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Common Name : American Columbo
Habitat: Frasera caroliniensis grows in dry upland areas, rocky woods and areas with calcareous soil, though it is not limited by soil texture or other soil characteristics.The species ranges from deciduous forest regions in southern Ontario, through southern Michigan, northern Indiana, southern Illinois, southern Missouri, southeast Oklahoma, southwestern Arkansas, and northern Louisiana. This plant is native to Eastern N. America – New York to Ontario and Wisconsin, south to Georgia and Tennessee
Frasera caroliniensis is a monocarpic perennial plant, meaning it flowers once after multiple seasons, and then dies. It is a plant of from 4 to 9 feet in height, with a smooth, erect stem, bearing lanceolate leaves in whorls, and yellowish-white flowers in terminal panicles. The roots are triennial, horizontal, long, and yellow. They should be collected in the autumn of the second or the spring of the third year and cut into transverse slices before being dried. When sliced longitudinally they have been put on the market as American Gentian, and when fresh, their properties closely resemble Gentiana Lutea, the European Yellow Gentian. The sliced root as found in the market has a reddish-brown epidermis, yellow cortex and spongy centre. The taste is slightly bitter and saccharine. It may be distinguished from true Colombo Root by the absence of concentric circles, and the smaller, thicker slices….click & see the picture
When it reaches the flowering stage, the leaves develop in whorls on an elongated stem, and approximately 50 to 100 flowers will develop a panicle, with the fruits maturing soon after. The flowers that it produces are folious (tall and “spike”-like), green to yellow in colour with purple speckles. It is a perfect and complete flower, with four stamens and two carpels. The entire plant can reach heights over 2 metres (7 ft). Though it is monocarpic, the plant may live for up to 30 years before flowering.
The roots of F. caroliniensis are a taproot system, with a thick and fleshy taproot, and in some Frasera species, this may be modified into a branched rhizome. The leaves of F. caroliensis are carried on stalks (“petiolate”) and have a thick, waxy texture.
Cultivation: Requires a moist but well-drained position and a stony peaty soil. Requires an acidic soil. Plants are hardy to at least -12°c. Plants can be grown in a woodland garden.
Propagation: : Seed – sow spring in a greenhouse. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on in the greenhouse for at least their first winter. Plant them out into their permanent positions in late spring or early summer, after the last expected frosts. Division in late winte
Part Used in medicine : The dried root.
Constituents: The root contains a peculiar acid, bitter extractive, gum, pectin, glucose, wax, resin, fatty matter, and yellowcolouring matter.
It may be distinguished from Calumba by the absence of starch (though it contains tannin), and by its change of colour when treated with sulphate of iron, remaining unchanged by tincture of iodine or galls. It has not the pectine of gentians.
Medicinal Uses: Tonic, cathartic, emetic stimulant. When dried it is a simple bitter that may be used in a similar way to gentian. In its fresh state it is cathartic and emetic.
Medicinal uses for American columbo have mostly been rebutted. However, it was a common belief in the early 19th century that the root of the plant might be externally used for gangrene. It was also claimed to be useful in treating jaundice, scurvy, gout and rabies.
The powdered plant is applied externally to ulcers as a poultice. The plant is a feeble simple bitter. The root is cathartic, emetic, stimulant and tonic. When dried it is a simple bitter that can be used as a digestive tonic in a similar way to gentian root (Gentiana spp), but the fresh root is cathartic and emetic. The root is used in the treatment of dysentery, stomach complaints and a lack of appetite. It should be harvested in the autumn of its second year, or the spring of its third year.
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.