Bulletin No. 45
By B. V. CHRISTENSEN, Ph.D.
Professor of Pharmacognosy and Pharmacology
and Director of Medicinal Plant Garden,
College of Pharmacy, University of Florida.
STATE OF FLORIDA
Department of Agriculture
NATHAN MAYO, Commissioner
Prepared and Published in Co-operation with the College of
Pharmacy, University of Florida,
T. J. APPLEYARo, INC., TALLAHASSEE, FLORIDA
FLORIDA EXPERIMENT STATION
GAINESVILLE, FLCP!_O A
Figures 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, 7, 8, 9, and 11 are reproductions from
Millspaugh-American Medicinal Plants and used by permission
of the publishers, Boericke & Tafel, Philadelphia. Figures 10,
12 and 16 are from photographs taken by E. T. Stuhr, formerly
half-time graduate instructor in this College. Figures 13 and
14 are from photographs taken by L. D. Hiner and figure 17
from a photograph by H. W. Werner, staff members of the
Faculty of the College of Pharmacy. Figure 5 is used thru
the courtesy of Parke, Davis & Co., Detroit, Michigan. To these
I wish to hereby express my sincere thanks.
The large number of letters received by the College of Phar-
macy, University of Florida, requesting information regarding
native medicinal plants, how to identify them, methods of col-
lecting and preparing for market and dealers in crude drugs,
have indicated the need for a bulletin of this type.
This bulletin is not intended to be a scientific treatise on drugs.
Technical language is avoided as far as possible and the terms
used are such that the average individual interested should
be able to understand. The methods for collecting arid curing
drugs herein suggested have been found by experience to be
practical but other methods which may be time-saving and pro-
duce equally good results may be developed by the ingenious
collector: This bulletin is designed to give the average layman
enough information to enable him to collect and place on the
market a good quality of crude drug.
Some of the crude drugs herein mentioned are now being col-
lected in this and other states, some are being imported from
abroad, and in turn some are also exported to other countries
and thus form important items of commerce. The prices paid
to collectors for many crude drugs are not great and probably
would not tempt many to take up this line of work as a business.
However, the collection of crude drugs is a means of earning
some extra cash and may furnish an important source of income
if given deserved attention. This work can be done by farmers
during spare time and much of it can be done by women and
children. There are some instances where families in this state
have tided over crucial financial situations by collecting plant
drugs for market.
THE collector should first be sure that he is collecting the
right plant; hence, brief descriptions and figures are in-
cluded to aid in making proper identification.
The collector should next observe the proper season for col-
lection. The constituents of plants as well as the percentages
of various constituents vary somewhat according to the season
and hence, if collected at the wrong time, crude drugs may be
inferior in quality and of poor appearance. Shrinkage in weight
during the drying process may also be greater if collected out
All crude drugs, such as herbs, roots, leaves, barks, flowers
and seeds, should be carefully and thoroly dried, otherwise they
may mold or decay and thus be rejected by the dealer. They
should also be clean and free from foreign material, such as
stones or other plants or plant parts, that is, stems should not
be mixed with leaves, etc. Adulteration, whether intentional
or not, detracts from the quality of the crude drug and may
result in rejection or reduction in price.
Color is an important consideration with most crude drugs
and a bright, clean, natural color is particularly desirable in
leaves, herbs and flowers and adds to the salability and price.
Hence, such drugs should be carefully dried in the shade and
exposure to dew or rain carefully avoided.
Crude drugs are sometimes attacked by insects. This may
be prevented and insects may be destroyed by packing drugs in
closed bins or in clean, tight barrels and adding a few drops of
Most of the drugs herein mentioned are packed in clean,
strong burlap. Small quantities may be packed in cardboard
cartons and roots are frequently packed in clean barrels. In
handling dried leaves and herbs care should be taken to prevent
loss from breaking, crumbling and powdering.
An attic over the kitchen is a very good place in which to dry
crude drugs, especially if the kitchen below is heated with a
stove. A circulation of air may be provided by open windows
and the heat from the sun on the roof and from the kitchen be-
low will keep the air well warmed and dry. Drying racks or
shelves, as described later, may be constructed or the drugs may
be spread on the floor or suspended from the rafters. In the
attic, drugs will also be protected from direct sunlight and from
rain and dew.
It is important to give some attention to drying temperatures.
It has been found that when fresh crude drugs are subjected
DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
to a temperature of about 750 F. at the beginning of the drying
process and this temperature gradually raised to about 1200 F.
that a very good product is obtained. This is difficult to con-
trol without a controlled heating and ventilating system but can
be regulated to some extent by opening or closing ventilators
and windows when the drying is done indoors. For instance,
in an attic, windows may be opened during the first few days
of the drying process and then gradually closed to retain heat
as the drying process continues. In the case of flowers and
drugs containing constituents affected by heat the temperature
should not exceed 950 F. and a temperature around 80 F.
is much better.
After drugs have been dried sufficiently they may be arranged
in thicker layers or bunched to provide room for a fresh sup-
ply. When thoroly dried they should be packed in bags, bales
or cartons and stored in a dry, cool place.
COLLECTION AND CURING
Roots.-Roots of perennials should be collected in this state
during the fall, winter and early spring before growth begins.
(Roots of annuals are collected just before the plant flowers
and of biennials in the fall of the second year. None of either
are listed in this bulletin.)
