Aster puniceus. Red-stalked Aster.
Nat. Ord. — Asteraceae, or Compositae. Sex. Syst. — Syngenesia Superflua.
Description. — The root of this plant is perennial and fibrous ; the stem is hispid, paniculate above, furrowed, generally red, or at least on the south side, stout and tall, growing from three to six feet in hight. The leaves are oblong-lanceolate, amplexicaul, and more or less auriculate at base, sparingly serrate in the middle with appressed teeth, rough above, nearly smooth underneath, pointed ; lower leaves with remote serratures, rough edged, and rough on the upper surface, all acuminate and narrowed at the base. Involucre loose, longer than the disk ; the scales linear-lanceolate, long, revolute, nearly equal, and in two rows. Flowers large, showy, and of a pale purple or lilac-blue color. Rays from fifty to eighty, long and narrow.
History. — This plant is found growing in various parts of the United States, in swamps, ditches, along the borders of small streams, and sometimes in dry soils. It flowers from July to October. The radicles or fibers of the root, are the parts used ; they are about the size of a pipestem, having a pungent, aromatic odor and taste, with some bitterness and astringency. Water or alcohol extracts their active properties. This plant is variously known by the names of Cocash, Meadow Scabish, Squaw-weed, etc.
Properties and Uses. — Stimulant and diaphoretic. The warm infusion may be used freely in colds, rheumatism, nervous debility, headache, pains in the stomach, dizziness, and menstrual irregularities. This, together with the A. Cordifolius are probably equivalents of valerian.
The Aster Aestivus, named Rheumatic-weed, also Sampson Snakeroot, Star flower, etc., resembles the above plant, having lanceolate, sub-clasping leaves, tapering to the apex; margin rough ; stem branching from its base, erect, hispid ; branchlets pilose ; involucre scaly ; scales lax, linear, acute, equal. Flowers middle sized, and blue. It is found more abundantly west of the Alleghany mountains, and is recommended as an antispasmodic and alterative. Principally used in the cure of rheumatism in the form of infusion or tincture ; recommended, however, in hysteria, chorea, epilepsy, spasms, irregular menstruation, etc., internally; and used both externally and internally in many cutaneous diseases, the eruption occasioned by the poison rhus, and in the bites of venomous snakes. Dose of the infusion, one to four ounces ; of a saturated tincture half a drachm to two drachms. This plant deserves further investigation.