We have many kinds of spurge wild in England, and some of them large enough; but this used in medicine is a different species. It is native of Germany, and is kept in our gardens. It grows a yard high; the stalk is round, thick, reddish, and divided into branches. The leaves are numerous, and stand irregularly; they are narrow and of a pale green, and are broadest at the end. The flowers are little, and of a pale yellow, but the seed-vessels are large, and make a conspicuous figure on the tops of the branches. The root is very thick and long; it consists of a firm heart covered with a thick rind. The whole plant, when broken, affords a milky acrid juice.
The bark of the root is used dry; and even in that state is very rough in its operation. It works by stool and vomit, and is good in the rheumatism and dropsy; but it is not every constitution that can bear the use of such remedies.