All roots should be carefully washed in clean water. It pays
to do this for the dealer will usually pay a better price for
clean roots of good color. They are then carefully dried by
spreading thinly upon trays, racks, shelves or clean floors and
turned occasionally to permit uniform drying. After they have
been partially dried they may be spread in thicker layers to
make room for more. Drying trays are recommended. These
may be made by making a frame, about 2 x 3 ft., from 4-inch
strips and then tacking a piece of wire screen on the bottom.
The screen permits a free circulation of air around the drug
and these trays are easily handled. They may be placed on
wires or boards attached in tiers to the rafters in the attic and
thus provide a large amount of drying space. These trays may
also be used out of doors.
It is not advisable to dry roots in direct sunlight although
this is sometimes done. The sun hardens the outer layer and
thus slows the movement of the moisture from the inner part
of the root and also takes out the color in some cases. They
may be placed in the sun to complete thoro drying. If dried
out of doors, they should be protected from dew and rain.
Large roots are usually broken into pieces or sliced before
drying. Where this is advisable it is mentioned in the discus-
sion of the drug. The drying process usually requires from
MEDICINAL PLANTS IN FLORIDA
three to six weeks and when thoroly dry the roots will readily
snap when bent.
Leaves.-Leaves are usually collected when the plant is in
full bloom. This may be done by cutting or pulling up the
plant and then stripping the leaves off or by stripping the
leaves from the standing plant. Frequently the plant is cut
and suspended head downward by hooking a branch or leaf
stalk over a wire and the leaves stripped off when dry. The
method used depends on the preference and facilities of the
collector. If they are stripped off green they are dried by
spreading thinly on trays, shelves or floors and occasionally
turned, day by day, until fairly well dried. After fairly well
dried they may be rearranged in thicker layers or bunched to
make room for fresh leaves. Leaves should always be dried in
the shade as it is essential that they retain their green color
Leaves are sometimes tied in small bundles, similar to to-
bacco leaves, and suspended to dry. If it is desired to follow
this method, the collector should first experiment with a few
bundles in order to learn about how large a bundle can be safely
made. Large bundles do not permit free circulation of air and
hence, the leaves will turn black and make an undesirable
product for the market. If leaves are placed in bunches on trays
they will also turn black, hence, they should always be spread
out thin and turned frequently. Avoid dew and rain.
If it is necessary to wash leaves, this should be done while
they are fresh and green. In such case it is advisable to cut
the whole plant and rinse in clean water, then shake the free
water off and suspend top downward to dry. Leaves should
not be washed unless it is absolutely essential. Usually sand and
dirt may be shaken off or brushed off when dry, or dirty leaves
may be rejected.
Herbs.-The term "herb" is used here to indicate the above-
ground parts of a plant, i. e.,, leaves, stems and flowers. Herbs
are collected when the plant is in full bloom. The plant is cut
or pulled up and then suspended top downward in a well aired,
shady place to dry. They may be spread out in thin layers on
trays, shelves or floors and turned frequently during the drying
It is advisable to reject the large and coarse stems and retain
the smaller stems, the leaves and flowering tops. The coarse
stems may be trimmed off when fresh or after drying, accord-
ing to the convenience of the collector. Herbs should always
be dried in shade as it is essential that the green color be re-
tained just as in leaves. Protect carefully from dew and rain.
8 DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
Herbs should not be washed unless necessary and in such
case, follow the directions for washing leaves.
Baxks.-Barks should be collected in the fall, during the
winter or early spring before growth takes place. This is the
period when barks contain the greatest amount of active medici-
In the collection of barks, the destruction of the tree should be
avoided as far as possible. Barks of stems may be collected in
alternate strips from the standing tree and a continuous and
future supply thus assured. When barks of roots are collected
it may be necessary to grub out the tree, but in many cases
some of the roots may be cut close to the base of the tree and
pulled out and some of the roots left to feed the tree and give
it an opportunity to grow new roots. In the case of rhizomes,
it is always advisable to leave a few in the ground to allow for
the growth of new plants. A careful observance of these sug-
gestions will insure collectors a regular and continuous supply
and in the course of a few years will prove much more profitable
than the complete destruction of plants in the first collection.
There are various methods of collecting barks. The first,
suggested above, is to collect from the standing tree. To do
this, cross incisions an inch or more wide are made a couple
of feet, or more, apart and then the bark peeled off. Then,
leaving a strip, cut out another in the same manner. Usually
the tree will grow a new bark over the exposed strip and then
the strips left the first time may be peeled off. Hence, in a
few years new bark may be ready so that the process may be
repeated. If the whole plant is grubbed out it would be ad-
visable to plant another to replace it.
The barks of branches and roots are usually collected by
making long, lengthwise incisions and then slipping the bark
off. Pounding with a mallet may help to loosen the bark and
permit easier peeling. The outer bark of some stems is rough,
irregular and corky and of no value medicinally. This is shaved
off before the bark is peeled.
After collection the bark is dried by placing on trays, shelves
or floors or strung on wires. Barks may be dried in direct sun-
light but should be protected from dew and rain.
Barks are usually cut or broken into quills or chips. This
may be done while fresh or after drying, depending on the kind
and character of the bark. Directions for cutting or breaking
are given in the discussion for each bark drug.
