Skip to main content

Full text of "American medical botany, being a collection of the native medicinal plants of the United States, containing their botanical history and chemical analysis, and properties and uses in medicine, diet and the arts, with coloured engravings"

See other formats

©Ijp i. m. Itll ffitbrarg 




Nortl? (Earoltna ^tatp MmnprHttg 

From the Library of 

Professor Monroe Evans Gardner 



I . :X t 7*. ^^■'i^ /i 



















VOL. I. 





District of Massachusetts, to wit: 

District Clerk's office. 

IsE It remembered, that on the eighteenth day of October, A. D. 1817, 
and in the forty second year of the independence of the United States of Ameri- 
ca, Jacob Bigelow, M. D. of the said district, has deposited in this office the 
title of a book, the right whereof he claims as author, in the words follow- 
ing-, VIZ. 

" American Medical Botany, being a collection of the native medicinal 
plants of the United States containing their botanical history and chemical 
analysis, and properties and uses in medicine, diet and the arts, with coloured 
engravings. By Jacob Eigelow, M. D. Rumford Professor and Lecturer on 
Materia Medica and Botany in Hai'vard University. Vol. I." 

In conformity to the act of the congress of the United States, entitled 
"An act for the encouragement of learning, by securing the copies of maps, 
charts, and books, to the authors and proprietors of such copies during the 
times therein mentioned ;" and also to an act, entitled, " An act supplemen- 
tary to an act, entitled, An act for the encouragement of learning, by secur- 
ing the copies of maps, charts, and books, to the authors and proprietors of 
such copies, during the times therein mentioned, and extending the benefits 
thereof to the arts of designmg, engraving, and etchuig historical and other 

JNO. W. DAVIS, Clerk of tlie district of Massachusetts. 



D.D. LL. D. 



The present flourishing state of the Institution, over 
which you preside, cannot be ascribed to any more effi- 
cient cause, than to the zeal and ability, with which you 
have watched over its interests. 

Those, who in any measure derive from this Institution 
their opportunities of being useful, may with justice direct 
their first acknowledgments to you. 

Being confident, that no attempt for the promotion of 
useful knowledge will be regarded by you with indiffer- 
ence, I am happy in ofiering to you, in the present vol- 
ume, a testimony of my respect and esteem. 

J. B. 

Boston f Octolerf 1817. 


Having long meditated the commencement 
of a work on the medicinal vegetables of the 
United States, and feeling* myself obligated for its 
completion, by the instructions from the Univer- 
sity in which I have the honor to hold a professor- 
ship ; it may be proper to make at the outset some 
general statements of the motives and objects of 
such a publication. 

The Materia Medica, comprising the great 
body of medicinal agents now in use in the hands 
of physicians, cannot be said to need an increase 
in the number of its articles. It is already in- 
cumbered with many superfluous drugs ; even its 
active substances are more numerous than can be 
of use to any one physician, so that it seems quite 
as susceptible of benefit from reduction as from 
augmentation in the number of its materials. 
Under these circumstances, the introduction of 
new medicines can only be authorized, where 


from the peculiarity of their powers, or the facili- 
ty of their acquisition, they are calculated to take 
the place of others previously in use. 

Of our present stock of medicinal agents, col- 
lected from various parts of the globe, a few ap- 
pear to he unique in their powers, and could not 
in the present state of our knowledge, he super- 
seded hy other suhstances. A number more pos- 
sess active properties, yet of a kind, for which sub- 
stitutes might be found among the native produc- 
tions of almost every country into which they are 
imported. There are others which possess little 
activity or value, but which, from a sort of fashion, 
are still articles of commerce and consumption. 

In the management of diseases, the physician 
requires instruments of determinate power, on the 
operation of which, he may build definite expec- 
tations. Many such are already in his hands. 
Yet when we consider how small a portion of the 
vegetable kingdom has been medically examined, 
there can be little doubt that a vast number 
of active substances, many perhaps of specific efii- 
cacy, remain for future inquirers to discover. 
In this respect, every successive age is making 
acquisitions. But a century or two ago, the civ- 
ilized world were unacquainted with tlie proper- 
ties of ipecacuanha, of jalap, and the Peruvian 


bark. The powers of digitalis in certaia diseas- 
es are of very recent observation. At the pres- 
ent day, we are speculating on the probable com- 
position of a vegetable medicine, whicli cures the 

Medicinal substances frequently owe their first 
introduction to accident. Many have been at first 
brought up as antidotes for the poison of serpents, 
as remedies for syphilis, or as specifics against 
imaginary diseases. Previously to this, they were 
neglected as useless, or avoided as dangerous. 
It is a subject of some curiosity to consider, if the 
knowledge of the present Materia Medica were 
by any means to be lost, how many of the same 
articles v/ould again rise into notice and use. 
Doubtless a variety of new substances would de- 
velop unexpected powers, while perhaps the pop- 
py would he shunned as a deleterious plant, and 
the cinchona might grow unmolested upon the 
mountains of Quito. 

It is the policy of every country to convert as 
far as possible its OAvn productions to use, as a 
mean of multiplying its resources, and diminisb- 
ing its tribute to foreigners. The plants of the 
United States are various in their character in 
proprotion to the extent of latitudes and climates, 
which our country embraces. Among those which 


have been medicinally investigated, are many of 
useful properties and decided efficacy. Several de- 
partments of the Materia Medica may he amply 
supplied from our OAvn forests and meadows, al- 
though there are others, for which we must as yet 
depend on foreign countries. We have yet to dis- 
cover our anodynes and our emetics, although 
we abound in bitters, astringents, aromatics and 
demulcents. In the present state of our knowl- 
edge we could not well dispense with opium and 
ipicacuanha, yet a great number of foreign drugs, 
such as gentian, columbo, chamomile, kino, cat- 
echu, cascarilla, canella, ^'c. for whicli we pay 
a large annual tax to other countries, might in 
all probability be superceded by the indigenous 
products of our own. It is certainly better that 
our own country people should have the benefit 
of collecting such articles, than that we should 
pay for them to the Moors of Africa, or the In- 
dians of Brazil. 

Independent of the frauds of adulteration, 
which may be practised by savages upon drug*, 
whose origin is hardly known to Europeans, the 
embarrassments occasioned by the chances of war 
and commercial restrictions, form serious objec- 
tions to an exclusive dependence on foreign med- 
icines. It is but a few years since some circum- 


stances of this sort occasioned a sudden and enor- 
mous rise in the price of opium, and a j^eneral in- 
quiry, what couhl be substituted for opium when 
the usual supplies should have failed. 

In a work like the present, although we can- 
not hope to supply all the desiderata of an indi- 
genous Materia Medica ; yet it Avill be satisfacto- 
ry to have done something towards an investiga- 
tion of the real properties of our most interesting 
plants, and to have facilitated a knowledge of them 
in those, to wliom they may be useful. In a pur- 
suit of this kind, the botanist has views even be- 
yond the physician. To him it is important not 
only to know what plants have properties, that are 
eminently useful, but also to know, what are the 
properties and uses of all the plants which sur- 
round him. In proportion as inquiries of this 
sort are pursued, the natural resources of a coun- 
try become developed, and its natural disadvanta- 
ges compensated. We are told that in China ev- 
ery plant is applied to some valuable purpose, 
and there is scarcely a weed that has not its de- 
terminate use.* A learned authorf observes, that 
" no writer whatever has rendered the natural 
productions of the happiest and most luxuriant 
climate of the globe, half so interesting or instruc- 

* Macartney's Embassy, vol. ii. chap. ii. t Sir J, E. Smith. 


tive, as Linnaeus lias made those of his own north- 
ern country," 

Under the title of American Medical Bota- 
ny, it is my intention to offer to the public a se- 
ries of coloured engravings of those native plants, 
which possess properties deserving the attention 
of medical practitioners. The plan will likewise 
include vegetables of particular utility in diet and 
the arts ; also poisonous plants which must be 
known, that they may be avoided. In making the 
selection, I have endeavoured to be guided by 
positive evidence of important qualities, and not 
by the insufficient testimony of popular report. 
In treating of each plant, its botanical liistory will 
be given ; the result of such chemical examina- 
tions as I have been able to make of its constitu- 
ent parts, and lastly its medical history. The 
botanical account will be found more diffuse than 
is necessary for exclusive botanists. The chem- 
ical inquiries are made chiefly with a view to the 
pharmaceutical preparations of each plant, or to 
interesting principles it may contain. Its medic- 
al history will contain such facts, relative to its 
operation on the human system, as are known to 
me from my own observation, or the evidence of 
those, who are qualified to form correct opinions 
on the subject. 


I am by no means ambitious to excite an in- 
terest in the subjects of this work, by exaggerated 
accounts of virtues which do not belong to them. 
Much harm has been in medicine, by the partial 
representations of those, who, having a point to 
prove, have suppressed tlieir unsuccessful experi- 
ments, and brought into view none but favorable 
facts. If, from a desire of avoiding error, I have 
not always been able to establish fully the charac- 
ter of a native vegetable, it will be recollected 
that many foreign drugs, which have been for 
centuries in use, have still an unsettled reputation 
as to their powers and modes of operating. 

The figures of the present volume have been 
engraved and coloured from original drawings, 
made principally by myself. Dissections of the 
flower and fruit have been added to each for the 
use of botanical students. The subsequent por- 
tions of the work will be issued as rapidly asis 
consistent with their faithful execution. 

At the end will be added an appendix or sup- 
plement, containing such facts relative to the 
plants already published, as may have come to 
light since their publication. 

fl.l . 


— / e^/Z/ft 

if////r/^f^////? yj. 




Thorn Jlpple, 


A HE Datura Stramonium is a wandering an- 
nual plant, whicli follows the progress of culti- 
vation, and is rarely found remote from the vi- 
cinity of dwellings. It occurs in every part of 
the Atlantic coast from Maine to the Floridas, 
and is also found in the Western States in the 
neighbourhood of settlements. Its favorite haunts 
are the borders of fields and roadsides, among 
rubbish and in neglected spots of rich ground. 
It emigrates with great facility, and often springs 
up in the ballast of ships, and in earth carried 
from one country to another. This circumstance 
in Europe has undeservedly given rise to the 
opinion, that it is originally an American plant. 
Its native country, however, is doubtful, from 


tlie want of authentic descriptions of suflicient 
antiquity. One of the oldest satisfactory accounts 
of it is that of Gerarde in 1597, who has published 
a description and figure of this plant, and states 
that it was introduced into England by himself, 
from seeds received fromConstantinople. [JVofe A.] 
* Its common name in Europe, derived from 
the form of its fruit, is Thorn apple. In this 
country its provincial names are Apple of Peru, Le- 
tWs apple, and Jamestown weed. It is a plant of 
i;ank growth and luxuriant foliage, varying in height 
from one to six feet, according to the soil in which 
it grows. In Carolina it begins to flower in May, 
and in Massachusetts about the latter part of Ju- 
ly, and continues until tlie arrival of frosts. 

The Datura Stramonium belongs to the first 
order of the fifth class in the Linnseau artificial 
arrangement. In its natural order it is found 
among the Luridse of Linnjeus and the Solanese 
of Jussieu. The following are the essential 
juarks which characterize the genus Datura. The 
corolla funnel form and plaited. The calya; tu- 
bular, angular and deciduous. The capsule four 
valved. — ^Under this genus are comprehended a 
number of species, a great part of which are na- 
tives of warm latitudes. The species Stramoni- 
um is distinguished from the rest by the follow- 


ing character. Capsules thorny, erect, ovate; leaves 
ovate, angular, smooth. — A more particular de- 
scription of tlie plant is as follows. >Stem erect, 
simple at bottom, much branched at top by repeat- 
ed forks, smooth or slightly pubescent, hollow in 
the large plants, often solid in small ones. Leaves 
given off from the forks of tlie stem, five or six 
inches long, acute, irregularly sinuated and tooth- 
ed, with large acute teeth and round sinuses, the 
sides of the base extending unequally down the 
petiole. Flowers single, axillary, on short stalky, 
erect or nodding. Galyx composed of one leaf, 
tubular, with five angles and five teeth, deciduous 
by breaking off from its base. Corolla funnel 
shaped with a long tube, five angled, its margin 
waved and folded, and terminating in five acumi- 
nate teeth. Stamens growing to the tube by their 
fdaraents, with oblong erect anthers. Germ su- 
perior, hairy with the rudiments of spines, ovate ; 
style as long as the stamens ; stigma obtuse, 
parted at base. Capsule ovate, fleshy, covered 
with thorns, four valved, four celled, opening at 
top. Seeds numerous, reniform, black, attached 
to a longitudinal receptacle, which occupies the 
centre of each cell. 

At least two distinct varieties of Datura Stra- 
monium are common in the United States. One 


of these has a green stalk and white flowers, and 
agrees with the figures of Sowerbj and Woodville, 
except that the anthers are somewhat longer and 
tlie dissepiment of the capsule thinner. The sec- 
ond variety, the one represented in our figure, 
has a dark reddish stem, minutely dotted with 
green ; and purple flowers striped with deep pur- 
ple inside. It is generally a larger plant, and its 
stem more universally hollow. This variety is 
probably the 1). tatula of Linnaeus, answering to 
the (cscription in the Species plantarum. The 
distinguishing marks laid down between the two 
plants are not sufiicient to make them distinct 
species. I have cultivated both together and 
watched them throughout their growth, without 
being able to detect any difference except in col- 
our. Their sensible and medical properties are 
the same. Sir James Edward Smith has lately 
informed me, that on consulting the herbarium of 
Linnseus, the original specimens of D. Stramoni- 
um and tatula did not appear to be more than va- 
rieties of the same plant. \^ote B.] 

Every part of the Stramonium, when recent, 
has a strong, heavy, disagreeable odour, and a 
bitter, nauseous taste. Taken internally it proves 
a violent narcotic poison, affecting the mind and 
body in the most powerful manner. Its usual 


consequences when swallowed in considerable 
quantity, are vertigo and confusion of mind, in- 
sensibility of the retina, occasioning dilatation of 
the pupil and loss of sigbt, tremors of the limbs 
and loss of the power of voluntary motion, head- 
ach, dryness of the throat, nausea and vomiting, 
anxiety and faintness, and sometimes furious de- 
lirium. If the amount taken be large and not 
speedily ejected from the stomach, the symptoms 
pass into convulsions or lethargic stupor, which 
continue till death. When not fatal, its effects, 
like those of other narcotics, are temporary, dis- 
appearing in from one to two days, and frequent- 
ly in a shorter period. — The remedies to be re- 
sorted to in cases of poison from Stramonium, are 
a prompt emetic, followed by a free use of vegeta- 
ble acids and strong coffee. 

Many stories have been related of the power 
of this and other species of Datura to produce 
mental alienation, without at the same time ma- 
terially affecting the body. [JS'ote C] These ac- 
counts are generally of somewhat ancient date, and 
not correspondent with the observations of later 
physicians. They were suited to those days of 
credulity, in which the Eoyal Society of London 
gravely inquired of Sir Philberto Yernatti, "Wheth- 
er the Indians can ^ so prepare the stupifving 


herb Datura, that they make it lie several days, 
months, or years, according as they will have it. 
in a man's body ; and at the end kill him with- 
out missing half an hour's time ?" 

Like opium and like other powerful medi- 
cines, this plant, when taken in small quantity, 
and under suitable regulations, proves a remedy 
of importance, and a useful agent in the hands of 
physicians. In common with some other narco- 
tics, it seems first to have been introduced freely 
into practice by Baron Storck of Vienna, as a rem- 
edy in Mania, Epilepsy, Convulsions, ^c. Many 
subsequent physicians have given testimony to its 
efficacy in certain forms of these disorders, yet the 
instances of its failure have doubtless been more 
frequent than those of its success. In Murray's 
Apparatus Medicaminum may be found a sum- 
mary of the reports of many medical men, Avho 
have tried it with various success in the diseases 
in question, as well as in others. Dr. Cullen has 
no doubt that it may be a remedy in certain ca- 
ses of mania and epilepsy ; but doubts if any per- 
son has learned to distinguish the cases to which 
it is properly adapted. 

Dr. Fisher, President of the Massachusetts 
Medical Society, has published in their communi- 
cations some remarks on the employment of Stra- 


iiioiiium in epilepsy. He divides the cases of 
that disease into tliree kinds ; those of which the 
fits return daily ; those in wMch they recur at 
regular periods, as monthly, or give warning of 
tlieir approacli by previous symptoms ; lastly, 
those in which they do not observe any regular 
period, and do not give any warning of their ap- 
proach. In the two first kinds he asserts, that all 
the cases which came under his care, and which 
were not very few, had been cured by Stramoni- 
um. In those of the third kind he found it of no 
benefit whatever. 

Dr. Archer of Maryland has formed distinc- 
tions nearly similar in the application of Stramo- 
nium to epilepsy. 

In a case of Tic doloureux of long standing I 
found the extract, taken in as large doses as the 
stomach w ould bear, to afford decided relief. Sev- 
eral practitioners have spoken to me of its effica- 
cy in this formidable disease. It should be ta- 
ken in large doses, and the system kept for some 
time under its influence. 

Within a few years, the thorn apple has at- 
tracted much notice, both in Europe and in this 
counti*y, as an efficacious palliative in Astlima 
and some other affections of the lungs, when used 
by smoking, in the same manner as tobacco. 


The practice was first suggested by the employ- 
ment of another species, the Batur^a feroa^, for 
similar complaints, in the East Indies, An En- 
gUsh gentleman, having exhausted the stock with 
which he had been supplied of the oriental plant, 
was advised by Dr. Sims to have recourse to the 
common Stramonium as a substitute ; and upon 
trial, experienced the same benefit as he had done 
from the former species. This instance of suc- 
cess led to further trials, and in a short time sev- 
eral publications appeared, containing cases of 
great relief afforded by smoking this plant in the 
paroxysms of Asthma. Many individuals, of dif- 
ferent ages, habits, and constitutions, had used it 
with the effect of producing immediate relief, and 
of terminating the paroxysm in a short time. 
The efiicacy however of this medicine was called 
in question by Dr. Bree, a physician well known 
by his elaborate treatise on Asthma, who publish- 
ed in the Medical and Physical Journal a letter, 
containing the result of a great number of unsuc- 
cessful trials of Stramonium in asthmatic cases. 
It may be doubted whether any other physician 
has been so unfortunate in its use as Dr. Bree, 
since he affirms that not one case of those imder 
his care was benefitted by it. Certain it is, that in 
this country the thorn apple is employed with 


very frequent success by asthmatic patients, and 
it would not be difficult to designate a dozen indi- 
viduals in Boston and its vicinity, who are in the 
habit of employing it with unfailing relief in the 
paroxysms of this distressing complaint. The ca- 
ses, which it is fitted to relieve, are those of pure 
spasmodic asthma, in which it doubtless acts by 
its sedative and antispasmodic effects. In those 
depending upon effusion of serum in the lungs, 
or upon the presence of exciting causes in the 
first passages, or elsewhere, requiring to be 
removed ; it must not be expected that remedies 
of this class can afford benefit. In several cases 
of plethoric and intemperate people, I have 
found it fail altogether, and venesection after- 
wards to give speedy relief. 

The part of the plant, which I have employed 
for smoking, is the leaf prepared in the same way 
as tobacco. The root, which has commonly been 
the part used, is more woody and fibrous, and pos- 
sesses less of the juices of the plant, than its 
more pulpy and succulent parts. The root also, 
being strictly annual, has no opportunity to accu- 
mulate the virtues of the plant, beyond any other 

In the seventh volume of the Medico-Chirur- 
gical Transactions, for 1816, is a paper on the 


properties of the Stramonium by Dr. Marcet of 
London, Physician to Guy's Hospital. As the 
result of his experience, it appeared that this 
medicine taken internally had relieved acute 
pains of various kinds more effectually than any 
other narcotic substance. Its usual effects under 
his observation, when administered in appropriate 
doses, in chronic diseases attended with acute 
pain; were, to lessen powerfully and almost imme- 
diately sensibility and pain ; to occasion a sort 
of nervous shock, wliicli is frequently attended 
with a momentary affection of the head and eyes, 
with a degree of nausea, and with phenomena re- 
sembling those produced by intoxication ; to ex- 
cite in many instances nervous sensations, which 
are referred to the oesophagus or bronchia or fau- 
ces, and which sometimes amount to a sense like 
suffocation ; to have rather a relaxing, than an 
astringent effect on the bowels ; to have no mark- 
ed influence on the pulse, except in a few instan- 
ces to seem to render it slower ; to produce but 
a transitory and inconsiderable dilatation of the 
pupil, and to have but little immediate tendency 
to produce sleep, except from the state of com- 
parative serenity and ease, which follows the pre- 
ceding symptoms. — In some instances its bene- 
ficial effects were obtained without the patient 
experiencing any of the uneasy sensations above 


The cases in which Dr. 3Iarcet employed the 
Stramonium, with their results, appear in the fol- 
lowing summary. In four cases of Sciatica, decid- 
ed benefit was obtained. The efficacy of the med^ 
icine was still more strongly marked in two cases 
of sciatica combined with syphilitic pains. It 
failed in two instances of diseased hip joint. It 
produced considerable relief of pain in a case of 
supposed disease of the spine, followed by para- 
plegia 5 and likewise in one of cancer of the 
breast. It allayed materially the pain occasioned 
by an acute uterine disease. It was of great and 
repeated utility in a case of Tic doloureux, its util- 
ity in a second case of the same description was 
very doubtful, and in a third it entirely failed. 

There are some authorities for the success of 
Stramonium in Chorea. Professor Chapman of 
Philadelphia has found it of use in dysmenorrhea, 
also with or without mercury in syphilitic and 
scrophulous ulcers of ill condition. 

The external use of Stramonium is of much 
older date than its internal exhibition. Gerarde 
in his Herbal, published in 1597, says, " Tbe 
iuyce of Thorne apples, boiled with hog's grease 
to the forme of an unguent or salve, cureth all in- 
flammations whatsoever, all manner of burnings or 
scaldings, and that in very short time, as my- 


self hare fouHd by my dayly practise, to my great 
credit and profit." Others, since the time of Gre- 
rarde, have used this preparation, if not with the 
same gratifying success, at least with some bene- 
fit as an anodyne, sedative application. It miti- 
gates the pain in burns and inflammatory tumors, 
and promotes the cure of certain cutaneous erup- 
tions. In some irritable ulcers with thickened 
edges and a sanious discharge, I have found it re- 
markably efficacious in changing the condition 
and promoting tlie granulations and cicatrization. 
In painful hemorrhoidal tumors tlie ointment of 
Stramonium with the ointment of acetate of lead 
gives, in many cases, very prompt and satisfacto- 
ry relief, being in this respect inferior to no ap- 
plication, witli which I have been acquainted. 

Applied topically to the eye, the preparations 
of Stramonium diminish the sensibility of the re- 
tina, and relax the iris. From this effect it is 
employed by many surgeons to dilate the pupil, 
as preparatory to the operation for cataract. 

The virtues of Stramonium appear to be seat- 
ed in an extractive principle, which dissolves in 
water and alcohol, but most readily in the for- 
mer. It is copiously precipitated from the infu- 
sion by muriate of tin. With sulphate of iron it 
gives a deep green colour, and with gelatin suf- 


fers no change. Water distilled from the plant 
has the sensible qualities in a slight degree, but 
does not seem to possess the medicinal powers of 
the plant. Dr. S. Cooper, in a valuable disserta- 
tion on this plant, says, that an ounce of the dis- 
tilled water was taken into the stomach with little 
or no effect. The same gentleman states, that 
upon evaporating the infusion of Stramonium, he 
observed a large number of minute crystals, re- 
sembling particles of nitre. Thinking it possible 
that these might he something analogous to the 
crystals, said to be obtained by Derosne from opi- 
um, and by him denominated the narcotic princi- 
ple, I repeated the experiment by carefully evap- 
orating separate decoctions of the green and dri- 
ed leaves. No crystals however were discovera- 
ble at any stage of the process, either to the 
touch, or to the eye assisted by a strong magni- 

The forms in which the Stramonium is prepar- 
ed for use are the powder, the inspissated juice, 
the extract, the tincture and the ointment. The 
powder should be made as soon as the plant is 
dry, and kept in close stopped bottles.— The in- 
spissated juice is made by compressing the bruis- 
ed leaves in a strong bag, until the juice is forced 
out. This is to be evaporated in flat vessels at 


the licat of boiling salt water to the thickness of 
honej ; it is then suffered to cool, put up in glaz- 
ed vessels and moistened with alcohol. The ecc- 
tract is prepared by immersing a pound of the 
leaves in three gallons of water and boiling down 
to one. The decoction should then be strained 
and stand six hours to settle, after which it may 
be drawn off and evaporated to the proper consis- 
tence. When the seeds are used, the decoction 
should stand a longer time to separate the oil with 
which the cotyledons abound, before evaporation. 
A larger amount of extract may be obtained by 
boiling the portion, which has been used, a se- 
cond time in a smaller quantity of water, and 
mixing the two decoctions before evaporation. 
For the tincture one ounce of the dried leaves is 
to be digested for a week in eight ounces of proof 
spirit, and filtrated through paper. In making 
the ointment, a pound of the fresh leaves may be 
simmered in three pounds of hog's lard until the 
leaves become crisp. It is then to be strained, 
and cooled gradually. 

The period for gathering the leaves is from 
the time the plant begins to flower, until the ar- 
rival of frost. 

As the preparations of Stramonium are liable 
to vary in strength according to the circumstances 


under which they are made, it is always prudent 
to begin with the smallest dose, and repeat it 
about three times a day, increasing each dose un- 
til the eiFects begin to appear in the stomach or 

The commencing doses of the Stramonium, 
when properly prepared, are as follows. 
Of the powdered leaves 1 grain, 

powdered seeds t « grain, 

inspissated juice or extract 1 grain. 
extract of the seeds from 1 <o 1 grain, 

tincture from 15 fo 30 



Datura Stramonium, Linn-eus Sp. pi. Fl. Suec. 185 ^'C— 
Gronovius Fl. Virg. 23. — CEder. Fl. Danica 436. — Black- 
well t. 313. — Gmelin Iter i. 43. — Pollich. Palatin. 224. — 
Hoffmann Germ. 77. — Roth Fl. Germ. i. 92 ^c. — AVoodville 
i. 124. — Curtis Lond. vi. t. 17. — Smith Fl. Brit. 254. — Engl. 
Bot. t. 1288. — PuRSH Mier. 141. — Elliott Carol, i. 275.— 
Stramonium foliis angulosis 6cc. Haller Helv. 586. Nucimetel- 
\sd congener planta, Camerarius Epitome 276. — Solanum fueti- 
dapomo spinoso, oblongoj^c. Bauhinjjw. 168. — Stramonium 
spinosum, Gerarde Herbal 348. 


