Euphorbia hypericifolia. Large Spotted Spurge.
Nat. Ord. — Euphorbiaceae. — Sex. Syst. — Dodecandria Trigynia, Linnaeus. Monoecia Monadelphia, Michaux.
Description. — This plant, also known by the names of Black-pursely, Milk-pursely, Eye-bright, etc., is an annual plant, with a smooth, somewhat procumbent, branching stem, from one to two feet high ; the branches are dichotomous, and divaricate-spreading. The leaves are from half an inch to an inch in length, and about one-fourth as wide, opposite, oblong, somewhat falciform, serrated, oblique or heart-shaped at base, often curved, three to five-ribbed underneath, on very short petioles, and often marked with purple oblong dots and blotches. The flowers are small, white, numerous, and disposed in terminal and axillary corymbs. Fruit mostly rather hairy ; seeds four angled, obscurely wrinkled transversely.
History. — E. Hypericifolia is an indigenous plant, growing in rich soil in waste and cultivated places, and flowering from July to September. The leaves are the parts used, and yield their properties to water or alcohol; they have a sweetish taste, succeeded by a sensation of harshness and roughness. They contain caoutchouc, resin, tannin, gallic acid, etc.
Properties and Uses. — Astringent, tonic, and slightly narcotic. As an astringent it has been found efficacious in dysentery, after having previously removed the inflammatory symptoms, often curing the disease in forty-eight hours ; also in diarrhea, after the exhibition of some purgative ; in menorrhagia from debility; also in leucorrhea, and other affections where this class of agents is indicated. Half an ounce of the dried leaves may be infused in a pint of boiling water for half an hour. In dysentery and diarrhea, a tablespoonful may be given every hour until the discharges become less frequent, and other morbid symptoms begin to yield ; then to be used less frequently. In the other diseases a wineglassful may be given three times a day.
The Euphorbia Maculata, or Spotted Spurge, is possessed of similar properties, and has been used with advantage in the same forms of disease, as cholera-morbus, diarrhea, dysentery, etc. It is an annual plant, generally found growing with the E. Hypericifolia, and possesses sensible properties analogous to those of this variety. It has a procumbent stem, spreading flat on the ground, much branched and hairy ; the leaves are opposite, oval or oblong, minutely serrulate toward the end, unequal at the base, slightly three-ribbed, smooth above, hairy and pale beneath, oblique at the base, on short petioles, often spotted with dark purple, from three to six lines long, and one-half as wide. The flowers are white, solitary, axillary, much shorter than the leaves, appearing from July to October; female flowers naked. Filaments articulated ; receptacle squamose ; capsule three-grained, smooth, pubescent, or warty ; seeds four-angled, obscurely wrinkled transversely, and about one-third smaller than the E. Hypericifolia.