Euphorbia corollata. Large Flowering Spurge.
Nat. Ord. — Euphorbiaceae. Sex. Syst. — Dodecandria Trigynia, Linnaeus; Monoecia Monadelphia, Michaux.
The Bark of the Root.
Description. — This plant has many common names, as Blooming Spurge, Milk-weed, Bowman's Root, etc. It is a tall, erect plant, with a large, perennial, branching, yellowish root, from which arise several stems from two to five feet in bight, round, and in most instances, simple. The leaves are scattered, sessile, oblong, obovate, or linear, entire, flat or revolute at the margin, smooth in some plants, very hairy in others, verticillate and opposite in the umbel, and from one to two inches in length. The flowers are white, and disposed upon a large, terminal umbel, with a five-leaved involucrum, and five trifid or dichotomous rays, each fork being attended by two bracts and a flower. Umbel five rayed, with as many bracteal leaves. Involucre large, rotate, white, with five obtuse petal-like segments ; at the base of these divisions are five-interior, very small, obtuse segments. The stamens are twelve, evolving gradually, with double flowers; many flowers have only stamens. The pistil, when present, is stipitate, nodding, rounded, with three bifid styles. The fruit is a smooth, three-celled, and three-seeded capsule; seeds smooth.
History.— This is an indigenous plant, found growing in Canada and the United States, in dry, sandy, and barren soil, and flowering in July and August. When broken, it yields a milky juice, which powerfully irritates the skin when applied to it for a few minutes, creating a pustular eruption ; especially the juice of the root, or the recent root, bruised and applied. The root is from one-third of an inch to an inch or two in diameter, and one or two feet long, and should be gathered in the fall; it is inodorous and almost tasteless, causing a sense of heat shortly after having been chewed. The bark of the root is the officinal part, which is quite thick, constituting nearly two-thirds of the whole root ; its virtues are imparted to water or alcohol, and remain in the extract formed by the evaporation of either solvent. It forms a light brownish-yellow powder, speckled throughout with innumerable fine dark spots, somewhat resembling a mixture of fine pepper and salt, with the exception of color. Dr. Zollickoffer found it to contain resin, mucilage, and caoutchouc. Kino and Catechu are incompatible with this plant; when united with either, the medicinal powers of the euphorbia are destroyed, while the astringency of the Kino or Catechu becomes entirely altered. Probably all vegetable astringents are incompatible with the agent under consideration. Opium interferes with its emetic operation, and should not, therefore, be given in combination with it, when emesis is desired. Acetic acid also interrupts its emetic influence, causing it to pass off by the bowels.
Properties and Uses. — Emetic, diaphoretic, expectorant, and epispastic. Fifteen or twenty grains of the powdered bark of the root will excite emesis, rarely occasioning pain or spasms, and giving rise to very little previous nausea or giddiness ; when it does not prove emetic, it passes off by the bowels. Four grains of the powdered root-bark, given every three hours, will act as a diaphoretic ; or the compound powder of ipecacuanha and opium may be employed for the same purpose, substituting the E. corollata for the ipecacuanha. In doses of three grains, exhibited occasionally in a little honey, syrup or molasses, it operates as a useful expectorant, and may be administered in all cases where such action is desired. When given in large doses, it is apt to induce inflammation of the mucous coat of the stomach and bowels, with hypercatharsis. Occasionally, when given as an emetic or cathartic, it causes distressing nausea, with considerable prostration. From four to ten or twelve grains generally act as a cathartic. In dropsical diseases, especially hydrothorax and ascites, it will evacuate the water when all other agents prove useless, for which purpose it may be given in doses of fifteen or thirty grains, and repeated twice or three times weekly.