1Any of a number of North American plants reputed to contain an antidote to snake poison.
('Virginia snakeroot') a birthwort with long heart-shaped leaves and curved tubular flowers (Aristolochia serpentaria, family Aristolochiaceae)
('white snakeroot') a poisonous plant that causes milk sickness in livestock (Eupatorium rugosum, family Compositae)‘Herbal medicine has contributed aspirin from willow bark, reserpine from snakeroot, taxol from the yew tree, but ‘natural’ is not automatically safe.’
- ‘Interestingly, according to Vogel, Senega snakeroot was ‘the chief remedy for heart trouble among the Potawatomis and Meskwakis‘.’
- ‘Wood wrote that their poison could kill a man in an hour unless he treated the bite with snakeroot, moreover if the victim lived, the snake died.’
2Any of a number of plants thought to resemble a snake in shape, in particular Indian snakeroot.See rauwolfia‘According to legend, mentioned and discredited by Rudyard Kipling in his story ‘Rikki Tikki Tavi,’ mongooses eat Indian snakeroot before engaging in battle with cobras.’
- ‘The Natural Database rates valerian (with or without lemon balm) as possibly effective for insomnia; however, they have found insufficient evidence to recommend Indian snakeroot.’