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Uses

Toxic parts

We have no specific details for this species but most members of this genus have poisonous roots and stems[1]. The plant contains aristolochic acid, this has received rather mixed reports on its toxicity. According to one report aristolochic acid stimulates white blood cell activity and speeds the healing of wounds, but is also carcinogenic and damaging to the kidneys[2]. Another report says that it is an active antitumour agent but is too toxic for clinical use[3]. Another report says that aristolochic acid has anti-cancer properties and can be used in conjunction with chemotherapy and radiotherapy and that it also increases the cellular immunity and phagocytosis function of the phagocytic cells[4].

Edible uses

There are no edible uses listed for Aristolochia serpentaria.

Material uses

There are no material uses listed for Aristolochia serpentaria.

Medicinal uses(Warning!)

The Virginia snakeroot is attracting increasing interest for its medicinal virtues and as a result is becoming uncommon in the wild. It merits consideration for cultivation in forest areas[5]. It is used in a number of proprietary medicines for treating skin, circulatory and kidney disorders[6]. The plant contains aristolochic acid which, whilst stimulating white blood cell activity and speeding the healing of wounds, is also carcinogenic and damaging to the kidneys[2]. The root is harvested in the autumn and dried for later use[6].

The root is antidote, anti-inflammatory, bitter tonic, diaphoretic, diuretic and stimulant[7][8][9][10][11][12]. Traditionally it was chewed in minute doses or used as a weak tea to promote sweating, stimulate the appetite and promote expectoration[9][5]. The native North Americans considered it to have analgesic properties and used an infusion internally to treat rheumatism, pain - but especially sharp pains in the breast, and as a wash for headaches[13]. This plant should be used with caution, it is irritating in large doses and can cause nausea, griping pains in the bowels etc[9][10][5]. It should only be used internally under the supervision of a qualified practitioner[6]. The bruised root is placed in hollow teeth for treating toothache[14]. An extract of the root can be drunk to relieve stomach pains[14]. The boiled root, or a decoction of the whole plant, can be used to treat fevers[15].

The chewed root or crushed leaves was applied to snakebites[14][15]. This species was the most popular snakebite remedy in N. America[15]. It has also been applied externally to slow-healing wounds and in the treatment of pleurisy[6].

Ecology

Ecosystem niche/layer

Ecological Functions

Nothing listed.

Forage

Nothing listed.

Shelter

Nothing listed.

Propagation

Seed - best sown in a greenhouse as soon as it is ripe in the autumn. Pre-soak stored seed for 48 hours in hand-hot water and surface sow in a greenhouse[16]. Germination usually takes place within 1 - 3 months at 20°c[16]. Stored seed germinates better if it is given 3 months cold stratification at 5°c[12]. When large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on in the greenhouse for their first winter. Plant out in late spring or early summer after the last expected frosts.

Division in autumn[12].

Root cuttings in winter[12].

Practical Plants is currently lacking information on propagation instructions of Aristolochia serpentaria. Help us fill in the blanks! Edit this page to add your knowledge.



Cultivation

Prefers a well-drained loamy soil, rich in organic matter, in sun or semi-shade[7][12], but succeeds in ordinary garden soil[16].

This species is not hardy in the colder areas of the country, it tolerates temperatures down to between -5 and -10°c[12].

Most species in this genus have malodorous flowers that are pollinated by flies[12]. The flowers of this plant are sometimes cleistogomous[17].

Crops

Problems, pests & diseases

Associations & Interactions

There are no interactions listed for Aristolochia serpentaria. Do you know of an interaction that should be listed here? edit this page to add it.

Polycultures & Guilds

There are no polycultures listed which include Aristolochia serpentaria.

Descendants

Cultivars

Varieties

None listed.

Subspecies

None listed.

Full Data

This table shows all the data stored for this plant.

Taxonomy
Binomial name
Aristolochia serpentaria
Genus
Aristolochia
Family
Aristolochiaceae
Imported References
Edible uses
Material uses & Functions
Botanic
Propagation
Cultivation
Environment
Cultivation
Uses
Edible uses
None listed.
Material uses
None listed.
Medicinal uses
None listed.
Functions & Nature
Functions
Provides forage for
Provides shelter for
Environment
Hardiness Zone
8
Heat Zone
?
Water
moderate
Sun
full sun
Shade
light shade
Soil Texture
Soil Water Retention
Environmental Tolerances
    Ecosystems
    Native Climate Zones
    None listed.
    Adapted Climate Zones
    None listed.
    Native Geographical Range
    None listed.
    Native Environment
    None listed.
    Ecosystem Niche
    None listed.
    Root Zone Tendancy
    None listed.
    Life
    Deciduous or Evergreen
    ?
    Herbaceous or Woody
    ?
    Life Cycle
    Growth Rate
    ?
    Mature Size
    Fertility
    ?
    Pollinators
    Flower Colour
    ?
    Flower Type











