Pinkroot, Indian Pink
Spigelia marilandicaOther Names: Indian Pink, Maryland Pink, Pinkroot, Wormgrass, American Wormgrass, American Wormroot, Starbloom
Photo by Karen Bergeron Copyright 2000
Caution : Toxic! Useful only to experienced herbalists familiar with its use.
Pink Root Medicinal Use and Herbal properties
Pink Root, was being used medicinally by the Native Americans long before America was even discovered. Long used as an alternative medicine its proven medicinal constituents are Spigeline, Lignin, tannin, albumen, and myricin. Some of these are showing promise as anti-HIV, anticancer and anticoronary. Other medicinal properties include antibacterial, antidiarrheic, antioxidant, antiviral, anthelmintic, and laxative. It is most popular as an anthelmintic and is most potent for tapeworm and for the round worm. It is a safe and efficient drug, if administered in proper doses and always followed by a saline aperient, such as magnesium sulphate. Otherwise unpleasant and serious side effects may occur. Said to be narcotic in large doses, causing increased heart action, dizziness, vertigo, disturbed vision, muscular spasms, convulsions and possibly death.
Indian Pink Root Habitat and Description
Southeastern N. American native perennial herb, found in rich woods from New Jersey to Florida and west to Texas and Wisconsin, primarily in the Southern States. Indian Pink is fast disappearing, due to over harvesting.
The leaves are pointed, stemless, alternate and opposite growing from 2 to 4 inches long, and up to 3 inches wide. The showy flowers are tube-shaped, bright scarlet red outside, opening into a bright yellow 5 pointed star, flowers bloom from May to July atop a smooth simple erect stem from 6 inches to 2 feet high. The roots are rhizome, knotty and dark-brown externally, with many thin, long, wiry rootlets attached to it, marked with scars of the stems of former years, internally the rhizome is whitish, with a darkbrown pith. Collect rootstock, after the flowers fade. The root is best used when fresh but can be harvested in the autumn then dried for herb use.
Cultivation: a very ornamental plant, Indian Pink succeeds in most fertile soils in semi-shade, transplant root cuttings in rich well drained soil.
Indian Pink Root Folklore
Used by the Cherokee and other American Indians tribes as a ritual and ceremonial herb to induce visions and foretell the future. Also used as poison in some suicidal ceremonies.
Article by Deb Jackson & Karen Bergeron