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(Broomrape family)


• Medicinal / Folk-medicinal aspects: Isolated reports document the use of some species in the external treatment of bruises, sores, and obstinate ulcers. A more substantial (but insubstantive) literature describes the use of eyebright in the treatment of minor eye affections. •
• Adverse effects: There is a theoretical risk of selenium poisoning on ingestion or of nickel or cobalt dermatitis from contact with some members of this family. •
• Veterinary aspects: The use of an eyewash prepared from eyebright together with other plant-derived materials in horses has been reported. •

The family comprises about 90 genera and more than 2000 species. Many of the genera were formerly included in the family Scrophulariaceae. The family is of cosmopolitan distribution, found mainly in temperate Eurasia, North America, South America, parts of Australia, New Zealand and tropical Africa. With the exception of the genus Lindenbergia Lehm., all members of this family are holoparasitic or hemiparasitic, annual or perennial herbs or shrubs growing on the roots of their host (Angiosperm Phylogeny Group 2003). The principal genera are Pedicularis L. (600-800 spp.), Castilleja Mutis ex L.f. (160-200 spp.), Euphrasia L. (170-350 spp.), Orobanche L. [150 spp.], and Buchnera L. [100 spp.] (Stevens 2001-2013d).

Buchnera henriquesii Engl.
[syn. Buchnera rhodesiana S.Moore]

[Information available but not yet included in database]

Castilleja Mutis ex L.f.
[syn. Orthocarpus Nutt.]
Indian Paintbrush, Prairie Fire

[Information available but not yet included in database]

Conopholis americana Wallr.
[syn. Orobanche americana L.]
American Cancer Root, Bear Corn, Squawroot

[Information available but not yet included in database]

Epifagus virginiana W.P.C.Barton
[syns Leptamnium virginianum Raf., Orobanche virginiana L.]
Beechdrops, Cancer Root, Orobanche de Virginie, Krebswurz

[Information available but not yet included in database]

Esterhazya Mikan

[Information available but not yet included in database]

Euphrasia rostkoviana Hayne
[syn. Euphrasia officinalis L.]
Eyebright, Eyewort, Augentrost, Casse-Lunettes, Euphraise Officinale, Euphraise de Rostkov

The crude drug known as eyebright is referred to as Euphrasia officinalis in the early literature, but this name has been deemed ambiguous by Sell & Yeo (1970) and therefore rejected in favour of Euphrasia rostkoviana. The name eyebright may also refer to Euphrasia stricta J.P.Wolff ex J.F.Lehm. and to the botanically unrelated Chamaesyce hypericifolia Millsp. and Chamaesyce thymifolia Millsp. (fam. Euphorbiaceae). To add further to this confusion, some authorities (Hong et al. 1998) now refer the ambiguous Euphrasia officinalis to Euphrasia pectinata Ten. subsp. pectinata (syn. Euphrasia tatarica Fisch. ex Spreng.).

The virtues of eyebright in eye lotions are mentioned by Flück & Jaspersen-Schib (1976), Stuart (1979), and Wren (1988).

[Further information available but not yet included in database]

Harveya speciosaBernh. ex Krauss
[syn. Cycnium tubatum Benth.]
Cream Harveya, Tall Ink Flower, Inkblom

[Information available but not yet included in database]

Orobanche uniflora L.
[syns Anoplanthus uniflorus Endl., Aphyllon uniflorum Torr. & A.Gray, Thalesia uniflora Britton]
Naked Broomrape, One-Flowered Broomrape, One-Flowered Cancer Root

[Information available but not yet included in database]

Pedicularis resupinata L.

[Information available but not yet included in database]

Sopubia delphiniifolia G.Don
[syn. Gerardia delphinifolia L.]
Larkspur-Leaved Sopubia

[Information available but not yet included in database]


  • Angiosperm Phylogeny Group (2003) An update of the Angiosperm Phylogeny Group classification for the orders and families of flowering plants: APG II. Botanical Journal of the Linnean Society 141(4): 399-436 [doi] [url] [url-2]
  • Flück H, Jaspersen-Schib R (1976) Medicinal Plants and their Uses. Medicinal plants, simply described and illustrated with notes on their constituents, actions and uses, their collection, cultivation and preparations. London: Foulsham [WorldCat]
  • Hong D, Yang H, Jin C, Holmgren NH (1998) SCROPHULARIACEAE. In: Wu Z, Raven PH (Eds) Flora of China. Scrophulariaceae—Gesneriaceae, Vol. 18, pp. 1-212. St Louis, MO: Missouri Botanical Garden Press [WorldCat] [url] [url-2]
  • Sell PD, Yeo PF (1970) A revision of the North American species of Euphrasia L. (Scrophulariaceae). Botanical Journal of the Linnean Society 63(3): 189-234 [doi] [url] [url-2]
  • Stevens PF (2001-2019) Angiosperm Phylogeny Website. Version 14. Lamiales. [online article]: https://www.mobot.org/mobot/research/apweb/orders/lamialesweb.htm#Lamiales ; accessed April 2019 [url] [url-2]
  • Stuart M (1979) Reference section. In: Stuart M (Ed.) The Encyclopedia of Herbs and Herbalism, pp. 141-283. London: Orbis Publishing [WorldCat] [url]
  • Wren RC (1988) Potter's New Cyclopaedia of Botanical Drugs and Preparations. (Rewritten by Williamson EM, Evans FJ). Saffron Walden: CW Daniel [WorldCat]
  • [ + 20 further references not yet included in database]

Richard J. Schmidt

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