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` Spigelia marilandica
Spigelia marilandica
Click to enlarge like Hummingbirds, huh? Boy, have I got a plant for you! Spigelia marilandica is an easy to grow native plant that does well just about anywhere in the garden. Here, they thrive in a spot that gets sun from 10:00 AM to about 1:00 PM on an average Summer day. The soil is kind of rich, but well drained.

Spigelia marilandica has supple, dark green foliage that persists the growing season long. The bright red trumpets with brilliant yellow throats open from the bottom of the flower stem to the top over a long period of time. They're a real traffic stopper at the front to middle of any border.

By the way, it was voted one of the top 10 Hummingbird plants by Operation Rubythroat. You can find out more about Hummingbirds at their website and just wait till you see what happens to your cursor when you go to their pages.

Propagation is frustrating, if not near impossible from cuttings. The best results I've ever obtained (20%), were with 2500 parts per million Potassium salts of Indole butyric acid (Rootone), bottom heat and mist. But............seeds are really easy to germinate. In fact, the plants will self seed into a nice little colony if left to their own devices. If you want to consciously collect the seeds, you must practice diligence. Although they are not spit a great distance by the plant, they do tend to disperse themselves rather quickly after ripening to a dark black color. You should visit your plants daily if you are intent on collecting seed.

There are related species in the genus. Spigelia texana - .jpg and a few tropical species. There's also an endangered species, Spigelia gentianoides, see

Other members of the Loganiaceae family are Buddleia, Gelsimium & Desfontainea.

Just the facts M'am:
Kingdom -
Plantae - Plants
Subkingdom - Tracheobionta - Vascular plants
Superdivision - Spermatophyta - Seed plants
Division - Magnoliophyta - Flowering plants
Class - Magnoliopsida - Dicotyledons
Subclass - Asteridae
Order - Gentianales
Family - Loganiaceae
Genus - Spigelia
Species - marilandica
Common name - genus - ?
Common name - species - "Indian Pink", "Pinkroot", "Wormgrass"
Synonyms -
Native of - see
USDA Hardiness Zone - zone 5, maybe 4?
Light preference - Light shade to part sun
Soil preference - Average
Moisture preference - Average to moist
Bloom time - Early Summer
Bloom color - Red with yellow throat
Foliage - Medium to dark green, somewhat glossy
Spread - clumps to about 12"
Height - 12" -24"
Landscape uses - Middle part sun to shade border or wild woodland garden
Medicinal uses - See below, also

So, I asked my friend Jim Duke, to give me a short, few sentence blurb about the medicinal uses of Spigelia marilandica and I get back 503 words. If I'd asked him for a paragraph, I would have probably received a small book. Jim is a prolific writer and a brilliant guy. I am honored to have his words here. A short bio about Jim follows his blurb. If you'd like to learn more about this fascinating man, just go to and type in his name. Jim has a very cool mini course in Medical Botany at and Father Natures Farmacy at:

So here's what Jim says about Spigelia marilandica:

"Coming from Maryland, I bring it to you, the herb known as Maryland Pink, Carolina Pink, Pinkroot, and Wormgrass.I have it in my garden. I met the related very poisonous species in Panama. I am a bit wary of both species, close to the strychnine family.
King's Dispensatory tells us that it was used by the Native Americans for worms, long before Columbus. But raises a question with me saying that "it is generally received in bales or casks from the western states, in which section it has been found growing in great abundance." I consider it an eastern species, and that's why I bring it to Utah, though it is reported to range to Texas and Oklahoma.. "A well-known worm tea is composed of pinkroot, ounce; senna, 2 drachms; savine, drachm; manna, 2 drachms. Mix and infuse in a pint of water. Dose, 1 to 2 fluid ounces...Spigelia is a remedy for endocardial troubles,but is regarded as inferior to the Spigelia
Linne, both being used for the same purposes in cardiac affections. ..It will keep for some time in a cool place, and its flavor may be improved by substituting syrup of raspberries, strawberries, gooseberries, or mulberries, etc., for the sugar. It is also useful for
those conditions of the system caused by worms, which resemble infantile remittent and other febrile diseases, and hydrocephalus.
I'm not sure that Tommy Bass is sure: "Boy, sometimes there'll be ten or fifteen shoots come up from one root, and you can tell how old the roots are by counting them shoots." I've got a lot of shoots Squeezing in between by weedy Aegopodium. I agree with him: "It's another plant you have to use kind of careful. It's powerful. You use a laxative with it. I've known it as a worm medicine and a cough remedy. You use an ounce of roots to a pint of water and take a tablespoon as needed. I dug many a pound and sold it for
thirty-five cents a pound. It brings good money. It's about two or three dollars a pound now." Crellin and Philpott (1989) note that the
"anthelmintic property is due to the alkaloid spigelline, which possesses considerable toxicity" Steinmetz suggests that the herb is cardiac, narcotic, sedative, soporific, tonic, toxic and vermifuge.. Lust is strong: "CAUTION: Pinkroot may produce side effects, such as rapid heartbeat, dizziness and sluggishness. An overdose can be fatal...Not recommended for use without medical supervision."
My own CRC Handbook of Medicinal Herbs devotes seven lines to uses, 6 to toxicity""Has been used for poisoning humans, the toxic effects similar to those of strychnine. Effects of spigeline are rather like those of coniiine, lobeline, and nicotine (Could transdermal use help smokers quit?). If not followed by a saline aperient, even proper doses may lead to disturbed vision (dimness), dizziness, muscular spasms, twitching eyelids, dilated pupils, facial spasms, and increased heart activity. In large doses, circulation and respiration are depressed and muscular power diminished; there have been fatalities in children."

Jim Duke is a poet, humorist, songwriter, and retired USDA scientist who created the United States Department of Agriculture's plant chemical database. He is also a prolific author, eco-tourism advocate, and is said to be the inspiration for the Sean Connery movie "Medicine Man." Jim Duke is one of the most respected and beloved figures in the current "American herbal renaissance." As comfortable exploring plant resources in the Amazon as he is working with the "healing gardens" at his Fulton, Maryland "herbal farmette," Dr. Duke is a lecturer with the depth that only years of study coupled with extensive field experience can bring. The opportunity to spend time with him and a small group in the field is not to be missed.

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2001 Barry Glick and Sunshine Farm & Gardens

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Last modified February 25, 2020