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(Plantain family)


270 species in three genera are found in cosmopolitan distribution.

[Summary yet to be added]

Antirrhinum L.

Previously included in the Scrophulariaceae, the Angiosperm Phylogeny Group (2003) now places this genus in the Plantaginaceae.

McCord (1962) noted that a commercial extract of the plant was available for patch-testing. No clinical reports of dermatitis from the plant have been found but Hjorth (1968) recorded one positive patch test reaction in a series of tests to the plant, suggesting allergenicity.

Digitalis L.

Previously included in the Scrophulariaceae, the Angiosperm Phylogeny Group (2003) now places this genus in the Plantaginaceae.

20 to 30 species are found in Europe, the Mediterranean region and the Canary Islands. Digitalis purpurea L. provides Digitalis.

Contact sensitivity to foxglove was reported by Whitfield (cited by Prosser White 1934). Untoward reactions to digitalis were reviewed by Brauner and Greene (1972).

Powdered Digitalis leaf is occasionally adulterated; the following leaves have been substituted for the true drug: mullein (Verbascum thapsus, fam. Scrophulariaceae), comfrey (Symphytum officinale, fam. Boraginaceae), primrose (Primula vulgaris, fam. Primulaceae), ploughman's spikenard (Inula conyza, fam. Compositae), and stinging nettle (Urtica dioica, fam. Urticaceae) (British Pharmaceutical Codex 1934).

Gratiola officinalis L.

The dried plant was formerly official. Use of this plant in homeopathic medicine caused itching and burning of the scalp, pustules on the forehead and chest and blisters on the hands and fingers (Schulz 1929).

Previously classified in the Scrophulariaceae, the genus Gratiola L. was moved to the Plantaginaceae by the Angiosperm Phylogeny Group (2003).

Kickxia elatine Dumort.
[syn. Linaria elatine Mill.]
Sharp-Leaved Fluellen, Fluellin

Previously classified in the Scrophulariaceae, the genus Kickxia Dumort. was moved to the Plantaginaceae by the Angiosperm Phylogeny Group (2003).

Referring to Linaria elatine, Wren (1975) noted that the herb is used medicinally as an astringent and is recommended for bleeding of the nose. An infusion may be applied to wounds.

Linaria Mill.
Spurred Snapdragon, Toadflax, Leinkraut

Previously classified in the Scrophulariaceae, the genus was moved to the Plantaginaceae by the Angiosperm Phylogeny Group (2003).

Linaria alpina Mill.
[syn. Linaria petraea Jordan]
Alpine Toadflax, Alpen-Leinkraut

[Information available but not yet included in database]

Linaria vulgaris Hill
[syns Antirrhinum linaria L., Linaria vulgaris Mill.]
Common Toadflax, Ramsted, Wild Snapdragon, Yellow Toadflax

This species is listed as irritant by Pammel (1911). According to Wren (1975), an ointment made from the fresh plant forms a good application for haemorrhoids.

Neopicrorhiza scrophulariiflora D.Y.Hong
[syn. Picrorhiza scrophulariiflora Pennell]

[Information available but not yet included in database]

Plantago L.

265 species are found in cosmopolitan distribution.

Plantago seed may cause sensitisation and dermatitis (Greenberg and Lester 1954). The material is known as flea seed (Budavari 1996).

Plantago major L.
Common Plantain, Greater Plantain

In NW Moroccan traditional medicine, the fresh leaf is applied externally for treating wrinkles and skin abscesses (Merzouki et al. 2000).

The green parts of a plant, possibly this species, yield a mustard oil type of thioglucoside related to those of Cruciferae (Kjær 1960, 1963).

Plantago ovata Forrsk.
[syns Plantago brunnea Morris, Plantago fastigiata Morris, Plantago insularis Eastw., Plantago minima A.Cunn.]
Blond Psyllium, Desert Indianwheat

This plant yields medicinal psyllium which can cause sensitisation and dermatitis when used in permanent wave solutions (Greenberg and Lester 1954).

Rehmannia glutinosa Libosch. ex Fisch. & C.A.Mey.
[syns Digitalis glutinosa Gaertn., Rehmannia chinensis Libosch. ex Fisch. & C.A.Mey.]
Chinese Foxglove

[Information available but not yet included in database]

Scoparia dulcis L.
[syns Capraria dulcis Kuntze, Gratiola micrantha Nutt., Scoparia grandiflora Nash, Scoparia ternata Forrsk.]
Licorice Weed, Sweetbroom

The genus Scoparia L. has previously been classified in the Scrophulariaceae.