Flowers.-Flowers are gathered when freshly opened or in
full bloom. A natural color and odor are very essential in
flowers and hence, it is inadvisable to include old or faded
MEDICINAL PLANTS IN FLORIDA 9
flowers. In most cases the flower head only is desired and hence,
stems and other plant parts should be rejected.
They are usually collected by cutting off the flowering branch
and then stripping or clipping off the individual flowers or
flower heads and dropping in a basket. They are then placed
on trays, shelves or floors to dry according to the directions
given for leaves. Flowers should always be dried in the shade
and protected from moisture. Excessive heat should be avoided
as this will drive off the aroma and thus reduce the value and
MARKETING CRUDE DRUGS
When crude drugs are ready for market, the collector should
prepare fair samples of each kind on hand and send it to two
or three dealers for quotation of prices. The collector should
also state the quantity of each drug on hand, ask for exact
shipping directions and enclose postage for reply. He should
be careful to mark each sample plainly with his name and ad-
dress and the name of the drug. The size of the sample depends
on the drug but as a rule, 5 or 6 ounces should be sent. A fair
sample should be submitted for dealers always inspect ship-
ments when received even tho samples have been previously
Collectors should never send an entire lot of drugs to dealers
without previous correspondence. Freight is an important item,
hence, it is usually advisable to correspond with the nearest
dealers. However, this is a matter where the collector must
exercise his judgment. Where small lots only have been col-
lected several collectors may ship together and thus reduce pack-
ing and shipping expenses.
It is always advisable to ask for prices F. 0. B. shipping
point. The collector will thus know exactly how much he can
get for his drugs.
The prices paid for crude drugs fluctuate according to de-
mand and supply just as prices for other products. Hence, the
prices given in this bulletin may have changed by the time it is
printed. The prices are mentioned, however, for the purpose
of giving an idea as to what may be expected for these drugs.
CRUDE DRUG DEALERS
It would be impossible as well as unnecessary to give here a
complete list of all crude drug dealers in the United States or
even in the South. The list given is considered sufficient to
enable collectors to find a regular and reliable market. There
10 DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
may be local dealers to whom crude drugs may be disposed of
to good advantage but since we have no means of determining
where all such dealers are located we cannot list such buyers.
However, if the name and address of local dealers are made
known to us, we shall be glad to refer collectors to them in the
The dealers listed herewith are classified as to the kinds of
drugs they handle.
All Crude Drugs
Peninsular Crude Drug Co., Box 537, Jacksonville, Florida.
S. B. Penick & Co., Drug Collection Depot, Asheville, N. Caro-
The "Lahomach" Seed Co., 120 St. George St., St. Augustine,
Deer Tongue Leaves
M. F. Neal & Co., Richmond, Virginia.
E. K. Victor Company, P. 0. Box 555, Richmond, Virginia.
The Meht & Daniel Corporation, 99 John St., New York.
Saw Palmetto Berries
R. C. Burns, Canaveral, Florida.
Sweet Gum Balsam
M. F. Neal & Co., Richmond, Virginia.
Chas. W. Jacobs & Allison, 162 Water Street, New York.
MEDICINAL PLANT LITERATURE
It is suggested that collectors subscribe for a current journal
such as, Drug Markets, 25 Spruce St., New York, price $2.00
per year, which will give information on prices and price ten-
dencies and also articles dealing with methods of collecting and
preparing crude drugs for market.
The U. S. Bureau of Plant Industry, Washington, D. C., has
issued several bulletins on Medicinal Plants. A list of these and
directions for obtaining them may be secured upon request.
MEDICINAL PLANTS IN FLORIDA 11
Asclepias Tuberosa L.
Pleurisy Root, Orange Milk Weed Root.
RANGE AND HABITAT.-Pleurisy root is found in Northeastern
and Southern Florida extending from Tallahassee east and
south. It grows in sandy fields, along roadsides and in sandy
waste areas similar to other milkweeds.
a perennial herb growing
S from 2 to 3 feet high. It is
,,r- very hairy, very leafy and
branched at the top. The
leaves are arranged irregu-
larly on the stem and have
no leaf stalk, i. e. the broad
base of the leaf is attached
directly to the stem. They
S are linear to, oblong-lanceo-
late in shape and undulately
wrinkled along the margin.
This plant has beautiful,
001 bright, orange-colored flowers
arranged in umbels or flat-
topped cymes. Orange Milk
Weed Root differs from
other milk weeds in not giv-
ing off a milky juice when
(Fig. 1) Asclepias tuberosa L. cut or bruised.
COLLECTION.-The root of
this plant is used for medicinal purposes. It grows deep in the
soil, is shaped very much like a carrot and is occasionally
branched. It is collected in the fall or early spring and cut
lengthwise to facilitate drying. After it is thoroly dried it is
packed in bags for shipment.
The price ranges from 20 to 28c per lb. wholesale and varies
around 10c per lb. to collectors.
Baptisia Tinctoria (Linne), R. Brown.
RANGE AND HABITAT.-Wild Indigo is common in Citrus,
Lake, Marion and Sumter Counties, particularly in the area
between Ocala and Inverness. It is usually found growing in
dry, sandy soils along roadsides, in the open fields and in dry
woods but it may be found in other situations.
