Texas Junior Naturalists
An online resource for students of nature and the outdoors.

Medicinal Plant Information

page 2

Compiled from Peterson Field Guide to Medicinal Plants by Steven Foster and James A. Duke

American beautyberryAmerican Beautyberry

(Callicarpa americana)
Native Americans used
root and leaf teas for rheumatism, fevers, and malaria, root tea for dysentery and stomachaches, and root and berry tea for colic.
Current knowledge about the plant:
Traditional Chinese medicine uses the leaves of a related plant to stop bleeding. In China, a related plant is also used for menstrual problems and to treat the flu.

Eastern red cedar -  photo courtesy of Jim Mason - click to visit his siteEastern Red Cedar

(Juniperus virginiana)
Native Americans used
a tea from the fruit for colds, coughs, worms, and rheumatism, the fruit as gum for canker sores, and smoke form the leaves as an inhalant to treat colds, bronchitis, and rheumatism.
Current knowledge about the plant:
It is thought to contain an anticancer agent, podophyllocotoxin. The leaves, bark, and berries may contain toxins.

Elderberry - Courtesy of The Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation, Ardmore, OK - click to visit their siteElderberry

(Sambucus canadensis)
Native Americans used
a tea from the inner bark as a diuretic, laxative, and emetic, a poultice form the inner bark on cuts, and bark tea as a wash for eczema and old ulcers.
Current knowledge about the plant:
The bark, root, leaves and unripe berries are considered toxic to eat and can cause severe diarrhea.

Giant reed Giant Reed

(Arundinaria gigantea)
Native Americans used
a tea from the roots as a diuretic.
Current knowledge about the plant:
A fungus called ergot can grow on the seeds. This fungus is very toxic, but compounds derived from it are used to induce uterine contractions.


(Smilax species)

Native Americans used:
stem segments to rub on skin to relieve pain and muscle cramps, tea from leaves and stems for rheumatism and stomach troubles, and tea from the roots to help expel afterbirth.
Current knowledge about the plant:
The roots may contain steroid precursors.

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