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Sassafras plant, 18th century

Sassafras plant, 18th century

C023/3443

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Credit

NATIONAL LIBRARY OF MEDICINE / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY NATIONAL LIBRARY OF MEDICINE / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption

Sassafras plant, 18th-century illustration. This medicinal herb, used in teas and other remedies, contains safrole, which has since been found to be toxic. Artwork from 'A Curious Herbal' (1737) by Scottish herbalist Elizabeth Blackwell (c.1700-1758). This work contained 500 illustrations of medicinal plants, and was created by Blackwell to raise money to pay her husband's debts and release him from debtor's prison. She drew, engraved, and coloured the illustrations, mostly using plant specimens from the Chelsea Physic Garden in London. It was an artistic, scientific and commercial enterprise unprecedented for a woman of her time.

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