Parthenium. Chrysanthemum Parthenium (L.) Bernh. Feverfew. Matricaire, Fr. Mutterkraut, G. (Fam. Compositae.)—A tall, perennial, branching herbaceous plant, with bipinnately divided leaves, the divisions being ovate, and compound flowers in a corymb. It is a native of Europe, but cultivated in our gardens and naturalized in some places. The whole herbaceous part is used. The plant has an odor and taste analogous to those of chamomile, which it resembles also in the appearance of its flowers and in its medicinal virtues. It yields a greenish volatile oil which boils between 165° and 220° C. (329° and 428° F.), and separates on standing, pyrethrum camphor, C10H16O. (Dessaignes and Chautard, J. P. C. (3), xiii, 241.)
The flowers of this and of a closely resembling species, Matricaria Anthemis parthenoides Desf., are said to be used in France, to a considerable extent, indiscriminately with those of the true chamomile plant, Anthemis nobilis, which they closely resemble, especially when double. They may, however, be distinguished, in this state, by their peculiar odor, their small receptacle, which is, moreover, rounded and flattened above, instead of being conical and somewhat pointed as in the Anthemis, and by the tubular five-toothed central florets, which in the chamomile are small, few, and scarcely visible, but in the two former species are large, very numerous, and very long.
Parthenium Hysterophorus L..Jose Torar has found parthenine and four other alkaloids besides parthenic acid, in this Cuban plant which is used by the natives as a febrifuge and antiperiodic. Of the alkaloids, parthenine is crystallizable and is apparently the active principle. It has been extracted and studied again by H. Vin Arny (A. J. P., 1890, 121), who believes it to be a bitter glucoside and not an alkaloid. In doses of three grains (0.2 Gm.) it is said to quicken the heart, and in doses of fifteen grains (1.0 Gm.) to slow cardiac action, while fifty grains (3.2 Gm.) not only lessen the arterial pressure and respiratory frequency but reduce the bodily temperature. In doses of from seven to ten grains (0.45-0.65 Gm.) it is affirmed to be useful in neuralgia. (See Journ. de Med. de Paris, March, 1887; J. P. C., xii, 1885; A. J. P., 1897, 169.)
Parthenium integrifolium L., American Feverfew, Wild Quinine (Fam. Compositae), is an herbaceous perennial, growing abundantly in the prairies of the Southwestern States, which has been used as a tonic and antiperiodic; two ounces (62 Gm.) of the flowering tops may be given in infusion.