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A he subjects of the present work, for reasons 
which prevail in many publications of the kind, 
have been inserted without reference to any par- 
ticular arrangement or system. Those plants 
received the earliest place, the observations re- 
specting which were earliest matured, and the 
drawings of which were first completed. Al- 
though this plan has been objected to in some 
foreign criticisms, it is the one pursued in several 
of the most extensive and useful botanical works 
of the day, which are accompanied with plates ; 
and in periodical publications, or those which 
appear in successive numbers, it has more than 
one decided advantage. It gives time for all the 
figures to be completed at leisure, from perfect 
specimens, in proper and convenient seasons ; at 
the same time that it does not necessitate prema- 
ture and imperfect descriptions of their subjects, 
which must take place were an arrangement adopt- 


ed, which might require the first insertion for 
plants not jet obtained or imperfectly examined. 
A systematic method may be adhered to in a work 
which is furnished for the press at once, but must 
occasion delay and imperfection in a periodical one. 
As the American Medical Botany is terminat- 
ed by the completion of its third volume, the 
opportunity is now afforded for taking a methodi- 
cal view of its contents. Considered in a medici- 
nal point of view, the subjects will be best classed 
as in systems of Materia Medica, by a reference 
to their leading properties or most striking modes 
of operating on the human system. In this 
light they may be arranged as follow s. 

Narcotics. Tonics. 

Datura Stramonium, Menyanthes trifbliata, 

Conium maculatum, Hamulus Lupulus, 

Cicuta maculata, Eupatorium perfoliatum, 

Hyoscyamus niger, Coptis trifolia, 

Nicotiana tabacum, Cornus florida, 

Solanum dulcamara, Gentiana Catesbeei, 

Kalmialatifolia? Aletris farinosa, 
Polygala rubella, 

Astringents. Sabbatia angularis, 

Geranium maculatum, Prinos verticillatus, 

Statice Caroliniana, Liriodendron tulipifera, 

Arbutus Uva ursi, Magnolia glauca. 
llubus villosus, Acrid stimulants. 

Rhododendron maximum, Arum triphyllum, 

Nympheea odorata, Ictodes foetidus, 

Myrica cerifera. Ranunculus bulbosus. 




Lobelia inflate, 
Phytolacca decandra, 
Gillenia trifoliata, 
Veratrum viride, 
Sanguinaria Canadensis, 
Iris versicolor, 
Apocynum androsremifolium, 
Dirca palustris, 
Euphorbia ipecacuanha, 
Euphorbia corollata. 
Erythronium Americanum. 

Solidago odora, 
Gaultheria procumbens, 
Laurus sassafras, 
Illicium Floridanum. 

Juniperus communis, 
Pyrola Umbellata. 

Polygala senega, 
Asclepias tuberosa. 

Podophyllum peltatum, 
Juglans cinerea, 
Triosteum perfoliatum, 
Cassia marilandica, 

Panax quinqefolium. 

Spigelia marilandica. 

Aristolochia serpentaria, 
Asarum Canadense, 
Xanthoxylum fraxineum, 

External stimulants. 
Juniperus Virginiana, 
Rhus Vernix, 
Rhus radicans. 

We avail ourselves of classification in the 
Materia Medic a founded on the kind of operation 
which medicines exert on the human body, he- 
cause there are seemingly no hetter characteris- 
tics by which to arrange them. But even this 
method is defective, because few medicines are 
simple in their operation, and of course most 
of them have claims to stand in more than one 
class. As examples, Tobacco, Henbane, Fox- 


glove, and Opium are all of them properly placed 
by authors under the head of Narcotics. But of 
these, Tobacco is an emetic, Henbane a cathartic, 
Foxglove a diuretic, and Opium, while it checks 
all other excretions, is itself sudorific. Mercury, 
under its different forms and modes of adminis- 
tration, is capable of fulfilling half a dozen differ- 
ent intentions. The classifier of medicines then 
can do no more than to arrange them by their 
most obvious and well known properties, whatever 
these may be, leaving it understood that the 
name of a class is by no means fully descriptive 
of the character of its contents.* 

