Tamus is the only European representative of the Dioscoreaceæ. There are two species, T. communis and T. cretica. The Greeks use the young suckers of both like asparagus, which they much resemble. T. communis is the Black Bryony of our hedges. “The root is very great and thick, oftentimes as big as a man’s leg, blackish without and very clammy or slimy within; which having been scraped with a knife, it seems to be a matter fit to be spread upon cloth or leather in manner of a plaister of sear-cloth” (Gerarde). Dioscorides, according to the same authority, says the fruit or berries take away sun-burns and other blemishes of the skin; and Gerarde adds that these “very quickly waste and consume away black and blue marks that come of bruises and dry beatings: which thing also the roots perform being laid upon them.” The fruits steeped in gin are a popular remedy for chilblains, and the only use that Tamus has been made of by Homœopaths is as a paint for chilblains. Gerarde says of the root-plaister that it removes scars and deformities; breaks hard apostems, draws forth splinters and broken bones, dissolves congealed blood, and if laid on hip or knuckle-bones or any other part where there is great pain, it takes away the pain speedily.
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