Botrychium virginicum. Moonwort, Rattlesnake Fern.
Description; Natural Order, Filices. Genus BOTRYCHIUM: II. A Thecae sub-globous, one-celled, two-valved, distinct, coriaceous, smooth, adnate to the compound rachis of a racemose panicle; B. VIRGINICUM: Stipe with a single frond in the middle; frond twice or thrice pinnate, the lowest pair of pinnae springing from the base; ultimate segments obtuse, somewhat three- toothed; spikes decompound; plants subpilous. Stipe one to two feet high, bearing the frond about half way up. This is apparently ternate, the lower pair of divisions arising from the base. It is almost tripinnate, the ultimate segments being decurrent and more or less confluent at base. Panicle terminal, three to six inches long, reddish-tawny." (Wood.)
This is a delicate and very pretty fern, found in the edges of open woods. Its three fronds, springing out abruptly from the stem about six inches from the ground, with their pale yellow- green color, and numerous graceful divisions, at once attract attention. The erect panicle, densely crowded toward the top with tawny globular seed cases, and springing directly from the middle of the three-parted frond, makes this botrychium peculiar among ferns.
Properties and Uses: My attention was called to this plant by a farmer in central New York, who said its decoction would prove reliable as an antiperiodic. Preparing an ounce of the fresh plant in a pint of hot water, and giving two fluid ounces of warm infusion once an hour, it induced a gentle and warm perspiration, and soothed the nervous system. The urinary secretion was also fairly promoted. In several cases of gastric intermittent, it had a happy nervine and antiperiodic effect. The farmer also told me that an application of. the bruised leaves, and the free internal use of their warm decoction, would also cure the bites of any poisonous snake or other animal. The reliable character of the man, and the good effects of my own limited experience with the article, induce me thus to lay its claims before the profession, in the hope that it may be investigated.
The Physiomedical Dispensatory, 1869, was written by William Cook, M.D.
It was scanned by Paul Bergner at http://medherb.com