Other names: Spignet, Old man’s root

Used widely in patent medicines of the late 1800s, and often used as an alternative ingredient to sarsaparilla in root beer. Formerly used in cough syrups, sued for coughs, asthma, lung ailments, and rheumatism, syphilis, and kidney troubles. Root tea widely used by Native Americans for menstrual irregularities, for lung ailments accompanied by coughs, and to improve the flavor of other medicines. Externally, the root was poulticed on boils, infections, swellings, and wounds.


Grieve, M. (Maud). A Modern Herbal; the Medicinal, Culinary, Cosmetic and Economic Properties, Cultivation and Folk-Lore of Herbs, Grasses, Fungi, Shrubs, & Trees with All Their Modern Scientific Uses. New York :Harcourt, Brace & company, 1931.

Foster. S. & Duke. J. A. A Field Guide to Medicinal Plants. Eastern and Central N. America. Houghton Mifflin Co. 1990 ISBN 0395467225

Moerman. D. Native American Ethnobotany Timber Press. Oregon. 1998 ISBN 0-88192-453-9

Image attribution: Urban - Own work, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=2513819