Source, Etc

Veratrum viride, Aiton (N.O. Liliaceoe), is a plant so closely resembling V. album that its claim to be considered a distinct species is very doubtful. It is common in the eastern United States, growing in rich woods. The plant is dug up in the autumn, the leaves are cut off close to the crown, and the rhizome is then usually halved or quartered to facilitate drying; occasionally the roots are cut off ('trimmed' rhizomes), but more frequently they are left attached to the rhizome ('with fibre').

The drug is commonly termed ' green hellebore,' but this name is better restricted to the rhizome of Helleborus viridis, Linne; American veratrum is a more suitable designation.

Description

The rhizome closely resembles that of V. album, the chief difference being the fact that American veratrum is usually cut longitudinally, whilst white veratrum is commonly entire; other characters are the brighter, yellowish brown colour and the more shrivelled appearance of the roots. These are, however, variable characters, and there is no definite means of distinguishing the two drugs.

Constituents

The constituents of Veratrum viride are apparently identical with those of Veratrum album, with the (doubtful) exception that the former contains an alkaloid - cevadine - that is not found in the latter; they are present in about the same proportion.

Uses

American veratrum has been recommended as a sedative, but is seldom prescribed.