Order XIV. Amaryllidaceae, Lindley.—Amaryllids.
None of the plants of this order are employed in England as articles of the Materia Medica. Yet many of them act powerfully on the system, and one of them (Haemanthus toxicarius) is said to be used by the Hottentots to poison their arrow-heads. The prevailing property of the order is acridity, which is possessed principally by the bulbs, several of which (as those of Pancratium maritimum and Haemanthus coccineus) seem to be endowed with properties very similar to those of squill. The leaves and flowers of Narcissus Pseudo-Narcissus or Daffodil are enumerated among the simples of the French Codex. In doses of 20 or 30 grains they sometimes cause vomiting. They have been employed in spasmodic affections (as hooping-cough), in diarrhoea, and in agues. [Mérat and De Lens, Dict. de Mat. Méd. t. iv.] Several other species of Narcissus, as N. Tazetta and N. odorus, also possess emetic properties. [De Candolle, Essai sur les Propriétés Méd.] Narcissus Tazetta, the Italian or Polyanthus Narcissus, is supposed by Dr. Sibthorp to be the Narcissus of the poets. The root and succulent leaves of the Agave Americana or American aloe, a native of Tropical America, yield a saccharine juice which lathers like soap, and when fresh is said to be laxative, diuretic, and emmenagogue. By fermentation it yields an acid liquor. The ligneous fibres of the leaves and roots are used as a thread (pita thread).