Storck de Stramonio ^'c. — Lindenstolpe de vencnis, 531. — 
Sauvages J\'"osol. 2. 430. — Greding in Liidwlgs .Mxersaria i. 
345._MuRRAY App. Med. i. 670.— Cullen Jf/af. Med. ii. 281.— 
Fowler in Med. Comment, v. 161. — Odiielius cit. in Med. Com- 
ment V. 16L — Papin in Fhil. Trans, abr. vi. 53.— Rush in Thilad. 


Trans, i. S84. — Schoepf. 24. — Wedenberg in Med, Comment 
iii. 18. — Beverly, Hist. Virg. p. 121. — Medical and Physical 
Journal, vol. xxv. & xxvi. in various places. Cooper in CaldweWs 
Theses, vol. i. — ^Barton, Coll. Mat. Med. 46. — Chapman in edit, 
Murray 146. — Thatcher, Disp, 205. — Marcet Medico-Chi- 
rur. Trans, vii. 


Fig. 1. d branch of Datura Stramonium^ the purple vanely, with 
leaves and Jlowers, 

Fig. 2. Stamens and style. 

Fig. 3. Transverse section of the pericarpt shewing the cellSf re- 
ceptacles and seeds. 

ri II 

C^/A a/r-/y'f/M A,- r/r/o7 ////// 


Thorough wort 

PLJiTE 11. 

X HE peculiar form and arrangement of the 
leaves in this plant render it very easy of distinc- 
tion at sight by the most inexperienced botanist. 
It flowers from midsummer to September, and is 
found in all latitudes from Nova Scotia to Florida. 
It inhabits meadows and boggy soils, growing 
most frequently in bunches, tlie stems being con- 
nected by horizontal roots. Its common names 
are Thorough wort, Thorough wacc, Cross ivort, 
Bone set, ^c. 

The genus Eupatorium, belonging to the first 
order of the class Syngenesia or Compound flow- 
ers, and to the order Corymbiferje of Jussieu, is 
characterized b}^ its naked receptacle, its down 
simple or rough, its calyoj oblong and imbricate, 


its style longer than the corolla, and cloven half 
way down. The species perfoliatiiin, exclusively 
an inhabitant of America, is abundantly distin- 
guished from the rest, by the peculiar form of its 
leaves, indicated in its name. Michaux has alter- 
ed the specific name to connatum I think injudi- 

The stems of this plant are erect, round, hairy 
branched at top only. Tlie leaves, which are per- 
forated by the stem, are rather perfoliate than 
connate, since they have not the character of two 
leaves joined together, but of one entire leaf, hav- 
ing its four principal veins proceeding at right an- 
gles from the four quarters of the stem, two of 
them being situated in the place of the supposed 
junction. The upper leaves however are gener- 
ally divided into pairs. Tlie main leaves are 
acuminate, decreasing gradually in breadth from 
the stem, where they are widest, to the extremities. 
They are serrated, wrinkled, pale underneath, and 
hairy, especially on the veins. Flowers in corymbs 
with hairy peduncles. Calyx cylindrical, imbri- 
cate, the scales lanceolate, acute, hairy. Each ca- 
lyx contains about twelve or fifteen florets, which 
are tubular, with fine spreading segments, and sur- 
rounded with a )'ough down. The stamens in each 
consist of five soft filaments, with blackish anthers 


uuited with a tube. Style filiform, divided into 
two branches, which project above the flower. 
Seeds oblong on a naked receptacle. 

Every part of the Eupatoriuni has an intense- 
ly bitter taste, combined with a flavour peculiar to 
the plant, but without astringency or acrimony. 
The leaves and flowers abound in a bitter extrac- 
tive matter, in which the important qualities of 
the plant seem to reside. I fuid this principle to 
be alike soluble in water and alcohol, imparting its 
sensible qualities to both, and neither solution be- 
ing rendered turbid, at least for some time, by the 
addition of the other solvent. It forms copious pre- 
cipitates with many of the metallic salts, such as mu- 
riate of tin, nitrate of mercury, nitrate of silver, and 
acetate of lead. Of the mineral acids, the sulphu- 
ric and muriatic form slight precipitates with the 
aqueous decoction ; the oxymuriatic, a more copi- 
ous one ; the nitric, in my experiments, gave no 
precipitate, but changed the colour to a red. In 
the alcoholic solution the oxymuriatic alone form- 
ed an immediate precipitate. Tannin exists very 
sparingly in this plant. A solution of isinglass 
produced a slight precipitate from the tincture, 
and a hardly perceptible turbidness in separate 
decoctions of the leaves and flowers. Sulphate 
of iron gave a dark green precipitate, which par- 


tially subsided in a short time. — In distillation, 
water came over very slightly affected with the 
sensible qualities of the plant, and not alterable 
by sulphate of iron. 

A dissertation of merit on this plant was pub- 
lished a few years since by Dr. Anderson of New 
York, in wbich he gives the details of numerous 
and elaborate chemical trials, made by him on dif- 
ferent parts of the plant. He concludes, among 
other things, from his experiments, that the ac- 
tive properties of the plant reside in greatest 
q^iantity in the leaves, and that its virtues are 
readily obtained by means of a simple decoction. 
The medical powers of Eupatorium are such 
as its sensible properties would seem to indicate, 
those of a tonic stimulant. Given in moderate 
quantities, either in substance or in cold infusion 
or decoction, it promotes digestion, strengthens^ 
the viscera, and restores tone to the system. Like 
other vegetable bitters, if given in large quantities, 
especially in warm infusion or decoction, it 
proves emetic, sudorific, and aperient. Even in 
cold infusion it tends to bring on diaphoresis. 

This plant has been long in use in different 
parts of tbe United States, for the same purposes 
for which the Peruvian bark. Gentian, Chamomile, 
^'c. are employed. It has been found competent 


to the cure of intermittent fevers by various prac- 
titioners in the middle and southern states. Dr. 
Anderson has detailed six cases of intermittents, 
quotidian, tertian, and quartan, out of a large 
number which had been successfully treated with- 
in his own observation by the Eupatorium both 
in substance and decoction. In these cases the 
cures were certainly expeditious, and took place 
at as early a period as could have been expected 
from arsenic or the Peruvian bark. Dr. A. cites 
the experience of several distinguished practi- 
tioners, particularly Dr. Ilosack of New York 
and the late Dr. Barton of Philadelphia, in con- 
firmation of his own, to shew that the Eupatorium 
is an efficacious remedy in the treatment of va- 
rious febrile disorders, also of many cutaneous 
affections, and diseases of general debility. 

I have prescribed an infusion of the Eupato- 
rium in various instances to patients in the low 
stages of fever, where it has appeared instrumen- 
tal in supporting the strength and promoting a 
moisture of the skin, without materially increas- 
ing the heat of the body. I have also foimd the 
cold infusion or decoction a serviceable tonic in 
loss of appetite and other symptoms of dyspepsia, 
as well as in general debility of the system. 


The warm infusion is a convenient substitute 
for that of chamomile flowers in facilitating the 
operation of an emetic. 

"When employed as a tonic, this plant may be 
taken in powder in doses of twenty or thirty 
grains, or a teacup full may be used of the infu- 
sion, rendered moderately bitter. When intend- 
ed to act as an emetic, a strong decoction may be 
made from an ounce of the plant in a quart of 
water, boiled to a pint. 


Eupatoriiim perfoliatum, Linn^us, Sj}. pi. — Aiton, Hort 
JCew. iii. 160. — ^Wixldenow, Sp. pi. iii. 1761. — Gkonovius, 
Virg. 119. — CoLBBHf f JVovebor. 181. — Stokes, iv. 171. — Pursh, 
ii. 516. — Eupatoriiim connatum, Michaux, Fl. .Miner, ii. 99. — 
Eupatorium Virginianum, &c. — Plukenet, t. B7.f. 6.. — Raius, 
suppl. 189. — MoRisoN, hist. iii. 97. 


•ScHOEPF 121. — Guthrie in Annal. Med. iii. 403. — Bart. 
Coll. 28. — Med. and Phys. Journal. — Thacher Disi), 217. — An- 
derson, Inaugural Thesis, 


Fig. 1. Eupatorium perfoliatum. 

Fig. 2. .4 Jlower magnified. 

Fig. S. A Jloret magnified. 

Fig. 4. Tube of anthers with the style running through. 

// w. 




h ROM the testimony of different writers it 
appears, that the Phytolacca decandra is an inhab- 
itant not only of North America, but likewise of 
the south of Europe from Portugal to Greece, and 
also of the Barbary states in Africa. Its origin 
is probably American, since I find that it was so 
considered in the time of Parkinson, who in his 
Theatrum Botanicum, published in 1640, de- 
nominates it " Solanum magnum Virginianum ru- 
brum." This is one of the oldest accounts I find 
of it. Plukenet conjectures it may be the Ciiechi- 
liz tomatl of Hernandez, but the description, like 
most others of that loose and superficial writer, 
arc more promotive of obscurity than of knowledge, 
and it is not easy to draw from it any satisfactory 
evidence as to its Mexican origin. ^Xote D.] 


In the autumnal months no plant among us is 
more remarkable than the Phytolacca for its large 
size, and the fine colour of its clusters of berries. 
Its most general appellation is Poke, an abbrevia- 
tion, perhaps, of Pocan, the name by which it was 
known in Virginia a century ago. In Xew Eng- 
land it is more frequently called Garget, Cocum, 
Jalap and Pigeon berries. 

Jussieu has arranged this genus among his 
Jltriplices, and Linnaeus with the Oleracew. 

The number of its stems and styles, place it in 
the class Becandria and order Decagynia. Its 
generic character consists in having no calya^, a 
corolla of Jive petals, and its berries superior with 
ten cells and ten seeds. The species decandra is 
the only one which strictly .agrees with its class 
and order, and is known by having ovate leaves, 
acute at both ends, and its flowers with ten stamens 
and styles. 

The root of this plant is of large size, frequent- 
ly exceeding a man's leg in thickness, and is usu- 
ally divided into two or three principal branches. 
Its substance is fleshy and fibrous, and easily cut 
or broken. Internally it is distinctly marked with 
concentric rings of considerable thickness, while 
its outer surface is covered Avith a very thin brown- 
ish ])ark, which scenxs to be little more than a cu- 

POKE. 41 

tide. The stalks, wliicli are annual, frequently 
ffrow to the hciiicht of six, and even nine feet. 
They are round, smooth, and very much h ran di- 
ed. When young', theii* usual colour is green, 
but in most plants, after the berries have ripened, 
tJiey are of a fine purple. The leaves are scatter- 
ed, petioled, ovate-oblong, smooth on both sides, 
ribbed umlerneath, entire, acute. The flowers 
grow on long pedunculated racemes opposite to 
leaves. Peduncles nearly smooth, angular, as- 
cending. Pedicels divaricated, sometimes branch- 
ed, green, white, or purple, furnished with a small 
linear bracte at base, and two others in the mid- 
dle. Calyx none. Corolla resembling a calyx, 
whitish, consisting of five round-ovate, concave, 
incurving petals. Stamens ten, rather shorter 
than the petals, with white, roundish, two lobed 
anthers. Germ greenish, round, depressed, ten 
furrowed. Styles ten, short, recurved. The floAV- 
ers are succeeded by long clusters of dark purple 
berries, almost black, depressed or flattened, and 
marked with ten furrows on the sides. 

The dried root is light coloured and spongy, 
with a mild and somewhat sweetish taste. A part 
of it is soluble both in water and alcohol, and nei- 
ther of these substances renders turbid the solu- 
tion in the other, unless the solution has been in- 



spissated by long boiling. The soluble portion ap- 
pears neither resinous nor mucous. It approach- 
es most nearly to extractive, but has characters 
somewhat peculiar to itself. A decoction of the 
I'oot procured by boiling for ten minutes in dis- 
tilled water, exhibited after filtration tlie follow- 
ing results. It was transparent, nearly colourless, 
and did not alter litmus. It gave no precipitate 
witli the sulphuric, nitric, muriatic, oxymuriatic, 
and acetous acids. It gav« no precipitate with the 
sulphate of iron, but formed a copious one with 
the nitrates of mercury and silver, and the ace- 
tate of lead. Muriate of tin produced no effect at 
first, but after standing, a light precipitate took 
place. Pearl ash, lime water, and muriate of ba- 
rytes rendered the solution turbid. Acetate of 
barytes occasioned no change. Oxymuriate of 
lime formed an immediate precipitate. 

The cold infusion exhibited nearly the same 
results as the decoction. The alcoholic solution 
underwent no change from muriate of tin, but 
threw down a dense precipitate with nitrate of 

From the above experiments it appears, that 
the soluble principle of the Phytolacca differs 
from common vegetable extractive, as defined by 
the chemists, in several respects, particularly in 

POKE. 43 

not being thrown down bj the oxymuriatic or 
other mineral acids, and in being but partially 
affected by muriate of tin. 

In the Jimmies de Chimie, vol. Ixxii, is a me- 
moir on the Chemical properties of the Phyto- 
lacca decandra by M. Braconnot. His experi- 
ments indicate the presence of an unusual quan- 
tity of vegetable alkali in this plant. He found 
that the ashes, procured by incinerating the stalks, 
afforded nearly 67 per cent, of dried alkaline car- 
bonate, and 42 per cent, of pure caustic potasho 
This alkali in the plant is neutralized by an acid 
having considerable aflBinity to the malic, but 
with a few shades of difference. With lime and 
lead malic acid forms flocculent precipitates, very 
easily soluble in distilled vinegar, but those with 
the phytolaccic acid are insoluble. M. Bracon- 
not thinks this acid may probably be a mean be- 
tween the malic and oxalic acids, or an oxygeniz- 
ed malic acid. 

The same memoir contains an examination of 
the colouring matter in the berries of the Phyto- 
lacca. The juice of these berries is of a very 
fine, bright purple colour, but this colour is ex- 
tremely fugacious and disappears in a short time 
from cloth or paper that has been tinged with it. 
A few drops of lime water added to this purple 


juice cliange it to a yellow colour, but the small- 
est quantity of acid is sufficient to restore its pur- 
ple hue. Exposure to the air or large dilu- 
tions is sufficient to restore the original purple. 

M. Braconnot considers the yellow liquor pro- 
duced by the juice of these berries and lime wa- 
ter as one of the most delicate tests of the pres- 
ence of acid. Into two glasses he put equal 
quantities of the juice made yellow and of an in- 
fusion of litmus of equal depth of colour. More 
than sixty drops of a very weak acid were required 
to redden the infusion of litmus, but less than fif- 
teen restored the purple colour of the Phytolacca. 
Hence it follows, that the yellow liquor is four 
times as sensible to the presence of acid, as the 
infusion of litmus. It however requires to be us- 
ed immediately after it is prepared, since a few 
hours cause a spontaneous change in it, which be- 
gins with a precipitate, and ends with a depriva- 
tion of colour. 

The effiscts produced on this purple colour by 
other reagents were as follows. Pure alkalis gave 
it a yellow colour. Alkaline subcarbonates a vio- 
let, that fades and becomes jellow by standing. 
Weak acids no perceptible change. Dilute oxy- 
muriatic acid a complete deprivation of colour 
with white flocculi. Alum nothing at first, but 

POKE. 45 

after some days, a very light red precipitate. Mu- 
riate of lime no change. Muriate of tin a red se- 
diment inclining to lilac, leaving the fluid colour- 
less. Nitrate of lead a precipitate of the colour 
of wine lees. Super oxided sulphate of iron, a 
dirtv violet. 

Many of the above experiments I have repeat- 
ed, and added others. The yellow colour produc- 
ed by the alkalis borders on green. Pure stron- 
tian produces the same change as potash and 
lime. Pure barytes wholly discharges the colour 
on standing a short time. Acetate of lead forms 
a scarlet precipitate, leaving the liquid nearly col- 

The purple colour that tinges the cuticle of 
the stalks of the Phytolacca is stated in the above 
memoir, to be of the same nature as that in the 
berries, and to afford the same results. 

The taste of the berries is sweetish and nause- 
ous, leaving behind a very slight sense of acrimo- 
ny. M. Braconnot, found that at a moderate tem- 
perature, the juice underwent the vinous fermen- 
tation, and yielded alcohol by distillation. Dr. 
Shultz procured from half a bushel of the berries 
six pints of spirit sufficiently strong to take fire 
and burn with readiness. 


In its medicinal properties the root of the Phy- 
tolacca decandra approaches nearer to ipecac- 
uanha than any American vegetable, I have hith- 
erto examined. From abundant experience, the 
result of many trials made in Dispensary practice, 
I am satisfied that, when properly prepared, it 
operates in the same doses and with the same cer- 
tainty, as the South American emetic. Ten grains 
of the powder will rarely remain on the stomach, 
and twenty or thirty produce a powerful operation, 
by emesis and generally by catharsis. In its mode 
of operation, this medicine has some peculiarities, 
a part of which are favorable, others disadvanta- 
geous. Its advantages are, that it operates with 
ease, and seldom occasions pain or cramp. Its dis- 
advantages are, 1. That it is slow in its effects, 
frequently not beginning to operate until an 
hour, and sometimes two hours after it is taken. 
2. That it continues to operate for a greater 
length of time than is usual for emetics, although 
as far as I have been able to observe, it is readily 
checked by an opiate. These disadvantages how- 
ever are not constant. I have repeatedly known 
it commence operating in fifteen minutes, and 
cease after four or five ejections. The represen- 
tations of patients as to any unpleasant feelings 
under its effects, are not greater than we should 

POKE. 47 

naturally expect, when it is recollected, that no 
emetic is altogether comfortable in its operation. 
Dr. Fisher of Beverly* informs me that whenever 
he has used the Phytolacca, it has performed its 
duty as an emetic perfectly well, and that in one 
patient, a female of irritable stomach, in whom 
previous emetics had always excited severe 
spasms, ten grains of the Phytolacca operated ef- 
fectually, and no spasm followed. 

I have sometimes observed slight narcotic 
symptoms during the operation of Phytolacca, 
particularly vertigo. But others have not always 
met with this symptom. Dr. George Hayward of 
this town, who has had much experience with this 
medicine, the results of which were communicat- 
ed to the Linnsean society, and afterwards publish- 
ed in the New England Journal, October 1817, 
states that in doses of a scruple, he never notic- 
ed any dizziness, or stupor from it, although he 
had always been particular in his inquiries to 
know if any such symptoms took place. The 
above dose was administered by him in nearly 
thirty cases, in all of which, except in one case, it 
operated as an emetic and cathartic, usually three 
or four times, thoroughly, though not severely, 
generally commencing its operation on the stom- 

* Letter dated November, 1815. 


ach in an hour, and rarely continuing longer than 
four. He found it to excite little or no nausea 
previous to its operation, and though it made a 
powerful impression on the system, it never pro- 
duced any disagreeahle or unusual symptoms. 

Dr. Hayward also made trial of the powder of 
the leaves, which he found to possess the same 
properties with that of the root, but to be less ef- 
fectual and less certain in its operation. He al- 
so prepared a tincture, decoction, and wine of the 
root ; but all these were inferior to the medicine 
in substance, being less certain in their effect, and 
sometimes giving rise to troublesome symptoms. 

Dr. Shultz of Pennsylvania, author of an in- 
augural dissertation on the Phytolacca decandra, 
gave the expressed juice of the leaves, berries, 
and roots, in considerable quantity to animals. It 
operated by emesis and catharsis, attended with 
droAvsiness. The juice of the root was most active. 
He also gave to a dog two ounces of the spiritous 
liquor distilled from the berries. It occasioned 
nausea and drowsiness, with slight spasmodic mo- 
tions, but no vomiting. 

In the same dissertation. Dr. Shultz refers to 
several instances of persons who had incautiously 
eaten large quantities of the root through mistake. 
Its effects were violent vomiting and purging, 

POKE. 49 

prostration of strength, and in some instances 

The Phytolacca has had some reputation in 
the treatment of rheumatism. Dr. Griffits, for- 
merly a professor in the University of Pennsylva- 
nia, found it of great use in Syphilitic rheumatism. 
Dr. Hayward however states, that he derived no 
advantage from its employment in rheumatic af- 

The young shoots of this vegetahle are desti- 
tute of medicinal qualities, and are eaten in the 
spring in some parts of the United States, as sub- 
stitutes for asparagus. At this time the succus 
proprius or returning juice of the plant is not yet 
formed by exposure of the sap to the atmospheric 
air, in the leaves. The ripe berries are less nox- 
ious than the green, and are devoured by several 
species of birds. In Portugal and in France they 
were formerly employed to improve the colour of 
red wines, until the interference of government 
became necessary to put a stop to the prac- 

The external application of Phytolacca has 
been found useful in a variety of cases, by its ac- 
tion as a local stimulant. The ointment and ex- 
tract have commonly been employed for this pur- 
pose. These preparations usually excite a sense of 


beat and smarting on being first applied. I liave 
cured cases of psora with the ointment, and Dr. 
Hayward states, that he found it successful in cas- 
es where sulphur had failed. A case of tinia 
capitis of twelve years' standing, which had re- 
sisted various kinds of treatment, was also cured 
by this application. 

The Phytolacca is one of those vegetables 
which has had its temporary reputation for the 
cure of cancer. For this purpose it has been re- 
sorted to in various parts of the world, and many 
men of science have been convicts to its efficacy? 
among whom were Dr. Colden and Dr. Franklin of 
our country. [JV*o<e E.] But like other vegetable 
specifics for cancer, it owes its character to an im- 
perfect discrimination of that disease, and a mis- 
application of the name. All that can be strictly 
inferred from the various accounts we have had 
on this subject, is, that the plant has often proved 
useful in malignant ulcers by its stimulating and 
almost escharotic effects, frequently producing an 
eschar, and thus altering the condition of the ul- 
cerated surface. 

For internal use no preparation of the Phyto- 
lacca is to be preferred to the powder, of which 
from ten to fifteen grains is often a sufficient 

POKE. di 

The root should he du,^ late in autumn or dur- 
ing the winter. It shouhl he cut in transverse 
slices and dried. After heing pulverized, it is to 
he kept in close stopped phials. The stock should 
he annually renewed, as its activity is impaired hy 


Phytolacca decandra, LiNNiEus, — Aiton, Hort. JCew. ii, 
122. — Botanical Magazine^ t. 931. — Michaux, Fl. Amer, i. 278. 
PuBSH. i. 324. — Phytolacca vulgaris, Dlllenius, Hort. Eltlu 
t. 239. — P. Americana — Boerhaave, Hort. Lug. ii. 70. — Solan- 
um racemosum Americanum, Rails, Hist. 662. — Plukenet, 
Phyt. t. 225./. 3. — Solanum magnum Vii'ginianum rubrum, 
Parkinson^, Theatrum, 347. — EUtum Americanum, MuntiN" 
Girs, Phyt, cur. t.212. 


Murray, appar. med. iv. 335.— Kaim, travels in JV*. .^mer. i, 
197. — Graffenreid, Mem. Berne, iii. 185. — Sch(epf. 71. — 
Browne, Hist. Jamaica, 232. — Amoen. Acad. iv. — Miller, Diet- 
under the ?m7?ie.— SpROGEi. Hiss. dr. ven. 24. — BecivMan, com- 
ment. Gotting. 1779, 74.— Allioni, Flor.Ped. ii. 132.— Frank- 
iix, works, vol. i. — Cutler, Mem. Amer. Acad. i. 447. — Rush, 
i. 259.— Thacher, Disp, 300.— Shultz, Inaugural thesis.^ 
Hayward, A". Engl. Jmirnal, vi. 


Fig. 1. Phytolacca decandra injlower and in fruit. 
Fig. 2. Section of a hcrry. 


Dragon root. 


It appears, that both North and South Amer- 
ica give rise to this species of Arum, which is so 
versatile in its constitution as to bear the winters 
of Canada, and the perpetual summer of Brazil. 
In its structure it is one of our most singular veg- 
etables, and in colour one of the most variable. 
It grows in swamps and damp shady woods, and is 
universally knoAvn among us by the names of Dra- 
gon root and Indian turnip. 

The class to which the family of Arums be- 
long, is rendered somewhat obscure by the varia- 
tion of the species. Most botanists have placed 
them in the class Moncecia, others in Polyandria, 
The species under consideration is undoubtedly 
Folygamous, In natural arrangements, the Arums 


1 13 

fi\f. ii. 

r,.>. m. 

f;.-. 1. 

F,:.. It: 

• /y///// //////'////W/j/ 


are found under the Piperitw of Linnseus and the 
Aroidece of Jussieu. 

The genus Arum may be characterized as fol- 
lows. Spathe one leaved, convolute at base ; spa- 
dix naked above, bearing the organs of fructification 
at base ; berries one celled. 

The species triphyllum is polygamous ,• has its 
leaves ternate and entire; its scape bearing an 
ovate, acuminate, inflexed spathe ; its spadicc club- 
shaped, shorter than the spathe. 

The root is round and flattened, its upper 
part tunicated like the onion, its lower and 
larger portion tuberous and fleshy, giving ofi* nu- 
merous long white radicles in a circle from its 
upper edge. It is covered on the under side with 
a dark, loose, wrinkled skin. Leaves usually one 
or two on long sheathing footstalks, composed of 
three oval, mostly entire, acuminate leafets, which 
are smooth, paler on the under side, and becom- 
ing glaucous as the plant grows older, the two late- 
ral ones somewhat rhomboidal. Scape erect, round, 
green or variegated with purple, invested at base 
by the petioles, and by their acute sheaths. This 
supports a large, ovate, acuminate spatJie, convo- 
luted into a tube at bottom, but flattened and bent 
over at the top, like a hood. Its internal colour 
is exceedingly various, even in plants growing to- 


gether. In some it is wholly green, in others 
dark purple or hlack. In most it is variegated, 
as in our figuj'e, with pale greenish stripes on a 
dark ground. The spadix is much shorter than 
the spathe, club shaped, rounded at the end, 
green, purple, black, or variegated, suddenly con- 
tracted into a narrow neck at base, and surround- 
ed below by the stamens or germs. In the bar- 
ren plants, its base is covered with conical, fleshy 
filaments, bearing from two to four circular an- 
thers each. In the fertile plants, it is invested 
with roundish crowded germs, each tipt with a 
stigma. Plants which are perfectly monoecious, 
and which are the least common, have stamens 
below the germs. There are also frequently 
found irregular, reniform substances, much larger 
than the anthers, of which they seem to be a dis- 
ease. The upper part of the spadix withers with 
the spathe, while the germs grow into a large 
compact bunch of shining scarlet berries. 