In forming a selection of sixty plants to be 
represented in this work, it has been endeavoured 
to choose those which are among the most 
interesting to botanists, at the same time that 
they possess claims upon the attention of medi- 
cal men. It is by no means to be asserted that 
all these possess so decided an efficacy as to enti- 
tle them to the rank of standard medicines, or to 
make it advisable that pharmacopoeias should be 
swelled by their introduction. A part of them 
no doubt are eminently entitled to this distinction. 
Others are efficacious only in a second degree, 

* For a botanical arrangement of the plants, see the systematic 
index at the end of the volume. 



but are still in use, and often advantageously so, 
in the hands of country practitioners. There 
are some of yet inferior efficacy, which, having 
formerly enjoyed a certain degree of medicinal 
notoriety, are inserted here with a view of defin- 
ing their true character. 

The progress of botanical students is much 
facilitated by the possession of correct drawings 
and dissections of a variety of dissimilar plants. 
In this country botanical figures, especially of 
American plants, are scarce, and accessible to but 
a small number of those who pursue this study. 
It is hoped that the present work may, in a cer- 
tain degree, supply the deficiency, at least until 
the extension of natural science among us, and 
the increased number of botanical students, shall 
call forth and support works of greater magnitude. 

A part of the plants contained in this work 
have never been figured in any botanical work. 
Others have been represented a great number of 
times ; yet their importance, in a medical point of 
view, required their admission ; and the figure 
being always made from an American specimen, 
it may, on this account, be not destitute of in- 

Having arrived at the termination of the 
American Medical Botany, the author feels it 


incumbent on him to state, that he has at no time 
had cause to regret the undertaking of a work, 
which has furnished a most interesting employ- 
ment for his leisure hours ; and which has been 
honored with a patronage, greatly exceeding his 




Common Gillenia. 


JN otwithstanding the principle avowed by 
Linnaeus, that genera are formed by nature ; the 
determination of generic consanguinity in species 
occasions in many instances one of the greatest 
perplexities of the botanist. What difference in 
structure and external form either of flower or 
fruit, is sufficient to separate families of plants 
from each other ; is a point often difficult to decide ; 
and is perhaps as frequently set at rest by conve- 
nience and by arbitrary decision, as it is by any 
unexceptionable boundaries designated in nature. 
Wben the species of a vegetable order are exceed- 
ingly numerous, and a close similarity pervades 
the whole ; genera are multiplied by botanists, 
that the discrimination of species may be facilitat- 


ed. Or the other hand, where a group of species 
is not unwieldy from its size, or deficient in dis- 
tinctive marks, the genera are made as compre- 
hensive, as natural affinity will permit. The di- 
versity of structure, which exists in the flowers of 
Gentiana, or the fruit of Bunias, would be deemed 
ample foundation for constructing half a dozen ge- 
nera among the umbelliferous, leguminous, or 
gramineous orders. But as the species of the 
genera above have a strong agreement in one part 
of their fructification, as well as in general habit, 
and as no great obscurity or inconvenience results 
from keeping them together, it has not been 
thought worth while to multiply nomenclature by 
arranging them under separate titles. 

The separation of Gillenia from Spiraea is one 
of those cases, upon which the botanist may hesi- 
tate long, without finding reasons strong enough 
to influence his decision. The natural order to 
which they belong is remarkable for having its 
genera well defined, so that there is no necessity 
for the separation, arising from confusion or indis- 
tinctness. The fruit of Gillenia is exactly the 
fruit of Spiraea, and the habit of the herb in one is 
not very foreign from that of the other. There is 
nevertheless something in the irregular corolla, 
taken in conjunction with the campanulate calyx. 


which I think would prevent any one, at first sight, 
from considering the plant a Spirsea ; and which 
may afford sufficient ground for following the 
example of Mcench in considering it a distinct 

The Gillenia trifoliata grows in woods, in a 
light soil, from Canada to Florida. In the mari- 
time states I have not met with it north of the 
Hudson. Its flowering time is in June and July. 

