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Polygala senega - L.

Common Name Senega Snake Root
Family Polygalaceae
USDA hardiness Coming soon
Known Hazards The plant is poisonous in large quantities, causing violent purging and vomiting[4, 21]. Reported to have caused anxiety, mental dullness and vertigo. May disturb vision. Avoid if hypersensitive to aspirin or or salicylates. Avoid during pregnancy and lactation. Can lower blood sugars so avoid if diabetes mellitus [301].
Habitats Rocky hills and woods on dry and mainly calcareous soils[4, 21, 43].
Range Eastern N. America - New Brunswick to Hudson Bay, south to North Carolina, Missouri and Arkansas.
Edibility Rating    (0 of 5)
Other Uses    (0 of 5)
Weed Potential No
Medicinal Rating    (3 of 5)
Care (info)
Fully Hardy Well drained soil Moist Soil Semi-shade Full sun
Polygala senega Senega Snake Root


http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Koeh-247.jpg
Polygala senega Senega Snake Root
Thomas G. Barnes @ USDA-NRCS PLANTS Database / Barnes, T.G., and S.W. Francis. 2004. Wildflowers and ferns of Kentucky. University Press of Kentucky.

 

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Summary


Physical Characteristics

 icon of manicon of flower
Polygala senega is a PERENNIAL growing to 0.3 m (1ft) by 0.3 m (1ft in).
See above for USDA hardiness. It is hardy to UK zone 2. It is in flower in June. The species is hermaphrodite (has both male and female organs).
Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and prefers well-drained soil. Suitable pH: mildly acid, neutral and basic (mildly alkaline) soils and can grow in very alkaline soils.
It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It prefers dry or moist soil.

UK Hardiness Map US Hardiness Map

Synonyms

Polygala albida. Senega officinalis.

Habitats

Woodland Garden Sunny Edge; Cultivated Beds;

Edible Uses

None known

References   More on Edible Uses

Medicinal Uses

Plants For A Future can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants. Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.
Abortifacient  Antidote  Cathartic  Diaphoretic  Diuretic  Emetic  Expectorant  Sialagogue  
Stimulant

Seneca snake root was employed medicinally by several native North American Indian tribes, who used it to treat a variety of complaints[257]. It is still used in modern herbalism where it is valued mainly as an expectorant and stimulant to treat bronchial asthma, chronic bronchitis and whooping cough[254].The root contains triterpenoid saponins, these promote the clearing of phlegm from the bronchial tubes. The root is antidote, cathartic, diaphoretic, diuretic, emetic, expectorant, sialagogue, stimulant[4, 21, 46, 165, 222, 238]. It was used by the North American Indians in the treatment of snake bites[4, 46] and has been found of use in the treatment of various respiratory problems including pleurisy and pneumonia[4, 257]. The root is harvested when the plant dies down in autumn and is dried for later use[4]. Use with caution[4, 21], excess doses cause diarrhoea and vomiting[238]. See also the notes above on toxicity. A tea made from the bark has been drunk in order to bring about a miscarriage[213]. The dried root is used as a stimulating expectorant - it is said to owe its medicinal value to the presence of saponins and in large doses is poisonous[213]. The root is harvested in the autumn[213]. The root has been used to treat snakebites, it is chewed and applied to the bite[213]. The German Commission E Monographs, a therapeutic guide to herbal medicine, approve Polygala senega for cough/bronchitis (see [302] for critics of commission E).

References   More on Medicinal Uses

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FOOD FOREST PLANTS

Other Uses

None known

Special Uses

References   More on Other Uses

Cultivation details

Prefers a moderately fertile moisture-retentive well-drained soil, succeeding in full sun if the soil remains moist throughout the growing season, otherwise it is best in semi-shade[200]. Dislikes shade according to another report. The sub-species P. senega latifolia. Torr.&Gray. is cultivated as a medicinal plant in Japan[174].

References   Carbon Farming Information and Carbon Sequestration Information

Temperature Converter

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Propagation

Seed - sow spring or autumn in a cold frame[214]. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on in the greenhouse for their first winter. Plant them out into their permanent positions in late spring or early summer, after the last expected frosts. Division. Cuttings of young shoots in a frame in late spring[1].

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here

Found In

Countries where the plant has been found are listed here if the information is available

Weed Potential

Right plant wrong place. We are currently updating this section. Please note that a plant may be invasive in one area but may not in your area so it’s worth checking.

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Status :

Related Plants
Latin NameCommon NameHabitHeightHardinessGrowthSoilShadeMoistureEdibleMedicinalOther
Polygala amaraBitter MilkwortPerennial0.2 5-9  LMHSNM01 
Polygala japonica Perennial0.3 -  LMHSNM12 
Polygala reinii Perennial0.3 -  LMHSNM01 
Polygala sibiricaYuan ZhiPerennial0.2 -  LMHSNDM13 
Polygala tenuifoliaYuan ZhiPerennial0.2 5-9  LMHSNM13 
Polygala theezans Perennial0.0 -  LMHSNM10 
Polygala vulgarisMilkwort, Common milkwortPerennial0.4 5-9  LMHSNM12 
Securidaca longipedunculataViolet TreeTree6.0 10-12  LMHSNM143

Growth: S = slow M = medium F = fast. Soil: L = light (sandy) M = medium H = heavy (clay). pH: A = acid N = neutral B = basic (alkaline). Shade: F = full shade S = semi-shade N = no shade. Moisture: D = dry M = Moist We = wet Wa = water.

 

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Readers comment

Debbie Cosgrove   Thu Nov 13 2008

do you know where i can buy seeds of polygala senega? or the plants. Debbie

Judy Flanigan   Tue Apr 14 2009

Gardens North (a mail-order seed company near Ottawa Ontario Canada) currently has seeds for Polygala senega. See link below.

Gardens North-Seeds for the World This company has seeds for many North American native plants.

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