Every part of the Arum, and especially the 
root, is violently acrid, and almost caustic. Ap- 
plied to the tongue or to any secreting surface, it 
produces an eftect like that of Cayenne pepper, 
but far more powerful, so much so, as to leave a 
permanent soreness of many hours' continuance. 
Of this any one may become satisfied by a simple 


application of tlie root to his mouth. Its action 
does not readily extend through the cuticle, since 
the bruised root may be worn upon die external 
skin until it becomes dry, without occasioning 
pain or rubefaction. 

The acrid property, which resides in this and 
other species of Arum, appears to depend upon 
a distinct vegetable principle in Chemistry, at 
present but little understood. It is extremely 
volatile, and disappears almost entirely by heat, 
drying, or simple exposure to the air. I have en- 
deavoured, with but partial success, to obtain it 
in a separate state, or in any perceptible combina- 
tion. The following were some of the methods 
by which it was attempted. 

Portions of the fresh contused root were sepa- 
rately digested in water, in proof spirit, in alcohol, 
in ether, in olive oil and in vinegar. The infu- 
sions were tasted at different periods, but none of 
them had acquired the least acrimony from the 

The expressed juice of the root upon standing 
one minute had lost all its pungency. 

A quantity of the bruised root was placed in a 
retort and covered with water. Heat was gradu- 
ally applied, until a fluid began to collect in the 
receiver. This fluid had the peculiar odour of 


tlie root, but was wholly without acrimony. The 
same experiment was repeated with alcohol, and 
vinegar, and afforded similar results. In every 
case the liquid remaining in the retort was alsa 
without pungency. 

Some glices of the root were digested in proof 
spirit in a close stopped phial. The portions of 
root retained their acrimony at the end of some 
weeks, but had imparted none to the spirit. At 
the end of two years, the root was examined and 
found destitute of acrimony, as were also the 
whole contents of the phial. 

Suspecting that the acrid principle of this 
plant must escape in form of gas during the pro- 
cesses Avhich have been mentioned, the fol- 
lowing experiment was made. A quantity of the 
bruised root and stalks were placed in a vessel of 
water. A glass receiver was filled with water and 
inverted over them, and sufficient heat applied to 
raise the water nearly to the boUing point. From 
the beginning of the process, bubbles of air con- 
tinued to escape from the plant, and were collect- 
ed in the upper part of the receiver. In the 
course of half an hour, a considerable quantity of 
permanent gas was obtained. A part of this gas, 
after cooling, was transferred to a phial, in which 
was a small quantity of atmospheric air. On pre- 


senting a lighted paper to the mouth of this phi- 
al, it exploded with a very distinct report. An- 
other portion of the gas was agitated with lime 
water, which it rendered turhid. This circum- 
stance was prohably owing to the mixture of car- 
bonic acid disengaged from the plant, or from the 
water by boiling. 

From the above experiments, which circum- 
stances did not permit me to pursue, it appears 
that the acrimony of the Arum resides in a prin- 
ciple having no affinity for water, alcohol, or oil, 
being highly volatile, and, in a state of gas, in- 
flammable. The products of its combustion, as 
well as its other affinities, remain to be investi- 

The acrimony of the Arum when fresh is too 
powerful to render its internal exhibition safe. 
The roots, when dried whole, retain a small por- 
tion of their pungency, and in this state they have 
been given by some practitioners in the country 
for flatulence, cramp in the stomach, ^c. also for 

* The acrimony of the Ranunculi, which approaches that of the 
Arum, is lost by drying, yet is soluble in water, and passes over with 
it in distillation. That of Polygonum hydropiper disappears in de- 
coction and distillation. The same takes place with several other 
acrid plants which I have examined. Some inquiries into the acrid 
principle of vegetables I am in hopes to render more mature at a fu- 
ture period. 



asthmatic affections. As topical stimulants, they 
promise to be useful when any method shall have 
been discovered of fixinj^ and preserving their ac- 
rimony. The late Dr. Barton of Philadelphia ob- 
serves, that " the recent root of this plant boiled 
in milk, so as to communicate to the milk a strong 
impregnation of the peculiar acrimony of the plant, 
has been advantageously employed in cases of 
consumption of the lungs." This statement how- 
ever should be qualified by the recollection, that 
the Arum imparts none of its acrimony to milk 
upon boiling. An impression of this kind can 
only have been received from a partial mixture of 
the substance of the root with the milk. 

The root contains a large proportion of yevy 
pure white fsecula, resembling t'le finest arrow 
root or starch. To procure this, the fresh root 
should be reduced to a pulp, and placed on a 
strainer. Repeated portions of cold water should 
then be poured on it, which in passing through 
the strainer carry with them the farinaceous part, 
leaving the fibrous portion beliind. The fsecula 
thus obtained, loses its acrimony on being thor- 
oughly dried, and forms a very white, delicate and 
nutritive substance. Dr. M'Call of Georgia found 
these roots to yield one fourth part of their weight 
of pure amylaceous matter. — It is not uncommon 


for a nutritious fsecula to exist in pungent and poi- 
sonous roots. 1 he Laplanders prepare a whole- 
some bread from the acrid roots of Calla palus- 
tris, and the juice of the Cassava, or bread 
root tree of the West Indies, is known to be high- 
ly deleterious while recent. [JVofe F.] 


LiNNisus, sp. pi. — WiLLDENOW, iv. 480. — AiTON^, Hort. Kew, 
iii. 315. — Waxter, Carol. 224. — Michaux, Ft. ii. 188. — Pursh, 
ii. 399. Dracunculus s. Scrpentaria tripbylla, &c. — BAUHiif, 
Tin. 195. — Arum s. Arisarum, &c. — Morison, Hist, iii. 547, 
S. 13, t. 5. — Plukenet, t. 77, f. 5. also t. 376,/. 3. 


ScHCEPF, Mat. Med. 133. — Rush, ii. 301. — Barton, Coll. 29, 
&c. — M'Call, in PJiilad. Med. and Phys. Journal, ii. 84, — Thach* 
ER, Disp. 153. — Cutler, Mem. Jlmer. Jlcad. i. 48'. 


Fig. 1. Arum triphjRum. 

Fig. 2. Spadix with anthers. 

Fig. 3, Spadix with germs. 

Fig. 4. Longitudinal section of the roof. 


Gold thread. 


JL HE dark spliagnous swamps, which iu the 
northern parts of our continent are covered with 
a perpetual sliade of firs, cedars and pines, are 
the favourite haunts of this elegant little ever- 
green. The coldest situations seem to favour its 
growth, and it flourishes alike iu the morasses of 
Canada and of Siberia. On our highest mountain 
tops it plauts itself in little bogs and watery clefts 
of rocks, and perfects its fructification in the short 
summer allowed it in those situations. I have 
gathered it upon the summit of the Ascutney in 
Vermont, aud on the Alpine regions of the White 
mountaiiis. It is here that in company with the 
Diapensia and Azaleas of Lapland, the blue Men- 
ziesia, the fragrant Alpine Holcus, and other plants 



/^ r'// //,> /i //f //ff 


of hiirh northern latitudes, it forms the link of bo- 
tanical connexion between the two continents. 
When in situations like this, we seem transported 
to the frigid zone, and to be present at the point 
where the hemisplieres approach each other, as if 
to interchange their productions.* 

In the second volume of the Amcenitates Ac- 
ademicfe is a description and imperfect figure of 
this plant as brought from Kamschatka, by Hale- 
nius. He describes it by the name Helleborus 
trifolms, with the observation, " Minima est hsec 
planta in suo genere, attamen spectabilis." Sub- 
sequent botanists have ranked it with the Helle- 
bores, until Mr. Salisbury very properly separat- 
ed it from a family of plants, with which it wholly 
disagrees in habit, and constituted a new genus 
by the name of Copils. This genus is character- 
ized by the following marks. Calyao none ; petals 
jive or six, caducous ; nectaries five or si.v, cu- 
cullale; capsules from five to eight, pedicelled, beak- 
ed, many seeded, Tbe species trifoUa has ternate 
leaves, and a onefiowered scape, 

* " Non sine admiratione vidi non solum multas cum rarisslmis 
nostris plantis Lapponicis communes, sed etiara alias, paitiin^ignotas 
omnino, partim nanime tritas; et denique quasdam ctiam cum Cana- 
densibus easdem, argumento Canadam a Camscatca non longe dista- 
rej uti sequentes antea in sola America boi eali visa?, nunc etiam in 
extrema ora Siberiee." Avmniiales Jicademiccn, ii. 310. 


In botanical arrangements, the Coptis will fol- 
low the Hellebores, from which it was taken, re- 
maining in the class and order Polyaiidria, Polygy- 
niu, with the Multisiliquse of Linn sens and the 
Hanunculacese of Jussieu. 

The roots of this plant, from which the name 
of goldthread is taken, are perennial and creeping. 
On removing the moss and decayed leaves from 
the surface of the ground, they discover them- 
selves of a bright yellow colour, running in every 
direction. The bases of the new stems are in- 
vested with a number of yellowish, ovate, acumi- 
nate stipules. Leaves ternate, on long slender 
petioles ; leafets roundish, acute at base, lobed 
and crenate, the crenatures acuminate ; smooth, 
firm, veiny. Scape slender, round, bearing one 
small, starry white flower, and a minute, ovate, 
acute bracte at some distance below. Calyx none. 
Petals five, six or seven, oblong, concave, white. 
Nectaries five or six, inversely conical, hoUow, yel- 
low at the mouth. Stamens numerous, white, 
with capillary filaments and roundish anthers. 
Germs from five to seven, stipitate, oblong, com- 
press,?d; styles recurved. Capsules pedicelled, 
umbelled, oblong, compressed, beaked, with nu- 
merous black oval seeds attached to the inner side. 

The root of this plant is a pure intense bitter, 


scarcely modified by any other taste. In distilla- 
tion it communicates no decided sensible quality 
to water. The constituent with which it most 
abounds is a bitter extractive matter, soluble both 
in water and alcohol. It seems destitute of resi- 
nous or gummy portions, since the residuum from 
an evaporated solution in alcohol is readily dissolv- 
ed in water, and vice versa. It is devoid of astrin- 
gency when chewed in the mouth, and it gives no 
indication of the presence of tannin or gallic acid 
when tested with animal gelatin, or with sulphate 
of iron. The abundance of the bitter principle 
is evinced by the acetate of lead and nitrate of sil- 
ver, both of which throw down a copious precipi- 
tate. The sulphuric, nitric, and muriatic acids 
occasion no change, and the muriate of tin giAes 
only a slight precipitate, after some time standing. 
Of this article larger quantities are sold in the 
druggists' shops in Boston, than of almost any in- 
digenous production. The demand for it arises 
from its supposed efficacy as a local application in 
aphthous, and other ulcerations of tlie mouth. 
Its reputation however in these cases is wholly 
unmerited, since it possesses no astringent or 
stimulating quality, by which it can act on the ul- 
cerated spots, and where benefit lias attended its 
use, it is doubtless to be ascribed to other articles 


possessing the above properties, •with which it is 
usually combined. 

As a pure tonic bitter, capable of strengthen- 
ing the viscera and promoting digestion, it is en- 
titled to rank with most articles of that kind now 
in use. Its character resembles that of Gen- 
tian, Quassia, and Columbo, being a simple bitter 
without aroma or astringency. The tincture, made 
by digesting half an ounce of the bruised root in 
eight ounces of diluted alcohol, forms a preparation 
of a fine yellow colour, possessing the whole bit- 
terness of the plant. I have given it in various in- 
stances to dyspeptics and convalescents, who have 
generally expressed satisfaction from its effects, 
at least, as frequently as from other medicines of 
its class. A teaspoonful may be taken tbree times 
a day. In substance, it rests well on the stomach 
in doses of ten or twenty grains. It is however 
difficult to reduce to powder on account of the te- 
nacity of its fibres. 


Coptis ti'ifolia Salisbury, Lin. Trans, viii. 305. — Pursh, ii. 
390. — Helleborus trifolius, sp, pi. — ^Willd. ii. 1338. Kalm, 
Travels, iii. 379. — Lepech. ifer i. 190. — ^Pallas, 7fer. iii. 34. — 
Oedee, F. Dan. t. 566. — Michaux, Fl. i. 325. — dmoen. Acad, 
ii. 356, t. 4./. 18. 



Helleboriis trifolius, Bart. Coll. Nigell a.— Cutler, Jlmer. 
^9cad, i. 457. — Thacher, Disp. 283. 


Fig. 1. Coptis Mfolia with the root, leaves, flowers and last 
yearns fruit. 

Fig. 2. Mctaries, stamens, and pistils magnified. 

Fig. S. Section of a capsule shexving the seeds. 


Bear berry. 


Jd ew shrubs are more extensively diffused 
throughout the northern hemisphere, both in the 
old and new continents, than this trailing ever- 
green. We are told that it abounds in the north- 
ern parts of Europe, in Sweden, Lapland, and Ice- 
land, and extends southerly to the shores of the 
Mediterranean. In Siberia it is also found, and is 
represented as abundant on the banks of the 
AVolga. In North America it grows from Hud- 
son's bay as far south, at least, as the central 
parts of the United States. It occupies the most 
barren places, such as gravelly hills and dry, 
sandy woods, and covers the ground with beds of 
considerable extent. 

PI 1 7 






The family of plants bearing the name of Ar- 
butus have for their distinctive marks a jive-part- 
ed calya(^, an ovate corolla, pellucid at base ; and 
a superior, five-celled berry. They are closely 
connected to the Vaccinia or whortleberries, from 
whicli they differ principally in the situation of 
the berry, which in the Arbutus gro»s above 
the calyx, and in the Vaccinium below it. — Both 
these genera, at least the American species, prop- 
erly belong to the class Becandria and order Mono- 
gynia. The lAnnaian natural order is Bicornes. 
Jussieu has them among his Ericas. 

The species Uva ursi. Bear's grape or Bear- 
berry is known from the rest by its procumbent 
stem and entire leaves.— It trails upon the ground, 
putting out roots from the principal stems, and 
tending upward with the young shoots only» The 
cuticle is deciduous, and peels off from the old 
stems. Leaves scattered, obovate, acute at base, 
attached by short petioles, coriaceous, evergreen, 
glabrous, shining above, paler beneatli, entire, the 
margin rounded, but scarcely reflexed, and in the 
young ones pubescent. Flowers in a short cluster 
on the ends of the branches. Peduncles reflexed, 
furnished at base with a short acute bracte under- 
neath, and two minute ones at the sides. Calvx 
of five roundish segments, of a reddish colour and 


persistent. Corolla ovate orurceolate, white with 
a reddish tinge, transparent at base, contracted 
at the mouth, hairy inside, with five short, reflex- 
ed segments. Stamens inserted at the base of the 
corolla with hairy filaments, and anthers with two 
horns and two pores in each. Germ round, style 
straight, longer than the stamens, stigma simple. 
^Xectary a black indented ring, situated beloAV the 
germ, and remaining till the fruit is ripe. Ber- 
ries globular, depressed, of a deep red, approach- 
ing scarlet, containing an insipid, mealy pulp, and 
about five seeds, which in the American plant co- 
here strongly together, so as to appear like the nu- 
cleus of a drupe. 

The leaves and stems of the Uva ursi are used 
in Sweden and Russia for the purpose of tanning 
leather. According to Linnaeus, large quantities 
are annually collected for this use. 

"When chewed in the mouth, the leaves have 
an astringent taste, combined with some degree of 
bitterness. The result of such chemical trials as 
I have made with them, shews that they abound 
in tannin, Avhich is probably their chief active con- 
stituent. A solution of gelatin occasions a copi- 
ous precipitate ; sulphate of iron an equally co- 
pious one of a black colour. Nitrate of mercury 
and lime water gave large precipitates from the 


decoction, the first of a light green, the last of a 
brownish colour. Of the existence of gallic acid, 
at least as it exists in galls, I have found no suffi- 
cient proof. The decoction does not redden vege- 
table blues, and the black precipitate with the sul- 
phate of iron soon subsides, leaving the fluid nearly 
colourless. The quantity of resin, mucous mat- 
ter and extractive, provided they exist in this plant, 
must be minute ; since the decoction was not ren- 
dered turbid by the addition of alcohol or ether, 
nor the tincture by the addition of water, although 
after standing twenty four hours, some slight floc- 
culi appeared. Muriate of tin produced no precip- 
itation from the decoction, though it gave one from 
the tincture. Acetite of lead and nitrate of sil- 
ver gave large precipitates. Water distilled from 
this plant, suffered no change with sulphate of 
iron, or muriate of tin. 

Professor Murray of Gottingen, finding a great- 
er amount of soluble matter taken up by water 
than by alcohol, considers the former as the best 
menstruum for this article. A similar inference 
from the American plant was made by Dr. John 
S. 3Iitchell in an inaugural dissertation, published 
at Philadelphia in 1803. For medical uses, Mur- 
ray prefers the decoction to the infusion. 


The Uva ursi was probably known to tbe an- 
cients, as it grows in all the southern parts of Eu- 
rope. Clusius thinks it was the u^zrov (r7ct<pvXti of 
Galen, celebrated by hini as a remedy in hemop- 
tysis, and described as follows. " Uva ursi in 
Ponto nascitur, planta humilis et fruticosa, folio 
Memsecyli, fructum ferens rubrum, rotundum, 
ffustu austerum." But it is well known that the 
brief and imperfect descriptions of the ancients 
were productive of little else than uncertainty in 

In modern times the Uva ursi was brought 
into notice about the middle of the eighteenth 
century by De Haen, as an efficient remedy in 
nephritic and even in calculous cases. It had 
been previously in use for these complaints in 
Spain, at Naples and Montpellier, and as a gener- 
al astringent, at a still earlier period. Its reputa- 
tion was still further augmented by subsequent 
dissertations, publislied upon its properties, and 
different sets of experiments were instituted to 
ascertain if it were not actually capable of dissolv- 
ing the stone of the bladder. The results most in 
favour of its solvent power were those of Girardi, 
who diminished the weight and consistency of uri- 
nary calculi, by digesting them in a preparation 
of this plant. It appears however that the prep- 


aration, which he employed, was an acid liquor, 
obtained by a destructive distillation of the leaves, 
and probably not superior to other weak acids in 
its solvent powers. On the other hand, Professor 
Murray found what might reasonably be expect- 
ed, that these calculi Avere not materially affected 
by long digestion in a decoction of this plant at 
various temperatures. 

The attention of many medical writers has 
heen called to the properties of this medicine, 
and their reports as to its success are extremely 
various. Among its greatest friends, are De 
Haen, Professor Murray, and Dr. Ferriar ; while 
of those whose opinion is more unfavourable, are 
Sauvages, Haller, Donald, Munro and Fothergill. 
Dr. Cullen adopts the opinion of De Heucher, that 
the symptoms of calculus generally are suscepti- 
ble of relief from astringents, and believes that on 
this principle the Uva ursi is capable of mitigat- 
ing complaints arising from that source.* 

In this country the Uva ursi has acquired the 
good opinion of practitioners of medicine in re- 

* In the preface to the third volume of Medical Observations and 
Inquiries, published at London, it is stated in very general terms, that 
the (jva ursi had been prescribed unsuccessfully bjmauj of the mem- 
bers of the Society of Physicians in London. Dr. Woodville, in his 
Medical Botany, has unfortunately misquoted this passage, by read- 
ing " successfully" instead of" unsuccessfully." 


peated instances. Professor Wistar of Phila- 
delphia, as cited by Dr. Mitchell, has in several 
cases found symptoms like those of urinary calcu- 
lus completely removed by this medicine. But 
these could not probably have been cases of real 
calculus. The late Professor Barton found the 
plant of much service in his own case of nephrit- 
ic paroxysms, alternating with gout in the feet. 

From the various testimonies which have beea 
given respecting the properties of this article, we 
are not warranted in believing it to possess any 
real lithontriptic power. At the same time it un- 
doubtedly proves a palliative for calculous symp- 
toms in many cases. 

I have repeatedly watched its effects in parox- 
ysms of nephritis, brought on by gravelly concre- 
tions, and am on the whole inclined to believe in 
its tendency to allay sensibility in these cases, 
and to hasten the relief of the symptoms. It 
ought generally to be preceded by evacuations, 
and may be advantageously accompanied with 
opium. — In cases of dysury arising from a vari- 
ety of causes, I have given the decoction of this 
plant with very satisfactory success in repeated 

The other diseases in which this plant has been 
recommended are, catarrhus vesica?, leucorrhsea 


and gonorrbfea. All these complaints it has tloubt- 
less cured, but is at the same time inferior to 
other medicines in use for the same purposes. 

Some years ago the Uva ursi was recommend- 
ed as a remedy in pulmonary consumption by Dr. 
Bourne of Oxford in England, and by other wri- 
ters in the periodical works. It was stated to 
have a very sensible effect in diminishing hectic 
fever, and abating the frequency of the pulse de- 
pendent on it. We do not find however that sub- 
sequent experience has justified the expectations 
formed of it in this disease. 

In Dr. Mitchell's experiments on the pulse 
with this medicine, it appears that the pulsations 
were sometimes, not always, slightly increased af- 
ter taking it, but that in every case they soon 
sunk below the natural standard, and remained so 
for some time. 

Of the powder of the leaves of Uva ursi, from 
one to tw o scruples may be given to most patients. 
Dr. Ferriar's dose in nephritis was from five 
to ten grains, but a larger quantity is more effec- 
tual, and is readily borne by the stomach. The 
decoction may be made from half an ounce 
of the leaves boiled for ten minutes in a pint of 
water. From a wine glass to a gill of this may 

be taken every hour. 



Arbutus Uva ursi, Linn^us, Fl. Lapponica, 162, t. vi./. 3.— ■ 
Oeder, fl Dan. t. 33. — Woodville, i. t. 70. — Smith, Fl. Brit. 
443. — Engl. Bot. t. 714. — Michaux, Fl. i. 249. — Pursh, i. 282. 
— Uva ursi, J. Bauhin, i. 523. — Ciusius, JRspan. 79. — Lobei, 
Icon.'i. 366.— Paekinson, theatr. 1457. — ^Vitis Idsea, Raius, ifisf. 


Murray, Apparatus Med. ii. 64. — Girardi, de Uva ursina, 
&c. — De Haen, Ratio medendi, ii. 160, &c. — Sauvages, JSTosoU 
iii. 2, 200. — D. Munro, Mat. Med. iii. 288. — Fothergilx, Med, 
Obs. 144. — Alexander, Exp. essaijs, 151. — Ferriar i. 109. — 
Heberden 79, 360. — Davie, Med, and Phys. Jmirnaly xv. 347. — 
Bourne, in dittof xiv. 463. — Schiepf, 67. — Mitchell, Inaugii* 
ral Thesis. 


Fig. 1. Arhitus Uva ursi, tJie American vanetij. 

Fig. 2. The iiuignified corolla openedf shewing the insertion of 
the stamens. 

Fig. 3. CalijXf nectarijf germy and sttjle magnijied. 

Fig. 4. Calyx and nectary. 

Fig. 5. Berry. 

/■/ . / u. 


( 1/ j/ifi/i /ii.j/.) 


Blood root. 

PLATE ni. 

Among the earliest visiters of spring the bota- 
nist will find in almost any part of the United 
States the Sangiiinaria Canadensis. Its fine white 
flowers proceeding from the bosom of a young, 
convoluted leaf, become visible in the woods, in 
Carolina, in the month of March, and in New En- 
gland, toward the end of April. Its most com- 
mon name is Blood root. It has also the appella 
tion. of Puccoon, Turmeric, Bed root, ^*c. It is the 
only species we at present possess of the genus 
Sanguinaria, distinguished by a two leaved calyoo 
eight petals, and an oblong capsule, with one cell 
and many seeffs.— Class Bolyandria, order Mono- 
gynia. Natural order Rhoeadew, L. Papaveraceai^j 


The floAver and leaf proceed from the end of 
a horizontal, fleshy, abrupt root, fed by numerous 
radicles. This root makes offsets from its sides, 
which separate as the old root decays, acquiring 
by this separation the abrupt or premorse form. 

Externally the colour of the root is a brownish 
red. Internally it is pale, and when divided emits 
a bright orange coloured juice from numerous 
points of its surface. Tlie bud or hybernaculum, 
which terminates the root, is composed of succes- 
sive scales or sheaths, the last of which acquires a 
considerable size, as the plant springs up. By 
dissecting this hybernaculum in the summer or 
autumn, we may discover the embryo leaf and 
flower of the succeeding spring, and with a com- 
mon magnifier, even the stamens may be counted. 

The Sanguinaria is smooth throughout. The 
leaves grow on long channelled petioles. When 
spread out, they are reniform or heart shaped, 
with large roundish lobes separated by obtuse si- 
nuses. The under side is strongly reticulated 
with veins ; it is paler than the upper, and at length 
becomes glaucous. The scape is round, rises in 
front of the petiole, and is infolded by the young 
leaf. The calyx consists of two concave, ovate, 
obtuse leaves, which are perfect in the bud, but 
fall off when the corolla expands. Petals eight, 


spreading*, concave, obtuse, the alternate or ex- 
ternal ones longer, so that the flower has a 
square appearance. This is its natural charac- 
ter, although cultivation sometimes increases the 
number of petals. Stamens numerous, with ob- 
long yellow anthers. Germ oblong, compressed, 
style none, stigma thick, somewhat two lobed. 
Capsule oblong, acute at both extremities, two 
valved. Seeds numerous, roundish, compressed, 
dark sliining red, half surrounded with a peculiar 
white vermiform appendage, which projects at the 
lower end. 

After the flower has fallen, the leaves continue 
to grow, and by midsummer have acquired so large 
a size as to appear like a different plant. 

The root of this vegetable is the only part 
which I have submitted to chemical examination. 
The experiments made on this substance, gave 
evidence of the following constituent principles. 
1. A peculiar resin. Alcohol comes off* from 
the root strongly impregnated with its colour and 
taste. This solution is rendered turbid by the 
addition of water. When evaporated to dryness, 
it leaves a residuum partially, but not wholly soluble 
in water. When successive quantities of water 
have been agitated with the powdered root until 
the infusion comes off* colourless, alcohol acquii'es 


a colour from the remainder. iEtlier receives 
from the root a yellowish colour, and when eva- 
porated, leaves the resin nearly pure. In this 
state it is moderately adhesive, of a deep orange 
colour, hitter and acrid, diffusible, but not soluble 
in water. The resin may also be precipitated in 
small quantities from alcohol by water. 

