Arrach, Wild and Stinking
—Synonym— Spreading Orache.
The Wild Orache (Atriplex patula) is a common native weed on clays and heavy ground. It has spreading stems, 2 to 3 feet long, sometimes prostrate, only occasionally erect (hence often called the Spreading Orache). Called also Vulvaria, from that part of the body upon which the operation is most; also Dog’s Arrach, Goat’s Arrach, and Stinking Motherwort.
This has small and almost round leaves, yet a little pointed and without dent or cut, of a dusky mealy colour, growing on the slender stalks and branches that spread on the ground, with small flowers set with the leaves, and small seeds succeeding like the rest, perishing yearly, and rising again with its own sowing. It smells like rotten fish, or something worse.
It grows usually upon dunghills.
They flower in June and July, and their seed is ripe quickly after.
Government and virtues.
Stinking Arrach is used as a remedy to women pained, and almost strangled with the mother, by smelling to it; but inwardly taken there is no better remedy under the moon for that disease. I would be large in commendation of this herb, were I but eloquent. It is an herb under the dominion of Venus, and under the sign Scorpio; it is common almost upon every dunghill. The works of God are freely given to man, his medicines are common and cheap, and easily to be found. I commend it for an universal medicine for the womb, and such a medicine as will easily, safely, and speedily cure any disease there of, as the fits of the mother, dislocation, or falling out there of; cools the womb being over-heated. And let me tell you this, and I will tell you the truth, heat of the womb is one of the greatest causes of hard labour in child-birth. It makes barren women fruitful. It cleanseth the womb if it be foul, and strengthens it exceedingly; it provokes the terms if they be stopped, and stops them if they flow immoderately; you can desire no good to your womb, but this herb will affect it; therefore if you love children, if you love health, if you love ease, keep a syrup always by you, made of the juice of this herb, and sugar (or honey, if it be to cleanse the womb), and let such as be rich keep it for their poor neighbours.