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Common Name: Papoose Root
Caulophyllum thalictroides is a perennial plant that can grow up to 0.50 metres tall.
It is harvested from the wild for local use as a food and medicine
This plant should not be used during pregnancy prior to the commencement of labour[
Eastern N. America - New Brunswick to South Carolina, Arkansas, North Dakota and Manitoba.
Rich moist soils in swamps, by streams[
] and in woods[
Easily grown in a damp light humus-rich woodland soil preferring a position in deep shade[
]. One report says that it is best in a peat garden.
Plants are hardy to at least -20°c[
The plant only produces one large leaf each year[
]. The seeds rupture the ovary before they are fully ripe and continue to expand naked, they are bright blue when fully ripe[
The roasted seed is a coffee substitute[
]. The seeds are about the size of large peas, but are not produced in abundance[
Papoose root is a traditional herb of many North American Indian tribes and was used extensively by them to facilitate child birth[
]. Modern herbalists still consider it to be a woman's herb and it is commonly used to treat various gynaecological conditions[
]. An acrid, bitter, warming herb, it stimulates the uterus, reduces inflammation, expels intestinal worms and has diuretic effects[
The root is anthelmintic, antispasmodic, diaphoretic, diuretic, emmenagogue, oxytocic and sedative[
]. An infusion of the root in warm water is taken for about 2 weeks before the expected birth date in order to ease the birth[
]. This infusion can also be used as an emmenagogue and a uterine stimulant[
]. Papoose root should therefore be used with some caution by women who are in an earlier stage of pregnancy since it can induce a miscarriage or early delivery[
]. The plant is also taken internally in the treatment of pelvic inflammatory disease, rheumatism and gout[
]. It should not be prescribed for people with hypertension and heart diseases[
]. The powdered root can have an irritant action on the mucous membranes, therefore any use of this plant is best under the supervision of a qualified practitioner[
The roots are normally harvested in the autumn, because they are at their richest at this time[
], and are dried for later use.
The root is harvested in early spring as new growth is beginning and is used to make a homeopathic remedy[
]. It is used especially in childbirth and in some forms of rheumatism[
Seed - best sown as soon as it is ripe in a shady part of a cold frame[
]. If stored seed is used, it should be sown as soon as it is received. Germination can be erratic. Prick out the seedlings as soon as they are large enough to handle and grow them on in a shady part of a greenhouse or cold frame for at least their first winter. Plant them out into their permanent positions during autumn or early winter.
Division in spring or just after flowering[
]. Plants are slow to increase[