[Further information available but not yet included in database]

Veronica L.
Bird's Eye, Speedwell

The genus comprises about 180 species found mainly in northern temperate regions. Some are regarded as weeds (Mabberley 1997). The genus has previously been classified in the Scrophulariaceae and in the Veronicaceae, but has been moved to the Plantaginaceae by the Angiosperm Phylogeny Group (2003).

Veronica beccabunga L.
Brooklime, Water Pimpernel

Stuart (1979) noted that the plant has been used in folk medicine as an external application to ulcers.


  • 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]
  • Brauner, G.J. and Greene, M.H. (1972) Digitalis allergy: digoxin-induced vasculitis. Cutis 10: 441.
  • British Pharmaceutical Codex (1934) London. Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain.
  • Budavari S (Ed.) (1996) The Merck Index. An Encyclopedia of Chemicals, Drugs, and Biologicals. 12th edn. Whitehouse Station, NJ: Merck & Co., Inc.
  • Greenberg LA, Lester D (1954) Handbook of Cosmetic Materials. Their properties, uses, and toxic and dermatologic actions. With a bibliography of over 2,500 titles. New York: Interscience Publishers [doi] [WorldCat] [url] [url-2]
  • Hjorth, N. (1968) at Finsen Institute. Personal communication to JC Mitchell.
  • Kjær A (1960) Naturally derived isothiocyanates (mustard oils) and their parent glucosides. In: Zechmeister L (Ed.) Fortschritte der Chemie Organischer Naturstoffe / Progress in the Chemistry of Organic Natural Products / Progrés dans la Chimie des Substances Organiques Naturelles, Vol. 18, pp. 122-176. Vienna: Springer-Verlag [doi] [WorldCat] [url]
  • Kjaer, A. (1963) The distribution of sulphur compounds. In: Chemical Plant Taxonomy. ed. Swain, T. London. Academic Press. p. 453.
  • Mabberley DJ (1997) The Plant-Book. A portable dictionary of the vascular plants, 2nd edn. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press
  • McCord CP (1962) The occupational toxicity of cultivated flowers. Industrial Medicine and Surgery 31(8): 365-368
  • Merzouki A, Ed-derfoufi F, Molero Mesa J (2000) Contribution to the knowledge of Rifian traditional medicine. II: Folk medicine in Ksar Lakbir district (NW Morocco). Fitoterapia 71(3): 278-307 [doi] [url] [pmid]
  • Pammel LH (1911) A Manual of Poisonous Plants. Chiefly of North America, with Brief Notes on Economic and Medicinal Plants, and Numerous Illustrations. Cedar Rapids, IA: Torch Press [WorldCat] [url] [url-2]
  • Prosser White R (1934) The Dermatergoses or Occupational Affections of the Skin, 4th edn. London: HK Lewis [doi] [WorldCat] [url] [url-2]
  • Schulz, H. (1929) Vorlesungen uber Wirkung und Anwendyng der deutschen Arzneipflanzen. 2 Aufl. Leipzig. Cited by Touton (1932).
  • Stuart M (1979) Reference section. In: Stuart M (Ed.) The Encyclopedia of Herbs and Herbalism, pp. 141-283. London: Orbis Publishing [WorldCat] [url]
  • Touton K (1932) Hauterkrankungen durch phanerogamische Pflanzen und ihre Produkte (Toxicodermia et Allergodermia phytogenes) [Skin Diseases Caused by Phanerogamic Plants and their Products (Toxicodermia et Allergodermia phytogenes)]. In: Jadassohn J (Ed.) Handbuch der Haut- und Geschlechtskrankheiten. Band IV, Teil I. Angeborene Anomalien. Lichtdermatosen. Pflanzengifte. Thermische Schädigungen. Einfluss Innerer Störungen auf die Haut [Handbook of Skin and Venereal Diseases. Volume IV, Part I. Congenital abnormalities. Photodermatoses. Plant toxins. Thermal injuries. Influence of internal disorders on the skin], pp. 487-697. Berlin: Julius Springer [doi] [WorldCat] [url] [url-2]
  • Wren RC (1975) Potter's New Cyclopaedia of Botanical Drugs and Preparations. (Re-edited and enlarged by Wren RW). Bradford, Devon: Health Science Press [WorldCat] [doi] [url] [url-2]

Richard J. Schmidt

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