Erythronium americanum. Adder's Tongue.
Nat. Ord. — Liliaceae. Sex. Syst. — Hexandria Monogynia.
The Leaves and Root.
Description. — This plant, also known by the name of Dog's Tooth Violet, Yellow Snowdrop, Rattlesnake Violet, Yellow Erythronium, etc., is an indigenous, perennial, bulbous plant. The cormus is situated deep in the ground, is brown externally, white and solid internally, and from which arises a single, naked, slender scape, from three to four inches in hight, and two smooth, lanceolate, veinless leaves, nearly equal, about five inches long, one twice as wide as the other, of a dark brownish-green color, clouded with irregular brown or purplish spots, sheathing the scape with their base, and involute at the point, terminating in an obtuse, callous point. The flower is solitary, drooping, yellow, expanded and revolute in the sunshine, but nearly closed at night and on cloudy days. Sepals and petals oblong-lanceolate, obtuse at the point; sepals partly crimson on the outside ; petals with an obscure tooth on each side near the base. Stamens six ; filaments flat ; anthers oblong-linear. Ovary obovate ; style club-shaped, longer than the stamens, three-lobed at top, and terminating in three, undivided stigmas. Capsule oblong-obovate, stipitate, three-valved ; seeds rather numerous, ovoid, with a loose membranaceous tip.
History. — This plant is a native of most parts of the United States, growing in shaded and somewhat moist situations, and flowering in April and May. The bulb and leaves are the parts used, and impart their virtues to water. The leaves are said to be more active than the root.
Properties and Uses. — Emetic, emollient, and antiscrofulous when fresh ; nutritive when dried. The fresh roots and leaves, simmered in milk, or the fresh leaves, bruised and applied as a poultice to scrofulous ulcers or tumors, together with a free internal use of an infusion of them, is highly recommended as a remedy for scrofula. The expressed juice of the plant, infused in cider, is reputed useful in dropsy, and for relieving hiccough, vomiting and hematemesis. Twenty-five grains of the fresh root, or forty of the recently-dried root, will operate as an emetic, though this result is sometimes uncertain.