, the more common Galium aparine is perhaps more likely noted by Colden due to its local growth behaviors.

Plantago latifolia quinquenervia vulgaris.

Plantago angustifolia trinervia.

These are very common plants, and there is a possibility that Plantago lanceolata is an early colonial introduction to the local ecology; this is also noted by Colden in his discussion of  the angustifolia (thin- or narrow-leaved) species (he noted that the seed was possibly introduced via the grass seed).  Colden notes two species, differentiating them primarily by the numbers of veins found in their leaves.  In the following illustrations of 3 species, notice how the first (P. major, the most common and possibly a native species) has both features depending upon the leaf drawing that is reviewed.

Line drawing sources for Plantago species: USDA NRCS. Wetland flora: Field office illustrated guide to plant species. USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service; Britton, N.L., and A. Brown. 1913. An illustrated flora of the northern United States, Canada and the British Possessions. Vol. 3: 245.


16.  CORNUS involucro maximo: foliolis obverse cordatis.  Linn. cliff. 38.  Gron. virg.

16.  Cornus large enveloping: obverse leaflets cordate (heart-shaped)

17.  CORNUS Faemina D. Clayton.  Gron. Virg. 17.

17.  Cornus Lady’s/Feminine (implication ‘of Mary’ due to cross shape)


Bush (Bushy)

CAL.  nullus vel exiguus.

CALYX    None of very small

COR.  Petala, quatuor, cruciformia.

COROLLA  Four cruciform petals

STAM.  quatuor.  Antherae incumbentes.

STAMENS    Four leaning anthers

PIST.  Germen globulare.  Stylus unicus. Stigma simplex.

PISTIL  branching, globular.  One style, simple stigma.

PER.  Drupa parva, globularis, umbilicata; pulpa molli, aquosa, primo viridis, postea pallida, postremo caerulae.

PER.  Drupe small, globularis, umbilicate; meat/flesh soft, watery, green at first, then pale, and finally blue

SEM.  Nux globularis.

SEMEN  Globular nut.

Folia bina opposita, ovata, acuminata, integra: costa media a petiola ad apicem extensa, & ramulos laterales opposite emittente.

Flores in racemis erectis ad extremitates ramulorum.


Cornus involucro maximo.  According to Colden a common name for this is Yser-hout; Yser is a river at the north end of France, ‘hout’ is Belgian for wood.  This name was used for a tree which was given the Genus name Carpinus.  (Gronovius was the expert in Belgian plants.)   Although this could be a Carpinus, since Colden has it listed as a Cornus, we will review it as such.  (See figures below of Carpinus.)

Cornus Faemina D. Clayton.   According to local legend, the cruciform flower petals of this Common Flowering Dogwood bear a Christian rendering of the Doctrine of Signature or phytognomics for this plant.  Phytognomics was very popular during the  first half of Colden’s professional life.  Linne and other taxonomists/botanists interpreted the signs in nature often as some form of religious symbolism.   Solomon’s Seal for example earned its name due to the shape of the scar that forms on its rhizomes, resembling the symbol used by King Solomon on many of his legal documents.  The Flowering Dogwood has several features of its flower that relate to this form of symbolic message: the four petals (well actually modified leaves, note the veins) represent the cross, the red spotting at the tips of these “petals” represent the blood of Christ, the center of the flower, due to its spiny touch, the thorns of the crown that was worn.  Clayton’s name for this plant refers to Mother Mary–notice how Cornus Faemina, has ‘Faemina’ capitalized, referring to this term as if it were a proper name.  A unique attribute of the plant as a medicine, in Mohecan philosophy, pertains to the varying color of its gray bark at the base of the tree.  In an 1830s to 1840 recipe published by the Dutchess County Historical Society in one of its yearbooks, there is mention of the use of the bark on the north side of this tree for medicine.  [Underlying philosophical reasoning for this recipe reviewed elsewhere.]

Carpinus photograph from


18.  HAMAMELIS.  Gron. virg.  139.

Nostratibus Witch-hazel.  Frutex.

CAL.  Involucrum commune trium florum; folia tria, circularia, concava, externe hirsuta.

Perianthium proprium tetraphyllum; foliolis ovata-acuminatis, aequalibus; persistens.

COR.  Petala quatuor, linearia, longissima, aequalia.

Nectaria quatuor foliolis truncatis, ad ungues petalorum singulis, vix nudis oculis distinguendis.


PIST.  Germen villosum, desinens in stylos duos conicos.  Stigmata simplicia.

PER.  Nux globularis, in superiori parte duobus sulcis cruciatim, & in quatuor cuspides obtusos secta, bilocularis, bifariam dehiscens.

SEM.  Nucleus solitarius, ovato-oblongus, glaber, nitidus, in unaquaque cellula unus.

Folia alternata, ovata, crenata petiolata, fibra longitudinali ramulos laterales utrinque alternatim emittente.

Surculi & Stolones Coryli simillimi.

Flores terni ex uno pedunculo, sed duo tantum fructum plerunque producunt ad maturitatem.

OBS.  Hic Frutex mense octobri, post occasum foliorum, tota floribus tegitur; Fructus autem non ad maturitatem proveniunt, nisi sequenti aflate.

18.  HAMAMELIS.  Gron. virg.  139.

Our Witch-Hazel. A bush.

CALYX.  Common envelope, three flowers, leaves of three, circular, concave externally hirsute.

Perianth proper has four leaflets, ovate-acuminate, equally dispersed around.

COROLLA.  Petals four, linear, very long, very equal.

Nectaries four leaflets truncate, claws of petals each, identifying scarce naked eyes.


PISTIL.  Germen hairy, ending in style with two runners. Stigma simple.

PERIANTH.  Globular nut, the upper part of the two furrows cruciate and four cusps obtuse cut bilocular, two gaping.

SEMEN.  Nucleus solitary, ovate-oblong, glabrous, shining, white, one in each cell.

Leaves alternate, ovate, crenate petiolate, longitudinally fiber branches on both sides alternately sending.

Scions and stolons similar hazel.

Flowers from one peduncle threes, but only two are generally produce fruit to maturity.

OBS. Here it fruits in October, after the setting of the leaves, the whole is covered with flowers, but the fruit does not reach maturity until the following summer.



19.  LITHOSPERMUM arvense, radice ruberite.  Bauh. pin. 258.

OBS.  Hant plantam solummodo inter Segetes cresecentem observati; puto igitur ex Europa inter Frumentorum semina advectam.

LITHOSPERMUM arvense, red root.  Bauh. pin. 258.

OBS.  This plant is only found with crops growing between corn, with crops from seeds imported from Europe, I think.

20.  DIERVILLA foliis axillaribus.  Linn.  (Lonicera octava sorte Hort. cliff. 497.);

CAL.  Folia quinque, longa, linearia.

COR.  Monopetala.  Tubus calyce longior: limbo in quinque lacinias diviso.

STAM.  quinque.  Antherae erectae.

PIST.  Germen pyramidale infra receptaculum floris.  Stylus unicus staminibus longior.  Stigma globulare.

PER.  Capsula oblonga, ad basin crassior, versus apicem teres, calyce coronata, locularis.

SEM.  plurima, globularia.

Folia ovata acuminata, leviter crenata, bina opposita, pinnatarum more sita, petiolis brevibus.

Flores ex alis foliorum pedunculis longis.

CALYX.   Five leaves, long, linear.

COROLLA.  Monopetalous. Tube longer than calyx, with limb divided into five skirts.

STAMENS.   Five, with Anthers erect.

PISTIL.  Germen pyramidal within the receptacle of the flower  Style one with longer thread (neck?). Stigma globular.

PERIANTH.  Capsule oblong, thick at the base, apex rounded, calyx crowned, celled

SEMEN.  many globular.

Leaves ovate acuminate, slightly crenate, opposing pairs, feathery with short petioles.

The flowers have long peduncles coming from the wings of the leaves


21.  DIERVILLA.  Linn. Cliff. 63. t. 7.

Fructificationis partes omnes, ut a Linnaeo descriptae.

Folia bina opposita, ovato-oblonga acuminata, leviter serrata, petiolata, petiolis brevissimis.

Flores ad extremitates ramulorum in racemis & alis foliorum.

OBS.  Tota facie a Loniceras dissert.

21.  DIERVILLA.  Linn. Cliff. 63. t. 7.

All the parts of fructification, as described by Linnaeus.

Two Leaves opposite, ovate-oblong, acuminate, slightly serrate, petiolate, very short petioles.

Flowers in clusters at the ends of branches and leaves and wings.

OBS. Completely covered in Loniceras dissertation.

22.  LYSIMACHIA foliis lanceolatis, floribus solitariis.  Linn. Cliff. 52.  Gron.  Virg. 20.

Fructificationis partes omnes, ut a Linnaeo descriptae.

Caulis altus, brachiatus.

Folia lanceolata, petiolata, integra, bina opposita.

Flores singuli ex alis foliorum, pedunculis longis, sed saepe flores verticillatim positi.

22. LYSIMACHIA with lanceolate leaf, solitary flower.  Linn. cliff. 52.  Gron. Virg. 20.

All the parts of fructification as described by Linnaeus.

Stem tall branchiate.

Leaves lanceolate, petiolate, entire, the two opposites.

Flowers on the wings of each of the leaves, peduncles long, but often placed flowers verticillate (vertical to stem).


23.  CAMPANULA caule simplicissimo, foliis amplexicaulibus.  Linn. cliff.  65.  Gron. virg. 22.

CAL.  Folia quinque, lanceolata.

COR.  Monopetala, quinquefida: laciniis ovatis, acuminatis.

STAM.  quinque, brevia.

PIST.  Germen infra receptaculum floris.  Stylus unicus, straminibus longior.  Stigma trifidum.

PER.  Capsula cylindricea, clayce coronata, bilocularis.

SEM.  plurima, minima, alba.

Folia alterna, cordata, crenata, amplexicaulis.

Flores ex alis foliorum.

Majo & Junio flores.



Hamamelis.   Witchhazel.  The history of Witchhazel is a classic in herbalism.  Considered to be the traditional wood used to produce the shaft of the famous “witches’ broom”, this source for wood had numerous uses traditionally associated with everyday household items in need of a strong branch or twig.  The most important medical chemistry of Witchhazel pertains  to its tannin content, a class of chemicals in plants that have very strong styptic or drying qualities when applied to wounds, swellings and small irritations.  Cadwallader Colden makes no mention of this traditional use for Hamamaelis, but must have been familiar with it due to the long history of this plant’s usefulness in medicine.



Diervilla [1].

Diervilla [2].



24.  AZALEA ramis infra flores foliosis.  Gron. virg.  21.  Nostratibus Honey-Suckle.  Belgis Nov-Eboracensibus.  Pinxter-bloem. Frutex.

CAL.  Perianthium minimum, quinquedentatum, hirsutum, persistens.

COR.  Petalum unicum.  Tubus longus, infundibuliformis, hirsutus.  Limbus quinquepartitus, expansus: laciniis aequalibus, reflexis, quarum una profundius separata.

STAM.  Filamenta quinque, corolla longiora, versus apicem arcuata, floris receptaculo inserta.  Antherae parvae, oblongae.

PIST.  Germen cylindraceum, villosum, supra recepraculum floris.  Stylus unicus, staminibus longior, arcuatus.  Stigma obtusum, capitatum.

PER.  Capsula cylindracea, quinquelocularis, quinquevalvularis, ab apice longitudinaliter dehiscens; Placenta longa, cui Stylus ad maturitatem usque adhaeret.

SEM.  plurima furfuracea.

Caulis erectus, ramosus.

Folia ovata, integra, alterna, fibra media longitudinali, ad petiolum angustiora.

Flos ablus, glutinosus, non pilosus.  Flores in corymbo ad extremitates ramulorum.


25.  AZALEA erecta, foliis ovatis integris alternis, flore luteo piloso praecoci.

25.  AZALEA erect, ovate, entire, alternate leaves, yellow flower early pilose (hairy?)

26.  LONICERA seu Periclymenum scandens, foliis amplexicaulibus.

26.  LONICERA or Periclymenum scandens, leaves amplexicaulibus

27.  ANONYMA calyce duplici.

CAL.  Perianthium duplex, persistens.  Exterius ex duobus foliis concavis, ovatis.  Interius cylindraceum: laciniis quinque inaequalibus, acuminatis.

COR.  Petalum unicum, magnum, infundibuliforme, plicatum, limbo quinquangulari.

STAM.  quinque, erecta, corollae inserta.  Antherae erectae.

PIST.  Germen globulare.  Stylus unicus, staminibus longior.  Stigma ovale, bifidum.

PER.  Capsula globularis.


Caulis repens, brevis.

Folia alterna, ovata, mollis.

Flores ex alis foliorum singuli seu solitarii.

27.  ANONYMA with Double Calyx.

CALYX  Perianth double, continuing. Outside of the two concave leaves, ovate. Inner cylindrical, five unequal lobes, pointed

COROLLA  Petal single, large, funnel folded, limbo pentagonal

STAMENS  five, erect, inserted into the corolla. anthers erect

PISTIL  German globular. Style single, longer than the stamens. Stigma oval bifid.

PERIANTH  Globular capsule.


Stems creeping, short.

Leaves alternate, ovate, soft.

Flowers from the wings of the leaves or as a solitary individual.

28.  CLAYTONIA foliis linearibus.  Linn. Claytonia.  Gron Virg. 25.

Haec species in omnibus cum descriptione Gronovii in Flore virginica convenit, praeterquam, quod Folia duo linearia succulenta opposita ad exortum racemi, & quod apex Styli sit trifidus.

Nerves tenuis, vel silum tenax, coloris carnei in medio caulis & facile ab eo separabilis, a radice ad apicem usque racemi percurrie.

Aprili flores in humidis.

Azalea [1]. The common name ‘Pinxter-bloem’ is of Dutch origin and relates back to earlier works on Valley flora, in particular the listing of valley flora provided by Adrian van der Donck.  Note the presence of this plant as well in ‘Belgis Nov-eboracensibus’ back in the Old World.  This is a yet another indicator of the influences of local natural history on the settlement process for the Hudson valley.  Resemblances to the Dutch-controlled United Netherlands were significant, with the symbolism of this importance provided in the form of recognizable plants and their philosophical insignata.

Azalea [2]. Identification cannot be established based on Colden’s description.

Lonicera. Identification cannot be established based on Colden’s description.  The contemporary Lonicera is a Wild Honeysuckle vine noted to be very common to the region.

Anonyma. Identification cannot be established based on Colden’s description.

Claytonia. This is most likely the local Claytonia still prevalent in local woods, flowering in the early spring.   House’s identification of a plant that appears most like that of Colden’s work is Carolina Or Wide-Leaved Spring Beauty (Claytonia caroliniana Michaux) [Plate 69a].

29.  MIRABILIS.  Linn. cliff.  53.

CAL.  Perianthium monophyllum, quinquefidum; laciniis lanceolatis.

