Asarum canadense. Wild Ginger.
Nat. Ord. — Aristolochiaceae. Sex. Syst. — Dodecandria Monogynia.
Description. — Asarum Canadense, likewise called Indian Ginger, Coltsfoot, Canada Snakeroot, has a close resemblance to the A. Europaeum. The rhizoma is long, creeping, fleshy, jointed, yellowish, and furnished with radicles of a similar color. The stem is very short, dividing before it emerges from the ground into two long round hairy leafstalks, each of which bears a broad, reniform leaf pubescent on both sides, light-green and shining above, veined and pale or bluish below. The flower is solitary, growing from the fork of the stem, upon a pendulous, hairy peduncle, being often concealed by the loose soil, or decayed vegetable matter around it. The calyx is very woolly, consisting of three broad concave, acuminate segments, of a brownish, dull-purple or greenish color on the inside, at top and bottom, depending on the amount of light which the plant enjoys, and terminated by a long, spreading, inflected point, with reflexed sides. Corolla wanting. Filaments twelve, unequal in length, inserted upon the ovary, and rise with a slender point above the anthers, which are attached to their sides just below the extremity. Ovary inferior, somewhat hexagonal; style conical, striated, and parted at top into six recurved, radiating stigmas. Capsule six-celled, coriaceous, and crowned with the adhering calyx.
History. — Wild Ginger is a native of the United States, growing in woods and shady places, and flowering from April to July. The whole plant has a grateful aromatic odor, and bitter, but agreeably aromatic taste. The root is the officinal part, and yields its active principles to alcohol, and partially to water. It is in long, contorted pieces, varying in thickness from a line to four or five lines in diameter, brownish and wrinkled externally, internally hard, brittle, and whitish. It contains a light-colored, pungent, and fragrant essential oil, a reddish, bitter resinous matter, starch, gum, fatty matter, chlorophylle, and salts of potassa, lime, and iron.
Properties and Uses. — Aromatic stimulant, tonic, diaphoretic, and expectorant. Used in colic and other painful affections of the stomach and bowels where no inflammation exists, and in chronic pulmonary affections. Used also as an errhine. Dose of the powder, half a drachm; of the tincture half a drachm to two drachms. It may be advantageously added to tonic infusions and tinctures.
Off. Prep. — Tinctura Lobeliae Composita.