    References

    1. ? Reid. B. E. Famine Foods of the Chiu-Huang Pen-ts'ao. Taipei. Southern Materials Centre (1977-00-00)
    2. ? 2.02.12.2 Chevallier. A. The Encyclopedia of Medicinal Plants Dorling Kindersley. London ISBN 9-780751-303148 (1996-00-00)
    3. ? Duke. J. A. and Ayensu. E. S. Medicinal Plants of China Reference Publications, Inc. ISBN 0-917256-20-4 (1985-00-00)
    4. ? Yeung. Him-Che. Handbook of Chinese Herbs and Formulas. Institute of Chinese Medicine, Los Angeles (1985-00-00)
    5. ? 5.05.15.25.3 Foster. S. & Duke. J. A. A Field Guide to Medicinal Plants. Eastern and Central N. America. Houghton Mifflin Co. ISBN 0395467225 (1990-00-00)
    6. ? 6.06.16.26.36.4 Bown. D. Encyclopaedia of Herbs and their Uses. Dorling Kindersley, London. ISBN 0-7513-020-31 (1995-00-00)
    7. ? 7.07.17.2 F. Chittendon. RHS Dictionary of Plants plus Supplement. 1956 Oxford University Press (1951-00-00)
    8. ? 8.08.1 Hedrick. U. P. Sturtevant's Edible Plants of the World. Dover Publications ISBN 0-486-20459-6 (1972-00-00)
    9. ? 9.09.19.29.3 Grieve. A Modern Herbal. Penguin ISBN 0-14-046-440-9 (1984-00-00)
    10. ? 10.010.110.2 Lust. J. The Herb Book. Bantam books ISBN 0-553-23827-2 (1983-00-00)
    11. ? 11.011.1 Uphof. J. C. Th. Dictionary of Economic Plants. Weinheim (1959-00-00)
    12. ? 12.012.112.212.312.412.512.612.712.8 Huxley. A. The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992. MacMillan Press ISBN 0-333-47494-5 (1992-00-00)
    13. ? 13.013.1 Moerman. D. Native American Ethnobotany Timber Press. Oregon. ISBN 0-88192-453-9 (1998-00-00)
    14. ? 14.014.114.214.3 Coffey. T. The History and Folklore of North American Wild Flowers. Facts on File. ISBN 0-8160-2624-6 (1993-00-00)
    15. ? 15.015.115.215.3 Weiner. M. A. Earth Medicine, Earth Food. Ballantine Books ISBN 0-449-90589-6 (1980-00-00)
    16. ? 16.016.116.2 Rice. G. (Editor) Growing from Seed. Volume 2. Thompson and Morgan. (1988-00-00)
    17. ? Britton. N. L. Brown. A. An Illustrated Flora of the Northern United States and Canada Dover Publications. New York. ISBN 0-486-22642-5 (1970-00-00)
    18. ? Fernald. M. L. Gray's Manual of Botany. American Book Co. (1950-00-00)


    Facts about "Aristolochia serpentaria"RDF feed
    Article is incompleteYes +
    Article requires citationsNo +
    Article requires cleanupYes +
    Belongs to familyAristolochiaceae +
    Belongs to genusAristolochia +
    Has binomial nameAristolochia serpentaria +
    Has common nameVirginia Snakeroot +
    Has drought toleranceIntolerant +
    Has fertility typeFlies +
    Has flowers of typeHermaphrodite +
    Has hardiness zone8 +
    Has lifecycle typePerennial +
    Has mature height0.1 +
    Has mature width0.5 +
    Has medicinal partUnknown part +
    Has medicinal useAntidote +, Antiinflammatory +, Bitter +, Diaphoretic +, Diuretic +, Expectorant +, Febrifuge +, Odontalgic +, Stimulant + and Tonic +
    Has search namearistolochia serpentaria + and virginia snakeroot +
    Has shade toleranceLight shade +
    Has soil ph preferenceAcid +, Neutral +, Alkaline + and Very alkaline +
    Has soil texture preferenceSandy +, Loamy + and Clay +
    Has soil water retention preferenceWell drained +
    Has sun preferenceFull sun +
    Has taxonomic rankSpecies +
    Has taxonomy nameAristolochia serpentaria +
    Has water requirementsmoderate +
    Is taxonomy typeSpecies +
    PFAF cultivation notes migratedNo +
    PFAF edible use notes migratedYes +
    PFAF material use notes migratedYes +
    PFAF medicinal use notes migratedNo +
    PFAF propagation notes migratedNo +
    PFAF toxicity notes migratedNo +
    Tolerates nutritionally poor soilNo +
    Uses mature size measurement unitMeters +
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