Botanical Name :
English Name :
Family : Orchidaceae Subfamily
Part used: Whole
The early Purple Orchis, common in English woods, is in flower
from mid-April to mid-June.Bulb growing to 0.6m.A single
flower-stem rises from the tuberous root, bearing flowers that
as a rule are of a rich purple colour, mottled with lighter and
darker shades, though often found of every tint from purple to
pure white. Each flower has a long spur which turns upwards. The
leaves are lance-shaped and do not rise far from the ground,
giving a rosette-like effect, and are irregularly blotched with
dark purple markings, which help to render the plant
conspicuous. In woods and meadowland, the plant often attains a
height of a foot or more, while on exposed and breezy downs it
is seldom more than 6 inches high.
cooked root is a source of 'salep', a fine white to
yellowish-white powder that is obtained by drying the tuber and
grinding it into a powder. Salep is a starch-like substance with
a sweetish taste and a faint somewhat unpleasant smell. It is
said to be very nutritious and is made into a drink or can be
added to cereals and used in making bread etc. One ounce of
salep is said to be enough to sustain a person for a day.
Medicinal Uses: Salep is very nutritive, astringent,
expectorant and demulcent. It has been used as a diet of special
value for children and convalescents, being boiled with water,
flavoured and prepared in the same way as arrowroot. Rich in
mucilage, it forms a soothing and demulcent jelly that is used
in the treatment of irritations of the gastro-intestinal canal.
One part of salep to fifty parts of water is sufficient to make
a jelly. The tuber, from which salep is prepared, should be
harvested as the plant dies down after flowering and setting
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