CALYX Perianth leaf divided in five parts; lanceolate lobes

COR.  Petalum infundibuliforme, situm super Germen.

COROLLA  Funnel-like petal situated on the Germen (base or seed)

Nectarium nullum observae potui.

No nectary was observed.

STAM.  quinque, basi corollae inserta.

STAMENS  five, inserted at base of corolla.

PIST.  Germen globulare, calyce inclusum, super quod corolla locutur.  Stylus unicus filiformis.  Stigma simplex.

PISTIL  Globular Germen, included within the calyx, on the location of the corolla. Stylus is unique threadlike. stigma is simple

PER.  nullum.


SEM.  unicum ovatum.

SEMEN. One, oval

OBS.  Sole splendunte corolla clauditur, nocte autem & primo mane expanditur, & 12. horas in vigore perdurat; sed est perpetua successio nervorum florum.

Indigena non est; name in hortis colitur.

OBSERVATIONS  Grow best in the Sun,  Corolla closes at night and early in the morning opens again, remaining open for 12, behaving in a constant succession by the strings of flowers.

Not indigenous.  Cultivated in gardens.

30.  VERBASCUM pusillum, foliis lanceolatis glabris. 

30. VERBASCUM with small, smooth, lanceolate leaves.

CAL.  Perianthium foliis quinque, lanceolatis.

CALYX Perianth five leaves lanceolate

COR.  Petalum rotatum.  Tubus cylindraceus brevissimus.  Limbus patens, quinquepartus: laciniis plusquam semicirculabaris; duae superiores minores, inferiores majores.

COROLLA.  Petal wheel-like. Tube cylindrical short. Lamina widening in five-parts: with semicircular fringes, the two upper are smaller, that the larger lower fringe

STAM.  quinque, versus superiorem corollae partem inclinata, lanugine obducta, corollae inserta, duo inferiora longiora.

STAMENS five, with the upper part of the corolla down, covered with down, the corolla is inserted, with the two lower being longer

PIST.  Germen globulare.  Stylus unicus subulatus, staminibus longiora.  Stigma simplex.

PISTIL German globular. Unique Style, subulate, with stamens longer. stigma simple

PER.  Capsula bilocularis, globularia.

PERIANTH  Capsule bilocular, globular

SEM.  plurisma.


Herba pusilla est.

Folia alterna, sessilia, lanceolata, glabra.

Flores pedunculati, solitarii, ex alis foliorum.

Herb is petty (very snall).

Leaves alternate, sessile, lanceolate, glabrous.

Flowers are peduncled, solitary, on the wings of the leaves

31.  VERBASCUM mas latifolium, luteum.  Bauh. pin.  239.  Stamina non sunt inclinata, duo longiora nuda, tria breviora lanugine tecta.

Folia alterna lanugine tecta, mollia, sessilia.

Haec praealta est, flores gerens sessiles, in spica longissima caulis terminatriae, quatre hae duae facie diversissimae.

31.  VERBASCUM male leaved, yellow.  Bauh. pin. 239.  Stamens are not inclined, two longer ones naked,  three shorter ones covered with down.

Leaves alternate, covered with down, soft, sessile.

There is a very deep [leaf base], long spike (stem) terminating with bearing sessile flowers, has two very different appearances (facie)

32.  SOLANUM radice esculenta.

Irish Potato.

CAL.  Perianthium monophyllum, persistens: lacininiis quinque lanceolatis.

COR.  petalum unicum. Tubus brevissimus.  Limbus patens sere planus, quinque-angularis, sole non ardente plicatus.

STAM.  Filamenta quinque brevissima.  Antherae longae, sulcate, conniventes, contingentes.

PIST.  Germen ovale.  Stylis unicus, staminibus longior.  Stigma simplex.

PER.  Bacca magna, globularis.


OBS.  Colitur in agris & hortis.

32.  SOLANUM, with root edible

Irish Potato.

CALYX  Perianth leaf divided continuing: lacininiis five lanceolate

COROLLA  Petals only. Tube short. Lamina patent leather flat, five-corner, [the sun is not burning plicate]

STAMENS  Filaments five, very short. Anthers long, grooved, subtended by contacting

PISTIL  Germen oval. Unique styles, stamens longer. stigma simple

PERIANTH  Large, pearly, globular


OBSERVATIONS   Cultivated in fields and gardens





33. Physalis foliis ovatis, floribus singulis ex foliorum alis, vesica fructum includente pentagona, versus pedunculum exterius concava.


34.  CEANOTHUS foliis trinerviis.  Linn.  Celastrus incemis, foliis ovaris serratis trinerviis racemis ex summis alis longissimis.  Hort. cliff.  73.  Gron. virg. 25.

Nostratibus Red-Root. Frutex.  Clayt. mo 69. & 311.

CAL.  Perianthium monophyllum, campanulatum, semiquinque-fidum, coloratum, album; laciniis omnibus inflexis.

COR.  Petala quinque, per incisuras calycis exeuntia, tubulata, inferius angusta, superius ampliora.

STAM.  Filamenta quinque.  Antherae globosae.

PIST.  germen – – – – Stylus unicus.  Stigma trifidum.

PER.  Capsula triquetra vel trigona, protuberantia, vel lobo ovali ad singulos angulos aucta, superius obtusa, trilocularis.

SEM.  unicum in singulo loco.

Caulis perennis, ramosus.

Folia alterna, ovata, crenata vel tenuiter serrata. Fibre tres ex apice petioli ortae, quarum media ad apicem folii extenditur, ramulos laterales emittunt.

Flores gerit in racemis ita exiguos, ut eorum partes vix, nisi oculis armatis, distingui possint.


Verbascum [1].  Based on leaf description (lanceolate), this is the Moth Mullein (Verbascum blattaria L.).   According to most plant references, this was introduced to the continent from Europe and Northern Asia and has since naturalized.

Verbascum [2].  Based on leaf description, this is the more common Great Mullein (Verbascum thapsus L.), also known as Aaron’s Rod or Aaron’s Club.   A traditional  European use for this plant as a medicine is for the treatment of mucosal membrane inflammation, in particular problems leading to coughs and sore throats.  This use was mostly due to the mucilaginous, demulcent characters of the leaves and their mash produced by pounding.

Solanum.   The Potato plant (Solanum tuberosum L.), (“radix esculenta” = edible root, for Irish Potato).  Obviously an introduced species, this may have escaped from the gardens locally or as a by-product of local compost heaps.

Physalis.  This is one of the few members of Solanaceae (Nightshade Family) native to North America.  Its identity is most likely Physalis philadelphica Lam., or Philadelphia Ground Cherry.   Two other members of this family, Solanum niger L. and Solanum dulcamara L. (Bittersweet Nightshade) are introduced, and are highly invasive locally.  The primary North American Solanum species for the New York region, Solanum carolinense L. (Horse Nettle or Apple of Sodom) was distributed from Ontario down along the eastern Colonies of North America during Colden’s lifetime.  Other species of Physalis developed a reputation due to their discovery in New Spain, such as the P. viscosa L. (Stellate Ground Cherry) noted to the far south in 1753, and later reconfirmed as a unique species distinct from the New York-Philadelphia specimens in 1763.

Ceanothus.  Redroot.  Ceanothus americanus L.  1753/1741.  A number of early Colonial explorer’s writings refer to “Red-Root” and its possible uses.




35.  VITIS foliis quinatis, foliosis ovatis serratis.  Linn. cliff. 74.  Gron. Virg.  24.

Hedera quinquefolia Cornuti.

CAL.  Perianthium campanulatum, paryum, limbo quinquepartitum.

COR.  Petala quinque, ovata.

STAM.  Filamenta quinque, brevissima/  Antherae magnae, erectae.

PIST.  Germen pyriforme.  Stylus nullus.  Stigma simplex.

PER.  Bacca exsucca, globularis, unilocularis, continens.

SEM.  Semina tria vel quatuor, totidem sementa sphaerae per axin sectae simillima.

Caulis scandens.

Folia quinata, petiolis longis insistentia, sparsum dentibus raris serrata.

Stamina & Antherae, nisi flore nondum expanso, vix distinguendae.


36.  RIBES fructo albo & Ribes fructo nigro.

CAL.  nullus, nisi Corolla sit.

COR.  Petalum unicum, semiquinquefidum: laciniis latis, ovatis.

STAM.  Filamenta quinque, brevia.  Antherae incumbentes.

PIST. Germen infra receptaculum floris.  Stylus unicus.  Stigmata duo, recurvata.

PER.  Bacca.


Flores & Fructis in racemis.

In hortis colitur.


37.  Ribes sylvestris, fructo nigro.

CAL.  Perianthium monophyllum, quinquefidum, laciniis reflexis.

COR.  Petala quinque, calyci inserta, erecta.

Cetera ut in Ribe.

In humidis crescit.


38.  RIBES quod Grossularia fructo albo.

CAL.  Perianthium monophyllum quinquefidum; laciniis reflexis.

COR.  Petala quinque, calyci inserta, erecta.

STAM.  quinque corolla longiora.  Antherae erectae, ovatae.

PIST.  Germen infra receptaculum floris.  Style duo paralleli recti.  Stigmata simplicia.

PER.  Bacca.


Flores singuli pedunculis propriis.

In hortis colitur.


39.  Ribes quod Grossularia sylvestris, fructo rubro, lu aquacis crescit.


Vitis.  Parthenocissus quinquefolium.  Although Colden’s name suggest some sort of grape vine, the alternative Latin name Colden provided–Hedera quinquefolia Cornuti-determines its identity.

Ribes [1].  Currant.  From ‘Ribes fructo albo and fructo nigro’ is implied White and Black Currants.  Perhaps this is Ribes rubrum L.

Ribes [2].  Colden’s name implies this species is more typical of forested settings (“sylvestre”).  Probably Black Currant.  Ribes nigrum D.  (Grossularia nigra Mill.)

Ribes [3]. White Gooseberry.  ‘Grossularia fructu albo.’  More than likely cultivated.

Ribes [4].  Red Gooseberry.  ‘Grossularia sylvestris, fructu rubro.’  More than likely cultivated.



40.  ASCLEPIAS foliis binis ovatis; subtus incanis, floreibus in umbella erecta purpureis.

Florum Nectaria exterius acuminata in formam auriculae Felis.

Caulis erectus.


41.  ASCLEPIAS caule erecto simplici annuo; foliis ovato-oblongis binis oppositis subtus incanis; umbella nutante, florum nectariis ovatais.


42.  ASCLEPIAS caule erecto annuo, foliis ovatis acuminatis alternis.  (Gron. virg. 27).

Flores aurantii.  Foliola plura lanceolata ad modum involucri umbellarum ad centrum umbellae.  Nectaria florum acuminata.


43.  ASCLEPIAS caule erecto, foliis ovato-lanceolatis octo, quorum bina insima & sumprema opposita, quatuor aurem media cruciatim opposita, floribus in umbella erecta.


44.  ASCLEPIUS caule erecto foliis, lanceolatis umbella terminatrici erecta.  Aquatica est.


45.  APOCYNUM caule ramoso rubnete, floribus suaveolentibus in racemis ad extermitates ramulorum dependentibus ex alis foliorum.

Folia ex adverso bina, pinnatarum more posita.

Fructus Folliculi duo, longi, teretes, rubentes.


46.  APOCYNUM (foliis ovatis acutis subtus tomentosis.  Gron. virg. 28).

Nostratibus Indian-Hemp.

Folia ovata, integra, glabra, petiolata, bina opposita, quorum unum par (aliter quam in priore) ad angulos rectos pari superiori & inferiore in caule & ramos crescit.

Flores parvi, campanulati, quinquifidi, lacninns vel erectis vel inflexis, crescuntque in umbellis irregularibus, ramulorum, terminatricibus: Ramulis ex alis foliorum.  Flores omnes, quos hoc anno observavi, abortierunt.


47.  ULMUS americana.

CAL.  Perianthium monophyllum, infundibuliforme, ad unum latus magis extensum; limbo irregulariter diviso.

COR.  nulla.

STAM.  Filamenta septem calyce longiora.  Antherae incumbentes irregulares.

PIST.  Germen ita exiguum, ut non distingui possit.  Stylis duo, lati, reflexi.



Flores primo vere folia antevertunt, parvi & in racemos pedunculis parvis crescunt.


48.  ANONYMA Mitella affinis.

CAL.  periantheium pentaphyllum: foliolis, obtusis, supra germen sitis.                      (serta.

COR.  Petala quinque inaequalis longitudinis. Antherae globosae.

PIST.  Germen infra receptaculum floris.  Styli duo reflexi.  Stigmata simplicia.

PER.  Capsula conica, unilocularis, a superiori parte calyce cincta, ac stylis duobus persistentibus in apice ejus.

SEM.  plurima, minima.

Caulis nudus sustinens flores in spica caulis terminatrici, composita ex floribus in racemis parvis pedunculo longo sustentaris.

Folia radicalla, cordata, obsolete lobata, pilosa, crenata.

Floret Majo.


49.  GENTIANA autumnalis prima.

CAL.  periantium infundibuliforme, persistens: limbo in quinque lacinias ovatas, reflexas diviso.

COR.  Petalum unicum, tubulatum, ventricisum, ore arcte plicato, crenato.

STAM.  quinque corollae insertae.  Antherae erecta.

PIST.  Germen cylindricu longum, sursum deorsumque angustius.  Stylus nullus. Stigma bifidum: laciniis reflexis.

PER.  Capsula ovata parum compressa, corolla marcescente tecta, unilocularis.

SEM.  plurima parva ovato-compressa, membranacea.

Folia obverse elliptica, acuminata, sessilia, integra, glabra, fibra media unica longitudinali, bina opposita.


50.  GENTIANA antumnalis secunda.

CAL.  Perianthium quadrangulare in quatuor lacinias acuminates divisum, duae oppositae angustiflores.

COR.  Petalum unicum tubulatum; limbo in quatuor lacinias ciliatas ovatas diviso.

STAM.  quatuor corollae insertae.  Anthera incumbentes.

PIST.  Germen cylindricum, longum, ventricosum, compressum.  Stylus nullus.  Stigmata duo ovata, reflexa.

PER.  Capsula oblongata, ovata, compressa, unilocularis.

SEM.  plurima, parva, globularia.

Folia bina opposita, sessilia, integra, lanceolata, fibra unica longitudinalis.

Flores Pedunculis longis ex alis follorum vel caulis terminatricibus.

Florus apices, antequam expanduntur, spiraliter contorti.


521.  GENTIANA autumnalis tertia.

CAL.  periantheum in quinque lacinias inaequales lanceolata divisum, persistens.

COR.  Petalum unicum tubulatum ventricosum acuminatum: Limbo in quinque lacinias ovato-acuminatas, ad basin ampliata, conniventes diviso.

STAM.  quinque.

PIST.  Germen cylindricum.  Stigmata duo reflexa.

