This section is from the book "A Text Book Of Materia Medica, Being An Account Of The More Important Crude Drugs Of Vegetable And Animal Origin", by Henry G. Greenish. Also available from Amazon: A Text Book of Materia Medica : Being an Account of the More Important Crude Drugs of Vegetable and Animal Origin.
Spigella marilandica, Linne (N.O. Loganiaceoe), is an erect herb, widely distributed over the United States, especially in the south and west. The entire plant is collected in the autumn, tied into bundles, and dried. The rhizome and roots, separated from the aerial parts of the plant, are also found in commerce.
The stem is smooth and simple, quadrangular in the upper, rounded in the lower part. The leaves are few in number, opposite and sessile; they are ovate-lanceolate in outline, and about 8 cm. long, acuminate at the apex, and tapering towards the base. The midrib, and the lateral veins, of which there are usually four, are prominent; the latter branch from the midrib near the base at an acute angle, curving round towards the apex. The stem sometimes terminates in a unilateral spike of brilliant red flowers, which are not often found in the drug, though the small two-lobed fruits, are occasionally met with.
The rhizome is small, dark brown, tortuous, and knotty. It is furnished with numerous, slender, wiry roots, and bears on the upper side short branches marked with the cup-shaped scars of previous stems. The drug is odourless, but has a rather acrid taste.
The student should observe
(a) The opposite sessile leaves with prominent lateral veins,
(b) The small tortuous rhizome with cup-shaped scars, (c) The smooth cylindrical stem.
Spigelia root has been frequently adulterated with the rhizome of Ruellia ciliosa (N.O. Acanthaceae) which is longer, straighter, and thicker; the roots are less wiry; it contains sclerenchymatous cells and cystoliths in the bark.
The drug contains an acrid, bitter principle, soluble in water, and a liquid volatile alkaloid, spigeline (Dudley, 1881); the latter statement requires confirmation.
Indian pink is used as a vermifuge. It possesses poisonous properties allied to those of gelsemium, depressing the action of the heart and respiration, and causing loss of muscular power when given in large doses.