"The dried rhizome and roots of Agropyron repens (Linné) Beauvois (Fam. Gramineae), gathered in the spring." U. S. "Couch Grass is the dried rhizome of Agropyron repens, Beauv., freed from remains of leaves and rootlets." Br.
Agropyrum, Br.; Rhizoma Graminis; Radix Graminis; Quick-grass, Quitch, Scotch-grass, Twitch-grass, Witch-grass, Quickens; Chiendent officinal ou Petit chiendent, Fr. Cod.; Queckenwurzel, Grasswurzel, G.; Grama (Rizoma de), Sp.
This grass, originally a native of Europe, now abounds in meadows and cultivated grounds in the Northern United States, where it is often very troublesome as a weed. It is specifically characterized by its creeping rootstock, the leaves being flat, thin and finely veined, and the flowering glumes being glabrous or scabrous. It is probable that the rhizome of a number of other grasses share the medicinal properties of Agropyron repens. Of these the Scotch or Bermuda grass, Capriola Dactylon (L.) Kuntze, is probably as effective as the official species.
Much spurious triticum has appeared upon the market recently. Most of it can be readily distinguished from the official drug by the presence of starch in the spurious article.
Properties.—Triticum is officially described as follows: "Usually in pieces from 4 to 12 mm. in length and from 1 to 2.5 mm. in diameter; externally light yellow or yellowish-brown, longitudinally furrowed, smooth, lustrous, nodes with circular leaf-scars, a few root-scars and occasional slender roots; fracture tough, fibrous; internally lemon-yellow and with a large, hollow pith; odor slight, aromatic; taste sweetish. Roots filiform, irregularly branching, attaining a length of about 5 cm. and not more than 0.5 mm. in thickness, light brown or yellowish-brown, frequently covered with long root hairs. Under the microscope, transverse sections of Triticum show a single layer of strongly lignified epidermal cells; a hypodermis of from 3 to 6 rows of more or less polygonal cells with strongly lignified walls; a cortex of from 10 to 16 rows of thin-walled parenchyma cells, occasionally with nearly spherical starch grains about 0.005 mm. in diameter, or with irregular masses of a more or less soluble carbohydrate; among the parenchyma cells and near the hypodermis occur small, widely separated fibro-vascular bundles, each with a closed sheath of sclerenchymatous fibers; an endodermis, the lateral and inner walls of the cells moderately thickened, strongly lignified and somewhat porous; several layers of sclerenchymatous fibers immediately inside the endodermal ring, in which are imbedded an interrupted circle of collateral fibro-vascular bundles having large tracheas; adjoining these are usually 8 to 10 rows of parenchyma cells with a few fibro-vascular bundles and a pith in which the parenchyma cells are more or less broken or absent. The powder is light yellowish; consisting of irregular, lignified fragments; numerous fragments showing tracheae with annular or spiral thickenings or marked with simple pores and associated with long, narrow, rather thin-walled, strongly lignified sclerenchymatous fibers; fragments of epidermis made up of cells rectangular in outline, the longer walls considerably thickened, strongly lignified and marked with numerous transverse pores; ends of epidermal cells usually separated from each other by a very narrow cell with thin walls and few pores; numerous fragments of parenchyma rectangular in outline and with thin, porous walls. Triticum yields not more than 3 per cent. of ash." U. S.
"Rhizome pale yellow, rigid, from two to two and a half millimetres in diameter, usually in pieces from three to six millimetres long. Strongly furrowed longitudinally, hollow except at the nodes. Contains no starch. No odor; taste slightly sweet." Br.
The morphology of triticum has been described by Holm (M. R, xix, p. 65). Kebler reports (A. J. P., 1909, p. 75) the adulteration of triticum with Bermuda grass, by which he means probably Capriola Dactylon (L.) Kze., a grass which is naturalized in the United States from Europe and apparently widely distributed.
The Austrian Pharmacopoeia has a requirement of not less than 30 per cent. of aqueous extractive for this drug.
Uses.—Triticum is never exhibited for the purpose of affecting the general system, but only for its influence upon the genito-urinary organs. It is much used by some surgeons in irritable bladder, and also in cystitis. It is one of the least stimulant of the remedies of its class, and may be employed very freely. In Europe its decoction is said to be used to a considerable extent as a diluent and slightly nutritious drink. It may be taken ad libitum, or the fluidextract may be given in doses of a fluidrachm (3.75 mils) every three hours in five or six ounces of water.
The Dispensatory of the United States of America, 1918, was edited by Joseph P. Remington, Horatio C. Wood and others.