12 DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
DESCRIPTION.-Wild Indigo is a smooth, slender perennial
herb, with stems and leaves somewhat waxy and with many
bushy branches. It grows to a height of from 1 to 3 feet and
gives off a disagreeable odor when bruised and is repellant to
insects. The leaves are palmately three-foliate, somewhat like
(Fig. 2) Baptisia Tinctoria R. B.
MEDICINAL PLANTS IN FLORIDA
the leaf of red clover, and are attached closely to the stems and
branches. They are dark bluish-green in color with a light
green stripe on the midrib. The flowers are a bright canary-
yellow and about as long as the leaflets. It flowers from May
COLLECTION.-The root of this plant is used for medicinal
purposes and also for the preparation of a dye, as the name in-
dicates. It is gathered in the fall, cut into small pieces and
dried. It is usually packed in bags for shipment.
The price varies around 13 to 15c per lb. wholesale and around
5c per lb. to collectors.
Diosoorea Villosa. L.
Wild Yam Root.
RANGE AND HABITAT.-Dioscorea is very common throuout
Northern Florida and is found growing in moist thickets and
well shaded areas. Its habitat, soil and moisture requirements
are quite similar to those of the native species of Smilax and
hence, it is frequently found growing in the same localities.
DESCRIPTION.-It is a per-
,ennial herb with slender
S' stems which twine over
bushes for support. The
leaves a r e heart-shaped,
hairy beneath, 9 to 11 ribbed
and variously arranged on
*,,A ,\ the stem but the upper ones
S. are alternate. The flowers
S .are small and greenish-yellow
and the seed is borne in a
; COLLECTION.-The rhizome
(underground stem) is used
in medicine. These should
be dug in autumn or during
'' \': the season when the plant is
- / not growing. The small roots
S/ are removed and the rhizome
/ cut into pieces of varying
I -lengths, usually 2 or 3 inches,
carefully washed and thoroly
(Fig. 3) Dioscorea Villosa L. dried. This may be done by
spreading out thinly on trays, racks, shelves or floors which are
light and well-aired but not in direct sunlight. When thoroly
dried, pack in bags or clean barrels for shipment.
14 DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
Eryngium Aquaticum L. (E. Yuccaefolium, Michx)
RANGE AND HABITAT.-This plant is found in commercial
quantities in the lower half of peninsular Florida from Hills-
borough, Polk and Osceola Counties south. It inhabits low, wet,
marshy areas, damp or dry prairies and pine barrens and blos-
soms from June to September.
DESCRIPTION. B u t t o n
Snakeroot is a sedge-like
perennial which grows to a
height of from 1 to 6 feet.
The stem is smooth, erect and
grooved and emanates from a
cluster of leaves at the base. -
The leaves are linear, paral-
lel-veined, sharply pointed at
the tips and have a thin
bristly fringe along the mar-
gin. They vary from 6 inches
to 2 feet in length and when
young are rigid and erect.
The flowering stems are ar-
ranged in the form of an
umbel (umbrella) and the
flowers are grouped in a
head. The flowers are small
and white in color.
like root is used in medicine.
It is gathered after the seeds (Fig. 4) Erynglum Yuccaefollum
are ripe, cleaned and dried Michx.
in the usual manner.
Gelsemium Sempervirens L.
RANGE AND HABITAT.-Gelsemium is very common in all parts
of Florida. It is found in thickets, in well-shaded woods, along
fences and occasionally in open spaces. It grows well in dif-
ferent types of soil and under varying conditions of moisture
and temperature. This plant is very popular as an ornamental.
MEDICINAL PLANTS IN FLORIDA 15
(Fig. 5) Gelsemium sempervirens L.
Iris Versicolor L.
RANGE AND HABITAT.-Iris
is found generally thruout
Florida and grows in wet
soil, marshy areas, around
lakes and along the banks of
streams. It will grow on
well-drained soils and is cul-
tivated largely as a garden
DESCRIPTION. Iris is a
perennial herb with an un-
derground stem system
which grows horizontally,
i. e., the underground stems
grow parallel to the surface
of the earth. The herb, from
2 to 3 feet high, consists of
smooth, sword-shaped leaves
an d showy, purplish-blue
flowers variegated with white,
DESCRIPTION.- This plant
is a perennial woody climber
with a purplish slender stem.
The leaves are arranged op-
posite, have very short stalks
and are lance-shaped. The
flower is yellow and funnel-
shaped and in this State ap-
pears in late February or
and roots are used for medi-
cinal purposes. They are
dug up in the autumn,
washed, dried and broken or
cut into pieces from 2 to 12
inches in length. The usual
drying and packing methods
for roots should be observed.
The wholesale price varies
around 6 to 12c per lb. and
around 3 to 5c per lb. to col-
(Fig. 6) Iris Versicolor L.
yellow and green markings.
DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
COLLECTION.-The rhizome (underground stem) is used for
medicinal purposes. It is dug in the autumn and the roots and
leaf bases removed. It is then thoroly cleaned, sliced length-
wise and thoroly dried according to the usual method for roots.
The price usually varies around 15 to 21c per lb. wholesale
and 6 to 10c per lb. to collectors.
