Herbs & Plants

Spigelia marylandica

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Botanical Name : Spigelia marylandica
Family: Loganiaceae
Genus: Spigelia
Species: S. marilandic
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Gentianales

Synonyms: Maryland Pink. Wormgrass. American Wormgrass. Carolina-, Maryland-, American-Wormroot. Starbloom.

Common Names: Pink Root, Indian pink or Woodland pinkroot

Parts Used: Dried rhizome and rootlets, or entire plant.

Habitat: Spigelia marylandica is native to South-eastern N. America – New Jersey to Florida. It grows in rich, dry soils on the edges of woods.

Spigelia marylandica is a herbaceous perennial plant. It has several smooth simple stems, arising from the same rhizome; these stems are rounded below and square above. Leaves, few, opposite, sessile, ovatelanceolate, at apex acuminate, tapering at the base. It grows 1 to 2 feet high with a spread of 0.5 to 1.5 feet. The flowers are borne in a brilliant red-pink spike at top of the stem, the long corollas (terminating in spreading, star-like petals), externally red, yellow within, surrounding a double, many-seeded capsule. It flowers from May to July. The entire plant is collected in autumn and dried, but only the rhizome and rootlets are official in the United States Pharmacopceia, though in several other pharmacopoeias on the Continent, in which Spigelia is official, a closely allied species is named and the flowering plant is specified. The rhizome is tortuous, knotty and dark-brown externally, with many thin, wiry motlets attached to it and the short branches on the upper side are marked with scars of the stems of former years; internally, the rhizome is whitish, with a darkbrown pith; the rootlets are lighter coloured than the rhizome, thin, brittle and long. Odour, aromatic; taste, bitter, sweetish, pungent and somewhat nauseous. It is usually powdered and then is of a greyish colour. Age impairs its strength. When imported from the Western United States, where it is very abundant, it is received in bales and casks……….CLICK & SEE THE PICTURES

Succeeds in most fertile soils in semi-shade. Tolerates full sun if the soil remains reliably moist in the growing season, in a shady position it tolerates considerably drier soils. Plants are hardy to about -15°c. A very ornamental plant.

Seed requires stratification, pre-chill for 3 weeks prior to sowing. It will usually germinate in 1 – 3 months at 20°c. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots once they are large enough to handle and grow on in a cold frame for their first winter. Plant out in late spring or early summer. Division in the spring. Basal cuttings in late spring. Harvest the shoots with plenty of underground stem when they are about 8 – 10cm above the ground. Pot them up into individual pots and keep them in light shade in a cold frame or greenhouse until they are rooting well. Plant them out in the summer.

Constituents: A poisonous alkaloid, named Spigeline; also a bitter acrid principle, soluble in water or alcohol, but insoluble in ether; a small amount of volatile oil, a tasteless resin, tannin, wax, fat, mucilage, albumen, myricin, a viscid, saccharine substance, lignin, salts of sodium, potassium and calcium. The reactions of the poisonous alkaloid resemble those of nicotine, lobeline and coniine.
Medicinal Uses:
Anthelmintic; Narcotic.

The whole plant, but especially the root, is anthelmintic and narcotic. A safe and effective anthelmintic when used in the proper dosage, it is especially effective with tapeworms and roundworm. Its use should always be followed by a saline aperient such as magnesium sulphate otherwise unpleasant side effects will follow. Another report says that it can be used with other herbs such as Foeniculum vulgare or Cassia senna. These will ensure that the root is expelled along with the worms since the root is potentially toxic if it is absorbed through the gut. The root is best used when fresh but can be harvested in the autumn then dried and stored. It should not be stored for longer than 2 years. Use with caution and only under professional supervision. The plant contains the alkaloid spigiline,which is largely responsible for the medicinal action but side effects of an overdose can include increased heart action, vertigo, convulsions and possibly death.
Known Hazards: This plant is poisonous in large quantities.

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.


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