Quiz 14: Can you name this medicinal herb?

My absolute favourite spring herb to torture (and enjoy watching the reactions of) students on plant walks at work. This swamp dweller can be smelled a mile away – and for good reason!

Peterson’s Guide to Wild Edibles lists this as edible, but 1) I don’t believe it 2) I think the plant adaptation of housing calcium oxalate crystals which are known for their intense numbing and burning sensation make me think “it’s not such a good idea”. Even when boiled. If you know the smell – who the heck is going to do that in their house?

Medicinally a suitcase of uses as an oil from the roots can be used for ringworm, sores and swelling, to a tea used as an expectorant, antispasmodic and arthritis treatment. However, My favourite folklore use which I have come across has to do with passing the seeds over female genitals to bring on childbirth. If the seeds are anything like the leaves with the oxalate crystals in them, I would hate to think how LONG that pain would last. THEN squeezing a watermelon through a hole the size of a lime.

NB: Will suggest it to my pregnant friends and see what they have to say. Bonus points for Latin name!

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