Eryngium aquaticum. Water Eryngo.
Nat. Ord. — Apiaceae, or Umbelliferae. Sex. Syst. — Pentandria Digynia.
Description. — This plant, also called Button Snakeroot, Rattlesnake's Master, etc., is an indigenous herbaceous plant, with a perennial tuberous root, and a stem nearly simple, growing from two to six feet, according to the soil, generally branching by forks, but trichotomous above. The leaves are from one to two feet long, and from half an inch to an inch and a half wide, linear-lanceolate on the upper part of the stem, sword-shaped below, parallel-veined, ciliate with remote soft spines upon their margins. Brads tipped with spines, those of the involucels entire, shorter than the heads. The flowers are white or pale, inconspicuous, and disposed in ovate-globose heads, which are pedunculate, and from half an inch to an inch in diameter. Calyx five-parted, permanent; styles slender ; petals connivent, oblong, emarginate, with a long inflexed point. Fruit scaly, top-shaped, bipartile.
History. — This plant is a native of the United States, growing in swamps and low wet lands, from Virginia to Texas, and especially on the prairie lands. It flowers in August. The root is the officinal part. It has a dark-brown, very knotty rhizoma, wrinkled horizontally, with many fibers of the same color, growing downward, furrowed or wrinkled longitudinally, and from a line to a line and a half in thickness. Internally, it is yellowish-white, of a peculiar smell, somewhat resembling that of Iris Versicolor, and a faintly sweetish, mucilaginous, aromatic taste, succeeded by bitterness, some degree of pungency affecting the fauces, and a very slight astringency. It is easily pulverizable. Water or spirit extracts its properties. It has not been analyzed but is worthy attention.
Properties and Uses. — Diuretic, stimulant, diaphoretic, expectorant, and, in large doses, emetic. Very useful in dropsy, nephritic and calculous affections, also, in scrofula and syphilis ; as a diaphoretic and expectorant in pulmonary diseases. Recommended as a substitute for Senega. The pulverized root in doses of two or three grains has proved very effectual in hemorrhoids and prolapsus ani. Two ounces of the pulverized root, added to one pint of good Holland gin, has effected cures in obstinate cases of gonorrhea and gleet ; to be administered in doses of one or two fluidrachms three or four times a day. By some practitioners this root is employed as a specific in gonorrhea, gleet, and leucorrhea; used internally in syrup, decoction, or tincture, and the decoction applied locally by injection. Used externally and internally, it is said to cure the bites of snakes and insects. Dose of the powder, from twenty to forty grains ; of the decoction, which is principally used, from two to four fluidounces, several times daily.
Off. Prep. — Decoctum Eryngii.