Erechtites Hieracifolius. Fireweed.
Description: Natural Order, Compositae. The erigeron is sometimes called fire-weed, whence these two plants are often confounded; but the herb now under consideration is a different article. It was formerly classed under the genus senecio, to which it bears a strong resemblance. Stem one to four feet high, grooved, thick, often hairy, branched above into panicled racemes bearing numerous heads of whitish flowers. Leaves alternate, lanceolate or oblong, acute, sessile, upper ones often a little clasping, margins coarsely-toothed. Flowers all tubular, and without any distinguishing rays all fertile, whitish; involucre a single row of linear and acute scales, with a few bractlets at the base. Achenia oblong; pappus copious, white, very fine and soft. These plants are of a rather coarse look, not unlike that of the sow-thistle; of a somewhat rank smell; and commonly appear in clearings that have been burned over recently. Blooms from July to September.
Properties and Uses: The leaves and flowers are somewhat pungent and disagreeably bitter in taste, leaving behind a mild astringency. They act chiefly upon mucous membranes, to which they are astringent and stimulant tonics. Their principal use is in relaxed and insensitive conditions of those tissues, with too free mucous discharges, as in some cases of chronic diarrhea, leucorrhea, and catarrhal coughs. In the "relax" (not acute dysentery) of children, they are truly excellent. Some practitioners have used them in gleet, and others in atonic dyspepsia; though they serve only inferior purposes in such cases. They are of service in hemorrhages from the lungs, bowels, kidneys, and uterus; and though much less diffusive than erigeron, are more permanent and tonic in their action. In alvine ulceration, with puro-sanguineous discharges and without inflammation, they serve a fair purpose. Outwardly, they form a good appliance to scrofulous, cachectic and other ulcerations of the half indolent grade; and an ointment of the fresh leaves in lard, is a good article to relieve the suffering of recent burns, and to promote granulation in weak sores. They contain a moderate quantity of a lightish-yellow volatile oil, which can be obtained by distillation and is easily dissipated by heat. The plant is mostly used by infusion, in the proportion of an ounce to a quart of warm. water; of which from one to two fluid ounces may be given at intervals of two hours or less. An ointment may be made by digesting the plant in lard at a moderate heat; and this forms an excellent application in burns, whence the common name of the article.
The Physiomedical Dispensatory, 1869, was written by William Cook, M.D.
It was scanned by Paul Bergner at http://medherb.com