Epigea repens. Trailing Arbutus.
Nat. Ord. — Ericaceae Sex. Syst. — Decandria Monogynia.
Description. — This plant has several names, as Winter -pink, Gravelweed, Mountain-pink, Ground Laurel, May-flower, etc. It is a small trailing plant, indigenous, with woody stems from six to twenty inches long, and is covered with a hairy pubescence in all its parts. The leaves are evergreen, alternate, cordate-ovate, entire, two or two and a half inches long, by one and a half wide, roundish at the end, and abruptly tipped with a very short point, and stand on slender petioles. The flowers are very fragrant, white or tinged with various shades of red, and are disposed in small axillary clusters on short stalks. The corolla is hypocrateriform, tube cylindrical, longer than the calyx, hairy within, limb five-parted, spreading. Calyx green, five-parted, with three large bracts at base ; stamens ten with filiform filaments ; anthers oblong, awnless, dehiscent by two longitudinal openings. Capsule or pod depressed globular, five-lobed, five-celled, many-seeded.
History. — This shrubby little plant grows in sandy woods, sometimes in rocky soil, in the shade of pines, and is found from Newfoundland to Pennsylvania and Kentucky; it generally prefers the sides of hills with a northern exposure. Its flowers exhale a rich, spicy fragrance, and appear in April and May. The plant is said to be injurious to cattle when eaten by them. The leaves are the officinal parts, and yield their properties to water or spirits. No analysis has been made of the plant.
Properties and Uses. — Diuretic and astringent. This is a very valuable Eclectic remedy, and is highly beneficial in gravel, and all diseases of the urinary organs ; it is superior to the uva ursi, or foreign buchu, and where these have failed in producing benefit, this has succeeded. It may be used in the same manner and doses as the uva ursi. The fluid extract is an elegant preparation for all urinary difficulties. It enters into a very useful preparation, termed Diuretic compound, which see under the head of Infusions. It has been occasionally used with advantage in diarrhea, and bowel complaints of children. The infusion of the leaves may be drank freely.
Off. Prep. — Extractum Epigeae Fluidum ; Infusum Epigeae.