A climbing shrub of South America, the root of which has lately been introduced into medicine. It grows to twelve or fourteen feet in height, if there be trees or bushes to support it, else it lies upon the ground, and is shorter. The stalks are woody, light, and covered with a rough bark, which is continually coming off in small flakes. The leaves are large and broad. The flowers are small, and of a greenish colour; and the berries are round, and when ripe, black. The root is large, woody, and very long and creeping.
The root is used. It is of a brownish colour, rough on the surface, and woody, but loose in its texture. It is to be given in infusion. It is an excellent medicine in the gravel, and in suppressions of urine, as also in the quinzy, and in pleurisies, and peripneumonies. It works the most powerfully, and the most suddenly, by urine of any medicine: and is so excellent in forcing away gravel and small stones, that some have pretended it a remedy for the stone, and said it would dissolve and break it. This is going too far; no medicine has been found that has that effect, nor can it be supposed that any can. Great good has been done by those medicines which the parliament purchased of Mrs. Stephens, more than perhaps, by any other whatsoever, in this terrible complaint; but they never dissolved a large and hard stone. Indeed there needs no more to be assured of this, than to examine one of those stones; it will not he supposed, any thing that the bladder can bear, will be able to dissolve so firm and solid a substance.