The Medicinal Plant Garden

of Birmingham-Southern College

  • Parthenium integrifolium
  • Parthenium integrifolium

Common Name

Wild Quinine, Prairie-Dock, Cutting-Almond, Nephritic-Plant, American Feverfew

Related Species

Parthenium integrifolium is most commonly referred to as Wild Quinine (Foster and Duke, 2000; Coffey, 1994; Duke et al., 2002), but some other names are Prairie-Dock, Cutting-Almond, Nephritic-Plant (common in North Carolina) and American Feverfew (Coffey, 1994). Duke et al. (2002) suggests a common name of Missouri Snakeroot, but state that Missouri Snakeroot has been closely linked with species of Echinacea over the last fifty years.

Other plants related to P. integrifolium include P. auriculatum and P. hispidum (Coffey, 1994; NIH 2011).

Geographic Distribution and Habitat

Wild quinine can be found in the United States, East to West from Texas to New York State and North to South from Minnesota to Alabama (USDA). The natural habitat of Wild Quinine is typically dry prairies and woods (Wildflower Database).

Description

The growth habit of Wild Quinine is normally one of an herbaceous forb that is upright and stiff. Stems vary in size, and they grow anywhere from 16-48 inches in size. Underground, a tuberous root is found. The leaves are widely dispersed near the base of the plant and have toothed edges. Leaf concentration decreases near the top of the plant, and a majority of the basal leaves measure approximately 14 inches. P. integrifolium has white compound flowers in an inflorescence, which can reach 8 inches in diameter. The plant flowers in the summer and fall. Wild quinine flowers are known for their pleasant but medicinal fragrance (USDA).

Portion of the Plant Used

Ethnobotanically, the leaves and the tuberous roots have been the only known portions of the plants used (Bown, 2001). The flowers have been used in floral arrangements (USDA).

Traditional Uses

Several Native American Indian tribes used wild quinine leaves made into a poultice to treat burns, and tea made from the leaves of the plant to treat dysentery. Wild quinine also had veterinarian medicine properties as well (USDA). The first European settlers of the New World soon found that wild quinine treated fevers, coughs, and sore throats (Fairchild, 2012). Currently, Duke et al. (2002) describe antibacterial, antiseptic, and immunostimulant properties for wild quinine. It is also indicated for general bacteria, bronchitis, colitis, “cold,” cough, fatigue, immunodepression, and non-specific infections (Duke et al., 2002). During World War I, when the cinchona tree, whose bark provides the ingredient the true quinine, was in short supply, wild quinine was substituted to treat malaria (Fairchild, 2012).

Research

Not much research has been conducted using P. integrifolium as the species of investigation. Yang et al. (2013) report that parthenolide from P. integrifolium reduce tumor burden, and physical wasting in murine model systems (Yang et al., 2013). However, this is the only report of parthenolide from P. integrifolium, which is commonly found in Tanacetum parthenium (see review by Mathema et al., 2012), and which has been the subject of most research.

Side Effects, Interactions, and Contraindications

No side effects, interactions, or contraindications are associated with Wild Quinine (Duke et al., 2002).