Caryophyllaceae / Pink
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Lore: As the name implies the a lather can be produced from the foliage of this plant. The saponins in this plant have been valued as a cleanser for all manner of things from skin to metals. The name Bouncing Bet is an old fashion name for a wash woman.(Olmstead) Thought it is considered toxic the Dutch used it to give a better head to beer and saponins are still used for that purpose.(Dobelis)
Medical Uses: A tea from the leaves has been used as a diuretic, laxative
and expectorant. The lather has been used to clean the skin effected by poison ivy or other rashes and acne. It has
been poulticed on various skin sores.
Warning: The plant is considered toxic in large doses.
Similar Species: Cowherb or Cow
Cockle (S. vaccaria) is more slender and only grows to about 60cm (2'). The calyx has five sides and the pink
flowers are smaller than those of S. officinalis.
One of the best general guides to wildflowers of the North Eastern and North Central United States. Newcomb's key is an excellent, simple method for identifying plants. Newcomb has drawings for almost every plant mentioned that are excellent aids to identifying the species. Though only the more common plants are covered this is often the first book I pick up when trying to identify a wildflower.
This is perhaps the best of many field guides covering this region. Featuring 446 excellent color photographs (located with the text) and mentioning as similar to those illustrated are another 800 or so species for a total coverage of over 1,200 species. The start of each family section includes line drawings of some of the species showing important features. The text includes the usual description, bloom season, range, habitat and additionally includes information such as medical uses and lore and how the species was named. This is the official field guide of the Tennessee Native Plant Society.
Angiosperms / Flowering Plants
Dicots / Two Seed Leaves