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common name for plants of the genus Phlox and for members of the Polemoniaceae, a family of herbs (and some shrubs and vines) found chiefly in the W United States.
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a genus of perennial and, less frequently, annual herbs of the family Polemoniaceae. The alternate, odd-pinnate leaves have many leaflets, and the light-blue pentamerous flowers are gathered into inflorescences. The calyx is companulate, and the corolla has a campanulate or rotate blade. The fruit is a capsule.
There are approximately 50 species, distributed in the cold and temperate belts of Eurasia, in North America, and, less frequently, in South America. The USSR has 15 species, growing predominantly in the arctic and in the alpine zone of the mountains. Jacob’s ladder (P. caeruleum) is found in the forest and forest-steppe regions of the European USSR and Siberia; it grows in moist meadows, along forest edges, in forests, and along rivers. All parts of the plant, especially the rhizome and the roots, contain saponins, resin, organic acids, and fatty and volatile oils. The saponin content reaches 20–30 percent. A broth or infusion of the rhizomes and roots is used as an expectorant and sedative.
Jacob’s ladder is cultivated as a medicinal plant (in Byelorussia and Western Siberia) and as an ornamental. It is grown on low-lying lands having groundwater close to the surface and having fertile soil with fine texture. The best precursors are clean or occupied fallow, winter crops, or tilled crops. Manure or compost is applied during autumn plowing; granulated superphosphate is added during sowing. Early in the spring of the second year of vegetation the plants are treated with a complete mineral fertilizer. Sowing is done before winter and in early spring. The plant is harvested at the end of the first or second year of vegetation. Other species raised as ornamentals include Polemoniumparviflora and P. pulchellum.
REFERENCEAtlas lekarstvennykh rastenii SSSR. Moscow, 1962.
T. V. EGOROVA