Pimpinella. N. F. IV. Pimpernel Root. Pimpinella Saxifraga L. Small Burnet Saxifrage. Saxifraga. Radix Pimpinelice, P. G. Grand Boucage, Fr. Pimpinell, Bibernell, G.—" The dried rhizome and roots of Pimpinella Saxifraga Linné, or Pimpinella magna Linné (Fam. Umbelliferae)." N. F.
This is a perennial umbelliferous European plant growing on sunny hills, and in dry meadows and pastures. It is also naturalized, growing along roadsides and in waste places in the northern United States and Canada. The root has a strong, aromatic, yet unpleasant odor, and a sweetish, pungent, biting, aromatic, bitterish taste. Pimpinella is described by the N. F. as "cylindrical or slightly tapering, from 10 to 20 cm. in length and from 1 to 1.5 cm. in diameter at the crown, frequently branching, sometimes split longitudinally or broken into pieces; the upper or rhizome portion annulate, with undeveloped stem buds and a few attached stem remains which should not be over 5 cm. in length; roots longitudinally wrinkled, slightly annulate, cortex thin, easily detached; fracture short when dry, tough and flexuous when damp; externally light yellowish-brown; internally porous; cortex broad and whitish with numerous groups of projecting radial bast fibers and reddish-brown oleoresin cells; wood yellowish, usually with a few indistinct fibers, medullary rays interrupted, cambium zone distinct. Odor aromatic; taste sweetish, pungent and acrid.
"The powdered drug, when examined under the microscope, shows numerous simple or two- to four-compound starch grains, the individual grains being from 0.004 to 0.01 mm. in diameter; secretion canals from 0.05 to 0.06 mm. in diameter; tracheae reticulate or scalariform, from 0.035 to 0.07 mm. in breadth; fibers, thin-walled numerous, thick-walled with simple pores few (P. magna).
"Pimpinella yields not more than 5 per cent. of ash." N. F.
Its active constituents are volatile oil and an acrid resin. The yellow volatile oil has an odor recalling parsley, and a biting taste. Buchheim obtained from .the alcoholic extract a crystalline principle, which he called pimpinellin, C13H10O5. It is insoluble in water and petroleum ether, but soluble in alcohol. It is considered diaphoretic, diuretic, and stomachic, and has been used in chronic catarrh, asthma, dropsy, amenorrhea, etc. The dose in substance is about half a drachm (2.0 Gm.), and in infusion two drachms (7.7 Gm.). The root is used also as a local stimulant in toothache, etc.
The Dispensatory of the United States of America, 1918, was edited by Joseph P. Remington, Horatio C. Wood and others.