Herbs & Plants

Eryngium yuccifolium

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Botanical Name : Eryngium yuccifolium
Family : Apiaceae – Carrot family
Genus : Eryngium L. – eryngo
Species: Eryngium yuccifolium Michx. – button eryngo
Kingdom: Plantae – Plants
Subkingdom :Tracheobionta – Vascular plants
Superdivision:Spermatophyta – Seed plants
Division:Magnoliophyta – Flowering plants
Class:Magnoliopsida – Dicotyledons
Subclass: Rosidae
Order : Apiales

Common Names : Rattlesnake master, Button eryngo

Habitat :Rattlesnake master is found generally in wet or dry prairies and open woods in the southeast US, north to Virginia, and throughout the Midwest to Minnesota, Kansas and Texas.

It is a Missouri native plant which occurs in rocky woods, prairies and glades throughout the State and was a common plant of the tallgrass prairie.

Rattlesnake master is a warm-season perennial native forb which grows well on wet or dry mesic prairie soil.  Plants grow 2 to 6 feet tall from a short, thick rootstock.  The bluish green basal leaves are up to 3 feet long and up to 1½ inches wide.  The leaves along the stem are much shorter, but they may be as wide as the basal leaves.  All the leaves are thick and parallel veined and have soft or weak prickles spaced far apart along the edges.  The leaf bases clasp the single, erect stem.  Flower heads are on stout peduncles at the tip of the stem.  Each nearly spherical flower head is from 1/2 to 1 inch in diameter and is made up of many small flowers.  Whitish bracts stick out sharply from the flowers, which gives the flower head a rough, prickly feel and appearance.  The heads have a honey-like odor and are in bloom June to September.  Individual fruits, which mature in the flower head, are less than 1/10 inch long.  The root of rattlesnake master has been used medicinally by American Indians and pioneers.  Eryngium is Greek for “prickly plant” and yuccifolium is Greek for “yucca leaves.”


Medicinal Uses:
The plant was used as an antidote to snakebites. The roots were chewed and applied to the bite. The roots have been used medicinally for liver ailments, to increase urine flow, to induce vomiting, and to treat rattlesnake bite.  Very useful in dropsy, nephritic and calculus affections, also in scrofula and syphilis.  It is valuable as a diaphoretic and expectorant in pulmonary affections and used when Senega is not available.  There is some effect in treating inflammations and malaria.  The pulverized root is very effective in hemorrhoids and prolapsus.  Chewing the root results in increased saliva flow.   A liquid made from roots mashed in cold water was drunk to relieve muscular pains.  The roots have also been used for rheumatism, respiratory ailments, and kidney trouble.  A decoction of the roots has been found useful in cases of exhaustion from sexual depletion, with loss of erectile power, seminal emissions and orchitis. A tincture of the roots is used in the treatment of female reproductive disorders.       Rattlesnake master is reported to have bitter aromatic constituents.  No research seems to have been done on the effectiveness of rattlesnake master in the treatment on rattlesnake bites, but an extract of Eryngium creticum was found to be effective as an antivenum to the sting of the scorpion Leiurus quinuqestristus.  This Eryngium grows in Jordan, where it is used by people in rural areas for scorpion stings.

Other Uses:
Native plant gardens, naturalized areas or prairies. Also can be effective in borders.

The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.


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