PER.  Capsula cylindrica, corolla marcida inclusa.

SEM.  plurima, arida.

Folia sessilia, lanceolata, trinervis vel quinquenervia, bina opposita.

Flores pedunculis saepe foliosis, ex alis foliorum.


52.  PANAX, foliis ternis ternatis.  Gron. virg. 35. 147.

CAL.  Umbella simplex, aequalis, conserta: radiis aequalibus.

Involucrum foliolois octo, lanceolatis.

Perianthium proprium coloratum, monophyllum, campanulatum: ore quinquefidum: laciniis obtusis.

COR.  Universalis uniformis; Propria petalis quinque, calycis incisuris insertis.

STAM.  Filamenta quinque, calyci inserta.  Antherae didyniae.

PIST.  Styli tres erecti.  Stigmata simplicia.

Folia tern ternata, utrinque acuminata crenata, ad summitatens caulis, aliquando quinata.  Ad divaricationem foliorum surgit pedunculus sustinens florum umbellatum.

Aprili floret.  Crescit in madidas.

Radix fibrosa simplex, colore alba.

Flores minutissimi; Planta pusilla.


53.  SANICULA foliis radicalibus compositis, foliolis ovatis.  Gron. virg.  146.

Nostratibus Black Snake-root.

CAL.  Umbella Universalis radiis quatuor: tres exteriores longiores, quarta in medio brevior: Partialis haemisphaera, radiis paucis consertis brevibus, omnibus ejusdem longitudinis.  Involucrum nullum.

Perianthium proprium minimum quinquefidum: laciniis lanceolatis.

COR.  Universalis uniformis.  partialis petalis quinque, inflexis, minimis.

STAM.  Filamenta quinque, corolla duplo longiora, per divisionem petalorum transeuntia.  Anthera incumbentes.

PIST.  Germen.  Styli duo longitudine staminum reflexi.

PER. nullum.  Fructus globularis, echinatus, per medium dehiscens.

SEM.  duo, haemispaerica, hinc convexa echicaea, inde plana.

Folia ternata, aliquando quinata, serrata, sernel vel bis laciniata.

Radix fibrosa, nigra, sudoritera.


54.  SIUM americanum.

CAL.  Umbella Universalis plana; Partialis itidem: Radii striata, externi internis longiores.

Involucrum duplex, universale & partiale, ambo ex foliis pluribus lanceolatis; radiis brevioribus.

Perianthium proprium vix distinguendum.

COR.  Universalis uniformis, propria ita exigua, ut partes nudis oculis vix distinguendae.

Fructus sphaeroideus, striatus, bipartibilis.

Caulis striatus, concavus.

Folia pinnata, lanceolata, tenuiter serrata, quorum unum mediam costam terminae.

Crescit in aquosis.

54.  SIUM Americanum.

CALYX.  Umbel universally flat, Partial the same: Rays striped (striated), internally and externally long

Double envelope, universal and partial, both from several leaves, lanceolate, shorter beams.

Perianth proper scarcely distinguishable.

COROLLA. Universally uniform, in such a way proper to small, such that its parts can hardly be distinguished by the naked eyes.

Fruit spheroidal, striates, dissecting into two parts.

Stem striate, concave.

Leaves pinnate, lanceolate, slightly serrate, with one middle rib terminating.

It grows in water.

55.  SCANDIX seminibus nitidis ovato-subulatis.  Linn. cliff.  111.  Gron. virg. 32.

Umbella universalis ex tribus radiis longioribus.  partialis ex pluribus.

Involucrum universale ex paucis foliolis lanceolatis. Partiale ex foliolis similibus minimis.

Petiolus foliorum trifariam dividitur, & unusquique Petioli ramulus gerit folium pinnatarum more divisum, impart costam terminans ac laciniis subdivisum.

55. SCANDIX, seeds shining ovate-subulate.  Linn. cliff. 111.  Gron.  virg. 32.

Umbel universally of three long sections, partial to many.

Involucrum universally surrounded by a few lanceolate leaflets.  Some of the outer leaflets very small.

Petiole leaves divided into three sections, and each bears a spray of petioles of leaves pinnately divided in fashion, with an odd rib terminating at the subdivided edges or fringes.

56.  APIUM folio insimo cordato, caulinis ternatis; omnibus crenatis.

involucrum nullum.

Flores lutei.

Fructus ovatus-compressus, striatus

Semina duo, ovara, striata.

56.  APIUM with cordate-like leaf, cauline subalternate; all crenate.

no envelope (involucrum).

Yellow flower.

Fruit oval-compressed, striate

Seeds two, ovary, striated



57.  OPULUS (quod Viburnum foliis subrotundis serratis glabris.  Gron. virg. – 33?)


CAL.  Perianthium minimum, ore quinque dentatum.

COR.  Monopetala rotata, in quinque latinia, omnes divisa.

STAM.  Filamentae quinque, corollae inserta, & calongiora.  Antherae incumbens.








Asclepias [1].  Asclepius incanum L.

Asclepias [2]. 

Asclepias [3].

Asclepias [4].

Asclepias [5].

Apocynum [1].  Apocynum androsaemifolium L.  (Bitterroot, Colic root, Dogbane, Wild Ipecac).  Primarily medicinal, for which see next species description.

Apocynum [2]. According to Colden-Indian Hemp.  Apocynum cannabinum L.   There were two major uses for this plant.  As the common names implies, the stem served as a fiber source used by Native American to produce cordage, netting, and fine twine or string.    The medicinal use for this plant was as an emetic (thus the name Wild Ipecac) and a diaphoretic.  The common name Rheumatism-weed implies another use, which may have not been known at the time of Colden’s work.

Ulmus americana.    Elm.  Ulmus americana L.  From Canada, into the Colonies, this plant had a well documented history of use as a medicine by Natives during the years prior to and immediately after Colden’s writings.  This plant in fact became one of the most symbolic plants of Native American medicine by 1800.  Its use was related mostly to the very mucilaginous nature of its inner bark, once the grayer outbark is removed.  Elm inner bark was the traditional ingredient for many cough lozenges or lozenge-like preparations and syrups for the time, and was even added to teas for the same.  The close relative Ulmus fulva Michx. (slippery elm) had an even strong history of use for medicine, but was discovered after the Colden era by Michaux.    This species in fact became the more popular plant for such uses by the mid-1800s, and several decades later becaome the official medicine source.

Anonyma.  Mitella affinis.



Gentiana [1]

Gentiana [2]

Gentiana [3].

Panax.  Panax quinquefolium L.  (Wild Ginseng).  Several plants captured the attention of entrepreneurs of American flora industries during the 17th and 18th centuries.  Panax was one of these.   A number of these industries came to fruition due to the strong trade relationships colonies were developing with the Orient, in particular the region later known as China.  China’s primary medicinal plant was the traditional Ginseng (Panax ginsenga L., documented with this name in 1753), a medicine linked to longevity and vitality.  Panax quinquefolium L. was marketed as a substitute for this medicine to China.  We see evidence for this important market in the newspapers of the time (see New York Packet for example), in which small advertisements appear throughout the issues asking for the public to harvest these plants for subsequent trade purposes.  The Chinese were not so fast to take advantage of this market however.  Perhaps this market was successful for a few years or decades in early colonial history, but by the 1800s this use of panax quinquefolium L. became more an American phenomenon.  Incidentally, several other plants bear a similar international trade and market industry, namely the starchy rootstock of Smilax pseudo-china L, a relative of the Chinese starch-bearing root produced by a plant the same genus (Smilax china, or China-root) marketed soon after the establishment of a settlement near the Carolinas by Sir Walter Raleigh.




Sanicula. Black Snake Root.  With a similar common name to the Caulophyllum Black Snake Root , the folklore behind this plant is similar to that of Colden’s famous Snakeroot remedy.     This plant bears a similar history as the Caulophyllum, with preference to Canadian folktales and ecological settings.   Colden gives no medical history for this plant in his treatise, or in any related writings.

Photo by William S. Justice. Courtesy of Smithsonian Institution, Dept. of Systematic Biology, Botany.  At

Sium americanum.  Sium suave L. is the water parsnip of Europe.  The question becomes: which local umbel did Colden consider to be similar to the water parsnip?  The peririparian, aquatic-wetlands setting of the plant provides some insight into the identification.  However, the most common plants residing in the area that fit this description are the wild hemlock (Cicuta sp.) and water hemlock (Conium sp.).  The USDA notes Sium cicutifolium (Sium suave Walter) as a possibility; the problem is this is an introduced species.  So what native umbel species resemble Sium?  Sium carsonii Durand ex A. Gray is a possibility, but was not differentiated from the European Sium until much later, and it too may have been introduced.  Zizia aurea (L.) W.D.J. Koch is a possible identifcation as well.    Its leaves are pinnate and lanceolate, as Colden notes for this plant.


Apium.  Apium graveolens L is the traditional Latin name for the edible garden crop Celery.  This however is most likely one of two species native to North America–Spermolepis or Apiastrum.   Spermolepis was first documented officially by Raffineque in 1825 (and again by Nuttall in 1827, but who instead called it Leptocaulis), is first identified probably by Otto Kuntze in 1763 who referred to this plant as “Celeri” (and so noted in Michel Adanson’s writings about this time).  Spermolepis is more a southern species, which may not have fully penetrated Colden’s place of stay.  Apiastrum or “false celery” was also not officially documented as a species until about 1840, when Nuttall described it in more detail in association with Apium and Leptocaulis.  Whether or not Colden saw Apiastrum is uncertain.    It is possible that like other plants discussed by Colden, this Apium was simply and escapee.  Reviewing his Latin description of this plant, the cordate leaves (broad, barely lobulating or palmate) and light yellow flowers, in combination with an Apium-like appearance suggest another local Umbelliferae species–perhaps the Golden Alexanders of Godlen Meadow Parsnip (Zizea aurea (L.) Koch), documented as such by Koch 1824, but referred to as Sium aureum much earlier by Linne.  Supporting this hypothesis is the inclusion of the same in Adrian Van der Donck’s listing of plants published a few years earlier.


PIST.  Germen calyci inclusum, conicum.  Stylis nullus.

PER.  nullum.

SEM.  Nux parva, globularis, tecta, cortice molli continens Nucleum globularem.

Caulis brachiatus.

Folia petiolata, bina opposita, ovata, acuminata, tenuiter serrata.

Flores geric in corymbis vel racemis umbellatis ramulorum terminatricibus.

PISTIL Germen calyx enclosed, conical. No Style.

PER.  None

SEMEN.  Small nut, globular, covered (coated), soft shell containing Nucleum [nut] globular.

Stem brachiate.

Leaves petiolate, two opposite, ovate, acuminate, finely serrate.

Bears flowers in clusters or racemes umbellately terminating branches..

58.  OPULUS.  Linn. cliff.  109.  Gron. virg.  149.

in omnibus fructificationis partibus convenit priori, nisi quod.

Semen sit nucleus compressus, cortice duriori tectus. 

Folia tricuspidata, media cuspide longiore; in ceteris priori convenit.


58.  OPULUS.  Linn. cliff.  109.   Gron. virg. 149.

Carries fruit in all parts like the prior, except that the seed is compressed in its center, with a hard shell on top.

Leaves are tricuspid, with central cusp longer than with the prior.

59.  OPULUS quae Tinus foliis ovatis in petiolos terminatis integerrimis.  Gron. virg.  33.

Semina globularia, nuces minimae cortice & molli tectae.

Folia ovata nervosa integerrima, in ceteris prioribus convenit.

Majo floret.

59.  OPULUS with ovate leaves seen at the end of the petioles for the entire leaf.

Globular seeds, nuts with a little cortex (thin cover) and soft tectum (surface).

Leaves ovate with veins across it, the rest [of the appearance] like the former.

Major blooms.

60.  ANONYMA foliis ternatis.

CAL.  perianthium minimum, cylindricum.

COR.  petala quinque, ovalia, inflexa, minima.

STAM.  Filamenta quinque, per divisiones petalorum exeuntia.  Antherae magnae.

PIST.  Germen longum.  Stylus non distinguendus.

PER.  Capsula cylindrico-acuminata, calice sere tecta.


Caulis simplex, foliis paucis.

Folia alterna, petiolata, ternata, ovalia, acuminata, irreulariter serrata, lacinia una aut alterna majori.

Flores albi in racemis laxis, vel pedunculo longo ex foliorum alis vel caulis terminatrici.


61.  SAMBUCUS caule perenni, parum ramoso, bacis in umbella nigris.

Stylus nullus & Stigmata oculi nudis non distnguenda.

Sambucus in hac regions multo humilior, quam in Britannia.


62.  STAPHYLEA foliis ternatis.  Hort. Cliff. 112.

Staphylodendron triphyllum, vaculo tripartito.  Clayt. in Gron. virg.

Nostratibus Bladder-Nut.

CAL.  quinquefidus, persistens.

COR.  Petala quinque, obtusa.

STAM.  Filamenta quinque, subulata. Antherae ovales, incumbentes.

PIST.  Germen pyramidale, lanuginosum: Stylus subulatus, longitudine staminum.  Stigma patens.

PER.  Vesica magna, infalta, trigona, tricuspidata, trilocularis, dependens.

SEM.  unicum in singulo loculo, ovatum, glabrum, nitidum.

Folia ternata, ovata, acuminata, tenuiter serrata.

Flores racemosi, pedunculis ex alis foliorum.


63.  RHUS foliis pinnatis serratis.  Linn. cliff. 110.  Gron. virg. 148.

Omnes partes fructificationis uta Linnaeo descriptae.

Stamina vix oculis distinguenda, annulo rubenti in sundo corollae innixa.

Caulis erectus.

Folia pinnata, serrata, impari costam terminante.

Succus lacteus.

Junio floret.


64.  RHUS foliis pinnatis integerrimis.  Linn. cliff. 110.  Gron. virg. 148.

Fructificationis partes ut a Linnaeo descripta, praeterquam quod Stamina Petalis sunt longiora.  Antherae magnae, sulcate, incumbentes.

Flores ita exigui, ut Styli stigmata observare non potui.

Caulis medullosus, erectus.

Folia pinnata, integra.

Flores in racemis ex foliorum alis dependent.

OBS.  Vapores & Perspiratio acres ex hoc Frutice exhalant, ut plurimis appropinquare illum non liceat, quin pustulas acres, dolores & tumores erisipelatosos pariant, alii autem, inter quos ego, impune illam pertractant.

64.  RHUS leaves entire, pinnate.  Linn. cliff. 100.  Gron. virg. 148.

Fruiting parts as described by Linnaeus, only its stamens and petals are longer. Anthers are large, grooved, leaning.

The flowers are so small that I could not see the styluses.

Stem medullosus, erect.

Leaves pinnate, entire.

Flowers in clusters of leaves hanging wings.

OBS. Fumes and sweat are acrid from this bush if inhaled, and so many prevent your from approaching, and give rise to sharp, pains and swellings, thereby forming erysipelas (shingles like eruptions), but others, such as myself, get away with it to investigate.

