Deertongue Health Dictionary

Deertongue: From 1 Different Sources

Carphephorus odoratissimus

FAMILY: Asteraceae (Compositae)

SYNONYMS: Trilisa odoratissima, Liatris odoratissima, Frasera speciosa, hound’s tongue, deer’s tongue, Carolina vanilla, vanilla leaf, wild vanilla, vanilla trilisa, whart’s tongue, liatrix (oleoresin or absolute).

GENERAL DESCRIPTION: A herbaceous perennial plant distinguished by a naked receptacle and feathery pappus, with large, fleshy, dark green leaves, clasped at the base. When fresh, the leaves have little odour but when dried they acquire a vanilla-like odour, largely due to the coumarin that can be seen in crystals on the upper sides of the leaves.

DISTRIBUTION: Native to eastern USA; gathered on the savannah land between North Carolina and Florida.

OTHER SPECIES: There are several species of deertongue native to America, for example blazing star or prairie pine (Liatris squarrosa), and gayfeather (L. spicata). Not to be confused with the common vanilla (Vanilla planifolia) or with the European hound’s tongue (Cynoglossum officinale), all of which have been used in herbal medicine.

HERBAL/FOLK TRADITION: The roots have been used for their diuretic effects, and applied locally for sore throats and gonorrhoea. It has also been used as a tonic in treating malaria. In folklore the plant is associated with contraception and sterility in women.

ACTIONS: Antiseptic, demulcent, diaphoretic, diuretic, febrifuge, stimulant, tonic.

EXTRACTION: Oleoresin by solvent extraction from the dried leaves.

CHARACTERISTICS: A dark green, heavy, viscous liquid with a rich, herbaceous, new-mown hay scent. It blends well with oakmoss, labdanum, lavandin, frankincense, clove, patchouli and oriental-type fragrances.

PRINCIPAL CONSTITUENTS: Mainly coumarin (1.6 per cent), with dihydrotoumarin and terpenes, aldehydes and ketones.

SAFETY DATA: ‘Coumarin has toxic properties including liver injury and haemorrhages.’. (There is also the possibility of dermal irritation and phototoxicity due to the lactones present.)


OTHER USES: The oleoresin is used as a fixative and fragrance component in soaps, detergents and perfumery work. Used for flavouring tobacco and; also employed for the isolation of coumarin.

Health Source: The Encyclopedia of Essential Oils
Author: Julia Lawless

Recent Searches