An herb entry from the Ancient Herbs and Modern Herbs book by James K. Sayre, Copyright, 2001. All rights reserved.


Adder's Tongue - Erythronium americanum - family: Lilaceae (Lily Family).

This low rhizome-based perennial plant grows to about one foot high. It has darkly-mottled leaves that are lance-shaped. In the late winter and early spring it produces yellow lily-like flowers. Following the flowers are capsules which hold brown seeds. Traditional Native American folk use of leaves as a remedy for fever. Traditional American folk use of leaves as a remedy for scurvy, gout and used to produce vomiting. Traditional American folk use of leaves as a poultice for skin problems. Note: the bulb and leaves are quite toxic, do not use internally. American pioneers thought that the leathery leaves resembled the body of a trout, hence the folkname, Trout Lily. The name Adder's Tongue has also been applied to several unrelated plants. Listed in the United States Pharmacopoeias in 1820 and from 1840 to 1850. Native to eastern and central North America. Cultivated as an ornamental in North America.




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Web page last updated on 18 May 2003.