Phytolacca Americana L. (P. decandra)
RANGE AND HABITAT.-Pokeweed is common along roadsides,
margins of fields, in the open woods, and in waste places thruout
the whole state. In rich, moist soil, such as in the Everglades,
it grows to an enormous size. It adapts itself readily to cultiva-
tion and is regarded as an ornamental garden plant in some
DESCRIPTION.-Pokeweed is a perennial herb and grows to a
height, usually, from 3 to 9 feet. The stem is erect, much
branched, and reddish purple in color. The leaves are alternate,
ovate in shape, about 5 inches long, 2 or 3 inches wide and have
smooth margins. This plant usually flowers from June to Sep-
tember. The flowers are small and whitish in color and are
arranged in long clusters. The flowers are followed by green
berries which become a dark purple upon ripening. The clusters
of berries are from 3 to 6
inches in length and the ber-
ries are globular but flat-
tened slightly at the top and
bottom, smooth and shiny
and when crushed give off a
rich dark-red juice.
COLLECTION.-The root and '
berries of pokeweed are used .
for medicinal purposes. Both '.
are collected when the berries
are ripe, usually, August to b
November. The root is usu-
ally large, conical in shape,
fleshy and much branched
and the sliced ends show
many concentric rings. It is I
dug in the fall, carefully
washed, cut into transverse 1 1
slices and thoroly dried. ,I
Pokeroot is usually packed in
200 lb. bales for the market. (Fig. 7) Phytolacca Americana L.
MEDICINAL PLANTS IN FLORIDA 17
The berries are collected when ripe and carefully dried in the
shade. The whole cluster is usually collected and the berries
stripped 'off and the stems removed when dry. They are
poisonous and hence should not be eaten. They may be dried
according to the method outlined for roots and are packed in
bags for the market.
The price of berries varies around 18c and of the root around
8c per lb. wholesale. *
Stillingia sylvatica L.
RANGE AND HABITAT.-Queen's root grows commonly in open
areas and thinly wooded sections of the light sandy regions of
this state. It is particularly plentiful in Alachua, Marion and
adjoining counties and in the region of the upper Indian River.
DESCRIPTION.-This is an herbaceous perennial and grows
from 1 to 3 feet high. The stems are clustered, smooth and
branched and when bruised emit a milky juice. The leaves are
alternate and vary somewhat
in shape from ovate and
obovate to oblong and lanceo-
., late. They are thick and
: Sfleshy with a saw-toothed
Y '4 margin. The flowers are very
small and yellow in color and
the seed is produced in a
round, three-celled capsule,
with one seed in each cell.
"f The root is cylindrical and
branched and from 8 to 16
% inches long. The taste is bit-
S. ter, acrid and pungent.
CID COLLECTION.-The root is
used in medicine and should
I 9b) / be collected during the
period after the tops have
died down in the fall and be-
fore the plant begins to grow
(Fig. 8) Stillingia sylvatica L. in the spring, usually from
October to March. The roots
may be dug up with a spade and should be thoroly washed in
clean water, cut in pieces from 1 to 2 inches long and then
thoroly dried. The dried roots should be packed in bags or
clean barrels for shipment.
The price varies around 8 or 10c per lb. wholesale and 3 to
5c per lb. to collectors.
DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
Datura stramonium L.
RANGE AND HABIT.-Jimson weed, altho native in the tropics,
is widely distributed thruout the subtropics and temperate
zones. In Florida it grows commonly in dooryards, in fields,
along fences and in waste places and is common in both open
and shaded areas. It grows well in sandy soil and thrives in
rich loamy soils. This plant readily adapts itself to cultiva-
tion. It is an annual plant and must be propagated by seed.
is herbaceous and grows from
2 to 6 feet in height depend-
ing on soil conditions. The
1 e a e s, especially when
crushed, give off a disagree-
able odor, similar to that of
the Irish potato vine and, as
a matter of fact, it belongs
to the same family (Solana-
oeae). The stems are yellow-
ish-green, cylindrical, flat-
tened, longitudinally wrin-
kled, stout and much
branched. The leaves are
large, 2 to 12 inches long, 11/2
to 6 inches broad, irregularly
waved and toothed, pointed
at the apex and narrowed at
the base. The veins are very
prominent and the color is
dark green on the upper sur- (Fig. 9) Datura stramonium L.
face and paler green beneath.
The flowers are large, funnel-shaped and white in color. This
plant usually flowers continuously from May to September and
the odor of the flower is heavy and depressing. The seed is pro-
duced in an oval, prickly capsule which, when ripe and dry,
bursts open and allows the seeds to drop out. The seeds are
very numerous, kidney-shaped and black in color.
COLLECTION.-Both the leaves and the seeds are used for
medicinal purposes. The leaves may be collected in August,
usually, or when the lower leaves of the plant begin to turn
yellow. They may be stripped from the plants or the whole
MEDICINAL PLANTS IN FLORIDA
plant may be cut and strung on wires and dried in the shade
and the leaves then stripped off. In either case, they must be
dried in the shade and protected from rain and dew to preserve
the green color. After being thoroly dried they should be care-
fully packed in bales, bags or cartons and stored in a dry place,
if not immediately delivered to the market. (In handling dried
leaves it is advisable to avoid placing the fingers in the mouth
The seeds should be collected when ripe, that is, when black.
This may be done by cutting off the still green capsules and
allowing to dry for a few days when they will burst open and
the seeds can then be shaken out. The seeds should then be
carefully dried and packed in bags, ready for delivery to the
The price of the leaves ranges from 16 to 20c per lb. and the
seeds from 5 to 8c per lb. wholesale. The price to collectors is
usually about one-half of the wholesale price.
