Herbs & Plants

Nabalus serpentarius

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Botanical Name: Nabalus serpentarius
Family: Asteraceae
Tribe: Cichorieae
Genus: Nabalus
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Asterales

Synonyms: Prenanthes serpentarium.

Common Names; Lion’s Foot, Canker Weed

Habitat: Nabalus serpentarius is native to Eastern N. America – Massachusetts to New York, Florida, Alabama and Mississippi. It grows in fields and thickets.

Nabalus serpentarius is a perennial plant, growing to 1.5 m (5ft). The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Insects.

It produces branching, tuberous roots and a flowering stem about 45-190 cm tall with milky latex sap. The stem is green or often purplish in color and glabrous or often rough-hairy in its uppermost portion. Its leaves are alternately arranged on the stem and become smaller in size toward the top. Their overall shape is typically longer than wide with pinnate lobes. Basal leaves may be trifoliate and further divided (Gleason and Cronquist 1991). Very wide leaves may appear palmate (Milstead 1964). Milstead (1964) has sketched leaves of the American Nabalus species, and Nabalus serpentarius is distinguished from other species by leaves that are longer than wide and pinnately lobed. Identification of this species based on leaf shape may be possible if these characteristics are clear. Leaf petioles are often winged, especially the lower ones, and there may be fine, small hairs on the veins of the lower surfaces. Those plants with leaves entire or dentate and with short winged petioles are named forma simplicifolia (Fernald 1942; illustrated in Holmgren 1998). This form has been collected in Rhode Island, Pennsylvania, Virginia, North Carolina, and Georgia.


Cultivation : Succeeds in shade or semi-shade in a moist but well-drained humus-rich neutral to acid soil.

Seed – surface sow in a greenhouse in spring. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on in the greenhouse for their first winter. Plant them out into their permanent positions in late spring or early summer, after the last expected frosts.

Medicinal Uses:.…….Useful as a mouthwash or gargle.   The plant is said to be an antidote for snake bites.

Other Uses:.…..Repellent…….The juice of the plant repels snakes.

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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