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a genus of perennial bulbous herbs of the family Liliaceae. The leaves are linear and elongate. The small flowers are in a long and dense spicate inflorescence at the apex of the scape. The perianth consists of six narrow segments that are free. The fruit is a three-celled capsule with six to nine seeds.
There are about ten species, distributed in the southern part of North America and in Central and South America. The plants are most common in Mexico. The best-known species, S. officinale, is found in the mountains of Mexico, Guatemala, and Venezuela. Its seeds are poisonous: they contain the alkaloids veratridine, cevadine, sabadine, veragenine, and veracevine. An infusion or tea made from the seeds is used against parasites of animals and humans. The preparation veratrine—a combination of the alkaloids in the form of an infusion or ointment—is used to treat pains of the joints and neuralgia.