The generic character, which distinguishes 
this plant from Spirsea, is as follows : Calya? cam- 
panulate, five toothed ; corolla irregular, petals 
lanceolate, contracted near the claws ; capsules 
five, The species trifoliata has iernate, lanceolate, 
serrate leaves, and stipules which are minute, linea- 
lanceolate and nearly entire. 

Class Icosandria, order Pentagynia. Natural 
orders Scnticosw, Lin, Rosacea, Juss. 

This plant has commonly a number of stems 
from the same root, which are a foot or two in 
height, erect, slender, flexuous, smooth, commonly 
of a reddish tinge, and considerahly branched. 
The leaves are alternate, trifoliate, with very short 
petioles, furnished with small lanceolate, slightly 
toothed stipules at the base. Leafets ovate, lan- 
ceolate, acuminate, sharply toothed, the upper 
ones often single. The flowers are few in num- 


ber, scattered, terminal, nodding, forming a sort 
of panicle, with long peduncles, occasionally fur- 
nished with minute lanceolate bractes. Calyx 
subcampanulate, or tubular, with the lower half 
narrowest, the border divided into five reflexed 
acute teeth. Petals five, the two upper ones 
separated from the three lower, white, with a red- 
dish tinge on the edge of the outside, lanceolate, 
unguiculate, contracted, and approximated at base. 
Stamens about twenty in a double series within 
the calyx. Germ round, styles approximated. 
Capsules five, not one, as some authors have stated, 
diverging, oblong, acuminate, gibbous without, 
sharp edged within, two valved, one celled, one or 
two seeded ; seeds oblong, corresponding in shape 
to the capsule. 

The root of this plant is much branched and 
knotty. It consists of a woody portion, invested 
with a thick bark, which when dry is brittle, and 
very bitter to the taste. The predominant, solu- 
ble ingredients in this root appear to be a bitter 
extractive matter, and resin. When boiled in 
water, it imparts to it a beautiful, deep red, wine 
colour, and an intensely bitter taste. This decoc- 
tion undergoes no change from alcohol or gela- 
tine, though it gives a precipitate with muriate of 
tin. Water distilled from the root has its peculiar 


flavour, with little of the bitterness. A large 
portion of resin is precipitated on the addition of 
water to an alcoholic tincture of the root. 

Under the name of Spirsea trifoliata, this plant 
is well known to students of the American Materia 
Medica, as an emetic. To the remarks which 
have been made by various writers, I can add my 
own testimony of its possessing properties in a 
certain degree analogous to those of ipecacuanha. 
It requires, however, a larger dose, and I have not 
been satisfied that it is at all certain in its opera- 
tion. At times I have known fifteen grains to 
produce a full operation ; at others thirty grains 
have been given to a person already predisposed 
to vomit, without producing the least sensible 

The best printed account which I have found 
respecting its mode of operation is contained 
in an Inaugural Dissertation, published at Phila- 
delphia in 1810, by Dr. De la Motta, then of 
Charleston, S. C. This gentleman, in addition to 
other trials, took the root himself twice in sufficient 
quantity to produce vomiting. "In order," he 
says, " to ascertain this particular power of the 
Spiraea, I, early in the morning, fasting, prescribed 
for myself twenty-five grains of the powdered root 
of this plant. I divided this quantity into four 


equal parts, one of which I took every fifteen 
minutes, conceiving this a sufficient length of 
time to allow for the action of each dose in my 
stomach. The first dose taken produced no 
manifest effect. At the expiration of fifteen 
minutes I took a second dose ; — a degree of un- 
easiness was experienced, attended with some 
nausea ; — at the end of fifteen minutes more I 
swallowed a third dose, — nausea increased, until 
the convulsive action of my stomach took place. 
The fourth dose was now taken ; considerable 
efforts were made to vomit, and finally the con- 
tents of my stomach were thrown up, together 
with a profuse quantity of bile. The determina- 
tion of blood to my head, the frequency of my 
pulse, and heat of my system were much aug- 
mented. I now drank half a pint of warm water ; 
the action of my stomach subsided, and the nau- 
sea gradually wore off. A portion of the medicine, 
I was induced to believe, had insinuated itself 
into the intestines, as two copious evacuations 
were produced within the space of three hours. 
During the day I felt much debilitated, but im- 
puted this to the general effect of emetics. 

