English Name—BROADLEAF COLLINSONIA.
French Name—Collinsone du Canada.
German Name—Canadische Collinsonie.
Vulgar Names—Richweed, Richleaf, Heal-all, Horseweed, Knot-root, Stone-root, Knot-weed, &c.
Authorities—Lin. Mich. Pursh, Schoepf, Mease, &c.
Genus COLLINSONIA—Calix campanulate, bilabiate, five toothed. Corolla tubulose, limbus unequal sub-bilabiate, campanulate, upper lip very short, notched, lower lip fringed. Stamina two or four, or rather four, two of which are often sterile, or without anthers. One pistil, one style, stigma lateral. Fruit four seeds, often only one or two by abortion—Leaves opposite, flowers terminal panicled, commonly yellowish.
Species C. CANADENSIS—Smooth; leaves few, ample, petiolate, cordate, serrate, acuminate: panicle lax, teeth of the calix subulate, equal to the tube of the corolla, two fertile stamina.
Description—Root perennial, knotty, depressed, hard with many slender fibres—Stem simple, round, straight, about two feet high.—Only two or three pairs of large thin leaves, on long petioles, cordate at the base, broadly ovate, acuminate, with broad teeth, surface smooth, with small veins.
Inflorescence in a terminal leafless panicle, formed by branched racemes—Flowers opposite on long peduncles, with short subulate bracteoles. Calix campanulate, with five subulate teeth, forming two lips, the lower lip is longer and with two segments. Corolla yellowish, tubular at the base, spreading above in two lips; the upper lip is very short and notched, the lower lip is lobed on the sides, and fringed around. Two long protruding stamina, filaments filiform, anthers oval. Style protruding. Seeds often abortive, and only one ripening.
History—Collinsonia is a genus peculiar to North America, and dedicated to Collinson, an English botanist and philosopher. It was at first formed by this single species, but has since been increased by many others, which have all the same habit: whereby the genus is easily distinguished from the Salvia (Sage), Monarda and Lycopus, genera belonging to the same natural order of LABIATE, and section of Diandrous. But this genus offers the anomaly of having some tetrandrous species: wherefore it might be placed both in Diandria, Tetrandria or Didynamia of Linnaeus!
The species with four stamina are C. Anisata, C. longiflora & C. Verticillaris fl. ludov. They must of course form a peculiar subgenus, which I have called Hypogon; and perhaps consistency requires to make a genus of it, in order to obviate the anomaly in classification. However, they all possess the same qualities and properties, as well as the striking habit of large leaves and panicled fringed flowers often yellow.
The C. canadensis is a handsome estival plant, blossoming from July to September.
Locality—Found from Canada to Carolina, in woods; rare towards the south and confined to rich valleys; very common in the mountains of Pennsylvania and New York. It disappears west of the mountains; but is replaced by other congeneric species.
Qualities—The whole plant has a strong balsamic smell, somewhat similar to that of Salvia Sclarea: it is sweeter and stronger in the blossoms and worse in the root. It affords by distillation an essential oil, possessing the same smell. The taste is pungeut and warm.
Properties—Vulnerary, coroborant, carminative, subtonic, diuretic, and a warm stimulant. It appears to combine the properties of Sage, Mint and Woundwort: (Anthyllis Vulneraria) therefore it may be substituted to them. It is one of the plants called Heal-all, in the United States, because they cure sores and wounds: the Indians employ this plant for that purpose. In the mountains and hills of Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee and Carolina, this genus is considered as a panacea, and used outwardly and inwardly in many disorders; it is applied in poultice and wash for bruises, sores, blows, falls, wounds, sprains, contusions, and taken like tea for head aches, cholics, cramps, dropsy, indigestion, &c. The whole plants are used, both fresh and dry: they are also employed for the sore-backs of horses.
According to Schoepf, it is useful in the dumb fever, lochial cholic, bites of snakes, and for rheumatic pains, in strong frictions of the leaves. Dr. Mease relates that the root infused in cider has cured the dropsy.
Substitutes—Acorus Calamus—Aniseed—Salvia or Sage—Monarda or Horsemint—Mentha or Mint—Cunila or Dittany—and many other labiate plants.—For sores Baptisia tinctoria—Solanum Virginicum—Galax rotundifolia, &c.
Remarks—All the other species of this genus have the same smell, taste and properties: they are equally employed. The C. anisata has a finer smell, somewhat similar to aniseed, by which it may be easily known. The other species are so much alike as to be easily blended, or taken for each other. They have, however, narrower leaves, often hairy: and the C. tuberosa has a larger softer root.
The most common and officinal in Kentucky, Ohio &c, is a new species, which I have called C. angustifolia; it is about a foot high, has smooth lanceolate or oblong leaves, three inches long, acute at both ends, margin crenate serrate; racemes slender, flowers small, yellowish, teeth of the calix acute, shorter than the tube; corolla less fringed than in the others; two long stamina.
Additions and corrections
23. COLLINSONIA CANADENSIS—Sometimes called Horsebalm in the north. The C. anisata is called Anise-root in the West and used for flatulency.
Medical Flora, or Manual of the Medical Botany of the United States of North America, 1828, was written by C. S. Rafinesque.