|DESCRIPTION: It is a herbaceous plant reaching up to 30 cm in height. The stem is branching, and the leaves many-cleft and sessile. The flowers are large, yellow, and attractive. USE: A toxic principle is present in very small quantities in the plant. It is poorly absorbed so poisoning is unlikely. The plant contains cardiac glycosides similar to those found in the foxglove (Digitalis purpurea). These substances improve the heart's efficiency, increasing its output at the same time as slowing its rate. It also has a sedative action and so is generally prescribed for patients whose hearts are beating too fast or irregularly. The herb is not often prescribed, however, due to irregular absorption. The herb is cardiotonic, diuretic, sedative and vasoconstrictor. It has sometimes been used internally as a cardiotonic with success where the better known foxglove (Digitalis purpurea) has failed - especially where there is also kidney disease. The herb is also used in the treatment of low blood pressure and its strong diuretic action can be used to counter water retention. It is included in many proprietary medicines, especially since its effects are not cumulative. The plants are harvested every third year as they come into flower, they are dried for use in tinctures and liquid extracts. The herb does not store well so stocks should be replaced every year. The plant is used in homeopathy as a treatment for angina. GROWING PERIOD: Perennial. COMMON NAMES: Pheasant's eye. FURTHER INF: It can be found in eastern South Europe and into Russia. Naturalized in north-eastern United States. Found on sunny grassy hills on dry calcareous soils. A rare plant in most of its range, it has legal protection from gathering in most countries.