Virginia Snakeroot / Aristolochia Serpentaria

This plant should be used with caution, it is irritating in large doses and can cause nausea, griping pains in the bowels.

It should only be used internally under the supervision of a qualified practitioner.

Aristolochia serpentaria (Virginia Snakeroot) contains aristolochic acid which, whilst stimulating white blood cell activity and speeding the wound healing, can be damaging to the kidneys.

The root is an anti-inflammatory, bitter tonic, diaphoretic, diuretic and stimulant.

The native North Americans considered it to have analgesic properties and used an infusion internally to treat rheumatism, pain - but especially sharp pains in the breast, and as a wash for headaches. The boiled root, or a decoction of the whole plant, can be used to treat fevers. The chewed root or crushed leaves was applied to snakebites.

Cultivation notes


Virginia snakeroot is a delicate perennial plant; its fibrous, horizontal rootstock produces many thin roots, as well as a wavy stem that reaches 1-3 feet in height. The alternate thin, green leaves are ovate and cordate, tapering gradually to a point at the apex; strongly arrow-shaped. A few solitary purple flowers, calabash-pipelike, with an S-shaped calyx inflated at both ends, bloom on short, scaly branches near the bottom of the plant, often under the litter, during June and July

Added by wikiherbia on Sun 2 Sep 2012 on 7:46 pm GMT

Updated by wikiherbia on Sun 2 Sep 2012 at 7:46 pm GMT