65.  RHUS late scandens, foliis ternatis.


Folia tria, integra, ex uno petiolo longo.

65.  RHUS extensive climber, with subalternate leaves.


Leaves of three, intact, on one long petiole.




Opulus.  Viburnum opulus L.  This European, Asian, and North American plant extended as far south as New Jersey on the North American continent during the colonial years.  Known to some as High Bush Cranberry, and to others as Red, Rose, Marsh or Water Elder, this plant’s uses became most popular post-Colden when it was documented as a medicine for reducing uterine cramps in women (thus the other common name Cramp bark).



Opulus [1]

Opulus [2]

Anonyma foliis ternatis.


Staphylea foliis ternatis.  Rattlebox or Bladder-Nut tree.  Staphylea trifoliata.   This is an obvious identification, with important local history of which few Hudsonians are aware.  The Rattlebox is so named for the sound of its hollow seed container bearing seeds that appear much like rounded kernels of corn.  In the wind, these trees make a rattling sound, and were often associated with the local legends involving spirits, ghosts and the like.  This feature of the plant had popular uses durign the mid-19th century, when it became a common addition to areas where seances became popular practice, such as just downhill from the Fowler Octagon house (ca. late 1850s).  Colden of course had little impact on the development of this curious part of local history, a local legend passed on more by word of mouth by members of local families than by any written means.

Rhus foliis pinnatis serratis.




Rhus foliis pinnatis integerrimis. Poison Ivy or Poison Sumac?  The poisonous nature is discussed.  “Vapores & Perspiratio” can cause  ”pustulas” to develop, leading to “dolores & tumores ersipelatosos.”   Dolores refers to discomfort, often pain, but severe itch may suffice as well for this term.   ‘Tumores’ is a word used to refer to formations that consist of a swelling during Colden’s life time.    There are two pieces of philosophy of disease this descrip[tion provides insights into.  First, we cannot relate tumores to cancer.  The descriptions of cancer and tumor duiring this time are far from what we think of today.  A simple swelling in this case constitutes a tumor in Colden’s line of reasoning, with cancer being more  aggressive in form and appearance than the simple tumor.  Many physicians felt simple tumors could lead to cancer over time.  Second, “erysipelatosos” is traditionally considered the bacterial infection Erysipelas.     The distinction between true Erysipelas and ailments resembling Erysipelas, in which a severe reddening of the skin with belmishing, rashes and raise areas ensues,  was far from perfect during Colden’s years of practice.  In later and related writings by Colden, we find one disease related to another.  The Erysipelas may even lead to measles and small pox in parts of this philosophy for disease.   The transition of one illness to the next, associated with changes in organs and parts of the body under duress and becoming sick, is a common theme throughout most of the late 17th and most of the 18th century in American medicine.  The only major theory to replace this notion was the evolution of a theory of disease based on the environment, with a focus on such things as climate, weather, wind direction, temperatures, humidity, ability to acclimate, etc.  In contemporary terms, we know that the rash from this plant is caused by an oil.  To Colden, this oil found glistening on the shiny leaf surface may be considered an expulsion or perspiration of vapours (humours) from the plant, thereby making it a pathogen.

Rhus late scandens.



66.  ARALIA caule aphyllo, radice repente.

Aralia caule nudo.  Linn. cliff. 113.  Gron. virg. 34.  Nostratibus Sarsa-parilla.

CAL.  Involucrum nullum.  perianthium quinquedentatum.

COR.  Petala quinque, lanceolata, totaliter reflexa, calyci inserta.

STAM.  Filamenta quinque, sundo calycis inserta.  Antherae incumbentes.

PIST. – – – – Styli quinque, persistentes.  Stigmata simplicia.

PER.  Bacca globularis, striata, quinque sulcis notata, coronata stylis in apice remanentibus, quinquelocularis.

SEM.  Solitarium in unoquoque localo, semicirculare, durum.

Caules duo ah extremitate radicis emittunter (quotoeis florescit, alias usus folus) uterque dichotomus.  Unus absolute aphyllus, tres globos florum sustinet.  Alter tria folia quinata, aliquando duo folia quinata & unum ternatum, vel unum simplex.

Radix longissime repit sub superficie terrae, fibra lignosa, cortice carnoso tecta.  Odore & gustu balsamico. Ab incolis frequenter usurpatur pro Sarsaparilla, & in omnibus, quibus vulgo Sarsa-parilla usurpatur, efficacior est (ut sapius expertus sum) morbis.  Corticem radicis contusum Indigena ad vulnera applicant.


67.  ARALIA caule folioso laevi.

Aralia ex alis florisera.  Hort. cliff. 113.

Nostratibus Spicknard.

Folis cordata, bina opposita, pinnatarum more sita, folirum etenim plana ramulis vel mediae costae parallela sunt, & corum unum ramulum terminat.

Flores gerit, non in umbella, sed in racemo composito, uvarum instar.

Radix tuberosa, crassa, succo lacteo balsamico, grato, odoris abundans.

In Morbis stomachi & pectoris frequentius a nostratibus usurpatur.


68.  ARALIA arborea aculeata.  Linn. virid. 26. Gron. virg. 34.

Nostratibus Prickly-Ash, vel Tooth-ach tree.


CAL.  Perianteum hexaphyllum, foliolis ovalibus, margine coloratis.

COR. nulla.

STAM.  Filamenta sec. Antherae didymae, sulcatae, magnae.

PIST.  Germina quatuor, ad basin pedunculo unita.  Styli totidem, ex p=lateribus prodcuntes, & versus centrum floris versi.  Stigmata obtusa.

PER. abortierunt.

SEM. [abortierunt]

Caulis & ramuli aculeis compressis, triangularibus, acutis armati.

Folia pinnata, impari costam terminante.  Pinnulae ovales petiolo brevi costae adhaerentes.

Flores parvi, herbacei, sere tessiles, pedunculis brevissimis super superficiem ramulorum in acervis sparsi crescent, & foliia antevertunt.

OBS.  Numerus staminum incertis, in quibusdam floribus ejusdem plantae septem, in pluribus solummodo quinque, sed in plerisque sex observavi.  Nec numerus germinum certus; in aliquibus duo, in pluribus tria, sed in plurimis quatuor.  In aliquibus etiam septem folia Perianthii.

Cortex hujus gustu servidus & Decoctum ejus ab Indigenis ad Hydropem & Morbos Rheumaticos usurpature, & corum exemplo ab Incolis; est insigne sudoriferum.





Aralia [1].  This is one of Colden’s two most important additions to local American flora folklore history.  Aralia was considered a local substitute for the imported Sarsaparilla, a plant that was discovered and grew in New Spain and had to be imported.  New York has three species of Aralia, of which Colden noted two.  The three NY species are Aralia nudicaulis L., Aralia racemosa L., and Aralia spinosa L.  Of these three the first two (American sarsaparilla, and American spikenard) are more New York in nature, although the much larger A. spinosa (hercules club) is a southern species noted to be growing in the wild as far north as New York.  Another species common to the New York area is Aralia hispida Vent. (bristly-stem sarsaparilla), but notice this was not included in the early Linnean listing of this genus.  The first Aralia species were officially documented around 1737, with 1753 as the year in which their identification was solidified by Linnaeans.  It is suspected that Colden’s third Aralia species may be a Xanthoxylum (Prickly Ash), but A. spinosa remains a possibility due to his like correspondence with botanists to the south like Alexander Garden.  The Xanthoxylum identifcation is based on Colden’s description of the use of this plant for medicine, but may be in error.

Aralia [2].  See above.

Aralia [3]. Xanthoxylum spicata.  (Zanthoxylum spicata).  Known by Colden as Prickly-Ash or Tooth-Ach tree, the inner bark is used to produce a bitter flaored beverage or tonic.  A decoction of the same was used by Natives to treat ‘Hydropem’ or hydropsy, edematous like medical states and was a popular treatment for rheumatism.  Some of these uses are attributed by Colden to its sudorific qualities or ability to cause a sweat.






69.  PONTEDERIA floribus spicatis.  Hort. Cliff. 133.  Gron. virg. 37.

CAL.  Spatha communis.

COR.  Monopetala, tubulata (non ingens).  Labium superius in tres lacinias minus profunde sectum, & earum media duabus maculis luteis notata.  Labium inferius in tres angustiores lacinias sectum.

STAM.  Filamenta sex, quorum tria longiora, subulata, ori tubi inserta, tria breviora basi ejusdem.

PIST.  Germen ovale, supra receptaculum.  Stylus unicus longitudine tubi.

PER.  Capsula conica, sulcata, apice lato, inflexo.

SEM.  plura.

Folia sagittata.

Flores caerulei in spica caulis terminatrice.

Crescit in aquosis & floret Angusto.


70.  LILIUM s. Martagon.  Clayt.

CAL. nullus.

COR.  campanulata.  Petala sec, erecta, dorso obtuse carinata, unguibus longis: tribus alternis fibra longitudinali carinata; aliis unguibus cavis, marginibus intus infelxis: interius purpureis maculis notata.

STAM.  Filamenta sex, subulata, stylum prementia.  Antherae erectae, se ad medietatem filamentis adnexa.

PIST.  Germen oblongum cylindricum, sex, sulcis: tribus magis notalibiliter striatum.  Stylus simplex.  Stigma obtusum.

PER.  Capsula oblonga, trigona, angulis sulcatis, trilocularis.

SEM.  Plurima compressa, ovata, duplici ordine collacata.

Caulis simplex, unico plerumque lore (aliquando pluribus) ad summitatem erecto.

Folia longa, angusta, sessilia, verticillatim ad caulem posita, quinque vel sex in unoquoque verticillo.


71.  LILIUM alterum.

Lilium Martagon floribus pluribus ad summitatem caulis, pedunculis longis reflexis pendulis.

petala hujus sunt obverse elliptica, usque ad basin, ita ut sundus corollae sit clausus, qui in priore inter ungues petalorum pervius est.

In ceteris prior convenit.


72.  ERYTHRONIUM foliis sessiilbus, fore unico.

CAL.  nullus.

COR.  Petala sex oblonga, lanceolata.

STAM.  Filamenta sex, brevissima.  Antherae erectae, filamentis longiores.

PIST.  Germen triquetrum.  Stylus staminibus longior, semitrisidus.

PER.  Capsula trigona, utrinque acuminata, ex tribus planis – – – – formata trilocularis.


Flos unicus ex ala folii, pedunculo dependens.


74.  UVULARIA caule perfoliato.  Gron. virg. 37.

Polygonatum ramosum, flore sulco majos.  Moris. hist. 3. p. 538. f. 13. t. 4. f. 12. optime.

In omnibus floris partibus cum priori convenit.

Capsula versus pedunculum acuminata, ad basin obtusa, ex quatuor quasi planis trinagularibus constans, quorum tria ad apicem unita sulcoo cavanatur, vel Capsula dici potest pyramidalis triangularis, apice ad pedunculum, lateribus tribus sulcis excavatis, trilocularis.

OBS. Radix cum aqua contuso & ad vulnus mosus Serpentis caudisonae applicata, in usu est apud Nostrates.


75. LEONTICE foliis supra decompositis.  Gron. Virg. 151.  Christophoriana baccifera.

CAL.  Perianthium hexaphyllum; foliolis longis, acutis, deciduis.

COR.  Petala sex, minima, herbacei coloris, definentia ad basin in ungues brevissimos, limbo patentia, ut simul juncta circulum efforment.

Forstaffe haec revera non sunt petala sed nectaria.

STAM.  Filamenta sec brevissima.  Antherae erectae, ovatae, sulcatae.

PIST.  Bacca caerulea, globularis, ad tactum mollis, sed postquam maturescit intus sicca.

SEM.  unicum, magnum, globulare.

Caulis surgit supra altitudinem pedalem simplex & nudus, ubi dividitur in ramulos plerumque quatuor vel quinque, qui subdividuntur in petiolos plerumque tres, sustinentes folia terna tricuspidata: duo se, opposita, & unum petiolum terminans, glabra, Thalictri foliis similia.

Flores in racemis erectis perdunculo ex ala ramulorum.

Aprili floret.  Fructus.  Septembri maturescis.


76.  ORNITHOGALUM luteum minimum, foliis angustis


Pontederia floribus spicatis.  The Genus name is derived from Professor G. Pontedera of Padua, who died in 1757.    Linneans included this plant on their list in 1753; it is noted as early as 1737 by them.  An alternative spelling of this name was preferred by Kuntze–Pontidereae.  Adanson referred to it as Unisema in 1763, a name repeated by Raffinesque in 1808.  This plant is easily seen and recognized in its aquatic habitat due to its brillantly colored blue flower spikes that stand on a stem an inch or more above the water surface.  There are about 8 species in North America.   One of the contemporary names for this plant is pickerel weed.  This plant is possibly the “pondweed” referred to in Dr. Osborn’s writings of local plant recipes (ca. 1760).

Lilium f. martagon.




Lilium alterum.

Erythronium.  Two species are of local origin:  E. albidum nut. and E. americanum Ker. (E. augustatum Raf.).  The first bears a white flower, the second a yellow flower.  The “nigro-maculatis” nature of the leaf (black spotted) suggests the common E. americanum species.  Since this plant has a 1737/1753 history, it has a Linnean connection.

Uvularia [1]

Uvularia [2]. Uvularia caule perfoliato.   Pounded or pulverized root with water was used to treat contusions and worsening snakebites.  According to Colden, this is the reason for one of its common names or “Nostrates”.  The snakeroot phytognomonica for this plant is best interpreted as its fairly thin rhizome, although young flower spikes may also have been considered a resemblance.

Leontice. This is the Christophoriana baccifera noted elsewhere in Colden’s writings (see Actaea racemis longissimus).   A medicinal plant, the Latin Genus name suggests some Biblical-based philosophy for it use (St. Christopher=?).

Ornithogalum.  The Ornithogalum pyreniacum L. and/or England and the O. umbellatum L. of the Mediterranean, both naturalized to North America.  The former produced shoots eaten like asparagus, the latter grown for its edible bulb and as a decorative is called star of bethlehem.  The Biblical history of the second species is significant.  It is suspected to be the “dove’s dung” of the scriptures.



78.  CONVALLARIA floribus herbacei coloris: duobus vel tribus codem pedunculo ex alis foliorum dependentibus.




CAL.  Folia sex, lanceolata, persistentis.

COR. nulla.

STAM.  Filamenta sex.  Antherae globosae.

PIST.  Germen conicum, striatum.  Stylus nullus.  Stigmata tria, reflexa.

PER.  Capsula trilocularis trigona ovata, tribus sulcis excavata, ex tribus capsulis longitudinaliter unitis constans.

SEM.  pluriam, compressa, semiovata.

Folia alternata, sessilia, elliptica, longitudinaliter plicata.

Flores in spici ramosis.

