The Physiomedical Dispensatory by William Cook, M.D., 1869    



Description:  Natural Order, Musci.  These are among the tallest of this entire sub-order of mosses, growing in compact beds on thin soils, in the edges of dry woods, where their size and brilliant green color distinguish them from all other tribes of moss.  Stem four to seven inches high, sometimes divided, reddish or dark purple, shining, triangular, almost woody, growing from an erect and well-rooted rhizoma.  Leaves linear, awn-pointed, somewhat sheathing below, spreading above, margins inflexed and entire.   Florescence dioecious, with the male flower cup-shaped.  The seed (spore) vessel, or capsule, terminates a naked prolongation of the stem (pedicel), usually four inches above the leaves, and is oblong, four-sided, and with nearly acute angles.   The membranous calyptra covering the capsule is white, densely hairy, and finally splits on one side so as to form a sort of hood.  The lid (operculum) of the capsule is shortly rostrate from a convex base; and the mouth of the open capsule presents a peristome of sixty-four persistent teeth, in a single row.

Properties and Uses:  This plant was first brought into notice by Dr. Wm. Wood, of Connecticut, and was subsequently spoken of by Dr. A. Hunter, of Vermont, both Allopathic physicians; and to them is due the honor of its introduction, though Dr. King, with customary skill in “selecting,” claims it for the Eclectics. (See Am. Jour. Med. Sciences, vol. xxvii; and N. J. Med. and Surg. Reporter, vol. ix.)  It is a very prompt relaxant to the kidneys, securing an abundant flow of water without any especial elimination of solids.  The usual mode of employment is by infusion, made by digesting half an ounce of the herb in a quart of water; of which from one to three fluid ounces may be given every two to four hours.  Possessing but little taste, it is usually taken readily; but it is easily abused, and may cause rapid exhaustion of the kidneys.  Combined with the use of tonics, it may be used to good advantage in dropsy; and may be given alone in ordinary renal suppressions, and aching of the kidneys and bladder.

Medical Herbalism Journal