Frasera carolinensis. (Frasera Walteri.) American Columbo.
Nat. Ord. — Gentianaceae. Sex. Syst. — Tetrandria Monogynia.
Description. — American Columbo is an indigenous plant, with a triennial, long, spindle-shaped, horizontal, fleshy, rugose, and yellow root, and a smooth, erect, solid, cylindrical, or subquadrangular, succulent dark-purple stem, from four to nine feet in hight, one or two inches in diameter at base, and branched above. The leaves are opposite, sessile, entire, glabrous, deep-green, subcarnose, from three to twelve inches long, by one to three inches wide, and in whorls of from four to six. The whorls commence at the root, and ascend to the top with successively diminishing intervals and leaves. The lower or radical leaves are from five to twelve in number, elliptical, obtuse, very long, and rest upon the ground in the form of a star. The cauline leaves become successively smaller as they ascend, the lowest oblong lanceolate, the upper lanceolate and pointed. The flowers are yellowish-white, or greenish-yellow, numerous, forming a large terminal, compound, pyramidal, leafy, verticillate panicle, from one to five feet long, the branches of which spring from the axils of the upper leaves; peduncles one-flowered, unequal, leafy, or bracteate. Calyx deeply four-cleft, spreading; segments lanceolate, acute, persistent, and nearly as long as the corolla. Corolla with four elliptic segments, flat and spreading ; margin somewhat inflexed, an oval or orbicular fimbriated, purple pit or gland in the center of each. Stamens four, alternate with the segments, and shorter than the corolla. Filaments subulate, short, and inserted into the base of the corolla between its segments; anthers large, oval, oblong, yellow, and notched at the base. Ovary oblong-ovate, compressed, bearing a short style with a bifid stigma. Capsule or fruit yellowish, oval, acuminate, with the persistent style, compressed ; margin thin, two-valved, one-seeded. Seeds eight to twelve, flat, elliptical, imbricated, winged.
History. — This plant grows west of the Alleghanies, and from New York to Alabama, in rich woody lands and meadows, and bearing flowers in June and July. The stems and flowers are produced in the third year, previous to which the radical leaves only appear above ground. The root is the officinal part, and should be collected in the autumn of the second, or the spring of the third year ; they are large, yellow, rugose, hard, and spindle-shaped ; but as found in the shops, they are in dried, transverse slices, having a light reddish-brown epidermis, a thick yellow bark, and a yellowish spongy meditullium. The taste is bitter and slightly sweetish without aroma. Water or diluted alcohol extracts its virtues, and on adding water to the tincture, a precipitate is thrown down, but it is not disturbed by the tincture of galls. It contains bitter extractive, gum, tannin, gallic acid, resin, a fatty matter, sugar, etc.
It may be distinguished from Colombo, by the greater uniformity of its internal structure, the absence of concentric and radiating lines, their purer yellow color without a greenish tinge, and by affording a dark-green precipitate with the salts of iron, which is not the case with Colombo ; and this last, in tincture, gives a dirty-gray precipitate with tincture of galls.
Properties and Uses. — The fresh root is emetic and cathartic ; the dried, a simple tonic, which may be used wherever mild tonics are indicated. Dose of the powder from twenty to sixty grains, of the infusion from one to four fluidounces, three or four times a day.
Off. Prep. — Infusum Fraserae.