The root of Osmorrhiza longistylis, De Candolle (Uraspermum Claytoni, Nuttall).
COMMON NAMES: Sweet cicely, Smoother sweet cicely.
Botanical Source.—This plant has a perennial, thick, fleshy, branching root, of an agreeable, aromatic flavor, and an erect, nearly smooth stem, branching above, and from 2 to 3 feet high. The leaves are large, decompound, the ultimate divisions often pinnate; radical leaves on long, slender petioles, cauline sessile. The leaflets are irregularly divided by clefts and sinuses into lobes and teeth; the lobes broadly ovate and slightly pubescent. The flowers are white, in axillary and terminal umbels, about 5-rayed; central ones barren, outer ones fertile. Calyx-margin obsolete; petals oblong, nearly entire, with a short inflexed point. Involucres of linear bracts longer than the rays. The style is as long as the villose germ, filiform, erect, and deflexed. The fruit is linear-oblong, about an inch in length, angled, tapering downward into a stalk-like base, contracted at the sides, blackish, and crowned with the persistent styles. Carpels with 5 equal, acute, upwardly bristly ribs; commissure with a deep, bristly channel; intervals without vittae (W.—G.).
History and Chemical Composition.—This plant grows in various parts of the United States, in rich moist woods, on the sides of low meadows, on the banks of running streams, and on the borders of low woodlands. It flowers in May and June. The root is the part employed; it has a sweet smell and taste, resembling anise seed. By distillation of the root with water, L. Eberhardt (Pharm. Rundschau, 1887, p. 149) obtained 0.63 per cent of an oil heavier than water, of specific gravity, 1.0114 at 10° C. (50° F.). The oil solidified at 10° to 12° C. (50° to 53.6° F.), and was chiefly composed of anethol (see Oleum Anisi). The air-dry root contained about 12 per cent of moisture, much sugar, some fat, resin, tannin, but no alkaloids. The ash referred to dried substance was 4.6 per cent. Mr. H. L. Green (Amer. Jour. Pharm., 1882, p. 149) records 68.5 per cent of moisture in the fresh root.
Action, Medical Uses, and Dosage.—Sweet cicely is aromatic, stomachic, carminative and expectorant. Useful in coughs, flatulence, and as a gentle stimulant tonic to debilitated stomachs; the fresh root may be eaten freely, or it may be used in infusion with brandy or water.
King's American Dispensatory, 1898, was written by Harvey Wickes Felter, M.D., and John Uri Lloyd, Phr. M., Ph. D.