TRILISA ODORATISSIMA (WALT), CASS
RANGE AND HABITAT.-Deer-tongue grows in commercial quan-
tities in Alachua, Lake, Marion, Orange, Seminole, Sumter and
Volusia Counties. It is particularly abundant in the region of
Sanford and has been collected to some extent in that area.
It inhabits low, damp, sandy or loam prairies or moist, open
woods and pine barrens.
DESCRIPTION.-The stems are smooth, from 2 to 4 feet high
and grow from the center of a cluster of leaves at the base.
The leaves are oblong, from 3 to 10 inches long, pale green in
color and give off a vanilla odor when crushed or upon wither-
ing. The flowers are purple and are grouped in many heads
arranged in a flat topped panicle. Deer-tongue blooms usually
from July to September.
COLLECTION.-The leaves of this plant contain coumarin
which is used for flavoring purposes. The leaves are collected
when full grown, which is about the time of flowering. The
leaves may be stripped from the plant or the plant cut and the
leaves then stripped and tied in small bundles and suspended
under shelter to dry, i. e. the methods used for collecting and
curing tobacco are followed. Then, usually, the properly dried
leaves are delivered by the collector to a buyer who has facilities
to pack them in machine pressed bales ranging from 200 to 400
DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
lbs. in weight. Strong burlap is used and the bales are further
reinforced by three or four wires strapped around them.
The demand for deer-tongue leaves is steady and buyers are
anxious to make connections with regular sources of supply.
One firm alone states that they could easily handle from 40 to
50 tons per year. This firm states also that they prefer Florida
Deer-tongue leaves as they are of a finer aroma and a better leaf
and of a better color than those obtained from some other states.
The price varies from 8 to 12c per lb. wholesale, and from 4
to 7c to collectors.
Eupatoriim Perfoliatum L.
RANGE AND HABITAT.-Boneset grows in low and marshy
places such as on the borders of lakes, ponds or streams and in
low, moist fields. It is common in North Central Florida in the
area from Leon County east and including Baker, Bradford,
Alachua and Marion Counties.
DESCRIPTION.-Boneset is a familiar American herb and prob-
ably has been used more as a home remedy than any other plant.
It is still commonly found suspended in the attic of many farm-
houses ready for use as a remedy for colds and fevers and as a
This is a perennial plant and grows to a height of from 2 to
4 feet. The stem is stout and round with a cluster of closely
arranged and nearly erect branches at the top. The leaves are
connate perfoliate, that is, they are united so that the stem
passes thru at the center. The midrib is prominent and the
leaves are studded with resinous dots beneath. The flowers are
white and arranged in flat-topped clusters at the top of the
stem. It usually flowers from May to July.
The taste is strong and bitter.
COLLECTIoN.-The leaves and flowering tops of Boneset are
used in medicine. The plant is cut down when in full bloom
and the leaves and flowering tops are stripped off and carefully
dried in the shade or the plant may be cut down and suspended
in the shade to dry and the leaves and the flowering tops then
stripped off. They are then packed in bales or cartons for de-
livery to the market.
The price varies around 10 to 12c per lb. wholesale, and about
one-half as much to collectors.
MEDICINAL PLANTS IN FLORIDA 21
(Fig. 10) Eupatorium Perfoliatum L.
DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
Cornus Florida L.
RANGE AND HABITAT.-Dogwood is common in the deep woods
of Northern and Northeastern Florida.
flowering tree is so well
known that a detailed de-
scription is unnecessary. It
grows to a height of from 10 .
to 30 feet and it is usually 1.0 "
somewhat bent, scraggy and
loosely branched. The bark
of the trunk is greyish and
somewhat rough, that of the
branches is red and smooth.
It flowers in March and
April. The flower is large
and consists of 4 petals, in-
dented at the broad end and
studded with red dots. The ft
specific name "florida" k
refers to the large showy
COLLECTION.-The bark of
the root is legally specified (Fig. 11) cornus Florida L.
for medical use, altho the
bark of the stem and larger branches is also sometimes used.
Before gathering the bark of stem and branches, collectors
should determine whether or not it is marketable. The bark is
collected by grubbing out the tree and stripping or chipping
the bark from the roots, stem and larger branches. It is usually
cut into quills or chips and may vary from 1/25 of an inch to
about 1/6 of an inch in thickness. Dogwood bark should be
carefully dried and packed in bales for market.
The price varies around 61/2c per lb. wholesale.
Myrica Cerifera L.
Bayberry Bark, Wax Myrtle Bark.
RANGE AND HABITAT.-Bayberry is common thruout this state
and is found growing in low marshy areas, in sandy soil on the
border of ponds, on the borders of canals and around lagoons
near the Gulf. It is also very common in thickets near swamps
and marshes of the sand-belts of the Atlantic.
MEDICINAL PLANTS IN FLORIDA
DESCRIPTION.-This is an evergreen shrub or tree varying
from 3 to 35 feet in height. The trunk is usually irregular and
crooked and branches numerous, especially at the top. The
young branches are frequently reddish-brown and covered with
yellowish or reddish dots. The leaves are sword-shaped, smooth
(Fig. 12) Myrica Cerifera L.
DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
and waxy on the surface and with resinous dots on both sides,
The berries are arranged in scattered groups along the branches,
are bluish-white in color and covered with a thin layer of wax.