Radix emittens fibras plurimas albas.

Flores omnes sunt revera hermaphroditi, sed cum successive explicantur, Plantae mense Junio arescit, antequam fructus in superioribus floribus ad perfectionem pervenire possunt.

Maculos flores (ut observat Linnaeus) esse infra seminimos mibi videtur non naturale. & corte nil tale in hac species.

Crescit in aquosis, caloris & siccitatis impatients.


80.  VERATRUM caule simplicissimo, spica ante florescentiam incurvata.

Nostratibus Unicorn’s Horn.

CAL.  Folia sex, minima, linearis, colorata, a staminibus non facile distinguenda, persistentia.

COR.  nulla, si non Calyx pro ea sumatur.

STAM.  sex, inaequalis longitudinis.  Antherae parvae.  PIST.  Nec Germen, nec Stylus. nec Stigma distingui possunt, nisi quod prominentia quaedum minima in centro floris appareat.  Postquam autem stamina aruerint, Germen auctum sit, Stigmata foliace minima alba reflexa manifeste apparent.

PER.  Capsula ovalis, tribus sulcis longitudinaliter excavata, trilocularis, apice dehiscens.

SEM.  plurima, compressa, furfuracea.

Folia oblonga, acuminata, integram liliacea.

Caulis simplex.

Flores albi crescunt in spica longa caulis terminatrici dense siti; pedunculis brevibus albis; Spica primo intuito tota staminibus tecta videtur.

Total spica dum florescit alba videntur, & in summitate recurvata est, crassscit, sit erecta & herbaei coloris, ut etiam foliola Periantheii siunt herbacei coloris.

Radix succisa, emittens fibras laterales.

Radix succisa, emittens fibras laterales.

Radix in usu est apud nostrates ad Colicam.


81.  PARIS foliis ternis, flore pedunculato nutante.

CAL.  Periantium triphyllum: folioslis lanceolatis, acutis, corollae circiter magnitudine, patentibus.

COR.  Petala tria, lanceolata, patentia.

STAM.  Filamenta sex, brevia.  Antherae longiores erectae.

PIST.  Germen pyramidale, sex sulcis a staminabus effectis a basi ad apicem excavatum.  Stigmata reflexa.



Caulis gerit tria tantum folia opposita, sessilia, ovato-acuminata, integra, glabra, ex quorum medio flos rubro-purpureus pedunculo dependet,

Si nullae in hac regione species sint staminibus octo, rectius, me judice, ad hanc classem refertur is Flora bujus regionis Genus hoc.

Indigena hanc plantam noxiam & venenatum esse mihi indicarunt.


82.  RUMEX calycis foliis interioribus ad basin dentatis.

CAL. Periantium hexaphyllum, persistens: foliolis tribus exterioribus lanceolatis, reflexis; toxidem interioribus conniventibus, ad basin utrinque dentatis.

COR.  nulla.

STAM.  Filamenta sex, capillaria, brevia.  Antherae erectae magnae cylindraceae, didymae.

PIST.  Germen triquetrum, seu pyramis triangularis, ex cujus apice surgit Stylus, qui statim dividitur in tres ramulos reflexos, per rimas foliorum calycis conniventium excuntes.  Stigmata magna, ramosa.

SEM.  unicum, triquetrum, calycis foliolis conniventibus inclusum.

Caulis altus, striatus.

Folia alterna, petiolata, magna, ovata, integra.

Flores in spicis laxis, ramulorum terminatricibus, verticillatim, siti.

OBS.  Prima sola stamina apparent, illis vera defloratis stigmata laciniata explicantur.


83.  RUMEX aquatica, calicis foliolis omnibus aequalibus & similibus radice exterius & interius flava.


84.  RUMEX aquatica, calycis foliolis omnibus similibus, radice exterius nigra, interius aurantii vel crocei coloris.

Britannica Veterum.

Inspicienti harum duarum plantarum partes, nulla differentia, nisi in sola radice, se obtulit.

In priori specie (82) Radix magis pallide flava, ejusdem coloris & externe & interne, ramosa, nullis annulis notata, & consistentiae, magis tenacis.  Altera (83) crescit in luto profucdo, aquosos, nigro: Radix exterius nigra, rimis circularibus notata, interius coloris aurantii vel crocei, fragilis, spongiosa, minime fibrosa, sed fibras tenuiores lateraliter emittens.

OBS.  Haec planta est secretum magnum nostris Indigenis, ad ulcera phagedenica, ad quod Chritianis revelandum, quocunque pretio, allici non potuerint, sed felici casu detectum.  Ego etial vidi ulcus Palati successu inopinato curatum, lavando solummodo ulcus decocto radicis & haustulo ejus quotidie exhibito.



Convallaria [1].  True Lily of the Valley (Convallaria majalis L.) or False Lily of the Valley.  (Maianthemum canadense Desf.).  Convallaria is noted to grow in the wild, in particular within the Allegheny region; but this may be a consequence of local settlement followed by an introduction of Convallaria into the wild.    The plant description closely matches Convallaria due to the two or three peduncular flowers.  The flowers of Maianthemum are in an erect spike.  The second Convallaria has this terminal spike of flowers noted, but more importantly has alternating leaves borne on the stem.

Convallaria [2].  False Lily of the Valley (Maianthemum canadense Desf.).   This plant, also referred to as a Unifolium and Bifolium species due to its one-blade and two-blade appearances (Adanson, 1763), was first referred to as Valentinia by Heister-Fabricius in 1759 and its current genus name  Maianthemum by Friedrich H. Wiggers in 1780.  Rene L. Desfontaines’ identification came later.

Veratrum [1]

Veratrum [2]. Common name: Unicorn’s Horn.  According to Colden, the root of this plant is used again ‘Colicam’ (Colic or Colicky contractions). [Caution: very toxic!]

Paris foliis ternis. A Trilium species; most likely Trillium erectum L. (T. sessile) due to the red-purple coloration noted. (“rubro-purpureus”).  Colden equated this with the European member of the Herb Paris genus Paris quadrifolia L.  (ternis refers to 3 leaves, quadrifolia refers to 4).  Of course, he was off due to his association of form over count.    The triphyllum nature of this plant is emphasized in his description of the perianthum.   Indigenous people thought this plant was noxious and capable of causing illness as well as changes in the flesh.  No specific use was suggested however by Colden.




Rumex calycis.  This is what modern botanists might call a red or broad-leaved dock.  The leave is large and ovoid.

Rumex aquatica (1).  The two Rumex aquatica are differentiated by their rootstock.   This first bears a taproot radix that is yellow throughout, the second a taproot with black on the exterior and yellow on the interior.  These may in fact be the same species, with different colors due to age or environmental differences.  Leaf form is not described in significant detail, but the radix color suggests Rumex crispus or curly leaved dock.

Rumex aquatica (2).  Description is same as for the first species.  According to Colden, this plant is a secret remedy known to Indians, for treating ulcers.  The meaning of “Christianus revelandum”:  A Christian doctrine of signatures is implied as well, the darker color of the radix may in fact be due to a red pigment (a flavotannin-complex) produce when the plant is under stress.  This could be considered symbolic of the blood of Christ.  (Colden’s Rumex calicys would also behave the same.)




85.  ACER folio palmato-angulato, flore sere apetalo sessili, fructu pedunculato corymbosos.  Gron. virg. 41.

Ex eadem gemma flores plures, singuli pedunculati erumpunt.

CAL.  perianthium polyphyllum; folia lacneolata, colorata, rubra.

COR.  nulla, salten non distinguenda a calyce.

STAM.  Filamenta quinque, subulata, aliquando sex.  Antherae simplices.

PIST.  Germen compressum, triangulare, Styli (vel Stigmata) duo, reflexi, rubri.

PER.  Capsula compressa, in alam longam membranaceum bifurcatum extensa.


Floret primo vere, ante eruptionem foliorum ex unaquaque gemma, flores quinque primo sessiles, & ita conjucti, ut videantur unicus flos ex folis antheris sessilibus constans.  Pedunculati autem gradatim elongantur, & tum Calyces apparent, & Filamenta staminum eodem tempore elongatur.  Styli non apparent nisi post occasum staminum.

OBS.  Ex succo hujus arboris, ante eruptionem foliorum, primo vere saccharum consiciunt Indigenae, & maxim succi quantitas ex arbore hoc tempore vulnerata effluit.


86.  OENOTHERA prior.

CAL.  Perianthium monophyllum, coloratum, deciduum: Tubus cylindraceus; Limbus quadripartitus, laciniis lanceolatis, reflexis.

COR.  Petula quatuor, cordata, calyci infra divisuras inserta.

STAM. octo.  Antherae erectae.

PIST.  Germen infra calycem, pyriforme, quatuor striis notatum.  Stylus unicus declinatus.  Stigma quadrisidum: laciniis arcuatis.

PER.  Capsula pyriformis, alis quatuor longitudinalibus quadrilocularis.

SEM.  plurima, minima.

Folia alterna oblonga, ovata, acuminata integra, vix petiolata, quatuor foliosa ad alas foliorum majorum.

Flores singuli ex alis foliorum.


87.  OENOTHERA foliis lineari-lanceolatis undulatis.  Gron. virg. 42.  Clayt. n. 200.

CAL.  Periantheum monophyllum, coloratum deciduum.  Tubus longissimus cylindraceus; Limbus quadripartitus, laciniis longis, lanceolatis deflexis.

COR.  petala quatuor, cordata, calyci inserta.

STAM.  Filamenta octo.  Antherae erectae.

PIST.  Germen infra calycem, pedunculi instar, cylindraceum, striatum.  Stylus unicus, longissimus, longitudine calycis & corollae.  Stigma quadrisidum; laciniis erectis parallelis.

PER.  Capsula cylindrica, striata, quadrilocularis, apice dehiscens.  In capsula arida striae evanescunt.

SEM. plurima, quadrangularis.

Caulis simplex, foliosus, altus.

Folia oblonga, elliptica, alterna, vix petiolata.

Flores in spica caulis terminatrici.


88.  EPILOBIUM noveboracense.

CAL.  Perianthium pentaphyllum (nisi sit error in manuscripto)

COR.  Petala quatuor, cordata.

STAM.  Filamenta octo: quatuor breviora.

PIST.  Germen infra receptaculum floris, longum, gracile, quadrangulare.  Stylus unicus. Stigma globulare.

PER.  Capsula longa gracilis, quadrangularis, (ni fallor unilocularis).


Caulis ramosus, brachiatus.

Folia bina opposita, lanceolata, serrata.

Flores & fructus singuli ad extremitates ramulorum.  Flores dilute rubentes.

Crescit in madidis.


Acer. The juice from this tree is used by Natives due to its sweet flavor.    Large amounts of this fluid are harvested each year and are gathered through wounds made in the tree, from which they flow.




Oenothera [1]

Oenothera [2]

Epilobium novaboracense.





89.  PERSICARIA foliis salicis, acris.

89.  PERSICARIA [with] willow-like leaves, acrid

CAL.  nullus.

CALYX none

COR.  monopetala, quinquepartita.

COROLLA one petal, five-parts

STAM.  octo.

STAMENS eight.

PIST.  Germen pyramidale, trigonum.  Styli tres, vel potius.  Stylus unicus trisidus.

PISTIL  Seed pyramidal, three part.  Three styles, or about.  Style unique, three-sided



Caulis nodosus, ad ortum foliorum.

Stem Nodulous (bearing nodes) with rising leaves

Flores sparsim in spicis longis linearibus, ex alis foliorum.

Flowers sporadic, spiked long linear leaves, like wings

90.  PERSICARIA acris vulgaris, floribus in spicis caulis terminatricibus sparsim sitis.

90. PERSICARIA acrid, common, with flowers on spike-like stem terminating sporadically

Stamina quinque in spicis longis linearibus, ex alis foliorum.

Stamens five, in long, linear spikes, like wings

91.  PERSICARIA mitis vulgaris, foliis maculatis, floribus in spicis ex foliorum alis, vel caulis terminatricibus, dense sitis.

91.  PERSICARIA common mild, leaves spotted, with flowers in spikes of wings leaves or terminating on stem, densely Thirst (grows densely in dry places?)

Stamina sex.

Stamens six

92.  HELXINE foliis sagitatis caule aculeato.  Gron. virg. 84.

Nostratibus Cowlongue [sic, Cowtongue]

Flores in spicis ex foliorum alis, ita exigui, ut vix Stylos numerare potuerim, & multo minus nectaria observare.  Mihi videtur Stylus unicus, trifidus, cum tribus distinctis Stigmatibus.

Caulis longissimus, ramosus, gracilis, quadrangularis; angulis aculeatis.

Folia alterna, sagittata, petiolata.  Nervus in dorso folii etiam aculeatus & vestibus adhaerens.

Crescit in madidas.


93.  HELXINE scandens volubilis.  Gron. virg. 157.

CAL. Perianthium foliolis quinque: quorum tria carinata, persistentia; duo colorata, non carinata & decidua.

COR.  nulla, nisa duo foliola.  Calycis sint.


PIST. – – – Stylum non accurate observare potui; Stigmata tria, globularia.

PER.  Calix fit Capsula triquetra, tribus alis longitudinalibus auctus.

SEM.  unicum, triquerum, nigrum.

Flores exigui.

Folia alterna, cordata, glabra, petiolata.  Radix annua.





Persicaria [1]

Persicaria [2]

Helxine [1].  In previous attempts to identify this genus, the true Helxine genus was indetified as a possibility, which of course was off due to the aquatic natCoure of Helxine and its related latin Counter-name.  Colden’s description of the seed helped to confirm another suspicion, that this is a buckwheat or Fagopyrum species.   Ch. G. Ludwig first described and assigned a name to this plant in 1737.  The Fagopyrum name would not become official until 1791 by Joseph Gaertner, years after Colden’s work was completed.  Linne took on Ludwig’s name in 1737, which he changed to Fagotriticum in 1744.  This history was essential to uncovering the identification of Colden’s two Helxine species.  The traditional domestic Fagopyrum is Buckwheat (F. esculentum), a plant brought over from western Asia, for cultivation in Europe followed by North America.  The sagittate leaf and smooth stem described for this plant match the traditional Fagopyrum escaped from gardens.

Helxine [2].  The leaves of the above species differs from the leaves of the second species which are alternating, heart-shaped, smooth, and bear a stem.  Note the seed description on the second species has the typical one-seeded, three-sided, black-colored seed of traditional buckwheats (“unicum, triquetrum, nigrum”).



94.  Laurus foliis integris trilobisque.  Gron. virg. 46.  Sassafras.

CAL.  nullus, nisi fundum corollae calycem diceres.

COR.  Petala sex, ovato-acuminata.

STAM.  Filamenta novem, compressa.  Antherae erectae, compressae, staminibus latiores, sere quadratae.  Corpuscula sex, globosa, mollia, petiolo brevis-simo affica, Germen circumstantia.

