DIRECTOR   Vern Joules


A humble stemless plant, with flowers nearly concealed in the ground. It has many varieties, with small or large leaves, rounded or mucronate, spotted or unspotted ; the flowers also vary in colour from greenish purple to dark purple: they blossom in May and June. Asarum is an ancient name, the genus gives name to a natural order Asarides, called Aristolochides by Jussieu, and Sarmentacea by Linnaeus. In the Linnean system it is placed either in Dodecandria or Gynandria. It has been called Canadense, because first noticed in Canada, the name latlfolia of Salisbury would be preferable. The names of Wild Ginger, Heart Snakeroot, &c. are common to all the other species. The roots are often collected and sold for Virginia Snakeroot, although very different in appearance, but similar in taste, smell and properties. They deserve to be collected more extensively, as an article of trade and exportation ; being an excellent substitute for ginger in every instance. Locality—From Canada to Carolina and Missouri, in shady woods, it is most abundant in hills, valleys, and rich alluvions. Qualities—The whole plant, but particularly the root, has an agreeable aromatic bitterish taste, intermediate between Ginger and Aristolochia serpentaria ; but more pleasant, warm, and pungent. The smell is spicy and strong. The active substances are a volatile oil, possessing the taste and smell of the plant, with a red and bitter resin, both soluble in alcohol; they contain besides much fecula and mucilage. PROPERTIES—Aromatic stimulant and diaphoretic, cordial, emenagogue, subtonic, errhine, &c.; but not properly emetic like the A. europeum, although often mentioned as such. It is a grateful substitute of the Serpentaria in many cases. It is useful in cachexia, melancholy, palpitations, low fevers, convalescence, obstructions, hooping-cough, &c. The doses must be small and often repeated, since it becomes nauseous in large doses. The best preparation is a cordial made with the tincture and syrup; the tincture is coloured dark red by the resin. The dried leaves make a fine stimulating and cephalic snuff, when reduced to powder, which may be used in all disorders of the head and eyes. A grateful wine or beer may be made by the infusion of the whole plant, in fermenting wine or beer. Substitutes—Ginger—Aristolochia serpentaria— Aralia species—Hetenmm autumnale—Spices—Laurus benzoin, with many aromatic stimulants, and all the other American species of this genus. Remarks—A. Virginicum may be known by its smooth cordate leaves ; it is found from Maryland to Georgia and Tennessee, particularly in mountains, and is still more grateful than A. Canadense. .#. arifolium has smooth, hastated, spotted leaves, and a tubular flower ; it is found in Carolina and Tennessee. The figure of Henry represents the leaves sharp, which is never the case, and he calls it Swamp Asarabocca, although never growing in swamps.