2. A bitter principle. Both water and alcohol 
acquire a strong bitter taste when digested on the 
root. From both these solutions a copious pre- 
cipitate is thrown down by the nitrate of silver 
and the acetite of lead. Muriate of tin gradually 
renders the solution turbid, but without a p)'ecipi- 
tate. Oxymuriatic acid renders the alcoholic so- 
lution turbid, but produces no change in the wa- 
tery solution for some time. At length a precip- 
itate forms and slowly subsides ; but produces no 
change in the watery solution. No precipitate was 
formed from the cold acj[ueous infusion in an hour 
by the sulphuric or nitric acids, by lime water, ni- 
trate of mercury, muriate of barytes, oxalate of 
ammonia, sulphate of iron, gelatine or h^dro-sul- 
phuret of potash. After standing twenty four 
hours, a very slight precipitate was discovered 
from the lime water and nitrate of mercury only. 

3. An acrid principle. The acrimony resides 
in part in the resin, but is also communicated to 


water. It is diminished by heat, yet it does not 
come over with water in distiUation, 

4. Ffficula. The infusion of the root in cold 
water is limpid. The hot infusion is viscid and 
glutinous and stiffens linen. From this solution 
the ffficula is precipitated in a white powder by al- 
cohol. Nitric acid dissolves this precipitate, which 
may be again thrown down by alcohol. 

5. A fibrous or woody portion. 

The beautiful colour of the root seems to re- 
side more in the resin than in any other princi- 
ple, since the alcoholic solution has always more 
than twice as much colour as the aqueous. Pa- 
pers dipt in these solutions receive a bright salmon, 
colour from the tincture, but a very faint one from 
the aqueous infusion. This circumstance furnish- 
es an impediment to the use of this article in dyeing. 

The medical properties of the Sanguinaria are 
those of an acrid narcotic. When taken in a large 
dose it irritates the fauces, leaving an impression 
in the throat for considerable time after it is swal- 
lowed. It occasions heartburn, nausea, faintness, 
and frequently vertigo and diminished vision. 
At length it vomits, but in this operation it is less 
certain than otiier emetics in common use. I'he 
above effects are produced by a dose of from eight 
to twenty grains of the fresh powdered root. 


When given in smaller doses, such as produce 
nausea without vomiting, and repeated at fre- 
quent intervals, it lessens the frequency of the 
pulse in a manner somewhat analogous to the op- 
eration of Digitalis. Tliis however is a seconda- 
ry effect, since in its primary operation it seems 
to accelerate the circulation. Exhibited in this 
manner, it has been found useful in several 

In still smaller doses, or such as do not excite 
nausea, it has acquired some reputation as a tonic 

Professor Smith of Hanover, New Hampshire, 
in a paper on this plant, published in the London 
Medical Transactions, vol. i. states that he found 
the powder to operate violently as an emetic, pro- 
ducing great prostration of strengtli, during its 
operation, which continued for some time. He had 
not known it to act as a cathartic. Snuffed up the 
nostrils, it proved sternutatory, and left a sensa- 
tion of heat for some time. Applied to fungous 
flesh it proved escharotic, and several polypi of the 
soft kind were cured by it in his hands. He found 
it of great use in the incipient stages of pulmona- 
ry consumption, given in as large doses as the 
stomach would bear, and repeated. In cases of 
great irritation it was combined with opium. Some 


Other complaints were benefitted by it, such as 
acute rheumatism and jaundice. 

Professor Ives of New Haven* considers the 
Blood root as a remedy of importance in many dis- 
eases, particularly of the lungs and liver. He ob- 
serves, that in typhoid pneumonia, " in plethoric 
constitutions, when respiration is very difficult, 
the cheeks and hands become livid, the pulse full 
soft, vibrating and easily compressed, — tlie Blood 
root has done more to obviate tlie symptoms and 
remove the disease," than any remedy which he 
has used. In such cases, he observes, " the dose 
must be large in proportion to tlie violence of the 
disease, and often repeated, until it excites vomit- 
ing, or relieves the symptoms." lie infuses from 
a scruple to half a drachm of the powdered root 
in half a gill of hot water, and gives one or two tea- 
spoonfuls every half hour, in urgent cases, until 
the effect is produced. This treatment has often 
removed the symptoms in a few hours. 

Dr. Ives thinks highly of its use in influenza, 
in phthisis, and particularly in hooping cough. 
He also states, that given in large doses, sufficient 
to produce full vomiting, it often removes the 
Croup, if administered in the first stages. It has 
been given, he remarks, "for many years in the 

* Letter dated November 5, 1816. 


country, some physicians relying wholly on this 
remedy for the cure of croup." 

Dr. Macbride, of Charleston, S. C. who has 
contributed many judicious remarks on the medi- 
cinal properties of plants, to 3Ir. Elliott's excel- 
lent Botany of the Southern States ; informs me,* 
that he has found the Blood root useful in Hy- 
drothorax, given in doses of sixty drops, tei* de die, 
and increased until nausea followed each dose. 
In a week or two the good effect was evident, the 
pulse being rendered slow and regular, and the 
respiration much improved. In the same letter 
he observes, " In torpor of the liver, attended with 
colic and yellowness of the skin, a disease com- 
mon in this climate, I use the Puccoon with evi- 
dent advantage. We use it also in jaundice, but 
in this disease I do not trust exclusively to it. I 
prefer the pill or powder (dose from two to five 
grains) and vinous infusion, to the spirituous tinc- 

The tincture of Sanguinaria may be made by 
digesting an ounce of the powdered root in eight 
ounces of diluted alcohol. Tliis preparation pos- 
sesses all the bitterness, but less of the nauseat- 
ing quality, than the infusion. In the dose of a 
small teaspoonful, it is used by many practitioners 

* Letter dated December, 1816. 


as a stimulating tonic, capable of increasing the 
appetite and promoting digestion. 


Sanguinaria Canadensis, Lin. sp, pi. — Curtis, Botan. Mag. 
t. 162. — AiTON, Hort. Kew. ii. 222. — Walter, Carol. 153. — 
MiCHAUX, Flora 1, 309. — Pursh, ii. 366. — Sanguinaria minor, 
Dlllenius, Elth. f. 326 and S. major, /. 325 in t. 252. — Cheli- 
doniuni maximum acaulon Canadensc Raius, Hist. 1887. — Ran- 
unculus Virg. albus. Parkinson, Th. 326. — Chelidonium ma- 
jus Canad. acaulon Cornutus, Canad. 212. 


ScH(EPF, 85. — Smith, Trans. Lond. Med. Sociehj, i. 179.— 
Bart. Coll. 28. — Cutier, Mem. Amer. Jlcad. i. 455. — Thacherj* 
Disp. 331. 


Common Craneshill. 


An common language the term Geranium in- 
cludes all that extensive tribe of plants comprised 
by tlie old genus of tliat name, and principally 
characterised by their beaked fruit and five seeds 
which are scattered by means of awns. L'Heri- 
tier has divided this family into three distinct gen- 
era, under different orders in the artificial class 
Monadelphiu. These are Erodium, having five sta- 
mens, five nectariferous scales and glands, and the 
awns of the fruit twisted and bearded. PelargonU 
um, which includes most of the Cape species so 
commonly cultivated among us, having about seven 
stamens, an irregular corolla, and a nectareous tube 
running down the peduncle. Lastly, Geranium 
having ten stamens, a regular corolla, five nee- 

/•/. \w. 

. 7 


tariferous glands at the base of the longer fila- 
ments, the awns of the fruit neither bearded nor 
twisted. To this division belongs the plant under 
consideration, which has the following specific 
character. Erect, hairy backward ; stem forked; 
leaves opposite, three or jive parted, cut; peduncles 
mostly tivo flowered ; petals, ohovate, entire, 

Jussieu has formed a natural order by the 
name of Gerania, which nearly corresponds to the 
Gruinales of Linnjeus. 

Although we have few species of Geranium 
in the United States, yet the present species, by its 
extensive diffusion, is a sufficient representative 
of the race. It is very common in low grounds, 
about Boston and Philadelphia, in the Carolinas, 
and in the western country upon the banks of the 
Ohio and Illinois. 

The root of Geranium maculatum is perennial, 
horizontal, thick, rough and knobby. In most 
plants it sends up a stem and several root leaves. 
The leaves are spreading, hairy, divided in a pal- 
mate manner into three, five, or seven lobes, which 
are variously cut and toothed at their extremi- 
ties ; those of the root are on long petioles, those 
at the middle of the stem opposite and petioled, 
those at the top opposite and nearly sessile. The 
stem is erect, round, hispid witli reversed hairs, 


dichotomous, with a flower stalk in the fork. Sti- 
pules and bractes linear, dilated at base. Pedun- 
cles round, bairy, swelling at base, generally two 
flowered. Calyx of five oblong, ribbed, mucron- 
ated leaves, with the parts, which are outermost 
in the bud, hairy. Petals five, obovate, not emargi- 
nate, of a light purple colour, which is deeper 
when the plant grows in the shade, marked with 
green at the base. Stamens ten, erect or curving 
outward, the alternate ones a little longer, with 
nectariferous glands at the base ; filaments dilat- 
ed and united together at base ; anthers oblong, 
deciduous, so that tlie number frequently appears 
less than ten. Germ ovate ; style straight, as 
long as the stamens ; stigmas five, at first erect, 
afterwards recurved. Capsule five seeded, sur- 
mounted by a long straight beak, from the sides of 
which when ripe are separated five thin, flat awns, 
which curl up, having cast off the seed contained 
in the cell at the base of each. 

The root of the Geranium, which is the part to 
be used in medicine, is internally of a green col- 
our, and when dry is exceedingly brittle and easi- 
ly reduced to powder. It is one of the most pow- 
erful astringents we possess, and from its decided 
properties, as well as the ease of procuring it, it 
may well supersede in medicine many foreign ar- 


tides of its class which are consumed among us. 
The experiments, wliich I have made upon this 
root, have been principally directed to the exami- 
nation of its astringent qualities. 

A drachm of the powdered root was steeped ia 
two ounces of cold water and the infusion filtrat- 
ed. Successive portions of water were add- 
ed until the liquid came off colourless and taste- 
less. The collected infusion had a pale greenish 
colour, and a styptic, austere taste. It did not 
redden vegetable blues. 

To half this infusion was added a drachm of 
gelatin in solution. The liquor instantly became 
of a milky whiteness, and a copious white precipi- 
tate was thrown down. This precipitate was dri- 
ed and assumed a semi-transparent, horny ap- 
pearance. Its weight was eleven grains. 

A drachm of kino treated in the same man- 
ner was rendered turbid, but gave a very scanty 
precipitate with the gelatin. 

To portions of the same infusions was added a 
solution of the muriate of tin. In both of them a 
greenisb precipitate was formed, but that of the 
Geranium was much the most immediate and 

The sulphate of iron struck a dark purple col- 
our with the infusion of Geranium. The com- 


pound remained principally suspended at the end 
of twenty four hours, and when used in writing 
had the appearance of common ink, but in a few 
days changed to a dull brown colour. A por- 
tion of the fresh infusion was distilled, but the li- 
quid which came over was not altered in colour 
by the sulphate of iron. 

The above experiments indicate the presence 
of tannin and gallic acid, the former in large quan- 
tities, in the root of the Geranium. The propor- 
tion of tannin seems considerably to exceed that 
in the kino of the shops. The gallic acid is in- 
dicated by the dark precipitate remaining in so- 
lution. This is Berth oUet's criterion. It differs 
however from the acid of oak galls in not reddening 
vegetable blues, and not passing over in distillation. 

Alcoliol and proof spirit readily dissolve the 
active constituents of the Geranium. The tinc- 
ture has a great sensible astringency, and is a 
convenient mode of keeping the article for use. 

The Geranium has been repeatedly employed 
in medicine by various practitioners in this coun- 
try. I have found it useful in a number of cases, 
where astringents were capable of rendering ser- 
vice. It is particularly suited to the treatment of 
such discharges as continue from debility after 
tlie removal of their exciting causes. The tine- 


ture forms an excellent local application in sore 
throats and ulcerations of the mouth. 

Its internal use has been recommended in dys- 
entery and cholera infantum, but astringents are 
not always admissible in these complaints, at least 
in their early stages, during the existence of much 
active inflammation, or during the presence of any 
substance requiring to be removed. 

The Geranium may be used in powder in ex- 
tract, or in tincture. Its doses are similar to 
those of kino and catechu, a drachm or two of 
the tincture, twenty or thirty grains of the pow- 
der, and a quantity somewhat less of the extract. 


Geranium maculatum, Wilideivow, iii. 705. — Gron^o- 
vius, Virg. 101. — Waiter, Carol. 175. — Michaux, ii. 38.— 
PuRSH, ii. 448. — G. caule erecto, herbaceo, foliis oppositis, quin- 
quepartitis, incisis &c. Cavaxilles, diss. t. 86,/. 2. — G. batra- 
chi()ides, Aniericanum, maculatum, floribus obsolete cceruleis, 
J)lLL.Elth. 158. t. 131,/. 159. 


ScHCEPF, 107. — Bart. Coll. 7. — Cutler, Mem, Jmer. Jlcad. 
i. 469. — Thacher, Disp. 9.M, 


Fig. 1. Geranium maculatum. 
Fig. -2. Thejndt. 
Fig. 3. The root. 



Fever root. 


X HIS is rather a solitary plant, and though 
met witli in most parts of the United States, it 
rarely, I believe, occurs in large quantities. About 
Boston it is found in several places at the borders 
of woods in rich, shady situations. Its common 
names are Fever root and Wild ipecac* Pursh 
observes, that it is rare, and generally occurs in 
limestone soils. With us it flowers in June and 
ripens its fruit in September. 

The genus Triosteiim is found in the class 

* The quaint appellation of Dr. Tinker*s weed, which has been 
bestowed on this plant, is thus gravely commented on by Poiret. 
" Ses racines et celles de I'espece precedente passent pour emeti- 
ques ; le docteur Tinkar est le premier qui les a mises en usage, et 
qui a fait donner a cette plante par plusieurs habitans de I'Amerique 
septentrionale le nom d' herbe sauva^e du docteur TinkarP 

Tio. m 

Fi., r. 

fl.: II. 

Fio. IV 

Fi„ fl. F'.r. III. 

/i/(.J//n// //I tA f/ff/ff ff/ 


Fentandria and order Monogynia. Its natural 
affinities place it among the Aggregatw of Lin^ 
n?eus and the CaprifoUa of Jussieu. It is charac- 
terized by a monopetaloiis, jive-lobed, iineiiual co- 
rolla ; a calyx as long as the corolla ; and a ber- 
ry with three cells and three seeds. The species 
perfoliatuin differs from the rest in having its 
leaves connate, and its flowers sessile and ivhorled. 
The root of this plant is perennial and subdi- 
vided into numerous horizontal branches. The 
stem is erect, hairy, fistulous, round, from one to 
four feet high. The leaves are opposite, the 
pairs crossing each other, connate, ovate, acumi- 
nate, entire, rather flat, abruptly contracted at 
base into a sort of neck, resembling a >vinged 
petiole. This portion varies in width, as Michaux 
has expressed it, "foliis latins, angustiusve con 
natis." In general it is narrow when the plant is 
in flower, as represented in the figure ; and wider 
when it is in fruit. The flowers are axillary, sessile^ 
five or six in a whorl, the upper ones generally 
in a single pair. Each axil is furnished with t^^o 
or three linear bractes. The calyx consists of 
five segments which are spreading, oblong-linear 
coloured, unequal, persistent. Corolla tubular^ 
curving, of a dull brownish purple, covered with 
minute hairs, its base gibbous, its border open and 


divided into live rounded, unequal lobes. Stamens 
inserted in tlie tube of the corolla, liairy, with 
oblong anthers. Germ inferior, roundish ; style 
longer than the corolla; stigma peltate. The 
fruit is an oval berry of a deep orange yellow,* 
litiiry, somewhat three sided, crowned with the 
calyx, containing three cells and three hard, bony, 
furrowed seeds, from wliich the name of the genus 
is taken. 

This plant was made the subject of an inter- 
esting communication to the Linngean society of 
"New England, by Dr. John Randall. The exper- 
iments made by him on its medical uses and phar- 
maceutical preparations were numerous, and 
serve to throw much light on its properties. In 
trying the solvent powers of w ater and alcohol, he 
found that water afforded a much greater quanti- 
ty of extract than alcohol, and that the spirituous 
extract was perfectly soluble in water, whence he 
infers that no resin in a pure state exists in the 
plant. He discovered no volatile oil by distilla- 
tion, nor any other principle of activity in water 
distilled from the plant. He concludes also, that 

* Pursh observes that the flowers and berries are purple. In all 
the specimens I have examined, which have not been few in number, 
the fruit was of a bright orange colour. If Pursh has seen a plant 
with purple berries, it is probably a different species from the true 
plant of Linuteus and Dillenius, whicli had ^'fructus lutescentes." 


no free acid exists in this vegetable. Of the dif- 
ferent parts submitted to examination, the leaves 
yielded the greatest quantity of soluble matter, 
but the root afforded that of the greatest activity. 
By decoction and evaporation with water an ounce 
of the dried stalks afforded one drachm of ex- 
tract ; an ounce of the dry roots, two drachms 
and two scruples, and the same quantity of leaves 
half an ounce. From a similar treatment of equal 
portions with alcohol, rather more than half the 
above quantities of extract were obtained. 

The sensible qualities of the root were found 
essentially different from those of the herb. Both 
of them possess a large share of bitterness, but the 
root has also a nauseous taste and smell, some- 
what approaching to those of ipecacuanha. The 
medical properties of the Triosteum are those of 
an emetic and cathartic. In the above disserta- 
tion, about thirty cases are detailed, in which dif- 
ferent preparations and quantities of the article 
w^ere given to various persons with a view to their 
medicinal effects. The general inference to be 
made from them is, that the bark of the root acts 
with tolerable certainty as an evacuant upon the 
alimentary canal, both by emesis and catharsis. 
When given alone, either in powder or decoction, 
the instances of its failure were not many, and 


when combined with calomel, its operation was at- 
tended with a certainty, hardly inferior to that of 
jalap. The aqueous and spirituous extract of the 
root were likewise efficacious, and nearly in an 
equal degree. Preparations made from different 
parts of the herb possessed much less activity, the 
decoction of the leaves operating only as a diapho- 
retic, and that of the stalk producing no effect. 

The late Professor Barton of Philadelphia, in 
his Collections toward a Materia Mcdica of the U- 
iiited States, speaks of this plant as a mild and 
good cathartic, sometimes operating as a diuretic 
and in large doses as an emetic. 

My own experience with this plant has not 
been extensive, yet sufficient to satisfy me of its 
medicinal power. Where I have administered it, 
it has generally proved cathartic, a larger dose 
however being requisite for this purpose, than of 
jalap or aloes. It has sometimes failed to pro- 
duce any effect, and I am inclined to believe that 
its efficacy is much impaired by age. Those who 
may incline to employ it, will do well to renew 
their stock annually, and to keep the powder in 
close stopped phials. 

A dose of the bark of the root in powder is 
twenty or twenty five grains, and of the extract, 
a somewhat smaller quantity. 



Triosteum perfoliatum, Lin. sp. pi. Aiton, Ilort. KexOy i. 234. 
— PuRsu. i. 162. — Triosteum majus, Michaux, Fl. i. 107. — ^T. 
floribus verticillatis, sessilibus, Gronov. 31. — Triosteosper- 
nium latiore folio, flore rutilo, Dillenius, Elth, U 293. /. 378. 


ScHCEPF, 23. — Bart. Coll. 29. 


Fig. 1. Triosteum perfoliatum. 

Fig. 2. *3 Jlower separated. 

Fig. 3. The corolla opened, shewing the stamens and style. 

Fig. 4. The calyx. 

Fig. 5. The fruit, crowned with the calyx. 

Fig. 6. The same dissected to shew the three seeds. 

Fig. 7. A seed. 


Foison Sumach or Dogwood. 


1 HE fine, smooth foliage of the Rhus vernix 
render it one of the most elegant of our native 
shrubs, while its well known poisonous qualities 
make it an object of aversion, and deter most per- 
sons from a near inspection of its structure and 
characteristics. From Canada to Carolina it is a 
common tenant of swamps and meadows, usually 
attaining the height of ten or fifteen feet, but 
sometimes rising into a tree of twice that altitude. 
The names of Poison tree, Poison wood, Poison 
ash, ^c. are applied to it in different parts of the 
United States. In Massachusetts it is universal- 
ly known by the name of Logwood, This appel- 
lation, being applied throughout the country to 
Corniis florida, serves to shew the fallacy of de- 



pending on vulgar or provincial names for the 
distinction of plants. A mistake of very injuri- 
ous consequence might easily arise from the confu- 
sion of the English names of two trees so dissimi- 
lar in their qualities. 

The class FentmiAria and order Trigynia ; the 
Linnsean order Bumosce and the Jussieuean Tere- 
bintacece include the genus to which this shrub 
belongs. The generic character consists in an 
inferior, five-parted calyjo, a corolla of five petals^ 
and a berry with one seed. The Rhus vernix has 
its leaves annual, pinnate, glabrous ,• its leafets ob- 
long, entire, acuminate ; its panicle lax, and its 
fiowers dioecious. 

The trunk of the poison sumach is from one 
to five inches in diameter, branching at top, and 
covered with a pale greyish bark. The wood is 
light and brittle, and contains much pith. The 
ends of the young shoots and the petioles are usu- 
ally of a fine red colour, w hich contributes much 
to the beauty of the shrub. The leaves are pin- 
nate, the leafets oblong or oval, entire, or some- 
times slightly sinuate, acuminate, smooth, paler 
underneath, nearly sessile, except the terminal 
one. The flowers, which appear in June, are very 
small, green, in loose axillary panicles. Where 
they appear not axillary, it is because the leat un- 


der them has heen detached. The barren and 
fertile flowers grow on different trees. The 
panicles of barren flowers are the largest and 
most branched. They are furnished with short, 
oblong bractes, and downy pedicels. The ca- 
lyx has five ovate segments, and the corolla five 
oblong, sigmoid petals. The stamens are longer 
than the petals, and project tlirough their in- 
terstices. The rudiment of a three-cleft style 
is found in the centre.— In the fertile flowers, 
the panicles of which are much smaller, the 
calyx and petals resemble the last, while the 
centre is occupied by an oval germ, ending in 
three circular stigmas. The fruit is a bunch 
of dry berries or rather drupes of a greenish 
white, sometimes marked with slight purple veins, 
and becoming wrinkled when old. They are 
roundish, a little broadest at the upper end, and 
compressed ; containing one white, hard, furrow- 
ed seed. 

A tree, supposed to be the same with the 
Rhus vernix, grows in Japan, and furnishes the 
celebrated black varnish of that country. 

A controversy respecting the identity of the 
Japanese and American species, was carried on in 
the forty ninth and fiftieth volumes of the London 
Philosophical transactions, by Mr. Philip Miller 


and Mr. John Ellis. The mass of evidence seems 
to justify the helief, that notwithstanding the re- 
moteness of their situation, they are one and the 
same species. Tiie description of the oriental 
tree, given in Ksempfer's Amcenitates exoticse, 
agrees very closely with that of the American 
species. [J\*ote G.] Like our native Rhus, the 
Japanese tree possesses a poisonous influence, 
and frequently causes a severe cutaneous affection 
in those who approach or gather it. It only re- 
mains to shew, that a varnish may he obtained 
from the American Rhus vernix, to furnish strong 
presumptive evidence of the identity of the two. 

If an incision be made in the bark of our 
Rhus vernix in the spring or autumn, a quantity 
of thick viscid fluid immediately exudes, and 
sometimes with such rapidity as to drop off be- 
fore it can be collected. This juice has an 
opaque, whitish appearance, and a strong, pene- 
trating, disagreeable smell. On exposure to the 
atmosphere, its colour soon changes to a deep 
black. It is extremely slow in drying, and per- 
manently retains its black colour. 

In the month of October, 1814, with the as- 
sistance of Dr. Pierson, whose case is afterwards 
described; I collected several ounces of this juice 
from a thicket of trees in Brighton. Being col- 


lected in a phial, it retained its whitish colour^ 
except at the surface, where it turned hlack from 
its contact with the air in the upper part. Thi& 
juice was kept for more than two years without 
any cliange in its appearance. In cold weather 
it was extremely viscid, and flowed with difficulty. 
Different portions of this juice were submitted 
to chemical examination. It was perfectly insolu- 
ble in water, although upon boiling with it, it 
formed a thick emulsion. Alcohol dissolved it 
sparingly, and the solution was rendered turbid 
by water, ^ther combined with it more large- 
ly, forming a thick, opaque compound. Strong 
sulphuric acid combined with it, producing a 
black solid mass. Alkalies also combined with 
it, and a strong solution of pearl ash dissolved a 
portion of it, which was afterwards precipitated 
by sulphuric acid. It had an affinity for metallic 
oxyds, and powdered litharge, upon being boiled 
with it, rendered it nearly solid. In distillation 
at the heat of boiling water, nothing came over 
except a slight film upon the surface of the wa- 
ter. AYhen the heat was raised to the boiling 
point of the juice, a quantity of thin, blackish, vol- 
atile oil came over, which dried up on being ex- 
posed to the air, leaving a slight coating on the 
surface of the vessel which contained it. The 


portion remaining in the retort was much inspis- 
sated, and upon cooling hecame nearly solid. 

Being desirous to try the effect of this juice, 
employed as a varnish, I applied a coating* of it 
with a hrush to different surfaces of wood, glass, 
tinned iron, paper, and cloth. These were ex- 
posed to the air and light during tlie whole of 
the months of July and August, at the expira- 
tion of which period they had not hecome dry. 
Each of the coatings was half fluid and adhesive, 
and had collected much dust. Upon the cloth 
and paper the juice had spread extensively, giv- 
ing them an oily appearance. 

Concluding from this experiment that the 
juice could not he usefully employed in its crude 
state, I endeavoured to render it more drying by 
the addition of litharge. The compound, which 
resulted from boiling with this oxyd, became dry 
in a short time, but was not distinguished for any 
remarkable degree of lustre. 

