Botanical Source.—This plant is a perennial whose stem reaches a height of from 1 to 2 feet, and has pale-green, smooth, lance-linear, crowded, sessile, alternate leaves. The flowers, yellow and orange in color, are dense and imbricate, and borne in a showy terminal spike or raceme. The corolla is personate and its base extended into a spur. The calyx is smooth and not so long as the curved spur.
History.—Linaria is a native of Europe, but is naturalized in this country, where it is common in waste places, and sometimes becomes so plentiful in fields as to become a nuisance. When fresh the plant has a nauseously unpleasant odor, which it loses for the most part upon drying. Its taste is subacrid, bitter, and slightly saline. It should be gathered when in bloom, which is in July and August, quickly and carefully dried, and placed in close containers protected from light and air. A yellow coloring substance (anthokirrin) was obtained by Rigel, in 1843, from the blossoms. Walz, in 1854, isolated antirrhinic acid (a peculiar volatile substance); linarosmin (an oily residue from the distillation with water); bitter crystalline linariin, an acrid resin linaracrin, and tannic and citric acids, gum, sugar, mineral matters, etc.
Action, Medical Uses, and Dosage.—This plant is recommended for "bad blood," splenic and hepatic hypertrophies, jaundice, skin diseases, and scrofula. An ointment prepared by covering 1 part of the bruised fresh plant with 10 parts of hot lard or mutton tallow, forms a soothing application for hemorrhoids and similar conditions. A strong tincture (℥viii to alcohol 98 per cent Oj), may be given in doses of a fraction of a drop to 10 drops. A decoction is prepared from 1 ounce of the plant to 1 pint of water.
King's American Dispensatory, 1898, was written by Harvey Wickes Felter, M.D., and John Uri Lloyd, Phr. M., Ph. D.