American Colombo. Frasera carolinensis Walt.
OTHER COMMON NAMES —Frasera, meadowpride, pyramid-flower, pyramid-plant, Indian lettuce, yellow gentian, ground-century.
HABIT AND RANGE—American Colombo occurs in dry soil from the western part of New York to Wisconsin, south to Georgia and Kentucky.
DESCRIPTION OF PLANT —During the first and second year of the growth of this plant only the root leaves are produced. These are generally somewhat rounded at the summit, narrowed toward the base, and larger than the stem leaves, which develop in the third year. The leaves are deep green and produced mostly in whorls of four, the stem leaves being 3 to 6 inches in length and oblong or lance shaped. In the third year the stem is developed and the flowers are produced from June to August. The stem is stout, erect, cylindrical, and 3 to 8 feet in height. The flowers of American Colombo are borne in large terminal, handsome pyramidal clusters, sometimes 2 feet in length, and are greenish yellow or yellowish white, dotted with brown purple. They are slender stemmed, about I inch across, with a wheel shaped, 4-parted corolla, The seeds are contained in a much compressed capsule. American Colombo is an indigenous perennial and belongs to the gentian family (Gentianaceae.)
DESCRIPTION OF ROOT—The root is long, horizontal, spindle shaped, yellow, and wrinkled. In the fresh state it is fleshy and quite heavy. The American Colombo root of commerce, formerly in transverse slices, now generally occurs in lengthwise slices. The outside is yellowish or pale orange and the inside spongy and pale yellow. The taste is bitter. American Colombo root resembles the official gentian root in taste and odor, and the uses are also similar.
COLLECTION, PRICES AND USES—The proper time for collecting American Colombo root is in the autumn of the second year or in March or April of the third year. It is generally cut into lengthwise slices before drying. The price of American Colombo root ranges from 3 to 5 cents a pound.
The dried root, which was official in the United States Pharmacopoeia from 1820 to 1880, is used as a simple tonic. in the fresh state the root possesses emetic and cathartic properties.