Snakeroot, Buttonotanical: Liatris spicata (WILLD.)
Family: N.O. Compositae
Synonyms: Gay Feather. Devil's Bite. Colic Root.
Part Used: Root.
Habitat: Southern Ontario southwards.
Description: An indigenous perennial composite plant, growing in moist fields and grounds, found from Southern Ontario and Minnesota southwards. Root tuberous; has a herbaceous erect stem, which in August gives a beautiful spike of crimson-purple compound flowers. The odour of the root is terebinic, taste bitterish; the plant grows well in the author's garden at Chalfont St. Peter.
Medicinal Action and Uses: Useful for its diuretic properties and as a local application for sore throat and gonorrhoea, for which it is exceedingly efficacious. Being an active diuretic it is valuable in the treatment of Bright's disease. Its agreeable odour is due to Coumarin, which may be detected on the surface of its spatulate leaves.
Dosage: A decoction is taken three or four times daily in 2-OZ. doses.
Other Species: Several varieties of Liatris are largely used in Southern United States to flavour tobacco, and are said to keep moths away from clothing. All varieties are active diuretics, and L. squarrosa (syn. 'Rattlesnake Master') has been utilized to cure rattlesnakebite.