Page:The Story of Mexico.djvu/435

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PHYSICAL ADVANTAGES.

sidered by experts to be not only equal to the best Mocha, but similar to it in flavor. It is possible that it belongs to the same variety, brought from Arabia by unknown hands. The medicinal plants of Mexico have long been well known. Spanish historians at the time of the conquest all speak of the knowledge of herbs possessed by the native doctors. They believed that all the ills that flesh is heir to, might be cured by proper use of the herbs of the field; and they acquired in the course of generations great skill in adapting the remedy to the disease. Many of the drugs in general use all over the world were made known by Mexican research, such as sarsaparilla, jalap, and rhubarb; the number of emetics, antidotes, infusions, decoctions, ointments, balsams, known to the Aztecs, was enormous. To be sure, they attributed much of the power of these drugs to the prayers and ceremonies they offered up while they were applying them.

The flora of Mexico is equally varied and beautiful. Growing by the roadside as common weeds, are to be recognized blossoms which are the pride of northern green-houses. Many ornamental Mexican plants became first known in the United States, after the war of 1848. Humboldt, half a century before, had described the wealth and profusion of Mexican vegetation. As for fruits, every variety may be cultivated, in the hot lands; many tropical kinds grow wild. Any market in any Mexican town is a delight by reason of the display of various fruits, heaped up, to tempt the customer, in little pyramids, and made bright with flowers.