Description: Natural Order, Compositae. The Genus ASTER is a large and very common one throughout our country, flowering late in the autumn; with the ray florets always well marked, varying from whitish-purple to bluish purple, but never yellow, always in a single row, and pistillate. The disk flowers, on the other hand, are very small, tubular, yellow changing to purple, and perfect. Receptacle flat, alveolate; pappus simple, capillary, scabrous; achenium usually compressed. Leaves alternate. A. CORDIFOLIUS: Stem smooth, occasionally roughish, two feet high, divided above into a number of paniculate and spreading branches. Lower leaves cordate, large, strongly serrate, on slender and hairy-winged petioles, sometimes hairy beneath; upper leaves gradually reduced to minute bracts. Flowers in small heads, quite numerous upon the panicled branches; involucre scales closely appressed, obtuse, short, tipped with green points; rays ten to fifteen, pale blue or nearly white. This is a very common plant on the hillsides and through the rocky woods of the entire North and West, blooming from September to October.
Properties and Uses: This plant was introduced to the profession by Prof. Rafinesque; and experience has confirmed the brief account he gave of it. The root is relaxant and aromatically stimulant, acting slowly and rather permanently. Its principal power is expended upon the nervous system; and it is used in hysteria, nervous irritability, painful menstruation, rheumatism, and similar difficulties to which caulophyllum is suited, but is more slowly relaxing than the latter article, and more properly in the class of the nervine tonics. It deserves more attention than it has received from the profession, and its abundance should secure for it a trial. It has been compared to valerian; but is less relaxing, and more aromatic than the latter plant.
The Aster puniceus is said to resemble the above. It grows in moist places; reaches a height of from four to seven feet, is usually purple-red on the south side of its stem, with its stalk furrowed, rough-hairy, and not so much branched as the cordifolius. Leaves oblong, clasping, slightly eared at the base. Flowers large and showy, with fifty to eighty rays in two rows–rays, lilac-blue, and long. I have not found it so agreeable a medicine; but more relaxing and permanent than the above species. It is sometimes called cocash and meadow scabish, though these names are given to other plants.
The Physiomedical Dispensatory, 1869, was written by William Cook, M.D.
It was scanned by Paul Bergner at http://medherb.com