- n Prenanthes genus of North American and Asiatic perennial herbs having pinnatisect leaves small heads of drooping yellowish to purple flowers; sometimes includes species often placed in genus Nabalus
Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia
- n prenanthes A genus of composite plants of the tribe Cichoriaceæ and subtribe Lactuceæ. It is characterized by nearly cylindrical or slightly compressed three- to five-angled achenes without beaks or ribs, and loosely panicled, nodding heads of ligulate flowers, with a peculiar cylindrical and slender involucre, having a few short bracts at its base, and mainly composed of from five to fourteen long and equal soft bracts in a single row, unchanged after blossoming. There are 20 species, natives of southern Europe, the Canary Islands, the East Indies, Japan, and North America. They are smooth and erect herbs, often tall and wand-like, or climbing (in a Himalayan species), with commonly whitish or yellowish flowers and copious pappus—a few American species being exceptional in their rough hairy inflorescence, or erect flowers. The leaves are alternate, and often of very peculiar shapes—arrow- or halberd-shaped, lyrate, or irregularly lobed, sometimes with great variation on the same plant. Three closely connected American species, P. alba, P. serpentaria, and P. altissima, are variously called white lettuce, lion's-foot, rattlesnake-root, and gall-of-the-earth — one, P. serpentaria, being locally reputed a cure for rattlesnake-bites. See cancer-weed, and cut under rattlesnake-root.