The third and last experiment proved more 
satisfactory. A quantity of the juice was boiled 
alone, until nearly all the volatile oil had escaped, 
and the remainder was reduced almost to the 
state of a resin. In this state it was applied while 
warm to several substances, which after cooling 
exhibited the most brilliant, glossy, jet black sur- 


face. The coating appeared very durable and 
firm, and was not affected by moisture. It was 
elastic and perfectly opaque, and seemed calcu- 
lated to answer the purposes of both paint and 

The chemical constitution of the juice of the 
Rhus vernix seems, from the foregoing experi- 
ments, to be most analogous to that of the bal- 
sams, consisting chiefly of a resin and an essen- 
tial oil. The oil dissipates slowly at low^ temper- 
atures, approaching in this and some other res- 
pects to the character of a fixed oil. The resin, 
when procured in contact with the atmospheric 
air, is black, opaque, and solid, rendered very ad- 
hesive, and at length fluid by heat. 

A very distressing, cutaneous disease, it is 
well known, ensues in many persons from the con- 
tact, and even from the effluvium of this shrub. 
The poisonous influence which produces this af- 
fection is common to several other trees and 
plants, such as the Poison vine or Poison ivy, 
(Rhus radicans,) the Cashew nut, (Anacardium 
occidentalej and the Manchineel, (Hippomane 
mancinella,) Even the garden Rue, and com- 
mon Oleander, are said to affect some persons in 
a similar manner. — The Rhus vernix is the most 
formidable of this tribe which is found among us, 


and occasionally produces the most severe effects. 
It is however extremely various in its action, up- 
on persons of different idosyncrasies. Some can- 
not come within the atmosphere of the shrub, 
without suffering the most violent consequences. 
Others are but slightly affected by handling it, 
and some can even rub, chew, and swallow the 
leaves without tlie smallest inconvenience. 

The most formidable cases in persons subject 
to this poison, usually commence within twenty 
four hours after the exposure. The interval is 
sometimes longer, but more frequently shorter. 
The symptoms are generally ushered in by a 
sense of itching and a tumefaction of the hands 
and face. The swelling gradually extends over 
various parts of the body, assuming an erysipela- 
tous appearance. The inflamed parts become 
more elevated, acquiring a livid redness, attended 
with a painful burning sensation. Small vesicles 
now appear upon the surface, which extend and 
run into each other. They contain a transparent 
fluid, \^ Inch by degrees becomes yellow, and at 
length assumes a purulent appearance. A dis- 
charge takes place from these vesicles or pustules, 
giving rise to a yellowish incrustation, which af- 
terwards becomes brown. In the mean time an 
insupportable sensation of itching and burning is 


felt. The inflamed parts become excessively 
swollen, so that not unfrequently the eyes are 
closed, and the countenance assumes a shapeless 
and cadaverous appearance, which has been com- 
pared to that in malignant small pox. The dis- 
ease is usually at its height from the fourth to the 
sixth day, after which the skin and incrustations 
begin to separate from the diseased parts, and 
the symptoms gradually subside. It is not com- 
mon for any scars or permanent traces of the dis- 
ease to remain. Notwithstanding the violent 
character which it sometimes assumes, I never 
knew an authenticated case of its terminating fa- 
tally. It is however capable of occasioning the 
most distressing symptoms. Kalm, in his travels 
in North America, mentions a person who, by the 
simple exhalation of the Rhus vernix, was swol- 
len to such a degree, that " he was stiff as a log of 
wood, and could only be turned about in sheets." 
Dr. Thacher mentions a case, in which the head 
and body were swollen to a prodigious degree, so 
as to occasion the loss of sight for some time ; and 
the patient recovered at the end of several weeks 
with the loss of his hair and nails. 

Of the cases which have fallen under my no- 
tice, the following affords a fair instance of the 
operation of this poison, as it ordinarily effects 


those who are constitutionally liable to it. On the 
37tli of October, 1814, Dr. A. L. Pierson, then a 
student of medicine, accompanied me to Brighton 
for the purpose of collecting the juice of the Rhus 
vernix, growing at that place. He had always 
supposed himself constitutionally exempt from 
liability to the poison. The day proved warm, 
and the effluvium from the incisions we had made 
in the trees was very powerful. We were engag- 
ed in the collection for upwards of an hour, dur- 
ing which he was less exposed than myself, be- 
ing absent a part of the time. His own account 
of the symptoms which followed this exposure is 
as follows : 

" I felt no mipleasant effects for six or seven 
hours after returning to Boston. About 8 o'clock 
P. M. I perceived the backs of my hands were 
swollen and puffy, but without pain or itching ; 
my forehead and upper lip were soon in the same 
state. On the morning of the 28th the tumefac- 
tion had increased, and I discovered various other 
parts of my body to be infected. The backs of my 
hands and wrists, which were the most advanced, 
began to show small watery vesicles. No appli- 
cations were made till the noon of this day. I 
then applied cloths dipped in lead water to one 

hand and wrist, and in a spirituous solution of the 


the corrosive muriate of mercury to the other. 
From this and subsequent trials, I am induced 
to prefer the lead. The parts began to itch — 
the tumefaction increased — vesication began to 
take place on the swollen surface — small pustules 
formed and ran into each other, and at last some 
were formed as large as nutmegs. On the S9th, 
my eyes were nearly closed, in consequence of 
the swelling of my forehead, eyebrows and cheeks. 
The contents of the vesicles were perfectly lim- 
pid — inoculation from them to other parts had 
no effect — neither in this nor any subsequent 
stage. On the evening of the 30th, the inflam- 
mation appeared at its height. The burning sen- 
sation and itching were intolerable. I could scarce-: 
ly discern any object. On the 31st, the pustules 
began to appear a little milky — and before night 
the inflammation was evidently on the decline. 
I this day applied an ointment, composed of Ung. 
Stramonii, 1 oz.-^Subm. Hyd. c. Ammonia (white 
precipitate) 1 dr. mixed— with a very pleasant 
effect. It was now soothing, although before it 
had seemed to irritate, and produced pain when 
applied. November 1st, a very free desquama- 
tion began, first on my forehead, hands and wrists. 
And in just a fortnight I was enabled to leave my 
chamber, blessed with a new cuticle from the root 


of the hair on my forehead to my breast, from the 
middle of my forearm to the tips of my fingers, 
and on the whole inside of my tliighs. The con- 
stitutional effects of this thorough vesication were 
but slight. During the first five days, my pulses 
were increased from ten to twenty strokes in the 
minute. The time of duration of the inflamma- 
tory symptoms in this case accords pretty well 
with the account of Prof. Barton, who states. I 
think, tlie height of it to he on the fifth day. It 
is worth observing, that the operation of the poi- 
son seemed to have a considerable effect in reliev- 
ing me from dispeptic symptoms, with which I 
had been previously troubled, and also benefitted 
a chronic inflammation of my eyes. I am still 
subject to an eruption of watery pustules between 
my fingers, which dry up, and the cuticle peels 
off." Letter datedJiily^ i8i5. 

Many constitutions are but slightly, or not at 
all, affected by the poison of the Rhus vernix. 
This I find to be my own case. After the same 
exposure, which occasioned the case just detailed, 
I experienced no ill consequence, except a slight 
vesicular eruption on the backs of the hands and 
about the eyes, which disappeared in a short time, 
without farther inconvenience. The same slight 
affection I have felt upon several subsequent ex- 


posures, particulai'ly when making, from a recent 
specimen, the drawing which accompanies this 

I apprehend that a majority of persons are not 
liahle to the injurious eifects of the poisonous su- 
macs. Among persons residing in the country, 
exposures must occur very frequently from the 
abundance of these shrubs, especially of the Rhus 
radicans, by roadsides and elsewhere. Yery few 
however, in proportion to the number exposed, 
have personal experience of their deleterious ef- 
fects. In those on the contrary, in whom a con- 
stitutional liability to the poison exists, the disease 
frequently returns several times during life, not- 
Avithstanding the utmost precaution in avoiding 
its causes. A gentleman residing in the coun- 
trv infowned me, that he had been seven times 
poisoned to the most violent degree. In such 
constitutions a slight exposure is sufficient to ex- 
cite the disease. I have known individuals bad- 
ly poisoned in winter from the wood of the Rhus 
vernix, accidentally burnt on the fire. Others 
have made tlie same observation. 

Some farther remarks on the poison of these 
shrubs, and on the treatment of the disease oc- 
casioned by them, vill be made in a future part 
of this work, under the head of IBihns radican^* 


Many interesting observations on the proper- 
ties of these species of Sumach, will he found in 
an inaugural dissertation, hy Dr. Thomas Hors- 
field of Bethlehem, Pa. a work of much industry 
and merit. 

In the New York Medical Repository is an 
account of a swarm of bees, which, having alight- 
ed on the branches of the Rhus vernix, were the 
next day found dead, with their bodies black and 
swollen. This is a remarkable circumstance. 
There is certainly no instinctive aversion in these 
animals for the tree. In the flowering season the 
blossoms, which are very fragrant, are always 
thronged with a multitude of winged insects in 
quest of their honey. 

The introduction of the juice into the arts 
will not perhaps take place among us, during the 
present high price of labour, and the general pre- 
judice which exists against the shrub. In some fu- 
ture period, it is probable that a substance, which is 
found so valuable in the eastern countries, will 
not be neglected among us. It might safely be 
procured by persons not subject to the poison, 
and, with proper precautions, would injure no one 
during its preparation and use. A pound of the 
juice in a day might be collected by an individ- 
ual. When thoroughly dry, it ceases to emit an 


effluvium, and nothing farther is to be apprehend- 
ed from its effects. 


Rhus vernix LiNNiEUS, Sp. pi. — Aiton, Hort Kew. i. 366.— 
MiCHAUX, i. 183. — PuRSH, i. 205. — Pennated toxicodendron 
Ellis, Phil, trans, abr. xi. passim, American toxicodendron 
Miller, ibid. — ^Toxicodendron carolinianum foliis pinnatis, 
&c. Mazeas, ibid. x. 595. — Toxicodendron foliis alatis, fructu 
rhomboideo, Dill. Elth. 390, t. 9,92, f. 377. — Arbor Americana 
alatis foliis, succo lacteo, venenato, Plukenet, p%i. 1. 145./. 1* 


Dudley, Phil, trans, abr. vi. 507. — Sherard, ditto. 508.— 
Kalm, travels, i. 77. — Marshall, arbust. 130. — Cutler, Amer, 
Acad. 427. — Barton, Coll. 24. — Thacher, Disp. 321. — Hors- 
riELD, Inaugural Dissertation. 


Fig. 1. Rhus vernix f with staminiferousjlowers. 
Fig. 2. A staminifermis or barren flower magnijied. 
Fig. 3. Stamens and rudiment of a pistil. 
Fig. 4. A fertile flower magnifled. 
Fig. 5. Germ and stigmas. 
Fig. 6. The fruit. 










A. PLANT bearing the name of Coniiim, -auvsiov, 
has been noted as a poison from remote antiquity. In 
consequence of the power which it possessed when 
given in sufficient quantities, of destroying life in 
a certain and almost immediate manner, it was 
used at Athens as a mode of execution for those 
condemned to death by the tribunal of Areopagus. 
Socrates andPhocion were among the distinguished 
ancients, who suffi?red death by the agency of this 
mortal poison. The accounts which have been 
left respecting it would lead us to believe that its 
operation was speedy, and unattended with any 
violent or long protracted suffering. It was not 
only employed as an instrument of public execu- 


tions, but was resorted to by tliose who sought to 
encounter suicide in its least formidable shape. 
Among other instances, that of the Cean old men 
is related by ^lian, who when they had become 
useless to the state, and tu^ed of the infii'mities of 
life ; invited each other to a banquet, and having 
crowned themselves as in celebration of a joyous 
festival ; drank the Conium, and terminated theii* 
existence together. 

The description which has been left by Di- 
oscorides of the Conium, only shews it to have 
been an umbellate plant, his character of which 
might apply to many species. The mention 
made of it by Latin writers under the name of 
Cicuta are not more satisfactory. Linnaeus, in- 
fluenced by the noxious character of the modern 
officinal Hemlock, has appropriated to that plant 
the name of the Grecian species, and most subse- 
quent botanists have followed his example. Hal- 
ler, however, is of opinion that the ancient poison 
was not procured from this plant, but from the 
Cicuta virosa L. a poisonous aquatic, much more 
powerful and violent in its operation than the 
common Hemlock. Lamarck adopts the opin- 
ion of Linnaeus, and believes that the Conium ma- 
culat'cim was really the Grecian poison, and that 
its properties were rendered more active by the 


heat of the cUmate in ^vhich it grew. Guersent 
supposes that the poisonous draught used by the 
Greeks was not the product of a single species, 
but a compound prepared from several plants. 

Were it not for the tranquillity and ease 
which attended death from the ancient hemlock, 
and which Plato has described with interesting 
minuteness, there would not have been much diffi- 
culty in supposing the Grecian plant to be the same 
with that known at the present day. [jXote H.] It 
appears that a large quantity was requisite to insure 
death. The poison was swallowed in the crude 
juice, recently expressed from the plant. Of tliis 
the di'aught taken by Phocion was lai*ge enough to 
cost twelve drachmce.^ Socrates was prevented 
from making a libation of a part of the contents 
of Ms fatal cup, by being told that the whole was 
necessary to produce the consvimmation of his sen- 
tence. A large quantity of the modern hemlock 
might probably have been equally fatal, though 
with more violent symptoms than those which, if 
Plato be correct, were experienced by the Atheni- 
an philosopher. 

The plant, represented in our plate, undoubt- 
edly came to us from Europe. It is now suffi- 
ciently common in tlie United States, about road 

* Plutarch, Life of Phocion. 


sides and in waste ground, especially in those 
parts of the country wliich have heen longest set- 
tled. It is usually found in bunches, and attains 
the full height of a man. It flowers from June 
until the arrival of frost. 

The very natural order, called Umbellatse by 
Linnaeus and Umbelliferse by Jussieu, to which 
tliis plant and the following one belong, is found 
in the class Pentandria and order Digynia of the 
Linnsean artificial method. 

The genus Conium of Limine us has both 
general and partial involucres, the latter being 
halved. The fruit roundish and furrowed. 

The species maculatum has the fruit un- 
armed with the ridges Undulated. 

Its more complete description is as follows. 
Root biennial, somewhat fusiform and generally 
branched. Stalk round, very smooth, striated, hol- 
low, jointed, and more or less marked with pur- 
plish spots. Leaves two or three times pinnate, 
of a very bright green, with long, sheathing peti- 
oles inserted on the joints of the stem ; the leafets 
pinnatifid and toothed. Flowers in terminal 
umbels, the general involucre with half a dozen 
lanceolate, reflected leafets, the partial involucre 
with three or four situatcvd on the outside. Flow- 
ers very small, white. Petals five, oval with their 


points inflexed. Stamens five, spreading, about the 
length of the corolla. Germ inferior. Styles two 
reflexed outwardly. Fruit roundish-oval, com- 
pressed, ribbed, the ribs being transversely wrin- 
kled or crenate ; separating into two oblong-hem- 
ispherical seeds. 

Hemlock when fresh has a strong nauseous 
odour and taste. If the green leaves are distilled, 
the water Avliich collects in the receiver has an in- 
supportably nauseous taste, while that which re- 
mains in the retort is comparatively insipid. 
This cu'cumstance, and likewise the fact that the 
dried leaves become inert by age and exposure, 
render it probable that the chief medicinal efficacy 
resides in a volatile portion of the plant. Of the 
more fixed ingredients of Hemlock, a variety of 
analyses have been made. The most recent which 
I have met with is that of Schrader, who from a 
thousand grains of the plant obtained the following 
substances. Extractive S7.3 — Gummy extract 
S5.2 — Resin 1.5 — Albumen 3.1 — Green fsecula 
8. — He also detected various eai'thy and alkaline 
salts. These however are found to vary according 
to the soil in which the plant grows. The vola- 
tile portion, which I obtained in water distilled 
from the leaves, did not exhibit any essential oil, 
and effected no change in the colour of litmus. It 


was not altered by sulphate of iron nor acetite of 

The Conmm maculatum is a narcotic poison, 
though not of the most powerful kind. Instances of 
fatal effects from it have been recorded by Dr. Wat- 
son m the Philosophical Transactions, and by sev- 
eral other writers. A remarkable case of tliis sort, 
which occurred in Spain, is cited by Orfila in his 
Traite des poisons. But there is scarcely any 
narcotic plant respecting the character of which 
such various and opposite testimony has been ad- 
duced by medical writers. Even the experiments 
of the same individual are apt to present diiferent 
results from its use, unless great care be taken in 
the collection and preparation of the medicine. 
The truth is, the plant varies exceedingly at differ- 
ent ages, and in different places of growth, and the 
strength of its preparations is greatly influenced by 
external circumstances. 

When the green leaves of a mature plant 
which has grown in the sun, or the juice of these 
leaves, either crude, or properly inspissated, is 
taken into the stomach ; the following symptoms, 
if the quantity has been sufficient, will rarely fail 
to take place ; viz. a dizziness of the head and 
nausea of the stomach, a sense of fullness in the 
eyes and diminished power of vision, together with 


a general faiutness or iiuiscular weakness of the 
whole hody. These sensations usually begin in 
the course of half an hour. If the dose has been 
moderate, they will for the most part disappear 
in the course of half a day, and seldom continue 
beyond twenty four hours. Larger doses occasion 
more severe symptoms, as it happens with other 

The idiosyncrasies of different persons render 
them variously susceptible of the action of Hem- 
lock. Some are but slightly affected by a quanti- 
ty, which would prove dangerous to others. 

The Hemlock has been for many years a sub- 
ject of attention with physicians, and has been 
found a remedy of importance in several diseases. 
It would occupy a volume to state the whole of 
the evidences which have been given for and 
against its use. I shall only mention those com- 
plaints in which it has been most employed, and 
pai-ticularly in this country. 

In Jaundice. — Dr. Fisher, President of the 
Massachusetts Medical Society, in his paper on the 
narcotic vegetables, bears unequivocal testimony 
in favour of the efficacy of Hemlock in this com- 
plaint. He was first induced to employ it with 
a view to its relaxing effect in facilitatinir the 
passage of biliary calculi. Afterwards it was 



given by him to many icteric patients, and with 
the exception of three complicated cases, it never 
failed in his hands or within liis knowledge to re- 
move the disease. Dr. Jackson, Professor of the 
Theory and Practice of Physic in our University, 
informs me that he has found it of great utility in 
jaundice, and that except in one or two instances, 
it has always effected the cure of those cases, 
wliich proved susceptible of relief from any medi- 
cine. I have repeatedly employed it in the same 
complaint with indubitable advantage. The dose 
should be gradually increased until its effects are 
distinctly felt in the head and stomach. This 
inconvenience is temporary, and will be preferred 
by most patients to the evil of a mercurial ptya- 
lism. The yellowness of the skin and eyes, in fa- 
vourable cases, begins to disappear at an early pe- 
riod, frequently by the second day. — The forego- 
ing practice in jaundice is not new, having been 
employed in Sweden by Rosenstein, and in other 

In tic doloureux. In a discourse on this 
painful disease by Dr. Jackson, published in the 
New England Journal, Vol. II. a number of cases 
are detailed, in which perfect relief was afforded by 
the Hemlock given in large doses, and rapidly in- 
creased until a decided effect upon the system was 


felt. Dr. Jackson recommends to begin with a 
single grain of the extract, and to increase to five 
grains for the second or third dose ; afterwards to 
add five grains to every dose until a full effect is 
felt on the system. In this discourse he cites the 
experience of Dr. Fothergill, who had employed 
the Conium successfully in several cases of tliis 
disease under a different name. It appears also 
that some French physicians, whose writings I 
have not seen, as Chaussier and Dumeril, have con- 
firmed the success of our plant in tic doloureux. 
It must be confessed however, although the Hem- 
lock is more successful in tliis complaint than per- 
haps any internal medicine, which has been tried ; 
yet there are cases of such obstinacy, as wholly ta 
baffle the powers of its operation. 

In scliirrus and cancer. Since the time of 
Storck, this medicine has been long and abundant- 
ly tried, but without any increase of reputation. 
The experience of modern physicians, and among 
others of 31. Alibert, who tried it in more than a 
hundi^ed cases in the hospital of St. Louis, have 
pretty well established the fact, that it is wholly in- 
capable of cm*ing either schirrus or cancer of the 
confirmed and genuine kind. It is however still ad- 
ministered, rather with a view to its anodyne and 
pallintive eftect, than any expectation of radical ben- 


efit. Ill tliis way its external use is sometimes 

In old sypliilitic affections, it is occasionally 
useful. It has been recommended in hooping 
cough, but it is not a perfectly safe medicine for 
cliildren, owing to thedifliculty of ascertaining when 
its constitutional effects take place in them. — I 
am informed on the best medical authority, that it is 
of great use in some cases of hemicrania, which 
ai'e not regularly intermittent. 

The most common form of preserving the 
Hemlock for use, as well as the most convenient for 
its exhibition, is that of the inspissated juice or ex- 
tract. It is well known however, that the extracts 
kept in our shops differ materially in their strength, 
so that in beginning from a new parcel, the physi- 
cian can seldom predict the degree of operation of 
liis first doses. In some instances very great quan- 
tities have been taken without the least effect. 
The extract is apt to prove inert when the plant 
is gathered too young, when the evaporation is con- 
ducted with too much heat, when a decoction of 
the dried plant has been evaporated instead of the 
fresh leaves, and lastly when the extract itself has 
become old. To give the extract its due strength, 
the plant should be collected at full maturity, while 
in flower, or in fruit provided it remains green, and 


the juice or the decoction should he evaporated at 
the heat of hoiling salt water. The stock should be 
renewed every year. A suitable dose lor commence- 
ment is from one to five grains. This may he in- 
creased at every time of taking it, until its constitu- 
tional effects are felt. In beginning the use of a 
new paiTcl, more caution is requisite at first, than 
after its strength has been tested. 

The JEthusa cynapium, an umbellate plant 
very common in Boston, has sometimes been mis- 
taken for Hemlock, wliich it considerably resem- 
bles. It is a smaller plant, with its stalk not spot- 
ted. It differs also in having no general involucre, 
wliile its paitial one is very long. 


Conium IMaculatum, Linn^us. Sp, PL — 'Woodville, t. 22. — 
Curtis, Fl. Lond. i. 1 7.- — Smith, Engl. Bot. t. 1191. — Pursh, i. 
195. — Cicuta vulgaris, Morison, Umb. t. 6. — Parkinson, Theatr. 
933. — Ciciita major, Lamarck, Eiicydopedie Mtthodique.—'^i- 
cutaria vulgaris, Clusius, Hist. 200. 


Murray, Apparatus viedicamimimy i. 322. — Cullen, Mat. Med. 
ii. 263. — FoTHERGiLL, Mcd. Obs. iii. 400. — Hunter on the ve- 
nereal, 108, 175, 199, 247, &c. — Home, J2n;ia/s Med. iii. 66. — But- 
ter, Med. Comment, i. 373. — Fisher, Mem. Mas. Soc, i. — Jack- 
son, JNI Engl. Journ. ii. 105. — Guersent. Did. Sciences vMedi- 
cales, V. 208. — Orfila, ToxicologiCf iii. 279, &c. &c. &c. 



Fig. 1. *3[ branch of Coniummaculatum. 
Fig. 2. Flower magnified. 
Fig. 3. Fruit magnified. 



r frff /r/ >*/ ' /^/rt/frf /rf 


American Hemlock. 


JLt is a rule sanctioned by the observations of 
medical botanists, that umbelliferous plants, which 
ffrow in or about the water, are of a poisonous na- 
ture. Tliis rule will generally be found correct, al- 
though it has exceptions. As far as aquatic plants 
of this natural order have been examined, their 
properties, in a great majority of instances, have 
been found, more or less of a deleterious kind. 
The Cicuta virosa of Europe is a highly poisonous 
plant, possessing such formidable activity that its 
internal use is hardly attempted in medicine. An 
American species, the Cicuta maculala^ the sub- 
ject of this article, is very closely allied in its bo- 
tanical habit to tlie European plant, and was equal- 
ly deserving of suspicion from its appearance, al- 
though the public were not generally aware of its 
true character. Within a few years past, several 


instances have been brought to light of fatal ef- 
fects ensuing from tliis plant being incautiously 
eaten by children. It is therefore necessary that 
the species should be suitably designated, that a 
source of so much danger may be known and 

The Cicuta maculata, to which I have applied 
the name of American Hemlock, not having 
heard any common appellation except that of 
Snakeweed, inhabits wet meadows and banks, from 
the northern to the southern limits of the United 
States, flowering in July and August. It is so fre- 
quently cut with hay, among which it often grows 
in large quantities, that we might expect to see its 
deleterious properties operating on domestic cat- 
tle, were it not that their bodies are probably less 
susceptible of its poison than ours. The Euro- 
pean Cicuta, above mentioned, is highly noxious to 
man, and to some domestic animals, yet goats and 
sheep eat it with impunity. 

The genus Cicuta differs from other genera 
of umbellate plants in having no general involu- 
cre, a short, partial involucre, and a fruit which is 
nearly orhicular, compressed and furrowed.* 

* This description of the fruit agrees with the present species 
and also with Cicuta bulbifera, a smaller species not unconnnon about 
Boston. The Cicuta virosa of Europe I have never seen. 


The species maculata has a fascicled root and 
oblong leaves with niiicronate serratures. 

The class and orders are as in the last ai*ticle. 

This plant is so remarkable for the form of its 
root, that had not the name of maculata been con- 
firmed to me by the best authorities, I should 
have thought that of fasciciilata to be greatly pre- 
ferable. This root is composed of a number of 
large, oblong, fleshy tubers, diverg;ing from the 
base of the stem, and frequently being found of 
the size and length of the finger. The root is pe- 
rennial, and has a strong, penetrating smell and 
taste. In vai'ious parts of the bark it contains 
distinct cells or cavities, wliich are filled with a 
yellowish resinous juice. The plant is from three 
to six feet high. Its stem is smooth, branched at 
top, hollow, jointed, striated, and commonly of a 
pm*ple colour, except when the plant groM s in the 
shade, in which case it is green. The leaves are 
compound, the largest being about tlu-ee times pin- 
nate, the uppermost only ternate. Most of the pe- 
tioles are furnished with long obtuse stipules, 
which clasp the stem with theu* base. Leafets ob- 
long acuminate, serrate, the serratures very acute or 
mucronated. The veins end in the notches, and not 
at the points of the serratures. The flowers groAV 

ill umbels of a middling size, without a general invo- 


lucre. The partial umbels are furnished with in- 
volucres of very short, narrow, acute leafets. The 
distinctness or separation of these umbels charac- 
terizes this plant at a distance among other plants 
of its kind, whose umbels are more crowded. Ca- 
IjiL of five very minute segments. Petals five, 
white, obovate with inflected points. Fruit nearly 
orbicular, compressed, ten furrowed, crowned at 
top, and separating into two semicircular seeds. 

