Queen's Delight

This genus includes about 30 species of perennials and evergreen or deciduous shrubs, which range throughout tropical and warm parts of the Americas, to Madagascar and eastern Malaysia. It is doubtful whether any species are in cultivation. In common with most members of the family. Euphorbiaceae, Stillingia species contain an irritant milky sap, In S. sylvatica the irritant properties are similar to those of Daphne species (See, Daphne Gwenka) but are mostly lost in preparations of the dried root. The boiled, mashed roots of S. sylvatica were eaten by native N American women after childbirth and used by settlers as an external treatment for menstrual irregularity. The herb was popular in the southern USA as a cure for constipation and by 1828 was used to relieve pain and ulceration after treatment for syphilis. The acrid, fresh root was chewed for bronchial complaints, and a tincture was made with Drosera rotundifolia (See, Round-Leaved Sundew) and Passiflora incarnata (See, Passion Flower) to treat the early stages of tuberculosis. Stillingia was named after Dr. Benjamin Stillingfleet (1702-71), and English botanist.

Perennial with leathery, ovate leaves, to 8cm (3in) long. Small, green-yellow, male and female flowers, without petals, are borne separately in erect spikes, 5-10cm (2-4in) long, in summer, followed by 3-seeded capsules.

Common Name:
Queen's Delight
Other Names:
Yaw Root
Botanical Name:
Stillingia sylvatica
Native Location:
Eastern N America
Dry, sandy, acid soil in sun or partial shade.
By seed sown in autumn or spring; by division in spring.
Roots are lifted in late summer and early autumn, and dried for use in decoctions, elixirs, liquid extracts, tablets and tinctures. They should be processed as soon as possible after harvesting because their properties deteriorate rapidly. Dried roots should be discarded after two years.
60cm-1.2m (2-4ft)
60-90cm (24-36in)
Parts Used:
A bitter, acrid, tonic herb with an unpleasant odor. It is alterative, diuretic, expectorant, and laxative.
Medicinal Uses:
Internally for syphilis, and for liver, genito-urinary, and bronchial complaints. Combined with other depurative or alterative herbs, e.g. Trifolium pratense (See, Red Clover), in tonic and "blood purifying" formulas.
Excess causes diarrhea and vomiting.
For use by qualified practioners only.
Encyclopedia of Herbs by Deni Brown Copyright © 1995, 2001 Dorling Kindersley Limited Pg 375