Leptandra virginica-Blackroot

Family: Leptandra Virginica (NUTT.)

Other names: Veronicastrum virginicumCulver’s root, Culver’s-root, Culverpsyic, Culver’s physic, Bowman’s root, Blackroot;  Leptandra virginica (L.) Nutt., Veronica virginica L, Veronica purpurea,  Paederota Virginica, Physic Root, Leptandra-Wurzel,  Eustachya purpurea and Eustachya alba, Beauman’s Root

Description of Blackroot:

Blackroot; Leptandra virginica, is a herbaceous perennial was included by Linnaeus in the genus Veronica, but was later assigned by Nuttall to the genus Leptandra, a nomenclature followed by present-day botanists. It has a simple, erect stem, 3 or 4 feet high or more, smooth and downy, furnished with leaves in whorls and terminating in a long spike of white flowers, 15cm-22cm long. The leaves, of which there are from four to seven in each whorl, are lanceolate, pointed and minutely serrate, and stand on short footstalks. A variety with purple flowers has been described as a distinct species under the name of Leptandra purpurea. The plant flowers in July and August. It grows throughout the United States, in the south mostly in mountain meadows – in the north in rich woods, and is not unfrequently cultivated. It will grow readily in Britain. The rhizome and roots are nearly odourless, the taste bitter and rather acrid, and are generally used dried. The rhizome is of horizontal growth, nearly cylindrical, somewhat branched, externally dark brown to purplish brown, smooth and faintly longitudinally wrinkled, and showing stem bases at intervals of 1.5cm-3cm. The rootlets, rising from the under portion, are wiry and brittle when dry.

leptandra viginica, blackrootHabitat of Blackroot:

Native to North America’s meadows, rich woods, thickets and prairies. Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and prefers well-drained soil. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It cannot grow in the shade. It prefers moist soil. Woodland Garden Sunny Edge is a perfect location for it!

Propagation of Blackroot:

Seed – sow autumn in a cold frame. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and plant them out in the summer. If you have sufficient quantity the seed can be sown outdoors in situ in the autumn or the spring. Division in autumn or spring. Larger divisions can be planted out direct into their permanent positions. We have found that it is best to pot up smaller divisions and grow them on in light shade in a greenhouse or cold frame until they are growing away well. Plant them out in the summer or the following spring.


Culinary: No known uses any recipes please just send them in!


Medicinal uses of Black Root Plant:

Actions: Cholagogue, hepatic, laxative, diaphoretic, anti-spasmodic.

Part Used: Rhizome and root.


Black Root is used as a reliever of liver congestion and for an inflamed gall-bladder (cholecystitis). When jaundice is due to liver congestion, also use Black Root, as it will help whenever there is any sign of liver problems. Chronic constipation can often be due to a liver dysfunction, in which case this herb is also ideal.

Priest & Priest tell us that it is a “mild relaxing hepatic for torpid and congestive conditions, influencing the liver assisting the secretion of bile. It also cleanses the alimentary tract of viscid mucus and stimulates peristalsis” They give the following specific indications: hepatitis, cholecystitis, chronic hepatic torpor, non-obstructive jaundice, to clear the bowels in febrile states, haemorrhoids and skin eruptions.

Ellingwood considered it specific for “malaise from malarial influence, great lassitude and torpor, gloominess or mental despondency.” He states that it “has no superior and is certainly under-estimated”. In addition he recommends it for the following pathologies: malarial conditions, to tone the gastro-intestinal canal and stimulate the glandular organs, jaundice.

Kings Dispensatory describes its specific indications and uses as “Drowsiness, dizziness, and mental depression, with tenderness and heavy pain in the hepatic region, the tongue is coated markedly white, the skin is yellow, there is a bitter taste, cold extremities, nausea and dull frontal headache; thirst, with inability to drink; restlessness, with insomnia; diarrhoea, with half-digested passages, or clay-coloured evacuations; enfeebled portal circulation, with lassitude and gloomy and depressed mental state.”

Preparations & Dosage of Blackroot:

Decoction: put 1-2 teaspoonfuls of the dried Black Cohosh Root in a cup of cold water and bring to the boil. Simmer for 10 minutes. Take one cup three times a day.

Tincture: take 1-2 ml of the tincture three times a day.


Black Root will combine well with Barberry and Dandelion Rt. Black Root Salve for haemorrhoids combine with Stone Root.

Other uses:

None known

Esoteric uses of Blackroot:

No known magical uses; if you do use it please just let us know.

The Chemistry:

Constituents: Active constituents largely unknown, however it is known to contain:

  • Volatile oil with esters of cinnamic acid, methoxycinnamic acid and dimethoxycinnamic acid
  • Saponins
  • Mannitol, dextrose, tannin etc.