The fleshy root of the Cicuta maculata, when 
pressed, emits from its divided extremities a viscid 
yellowish juice of a strong penetrating taste. This 
juice dissolves in alcohol, from which it is precipi- 
tated by water. When distilled, a thick volatile 
oil collects in the receiver in the form of a film 
upon the surfiice of the water. The remainder of 
the juice yields a resin of a dark orange colour, 
fusible and inflammable. The decoction of the 
root affords a pearl coloured fluid, not very sensi- 
ble to the tests of mucus, fsecula, tannin or ex- 

In August 1814, an account was sent to Bos- 
ton by Dr. Stockbridge of Bath (Maine) of the ef- 
fect produced on thre« boys by eating a poisonous 
root, which they had dug up, supposing it to be- 
long to the plant called "Life of man." One of 
them was siezed with violent convulsions, frothed 


at the mouth, and died in an hour and a half. The 
other two were affected with vomiting, stupor, dil- 
atation of the pupil, great paleness and universal 
distress ; wliich symptoms disappeiii'ed in one in 
twenty four, and in the other in thirty six hours. 
It was supposed that the first boy had swallowed 
about a drachm of the root, and the others about 
half that quantity. A specimen of the plant was 
sent to me at the same time with the account, and 
proved to be the Cicuta maculata. Dr. Stock- 
bridge's letter, wliich was published in the New 
England Journal, contains two other cases of the 
effect of tliis root, in one of which it proved fatal. 
Shortly after the publication of the above facts, 
an article appeared in the New York Medical Re- 
pository, containing an account by Dr. Ely of 
Dutchess county, of the effects of an unknown 
poisonous root, supposed to be the wliite helle- 
bore. Three small boys, who had gone into a 
meadow in search of sweet flag root, had dug up 
and eaten another root by mistake. Two of 
them died in convulsions in about an hour after 
they had swallowed it. They discharged much 
blood and froth from the mouth and nose ; theii' 
eyes were fixed, with the pupils dilated, and a rapid 
motion of the eye lids. The third boy vomited, 
and recovered. When taken to the place the next 


day, he pointed out the spot where they had dug 
the root, and where a considerable quantity of it 
remained. Some of the root was planted by Dr. 
Mitchill in the New York Hospital garden, where 
it vegetated and produced flowers and fruit. It 
turned out to be the Cicuta maculata of Linnseus. 
In the same article, is a letter from Dr. Muhlen- 
berg, stating that he had received specimens from 
Savannah and from West Pennsylvania, where it 
had destroyed several persons, who ate it by mis- 
take for angelica. All the specimens were simi- 
lar, so that there could be no doubt of the identity 
of the plant. In the same letter. Dr. Muhlenberg 
remarks, that he had reason to believe that the poi- 
sonous quality of the root is altered by cultivation 
in a dry soil. 

The foregoing facts are sufficient to establish 
the poisonous character of the plant under consid- 
eration. They may also serve to shew the im- 
portance of accurate descriptions and faithful en- 
gravings of noxious vegetables, which may enable 
even unlearned observers to distinguish them at 
sight. There can be little doubt that cases, like 
those above described, have occurred in repeated 
instances, which have never met the public eye. 
Perhaps also from an ignorance of the real cause 
of the symptoms, the proper remedies have been 


neglected. The plant is extremely common in 
many parts of the United States, and I helieve its 
true character is not generally suspected. A very 
respectahle physician informed me, that it was 
used in his vicinity as a gargle for sore throats, hy 
people unsuspicious of its qualities. 

Since the discovery of its narcotic properties, 
the Cicuta has been used in small doses, as a sub- 
stitute for the conium, by one or two practitioners in 
this place. Its effects were very analogous to those 
of the true hemlock, as far as they were observed, 
but more powerful. A primary symptom, which 
attended a large dose, was nausea and vomiting. 

The treatment of persons poisoned by this 
plant, as in the case of other narcotics, should pri- 
marily consist in a thorough evacuation of the stom- 
ach. As there commonly exists a spontaneous 
tendency to vomit, occasioned by the poison itself, 
this should be assisted by mechanical means, by 
irritating the throat with the finger, or with a feath- 
er. Of emetics, the sulphate of zinc is to be pre- 
ferred, on account of its speedy operation. Cas- 
tor oil or infusion of senna, should be given as 
soon as vomiting has taken place. The vegetable 
acids, such as lemon juice or vinegar, have a neu- 
tralizing influence on the narcotic, and are there- 
fore useful. Strong coffee and tea are the best an- 


tidotes for the stupor, and should be promptly ad- 
ministered. In violent cases, bloodletting should 
be resorted to. As most narcotic poisons act by 
destroying the functions of the brain, respiration 
being suspended, because it is under the influence 
of that organ ; 3Ir. Brodie is of opinion, that in 
some cases, life might be preserved by keeping up 
artificial respiration, after death has api^ai-ently 
taken place. 


Cicuta maculata. Linn^us — ^Pursh, i 195.«— JEgopo- 
diiim foliis laiiceolatis, acuminatis, serratis. Gronovius, Virg. 
32. — Angelica Caribsearum elatior, olusatri folio ; flore albo ; 
vseminibus luteis, striatis, ciimiui odore et sapore ? Paukenetj 
Mm. 31, Phijt. t. 76,/. I. 


SciicEPF, 36. — Bart. Coll. 18, 46. — Stockbridge, Mw 
Engl. Journcdf iii. 334. Mitchill, Ely and Muhlenberg. 

Jled. Repository, xvii. 303. 

j>f jrju. 


t >7 f/ //////'/ /r//o /" ///'f 


Mountain laurel. 

* PLATE xm. 

A HE Swedish botanist, Peter Kalm, a pupil of 
Linnseus, who travelled in North America in 
1748 — 9, has had the honor of giving name to one 
of the most elegant genera of flowering shrubs 
which our continent produces. The genus named 
Kalmia bj Linnseus, includes several species, of 
singular beaut} , among which the Mountain lau- 
rel is much the largest and most elegant, as well as 
the one whose properties have received most atten- 
tion. Its occm'rence in the United States is very 
frequent, and its common appellations of com'se va- 
rious. The names o^ Laurel, Lambkill, Ivy, Spoon- 
wood, and Calico bush, it seems, are applied to it in 
vai^ious parts of tlie country. This shrub grows in 
the southern parts of New Hampshire, and is oc- 
casionally met with throughout 3Iassachusetts. 
In the Middle States it becomes moj*e frequent, 


and it is said to extend near to the southern lim- 
its of the Union. Michaux, in his account of the 
forest trees, states, that it is particularly abundant 
through the whole range of Allegany mountains, 
upon the borders and near the sources of rivers. 
It gradually diminishes however on both sides as 
these rivers approach to the sea, or to theu* con- 
fluence with the great western streams. 

The botanical character of the genus consists 
in a jive parted calyx^ a hypocrateriforni corolla, 
containing ten depressions in its border, in which 
the anthers are lodged ; a capsule jive celled. 

The specific character is, that the leaves are 
scattered, petioled, oval and smooth ; the corymbs 
terminal, viscid and pubescent. 

Class Becandria, order Monogynia. Natural 
orders Bicornes, Linn. Mhododendra, Juss. 

The height of the Kalniia latifolia is generally 
that of a shrub, sometimes however attaining to 
the altitude of a small tree. Its leaves are ev- 
ergreen, coriaceous, very smooth, with the under 
side somewhat palest. Their form is oval, acute 
and entire ; their insertion by scattered petioles, on 
the sides and extremities of the branches. The 
flowers vary from white to red ; they grow in termi- 
nal corymbs, simple or compound with opposite 
branches, and made up of slender peduncles. These 


are invested with a glutinous pubescence, and sup- 
ported at base by ovate, acuminate bractes. The 
calyx is small, five parted, persistent, with oval, a- 
cutc segments. The corolla is monopetalous, with 
a cylindrical tube, a spreading disc, and an erect, five 
cleft margin. At the circumference of the disc 
on the inside, are ten depressions or pits, accom- 
panied with corresponding prominences on the 
outside. In these depressions the anthers are 
found lodged at the time when the flower expands. 
The stnmens originate from the base of the corol- 
la, and bend outwardly, so as to lodge their an- 
thers in the cells of the corolla. From this con- 
finement they liberate themselves during the pe- 
riod of flowering and strike against the sides of 
the stigma. The germ is roundish, the style lon- 
ger than the corolla and declined, the stigma ob- 
tuse. Capsule roundish, depressed, five celled 
and five valved, w ith numerous small seeds. 

I have examined chemically the leaves of the 
Kalmia, gathered at the time the shrub was in 
fruit. The following constituent principles were 
found to exist in them. 

1. Vegetable mucus. This exists in large quan- 
tities, and is dissolved in water both by infusion 
and decoction, rendering it extremely mucilagi- 
nous or ropy. AVhen alcohol is added to this so- 


lution, the mucus separates in the form of a floe- 
culent coagulum, wliich is tough and stringy, and 
on drying has a brownish colour. When chewed, 
it soon fills the mouth with mucilage. 

Silicated potash rendered the upper stratum of 
the liquid dark and opaque, but without any pre- 
cipitate like that which takes place in the mucilage 
of gum. 

%. Tannin. Tliis is readily thrown down from 
the decoction and tincture by gelatin. The sul- 
phate of iron strikes with it a very black colour. 

3. Resin. Tliis also exists plentifully. It 
communicates to alcohol a reddish colour, and is 
instantly precipitated from it by water. When 
obtained pure, it is of a reddish cast, fusible, in- 
flammable and mod-erately bitter. 

I have not detected any extractive, properly 
so called, in these leaves. When the muriate of 
tin is added to the decoction, it separates a very 
copious yellow precipitate. This however is ow- 
ing to the mucus. If alcohol be first added to the 
decoction, and the coagulum which it forms with- 
drawn ; the fluid no longer gives a precipitate with 
muriate of tin, although it readily yields one to 

Distillation with w ater affords a mild fluid with 
little taste or odour. 


The Kalmia latifolia, together with some oth- 
er species of its genus, has long had the reputa- 
tion, in various parts of the country, of heing poi- 
sonous to certain domestic animals. Cateshy says 
of it, that " deer feed on its green leaves with im- 
punity ; yet when cattle and sheep, by severe win- 
ters deprived of better food, feed on the leaves of 
this plant, a great many of them die annually." 

Kalm, the Swedish traveller, who gave name 
to this genus, says of Kalmia latifolia, " The leaves 
ai'e poison to some animals, and food for others ; 
experience has taught the people, that when sheep 
eat of these leaves, they either die immediately, 
or fall very sick, and recover with great difficulty. 
The young and more tender sheep are killed by a 
small portion, but the older ones can bear a stron- 
ger dose. Yet this food will likewise prove mor- 
tal to them, if they take too much of it. The 
same noxious effect it shews in regard to calves 
which eat too much of the leaves ; they either die, 
or do not recover easily. I can remember that in 
the year 1748 some calves ate of the leaves ; they 
fell very sick, swelled, foamed at the mouth and 
could hardly stand ; how ever, they were cured by 
giving them gmipowder and other medicines. The 
sheep are most exposed to be tempted with these 
leaves in winter, for after having been kept m sta- 


bles for some months, they are greedy of all greens, 
especially if the snow still lies upon the ground, 
and therefore the green but poisonous leaves of 
the Kalmia, are to them very tempting. HorseSj 
oxen and cows, which have eaten them, have like- 
wise been very ill after the meal, and thougli none 
of them ever died of eating these leaves, yet most 
people believed, that if they took too great a por- 
tion of them, death would certainly be the result." 
" On the other hand, the leaves of the Kalmia ai*e 
the food of stags, when the snow covers the ground 
and hides all other provisions from them. There- 
fore, if they be shot in winter, theu* bowels are 
found filled with these leaves, and it is very extra- 
ordinary, that if those bowels are given to dogs, 
they become quite stupid, and, as it were, intoxi- 
cated, and often full so sick, that they seem to be 
at the point of death ; but the people who have 
eaten the venison have not felt the least indisposi- 
tion." — Travels in JSTorth America, vol. i. 

There is a common belief, that the flesh of the 
American Pheasant or Partridge is at certain 
times imbued with a poisonous quality. This 
circumstance has been attributed (I know not with 
what evidence) to their feeding in winter upon the 
buds of the Kalmia. Mr. Wilson, the ornitholo- 
gist, informs us, that he has sometimes found the 


crops of these birds distended almost entirely with 
laurel buds ; but that he has eaten freely of the 
flesh of these very birds, without any ill conse- 
quence wliatever. 

On the human system, the Kalmia has been 
also said to manifest a deleterious influence. The 
late Professor Barton has adduced some evidences 
of its noxious character.* Re states that the In- 
dians make use of a decoction of the leaves to de- 
stroy themselves. In an Inaugural Dissertation 
on two species of Kalmia, the latifolia and angus- 
tifolia, by Dr. G. K. Thomas, we are told that the 
leaves of these shrubs possess a decidedly narcotic 
property. I have not recently seen Dr. Thomas' 
Dissertation, and therefore quote from memory 
and from extracts. From his experiments howev- 
er it appeared, that a very small quantity was suffi- 
cient to produce sensible inconvenience. Thirty 
drops of a strong decoction, given six times a day, 
are said to have occasioned so much vertigo, as to 
render it necessary to diminish the frequency of 
its exhibition. 

From my own experience, I am not disposed 
to tliink very liighly of the nfUTotic power of tlie 

* Dr. Barton states, that a few drops of the tincture poured upon 
the body of a large and vigorous rattlesnake, killed the reptile in a 
very short time. 


Kalmia. I have repeatedly chewed and swallowed 
a green leaf of the largest size, without perceiving 
the least effect in consequence. I have also seen 
the powder, freshly made from leaves recently dri- 
ed, taken in doses of from ten to twenty grains, 
without any subsequent inconvenience or percep- 
tible eifect. The taste of these leaves is perfectly 
mild and mucilaginous, being less disagreeable 
than that of most of our common forest leaves. 

I am inclined to believe that the noxious effect 
of the Kalmia upon young grazing animals may 
be in some measure attributed to its indigestible 
quality, owing to the quantity of resin contained 
in the leaves. 

An ointment made of the powdered leaves has 
been recommended in tinea capitis and some oth- 
er cutaneous affections. I have seen an eruption, 
very nuich resembling psora, removed by it. 

The wood of the Kalmia is hard and dense, ap- 
proaching in its character to that of box. It is 
much used for the handles of mechanics' tools, ^c. 
and it has even been employed as a material for 
musical instruments. As an ornamental shrub, this 
species stands in the highest rank, and by the fre- 
quency of its growth and the brilliancy of its flow- 
ers, it contributes in a great degree to the ele- 
gance of the natural scenery in those mountains 


and woods, which it inhabits. When cultivated 
in gardens, it requires a soil which is somewhat 
moist, and a shady or northern aspect. 


Kalmia latifolia, Liiv. Sp. pi. — Curtis, Bot. Mag, t. 175. — 
MiCHAUx/. Jirhres Jm'estiers, iii. 147, t. 5. — Pursh i. 296. — Cha- 
msedaphne foliis tini, &c. — Catesby, Carolinafi[.t.9S, — Ledum 
floribus bullatis. &c. Trew, t. 38. — Cistiis chamserhododendros, 
&C. PtUKENET, Fhijt. t. 579ff. 6. 


Kalm, fr«reZs, i. 335, &c. — Bart. Coll. i. 18, 48; ii. 26.— 
Thaciier, Disp, 247. — Thomas, Inaugural dissertation. 


Fig. 1. Branches of Kalmia latifolia with jiouoers and fruit. 

Fig. 2. Stamens. 

Fig. 3. Caly^Jc and pistil. 


Carolina Fink root. 


We are told by different writers, that this 
fine plant is a native of all the southern states 
from Pennsylvania to Georgia and Louisiana, 
growing in rich soils, especially about the borders 
of woods. It does not bear the severity of a nor- 
thern winter. For my living specimens I was in- 
debted to my excellent and learned friend, the 
late Dr. James Macbride, of Charleston, S. C. 

The genus Spigelia has a funnel shaped corol- 
la and a capsule, which is double, two celled and 
many seeded. Tlie species Marilandica is peren- 
nial, with a simple stem and opposite leaves. 

Cldss Pentandria ; order Monogynia. Natural 
orders Stellatw, Lin. Gentianw, Jnss. 

The root of the Spigelia Marilandica is peren- 
nial, with many fibrous branches. The stalks 
proceed several from a root ; they are simple 



four sided and nearly smooth. Leaves opposite, 
sessile, ovate, acuminate, entire, smooth, with the 
margins and veins sometimes puhescent. Tlie 
stalk commonly terminates in a simple one-sided 
raceme of flowers, although I have seen luxuriant 
specimens with two. The peduncles are extreme- 
ly short, so that the raceme may without impro- 
priety be denominated a spike. Calyx persistent, 
with five linear-subulate, finely serrulate leaves, 
wliich are reflexed in the ripe fruit. Corolla five 
times as long as the calyx, scarlet or crimson 
without, orange coloured within, the tube inflated 
and angular at top, the border divided into five 
acute, spreading segments. Stamens very short, 
inserted into the mouth of the corolla between the 
segments ; anthers oblong-heart shaped. Germ 
small, superior, ovate. Style long*er than the co- 
rolla, jointed near its base and bearded at the ex- 
tremity. Capsule double, consisting of two, co- 
hering, one celled, globular portions, seated on a 
common receptacle. 

The Spigelia is a mucilaginous plant, w ith a 
mild and not very disagreeable taste. The infu- 
sion and decoction of the root and leaves afford 
a flocculent precipitate witli alcohol. They are 
discoloured but not precipitated by silicated pot- 
ash. They have little sensibility to gelatin, al- 



though the tincture is made turbid by it. After the 
decoction was filtrated from the mucus, which had 
been coagulated by alcohol, it gave a precipitate 
with nitrate of mercury, but none with muriate of 
tin. Sulphate of iron caused a dark green precip- 
itate from the decoction, and but little change in 
the tincture. No distinct evidence of resin pre- 
sented itself. A substance which may perhaps 
be considered a variety of extractive matter, ap- 
pears to exist in this plant, as the tincture was 
affected in nearly the same manner by the salts 
of tin and mercury above mentioned, as the fil- 
trated decoction. 

Water may be considered an adequate solvent 
for the chief proximate principles of this plant. 

The medicinal reputation of the Spigelia is 
founded on the powers which it is supposed to 
possess as a vermifuge. This reputation is now 
so generally established, that the plant has be- 
come a considerable article of commerce to vai'i- 
ous parts of the world, from our southern states, 
Tliis is a sufficient evidence, that the medicine 
has, to a certain extent, satisfied public expecta- 
tion, and obtained the sanction of practitioners. 
But beyond this, it is difficult to speak confident- 
ly on the subject. The Spigelia belongs to a 
class of medicines, which are frequently prescrib- 


ed, without positive proof of the existence of the 
cause whicli they are intended to remove ; wliich 
often fail altogether in the liands of the most suc- 
cessful practitioners ; which frequently succeed 
merely because they are backed with medicines 
of a more active class ; and whose apparent suc- 
cess is sometimes the consequence solely of a dis- 
eased state of the body.* Our plant is however 
entitled to trial, especially where it can be obtain- 
ed fresh, and in full strength. A physician of the 
southern states, for whose opinion I have much 
respect. Dr. Norcom of Edenton, N. C. inform- 
ed me some years since, that the Spigelia was 

* From the list of equivocal anthelmintics, I would except those 
which have a cathartic operation, also a number of mineral origin. 
But I am fully persuaded, that many reputed vermifuges have en- 
joyed a reputation which they do not deserve. The Dolichos prur%eii& 
has received the commendations of practitioners and medical writers,, 
on the presumption that its spiculse exert the same stimulant effect on 
the bodies of worms in the alimentary canal, that they do on the nu- 
man skin externally. I was long ago inclined to doubt the power 
of these spiculse to withstand the digestive process of the stomach. 
My suspicions were confirmed upon finding that simple macera-^ 
tion in warm water for an ^lour, dissolves their virus, and renders 
them incapable of producing their usual stimulus of itching, [when 
applied to the skin. Some late experiments by my pupil, Dr. Chan- 
dler, have shewn that the gastric juice destroys tbeir activity in the 
same manner. 

It is not necessary in this place to revert to the Fern root of Mad- 
ame Nouffer, and various other exploded anthelmintics of its kind. 


most active when recently dried, and that its 
efficacy was always impaired hy keeping more 
than six months. Dr. Garden had previously 
made observations somewhat similar. If this be 
the case, we may account for its failures in the 
hands of those who obtain it at a distance when 
half a dozen years old. 

Drs. Lining, Gai^den, and Chalmers of Caroli- 
na, are the writers who first introduced the Spi- 
gelia to notice, and who have spoken most une- 
quivocally in its praise. Each of these pliysi- 
cians has represented it as an anthelmintic of 
superior efficacy. It appears that under certain 
circumstances, it is capable of operating as a ca- 
thartic, and that m these instances, the most ad- 
vantage has been experienced from it. Dr. Gar- 
den says, that he had given it in hundreds of 
cases, and that he " never found it do much good 
except when it proved gently purgative." As the 
action of the Spigelia upon the bowels is quite 
uncertain, most practitioners either unite, or fol- 
low it with calomel or some purgative medicine. 

We are told that tlie pink root, when in its 
most active state, if given in large quantities, indu- 
ces narcotic symptoms, such as stupor, headach, 
dilated pupil, ^c Dr. H. Thompson, who took 
larffc doses of the root to try its effect on himself. 


found that it produced an increased quickness of 
the pulse, drowsiness, flushing of the face and 
stiffness of the eyelids. Dr. Chahners attributes 
to its too free use the cases of two children, who 
died in convulsions. Dr. Macbridc informs us 
that its narcotic effects ai^e seldom or never at- 
tended with danger, and that some physicians 
consider them an evidence of the favorable opera- 
tion of the medicine. The opinion that this effect 
is owing to the root of some deleterious plant 
taken up with the Spigelia, seems to be void of 

As in most other perennial plants, the root of 
the Spigelia jiossesses a greater share of activity 
than the herb. Of tliis root ten grains may be 
given in powder to a cliild four years old, twenty 
to one which is seven, and a drachm to an adult. 
If no inconvenience ensue, it may be repeated two 
or three times a day. If the infusion is prefer- 
red, an ounce of the root may be infused in a pint 
of water, and half the quantity taken by an adult 
or one or two spoonfuls by a child. 


Spigelia MarilamUca, Linn. *S^. pi. — Curtis, Bot. Mag. t. 
80. — WooDviLLE, ii. t. 105. — Walter, Flor, Car. 92. — Mi- 
cHArx, i. 147. — PuRSH, i. 139. — Elliott, i. 236.— Lonicera 


spicis terminalibus, &c. Gronov. Virg, SO. — Periclymeni Vir- 
giniani flore coccineo planta Marilandica^ &c. Catesby, ii. U 78. 


Chaxmers, on the weather and diseases of Soiith Carolina, i. 
67. — Lining, Essays, phys. and lit, i. 436. Garden, ditto, iii. 
145. — ^HoME, Clin, exper, 420. — Murray, ^pp. Med. i. 548— 
Macbride, in Elliott^s Car. 237. — Thompson, Inaug. Diss. 


Fig. 1. Spigelia Marilandica. 

Fig. 2. The capsule with the reflected calyx. 

Fig. 3. Cm'olla opened. 



^///*v?/// '^Yf.//r/<//'/ 


Canada Snake root. Wild ginger. 


The properties of this mild aromatic have 
been so far misconceived, probably from its re- 
lation to an European species, that it would be 
improper in a work of this kind, to pass over it 
without notice of its real character. It affords a 
striking exception to the rule, that botanical affin- 
ities are capable of mdicating the medicinal 
qualities of vegetables. Tliis plant in its effect on 
the human system, is widely different from the 
European asarabacca, although it approaches it so 
nearly in its form, that Michaux st^ les it " vLx dis- 
tinctum ab Europseo." 

The Asarum Canadense grows in old woods 
and mountainous tracts from Canada to Cai^olina. 
It is one of the humblest plants, presenting only 
two leaves with their stalks, which appear to con- 
stitute the whole of the plant above the ground. 


On plucking the plant, the two leaves are found 
connected below, with an obscure flower in their 
fork, wliich had rested on the surface of the 
ground, or been buried under the decayed leaves 
and soil. Its flowering time is from May to July. 

Tliis plant, from the number of its stamens, 
is placed by Linnaeus and Michaux in the class 
Bodecandria. Pursh, who has omitted this class 
in his Flora, has transferred the Asarums to Gy- 
nandria, from the circumstance that the stamens 
are inserted on the germ. Tliis place however is 
not better suited to the Asarum, than to a multi- 
tude of other plants whose germ is inferior. 

Linnseus' natural order for this plant is Sar- 
mentacece and J iissieii' s *,iristolochicv. 

Generic character. Calya^^ three or four cleft, 
superior; corolla none; anthers growing to the 
middle of the filaments. Capsule coriaceous, 

Specific chai'acter. Leaves ttvo, reniform ; 
calyx tvoolly, cleft to the base; its segments 
spreading at top. 

The root of the Asarum is creeping, fleshy, 
and somewhat jointed. Leaves kidney shaped, 
pubescent on both sides, with long, round, hairy 
petioles. Flower solitary, growing from the fork 
of the stem, on a pendulous hairy peduncle. Ca- 


lyx very liairy or woolly, consisting of three broad, 
concave leafets, which are mostly of a brownish 
or dull purple on the inside at top and bottom, 
and terminated by a long, spreading, inflected 
point, with reflexed sides. The colour varies 
greatly according to the amount of light which 
the plant enjoys, being sometimes nearly green. 
Stamens twelve, inserted on the germ at a dis- 
tance from the calyx, the alternate ones longer. 
Anthers growing to the filaments below their ex- 
tremity. Near the divisions of the calyx are 
three short, curved, filamentary substances, which 
may perhaps be called nectaries. Germ inferior, 
somewhat hexagonal, marked at top inside with a 
dark red line ; style conical, striate, parted at top 
into six recurved, radiating stigmas. 

The root of the Asarum has an agreeable aro- 
matic taste, which is intermediate between that of 
ginger and the aristolochia serpentaria. This 
quality has given it the names of JVild ginger and 
Snake root in different sections of the country. 
The name ColVsfoot is also applied to it. 