PIST.  Germen globulare.  Stylus unicus; in quibusdam floribus ejusdem arboris styli duo.  Stigma obtusum.

PER.  Drupa sere sicca, in calyce locata, sicut glans quercina, quae cum arescat, sit.

SEM.  Nux globularis, parum compressa.  Nucleus ejusdem figurae.

Stamina facile dejicit.

Flores pedunculati, in racemis, ad extremitates ramorum.

Folia furculorum unius anni alliptica, integra; ligni veterioris trilobata.


95.  LAURUS foliis enervibus ovatis, utrinque acutis.  Gron. virg. 46.

Nostratibus Wild All-spice vel Wild Pimento.

CAL.  nullus, nisi corollam sic dicas.

COR.  Petala sex, ovato-acuminata, concava, expansa.

STAM.  Filamenta novem, compressa, sex exteriora tria interiora.  Antherae didymae, summitati filamentorum utrinque adnatae.

Nectaria corpuscula sex, mollia, irregularia, singula pedunculo brevissimo prope basin intimi ordinis filamentorum affixa.

PIST.  Germen ovatum.  Stylus nullus.

PER.  nullum.


OBS.  Numerous petalorum & staminum incertus; aliquando octo Petala & duodecim stamina.

Folia obverse elliptica, utrinque acuminata, alterna, petiolata, integerrima, odorata, planis longitudine ramulorum parallelis.

Folia minora, seree circularia, interspersa.

Flores lutei, parvi, folia antevertunt, et crescunt in acervis, per longitudinem ramulorum dispersis, hoc est, plurimi pedunculo singulo simplici eidem fundo affixi.

Crescit ad ripas rivulorum.  Floret aprili.


Laurus. This is the traditional Sassafras albidum.  Colden does not mention its characteristic odor, or its long history.  Even during Colden’s time, this plant was highly values for use as a medicine and tonic, so Colden was probably not unaware of this history for this plant.  Perhaps he felt it was not necessary to discuss due to its existence as common knowledge.  Still, this does not fully explain lack of mention of the use of this plant as a medicine.  The introduction of Sassafras to medicine is pretty much attributable to New Spain and the writings of physician Nicolas Monardes (of the Monardes plant).  The popularization of it as an important New World product was pretty much under the control of Spain until scouts working in Florida were able to teach the British how to find and recognize this plant.  With the support of the Queen during the late 1590s, Britain was finally able to develop a market for this medicine, which ultimately led to the heavy harvesting of this plant all along the Massachusetts shorelines, especially around its main islands.  So, by the time Colden came upon this plant, its uses were old news to the medical world, much less the New York area.

Ref (photo above):  W.D. Brush. Provided by National Agricultural Library. Originally from US Forest Service. United States, MD.




Laurus. Lindera benzoin.  Contemporary common name: Spicebush; to Colden, Wild All Spice or Wild Pimento.    This plant probably had uses much like its aromatic relative Sassafras, but Colden does not mention any of these.

The above photos are from  Photograph Copyright by William S. Justice. Courtesy of Smithsonian Institution, Dept. of Systematic Biology, Botany.




96.  MITELLA scapo diphyllo.  Linn. cliff. 167.

CAL.  Periantium campanulatum, pentaphyllum, coloratum: foliis ovato-acuminatis.

COR.  Pentapetala, peralis tenuiter laciniatis, & veluti ramosis.

STAM.  Filamenta quinque.  Antherae globosae.

PIST.  Germen orbiculare, supra floris receptaculum.  Stylus unicus.

PER.  Capsula ovalis, unilocularis.

SEM.  plurisma.

Caulis cimplex.

Flores in spica caulis, terminatrici, tenui, laxa.

Folia duo tantum opposita, sessilia ovato-acuminata, tricuspidata, caulina.


97.  ANONYMA foliis ternis.

97.  ANONYMIA three leaves.

CAL.  periantheum monophyllum, campanulatum; ore decem dentibus, alternatim longioribus reflexis; breviroibus latioribus erectis.

CALYX periantheum is one leaf divided, campanulate, with ten teeth, alternately longer reflexed; broader shorter ones erect.

COR.  Petala quinque, ovata, calyci inserta.

COROLLA  Petals five, ovate, inserted on the calyx.

STAM.  Filamenta decem, quorum longiora quinque, calycis ori inter petala inserta, breviora inferius inserta.

STAMENS Filaments ten, five of which are longer, calyx petals inserted between the mouth, shorter ones inserted below

PIST.  Germen orbiculare, supra receptaculum floris.  Stylus unicus, curvatus.

PISTIL Orbicular Germen, located above the receptacle of the flower. Style unique, curved

PER.  Capsula globularis, quinquelocularis, calyce tecta.

PERIANTH Capsule globular, five-locular, calyx covered

SEM.  dura, globularia.

SEMEN  dura/harsh, globular

Caulis longus, gracilis, inclinatus, angulosus, sulcatus, rubens, ramosus.

Folia omnirta erecta, terna verticillattm posita, pertiolata, lanceolata, integra, glabra, in ramulis saepe bina opposita.

Flores in verticillis ad alas foliorum.

Aestate solummodo crescit, & ad primum gelu marcescit, frigoris impatiens.

In aquaticis crescit; Floret mense Angusto.

Stem long, slender, inclined, angular and grooved, red, branched.

Leaves [nearly all] erect, three verticillate positions, pertiolata, lanceolate, entire, glabrous, with two branches that are often opposing.

Flowers in winged verticels to leaves.

Only grows in summer, and at first frost withers, intolerant of cold.

Grows in water; flowers narrow, [last a] month.



Anonyma foliis ternis.




98.  ANONYMA pedunculus arcuatis.


CAL.  Perianthemum duplex, infra germen: Exterius parvum diphyllum, foliolis duobus circularibus persistentibus.  Interius majus, coloratum, monophyllum, quinquepartitum: laciniis ovatis; post occasum floris crassescit, germen arcte amplectitur, sitque fructus tegumentum carnosum, coloratum.

COR.  petalum unicum, ovatum; ore quinquefido: laciniis parvis, obtusis, revolutis.

STAM.  Filamenta decem, subulata, corolla dimidio breviora, lanugine tecta, basi corollae affixa.  Antherae magnae, didymae, bicornes, cornibus bifidis

PIST.  Germen orbiculare, ab inferiori parte circulo virescente cinctum.  Stylus cylindraceus, longitudine corollae, post octalum floris, persistens.  Stigma crassiusculum.

PER.  Bacca rubra umblicata, stylo remanente in centro umbilici.  Exterior carnosa pars Baccae sit ex interiori perianthio crassescente, & capsuloam globosam – – – – , unilocularem.

SEM.  plurima, ossea, angularis, placentae adhaerentia.

Est planta perennis, sempervivens, bumillma.

Caulis simplex, lignosus.

Folia alterna, rigida, ovata, integerrima; petiolis, brevissimis.

Flores albi: singuli pedunculis longis arcuatis ex foliorum alis pendulis.

Junio floret, Hyeme fructus maturescit in solo sterili.

Subfrutex (Small, fruiting).

CAL. Perianthemum double, within the bud: Externally diphyllum small, two circular lobes persistent. Within larger, color, leaf divided fivefold: lobes ovate after setting flower thickens bud tightly embraces be covering the fleshy fruit, colored.

COR. Petals unique, oval mouth quinquefido: fringes of small, rounded, revolute.

STAM. Filaments ten, subulate, corolla shorter half, covered with down, attached to the base of the corolla. Anthers large, Didymus, two horned, horns bifid

PIST. Germen orbicular, from the lower part of the circle surrounding virescente. Style cylindrical, corolla length, after octalum flowered continuing. Stigma thick.

PER. Pearls umblicata red, style remains at the center of the umbilicus. The outer fleshy part of the berry is an inner perianth crassescente & globular capsule —-, unilocularem.

SEM. great many things, bony, angular, placenta attached to it.

It is a perennial plant, sempervivens, bumillma.

Stem simple, woody.

Leaves alternate, rigid, ovate, most integral, petioles short.

Flowers white, with long peduncles, each leaf of the arcuate wings pendulum.

June blooms, winter fruit ripens in the barren soil.


99.  PYROLA noveboracensis.

CAL.  Perianthium quinquefidum: laciniis ovato-acuminatis.

COR.  Petala quinque, subrotunda, concava, patentia.

STAM.  Filamenta decem, versus petalum superius, inclinata.  Antherae nutantes, magnae, furtum bicornes.

PIST.  Germen orbiculare sulcatum, quasi ex quinque globulis unitis compositum.  Stylus unicus staminibus longior, versus petalum inferius declinatum & reflexum, forma proboscidis, ita ut mariti & uxor sese acersari videantur.

PER.  Capsula subrotunda, pentagona, quinquelocularis, angulis dehiscens, stylo remanente.


Caulis simplex, angulatus, nudus, nisi quod folia lanceolata colorata alba ad exortum pedunculi uniuscujusque floris.

Folia radicalia, circularia, parum utrinque acuminata, integerrima: petiolis comressis longis; sempervirentia.

Flores nutantes, pedunculati, in spica caulis terminatrici.

CAL.  Perianth 5-point (star-like): lobes ovate-acuminate.

COR. Petals five, roundish, concave, patience.

STAM. Filaments ten, the upper petals, bending. Anthers wavering, great and solidly (steel) horned.

PIST. Germen orbicular grooved like the five buttons united compound. Style longer than the stamens, single, and declined below the petals reflex, form the trunk, so that the husband and wife would seem acersari.

PER. Capsule roundish, pentagonal, 5-celled, gaping corners, style remains


100.  ANDROMEDA, Nostratibus Dwarf laurel.

CAL.  perianthium mimimum, quinquedentatum.

COR. Monopetala, perianthio, antequam expanditur, non tecta, sed sacculi ligati instar limbus collectus: postquam expanditur, campanulata, patula, foveis decem impressione antherarum effectis notata.  Limbus quiquefidus: incisuris brevibus: laciniis reflexis.

STAM.  Filamenta decem a centro declinata.  Antherae globosae.

PIST.  Germen globulare.  Stylus unicus; staminibus longior, persistens.  Stigma obtusum.

PER.  Capsula dura in quinque segmenta per axim dehiscens.

SEM.  unicum in unoquoque segmento, minimum.

Subfrutex sempervirens.

Folia lanceolata, bina opposita.

Flores rubri in verticillis densis.

Crescit in solo humido sterile, ovibus exitiosa.

CAL.  perianth smallest, five-toothed.

COR. single petal, perianth, before it expands, not covered, but tied together by fringes; after it expands, is campanulate, open, warm impression. Ten pits influencing the effects anther are noted.  Lamina quiquefidus [like a star]: cut short, reflexed lobes.

STAM. Filaments ten from the center declined. Anthers globose.

PIST. German globulare. Style unique stamens longer continuing. Stigma obtuse.

PER. Capsule hard into five segments by axim yawning.

SEM. in any segment of the unique, the least.

Subfrutex sempervirens.

Leaves lanceolate, opposing pairs.

Flowers in Red dense verticels .

It grows only on its own in moist areas.  Fatal to sheep.


101.  ANDROMEDA foliis ovatis obtusis, corollis corymbosis.  Gron. virg.  160.

Frutex sempervirens.

Huic & priori: Globulis Butyri satis magnus per gilam intrusus ovibus praesentaneum est remedium, si satis tempestive exhibeatur, ut expertus sum.

Bush sempervirens

Here and prior, as I have seen (experienced), Globulis Butyri [Yellow Buttons] is a ready remedy for intrusions of a large sheep’s esophagus in good time.

102.  VACCINIUM, Nostratibus Wortle-Berry.

CAL.  Periantheum campanulatum/  Limbus quinquefidus; laciniis semicircularibus, persistens, germani insidens.

COR.  monopetala, tubulata, ore arctiore, quinquesido: laciniis reflexis.

STAM.  Filamenta decem, corolla breviora, stylum arcte circumstantia.  Antherae erectae, bifidae.

PIST.  Germen orbiculare infra receptaculum.  Stylus unicus, staminibus longior.  Stigma obtusum.

PER.  Bacca globosa, umbilicata, quinquelocularis.

SEM. decem, radiatim ad centrum posita, duo in unaquaque cellula.

Vaccinium baccis nigris minoribus, foliis alternis integris ovatis, floribus albis.

CAL.  Periantheum campanulate / Lamina quinquefidus; fringes semicircular, continuous, germen perched.

COR. monopetala, tubular, mouth closed, quinquesido: lobes reflexed.

STAM. Filaments ten, corolla shorter, style closely circumstance. Anthers erect, bifid.

PIST. Germen orbicular below receptacle. Style single, longer than the stamens. Stigma obtuse.

PER. Pearls globular, umble-like, 5-celled (parts).

SEM. ten, placed radiate to the center, two in each cell.

Vaccinium berries black smaller, ovate leaves are alternate, entire, white flowers

103.  VACCINIUM baccis saturate caeruleis majoribus succulentioribus.

Omnia praeterea ut in priori.

Florent Aprili & Majo.

Omnes sunt Decandrae & inspexi plures.

As pertaining to the previous one.

Blooms in April and May.

All are Decandrae and many examined.


104.  ARBUTUS Nostratibus Bearberry.

CAL.  Periantheum campanulatum, limbo quinquedentatum, infra germen,

COR.  Monopetala, campanulata, patens, quinquefida.

STAM.  Filamenta decem, crassia, brevia, arcte stylum ambientia: Antherae erectae, filamentis quatuor terminatae; quorum duo longiora, erecta, duo breviora ad angulos rectos exeuntia.

PIST.  Germen orbiculare.  Stylus unicus, staminibus longior.  Stigma simplex.

PER.  Bacca major, coloris herbaceia, non edulis.

Caulis ramosus.

Folia alterna, ovata, lacuminata.

Total planta Vaccinio similima.

Majo floret.

Qv.  An haec sit Uva ursi, cujus views lithontripticas describis Linnaeus in praefatione ad orationem suam de Telluris habitabilis incremento?

CAL.  Periantheum campanulate, limb quinquedentatum (five toothed), below a bud,

COR. Monopetala, campanulate widening quinquefida (five part?).

STAM. Filaments ten, thick, short, tightly enveloping style: anthers erect, four terminal filaments, two of which are long, straight, at right angles to the two shorter proceeding.

PIST. Germen orbicular. Style single, longer than the stamens. Stigma simple.

PER. Pearls larger herbaceous color, not edible.

Stem branched.

Leaves alternate, ovate, acuminate.

Total plant similar to Vaccinio.

Major blooms.

QV. Whether this is the grape of the bear, whose views on lithontripticas portrayed by Linnaeus in the preface to his oration on the increased habitability of the Earth?


[See,_Nicholas_(1697%3F-1775)_(DNB00)] and



105.  SAXIFRAGA noveboracensis.

Caulis ramosus, aphyllus, nisi quod unicum foliolum sit ad exortum uniuscujusque ramuli. 

