Synonyms : Epifagus americana
Common Names : Beech drops (or beech-drops, or beechdrops)
Habitat : Epifagus virginiana is Native to U.S. It is found in just a few southeast Missouri counties where Beech trees (Fagus grandifolia Ehrh.) occur.
Epifagus virginiana is a parasitic plant which grows and subsists on the roots of beech trees. Beechdrops lack both leaves and chlorophyll, they only have small pinkish flowers that are hard to distinguish from the rest of the plant. The flowers can be either cleistogamous (self-pollinating) or chasmogamous (cross-pollinating); while the latter are located near the tips of the stems, the former are located closer to the stems base. In the northern hemisphere it flowers between August and October.
*Flower petal color: green to brown,pink to red,white
*Leaf type: the leaves are simple (lobed or unlobed but not separated into leaflets)
*Leaf arrangement: alternate: there is one leaf per node along the stem
*Leaf blade edges: the edge of the leaf blade is entire (has no teeth or lobes)
*Flower symmetry: there is only one way to evenly divide the flower (the flower is bilaterally symmetrical)
*Number of sepals, petals or tepals: there are five petals, sepals, or tepals in the flower
*Fusion of sepals and petals: the petals or the sepals are fused into a cup or tube
Epifagus virginiana produces both cleistogamous and chasmogamous flowers. The chasmogamous flowers are located near the tips of the stems and the cleistogamous flowers are located near the middle and base of the stems. The cleistogamous flowers are pistillate and fertile. The chasmogamous flowers are typically sterile.
This species was used medicinally by natives for a variety of ailments. A tea made from the fresh plant was used for diarrhea, dysentery, mouth sores, and cold sores. Settlers thought the plant may be a treatment for cancer but tests proved negative. It has been used especially for asthma and is valuable in the treatment of obstinate ulcers of the mouth or stomach and diarrhea. A strong, cooled decoction was applied as an external application in skin disorders, ulcers, and erysipelas, and is said to arrest gangrene. It was called cancer root because of its folk use as a local application to cancerous ulcers. As for its internal application, its use is indicated for its astringent-healing properties. The decoction (one part to three pars warm water) has been employed as a quickly binding action in diarrhea. But more important, teas of the herb have been taken for bleeding internal ulcers with astonishingly lasting results. The roots and tops are powdered and sprinkled on the place to be treated. A tea may be made and used as a wash. A combination of beech drops and cherry bark can be used to treat hemorrhages of the bowels. This combination also makes an excellent gargle for ulcers of the mouth.
Disclaimer : The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplement, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.