The root of Uvularia perfoliata, Linné.
COMMON NAMES: Bellwort, Mealy bellwort.
Botanical Source.—Bellwort has a perennial, creeping root-stalk, and a stem 8 to 14 inches high, dividing at the top into 2 branches. The leaves are clasping-perfoliate, elliptical, rounded at base, acute at apex, 2 or 3 inches long, by one third as broad, smooth, and glaucous underneath. The flowers are solitary, pale yellow, about 1 inch long, pendulous from the end of one of the branches; perianth subcampanulate and tuberculate-scabrous within; segments linear-lanceolate, about 1 inch long and twisted; anthers cuspidate, 3/4 inch long. Capsule or pod obovate-truncate, and divergently 3-lobed at top; lobes with convex sides (W.—G.).
History.—Bellwort is a smooth, handsome plant, common to the United States, growing in moist copses, woods, etc., and flowering in May. The root is the part employed, which., when recent, is acrid and mucilaginous. It imparts its properties to water.
Action, Medical Uses, and Dosage.—Bellwort is a tonic, demulcent, and nervine, and may be used in decoction or powder, as a substitute for cypripedium. The decoction has proved beneficial in sore mouth and affections of the throat, also inflammation of the gums. A poultice of it is useful in wounds and ulcers. Boiled in milk, and the decoction drank freely, with a poultice of the root applied to the wound, it has considerable reputation as an alexipharmic in bites of venomous snakes. A poultice of the green or dried root, in powder, and mixed with hot new milk, is very highly recommended in all stages of erysipelatous inflammation, to be renewed when dry; the same application has been used beneficially in acute ophthalmia. An ointment made by simmering the powdered roots and green tops in lard for an hour, over a slow fire, and straining by pressure, is useful in herpetic affections, sore ears, mouths, etc., of children, and also in mild cases of erysipelas.
King's American Dispensatory, 1898, was written by Harvey Wickes Felter, M.D., and John Uri Lloyd, Phr. M., Ph. D.