Description: Natural Order, Compositae. Genus ERIGERON: Involucre oblong, sub- hemispherical, scales of ripe flowers reflected. Ray florets numerous, linear. Receptacle naked. Pappus double, pilose. E. CANADENSE: Stem two to seven feet high, covered with stiff hairs, much branched above. Leaves scattered, alternate, lance-linear, lower ones dentate, edges lined with small hairs. Flower heads numerous, small, arranged in an irregular racemose form along the panicled branches. Florets numerous in each head, and very small; rays minute, forty or more, crowded; pappus simple. This plant is peculiar from the great size it will attain in rich soils; and from its flower-heads looking like a collection of light-green and round seeds, about the size of a very small pea, in an oblong and pyramidal panicle at the top of the plant.
This plant is common throughout the Middle and Northern States, and the Canadas, choosing neglected fields and the edges of woods, blooming in July and August, very tall, and not of an attractive appearance. It has an agreeable odor, and an astringent bitter taste. Its leading properties reside in a volatile oil, which is resident in both the leaves and flowers. This oil is very clear, scarcely tinted straw color, and of a penetrating and persistent odor that is rather agreeably aromatic.
Properties and Uses: The leaves and flowers are very diffusive, with stimulating and astringing qualities, both well marked. Their impressions are made with great promptness, but are transient; yet leave behind a gentle tonic impression. In warm infusion, they act chiefly toward the surface; but is cold infusion influence the kidneys. They have been used to most advantage in uterine and pectoral hemorrhages, in both of which they are excellent agents; and have also been used in sub-acute diarrhea, diabetes, and dropsical complaints, though of little consequence here. Their action on the kidneys is said to relieve painful micturation. For hemorrhages, they should be combined with more permanent agents, such as a small quantity of myrica, or with the composition powder. An ounce of the dried plant in a pint of warm (not boiling) water, makes an infusion of which a fluid ounce may be given every hour or half hour in hemorrhages, and every three or four hours in other cases. An extract is spoken of; but heat injures the plant too much to make such a preparation of any value. The dry powder is a good local styptic in hemorrhages.
The oil is probably one of the most diffusive stimulants in the Materia Medica acting upon the surface almost instantly, arousing the cutaneous capillary circulation, and giving a warm and prickling sensation over the entire skin. From two to four drops may be given on sugar, and repeated at intervals of an hour in which form it will be found one of the most prompt of all arresters of uterine hemorrhage. But it should not be depended upon for this purpose; as more permanent and positive articles should always be brought to bear as soon as they can be prepared, and this oil merely used as an adjuvant for two or three doses. In emergencies, two drops may be repeated ever fifteen minutes for two or three doses, till more positive remedies can be brought to bear, and then the use of the oil should cease.
This erigeron has usually been confounded with the species philadelphicum;but the latter article has longer ray florets an more oval leaves, and is a less valuable plant. They were introduced to the notice of the profession by Prof. Rafinesque in his Medical Flora of 1828, and by him greatly esteemed in chronic diarrhea, dropsy, painful menstruation, gravel, dropsy, suppressed menstruation, dry coughs, hemorrhages, etc.
The Physiomedical Dispensatory, 1869, was written by William Cook, M.D.
It was scanned by Paul Bergner at http://medherb.com