The chemical trials, to which I have subjected 
the root, bring to view the following substances: — 
1. A light coloured, pungent, volatile oil, possess- 
ing the characteristic taste and smell of the plant 

in a high degree. 2. A resin, wliicli is of a red- 


dish colour and very bitter. These two constitu- 
ents communicate to alcohol the active properties 
of the plant. 3. Fcecula. 4. A gummy mucus. 
These exist in such quantities as to impede the 
filtration of the decoction. Astringency hardly 
exists in this root, as a gelatinous solution gave no 
evidence of tannin, and the sulphate of iron pro- 
duced a green colour hardly bordering on black. 
It has been asserted, and the statement copied 
from one book to another, that the Asarum Cana- 
dense is a powerful emetic. I presume that sub- 
sequent writers have taken their opinion from 
Cornutus, who, in his plants of Canada, informs 
us, that two spoonfuls of the juice of the leaves of 
the Asarum, (meaning the European plant, rather 
than the American,) are found to evacuate the 
stomach powerfully. I can hardly doubt, that if 
such an operation has really been produced from 
the Canadian species, it must have taken place 
in irritable stomachs, to whom two spoonfuls of 
any crude vegetable juice would have proved 
emetic. Having seen the root of this plant used 
in the country in considerable quantities as a 
sudorific, I was long since induced to doubt its 
emetic power. Subsequent experience has satis- 
fied me that the freshly powdered root, given to 
the extent of half a drachm, and probably in still 


larger quantity, excites no vomiting nor even 

Still however the plant deserves not to he dis- 
carded from use. The aromatic flavour of the 
root is more agreeable than that of the aristolochia 
serpentaria, wliich article it seems to resemhle 
in its medicinal powers. Several country prac- 
titioners, who have employed it, have spoken to 
me favourably of its effect, as a warm stimulant 
and diaphoretic. As a substitute for ginger, in 
common domestic use, I know of no indigenous 
article which promises so fairly as this. 

Alcohol is the proper solvent for the active 
properties of this plant. The tincture has a dark 
red colour, and a highly concentrated taste of the 


Asarum Canadense, Lm. Sp. pl.—Micuxvx, i. 279.— Pursh, 
ii. 596 — Asarum foliisreniformibus,mucronatis, binis, Geono- 
vius, 72.— Asaron Canadense, Cornutus, Canad. 24, t. 25.__ 
Asaron Americanum, Parkinson^, theatr. 266. 


ScHOiPF, 72 — Bart. coll. 26, 48— Coxe, Disp. 368. 



Fig. 1. Jlsarum Canadense. 

Fig. £. The germ with the stamens and nedareoiisjilaments* 

Fig. 3. J petal. 

Fig. 4. .4 stamen a little magnified. 

Fig. 5. Style and stigmas magnified. 


/ • 


Blue Flag, or Flower de luce. 


JLn tlie Hortus Eltliamensis, published by 
John J. Dilleniiis in 1732, there are figures of two 
plants under the name of " Iris Americana versi- 
color," the one with an entire, the other with a 
crenate style. To one of these, the plant repre- 
sented in our plate apparently belongs. This 
plant however is so subject to vfiriation in the 
colour of its flowers, the crenatures and direction 
of its stigmas, ^c. tliat it has received from differ- 
ent botanists dissimilar names. The Linnaean 
characters of Iris versicolor and Virginica are 
hai'dly sufiicient to distinguish them from each 
other. Our plant is the Iris versicolor of Muh- 
lenburgh's catalogue, by his own declaration. In 
the character of its stem however, it agrees equally 
well with Iris virginica of Linn?eus and Michaux. 
It may be doubted whether the plant figured in 


tlie Botanical Magazine, t. 70S, is more than a va- 
riety of this species. The characters taken from 
the comparative length of the stem and leaves, 
of the inner petals and stigmas, and the direction 
of the stem and of the stigmas ; are all subject to 
variation. Michaux, Elliott and Pursh make the 
Virginica synonymous with Iris hexagona of Wal- 
ter, which seems permanently distinguished by 
the deep furrows in the angles of its capsule. 

The Iris versicolor is found throughout the 
United States in the borders of swamps and in 
wet meadows, of which it forms a principal orna- 
ment in the month of June. No race of vegeta- 
bles can be better marked than tlie elegant genus 
to which this plant belongs. They are essential- 
ly distinguishetl by a corolla, parted into siijc seg- 
ments or petals, of which three are rejlecceil and 
three are erect. The stigmas resembling petals. 
The species in our plate has ensiform leaves, its 
stem acute on one side, its capsules ohlong, three 
sided, with obtuse angles. 

Class Triandria, — Order Monogynia.—Natnr- 
al orders, Ensatw, Lin. Irides, Juss. 

The root is fleshy, horizontal, sending down a 
multitude of fibres. Stem two or three feet highj 
round on one side, acute on the other, frequently 
branched, and bearing from two to six flowers » 


Leaves sword shaped, striated, sheathing at base. 
Bractes heeoming scarious. Peduncles of various 
length, flattened on the inside. Germ three cor- 
nered, with flat sides and obtuse angles. Outer 
petals of the flower spatulate, beardless, the bor- 
der purple, the claw variegated with green, yel- 
low and white, and veined with purple. Inner 
petals erect, varying in shape from spatulate to 
lanceolate, usually paler than the outer, entire or 
emarginate. Style short, concealed; stigmas three, 
petal-form, purple or violet, resting on the outer 
petals, then- extremeties bifid, ci-enate, and more 
or less reflexed ; their lower lip short. Stamens 
concealed under the stigmas, with oblong-linear 
anthers. Capsule three celled, three valved ; 
when ripe, oblong, turgid, three sided, with round- 
ish angles. Seeds numerous, flat. 

The young leaves of this and some other spe- 
cies of Iris, aftbrd an excellent view of the spiral 
filament, which lines the sap vessels of the leaf. 
If a leaf, which has just emerged from the ground, 
be carefully broken across, and the segments 
gradually di-awn asunder, these fine filaments will 
unroll themselves, and their spiral structure be- 
come'very obvious to the microscope. 

The root of the Iris versicolor has a nauseous 
taste, and when swallowed or held in the moutb. 


even in small quantities, it leaves behind a pow- 
erful sense of heat and acrimony in the fauces. 
Its most active chemical constituent appears to be 
a resin, which separates in the form of a white 
precipitate, when water is added to the alcoholic 
solution. The decoction suffers little or no 
change with alcohol, gelatin or salts of iron. Mu- 
riate of tin affects it slightly, the nitrate of mer- 
cury more abundantly. Its taste is much weaker 
than that of the tincture. Water distilled from 
tlie root has a highly nauseous taste and odour. 

The root of the Iris versicolor given medicin- 
ally is an active cathartic. Mr. William Bartram, 
in his travels in Georgia and Florida, informs us, 
that on his arrival at Ottasse, an Indian town on 
the Tallapoose, he found the natives " fasting, tak- 
ing medicine, and praying, to avert a grevious ca- 
lamity of sickness which had lately afflicted them, 
and laid in the grave abundance of theii* citizens. 
The first seven or eight days, dming which time 
they eat or drink nothing, but a meagre gruel 
made of a little corn-flour and water ; taking at 
the same time, by way of medicine or physic, a 
strong decoction of the roots of the Iris versicolor, 
which is a powerful cathartic. They hold this 
root in high estimation, and every town cultivates 
a little plantation of it, having a large artificial 


pond just without the town, planted and almost 
overgrown with it." 

Having myself formerly made use of this root 
in dispensary practice, I can hear testimony to 
its efficacy as a medicine, though not altogether 
to its convenience. A small quantity of the re- 
cent root, or a few grains of the root newly dried, 
are generally certain and active in their operation 
on the bowels. They ai'e however apt to occasion 
a distressing nausea like sea sickness, with a pros- 
tration of strength of some hours' continuance ; 
so that I think the plant will not be like to come 
into favor as a cathartic, at least when better ones 
are at hand. The activity of tliis article is dimin- 
ished by age. 

The stimulating properties of the Iris render 
it capable of exciting many of the secretions, as 
well as excretions. But I know of no purpose 
for which it seems better calculated, than that of 
a diuretic. The late Dr. Macbride of Cai'olina as- 
sured me, that he had found great benefit in drop- 
sical affections from a decoction of the roots of this 
plant in combination with those of Er} ngium yuc- 
cifolium. In consequence of his recommenda- 
tion, I administered the tincture of the Iris in 
small doses to several persons affected with ana- 
sarca and with hydi'othorax. It was evidently of 


service to a majority of those who took it, for a cer- 
tain time. That it did not always cure the dis- 
ease, is a reproach which it must divide with diuret- 
ic remedies of much older celebrity. 

The Iris gracilis, a species described in the 
Florula Bostoniensis, the Iris pseudacorus of Eu- 
rope, and several others of the genus, appear to 
possess properties very similar to those of the 
plant described. 


Iris versicolor, Lin". Sjj. pi. — Dilxenius, Elth. t. 155.— 
Curtis, Bot. Mag. t. 21, a variety. — Pursh, i. 29.— Exliott, 
Car. i. 45. Waiter, Car. 67. 


Bartram, travels, 454, Lond. edit. — Cutler, Mem. Jimer. 
Jicad. 405 — 6. — Macbride, 171 £Wio/f's Car, i. 45. 


Fig. 1. Iris versicolor. 

Fig. 2. Style and stigmas with a stamen. 


yr yt'.jf-yff /////./ ///^< 




1 HERE is little doubt that the Hyoscyamiis of 
this country is an imported plant. It is yet rare 
in most parts of the country, and appears to be 
strictly limited to the bounds of cultivation. Its 
seeds are very tenacious of life, and will spring up 
under favourable circumstances, after having been 
dormant for a long time. Hence the plant occa- 
sionally appears in old grounds which have been 
newly disturbed, as in grave yards, old gardens 
and cellars. About ten years since, a drain, which 
intersects the common in Boston, was opened for 
the purpose of repairs. In the following season 
a distinct row of very luxuriant plants of Henbane 
covered the whole of this di*ain, although none of 
them had been observed to grow in the vicinity 

* For the drawing which accompanies this article, I am indebted 
to Dr. S. Bass of Salem. 


the preceding year. The seeds, which produced 
these plants, had probably been bui*ied for more 
than fifteen years. 

This species, together with others of its genus, 
was well known to the ancients under the same 
name which it now bears. Its medicinal and 
deleterious properties were also understood by 

In modern arrangements the Hyoscyamus in 
common with Datura, Atropa and Other injurious 
vegetables of its kindred, is found in the class and 
order Pentandria Monogynia, and the natural or- 
der Luridce. Its Jussieuean order is Solanew. 

In this genus the corolla is funnel shaped 
and obtuse^ the stamens inclined, the capsule two 
celled and covered with a lid. 

The present species has the lower leaves sinu- 
ated and clasping, and thejiowers sessile. It is 
biennial and flowers in June and July. 

The whole herb has a glaucous or sea green 
colour, is hauy and viscid, and emits a rank, offen- 
sive smell. The stalk is one or two feet liigh, 
round, branching and rigid. The first leaves 
spread upon the ground, and have some re- 
semblance to a young thistle. They are large, 
oblong, frequently contorted, clasping, cut into 


acute lobes, and pointed ; the upper ones general- 
ly entire. 

The flowers form a revolute, one sided spike 
at the end of the stem or branch, leaving, as they 
fall off, a straight row of capsules. The calyx has 
five short acute segments. The corolla is funnel 
shaped, irregular, with five spreading, obtuse seg- 
ments, of a pale yellow or straw colour, with a 
beautiful net work of pm'ple veins. Stamens in- 
serted in the tube of the corolla, with large oblong 
anthers. Style slender, longer than the stamens, 
declined, with an obtuse stigma. Capsule two 
celled, roundish, covered with a lid, and invested 
with the persistent calyx, the segments of which 
extend beyond the calyx, and become rigid and 
prickly. The seeds ai*e numerous, small, unequal, 
brownish, and are discharged by the horizontal 
separation of the lid. 

From such chemical experiments as I have 
made with the dried leaves of the Hyoscyamus, 
I am inclined to believe, that then* chief soluble 
portion is a variety of extractive matter. The 
watery and alcoliolic solutions do not disturb each 
other, and the usual tests of tannin produce in- 
considerable, or no alteration in either. Of vari- 
ous metallic salts which affected the solutions, the 


nitrate of mercury gave the largest precipitate in 
my experiments. 

The Hyoscyamus has long heen known as a 
narcotic poison. This character it uniformly ex- 
erts ill regard to mankind, altliough many brute 
animals are exempt from its influence.* Diosco- 
rides speaks of it as producing drowsiness and de- 

* Horses, goats, sheep and swine are said to eat it without inju- 
ry. Brute animals arc frequently less susceptible of the influence of 
poisons than mankind. In the experiments which have been made on 
them to test the effect of doubtful medicines, the positive evidences 
of activity which they furnish, are in general more to be depended 
on, than the negative That is, if an animal suffers from the action 
of any substance, a man would be like to suffer somewhat in the 
same way. Yet if the animal escapes with impunity, it does not fol- 
low that the man would be equally fortunate. There is scarcely any 
narcotic plant which is not devoured by some species of quadruped. 
Professor Pallas has stated, that the hedgehog can devour Cantharides 
by hundreds without inconvenience, whereas one of these insects may 
occasion serious trouble to a man. The following case happened un- 
der my own observation. A large eagle, (Falco ossifragus,J intend- 
ed for a cabinet of natural history, was subjected to a variety of ex- 
periments, with a view to destroy him without injuring his plumage. 
A number of mineral poisons were successively given him without 
effect, even in large doses. At length a drachm of corrosive subli- 
mate of mercury was inclosed in a small fish and given him to eat. 
After swallowing the whole of this, he continued, to appearance, per- 
Icctly well and free from inconvenience. The next day an equal 
quantity of arsenic was given him without any better success. So 
that in the end, the refractoiy bird was obliged to be put to death by 
mechanical means. 


The instances recorded of deleterious conse- 
quences, ensuing from tlie Hyoscyamus incau- 
tiously taken, are exceedingly numerous. In a 
number of cases the roots have been introduced 
by mistake among culinary vegetables, and have 
occasioned alarming symptoms in whole families 
at once. In a case cited by Wepfer, the monks 
of a whole monastery, in consequence of some 
roots being boiled among those of chicory with 
their food, were seized with raving deHrium, ac- 
companied by intense thirst, impaired vision and 
other violent affections. Dr. Patouillat has re- 
corded in the Philosophical Transactions, vol. 40, 
the case of nine persons, who were affected with 
loss of speech, convulsions, and at length with vi- 
olent delirium. These symptoms subsided on 
the subsequent day, when it was found that some 
roots of Henbane had been dug up in the garden 
the preceding day by mistake for parsnips, and 
boiled in the soup on which the family had dined. 
Sir Hans Sloanc, in the same Transactions for 
1733, has given an instance of effects equally dan- 
gerous, occurring in some children who ate the 
capsules of this plant, supposing them to be fil- 
berds. Even the odour of this noxious vegetable 
seems capable of exciting its characteristic ef- 
fects. In a case cited by Murray from the 


Gazette de Smite of 1773 — 4, some servants who 
slept in a barn, where the Henbane had been 
scattered for a defense against rats, awoke with 
head-ach, dizziness and vomiting. 

In instances where death has ensued from 
swallowing this plant, the stomach has been 
found to exhibit marks of inflammation, and dark 
or gangrenous spots. 

The principal use which is made of Hyoscya- 
Tnus in medicine, is as a substitute for opium, in 
cases where that article disagrees with the pa- 
tient, or is contraindicated by particular symp- 
toms. It appears to be free from the constipat- 
ing qualities of opium, and in some instances it is 
found to fulfil the indications which call for an 
anodyne and soporific remarkably well. Among 
medical writers who have spoken favourably of its 
operation are Dr. Whytt, who employed it in va- 
rious nervous diseases, and Mr. Burns, author of 
different obstetric works, by whom it is recom- 
mended as preferable to opium in certain puer- 
peral complaints. Mr. Benjamin Bell states, that 
he found great advantage from its use in trouble- 
some cases of chordee, after opium had failed to 
give relief. 

It must be acknowledged however, that Hyos- 
cyamus is far less uniform and equal in its opera- 


tion than opium, and that although in some con- 
stitutions it mitigates pain, quiets irritation, and 
procures sleep ; yet in others it produces un- 
pleasant nausea, confusion of ideas, head-ach, and 
sleep which is laborious and un refreshing. It is 
rather a secondary medicine, to he resorted to af- 
ter the failure of opium, than one which we may 
confidently apply to at first, with reliance on its 
anodyne eifects. 

The Henhane was found efficacious in the dis- 
ease of colica pictorum by StoU and several others. 
Its external application in the form of a cata- 
plasm of the bruised leaves has given relief in va- 
rious tumors and painful affections. 

For internal use the extract should be prepar- 
ed in the same way as that of stramonium. From 
one to three grains of this extract is a suitable 
commencing dose, which may be gradually in- 
creased until its effects are perceived. 


Hyoscyamus niger, Lixjf. Sp. pi. — Woodville, i. t. 52. — 
Smith, Engl. BoU t. 591.— -Pursh, i. 141.-— Hyoscyamus flavus, 
FucHsius, Hist. 791. — Hyoscyamus vulgaris, Bauhin, J. iii. 627. 


Stoll, ratio med. iii. 13, 423. — Cullen, Mat. Med, ii. 271. 
FoTHEKGiLi, Med. Soc. Loud. i. 310.— Home, clinical exfts^ 



197. — Withering, Med. Comment. Dec. II, vi. 367. — King- 
XAKE, Lond. Med. and Fhys. Journal, v. 438. — Bkown, dittOf iii. 
406. — Murray, .ipp, Med. i. 655, &c. &c. 


Fig. 1. Hyoscyamus niger. 

Fig. £. Corolla laid open. 

Fig. 3. Calyx. 

Fig. 4. Calyx of the fruit laid open to shew the capsule within if. 

V. JTl in. 

/f>f</ /f/f ///> r///ffYf ////■/ /V, 


Bitter sweet, 

PLATE xnii. 

fV HETHER the plant represented in our plate 
is originally of American growth, or has been in- 
troduced since the discovery of this continent, it 
is now difficult to say. It is certainly a hardy 
vegetable, and although its natural soil is at the 
water side, yet it easily becomes habituated to 
shady, fertile ground of almost any elevation. 
The most luxuriant specimens are found about 
brooks and ditches and in sheltered situations, 
where the roots have free access to water. In these 
places the stalks frequently extend some way on 
the surface, sending down a multitude of radicles 
into the mud below. When the plant grows in 
higher ground and more exposed to the light, its 
growth is restricted, and the flowers are less bril- 
liant in colour. 


The names of Bitter sweet and Woody nights 
shade are the most frequent English appellations 
of this vegetable. The former of these is also ap- 
plied to the Celastrus scandens, a very different 
plant. The frequent changes which always take 
place in the application of vulgar names, renders 
a reliance on them unsafe, and indeed makes it 
useless to collect or preserve more than a few of 
the principal ones. 

The genus Solanum is remarkable for the 
great variety and almost opposite character which 
takes place among its species. The common Po- 
tatoe, the Egg plant, the Tomato, the Jerusalem 
cherry, and the Black nightshade, are all species 
of this multiform genus. The common character 
wliich binds them together, consists in a rotate 
corolla ; the anthers cohering, with a douhle open- 
ing at top ; the berry two celled. The species 
Dulcamara is distinguished from others by its 
stem, which is shrubby ; unarmed and jiexuous ; 
its leaves auriculated ; and its panicles resembling 

Class Pentandria, — Order Monogynia, — Natu- 
ral orders Luridce, Linn. Solanece, Juss. 

The Bitter sweet is entitled to the character 
of a vine rather than shrub. The stem is woody, 
slender, climbing in large plants to the height of 


five or six feet. Leaves petioled, ovate, acute, en- 
tire, furnished at the base with two appendages, 
which give them somewhat of a hastate form. The 
lower and upper leaves are frequently without 
these appendages. The flowers form a loose, nod- 
ding cluster or panicle, shaped like a cyme, and 
taking its origin opposite to a leaf. Calyx of five 
short, purplish, persistent segments. Corolla ro- 
tate, becoming reflexed as it grows old, divided in- 
to five acute segments, which are purple, and 
mai-ked with two whitish dots at the base of each. 
The filaments are much shorter than the anthers, 
and inserted in the short tube of the corolla. An- 
thers yellow, erect, cohering, so as to form a con- 
ical tube ai'ound the style. Germ oval ; style 
longer than the stamens ; stigma simple. The 
berries are oval, of a bright scarlet colour, and 
continue to hang in bunches after the leaves have 

The taste and smell of the Dulcamara are less 
nauseous than those of many other species of So- 
lanum. Water seems a perfect solvent for its 
most sensible constituents. The chief soluble 
portion seems to be a kind of mucous extractive, 
which is taken up by both water and alcoliol, 
though most by the former. The nitrate of mer- 
cury and muriate of tin, gave precipitates from 


both, though most from the water. The chemic- 
al evidences of astringency were very slight. 

From the experiments of Hartmann and Kuhn, 
cited by Murray, we may infer that water is a 
better solvent for this plant than alcohol. An 
ounce of the twigs or stalks treated with alcohol 
afforded two drachms and two scruples of extract. 
The same quantity treated with water gave tliree 
drachms and thirty five grains. 

The Solanum dulcamarf^ has formerly receiv- 
ed the commendations of many authors, some of 
whose names ai*e of high authority in medicine. 
The diseases in which it has acquu^ed confidence, 
are chronic rheumatism, gout, secondary syphilis, 
incipient phtliisis, asthma, jaundice. But what- 
ever may be its efficacy in these complaints, it has 
in modern practice given place to more active 
medicines. Its most permanent and merited rep- 
utation at the present day, is derived from its ap- 
plication to external complaints, and particularly 
to cutaneous diseases. In dissertations upon the 
properties of this plant by Linnaeus and by Car- 
rere, its use is highly commended in herpes, in 
scabies, and in some of the secondary forms of 
syphilis. Professor Murray has added his own 
testimony to that of these writers, and speaks de- 


cisively of his success with it in cutaneous diseas- 
es of an inveterate chai'acter. 

In the more recent and splendid works of 
Willan and Bateman on Diseases of tlie Skin, 
we find some important testimony of the efiicacy 
of the Dulcamara in cutaneous affections. The 
former of these authors has inserted in his work 
a letter of Dr. Crichton, physician to the West- 
minster hospital, who had employed the article 
for a considerable number of years. This gen- 
tleman states, that out of twenty three cases of 
Lepra Grsecorum, in wliich he had used it, two 
only had resisted its action. He does not assert 
that it is equally efiicacious in other cutaneous 
diseases, although it had appeared to him to do 
good in psoriasis and pityriasis. His mode of 
employing it was as follows : 

Take of stalks of Dulcamara, one ounce ; wa- 
ter, a pound and a half; boil to a pound, and 
strain when cold. 

Of tliis decoction the patient took two ounces 
at first, morning, noon and night, but the quan- 
tity was afterwai'ds increased, until it amounted to 
a pint per day. At the same time the skin was 
ordered to be washed with a stronger decoction, 
which proved an auxiliary to the cure. Dr. 
Crichton found that in delicate people and hyster- 


ical women, it often produced syncope and slight 
palpitation of the heart, now and then nausea and 
giddiness. But if the dose was diminished, or 
any aromatic tincture added, it ceased to produce 
uneasy symptoms. The good effects of the rem- 
edy were seldom perceived until after the first 
eight days. 

Dr. Bateman considers, that " one of the most 
effectual remedies for lepra under all its vai4eties 
is the decoction of the leaves and twigs of the So- 
lanum dulcamara." He administers it in the 
same way with that just described. "When," 
says he, " there is a degree of torpor in the super- 
ficial vessels, the same decoction made with a 
lai'ger proportion of the shi'ub, is advantageously 
employed as a lotion ; but if there is any inflam- 
matory disposition, this and every other external 
stimulus must be prohibited." 

I have employed the Bitter sweet, both in sub- 
stance and in decoction in a number of cutaneous 
affections. It appears to be a valuable auxiliary 
to mercury in the treatment of syphilitic erup- 
tions. I have also known herpetic eruptions to 
yield to its internal and external use. The Amer- 
ican plant however, when gathered in full vigour, 
does not set easily on the stomach in large doses. 
I have known vomiting produced by a few grains 


of the powdered leaves, and by a small cup of the 
decoction. Tlie strength of the plant seems to 
vaiy in some degree with the time of gather- 
ing, and mode of preserving. Dr. CuUen found 
different parcels of the article to exhibit very dif- 
ferent degrees of strength. Writers are not 
agreed as to its immediate effects on the head and 
stomach, probably from the different age and con- 
dition of the medicine employed by them. From 
my own observation I am induced to consider the 
appearance of slight narcotic symptoms, as an ev- 
idence of the goodness of the medicine, and as a 
criterion for regulating the dose. The formula of 
Dr. Crichton for the decoction appears to be a 
good one, but in the case of delicate constitutions, 
the commencing dose should not exceed an ounce, 
which may be afterwards increased according to 
cuTumstances. The addition of a little cinna- 
mon renders the decoction less apt to offend the 


Solaniim dulcamara, Linnjeus, — Woodviile, t. 33. — 
Smith, Engl. Bot. t. 565. — Pursh, i. 156. — Solanum scandens, 
sen dulcamara. — TorRNEroRT, PanSf 43. — Glycypicros sive 
amaradulcis, J. Bavhin, ii. 109. 



BooERHAAVE, Hist. hovt. L. B. 506. — LiNN^us, Mmn. Acad, 
iv. 39, and viii. 62. — Murray, Jlpp. med. 603. — Carrere, sur 
la Douce-amere, 1780, and in Med. and Phys. Journal, i. 307. — 
CvjJjEn, Mat. Med. ii. 554 — Willan, on Cutaneous diseases , 145. 
— Bateman, on ditto, 35. — Orflla, des poisons, 192. 


Fig. 1. Solanum dulcamara. 

Fig. 2. Corolla, 

Fig. 3. Tiihe of anthers laid open. 

Fig. 4. Stamen, 

Fig. 5. Calyx and pistil. 


f/'r-///f / /t//a/a 

ria m. 


Indian tobacco. 


An the United States there are many species 
of Lohelia, which are interesting for their beauty, 
singularity or use. We have few plants more 
elegant than the cardinal flower, and few more 
curious in structure than the Lobelia Dortmanna. 
In medicinal powers, the subject of this article is 
entitled to take precedence of the rest. It is an 
annual plant, found in fields and road sides, from 
Canada to the southern states. It flowers from 
midsummer until the arrival of frosts. 

