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Crawley-Root. Corallorhiza odontorhiza (Wild) Nutt.

Botanical name:

OTHER COMMON NAMES—Corallorhiza, crawley, coralroot, small coralroot, small-flowered coralroot, late coralroot, dragon's-claw, chickentoe, turkey-claw, feverroot.

HABITAT AND RANGE—Rich, shady woods having an abundance of leaf mold produce this curious little plant. It may be found in such situations from Maine to Florida, westward to Michigan and Missouri.

DESCRIPTION OF PLANT—This peculiar native perennial, belonging to the orchid family (Orchidaceae) is unlike most other plants, being leafless, and instead of a green stem it has a purplish brown, sheathed scape, somewhat swollen or bulbous at the base and bearing a clustered head of purplish flowers 2 to 4 inches long. It does not grow much taller than about a foot in height.

The flowers, 6 to 20 in a head, appear from July to September, and consist of lance-shaped sepals and petals, striped with purple and a broad, whitish, oval lip, generally marked with purple and narrowed at the base. The seed capsule is large oblong, or some what globular.

DESCRIPTION OF ROOTSTOCK—The rootstock of this plant is also curious, resembling in its formation a piece of coral on account of which it is known by the name of "coralroot." The other common names, such as chickentoe, turkey-claw, etc., all have reference to the form of the rootstock. As found in commerce, Crawley-root consists of small, dark-brown wrinkled pieces, the larger ones branched like coral. The taste at first is sweetish, becoming afterwards slightly bitter. It has a peculiar odor when fresh, but when dry it is without odor.

COLLECTION, PRICES AND USES—Crawleyroot should be collected in July or August. The price ranges from 20 to 50 cents a pound. Other species of Corallorhiza are sometimes collected and are said to probably possess similar properties. This root is aid to be very effective for promoting perspiration and it is also used as a sedative and in fever.


Ginseng and Other Medicinal Plants, 1936, was written by A. R. Harding.



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