Folia radicalis, in terram procumbentia, ovata, crenata, petiolata, foliacea.

Flores ad extremittes ramulorum in corymbo.

Flores Aprili.

Stem flowered, leafless, except that a single leaflet projects from each frond.

Leaves radical, falling to the ground, ovate, crenate, petiolate, foliacea.

Flowers to extremittes branches in clusters.

Flowers in April.


Anonyma pedunculis arcuatis.

Pyrola novaboracensis.  A species with radical, circular leaves and a long stem–probably  Pyrola (Moneses) uniflora.






Vaccinium [1]

Vaccinium [2] Common name: Wortleberry.

Arbutus. Common name: Bearberry.   Also called Uva ursi, used to cure lithonotriptus (kidney stones), according to Linnaeus.

Saxifraga novaboracensis.



106.  DRYPTIS foliis quaternis.

Silene foliis quaternis.  Gron. virg.  50.

CAL.  perianthium monophyllum, campanulatum; ore quinquedentatum, persistens.

COR.  Petala quinque: ungues longitudine calycis angusti.  Bractea lata, laciniata seu fimbriata.

STAM.  Filamenta decem, quorum quinque unguibus petalorum inserta.  Antherae incumbentes.

PIST.  Germen globosum.  Styli tres, filiformes.  Stigmata simplicia.

PER.  Capsula globularis, calyces tecta.

SEM.  Reniformia.

Caulis simplex.

Folia quaterna, verticillatim posita, lanuginosa, integra.

Flores albi in spica caulis terminatrici: quorum sex bini opposii: septimus spicam terminat.

CAL.  Perianth leaf divided campanulate (bell-shaped); five-toothed [at] opening, continuous.

COR. Petals five, nails/claws long, narrow calyx. Bract wide, fringed or tasseled.

STAM. Filaments ten, five nails petals inserted. Anthers leaning.

PIST. Germen round. Three styles, threadlike. Stigma simple.

PER. Capsule globular, calyx covered.

SEM. True reniform (kidney-shaped).

Stem simple.

Four leaves, placed verticillate, downy, intact.

Flowers white in the ear stem terminatrici: six pairs of opposites: Seven ears terminates.


107.  ALSINE foliis lanuginosis.

CAL.  Perianthium pentaphyllum, foliolis lanceolatis, persistentibus.

COR.  petala quinque, sere semibifida.

STAM.  Filamenta decem, capillaria.  Antherae globosae.

PIST.  Germen ovatum.  Stylus nullus.  Stigma patulum.

PER.  Capsula unilocularis, conica.

SEM.  plurima, globularia.

Folia lanuginosa, lanceolata, sessilia, bina opposita.

CAL.  Perianth pentaphyllum, leaflets lanceolate, persistent.

COR. five petals, tough (leathery), semibifida.

STAM. Filaments ten, capillary. Anthers globose.

PIST. GermEn oval. Style no. Stigma space.

PER. Capsule unilocularis, conical.

SEM. many, globular.

Leaves downy, lanceolate, sessile, opposing pairs

108.  ALSINE foliis pilosis, floribus pentagynis.

Omnia ut in praecedente, excepto, quod Stylos habeat quinque.

Everything as in the preceding, with the exception that its style has five


109.  OXALIS foliis ternatis cordatis, flore luteo.

OXALIS with subalternate cordate leaves, yellow flower



110.  ASARUM foliis subcordatis petiolatis.  Gron. virg. 54. 

Nostratibus (errore) Coltsfoot.

Folia duo radicalia, petiolata.

Flos unicus, pedunculo brevi ex ala foliorum.

Commonly called (in error) Coltsfoot

Leaves two, radical, petiolate.

Single flower, peduncle short wing of leaves.


111.   AGRIMONIA inodora, foliis omnibus pinnatis, fructu hispido.  Linn. cliff.  53.

Agrimonides.  Tournef.

Calyx floris simplex, dum petala subsistunt, post autem petalorum occasum Calyx novus protruditur infra priorem, ex plurimus foliolis setaceis constans.

Calyx primus clausus tegit embryonem.

Stamina septem Folia pinnata, impari maximo costam terminante: minimis alternatim interpositis.  Duo folia minora semicircularia sessilia, opposita ad exortum foliorum ex caule.

Flores in spicis laxis ad extremitatem caulis.

Stamina & Styli vix nudis oculi distinguenda.

Tournefort’s Agrimonoides

Calyx simple flower, with petals that fall, and a new calyx that thrusts forward within beneath the former, with horsehair leaflets.

Calyx first block covers the embryo.

Stamens seven leaves pinnate, odd maximum rib terminating small alternately interposed. Two smaller semicircular leaves sessile, opposite to the rise of the leaf stem.

Flowers in loose spikes at the end of the stem.

Stamens and styles barely distinguishable to the naked eye.



Drypis foliis quaternis.




Alsine [1]

Alsine [2]


Asarum. Even though Colden ascribed the common name Coltsfoot to this plant, it is the Wild Ginger commonly found growing on cool woodlands floors.  The name Coltsfoot is attributed mostly to leafform, which for this plant does mimic the traditional Coltsfoot common to the region–Tussilago farfara. Based on the flower description, we can tell this is Asarum due to the short stem and single flower described by Colden.  The rhizome or stolon of this plant is stringly ginger-like in smell, yet Colden makes no mention of this.





112.  PRUNUS sylvestris.

In omnibus floris partibus cum Pruno hortensi convenit.

Fructus membrana tenaci tegitur, succulentor mollior.  Nucleus ovatus compressus.

Caulis humilior.

All the parts of a flower resemble those of the horticultural plum.

The fruit is covered by a membrane binding, juicy, soft.  Oval, [with] compressed (hard?) nucleus.

Stem lower.

113.  CERASUS sylvestris.

In omnibus frutificationis partibus, cum Ceraso hortensis convenit, nis quod flores & fructus in racemis longis.

In all parts frutificationis, with cherries grown in clusters of flowers and fruit on long racemes.

11[4].  FRUTEX noveboracensis.

CAL. Limbus quinquefidus: laciniis lanceolatis, totaliter reflexis.

COR.  Petala quinque, longa, obtusa, calyci inserta.

STAM.  Filamenta circiter viginti, calyci & corollae inserta.

PIST.  Germen infra receptaculum globulare.  Stylus unicus semiquinquefidus.

PER.  Bacca globularis, calyce coronata, quinquelocularis.

SEM.  Duo reniformia, in uniquoque loculo, sed saepe unum, aliquando ambo marceseunt ante maturitatem.

Folia alterna, ovata, tenuiter serrata, petiolata, fibra unica longitudinali ramulos laterales oppositos emittente.

Flores in racemis.

Floret primo vere, antequam folia crumpant; floribus tum totus vestitus ubique sere in sylvis aspicientium oculos ad se allicit, quare imperitiae mea attribuo, quod ad certum Genus referre nequeo; nam quod a Botanicis plurimis observata sit, hac dubito.

CAL.  Limbus/Lamina/Layer quinquefidus, lobes lanceolate and parts totally twisted.

COR. Petals five, long, blunt, calyx inserted.

STAM. Filaments about twenty, Calyx & Corolla inserted.

PIST. Germen globular receptacle below. Style unique semiquinquefidus.

PER. Pearls globularis, calyx crowned quinquelocularis.

SEM. Two true V. reniformis, together in one container [coffin], but often one; sometimes both [marceseunt=open/split?] before maturity.

Leaves alternate, ovate, slightly serrate, petiolate, unique fiber seen longitudinally, opposite branches emitted laterally.

Flowers in racemes.

Blooms in early spring, before the leaves are overgrown by flowers everywhere and all wearing leather in the woods looking eyes attracts, why attribute my inexperience, that I can not refer to a certain kind, for which the most noted is the botanist, I doubt this.


115.  CRATAEGUS foliis ovatis repando-angularis serratis.  Gron. virg.

CAL.  Perianthium monophyllum, quinquefidum, concavo-patens: laciniis lanceolatis, interius in fundo coloratum.

COR.  Petala quinque, subrotunda, calyci inserta.

STAM.  Filamenta decem (licet saepius unum vel alterum deficiat.) longitudinis corollae, calyci inserta.

PIST.  Germen infra calycem.  Stylus unicus, trifidus.

PER.  Bacca carnosa, sphaeroidea, umbilicata.

SEM.  quatuor, oblonga, angulata, durissima.

Flores in racemis.

Folia triangularia, alterna.

Ramuli spinis longis armati.

CAL.  Perianth leaf divided into five parts, shaped concavo to open, with lanceolate lobes  colored on the bottom inside.

COR. Petals five, roundish, inserted on the calyx.

STAM. Filaments ten (although one or two aspects.) Length of the corolla, inserted on the calyx.

PIST. Branch within the calyx. Style unique, Trifid.

PER. Pearls fleshy, sphaeroidea, umbilicate.

SEM. four, oblong, angular, very hard.

Flowers in racemes.

Leaves triangular, alternating.

Branches armed with long spines.


116.  SPIRAEA noveboracensis.

CAL.  periantheum quinquefidum: laciniis acuminatis, persistens.

COR.  Petala quinque, subrotundam calyci inserta.

STAM.  Filamenta plurima,capillaria.  Antherae erectae.

PIST. – – – – – Styli quinque.

Circulius quidam rubens inter stamina & Pistillum.

PER.  Capsula quinque, parvae, acuminate.

Folia alterna, petiolata, ovata, serrata.

Flores in spicis crassioribus.

Est subfrutex, florens per totem aestatem, sed partes floris ita exigue, ut non facile distinguantur nudis oculis.

CAL.  Periantheum quinquefidum: lobes acuminate, continuous.

COR. Petals five, roundish calyx inserted.

STAM. Filaments numerous capillaries. Anthers erect.

PIST. —– Five styles.

Between a circle of red stamens and pistils.

PER.  Capsule five, small and pointed.

Leaves alternate, petiolate, ovate, serrate.

Flowers in thick spikes .

Is subfruiting, with flowering throughout the whole summer, but with parts of the plants are so small they can not easily be distinguished by the naked eye.


117.  FILIPENDULA foliis ternatis.  Linn. cliff. 191.  Gron. Virg. 55.

Ipecacuanha D. Clayton.

CAL.  Perianthium campanulatum monophyllum. quinquedentatum, persistens.

COR.  Petala quinque, longissima, lanceolata, calyci inserta.

STAM.  Filamenta circiter quindecim, brevia, calyci inserta.  Antherae orbiculares.

PIST.  Capsula vel Semina quinque instar segmentorum circuli per axin divisi.

Polia ternata, alternata, oblonga, elliptica, rugosa, terrata.

Caulis ramosus, glaber, atro-rubens.

Flores ad extremitates ramulorum paniculati.

Radix perennis, fobrosa: fibra lignea cortice crasso carnoso tecta.

OBS.  Radix amara, non antem nauseosi gustus, qualis Ipecacuannae vera, & coloris magis rubentis.  Duplam requirit Dosin Ipecacuanne. & non its certo operatur; certius vomitum movet decocta ad Drachmas duas.


CAL.  Perianth campanulate [bell-shaped] leaf divided, five-toothed, continuing.

COR. Petals five, long, lanceolate, inserted on the calyx.

STAM. Filaments about 15, short, inserted in the calyx. Anthers orbicular.

PIST. Capsule or five seeds like segments of a circle divided by axin.

Subalternate pole, alternate, oblong, elliptical, wrinkled, terrata.

Stem branched, glabrous, dark-red color.

The flowers at the extreme ends are very branchy.

Root perennial fobrosa: thick fleshy fiber wood bark roofs.

OBS.  Bitter root is nauseous [but does] not taste like true Ipecacuannae, and [is] more red in color.  Requires twice the dose of Ipecacuanne, and [still] not so sure it definitely was the cause for vomiting, after boiling down to two drachmas.

Prunus sylvestris.

Cerasus sylvestris.

Frutex novaboracensis.





Spiraea noveboracensis.

Filipendula foliis ternatis. Important to local ethnobotany history, this plant retained limited amonts of use as a medicine by the late 19th century.  Colden’s observations section of the description detail the bitter root, with its nauseating taste resembling that of the famous South American Ipecac.  The deep red color of its root added to this interest in its potential as a medicine.  Like the South American Ipecac, a small amount of root is needed for this plant to work (2 drams).





118.  ROSA sylvestris inodora cynosbatos.  Clayt. Gron. birg. 55.

ROSA wild, inodorous, combed

119.  RUBUS caule erecto, foliis quinatis, more pinnatarum, uno costam terminante, quatuor reliquis oppositis, spinis tenuioribus, floribus albis, fructu conico rubro.

Nostratibus Rasberry.

Common name Raspberry.

130.  RUBUS caule erecto, foliis quinatis, petiolis foliiorum ex uno nodo tanquam centro ortis; spinis rigidioribus, floribus albis, fructu cylindrico nigro. (videtur Rubus caule aculeato, foliis ternatis & quinatis.  Hort, cliff.  192.)

RUBUS stems erect, fivesome leaves, leaf petioles emerge from one node as the starting center; rigid thorns positioned, white flowers, black fruit cylinder

121.  RUBUS caules erecto, foliis simplicibus quinquelobatis angulatis, flore rubro, fructo rubro compresso.  (Est Rubus caule intermi multifolio multifloro, foliis palmatis.  Hort. Cliff. 192.  Rubus odoratus.  Corn. Canad. 149. t. 150.[)]

RUBUS, stems erect, simple five-lobed angular leaves, red flowers, red fruit compression

122.  RUBUS caule repente, foliis ternatis, fructu nigro compresso.

RUBUS stem sudden, leaves subalternate, fruit black and tightly compressed.

123.  POTENTILLA noveboracensis.

CAL.  Periantheum foliis decem lanceolatis, quorum quinque exteriora longiora: totidem interiora.

COR.  Petala quinque, obtusa, calyci inserta.

STAM.  Filamenta plurisma, calyci inserta, circiter quindecim.

PIST. – – – – Styli plurimi super capitulum globosum.

PER. nullum, sed quinque interiora calycis foliola conniventia placentam conicam tegunt.

SEM.  Plurima, minima, facillime a placenta separabilia.

Folia ternata, serrata.

Flores lutei.

CAL.  Periantheum ten lanceolate leaves — with five exterior and long, and as many interiors.

COR. Petals five, blunt, calyx inserted.

STAM. Filaments plurisma, inserted on the calyx, about fifteen.

PIST. —- Most of the chapter styles globular.

PER. none, but the inner five calyx leaflets [together merge to form a] cover.

SEM.  A very, very small seed, easily separable from the placenta.

Leaves subalternate, serrate.

Flowers yellow.

124.  GEUM foliis ternatis laciniatis.

Foliis ternatis laciniatis; medio majora, flore albo, fructu globoso.  Stylis persistentibus elongatis.

Leaves subalternate fringed middle-sized to large, white flower, fruit globose. Styles persistent and elongated.



