Fennel, Hog's

Medical Herbs Catalogue


Fennel, Hog's

Botanical Name: Peucedanum palustre (LINN.), Peucedanum officinale (LINN.)
Family: N.O. Compositae

Synonyms: Sow Fennel. Sulphurwort. Chucklusa. Hoar Strange. Hoar Strong. Brimstonewort. Milk Parsley. Marsh Parsley. Marsh Smallage.
(French) Persil des Marais.
(German) Sumpfsilge.
Part Used: Herb.

The Hog's Fennel, a native of Great Britain, though not commonly met with, is more closely allied to the dill than to the true Fennel, belonging to the same genus as the former.

The ordinary Hog's Fennel (Peucedanum officinale, Linn.) occurs, though somewhat rarely, in salt marshes on the eastern coast of England. It seems to have been less rare in the days of Culpepper, who states that it grows plentifully in the salt marshes near Faversham.

Description: It grows to a height of 3 or 4 feet, and is remarkable for its large umbels of yellow flowers, which are in bloom from July to September. Its leaves are cut into long narrow segments, hence perhaps its popular name of Hog's Fennel.

The thick root has a strong odour of sulphur - hence one of the other popular names of the plant, Sulphurwort, and when wounded in the spring, yields a considerable quantity of a yellowish-green juice, which dries into a gummy resin and retains the strong scent of the root.

This plant is now naturalized in North America, where in addition to the name of Sulphurwort, it is called Chucklusa.

Constituents: The active constituent of the root is Peucedanin, a very active crystalline principle, stated to be diuretic and emmenagogue.

Medicinal Action and Uses: Culpepper gives Hog's Fennel the name of Hoar Strange, Hoar Strong, Brimstonewort and Sulphurwort, and tells us, on the authority of Dioscorides and Galen, that - 'the juice used with vinegar and rose-water, or with a little Euphorbium put to the nose benefits those that are troubled with the lethargy, frenzy or giddiness of the head, the falling sickness, long and inveterate headache, the palsy, sciatica and the cramp, and generally all the diseases of the sinews, used with oil and vinegar. The juice dissolved in wine and put into an egg is good for a cough or shortness of breath, and for those that are troubled with wind. It also purgeth gently and softens hardness of the spleen.... A little of the juice dissolved in wine and dropped into the ears or into a hollow tooth easeth the pains thereof. The root is less effectual to all the aforesaid disorders, yet the powder of the root cleanseth foul ulcers, and taketh out splinters of broken bones or other things in the flesh and healeth them perfectly; it is of admirable virtue in all green wounds and prevents gangrene.' P. palustre, the Marsh Hog's Fennel, is also a rare plant, found in marshes in Yorks and Lincoln and a few other districts.

Its grooved stem grows 4 to 5 feet high, bears white flowers and abounds in a milky juice which dries to a brown resin. The root is, when dried, of a brown colour externally, having a strong aromatic odour and an acrid, pungent, aromatic taste.

The resin in it has been found, by Peschier, to contain a volatile oil, a fixed oil and a peculiar acid which he named Selinic. It has been used as a substitute for ginger in Russia and has been employed in that country as a remedy for epilepsy, having the same stimulating qualities as the former species, the dose given being from 20 to 30 grains thrice daily, rapidly increased to four times the amount.