Description: Natural Order, Compositae. Coarse weeds, found near barn-yards and other rich soils. Stem erect, stout, brandling, rough, from one to two feet high in good soil, from six to ten inches in thin soil. Leaves alternate, on long petioles, dilated-triangular, cut-toothed or even lobed. Sterile and fertile flowers occupying different heads on the same plant; sterile in short spicate racemes at the top of the branches, arranged much as in ambrosia; fertile clustered below, involucre closed so as to form a rough burr that is tough and covered with hooked prickles; the burr half an inch or more in length, ovoid-oblong, two-celled, two-flowered, pubescent between the prickles, with two strong beaks at the summit. This species passes into several varieties, some of which are very common westward.
Properties and Uses: The leaves of this ungainly-looking weed are stimulant relaxants, bitterish, and moderately diffusive in action. The profession has scarcely paid any attention to them; but they are among the truly valuable diffusive nervines, and deserve careful consideration. An infusion of an ounce to a quart of hot water makes a mild diaphoretic that will be found of decided value in colic, restlessness, painful menstruation, and even extreme forms of nervousness and actual hysteria. Such an infusion may also be used in measles, and combined with asclepias in typhoid and erysipelas; in which maladies it aids a full outward circulation, and greatly relieves the nervous irritability. Cold preparations are equally valuable in nervous affections, and exert a mild tonic impression. From my own use of these leaves, confirmed by the experience of Drs. Tyrrell, Overholt, and others, I feel justified in urging this plant upon the notice of the profession, as one that promises to be a peculiarly valuable nervine.
The Physiomedical Dispensatory, 1869, was written by William Cook, M.D.
It was scanned by Paul Bergner at http://medherb.com