Pinkroot, an American ornamental and medicinal plant, known also in different localities as Indian pink, Carolina and Maryland pink and pinkroot, and worm grass. Its botanical name is Spigelia Marilandica; the genus (named in honor of Abraham Spigel or Spigelius, a botanist of the 17th century) belongs to the not very well limited order of Loganiacem. The plant is found from Pennsylvania and Wisconsin southward, being much more abundant in the southern states, though like other medicinal plants it is becoming rare everywhere. The root consists of very numerous yellow fibres; the simple erect, somewhat square stems, from 6 to 18 in. high, bear opposite, sessile, ovate-lanceolate leaves; the flowers, in a simple or forked one-sided spike at the top of the stem, are about an inch and a half long, tubular funnel-formed with five short lobes, of a deep red outside, and yellow within. This is one of the most brilliant of our native plants, and well deserving of cultivation; it seems to be impatient of removal, and requires some time to become well established; it endures the winter near New York. - The worm-destroying properties of pinkroot were known to the Cherokees, from whom the whites learned them, and it was long in use as a domestic remedy in the southern states before it became known to the medical profession; it was afterward made officinal in the pharmacopoeias at home and abroad, and became an article of commerce.
The root, consisting of numerous slender, branching, crooked, wrinkled fibres, attached to a knotty head or caudex, is used as an anthelmintic, especially against the ascaris lumbricoides. In large doses it is a somewhat uncertain cathartic, and in overdoses it gives rise to vertigo, dilated pupils, and facial and sometimes even general spasms. Some deaths have been attributed to its use; but these cases, if genuine, must have been in the highest degree exceptional, as the drug is most extensively used both in professional and domestic practice, not only without fatal but usually without unpleas ant consequences. It is generally given in the form of an infusion or fluid extract with some cathartic, as senna. Its dose in substance is from 10 to 20 grains for a child three or four years old. The supposed active principle is acid and bitter, soluble in water and alcohol, uncrystallizable, and of neutral reaction. The dose of the fluid extract, an excellent form, is a teaspoonful for an adult, less for a child.
Spigelia anthelmia, growing in the West Indies, is said to be even more efficient as an anthelmintic than our native species.
Pinkroot (Spigelia Marilandica).