This section is from the book "An Experimental History Of The Materia Medica", by William Lewis.
Dracuntium five Serpentaria Pharm. Paris. Dracunculus polyphyllus C. B. Arum Dra-cunculus Linn. Dragons: a plant with smooth glossy leaves, set on long pedicles, divided into six or seven or more long narrow segments; and a single, thick, whitish item, elegantly variegated with reddish or purplish streaks, com-pofed as it were of membranes enveloping one another: on its top is a long sheath, greenish on the outside and purplish within, inclosing a dark-coloured pistil, like that of arum, but larger, succeeded by a cluster of red berries: the root is large, roundish, externally yellowish, internally white. It is perennial, a native of the southern parts of Europe, and cultivated in our gardens: it dies to the ground early in the autumn.
The dracontium appears to be similar, in me- dicinal virtues, as in botanic characters, to arum; the roots and leaves being, like those of that plant, extremely acrimonious, seeming, when slightly tailed, to burn or corrode the tongue, and continuing to painfully vellicate the part for many hours. The acrimonious matter is likewise of the same kind in regard to its pharmaceutical properties; being in great part dissi-pated or destroyed by exsiccation; not being dissoluble either by watery or spirituous men-strua; not rising with either menstruum in distil-lation, but being destroyed in the process; being extracted, by expression, along with the watery juice; but soon separating from the aqueous fluid, and being now found, though not a little weakened, in the secula or sediment. This plant might therefore be used in the same cases as arum, but general practice employs only the latter. So far as can be judged, between sub-stances of such vehement pungency, the dracun-culus is rather the strongest of the two.