The Medicinal Herb Info site was created to help educate visitors about the often forgotten wisdom of the old ways of treating illnesses. Many of today's drugs and medicines were originally derived from natural ingredients, combinations of plants and other items found in nature.

We are not suggesting that you ignore the help of trained medical professionals, simply that you have additional options available for treating illnesses. Often the most effective treatment involves a responsible blend of both modern and traditional treatments.

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Adder’s Tongue


Common Names | Parts Usually Used | Plant(s) & Culture | Where Found | Medicinal Properties
Uses | Formulas or Dosages | Bibliography

Scientific Names

Adder's Tongue
  • Erythronium americanus L.
  • Erythronium americanum L.
  • Liliaceae
  • Lily family

Common Names

  • Dog-tooth violet
  • Erythronium
  • Lamb’s tongue
  • Rattlesnake violet
  • Serpent’s tongue
  • Snake leaf
  • Trout lily
  • Yellow erythronium
  • Yellow snakeleaf
  • Yellow snowdrop

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Parts Usually Used

Bulb, leaves
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Description of Plant(s) and Culture

Adder's Tongue

Adder’s tongue is a perennial plant to 1 foot high; its bulbous root is light brown on the outside and white inside. It grows two leathery, basal, lanceolate, pale green, mottled leaves with purplish or brownish spots; and one drooping, miniature, lily-like, yellow flower, petals strongly curved back, nodding from the top of a central stem, appears in April or May. The narrow spike somewhat resembling a snake’s tongue gave the plant the common name of adder’s tongue. The petals partially close at night and on cloudy days; the plant diminishes with the heat of summer. The fruit is a capsule.

Other varieties: E. californicum; E. giganteum or watsonii; E. hendersonii; E. dens-canis (dog tooth violet), White trout-lily (E. albidum) flowers are white, leaves seldom mottled; found in Ontario to Georgia; Kentucky, Arkansas, Oklahoma to Minnesota; E. grandiflorum is a plant that grows in western North America, been shown to be slightly antimutagenic.
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Where Found

Grows in thin moist woods or open areas, moist meadows, with rich soil all over the United States. Nova Scotia to Georgia; Arkansas, Oklahoma to Minnesota.
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Medicinal Properties

Emetic, expectorant, anti-scrofulous, antiscorbutic, emollient, antiscorbutic, nutritive when dry
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Used for scrofula and other skin problems. Make a poultice for external application and take the infusion at the same time. Mix the expressed juice with cider for internal use if preferred, it probably tastes better. Poultice used for old or scrofulus ulcers, wounds, and tumors, draw out splinters, reduce swelling. Fresh root simmered in milk helps dropsy, hiccoughs, vomiting and bleeding from the lower bowels. Water extracts are active against gram-positive and gram-negative bacteria. Native Americans used the root tea for fevers. Iriquois women ate raw leaves to prevent conception.
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Formulas or Dosages

Adder's Tongue

The plant must be used fresh.

Infusion: use 1 tsp. fresh leaves or 2 tsp. fresh root with 1 cup boiling water. Daily dose is 1 cup, a mouthful at a time. (May use dried in same proportions)

Poultice: use crushed leaves, or simmer the root in milk to get the proper consistency. Apply 3-4 times a day. Take with the tea internally.
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Buy It! The Herb Book, by John Lust, Bantam Books, 666 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY. copyright 1974.

Buy It! American Folk Medicine, by Clarence Meyer, Meyerbooks, publisher, PO Box 427, Glenwood, Illinois 60425, 1973

Buy It! Eastern/Central Medicinal Plants, by Steven Foster and James A. Duke., Houghton Mifflin Company, 215 Park Avenue South, New York, NY 10000

Buy It! Culpeper’s Complete Herbal & English Physician: Updated With 117 Modern Herbs, by Nicholas Culpeper, Meyerbooks, publisher, PO Box 427, Glenwood, Illinois 60425, 1990, (reprint of 1814)

Buy It! Indian Herbalogy of North America, by Alma R. Hutchens, Shambala Publications, Inc., Horticultural Hall, 300 Massachusetts Avenue, Boston, Massachusetts 02115, 1973

Buy It! Webster’s New World Dictionary, Third College Edition, Victoria Neufeldt, Editor in Chief, New World Dictionaries: A Division of Simon & Schuster, Inc., 15 Columbus Circle, New York, NY 10023

Buy It! The Rodale Herb Book: How to Use, Grow, and Buy Nature’s Miracle Plants (An Organic gardening and farming book), edited by William H. Hylton, Rodale Press, Inc. Emmaus, PA, 18049., 1974

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