No. 74. Polanisia graveolens.
Classif. Nat. Order of Capparides. Dodecandria monogynia L.
Genus POLANISIA. Calyx with four unequal folioles. Four unequal petals. Stamina eight to fifteen, unequal. Ovary oblong, sessile, one style and stigma. Oblong silique or pool, with many seeds.
Sp. Polanisia graveolens, Raf. Pubescent viscid, erect. Leaves petiolate, trifoliate, folioles sessile, oblong, acute: raceme foliose, siliques oblong, acute, glandular, reticulated.
Description. Root perennial, white, branched. Stem erect, simple or branched, one to three feet high, pubescent viscose, terete. Leaves alternate petiolate, with three sessile oblong acute, unequal and entire folioles, viscid like the stems. Flowers in terminal racemes, lengthening by degrees, rather, crowded by leaves, becoming very small above, each flower axillary and solitary on a long peduncle. Calyx coloured of white and rose, with four unequal folioles, two narrow acute, two broader unequal. Petals white, erect, a little longer, unequal, cuneate, emarginate; stamina eight to fifteen, some longer and some shorter than the petals, fastigiate, filiform, red, anthers round. Pistils and siliques as above. The whole plant has a strong graveolent smell.
History. A new genus of mine, indicated in 1807, established in 1817, and confirmed by Decandolle; it contains many species blended by Linneeus under the name of Cleome dodecandra, native of Asia, the tropics, &c.; while this is peculiar to North America, and is found all over it, from Canada to Louisiana, on the sandy and gravelly banks of rivers and lakes. It is one of the most common plants on the banks of the Ohio. It blossoms in summer, from June to August. The generic name means many unequalities; the specific applies to its strong smell, similar to Erigeron graveolens of Europe. This plant is properly perennial; but as it blossoms on the first year of its growth, it resembles then an annual, and has been mistaken for such by Schoepf and Barton. It has some varieties: 1. Elatior, three or four feet high, and much branched. 2. Simplex. 5. Cespitosa. 4. Glabriuscula. &c.
Properties. Very few authors have noticed this plant, except Schoepf, who first stated the root to be anthelmintic. The fact is, that the whole plant is such, even the seeds, and its effects are similar to those of Chenopodium anthelminthicum. The decoction, powder, or confection, may be used in the same doses. An active oil may be distilled from it; but it is not yet in use. It is a popular remedy in some parts of Ohio and Canada; but I am not prepared to state whether it may be equally sure as the worm seed. We want experiments on it; I do not believe that it is narcotic, except in a very harmless degree, although W. Barton states that it is a deleterious active plant: his observations have never been published. By its smell, it appears to have similar properties with the Erigeron graveolens of Europe, and thus it maybe diuretic and antispasmodic.