Blackroot officinalis

Other names: Apukhta, Red henbane, Living grass, Scrofulous grass, Goose, Kostolom, Kuzhukha, Cat soap, Likhodeyka, Lopushnik, Dog medunka, Dog tongue, Steppe elezhnyak, Dog root, Night blindness, Shalenets, Schelkukha.

Diseases and effects: diarrhea, pain in the stomach and intestines, cough, hemoptysis, purulent infections, cancer, joint pain, bone fractures, boils, burns, wounds, snake and dog bites.

Active substances: alkaloids cynoglossin, cynoglossein, glucoalkaloid consolidin, heliosupin, choline, resins, carotene, essential and fatty oils, alkanine coumarins, tannins, inulin, cinnamic and fumaric acids.

Family: borage (Boraginaceae)\r

The scientific name of the genus comes from the Greek words: scien – “dog” and glossi – “tongue” – after the similarity of leaves with the tongue of a dog.\r

Folk names: apuhta, red henbane, live grass, scrofulous grass, goose, bone breaker, kuzhukha, cat soap, lihodeyka, burdock, medunka, dog medunka, dog tongue, burdock, steppe spruce tree, dog root, chicken blindness, shalenets, lyka. \r

Botanical description


Black root officinalis is a biennial herbaceous grayish-pubescent plant 35-100 cm high with an unpleasant odor. Toxic.\r

The root is dark, thick, taproot.\r

Stems few, furrowed with densely leafy branches in the upper part. Basal leaves are oblong, lanceolate cuttings, 15-20 cm long and 2-5 cm wide, dying off at the time of flowering. Stem leaves thin upward, lanceolate, sharp, the lower ones are cuttings, the middle ones and the upper ones are sessile.\r

Flowers adjoining on long pedicels, small, in curls, collected in a paniculate inflorescence. Corolla funnel-shaped, dirty dark red, sometimes red-blue, limb 5-7 mm in diameter, with ovate-rounded lobes. Pedicels are felt-pubescent, elongating up to 15 cm in fruits and arcuately drooping. Blooms in late spring and in the first half of summer.\r

The fruits  are nuts 5-7 cm long, ovoid, covered with anchor-like spines and enclosed in the remaining calyx.\r

Propagated by seeds.\r

Distribution . It is found in the European part of Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, Siberia, Central Asia, and the Caucasus. It grows in wastelands and fields, on cliffs in weedy places, shrubs, near dwellings and along roads. Has a reputation for being a weed.\r

Medicinal raw materials are roots and grass (stems, leaves, flowers).\r

Collection and preparation . The leaves are harvested during the flowering period, and the roots in the fall.\r

active ingredients . All organs contain alkaloids (cynoglossin, cynoglossein, glucoalkaloid consolidin, heliosupin), choline, resins, carotene, essential and fatty oils (0.1% in above-ground organs); in the roots and seeds – coumarins alkine, tannins, inulin, cinnamic and fumaric acids, in the roots – a dye. The poisonous alkaloid cynoglossin has a weak curare-like effect.\r



Black root is quite popular in folk medicine. The roots and leaves are used as an expectorant, analgesic, sedative and anticonvulsant. Infusion of herbs, infusion of roots and their alcohol tincture in small quantities are taken for diarrhea and as a sedative for pain in the stomach and intestines, for coughing, hemoptysis, for purulent infections, cancer. A decoction of the roots in the form of local baths, washings, lotions is used for pain in the joints, bone fractures as a means of dulling pain and promoting rapid bone fusion. Also in the form of lotions it is used for inflammatory processes of the skin, boils, burns, wounds, bites of snakes, dogs. The plant has antibacterial activity.\r

In medical practice, black root is currently used very rarely. Occasionally, only the leaves are used as a means of soothing pain and cramps. The roots are included in the pharmacopoeias of many countries and are used in homeopathy.\r

Tibetan medicine believes that black root has a wound-healing effect, dries up pus, treats diseases from ectoparasites, as well as tumors of the female genital area (in the form of douching).\r

Black root is one of the plants that have the ability to repel rodents. Therefore, the juice of the roots, grass, flowers are used to protect human dwellings from mice and rats. Mice cannot stand the smell of fresh blackroot and run away from the house where this plant is available. Experiments on rats established the inhibitory effect of products from the root of the plant on reproductive function. In addition, a sedative and hypotensive effect of black root was found, and its ability to stimulate the peristalsis of the small intestine of rats was revealed. The root of the plant also works on bed bugs.\r

Roots can be used to dye fabrics red.\r

The plant is poisonous, and therefore, its products should be used with caution. \r

Fresh juice is consumed 5-10 drops 3 times every day. In the same doses, tincture is also taken.\r

Decoction of black root \r

  • Prepared from a ratio of 1: 40. Drink it 1/2 teaspoon 3 times every day.\r
  • 1 teaspoon of crushed black root roots per 1 liter of water, boil for 15 minutes in a sealed container, leave for 12 hours, strain. Use externally for washings, lotions, baths.


Ointment . Crushed fresh root (can be passed through a meat grinder) is mixed equally with pork unsalted melted fat.\r

Scald black root leaves with boiling water, chop, wrap in gauze. Use the pads as an anesthetic for arthritic, rheumatic, gouty pains.\r

Use against rodents. If you grow black root officinalis on the site, rodents will not touch fruit trees and shrubs in the garden, they will even bypass food supplies in country houses. On a plot of 4-6 acres in different places, closer to fruit trees and housing, plant 10-15 plants. Leave them uncut for the first three years. Then you can cut all the plants, dry them, and before the snow falls, spread the leaves under fruit trees, shrubs, crushing them with rubble. To scare away rodents, tie the leaves and stems of the plant to the trunk of a fruit tree from 2 sides with ordinary threads to the height of snowfall. Hang bundles of fresh blackroot leaves on shrubs for the winter.

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