COLLECTION.-The bark of the root is used for medicinal pur-
poses and the wax is used in making candles and for perfuming
The roots are gathered late in the fall, thoroly cleaned and
the bark then stripped off and carefully dried. It is usually
cut or broken into pieces or quills from 1 to 8 inches long and
from 1/2 to 1 inch wide and packed in bales for market.
Both wax and root bark may be obtained from the same shrub
and both should be collected to prevent unnecessary waste and
also for greater profit. It is claimed that a very fertile shrub
will yield about six pounds of wax. The shrub should not be
cut down to collect the wax alone as this destroys the source of
future supply. Large trees may be cut down to collect the ber-
ries for the wax. About 5 lbs. of berries will yield about 1 lb.
To collect the wax the berries are thrown into a kettle and
enough water poured over them to cover to a depth of about 6
inches. This is then boiled and stirred and the berries pressed
against the sides of the kettle to loosen the wax. During the
process of boiling the wax comes to the top and should be skim-
med off with a spoon and strained thru a coarse cloth. When
no more wax appears at the surface of the water, the berries
are taken out with a skimmer and more thrown into the same
water. However, the water should be entirely changed for the
third time as impurities may discolor the wax. Boiling water
should also be added to replace that evaporated. When several
pounds of wax have been obtained, it is placed in a cloth and
suspended to drain off the water. It is then melted again by
placing it in a pan which is placed in hot water (double boiler)
and poured into kegs or barrels for shipment. The wax may
first appear yellow but should later become a greenish color.
The price of the root bark varies around 10 to 12c per lb. and
of the wax around 29 to 32c per lb. wholesale. Collectors usually
receive about one-half of the wholesale price for the root bark
and about 20c per lb. for the wax.
Xanthoxylum Clava-Herculis L.
Southern Prickly Ash; Toothache Bark.
RANGE AND HABITAT.-Southern Prickly Ash is found in
Northeastern and Southern Florida from Leon County east and
south to the Keys. It grows in high or well-drained sandy or
loamy soil in thin or open woods and along streams.
MEDICINAL PLANTS IN FLORIDA 25
DESCRIPTION.-This is a small tree sometimes reaching a height
of 35 feet. The bark is purple-gray, aromatic and pungent and
covered with corky warts with a sharp thorn at the point. The
leaves are alternate and arranged in groups of 7 to 17 on the
stem (in pairs with one at the end).
(Fig. 13) Xanthoxylum Clava-Herculis L.
DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
COLLECTION.-The dried bark is used in medicine. The bark
is frequently chewed for relief of toothache, hence, the common
name "toothache-bark." The bark is usually collected from
the smaller trees and may be peeled in strips from the standing
tree or the tree cut down and the bark then peeled from the
trunk and branches. This is usually done in late summer or
fall. The bark is then cut or broken into small pieces or quills
varying from 1/25 to 1/6 of an inch in thickness when dry.
The bark is carefully dried and marketed in bales.
Prickly Ash berries are also used for medicinal purposes.
They are collected when full grown and dried similar to poke
The price of the bark varies from 10 to 14c and of the berries
from 20 to 24c per lb. wholesale.
Liquidambar Styraciflua L.
Sweet Gum; American Storax.
RANGE AND HABITAT.-Sweet Gum is very common thruout
Florida and is found growing in moist woods in loamy or muck
DESCRIPTION.-This is a large tree commonly reaching a
height of from 45 to 100 feet. The leaves are 5 to 7 lobed
resembling crudely the palm of the hand with fingers spread
apart and extended. They are smooth on the upper surface and
have small tufts of reddish-brown hairs in the axils of the princi-
pal veins on the lower surface. This tree somewhat resembles the
northern maple in general appearance.
COLLECTION.-The secretion (balsam) of the sapwood caused
by wounding the tree is used for medicinal purposes and for in-
dustrial purposes also. The following directions for tapping
trees and collecting gum are offered thru the courtesy of M. F.
Neal & Co., Richmond, Virginia.
"TAPPING TREEs.-With turpentine hack, or hatchet or puller,
or other similar tool that will do the work, cut one upright
streak 24 inches long, three-quarters of an inch wide, at work-
able height on sunny side of tree. Cut through bark and about
one-quarter of an inch into sapwood. Then cut 4 streaks same
width and depth 6 to 8 inches long, depending on diameter of
tree, across the upright streak, at even distances from each other,
with downward peak in the middle where they meet the upright
streak. The upright should run through the centers of the cross
streaks. The drawing on page 28 will make it plain. Tap trees
early in spring before sap rises. Gum will begin to form soon
after sap is in trees. When gum starts to form the streaks
should be scraped every two weeks with a dull case-knife, or
MEDICINAL PLANTS IN FLORIDA 27
some tool like it, to collect gum FRESH. This scraping from
time to time makes more gum. If gum is collected regularly in
this way, there should be no need for an apron such as used on
the pine to collect rosin, because the gum is slower in forming.
Different local conditions cause trees to produce different
(Fig. 14) Liquidambar Styraciflua L.
28 DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
amounts of gum. A large tree ought to produce a pound or
more. Tap your trees now. Remember early tapping produces
more gum in a season.
COLLECTING THE GUM.-
The gum as collected will
have some trash in it and
bits of bark, and it must
be cleaned before shipping.
