The Virginia Snakeroot Plant.

Botanical name: 

Serpentaria Virginiana.

Also see: Round-rooted Birthwort - The Virginia Snakeroot Plant.

A little plant of the birthwort kind, but different from the several sorts of that plant, described already in their places, in its roots, and in its manner of growing. It is two feet high, when it grows in a favourable soil, and has bushes or any thing else to support it. The stalks are weak and green; the leaves stand irregularly on them, and they are oblong, narrow, and auriculated at the bottom. The flowers are small, hollow, and of a deep dusky purplish colour. The root is composed of a vast quantity of strings, which are of a dusky olive colour, and of a strong smell and aromatic taste. The roots of this plant were the first that came into use, under the name of Virginian snakeroot, but there are upon the spot two other plants of the same kind, though different species, which have thready roots of the same form, and they are indifferently taken up for use; they all seem to have the same virtue, so that there is no harm in the mixture. There is sometimes another root mixed among them; but that is easily distinguished, for it is black, and these are all of the same dusky olive colour. This last adulteration should be avoided. The Virginian snakeroot is an excellent medicine in fevers; it operates by urine and by sweat, and will often take off inveterate head-achs. It is also given by some as a remedy against worms; and it was originally famous against the poison of the rattle-snake, and was a remedy we learnt from the Indians. It is good against worms in children, and may be given in small doses for a continuance of time. Scarce any thing is more effectual.

The Family Herbal, 1812, was written by John Hill.