The leaves and tops of Verbesina virginica, Linné.
COMMON NAMES: Crown beard, Gravel weed.
Botanical Source.—This is a tall, perennial plant, found growing in open situations in the southern part of the United States. It has a pubescent, branched stem, which is winged by the decurrent leaves, and grows from 3 to 6 feet high. The alternate leaves are ovate, downy beneath, and irregularly toothed or lobed. They taper at the base to a winged leaf-stalk, and the lower ones are decurrent on the stem. The flower-heads are numerous, and borne in dense, compound terminal corymbs. They have pale-yellow disks, and a few white, oval, fertile rays. The fruit is a flattened, narrowly-winged achenium, bearing a couple of erect awns. The genus Verbesina is an extensive family of American plants, found mostly in Mexico and South America. Three species are indigenous to the United States, V. virginica, Linné; V. Siegesbeckia, Michaux; and V. sinuata, Elliott; all natives of the southern states. Of their chemical constituents nothing is known.
Action, Medical Uses, and Dosage.—This article was introduced into our materia medica in 1880. According to Dr. J. C. Kendrick, of Texas, who has made extensive use of it in his practice, a strong decoction proves a certain diuretic; he has found it almost a specific in gravel and in vesical tenesmus. He believes that it exerts a solvent effect upon calculi in the bladder, but it will require repeated and careful trials before such a belief can be accepted; nevertheless, it certainly deserves to be tested in the cases he has named. The decoction may be used freely.
Related Species.—Verbesina sinuata, Elliott. This plant has been found to possess antisyphilitic properties. The root is made into an infusion, which must be drank freely and as largely as the stomach will bear. It is somewhat spicy and agreeable to the taste, and is reputed efficient in both the primary and constitutional forms of the disease.