Clematis. Clematis recta L. (C. erecta L.) Upright Virgin's Bower. Clematite, Fr. Waldrebe, G.—A perennial European plant. The leaves and flowers have an acrid, burning taste. When bruised in a mortar they irritate the eyes and throat, giving rise to a flow of tears and to coughing, and applied to the skin they produce inflammation and vesication; hence their old name of Flammula Jovis. The acridity is greatly diminished by drying. Storck found this clematis to be diuretic and diaphoretic, in doses of from one to two grains (0.065-0.13 Gm.) of the extract a day, or from thirty to forty grains (2-2.6 Gm.) of the leaves given in infusion three times a day, and to be useful, locally and internally, in syphilitic, cancerous, and other foul ulcers.
Other species of clematis have the same acrid properties; among these C. flammula L., or sweet-scented virgin's bower, which, though a native of Europe, is cultivated in our gardens, C. vitalba L., or traveller's joy, also a native of Europe, and several indigenous species, of which C. virginiana L., or common virgin's bower, C. viorna L., or leather flower, and C. crispa L. have been used as substitutes for C. recta L. All these are climbing plants. Rochebrune (Toxical. Africaine. i) affirms that he has found in C. flammula L. an alkaloid, clematine, two milligrammes of which will produce in the guinea-pig copious and frequent urination, general tremors, great disturbance of respiration, feeble-ness and intermittency of the heart beat, followed in seven minutes by convulsions ending in coma and death.
From the bruised roots and stems of C. vitalba L., boiled for a few moments in water to diminish their acridity, and then digested in sweet oil for a little while, is made a preparation used locally in Europe for the itch. Twelve or fifteen applications are said to be usually sufficient. Gaube has found in this species an alkaloid, also named clematine, which forms with sulphuric acid a salt crystallizable in six-sided needles; also an acrid volatile oil analogous to mezereon in its properties, tannic acid, mucilage, and earthy salts. (J. P. C., Aout, 1869.)