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several species of plants of various families.
The name most often refers to Polygonum bistorta, a herbaceous plant of the family Polygonaceae. The thick, twisted, snakelike rhizome contains tannins, gallic and ellagic acid, catechin, oxymethylanthraquinone, starch, glucose, vitamin C, provitamin A, dyes, and other substances. The liquid extract and the decoction of the rhizome are used as astringents and antiphlogistics internally for intestinal disorders and uterine and gastrointestinal hemorrhages and externally for inflammatory diseases of the mucous membranes.
The name “snake weed” is also given to Virginia snake root (Aristolochia serpentaria), a North American plant of the family Aristolochiaceae. In various localities of the USSR “snakeweed” is used for about ten other species of plants, including ladies’-tobacco (Antennaria dioica)’, species of the genus Gnaphalium, family Compositae; and the lily of the valley (Maianthemum bifolium), family Liliaceae.