from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun A delphinium (Delphinium staphisagria) of southern Europe, having purple or blue flowers.
  • noun The poisonous seeds of this plant, formerly used medicinally especially to kill external parasites such as lice.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun A species of larkspur, Delphinium Staphisagria, native in southern Europe and Asia Minor.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • noun (Bot.) A kind of larkspur (Delphinium Staphysagria), and its seeds, which are violently purgative and emetic. They are used as a parasiticide, and in the East for poisoning fish.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • noun A highly toxic, perennial plant with purple flowers, Delphinium staphisagria.


from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

[By folk etymology from Middle English staphisagre, from Latin staphis agria, from Greek staphis agriā : staphis, stavesacre + agriā, feminine of agrios, wild; see agro- in Indo-European roots.]


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  • -- All kinds of lice and their nits may be got rid of by washing with a simple decoction of stavesacre (_Delphinium staphisagria_), or with a lotion made with the bruised seed in vinegar, or with the tincture, or by rubbing in a salve made with the seeds and four times their weight of lard very carefully beaten together.

    Burroughs' Encyclopaedia of Astounding Facts and Useful Information, 1889


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  • "Stavesacre? That's good to kill vermin! Then,

    belike, if I serve you I shall be lousy."

    - Christopher Marlowe, 'Doctor Faustus'

    May 23, 2010