Yellow Jasmine or Jessamine. Gelsemium sempervirens (L.) Ait. F.

Botanical name: 

Fig. 79. Yellow Jasmine (Gelsemium Sempervirens). DRUG NAME—Gelsemium.

OTHER COMMON NAMES—Carolina jasmine or jessamine, Carolina wild woodbine, evening trumpet-flower.

HABITAT AND RANGE—Yellow jasmine is a plant native to the South, found along the banks of streams, in woods, lowlands, and thickets, generally near the coast, from the eastern part of Virginia to Florida and Texas, south to Mexico and Guatemala.

DESCRIPTION OF PLANT—This highly ornamental climbing or trailing plant is abundantly met with in the woods of the Southern states, its slender stems festooned over trees and fences and making its presence known by the delightful perfume exhaled by its flowers, filling the air with fragrance that is almost overpowering wherever the yellow jasmine is very abundant.

The smooth, shining stems of this beautiful vine sometimes reach a length of 20 feet. The leaves are evergreen, lance shaped, entire, 1 ½ to 3 inches long, rather narrow, borne on short stems, and generally remaining on the vine during the winter. The flowers, which appear from January to April, are bright yellow, about 1 to 1 ½ inches long, the corolla funnel shaped. They are very fragrant but poisonous, and it is stated the eating of honey derived from jasmine flowers has brought. about fatal results.

Yellow jasmine is a perennial and belongs to a family that is noted for its poisonous properties, namely, the Logania family (Loganiaceae), which numbers among its members such powerful poisonous agents as the strychnine-producing tree.

DESCRIPTION OF ROOTSTOCK—The rootstock of the Yellow jasmine is horizontal and runs near the surface of the ground, attaining great length, 15 feet or more; it is branched, and here and there produces fibrous rootlets. When freshly removed from the ground it is very yellow, with a peculiar odor and bitter taste. For the drug trade it is generally cut into pieces varying from 1 inch to 6 inches in length, and when dried consists of cylindrical sections about 1 inch in thickness, the roots, of course, thinner. The bark is thin, yellowish brown, with fine silky bast fibers and the wood is tough and pale yellow, breaking with a splintery fracture and showing numerous fine rays radiating from a small central pith. Yellow Jasmine has a bitter taste and a pronounced heavy odor.

COLLECTION, PRICES AND USES—The root of Yellow Jasmine is usually collected just after the plant has come into flower and is cut into pieces from 1 to 6 inches long. It is often adulterated with portions of the stems, but these can be distinguished by their thinness and dark purplish color. The prices range from 3 to 5 cents a pound.

Yellow Jasmine, which is official in the United States Pharmacopoeia, is used for its powerful effect on the nervous system.

Ginseng and Other Medicinal Plants, 1936, was written by A. R. Harding.