Water Pepper

(Polygonum hydropiper) They say that fleas will not come into a room where this herb is kept (Fernie). Rub it on warts, and throw the plant away (Stout). Herbalists use the tea to treat piles (Thomson. 1978). Tea is also used as a febrifuge in the southern states of America (Puckett), and, taken cold, for colds, in Iowa (Stout). The leaves infused in boiling water, or a strong decoction of them, were applied to bruises and contusions (Barton & Castle), and the juice, they say in Iowa, makes an excellent liniment for sprains (Stout). In Norway, the herb was chewed for toothache (Barton & Castle).

Arsmart is a name given to the plant, concerning which Cockayne says: "it derives its name from its use in that practical education of simple Simons, which village jokers enjoy to impart". It is the internal effect of the leaves that is responsible for the name, which varies into Smartarse (Elworthy. 1888), or Smartweed (Grigson. 1955). PERSICARIA also has the name, but Culpeper called it 'Mild Arsmart', and Gerard 'Dead Arsmart' - "it doth not bite as the other doeth".

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