Synonyms: Greenweed. Greenwood. Woad or Wood-waxen, formerly Wede-wixen or Woud-wix. Base-broom. Genet des Teinturiers. F„rberginster. Dyers’ Broom.
Common Names : Dyer’s greenweed, dyer’s whin, waxen woad and waxen wood.
Genista tinctoria is a variable deciduous flowering plant, growing to 60–90 centimetres (24–35 in) tall by 100 cm (39 in) wide, the stems woody, slightly hairy, and branched. The alternate, nearly sessile leaves are glabrous and lanceolate. Golden yellow pea-like flowers are borne in erect narrow racemes from spring to early summer. The fruit is a long, shiny pod shaped like a green.
The stems are smooth and bright green, 1 to 2 feet high, are much branched, the branches erect, rather stiff, smooth or only slightly hairy and free from spines. The leaves are spear-shaped, placed alternately on the stem, smooth, with uncut margins, 1/2 to 1 inch in length, very smoothly stalked, the margins fringed with hairs.
The shoots terminate in spikes of brightyellow, pea-like flowers, opening in July. They are 1/2 to 3/4 inch long, on foot-stalks shorter than the calyx. Like those of the Broom, they ‘explode’ when visited by an insect. The ‘claws’ of the four lower petals are straight at first, but in a high state of tension, so that the moment they are touched, they curl downwards with a sudden action and the flower bursts open. The flowers are followed by smooth pods, 1 to 1 1/4 inch long, much compressed laterally, brown when ripe, containing five to ten seeds.
Parts Used : whole herb.
Chemical Constituents: The active principle, Scopnarine, is found as starry, yellow crystals, and is soluble in boiling water and in alcohol. From the liquid which remains another principle, Spartéine, is extracted, an organic base, liquid and volatile, with strong narcotic properties.
It is diuretic, cathartic, emetic. Both flower tops and seedshave been used medicinally.
Both the flowering stems and seeds are the medicinal parts. Dyer’s Greenweed was used as a laxative, to expel uroliths and for gout. It has strong diuretic, weak cardioactive and laxative properties. Besides being a remedy for kidney and urinary disorders, it has also been used to strengthen heart action, to raise blood pressure and to alleviate rheumatic and arthritic pain. It has diuretic, cathartic and emetic properties and both flower tops and seeds have been used medicinally, though it has never been an official drug. The powdered seeds operate as a mild purgative, and a decoction of the plant has been used medicinally as a remedy in dropsy and is stated to have proved effective in gout and rheumatism, being taken in wineglassful doses three or four times a day. The ashes form an alkaline salt, which has also been used as a remedy in dropsy and other diseases. In the fourteenth century it was used, as well as Broom, to make an ointment called Unguentum geneste, ‘goud for alle could goutes,’ etc. The seed was also used in a plaster for broken limbs. A decoction of the plant was regarded in the Ukraine as a remedy for hydrophobia, but there’s not much scientific evidence on this use.
The powdered seeds operate as a mild purgative and a decoction of the plant has been used medicinally as a remedy in dropsy and is also stated to have proved effective in gout and rheumatism, being taken in wineglassful doses three or four times a day.
The ashes form an alkaline salt, which has also been used as a remedy in dropsy and other diseases.
In the fourteenth century it was used, as well as Broom, to make an ointment called Unguentum geneste, ‘goud for alle could goutes,’ etc. The seed was used in a plaister for broken limbs.
A decoction of the plant was regarded in the Ukraine as a remedy for hydrophobia, but its virtues in this respect do not seem to rest on very good evidence.
Dioscorides and Pliny speak of the purgative properties of the seeds and flowers, and the latter also regarded them as diuretic and good for sciatica. Cullen used a decoction of the young shoots for the same purpose. An infusion of the flowers has been found useful for albuminuria, and a combination of the tips with mustard, in dropsy. A poultice has benefited cold abscesses and scrofulous tumours. The infusion can be taken in wineglassful doses three or four times a day.
It has been stated that scoparine can replace all preparations, while one drop of spartéine dissolved in alcohol is a strong narcotic.
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.