Geranium. Cranesbill, Spotted Cranesbill, Wild Cranesbill, Storksbill, Alum Root. Geranium maculatum.

Botanical name: 

Geranium. N. F. IV (U. S. VIII). Cranesbill. Cranesbill Root. Spotted or Wild Cranesbill, or Storksbill. Alum Root. Racine de Bec-de-Orue tachete, Racine de Pied-de-Comeille, Fr. Fleck-storchschnabelwurzel, G.—"The dried rhizome of Geranium maculatum Linne (Fam. Geraniaceae)." N. F. Geranium was deleted from the U. S. Pharmacopoeia but is now official in the National Formulary IV. The stem is erect, round, dichotomously branched, from one to two feet high, of a grayish-green color, and thickly covered, in common with the petioles and peduncles, with reflexed hairs. The leaves are deeply divided into three, five, or seven lobes, which are variously incised at their extremities, hairy, and of a pale green color, mottled with still paler spots. Those which rise from the root are supported on foot-stalks eight or ten inches long; those of the stem are opposite, the lower petiolate, the upper nearly sessile, with lanceolate or linear stipules. The flowers are large, and usually of a rose-purple color. The peduncles spring from the forks of the stem, and severally support two flowers upon short pedicles. The calyx is composed of five oblong, ribbed, cuspidate leaves; the petals are five, obovate, and entire; the stamens ten, with oblong, deciduous anthers, the five alternate filaments being longer than the others, and having glands at their base; the ovary is ovate, supporting a straight style as long as the stamens, and surmounted by five stigmas. The fruit consists of five aggregate, one-seeded capsules, attached by a beak to the persistent style, curling up and scattering the seeds when ripe. The plant is indigenous, growing throughout the United States in moist woods, thickets, and hedges, and generally in low grounds. It flowers from May to July. The root should be collected in autumn.

Geranium is described as: "Rhizome cylindraceous, somewhat branched, bent, flattened and strongly tuberculated, from 2.5 to 10 cm. in length and from 3 to 15 mm. in diameter; surface marked with root scars and remnants of slender roots, longitudinally wrinkled; externally dark purple-brown; internally light purple-brown; fracture short, non-fibrous, the section shows a thin bark, a distinct cambium, irregular in outline, large central pith, wood indistinct, the fibro-vascular bundles few and at unequal distances. Odorless; taste strongly astringent. The powder is purplish-brown and, when examined under the microscope, exhibits tangentially elongated cork cells; parenchyma containing starch, scattered cells of pith and bark parenchyma containing tannin both in the content and walls of the cells' and colored bluish-black by ammonio-ferric alum T.S.; tracheae small, with scalariform markings; characteristic starch more or less abundant, grains smooth, mostly single, ovate, up to 0.035 mm. in length, hilum near the larger end, inner lamellae concentric with hilum, the outer excentric. Geranium yields not more than 8 per cent. of ash." N. F. Water and alcohol extract the virtues of geranium. According to Edward Staples, it contains tannic and gallic acids, mucilage, red coloring matter, resin, and a crystallizable vegetable principle. (A. J. P., 1829, p. 171.) Tilden found, besides tannic and gallic acids, gum, pectin, sugar, starch, albumen, resin soluble in alcohol, oleoresin soluble in ether only, coloring matter, chlorophyll, lignin, and various salts. (P. J., 1863, p. 22.) Tannic and gallic acids are probably the sole active ingredients. Henry Trimble and J. C. Peacock (A. J. P., 1891, p. 265) collected the plant at periods of the year ranging from January to October, and determined the percentage of tannin as calculated for the perfectly dry drug to vary from 9.72 to 27.85 per cent. They also determined that it belonged to the class of tannins analogous to gallo-tannic acid, yielding pyrogallol on heating. They decomposed the tannin by the action of hydrochloric acid, obtaining gallic acid, glucose, and geranium red as products.

Geranium is one of our best indigenous astringents, and may be employed for all the purposes to which these medicines are applicable. The absence of unpleasant taste and of other offensive qualities renders it peculiarly serviceable in the case of infants and of persons of very delicate stomach. Diarrhea, chronic dysentery, cholera infantum in the later stages, and the various hemorrhages, are the forms of disease in which it is most commonly used and with greatest advantage. As an application to indolent ulcers, an injection in gleet and leucorrhea, and a gargle in relaxation of the uvula and aphthous ulcerations of the throat, it answers the same purpose as kino, catechu, and other medicines of the same class. It is a popular domestic remedy in various parts of the United States, and is said to be employed by the Indians. It may be given in substance, decoction, tincture, or extract. (See Fluidextractum Geranii, N. F. IV, Part III.) Dose, fifteen to thirty grains (1-2 Gm.).

The Dispensatory of the United States of America, 1918, was edited by Joseph P. Remington, Horatio C. Wood and others.