125.  ACTAEA racemis longissimis. Gron. virg. 57.

Nostratibus Rich Weed, & aliquibus Black-snakeroot.

CAL.  Perianthium foliis quatuor, circularibus, concavis, coloratis, albis, ad primam explicationem floris decidua.

COR. nulla.

STAM.  Filamenta plurima.  Antherae ovatae, compressae.

PIST.  Germen ovatum.  Stylus unicus, brevis.  Stigma cimplex.

PER.  Capsula (minime bacca) ovata oblonga, unilocularis, bivalvis, dehiscens.

SEM.  Plurima, semiorbicularia, capsulam duplici ordine replentia, ita ut sint segmenta sphaeroidis dupliciter sectae, semel per axin & pluries transversim.

Caulis simplex, sexpedalis.

Folia radicalia, petiolata, pinnata, more plurium umbellatum; Petioli maximi trichotomi.

Flores pedunculati in spicis longissiis caulibus terminatricibus.

OBS.  Dixit mihi Practicus Medicus se sapius uti radicibus ad dissolvendos tumores scirrhosos forma cataplasmatis applicatis.

Quidam vicinus tincturam radicis hujus (pro radice Araliae foliis cordatis errore assumte) exhibiut samulo suo querenti de languore & lassitudine spontanea; induxit agritudinem maximam cam sudoribus frigidis, & valetudinem pristinam flatim recuperavit.

Christophoriana baccifera est omnino diversi generis planta, & ab hoc distincta; cujus caulis est simillimus foliis radicalibus Actaea; Bacca ejus globose in racemis.

CAL.  Perianth leaves four, circular, hollow, colored, white, like the first explanation deciduous plant.

COR. no.

STAM. Many filaments. Anthers ovate, compressed.

PIST. German oval. Style single, brief. Stigma cimplex.

PER. Capsule (small berry) ovate oblong unilocularis, bivalved, yawning.

SEM. Mostly semiorbicularia, with double row capsule filling, so that there are segments of the spheroid, two sections, several times, and once by axial transversely.

Stem simple, six parted/footed (sided?).

Leaves radical, petiolate, pinnate, like umbel; Petioles large trichotome (hairy?).

Flowers in spikes, with long peduncle, forming at the ends of stems.

A doctor told me he often used the roots to break down scirrhotic [hard] tumors, poultice [is] applied.

Some neighbors tinctured the roots of this (Araliae foliis cordatis roots assumed in errore), complaining of fatigue and exhaustion, to treat their worst poor health with cold sweat, thereby recovering their former healthiness.

Christophoriana baccifera is entirely different kind plant, and distinct from that of which it is most similar to the stem leaves roots of Actaea: The pearly fruits form globular clusters.

[Infers White baneberry?]


126.  SANGUINARIA.  Linn. cliff.  202.  Gron. virg. 57.

Nostratibus Blood-root.

Calycem nullum observavi.

Antherae erectae, longae, luteae.  Cetera ut a Linnaeo descriptae.

Scapus nudus, sustinenes unicum florem.

Folium unicum, radicale, subrotundum, petiolatum, lobatum: sinubus profundis angustis.

Radix. carnosa, fragilis, succo rubescente abundans.

Crescit in humidis: primo vere floret.

OBS.  Ad Icterum effecax remedium.

Common name Bloodroot

Calyx not observed.

Anthers erect, long, yellow. However, see described by Linnaeus.

Scape naked, holding a single flower.

Leaf single, radical, roundish, petiolate, lobed, deep, with narrow grooves/bays.

Root  fleshy, brittle, reddish juice abundant.

It grows where damp: blooms early in spring.

OBS. The effective remedy for jaundice


127.  EUPHORBIA noveboracensis.

CAL.  Perianthium monophyllum, infundibuliforme.

COR.  Petals quatuor, ovata, calycis limbo inserta, persistentia.

Nectarium, corpus quoddam orbiculare ad ungues petalorum.

STAM.  Filamenta quatuor, apicibus furcata.  Antherae octo, unicuique filamento duae globulares.

PIST.  Germen ovatum, triquetrum, pedunculo insistens.  Styli tres persistentes, furcati; laciniis reflexis.

PER.  Capsula subrotunda, triloba, trilocularis, stylis coronata, pedunculo germinis elongato, & inter duo petala reflexo, extra corollam dependens.

SEM. subrotundum, in singulo loculo unum.

Caulis succulentus, procumbens, teres, parallelis, petiolata: petiolis brevissimis.

Flores minimi ad extremitates ramulorum, pedunculis ex alis foliorum.

Julio floret in locis cultis.

CAL.  Perianth leaf, well divided.

COR. Four petals, ovate, calyx (limb0=parts) inserted, persistent.

Nectary, anoints the body of the roundish petals.

STAM. Filaments four forked tips. Anthers eight each globulares two filaments.

PIST. German oval, triangle, standing on the peduncle. Styles three continuing furcati; lobes reflexed.

PER. Capsule roundish, triloba, trilocularis, styles crowned with elongated peduncle, between two flexible petals, without corolla dependent.

SEM. Roundish, with single capsule in each one.

Stem juicy, leaning down, smooth, parallel, petiolate, very short petioles.

The flowers are very small at the ends of branches, with peduncles from the wings of the leaves.

July flourishes in places of cultivation.


128.  PORTULACA foliis cuneiformibus glabris succulentis binis oppositis, ad summitatem caulis verticillaris.  (Portulaca foliis cuneiformibus verticillatis sessilibus.  Linn. cliff. 207.  Gron. virg. 59.)

PORTULACA leaves glabrous, cuneiform, juicy, in opposing pairs, growing to the top of the stem.


129.  AQUILEGIA corolla simplici, nectariis sere rectis.  Linn. cliff. 223.  Gron. virg. 59.

AQUILEGIA corolla simple, with almost straight nectaries


LIRIODENDRUM.  Linn. cliff. 223.  Gron. virg. 60.  Nostratibus White-wood, vel Cannoe-wood-tree.

LIRIODENDRUM commonly called White-wood, or Canoewood tree.

131.  HEPATICUS (foliis trilobatis, floribus caeruleis.)  Linn. cliff. 223.  Gron. virg. 61.

HEPATICUS three-lobed leaf, blue flower.

132.  ANEMONE prima.

Folia caulina simplicia, tricuspidata, versus petiolum cordata, ab extremitate caulis petiolis longis dependentia.  Folia radicalia terna ternata, petiolo longo insidentia.

Flores in eodem caule plures.

Folia cauline simple, tricuspid to cordate petiole , petioles long, hanging down from the end of the stem. Leaves subalternate, with radical groups, mounted on a long petiole.

Flowers in the same number of stem


133.  ANEMONE secunda.

Folia caulina subfloralia terna ternata, ovatis, concavis, deciduis.

Flos unicus in eodem caule.

Folia cauline subfloralia subalternate three, ovate, concave, deciduous.

[Flora] Single flower on the same stem

134.  ANEMONE tertia.

CAL.  perianthium foliolis quinque, ovatis, concavis, deciduis.

COR. nulla.

STAM.  Filamenta plurima inter calycem & seminum placentam inserta.  Antherae erectae, didymae.

PIST.  Styli plurimi in capitulo sphaerico.

PER.  nullum.

SEM.  Plurima, capitulo cylindrico adhaerentia, at tomento implicata.

Caulis surgit nudus ad altitudinem circiter pedalem, qua altitudine dividitur in duos vel plures ramulos parallelos, qui tierim saepius subdividuntur in duos parallelos.

Folia caulina tria ternata, acuminata, laciniata, ex nodo ad exortum ramulorum.

Folia radicalia ternata, petiolis longis insistunt.

CAL.  perianth lobes five, ovate, concave, deciduous.

COR. none

STAM. Filaments caking, inserted between the calyx and seeds. Anthers erect, didymal.

PIST.  Many styles in the forming a spherical head.

PER. none.

SEM. Much of the flower head is cylindrical, attached, tomentous (hairy).

Stem naked rises to a height of about a foot, which is divided into two or more depth to parallel branches which again often subdivides into two parallel sections.

Leaves three subalternate, acuminate, fringed, from the node to the rise of branches.

Radical subalternate leaves, petioles long altogether.

135.  CLEMATIS scandens.

CAL. nullus.

COR.  Petala quatuor, oblongo-ovata, expansa.

STAM.  Filamenta plurima, compressa.

PIST.  Germina plurima in globum congesta, definentia in Stylos subulatos simul conum efformantibus.

PER.  nullum.

SEM.  Plurima, ovata, compressa, stylo longo incurvato, qui ut areseit, sit pappus vollosus.

Caulis rubens, angulosos, longissimus, gracilis, late super arbores, & frutices scandens, petiolis foliorum circa ramulos arborum contortis se sustinens.

Folia ternata, ovata, acuminata, dentata, bina opposita, petiolis longis insistentia.

Flores albi, in racemis umbellatis, pedunculo communi longo insidentes.

OBS.  Aliquas hujus speciei plantas solos flores Masculos producentes observavi.

CAL.  none.

COR. Petals four, oblong-ovate, spread.

STAM. Filaments much compressed.

PIST. Many plants in the globe lasts ending in subulate styles together form a cone.

PER. none.

SEM. Most, ovate, compressed, long bowing style that may [arcfeit], Pappus is down.

Caulis red, angular, very tall, thin, wide, over the trees, shrubs and climbing, leaf petioles twisted around branches of trees to stay.

The subalternate Leaves, ovate, acuminate, toothed, two sets of opposites, standing upon long petioles.

Flowers white, in umbellate clusters, with long, common peduncle stagnant.

OBS. Some species of plants producing male flowers only observed.

136.  THALICTRUM praecox.

CAL.  Perianthium foliolis quatuor, ovatis, persistentibus.

COR. nulla.

STAM.  Filamenta plurima, capillaria, purpurea.  Antherae longae, filamentis multo crassiores, luteae.

PIST.  Styli plurimi. vix perceptibiles.

PER.  nullum.

SEM.  Plura ovata, striata.

Folia trilobata, versus petiolos lata, petiolis longis ab extremitatibus ramulorum dependentia.

Flores in umbella nutantes.

CAL.  Perianth lobes four, ovate, persistent.

COR. none.

STAM. Filaments very numerous, capillary-like, purple. Anthers long, filaments very thick, yellow.

PIST. Many styles, barely perceptible.

PER. none.

SEM. Very ovate, striated.

Trilobed leaves, with broad, long petiole from the ends of branches hanging down.

Flowers  wavering in parasol form.
137.  THALICTRUM alterum.

Calyx decidit, quamprimum flos expanditur.

Flores erecti, foliis staminibus consistere videntur, albi.

Semina ut in priori.

Folia ternata, petiolata.

In madidis crescit.

Calyx falls off as soon as the flower expands

Flowers erect, with petals and stamens that appear white.

The seeds are like in the former.

Leaves subalternate, petiolate.

In wet growth.

138.  RANUNCULUS primus

Corollae Petala calyce longiora obtusa.

Capitula Seminum hemisphaerica.

Semina compressa, acuminata.

Folia tern ternata.

Petals longer than the calyx, obtuse.

Heads of hemispherical seeds.

Seeds compressed, acuminate.

Leaves form early, subalternate.

139.  RANUNCULUS secundus.

Corollae Petala parve, lanceolata, calyce non longiora.

Capitula Seminum cylindricea.

Semina globularia.

Caulus erectus.

Corollae Petals are small, lanceolate, not longer than the calyx

Capitula [flower head] cylindrical seeds

Globular seed (capsule?)

Stems erect.

140.  RANUNCULUS tertius.

Solis Petalis parvis, ovatis, obtusis a secunda specie dissert, & quod sit serotinus.

Nectarium in hisce tribus speciebus, squama vel foliculus minimus ad ungues petalorum.

Small sunlike petals, ovate, obtuse, follows the second species of flowers in spring.

Nectarius in these three species, the smallest scales, claws or folicular Petal.

141.  CALTHA (palustris, foliis cordatis).  Linn. lapp. 227.  Gron. virg. 166.

CALTHA palustris, cordate leaves

Quae sequuntur Plantae, anno proximo prodibunt.

What follows a planting is produced next year.



Rubus [1]

Rubus [2]

Rubus [3]

Rubus [4]

Potentilla noveboracensis.


Actaea racemis longissimis. (Cimicifuga racemosa. Black Cohosh)  Colden’s Latin name for this plant translates to “long raceme (root-stem-rhizome structure) Actaea.”  It’s common name ‘Black Snakeroot’ relates to what is perhaps its most important contribution to local ethnobotany.  Numerous articles would be published about this plant in the decades followign Colden’s passing.  Most of these writings contained the important folklore and legends told and retold about this unique form of Snakeroot.  A number of these writings even included nice illustrations on the snakeroot’s “powers” upon animal as prey and upon people.  Colden’s Observations about this plant as a medicine include mention of the use of its root for treating “tumores scirrhosos” (hardened skin or flesh) through the application of a cataplasm.    A tincture of the root is recommended to help restore vitality and health in the ailing body, and to aid in one’s recovery from a severe malady or disease.  Used with Root of St. Christopher (see Leonitis above).




Sanguinaria.  Common name: Blood-root.  Note the description of the rhizomatic root: “carnosa, fragilis, succo rubescent abundans.” This essentially states that “The meaty rootstock produces abundant amounts of red fluid.”  Colden states is was commonly used again “Icterum” (abscesses) for which it was an effective remedy.  This use is transformed into the use of Sanguinaria latex or root-paste for the treatment of “cancer” by the 1800s.  Such a use for Sanguinaria mimics a recipe popularized by German families during the very early 19th century as well–the use of Rhubarb mash to treat “cancer” and similar swellings, in which the mash due to its strong acidity essentially dissolves or removes the flesh from beneath.    A similar recipe can be noted for Oxalis spp., Rumex acetosa and Rumex acetosella in the historical documents, due to its oxalic acid.  In the case of Sanguinaria, the reason for the dissolution of abcesses is not so much the acidity of the latex or root-mash, as it is the chemical content of the root, which is rich in sanguinarine and other highly effective antibiotic, anti-cancer agents.

Euphorbia noveboracensis.



Liriodendrum. (Liriodendron tulipifera)

Hepatica. Although Colden does not mention any medical virtues of this plant, its name and history popular since the Renaissance Period must have been a part of his understanding of this plant.  As the name implies, this plant is associated with the liver (hepar), and liver-related illnesses.  The shape of the leaf is the primary reason for this, although the mottling that appears on the leaves may also have some resemblances to certain liver diseases, not to mention a pathologic liver itself.

Anemone prima.




Anemone secunda.

Anemone tertia.

Clematis scandens.

Thalictrum praecox. The two major species are illustrated above.  ‘Flores in umbels’ suggests T. dioicum.

Thalictrum alterum. By default T. pubescens.

Ranunculus primus.




Ranunculus secundus.

Ranunculus tertius.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.