Herb: Indian Physic

Latin name: Gillenia trifoliata

Synonyms: Porteranthus trifoliatus

Family: Rosaceae (Rose Family)

Medicinal use of Indian Physic:

The dried powdered root bark is cathartic, slightly diaphoretic, a mild and efficient emetic, expectorant and tonic. Minute doses are used internally in the treatment of colds, chronic diarrhoea, constipation, asthma and other bronchial complaints. The roots have been used externally in the treatment of rheumatism. A cold infusion of the roots has been given, or the root chewed, in the treatment of bee and other stings. The roots are harvested in the autumn, the bark is removed and dried for later use. A tea made from the whole plant is strongly laxative and emetic. Minute doses are used internally in the treatment of colds, indigestion, asthma and hepatitis. A poultice or wash is used in the treatment of rheumatism, bee stings and swellings. A decoction or strong infusion of the whole plant has been taken a pint at a time as an emetic. A poultice of the plant has been used to treat leg swellings. The plant has been used in the treatment of toothaches.

Description of the plant:


120 cm
(4 feet)


Habitat of the herb:

Rocky open woods. Rich woods.

Propagation of Indian Physic:

Seed - sow spring or autumn in a cold frame. Prick out the seedlings when they are large enough to handle and grow on for the first year in a lightly shaded area of the greenhouse or cold frame. Plant out in late spring and protect from slugs until well established. Division in spring or autumn.

Cultivation of the herb:

Rocky open woods. Rich woods.

Known hazards of Gillenia trifoliata:

None known

Plant information taken from the Plants For A Future.