The plant Cotyledon Umbilicus, Linné (Umbilicus pendulinus, De Candolle).
COMMON NAMES: Pennywort, Navelwort, Cotylet.
Botanical Source.—A succulent, herbaceous perennial, having an erect stem about 6 inches in height, arising from a tuberous, fleshy root. The leaves are small, peltate, concave, fleshy, and somewhat rounded, with a repand-crenate border, the upper leaves being smallest. The flower-stem bears a profusion of small pale or greenish-yellow, and bell-shaped, pendulous, tubular flowers arranged in a spike.
History and Chemical Composition.—This succulent perennial is indigenous to England and south and west Europe. It inhabits old rocks, stony ruins, and sandy situations, growing on dry banks. When dried, the plant is odorless, and possessed of a mucilaginous taste. If the plant be powdered and exposed to the air, it acquires a peculiar, fish-like odor, probably due to trimethylamine, which it has been found to contain. It also contains an ammonium salt, potassium nitrate, salts of potassium, sodium, calcium, oxide of iron, mucilage, cellulose, tannin, yellow coloring principle, chlorophyll, a volatile oil, and 95 per cent of water (fresh plant).
Action, Medical Uses, and Dosage.—This plant was formerly bruised and applied to contused wounds. At one time it acquired a reputation, in England, as a remedy for epilepsy, but, after an extended trial, was discarded as worthless. Its composition is such that possibly the plant is not wholly inert. The fresh juice may be administered in doses of from 1/2 to 1 fluid ounce, 3 times a day.