from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A type of root, probably from a plant of the genus Colchicum, as imported and used in Western medicine.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A heart-shaped bulbous root, about the size of a finger, brought from Turkey, formerly used as a cathartic.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. In pharmacy, a dried bulbous root, probably obtained from Colchicum variegatum or checker-flower, formerly brought from Turkey in considerable quantities, and much esteemed as a cathartic, but now entirely discarded.


From Medieval Latin hermodactylus, from Ancient Greek ἑρμοδάκτυλος ("Hermes's finger"). (Wiktionary)


  • Juliani_ "the" _Pilulae Arabice_, "the" _Pulvis Petrocelli_, "the" _Oleum benedictum_, "the" _Pilulae Johannicii_, "etc. It is important, too, to remark that the active ingredient of very many of these formulae is the root called hermodactyl, believed by the majority of our botanists to be the _colchicum autumnale_.

    Gilbertus Anglicus Medicine of the Thirteenth Century

  • Proud flesh upon the dura mater is to be repressed by the application of a sponge, well-washed and dried, and if it appears upon the surface of the wound after the healing of the fracture, it is to be destroyed by the use of the hermodactyl.

    Gilbertus Anglicus Medicine of the Thirteenth Century


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