Aristolochia Serpentaria, (Linne'), reticulata,Nutall. The dried rhizome and roots, with not more than 10 p.c. over-ground stems nor 2 p.c. other organic matter, yielding not more than 10 p.c. acid-insoluble ash.
Habitat. United States, in hilly woods: 1. W. Pennsylvania, Virginia, Ohio, Indiana, Kentucky. 2. S. W. States, Louisiana to Texas. Kentucky. 2. S. W. States, Louisiana to Texas.
Syn. Serpent., Virginia Snakeroot, Texas Snakeroot, Snakeroot (-weed), Serpentary, Sangrel, Snagrel, Sangree Root, Pelican Flower, Birthwort, Thick Birthwort; Br. Serpentariae, Rhizoma (radix), Serpentary Rhizome; Fr. Couleuvree de Virginie, Serpentaire (Viperine) de Virginie; Ger. Virginische Schlangenwurzel.
Ar-is-to-lo'chi-a. L. See etymology, page 174, of Aristolochiaceae.
Ser-pen-ta'ri-a. L. Serpen(t)s, serpent -- i.e., having power of rendering harmless serpent bites.
Re-tic-u-la'ta. L. Reticulatus, fr. Rete, a net -- i.e., leaves strongly netted.
Virginia Snakeroot. Root from Virginia, once thought a valuable antidote for snake bites.
Perennial herbs; stems sometimes several, slender, erect, zigzag, jointed .3 M. (1 degree) high, purple below; leaves cordate, ovate, 5-7.5 Cm. (2-3') long, pale green, entire; flowers June-July, few, purple, due to the calyx, which is tubular, inflated at both ends and bent like letter S; corolla absent; leaves (A. Serpentaria)--petiolate, pointed, thin, pubescent; leaves (A. Reticulata) -- subsessile, obtuse, thickish, reticulate, hairy.
oblique, subcylindical, more or less curved, 10-30 Mm. (2/5-1 1/5') long, 1-2 Mm. (1/25-1/12')thick, dark brown, upper portion with short stem-bases, lower and lateral portions with many long, thin, nearly straight, yellowish-brown roots having 4-6-rayed stele (stem 6-10 fibro-vascular bundles); fracture short; internally yellowish-white, wood with broad, eccentric wedges; odor camphoraceous, terebinthinate; taste bitter, aromatic.
grayish-brown -- numerous starch grains, .003-.018 Mm (1/8800-1/1885') broad, tracheae, wood-fibers, medullary ray cells, pith cells, occasionally few non-glandular hairs of the stem. Solvents: alcohol; diluted alcohol; boiling water. Dose, gr 5-30 (.3-2 Gm.).
Rhizomes of: 1, Spigelia marylandica -- only slightly aromatic and bitter, no projecting stem-remnants, but indistinct, medullary rays in the wood; 2, Hydrastis canadensis -- yellow interior, odorless, oblique growth; 3, Aristolochia Serpentaria var. hasta'ta, S. Caroline, La. -- Leaves auriculate, stems smaller, more simple and slender; 4, Cypripedium hirsutum (pubescens), and C. Parviflorum -- scars circular, roots coarse; 5, Polemo'nium rep'tans -- resemble serpentaria, but nearly white; 6, Roots of Panax Quinquefolium, Ginseng.
Commercial. -- Plants grow in rich shady woods from which the rhizomes are taken and dried, sometimes having been washed; enters market in bags, casks, more commonly bales of 100 pounds (45 Kg.), often mixed with leaves, stems and adhering earth. There are two varieties: 1, Virginia Snakeroot (A. Serpentaria), exterminated practically from many former sections, and now largely from mountainous district, south of Pennsylvania and the Ohio River, being brought eastward chiefly by the routes of Wheeling and Pittsburgh; 2, Texas Snakeroot (Red River -- A. Reticulata), rhizome usually larger, roots fewer, thicker, less interlaced than preceding.
Volatile oil .5-1 p.c., Aristolochine, Aristolochin (Clematitin, bitter principle), Serpentarin (bitter principle, poisonous), Resin 5 p.c., aristinic acid (resinous), tannin, starch, sugar, mucilage, Albumin, ash 11 p.c.
Volatile Oil. -- Obtained by distilling with water; contains a terpene (probably pinene), CH also borneol ester, CHO, 60 p.c., and a green or bluish-green fraction.
Aristolochine, CHON. -- Obtained by precipitating decoction with lead acetate, exhausting precipitate with hot alcohol, evaporating, dissolving bitter principle (alkaloid) by shaking with water; it is yellow, amorphous or in needles; soluble in water, alcohol, ether, precipitated by tannin.
1. Tinctura Cinchonae Composita, 2 p.c. 2. Fluidextractum Serpentariae, N.F. (80 p.c. alcohol). Dose, mv-30 (.3-2 cc.); 3. Tinctura Serpentariae, N.F., 20 p.c. (67 p.c. alcohol). Dose, 3ss-2 (30-60 cc.)
Unoff. Prep.: Infusion, 5 p.c., dose, 3j-2 (30-60 cc.).
Stimulant, tonic, diaphoretic, diuretic, emmenagogue, aphrodisiac, antiperiodic; like calumba promotes appetite, digestion, increases bronchial and intestinal secretions, heart action, mental exhilaration. Large doses are irritant, causing vomiting, vertigo, colic, purging, tenesmus.
As a stimulating expectorant in typhoid pneumonia, exanthematous diseases, intermittents, dyspepsia, diphtheria. Fluidextract good locally against poison-ivy rash.
Serpentaria: rhizome with roots. Rhizome: transverse section.