French Name—Eupatoire Percefeuille.
German Name—Durchwachsener Wasserdost.
Officinal Name—Eupatorium perfoliatum.
Vulgar Names—Thorough-wort, Boneset, Joe-pye, Teazel, Feverwort, Sweating-plant, Thoroughstem, Crosswort, Indian Sage, Agueweed, Thoroughwax, Vegetable Antimony.
Synonym—E. connatum Michaux.
Authorities—Lin. Mich. Pursh, Colden, Schoepf, Cutler, Stokes, B. Barton, Torrey, Eaton, Elliott, Thatcher, Coxe, Anderson, Guthrie, Burson, A. Ives, all the Dispens, and Mat. Med. Bigelow, fig. 2 and Sequel, W. Barton, fig. 37.
Genus EUPATORIUM—Flowers compound flosculose. Perianthe imbricate, unequal, oblong or cylindric. Phoranthe naked. Floscules five toothed, Style exserted bifid. Seeds oblong angular. Pappus subplumose.—Leaves commonly opposite or verticillate, flowers corymbose.
Species E. PERFOLIATUM—Stemvillose, cylindric; leaves opposite connate-perfoliate, oblong, tapering, acute, serrulate, rugose above, tomentose beneath: flowers with a dozen of floscules.
Description—Root perennial, horizontal, crooked, with scanty fibres, and sending up many Stems, which are upright, simple at the base, branched above in a trichotome form, forming a depressed corymb; from two to five feet high, round, covered with flexuose hairs; the whole plant has a greyish green color, and even the flowers are of a dull white. Leaves opposite, decussate, connate at the base, or united to each other there, where broadest, and gradually tapering to a sharp point, from three to eight inches long, narrow oblong, rough above, woolly beneath, margin serrulate, upper leaves often sessile, not united.
Inflorescence in a dense depressed terminal Corymb formed by smaller fastigate corymbs, peduncles hairy, as well as the perianthe or common calix, each inclosing from twelve to fifteen floscules or florets, Seales lanceolate acute, florets tubulose white, five black anthers united into a tube. Seeds black, prismatic, oblong, base acute, pappus with scabrous hairs.
History—A very striking plant, easily recognized among all others, even when not in bloom, by its connate leaves, perforated by the Stem, as in the Teazel or Dipsacus fullonum. It belongs to a genus containing nearly one hundred species, all very different from this except the E. sessilifolium which is nearly alike, but has smooth Stems, leaves rounded at the base, not united nor tomentose, flowers whiter, whereby they will be easily distinguished.
One half of the Species grow in America, and many have medical properties; but this appears the most efficient, and being also best known, deserves a preference, although several are useful substitutes in some cases. It is by no means a handsome plant, while many congeneric are quite elegant plants, introduced into many gardens, such are the E. celestinum with beautiful azure blossoms, common all along the western streams, and the E. purpureum with large purple flowers, on a stem five to eight feet high, with whorled leaves.
The genus belongs to the great Natural Order of CORYMBOSE plants, family Flosculose, or to Syngenesia Equalis of Linnaeus. It takes its name from Mithridates Eupator, an ancient eastern king; it was first given to the E. cannabinum, the Asiatic and European species, whose medical powers were made known by him; it is an emetic, purgative and alterative like this.
They are all autumnal plants: this blossoms from August to October.
Locality—Common in swamps, marshes, and near streams, from Maine to Florida, and from Ohio to Louisiana: where it appears to have been stationed by the benevolence of nature, wherever men are liable to local fevers. It is found also in Nova Scotia, Canada, Missouri, Arkansas, &c.
Qualities—The whole plant, roots, stems, leaves, and flowers are intensely bitter, but not astringent; they have a peculiar flavor and faint smell. They have been analized by Anderson, Bigelow and Laurence, and found to contain Extractive, Amarine, a gum, a resin, an acid similar to the gallic, Acetate of lime, some azote and tannin, and lastly a peculiar substance Eupatorine, brown, bitter, resiniform, soluble in water and alcohol, forming sulfates, nitrates, &c.
Properties—A valuable sudorific, tonic, alterative, antiseptic, cathartic, emetic, febrifuge, corroborant, diuretic, astringent, deobstruent and stimulant. It was one of the most powerful remedies of the native tribes for fevers, &c. It has been introduced extensively into practice all over the country from New England to Alabama, and inserted in all our medical works, although writers differ as to the extent of its effects. It appears to be superior to Anthemis nobilis or Camomile as a sudorific tonic, and preferable to Barks in the treatment of the local autumnal fevers of the country, near Streams, Lakes and Marshes. I have seen them cured efficiently by it when other tonics failed. It acts somewhat like Antimony, without the danger attending the use of this mineral. The cold preparations are powerful tonics and do not produce emesis as an over-dose of the warm decoction. It acts powerfully on the skin and removes obstinate cutaneous diseases. It has cured the following disorders in many instances, Intermittent and remittent fevers; petechial or spotted fever, called also malignant or typhoid pleurisy; diseases of general debility, Ascites, Anasarca, Anorexia, and debility arising from intemperance; acute and chronic rheumatism; violent catarrhs; bilious and typhus fever, particularly low typhus, incident to marshy places, and attended with a hot and dry skin; also influenza, the Lake fever similar to the yellow fever, and the yellow fever itself; ring-worms, and Tinea Capites, Dropsy, Gout and Syphilitic pains: dyspepsia and complaints of the Stomach, and Bites of Snakes.
