- Trillium pendulum L.
- Trillium erectum. L.
- Lily family
quarter (Chenopodium album)
Parts Usually Used
Rootstock (dried rhizome)
Description of Plant(s) and Culture
Birthroot is an herbaceous perennial plant; grows to the height of
10-15 inches, the simple stem arises naked from an oblong,
tuberous, short, thick, rootstock (rhizome) and bears, only at the
very top, a whorl of three round-ovate, acuminate leaves. In May and
June a single yellow-white to reddish-white, unpleasantly scented
flower appears above the leaves. The flower grows on a short stalk
in the center of the whorl of leaves; it has 3 petals
and 3 sepals. The fruit is a pink or red 3 or
6 angled berry.
Found in rich soils and shady woods of the central and western states.
Nova Scotia to Georgia mountains, Florida; Tennessee to Michigan,
Antiseptic, astringent, diaphoretic, emmenagogue, expectorant, tonic,
Tannin, resin, glycosides trillin and trillarin, traces of essential
oil, saponin, fatty oil and starch
Legends, Myths and Stories
The root has the faint fragrance of turpentine and a peculiar aromatic
and sweetish astringent taste when first chewed, but becomes bitter
and acid, causing salivation. Its shape is remindful of popular Ginseng
Birthroot can be used for coughs, bronchial
problems, hemorrhage from the lungs, asthma,
difficult breathing, pulmonary consumption,
and boiled in milk for diarrhea
and dysentery. Used externally
and internally for female problems. A poultice or salve relieves insect
bites and stings, tumors, inflammations,
and ulcers, snakebites,
wounds, skin irritation.
Birthroot is an indication of its use by the Native Americans as an
aid during childbirth. They also used birthroot for menopause,
aphrodisiac (root contains steroids). A tea of equal parts of Bugleweed
(Lycopus virginicus) and birthroot was once used for diabetes.
Formulas or Dosages
Decoction: use 1 tsp. root with 1 cup
water (or milk). Drink either hot or cold just before going to bed.
Take 1 to 2 cups a day.
Tincture: take 1/4 to 1/2 tsp. at
Available in whole, cut, or powdered form. Tincture