This section is from the book "An Experimental History Of The Materia Medica", by William Lewis.
Scorzonera latifolia sinuata C. B. Vipe-raria & serpentaria hispanica quibusdam. Scorzo-nera hispanica Linn, Vipers-grass: a plant with large sharp-pointed leaves, slightly sinuated about the edges, having a large prominent rib in the middle, joined to the stalks without pedicles: on the tops of the branches grow yellow flofculous flowers, set in scaly cups, followed by oblong roundish striated seeds winged with down: the root is long, single, from the size of a goose-quill to that of the little finger, of a dark colour on the outside and white within. It is perennial, a native of Spain, and common in our culinary gardens.
The roots of scorzonera have been employed medicinally as alexipharmacs, and in hypochondriacal disorders and obstructions of the viscera, but at present are more properly looked upon as alimentary articles, in general salubrious, and moderately nutritious. They abound with a milky juice, of a soft sweetish taste, but which in drying contracts a slight bitterness. Extracts made from them by water are considerably sweet and mucilaginous: extracts made by rectified spirit have a less degree of sweetishness, accompanied with a slight grateful warmth. In Car-theufer's experiments, the spirituous extract amounted to one third the weight of the root, and the watery to above one half: as his watery extract, though in larger quantity than the spirituous, was nevertheless, like mine, sweeter, it should seem that the sweet matter of fcorzonera is somewhat different, in regard to its solu-bility, from that of most of the other vegetable sweets that have been examined, the spirituous extracts having generally much the greatest sweetness.