This plant may be so managed as to act as a tonic, a sudorific, a laxative or an emetic, as required. No other tonic of equal activity can be exhibited in fevers, with less danger of increasing excitement or producing congestion: the only objection to its general use is its nauseous and disagreeable taste. In substance or cold decoction, and combined with aromatics it becomes very efficient in intermittents and dyspeptic disorders: it strengthens the viscera and restores tone to the system. The doses of the powder are from ten to twenty grains, the decoction and infusion from one to three ounces. No unpleasant effects follow the cold preparations.
Ample accounts of the beneficial effects of this plant, are to be found in all our medical Works. Burson says that in Anorexia consequent to drunkenness, a cold infusion has speedily restored the tone of the stomach. Zollickoffer extols it as an alterative remedy in tinea capites, united to cremor tartar and sugar, two spoonfuls given three times a-day. Thatcher says that the cold infusion cures bilious cholic with obstinate constipation, a tea-cup full every half hour producing a cathartic effect. The warm infusion causes a copious perspiration, and often becomes a safe and certain emetic. Chapman relates that it cured the kind of Infiuenza called Breakbone fever, acting as a diaphoretic, whence its popular name of Boneset. The name of Joepye is given to it, and to E. purpureum, in New England from an Indian of that name, who cured typhus with it, by a copious perspiration. Eberle says that catarrhal fevers may be removed by drinking a weak infusion of it in going to bed. It is particularly useful in the Indigestion of old people: and may be used as an auxiliary to other tonics and emetics in all cases. The extract and syrup preserve all the properties, and are less disagreeable to the palate.
Substitutes—Anthemis nobilis and Cotula—Matricaria Camomila—Marrubiurn Vulgare or Common Horehound—Asclepias tuberosa—Leptandra—Botrophis—Yarrow, Tansey and Sassafras, &c. Besides the following species of the same Genus.
1. E. teucrifolium or Rough Boneset (Wild horehound, &c.) has rough sessile ovate leaves, with some teeth at the base, the flowers white with five florets. Common from New England to Georgia.—Milder, less bitter and disagreeable than the former, a larger dose may be given, chiefly used in the South, in bilious remittent fevers, when Barks are inadmissible, dose two or four ounces of the infusion made by one ounce in a quart of water.
2. E. purpureum or Purple Boneset (Joepye, Gravel root, &c.) Stem hollow, rough, five to six feet high, leaves whorled, four to five, petiolate, lanceolate, serrate, rugose: flowers purple, many florets—In meadows and near streams from New England to Kentucky. It has the same properties as E. perfoliatum, has been used in fevers and gravel, &c.
3. E. verticillatum or Tall Boneset (Joepye, &c.) Stem solid, smooth, five to eight feet high, leaves whorled three to five, sessile, ovate-lanceolate, base attenuate, unequally serrate, smooth: flowers purplish with many florets—With E. purpureum, same properties often blended together.
4. E. maculatum or Spotted Boneset. Stem solid sulcate, spotted; leaves petiolate, ovate-lanceolate, pubescent beneath, four to five in a whorls—With the last, Stem four to five feet high.
5. E. trifoliatum or Wood Boneset. Stem solid, leaves petiolate, ternate, ovate, acuminate, serrate, punctate, rough.—In woods from New England to Kentucky, Stem three to four feet high.
6. E. sessilifolium or Bastard Boneset. Described above, common in dry and hilly grounds, while the E. perfoliatum is always found in damp and low grounds.
7. E. urticefolium or Deerwort Boneset, Leaves opposite, petiolate, ovate, serrate, similar to nettle leaves, flowers white, many floscules.—In woods, exceedingly common in the Western States, eaten by Deer.
8. E. violaceum, Violet Boneset. Leaves opposite, petiolate, cordate, toothed, undulate, pubescent.—In Louisiana, Alabama, &c. a beautiful species with fine blossoms of a violet color, deserving to be cultivated. These and many others are much weaker than the three first.
Medical Flora, or Manual of the Medical Botany of the United States of North America, 1828, was written by C. S. Rafinesque.