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The stained-glass window comes from one of the Wrocław pharmacies, for which it was made around 1900, by the workshop of stained-glass windows that belonged to Adolf Seiler in Wrocław. In the centre of the stained-glass window, there is a pharmacy mortar, around which medicinal plants are placed: aconite (Aconitum L.), belladonna (Atropa belladonna L.), opium poppy (Papaver somniferum L.), and purple foxglove (Digitalis purpurea L.).

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The stained-glass window comes from one of the Wrocław pharmacies, for which it was made around 1900, by the workshop of stained-glass windows that belonged to Adolf Seiler in Wrocław. In the centre of the stained-glass window, there is a pharmacy mortar, around which medicinal plants are placed: aconite (Aconitum L.), belladonna (Atropa belladonna L.), opium poppy (Papaver somniferum L.), and purple foxglove (Digitalis purpurea L.). The plants presented on the stained-glass window belong to a group of plants containing potent medicinal substances, such as alkaloids and glycosides. The discovery and isolation of active substances from plants with a strong and efficacious effect was the peak achievement of the “golden age of pharmacy”, which is considered to have been the turn of the 18th and 19th centuries. The first alkaloid, isolated in 1803 by Fryderyk Wilhelm Sertürner, was morphine, obtained from opium: dried sap from immature poppy pods. In the 1st half of the 19th century, alkaloids such as strychnine, quinine, caffeine, and atropine were also isolated from plants, which have been used in medicine up until the present day.

Elaborated by the Museum of Pharmacy at the Jagiellonian University Medical College in Kraków, © all rights reserved

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The aconite from the stained glass window and the “Herbarium” by Szymon Syreniusz

Among the medicinal plants preserved on the stained glass, which can be seen in the Museum of Pharmacy of the Jagiellonian University in Cracow, there is an aconite specimen with a blue inflorescence, which, according to Greek mythology, grew out of the saliva of Cerberus guarding the gates of Hades. What does another exhibit in the collection of WMM  – Herbarium by Szymon Syreniusz – say about it?

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Among the medicinal plants preserved on the stained glass, which can be seen in the Museum of Pharmacy of the Jagiellonian University in Cracow, there is an aconite specimen with a blue inflorescence, which, according to Greek mythology, grew out of the saliva of Cerberus guarding the gates of Hades. What does another exhibit in the collection of WMM  – Herbarium by Szymon Syreniusz – say about it?
Like any medicinal plant (in this case with analgesic properties), it can also be a dangerous poison, already known in antiquity and readily used in the Middle Ages (hence the names: wolf’s bane, queen of poisons). Some of its varieties are extremely noxious, while others have a beneficial effect and can be an antidote in small amounts.
How to protect oneself against the effects of the plant if someone is already suffering and will have recognized the following symptoms?
“Sudden dizziness (...), pulling off the jaw, biting in the stomach regions, blinded eyes, redness and inflammation thereof. And soon trembling befalls the members and all of the body, followed by heaviness in the breast and under the ribs (...). Whoever should such signs discern on the body needs to resort to forcing vomits. Apply gruel made from rue, marjoram, wormwood and other herbs belonging to this kind. Lye with rum, in which the hen [chicken] was brewed, ought to be drunk. The beverage from stewing beef horns in wine, should be gulped too”.[1]
We truly hope that the above instructions will not be used in practice by anyone, and that the action of the aconite itself will be experienced only by contact with WMM exhibits, costume films and literature.

Elaborated by: Editorial Team of Malopolskas Virtual Museums,
Licencja Creative Commons

 This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Poland License.

See: „Zielnik/Herbarium” by Szymon Syreniusz

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Stained glass door a mortar surrounded by medicinal plants

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