WILD QUININE (Parthenium integrifolium), also known as Snakeroot and Prairie Dock, is an interesting, useful and decorative medicinal herb found growing throughout much of the eastern half of the US, but not commonly grown by American gardeners. A member of the sunflower family (Asteraceae) The large 3'-4' mounds produce pretty small white cauliflower-like clusters of slightly fragrant flowers throughout the summer and sometimes into fall that are long lasting in the vase. An attractant for all manner of pollinators. A very hardy plant once established, standing up well to both drought and unseasonably cold weather, it makes an unconventional but wildly pretty addition to the decorative border. Perennial. 100 seeds (but assume 50% germination since it is too difficult to separate out the fertile from infertile seeds). 120 days.
MEDICINAL PROPERTIES: Catawba and other Native Americans used the leaves to dress burns and also used for their horses' sore backs, and steeped the roots into a diuretic tea that was also a good expectorant and soothed sore throats. But its use is much broader and more complicated so I encourage you to do your own research if using for medicinal purposes. It is currently undergoing study as an immune stimulant, especially when combined with Echinacea. During World War I when the supply of quinine derived from the Cinchona tree was disrupted Wild Quinine was used as a substitute to treat malaria.
GROWING TIPS: Wild quinine is easy to grow by fall-casted seed or cold-stratify 4 to 6 weeks if planting in Spring. Grows best in fertile, well-drained soil in full-sun to light shade. Since it grows by a central taproot and rhizomes, make sure it is started on well-turned soil and give it some room. No known serious disease or insect problems, though one customer reports that the white-tailed deer in the Northeast ate all the buds, so take note.
SEED SAVING TIP: Let the flowerheads dry on the plant but note that only the outer ring of flowers on any head, the "ray" flowers, are fertile.