To do this heat gum in a
double boiler, with water
between, and bring water to
boiling point and keep it
there until gum runs easily. I
Then filter through cheese-
cloth into some vessel that
will keep the gum in good
condition until shipped. A
good container is a tin \
can with double friction \ ,
top, or a molasses can.
When gum is ready for
shipment, it ought to be (Fig. 15) Tapped Tree.
clear, light brown, rather
solid and sticky. If 20 lbs. and over ship the gum by express;
if less than 20 lbs.,send by parcels post, insured, and we will
include the postage when we remit for the gum."
M. F. Neal & Co. are offering at present, $1.50 per pound
F. 0. B. shipping point for any quantity, from 5 lbs. up. They
state they will be glad to buy it from year to year and will pay
Serenoa serrulata (Mich.) Hooker filius.
Saw Palmetto Berries.
RANGE AND HABITAT.-Saw Palmetto is common thruout most
of the state. It grows in sandy soil in open spaces, thin woods
and thickets. Very plentiful along the Atlantic Coast.
DESCRIPTION.-This plant is a perennial shrub with slender
leaf stalks, somewhat flattened and with sharp spines along the
edges. The leaves are fan-shaped, nearly circular, and with
deep clefts extending nearly to the point of the leaf stalk, form-
ing feather-like divisions. They are light green to yellowish
green in color. The fruit somewhat resembles a small plum,
varying in size from 1/2 to 7/8 inch in length and black when ripe.
MEDICINAL PLANTS IN FLORIDA
COLLECTION.-The partially dried ripe fruit is used in medi-
cine. It is collected from August until January. The method
of collection depends on the ingenuity of the collector but a
common practice is to shake the fruit into a basket or pail. It
is then partially dried to the consistency of a prune by placing
on trays in the sun or by artificial heat. It is claimed that the
berries collected within four or five miles of the sea-coast and
(Fig. 16) Serenoa serrulata (Mich) Hooker filius.
those dried by artificial heat are of a better quality than those
collected farther -inland or dried in the sun. The demand for
Saw Palmetto Berries is limited to about 200,000 lbs. annually
and the price depends on the relative amount available for
The price varies around 8 to 12c per lb. wholesale, and from
4 to 7c to collectors.
Carica Papaya L.
RANGE AND HABITAT.-The papaya is a strictly tropical plant
and is found only below the frost line. It is found in Florida
south of the line extending from Palm Beach west to Fort Myers
and then extending northward to Bradenton. The wild papaya
30 DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
is found in moist loamy or humus soil around marshes and on
hammocks in open woods.
DESCRIPTION.-The wild papaya is a shrub or small tree vary-
ing from 8 to 15 feet in height. The leaves have long stalks and
are palmately 7-lobed and each lobe divided into smaller lobes.
(Fig. 17) Carica Papaya L. Showing incised fruit.
MEDICINAL PLANTS IN FLORIDA 31
The papaya bears fruit when very young. The fruit is arranged
along the stem principally below the leaves, is melon-like in ap-
pearance and edible when ripe. (For cultivated papaya see
Bulletin No. 4-New Series-October, 1928, Department of
COLLECTION.-Nearly all parts of this plant are used for
medicinal purposes by the natives of the tropics. However, the
dried juice (papain) of the full-grown but unripe fruit is the
most important medicinal product. It is obtained by scratching
or incising the rind with a bone or wooden knife. The milky
juice that first exudes is quite fluid and this should be collected
in a glass. After a few minutes the juice thickens and the flow
stops. This curd is then scraped off with a bone or wooden
knife and added to the juice first collected in the glass. Metal
knives or dishes should not be used as they cause the papain
to become dark or black. The tapping may be repeated every
three or four days until the fruit begins to ripen. After col-
lection the milky juice is allowed to stand for a short time to
coagulate and form a curd. This is then dried by spreading it
in a thin layer on a sheet of glass placed in the sun. (Protect
from dew and rain.) It should become thoroly dried in 11/2 to
2 days and is then placed in well dried bottles, tightly corked
and stored in a dark, dry place and marketed as soon as pos-
sible. Glycerin is sometimes added as a preservative.
When papain is produced on a large scale artificial dryers such
as fruit evaporators or specially constructed drying stoves are
The price of crude papain varies around $3.00 to $3.50 per
Sambucus Canadensis L.
RANGE AND HABITAT.-This plant is common thruout Florida
and grows in moist soil along streams, on the border of marshes
DESCRIPTION.-Sambucus is a perennial shrub growing to a
height of about 12 to 15 feet. The stem is grayish-brown in color
and when the outer skin is peeled off a bright green layer is ex-
posed. The inner part of the stem consists of a white pith.
The leaves are compound with the leaflets arranged in 2 to 5
pairs and one at the end. The flowers are creamy-white and ar-
ranged in flat-topped, umbrella-like clusters at the end of the
DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
flower stalk. The berries are purplish-black in color and are
COLLECTION.-The flowers are used in medicine and are col-
lected when in full bloom, each separate flower clipped from its
stalk and quickly dried. They should have a clean, yellowish
color when dry; brownish or black will not be accepted by
dealers. The berries and the inner bark of the stem are also
sometimes used in medicine.
The price of the flowers varies around 45 to 50c per lb. whole-
sale and to collectors 35 to 40c per lb.