Adder's Tongue (American)
Erythronium Americanum (KER-GAWL)
Serpent's Tongue. Dog's Tooth Violet. Yellow Snowdrop.
Eastern United States of America, from New Brunswick to
Florida, and westwards to Ontario and Arkansas.
The American Dog's Tooth Violet or Adder's Tongue, Erythronium Americanum
(Ker Gawl), is a very beautiful early spring flower of the Eastern United
States of America, belonging to the Lily family. It grows in damp, open
woodlands from New Brunswick to Florida and westwards to Ontario and Arkansas.
The plant, which is quite smooth, grows from a small, slender, ovoid,
fawn-coloured corm, 1/3 to 1 inch long which is quite deeply buried in
the soil and is of solid, firm consistence and white and starchy internally.
The stem is slender, a few inches high, and bears near the ground, on
footstalks 2 to 3 inches long, a pair of oblong, dark-green, purplish-blotched
leaves, the blades about 2 1/2 inches long and 1 inch wide, minutely wrinkled,
with parallel, longitudinal veins. The stem terminates in a handsome,
large, pendulous, lily-like flower, an inch across, with the perianth
divisions strongly recurved, bright yellow in colour, often tinged with
purple and finely dotted within at the base, and with six stamens. It
flowers in the latter part of April and early in May.
Medicinal Action and Uses
The constituents of the plant have not yet been analysed. The fresh leaves
and corm, and to a lesser degree the rest of the plant, are emetic
The fresh leaves having emollient and anti-scrofulous properties are
mostly used in the form of a stimulating poultice, applied to swellings,
tumours and scrofulous ulcers.
The infusion is taken internally in wineglassful doses. It is reputed
of use in dropsy, hiccough and vomiting.
The recent bulbs have been used as a substitute for colchicum. They are
emetic in doses of 25 to 30 grains.