The genus Lobelia has a jive cleft calyx ; a 
monopetaloiis, irregular corolla, with a cleft tube ; 
the anthers cohering; the capsule two or three 

The species injiata is branching and hairy, 
with ovate, serrate leaves, and turgid capsules. 


The connexion of the anthers into a tuhe has 
caused some ambiguity and difference of opinion, 
as to the place which this genus should occupy, 
in the Limifean system. Linnseus placed it in his 
order Monogamia of the class Syngenesia. Most 
of our late botanists have very properly remov- 
ed the plants of tliis order from the compound 
flowers, with which they have no natural affinity, 
to Pentandria, which place their number of sta- 
mens authorizes them to occupy. Pursh has pla- 
ced the Lobelias under Monadelphia. The Nat- 
ural order which contains them is the Cam- 
panaceas of Linnseus and Jussieu. 

The Lobelia inflata varies in height from six 
inches to two or three feet. The small plants are 
nearly simple, the large ones much branched. 
Boot fibrous. Stem erect, in the full sized plant 
much branched, angular, very hau'y. Leaves 
scattered, sessile, oval, serrate, veiny and hairy. 
Flowers in spikes or racemes, pedunculated, each 
one in the axil of a small leaf. Segments of the 
calyx linear, acute, standing on the germ, which is 
oval and striated. Corolla bluish purple, the 
tube prismatic and cleft above, the segments 
spreading, acute, the two upper ones lanceolate, 
the three lower ones oval. Anthers collected in- 
to an oblong, curved body, purple ; filaments 


white. Style filiform ; stigma curved and inclos- 
ed by the anthers. Capsules two celled, turgid, 
oval, compressed, ten angled, covered with the ca- 
lyx. Seeds numerous, small, oblong, brown. 

The Lobelia inflata when broken, emits a milky 
juice. When chewed, it communicates to the 
mouth a burning, acrimonious sensation, not un- 
like the taste of green tobacco. It exhibits the 
following noticeable ingredients upon chemical 
examination. 1. An acrid principle. This is ev- 
ident to the taste in the tincture, decoction, and 
distilled water. 2. Caoutchouc. Sulphuric ether 
dissolves more of the plant than alcohol, and ac- 
quires a higher colour. The solution in alcohol 
is scarcely rendered turbid by water, that in ether 
is disturbed by alcohol, and grows thick as the 
ether evaporates. 3. Extractive. Xo gummy or 
astringent qualities were manifested in my exper- 

The great acrimony of the leaves and capsules, 
combined with a narcotic property, appears to be 
the foundation of then* medicinal power. Dr. 
Cutler informs us, that if the leaves be held for 
some time in the mouth, they produce giddiness 
and pain in the head, with a trembling agitation 
of the whole body, and at length bring on nausea 
and vomitin.u:. Tliese effects are analagous to 


those, which the chewmg or smokmg of tohacco 
occasions in persons unaccustomed to its use. 

When swallowed in suhstance, it excites very 
speedy vomiting, accompanied with distressing 
and long continued sickness, and even with dan- 
gerous symptoms, if the dose he large. A melan- 
choly instance of death, occasioned by the use of 
this plant, in the hands of a quack, is detailed in 
the sixth volume of the Massachusetts Reports, in 
the trial of Samuel Thomson, an empiric practising 
in Beverly, for the murder of Ezra Lovett. In 
this trial it appeared, that the patient, being con- 
fined by a cold, sent for the pretended physician, 
who gave him three powders of Lobelia in the 
course of half an hour, each of which vomited him 
violently, and left him in a great perspiration 
during the night. The next day two more pow- 
ders were administered, each of which operated 
by vomiting and occasioned great distress. In 
like manner two other powders were given the 
subsequent day, leaving the patient in a state 
of great prostration. Several days after this, the 
physician came again, and finding his patient 
still worse, administered several more powders, 
which occasioned great distress, and at length 
ceased to operate. Finding that the stomach was 
not sensible to the emetic eflfect of the Lobelia, 


the physician repeated the dose, and wlien the pa- 
tient comphiined of great distress at the hrcast 
and said he was dying, the doctor assured liim the 
medicine wouhl soon get down, or operate as a ca- 
thartic. However, on the same evening, the pa- 
tient lost his reason and hecame convulsed, so that 
two men were required to liold him. To relieve 
which, the doctor forced down two more of his 
powders, and the patient, as was to he expected, 
grew worse, and continued so until he expired. 

Tlie doctor, who had thus terminated the dis- 
ease and the patient at once, was arrested and put 
upon trial for murder ; but the homicide proving 
a legitimate one from the want of suflicient evi- 
dence of malice propense, he was acquitted and 
set at liberty. 

From the violence of its effects, and the dis- 
tressing nausea which it occasions, it is probable 
that the Lobelia will never come into use for the 
common purposes of an emetic, while other emet- 
ics can be obtained. It lias however been found 
to exert a beneficifd influence on particidar diseas- 
es, and on this account is entitled to a place in 
the IMatcria !^Iedica. Dr. Cutler, and a number 
of physicians in Essex county and elsewhere, have 
found benefit from its use in asthma, some in dos- 
es of a table spoonful of tlie saturated tincture, 


others in doses of a teaspoonfiil. Indeed the for- 
mer dose appears to be a very large one, and 
greater than most stomachs would bear with im- 
punity. I have tried this medicine in several 
cases of asthma with some advantage. It has 
not however in general succeeded in affording re- 
lief of the paroxysm, until full vomiting was pro- 
duced, which effect, with me, has happened after 
taking one or two teaspoonfuls. 

A communication from Dr. Cutler, on the op- 
eration of this plant, is inserted in Dr. Thacher's 
Dispensatory. The venerable writer having him- 
self suffered from asthma for ten years, had, dur- 
ing the paroxysms, resorted to many medicines 
for relief, without experiencing much benefit from 
any. He was at length induced to make trial of 
a tincture, prepared by himself from the Lobelia 
inflata. " In a paroxysm," says he, "which per- 
haps was as severe as I had ever experienced ; 
the difficulty of breathing extreme, and after it 
had continued for a considerable time, I took a ta- 
ble spoonful. In three or four minutes my breath- 
ing was as free as it ever was, but I felt no nau- 
sea at the stomach. In ten minutes I took anoth- 
er spoonful, which occasioned sickness. After 
ten minutes I took a thu^d, which produced sensi- 
ble effects upon the coats of the stomach, and a 


very little moderate puking', and a kind of prickly 
sensation through the whole system, even to the 
extremities of the fingers and toes. But all 
these sensations very soon suhsided, and a vigour 
seemed to he restored to the constitution, wliich I 
had not experienced for years. I have not since 
had a paroxysm, and only a few times some small 
symptoms of asthma. Besides the violent at- 
tacks, I had scarcely passed a night without more 
or less of it, and often so as not to he ahle to lie in 
hed. Since that time I have enjoyed as good 
health, as perhaps before the first attack." 

Dr. Cutler considers his disease to be what 
Dr. Bree in his " Practical inquiries on disorder- 
ed respiration" calls the first species, " an asthma 
from pulmonic u*ritation of effused serum." 

Dr. Handall informs me, that he has given the 
Lobelia to many persons of different ages suffer- 
ing from asthma and catarrh, and with considera- 
ble variation in the form and degree of the dose. 
In asthma he finds it as successful as any article 
he has tried. When given in doses of a drachm 
of the saturated tincture, and two or three times 
repeated at convenient intervals ; also in the form 
of other preparations of similar strength, he has 
found it usually to remove the paroxism in a 

short time, and to restore the patient to qui- 


etude and ease. In catarrh, wlien given in 
small doses and frequently repeated, it has op- 
erated as a sure and speedy expectorant, pro- 
ducing effects in then* most important character, 
very similar to those of antimony and squills. 
Dr. Randall has not observed any narcotic effect 
to ensue from moderate doses, nor found it to pro- 
duce irritation of the coats of the bladder, as has 
been suggested by some practitioners. In his 
hands it has not produced any more vmpleasant 
consequence than frequent nausea, and occasional 
emesis, with a copious flow from the glands of the 

Dr. Bradstreet of ^N^ewburyport acquaints me, 
that besides asthmatic cases, he has given the sat- 
urated tincture in two or three instances of dys- 
pepsia, also in some cases of a rheumatic nature 
with beneficial consequences. 

He considers its sensible effects to be very 
like those of common tobacco, but its medicinal 
action more speedy and diffusible, and of shorter 
duration. He thinks that it affects those accus- 
tomed to the use of tobacco as readily as others. 

The Lobelia has been recommended as a rem- 
edy in hooping cough and croup. In the former 
of these complaints, I can say notliing of its use 
from experience, but in the latter disease I am 


persuaded, it affords no benefit, having seen it 
largely tried by different practitioners in a number 
of ftital cases, where it only produced a distress- 
ing nausea, without, in any degree, facilitating the 
respiration, or relieving the disease. 

The active properties of the Lobelia are readi- 
ly extracted both by water and alcohol. The tinc- 
ture however is most easily kept, and is the most 
convenient form for exhibition. The Essex dis- 
trict medical society have recommended a formu- 
la for this composition, which directs two ounces 
of the dried plant to be digested in a pint of di- 
luted alcohol. Of this tincture, a teaspoonful giv- 
en to an adult, will generally produce nausea, and 
sometimes vomiting. In certain instances how- 
ever, much larger doses have been given, without 
producing any other effect than a flow of saliva. 


Lobelia inflata, Lin. Sp. pi. — Act. Upsal. 1741, p. 23, t. 1. — 
Gronovius, Virg. 134. — Willd. *Sp. ;j^ i. 946. — Michaux, ii. 
142. — PuRSH, ii. 448. 

mi;dical references. 

Cutler, Mem. Jimer. Jlcad. i. 484. — Sch(epf, 128. — Bart. 
CoU 36, 56. — Thacker, Disp, 267. — Massachusetts Reports, 
vd, vi. 



Fig. 1. Lobelia injlata. 

Fig. 2. Corolla with the stamens projecting from the cleft in the 
upper side. 

Fig. 3. Capsule cut across. 

' fft/tf/ffflt'^ f'fff' 


Sweet scented Golden rod. 


JN part of vegetation in the United States is 
so conspicuous and gaudy in the autumnal months, 
and at the same time furnishes to the botanist so 
difficult a task of discrimination, as the multitu- 
dinous and Protean genera Solidago and Aster. 
Each of these genera contains many well defined 
species, sufficiently marked by their external 
chai'acters, sensible qualities, habits and places of 
growth. But between them, is a great multitude 
of subspecies, liable to variation from external 
circumstances, changing their appearance with 
their places of growth, and running together by 
so many points of resemblance, that it is a labour 
yet remaining for botanists to separate tliose 
species which are in nature distinct, from those 
which are varieties only. 


The genus Solidago is characterized by a na- 
ked receptacle, the down simple, rays oj^the corolla 
about five, scales of the calyw imbricated and close. 
It is a very natural genus, easily distinguished at 
sight by its crowded tufts of compound flowers, 
wliich are almost always of a deep golden yellow.* 

The species odora has its stem nearly smooth, 
leaves linear-lanceolate, entire, smooth, with a 
rough margin, and covered with pellucid dots» 
Racemes panicled, one sided. 

Class Syngenesia, — Order Superfiua, — Natural 
orders Compositce, hm. Corymbiferw,Juss. 

The sweet scented Golden rod grows in woods 
and fields tliroughout the United States, and flow- 
ers in September. It has a smooth appearance, 
and is among tlie smaller species of its family. 
The root is woody, much branched and creeping. 
Stem slender, from two to three feet high, smooth 
or slightly pubescent below, pubescent at top. 
The leaves are linear-lanceolate, closely sessile, 
broad at l)ase, entire, acute, with only the midrib 
distinct, rough at the margin but otlierwise 
smooth, and covered with pellucid dots, like Hy- 
pericum perforatum. The flowers grow in a com- 
pound, panicled raceme, with each of its branches 

* The only exception which I now recollect is Solidago bicolor, 
whose rav is white. 


supported by a small leaf. These branches or 
peduncles are very slender and rigid, each giving 
off a row of ascending, downy pedicels, with small, 
linear bractes at then- bases. Scales of the calyx 
ublong, acute, smooth, or slightly pubescent, the 
lower ones sliorter and closely imbricating the 
rest. Florets of the ray few, with oblong, obtuse, 
ligules. Those of the disc funnel shaped, with 
acute segments. Down simple to the naked eye, 
feathery under the microscope. Seeds oblong. 

This plant is the Solidago odora of Muhlen- 
berg, and agrees with the character of Aiton. 
The Solidago odora of Michaux is possibly a differ- 
ent species. Willdenow's plant was undoubtedly 
different. The folia puncticulosa, which consti- 
tutes so distinct a mark in this species, I have 
not seen noticed by any botanist. 

The leaves of the Solidas-o odora have a deliw-ht- 
fully fragrant odour, partaking of that of anise and 
sassafras, but different from either. When sub- 
jected to distillation, a volatile oil, possessing the 
taste and ai'oma of the plant in a liigli degree, col- 
lects in the receiver. This oil apparently has its 
residence in the transparent cells, which consti- 
tute the dotting of the leaves, for the root is whol- 
ly destitute of tlic peculiar fragrance of the herb, 
and has rather a nauseous taste. This is contra- 


ry to the remark of Willdenow, who informs us that 
the root is the fragrant part possessing the scent 
of Geum m*banum. 

As the volatile oil appears to possess all the 
medicinal value of this plant, I have not prosecut- 
ed its chemical investigation any farther. 

The claims of the Solidago to stand as an ai'- 
ticle of the Materia Medic a are of a humble, but 
not despicable- kind. We import and consume 
many foreign drugs which possess no virtue be- 
yond that of being aromatic, pleasant to the taste, 
gently stimulant, diaphoretic and carminative. 
All these properties the Golden rod seems fully to 
possess. An essence made by dissolving the es- 
sential oil in proof spirit, is used in the eastern 
states as a remedy in complaints, arising from flat- 
ulence, and as a vehicle for unpleasant medicines 
of various kinds. I have employed it to allay 
vomiting, and to relieve spasmodic pains in the 
stomach of the milder kind, with satisfactory suc- 
cess. From its pleasant flavour, it serves to cover 
the taste of laudanum, castor oil, and other med- 
icines, whose disagreeable taste causes them to 
be rejected by delicate and irritable stomachs. 

Mr. Pursh informs us, that this plant when 
dried, is used in some parts of the United States as 
an agreeable substitute for tea. He further states, 


that it has for some time been an article of ex- 
portation to China, where it fetches a high price. 


Solidago odora, Aiton, Hort JCew. iii. 214. — Pursh, ii. 539. 
— Virga Aurea Americana. Tarraconis facie et sapore, panicii- 
la speciosissima ? Plukenet, Jim. 389, t. 116,/. 6. 


Fig. 1. Solida odora. 
Fig. 2. AJioxcer magnified. 
Fig. 3. AJloret of the ray. 
Fig. 4. Jljloretojthe disc. 


JS'ote A, 

JMosT European writers seem to consider the Datura stra- 
monium as a native of America. In Miller's Dictionary by 
Martyn, the editor says, " That it is a native of Ameiica, we 
have the most undoubted proofs, for in earth brought with 
plants from various parts of that extensive country, we are sure 
to have the Thorn apple come up. Kalm says, that it grows 
about all the villages, and tliat this and the Phytolacca are the 
worst weeds there. Our old writers call it Thorny Apples of 

Tliis evidence however is by no means sufficient. The plant 
appears in eartli and ballast, carried from cither continent alike. 
The name Apple of Peru has also been applied to Datura metel, 
a plant of Africa and the East Indies. 

^ote B. 

In the Catalogue of plants in the Botanic garden at Calcutta, 
published in 1814, a species is inserted by the name of Datura 
Tatula, said to be a native of the Cape of Good Hope. This is 
.jprobably different from the Datura Tatula of Linnseus. 

JVofe C. 

*' The Jamestown weed, (which resembles the thorny apples of 
Peru, and I take it to be the plant so calied,) is supposed to be 
one of the greatest coolers in the world. This being an early 
plant, was gathered very young for a boiled sallad, by some of 
the soldiers sent thither to quell tlie rebellion of Bacon ; and 
some of them ate plentifully of it, the effect of which was a very 

NOTES. 193 


pleasant comedy, for tliey turned natural fools upon it for several 
days. One would blow up a feather in the air, another would 
dart straw s at it with much fury ; another stark naked was sit- 
ting up in a corner like a monkey, grinning, and making mows 
at them ; a fourth would' fondly kiss and paw his companions, 
and sneer in their faces with a countenance more antic, than any 
in a Dutch droll. In this frantic condition they were confined, 
lest, in their folly, they should destroy themselves. A thousand 
simple tricks they played, and after eleven days returned to 
themselves again, not remembering any thing that had passed." 

Beverhfs Uistorij of Virgiiiiaf p. 121. 

Xote J). 

« De Cuechyliztomatl, seu Tomatl sonalis. 

Genus est Solani Tonchichi forma et viribus simile, sed 
foliis paulispcr undulatis, et fructu acinoso raceraatim(iuc depen- 
dente, &c." HernandcXf ii. 12. 

J^Tote E, 

" I am heartily glad to hear more instances of the success of 
the Poke weed in the cure of cancer. You will desei-ve highly of 
mankind for the communication. But I find in Boston they are 
at a loss to know the right plant, some asserting it is what they 
call J^Iechoacan, others other things. In one of their late pa- 
pers it is publicly requested that a perfect decription may be giv- 
en of the plant, its places of growth, &c. I have mislaid the pa- 
l)er, or would send it to you. I thought you had describx^d it 
pretty fully." Letter from Br. Franklin to Dr. Coldeiu 

" I apprehend that our poke- weed is what botanists term 
Phytolacca. This plant bears berries as large as peas. The 
skin is black, but it contains a crimson juice. It is this juice 
thickened by evaporation in the sun which was employed. It 
caused great pain, but some persons were said to have been 
cured. I am not quite certain of the facts j all that I know is 


194* NOTES. 

that Dr. Colden had a good opinion of the remedy." Letter 
from Br. Franklin to M. Duhmirg, 

JS^Ote F. 

Linnseus, in his Flora Laponica, tells us that the roots of 
Calla palustriSf although acrid and caustic in the highest degree, 
fignis Jirme instarfj are made into a kind of bread in high esti- 
mation, called Missebrotd. This is performed by drying and 
grinding the roots, afterwards boiling and macerating them un- 
til they are deprived of acrimony, when they are baked like other 
farinaceous substances into bread. 

The recent juice of the Jatropha manihoty or Cassava tree of 
the West Indies, is highly poisonous. The deleterious princi- 
ple however resides in a volatile portion, which is dissipated by 
heat. The remaining substance of the root is used by the in- 
habitants for bread, as a material for a kind of soup, and as the 
basis of a fermented liquor. 

JVofe G. 

The following is Ksempfei^'s description taken from his Amoe- 
nitates Exoticee, p. 791. His accompanying figure resembles the 
American Rhus vernix, except, that the end of the branch and 
bud are larger in proportion than with us. 

<' iSite, vel. Sitzidsju, i. e. Sitz planta, vulgo Urus seu Urus no 
Mf Arbor vernicifera legitima, folio pinnato Juglandis, fructu 
racemoso ciceris facie. 

" Arbor paucis ramis brachiata, salicis ad altitudinem luxuri- 
ose exsurgit. Cortice donatur incano, ex verruculis scabro, facile 
abscedente; ligno saligneo fragillimo j medulla copiosa, ligno 
adnata ; Surculis longis crassis in extremitate inordinate foliosis. 
Folium est impariter pennatum, spithamale vel longius, Juglandis 
folio semulum, costa tereti, leviter lanuginosa ; quam a semipal- 
mari nuditate stipant lobi sive folia simplicia, pediculo perbrevi 
nixa, tenuia, plana, ovata, triiun vel quatuor unciarum longitu- 

NOTES. 195 

dinis, basi insequaliter rotunda, mucrone brcvi angusto, margine 
integro, suprema facie obscure viridi, Isevi, et ex nervis lacunosa, 
dorso incano et molliter lanuginoso. Nervus inedius in muci-o- 
riein terminans subinde midtos a latere dcmittit nervos minores, 
eitra marginem deficientes. Sapor folio sylvestris inest, cum 
sensibili calorc ; humor aifrictus extemplo chaitam ferrugineo 
colore imbuit. In surculis quibusdam ex foliorum axillis sin- 
gull surgunt Racemi laxe ramosi, palmares, tenues, qui, petiolis 
in calyculos rotundos desinentibus, Floscnlos continent pumilos, 
et citra Coriandri seminis niagnitudinem radiantes, in luteum 
herbaceos, pentapetalos, petalis carnosis nonnibil oblongis et 
repandis ; staminibus ad petalorum interstitia singulis, apicatis, 
bre\issimis, stylo perbrevi tricipite, floris turbini insidente, 
Ordorem spirant dulcem, Aurantio flori affinem et pergratum. 
Fnidus flosculum excipit gibbosus, utcumque in rhomboidis figu- 
rara compressus, bifidus, facie ac magnitudine ciceris, niem- 
branula tenui micante vestitus, per niaturitatem durissimus ct 
obsoleti coloris. 

*< Cortex arborls cultro crenatus lacteum fundit lentorem, 
humore crystallino (ex aliis ductibus stillante) permixtum, qui 
ad aeris contactum nigrescit. Eundera surculi divulsi, foliorum 
pediculi, et nervi produnt, nuUius gustabilis qualitatis partici- 
pem, nisi califacientis sine acredine. Vencnatos tamen spiritus 
lisec arbor exhalare dicitur, vehementcs adeo, ut pucris circa 
candem commorantibus exanthemata in corpore pariant : qualia 
etiam lignum tractantes alii (non oranes) experiuntur. CoUectio 
TJrusj, sive Vernicis, ut instituatur, caudices prsecipue triennes, 
paucis crenis vulncrandse sunt, ex quibus stillans liquor subinde 
cxcipitur, itcrata in recente loco sectione, donee cxsucci marccs- 
cant. Emulsi atque omni succo orbati, illico amputandi sunt ; 
sic nova e radice provenit soboles, qu», triennis facta, collectioni 
denuo subjicitur/' # * * 

*' Vernix nativa vix pr jeparationc indigct. Japonica per dupli- 
catam chartam subtilissimam, tcke arancarum pcne siinilcm, et 

196 NOTES. 

earn in rem singulariter constructam docta ey%e<^j)5-/ torqueii 
solet, ut a particiilis heterogeneis et crassioribus mundeturj 
inundate pauxillum admiscetur (centissiina fere pars) olei Toi 
dicti ex fructu arboris Ktn. Sic vasibus ligneis indita per Japo- 
niam venalis transvehitur." 

J>rot€ H. 

The following account of the death of Socrates is translated 
from the Phcedon of Plato. 

And Crito hearing this gave the sign to the boy who stood 
near. And the boy departing after some time returned bringing 
with him the man, who was to administer the poison, who 
brought it ready bruised in a cup. And Socrates beholding the 
man, said, *< Good friend, come hither, you are experienced in 
these affairs, — What is to be done ?" *• Nothing," replied the 
man, " only when you have drank the poison, you are to walk 
about until a heaviness takes place in your legs. Then lie down. 
This is all you have to do." At the same time he presented him 
the cup. Socrates received it from him with great calmness, 
without fear or change of countenance, and regarding the man 
with liis usual stern aspect, he asked, " What say you of this 
potion ? Is it lawful to sprinkle any poi'tion of it on the earth 
as a libation, or not ?" " We only bruise," said the man, *• as 
much as is barely sufficient for the purpose." "I undei stand 
you," said Socrates, «< but it is certainly lawful and proper to 
pray the gods that my departure from hence may be prosperous 
and happy, which I indeed beseech them to grant." So saying, 
he carried the cup to his mouth and drank it with great prompt- 
ness and facility. 

Thus far most of us had been able to refrain from weeping. 
But when we saw that he was drinking and actually had drunk 
the poison, we could no longer restrain our tears. And from me 
they broke forth with such violence, that I covered my face and 
deplored my wretchedness. I did not weep for his fate, so much. 

NOTES. 197 

as for the loss of a friend and benefactor, which I was about to 
sustain. But Crito unable to restrain his tears was compelled 
to rise. And Apollodorus, who had been incessantly weeping, 
now broke forth into loud lamentations, which infected all who 
were present except Socrates. But, he observing us, exclaimed, 
<« W hat is it you do, my excellent friends ? I have sent away the 
women that they might not betray such weakness. I have heard 
that it is our duty to die cheerfully and with expressions of joy 
and praise. Be silent therefore, and let your fortitude be seen." 
At this address we blushed and suppressed our tears. But So- 
crates, after walking about, now told us that his legs were begin- 
ning to grow heavy, and immediately laid down, for so he had 
been ordered. At the same time the man who had given him 
the poison, examined his feet and legs, touching them at inter- 
vals. At length he pressed violently upon his foot, and asked 
if he felt it. To which Socrates replied, that he did not. 
The man then pressed his legs and so on, shewing us that he 
was becoming cold and stiff. And Socrates feeling of himself 
assured us, that when the effects had ascended to his heart he 
should then be gone. And now the middle of his body growing 
cold^je threw aside his clothes and spoke for the last time, 
« Crito, we owe the sacrifice of a cock to ^sculapius. Dis- 
charge tliis and neglect it not." « It shall be done, said Crito ; 
have you any thing else to say ?" He made no reply, but a mo- 
ment after moved, and his eyes became fixed. And Crito seeing 
this, closed his eyelids and mouth. 


Datura stramoniumf 

Thorn apple. 

page 17 

Eupatorium perfoliaUimf 

Thorough wort. 


Phytolacca decandra, 



Arum triphyllumf 

Dragon root, 


Coptis trifoliOf 

Gold thread. 


Arlnitus uva ursi. 



Sanguinaria canadensiSf 

Blood root. 


Geranium maculatum, 



Tnosteum perfoliatum, 

Fever root. 


Hhux vemix. 

Poison sumach. 


Conium maculatum, 



Ciciita maciilata, 

American hemlock. 


Kalmia latifoliaf 

Mountain laurel. 


Spigelia marilandica, 

Carolina pinkroot. 


Asarum canadense. 

Wild Ginger, 


Iris versicolor. 

^ Blue flag. 


Hyoscyamus niger. 



Solanum didcamara, 

Bitter sweet. 


Lobelia i7ijlata, 

- Indian tobacco, 


Solidago odora, 

Sweet scented Golden rod, 187