Tephrosia. Tephrosia virginiana (L.) Pers. Turkey Pea. Wild Pea. Catgut. Goat's Rue. Hoary Pea. Devil's Shoestring. Tephrosie, Fr., G. (Fam. Leguminosae.)—Several species of Cracca and Tephrosia are employed in different parts of the world, though unknown in general commerce. They are leguminous plants, shrubby or herbaceous, with odd-pinnate leaves and white or purplish racemed flowers. They are generally possessed of cathartic properties, their leaves or roots being employed. Plugge (Proc. A. Ph. A., 1897, 560) examined the root of T. macropoda and found a poisonous active principle, not identical with cytisine.
Hanriot isolated from T. vogellii, a crystalline principle, tephrosin, which occurs in small glistening crystals which are almost insoluble in water, slightly soluble in alcohol or glycerin, more readily soluble in acetone, and freely soluble in chloroform. Its formula is C34H26O10. Tephrosal, C10H16O. is a volatile, aromatic liquid, slightly soluble in water, more readily soluble in alcohol, ether, benzin, and chloroform. (T. C., li, 302.)
Tephrosia virginiana L. grows in most parts of the Eastern United States. It is a foot or two high, with pubescent stems and leaves and handsome terminal flowers. (See Griffith's Med. Bot., 237.) The roots, which are slender, long, and matted, are tonic and aperient, and are said to have been used by the Indians as a vermifuge, given in the form of decoction.
According to Holmes (P. J., 1910, lxxxiv) the T. vogelii is used in Africa as a fish poison. Its toxicity seems to be due to the neutral principle, tephrosin. There is no evidence as to its noxiousness for human beings.
The Dispensatory of the United States of America, 1918, was edited by Joseph P. Remington, Horatio C. Wood and others.