Smallanthus uvedalia - (Linnaeus) Mackenzie ex Small
Asteraceae (Composite Sunflower) Family
Known synonyms: Smallanthus uvedalia, Polymnia macrophylla, P. maculata and Osteospermum uvedalia
Bear's-Foot is also known as Large-Flowered Leafcup, Yellow Leafcup and Hairy Leafcup.
Plant is a tall (depending on favorable habitats), upright smooth or hairy perennial herb with hollow stems. Preferred habitat is alluvial and terrace soils. Distribution is throughout the Escambia region except directly at seashore.
Leaves are large and palm-like with 3-5 lobes, 6-12 inches long and often nearly as wide, prominent midvein on leaf underside and densely hairy; leaf stalks are winged. The lower leaves are opposite on the stem, upper leaves are alternate; toothed margins.
Fruit is achene and nearly spherical (achene is a seed which outer layer is fused to it); no pappus. A modified calyx is composed of bristles or scales.
The flowers are a paniculate cluster at the tip of the flowering stem; each head is about 1-1/2 inch in diameter; few ray flowers; yellow and female; spatula-shaped and symmetrical in form. The disc flower stamens and pistils are sterile. Flowers occur in the summer and early autumn.
The related Small-Flowered Leafcup is similar in nearly every aspect except the plant rarely reaches a height of more than 4 feet, its preferred habitat is damp woods and ravines and the leaves are not winged.
Bear's-Foot is reported to have numerous medicinal uses including disinfectant, a gentle laxative, hair tonic, sedative and as a stimulant. Plant extracts have been used to treat malarial enlargements of the spleen, swollen glands and dyspepsia caused by the spleen, antirheumatic, burn ointment, kidney ailments, arthritis pain, pelvic congestion and skin ailments.
These uses were well known and documented among the Cherokee and Iroquois Indians, as well as early French and Dutch settlers.