" I was thus satisfied with respect to its efficacy 
as an emetic upon an empty stomach. But, being 
still desirous of becoming better acquainted with 


its particular operation after eating an usual meal, 
I made a second experiment, one month after the 
first. In the morning, one hour after I had eaten 
a hearty breakfast, I took twenty grains of the 
medicine, in divided doses, as in the former ex- 
periment. At the expiration of a very few min- 
utes nausea commenced, which continuing: to 
increase, with very few efforts I discharged the 
contents of my stomach. The effects of the second 
trial answered exactly my expectations." 

Some authors have attributed a tonic power to 
the Gillenia, when administered in small doses. 
That it possesses sucli a power is rendered prob- 
ble by its bitter taste, and by the fiict, that small 
doses of ipecacuanha exert a beneficial stimulus 
on the stomach in certain cases of debility in 
that organ. 



Gillenia trifoliata, Mcench, Meth. suppl. p. 286. — Nuttall, 
Genera, i. 307. — Spiraea trifoliata, Lin. — Willd. Sp. pi. ii. 1063. — 
Curtis, Bot. Mag. t. 489. — Miller, Icones, 256. — Michaux, Flor. 
i. 294. — Pursh, i. 243. 


Schoepf, 80. — B. S. Barton, Coll. 26. — De la Motta, Inaugural 


Fig. 1. Gillenia trifoliata. 

Fig. 2. Calyx. 

Fig. 3. A petal. 

Fig. 4. Flower opened, shewing the situation of the stamens. 

Fig. 5. Germ and styles. 

Fig. 6. Styles separated. 


( J /////.) /f/f/srv/' //,f 


Annm iC Smctn 


Poison Ivy. 


Jjike the Rhus vernix, described in our first 
volume, this plant is regarded with aversion, and 
too frequently furnishes cause to be remembered 
by persons of susceptible constitution, who un- 
warily become exposed to its poisonous influence. 
The general recognition of its deleterious charac- 
ter is evinced in the application of the names 
Poison vine, Poison creeper, and Poison Ivy, 
which are given to it in all parts of the United 

The Rhus radicans is a pretty common 
inhabitant of the borders of fields and of woods 
in most soils which are not very wet. Its mode 
of growth is much like that of the common 
creeper, the Ampelopsis quinquefolia of Michaux ; 
and like that vine, and the European Ivy, it 
would doubtless be cultivated for ornament, were 


it harmless as it is handsome. As its name 
implies, this vine ascends upon tall objects in its 
neighbourhood by means of strong lateral rooting 
fibres, which project in great numbers from its 
sides, and attach themselves to the bark of trees 
and the surface of stones. The extreme branches 
of these fibres appear very strong in proportion 
to their fineness, and insinuate themselves into 
the minutest pores and crevices. The adhesion 
of the vine to the bark of trees is frequently so 
strong, that it cannot be torn off without breaking, 
and I have repeatedly seen large stems of the 
Rhus completely buried in the trunks of old 
trees, the bark having grown over and enveloped 
them. The fibres are analogous in their struc- 
ture to fine roots, and consist of a regular wood 
and bark. They are sometimes thrown out in 
such numbers on all sides, as to give the vine a 
shaggy appearance and conceal its bark. In 
general, however, they tend to the shady side, 
and are attracted toward opaque objects, furnish- 
ing an exemplification of Mr. Knight's beautiful 
explanation of motion in tendrils, which, by their 
propensity to avoid the light and approach the 
shade, are directed into contact with bodies 
capable of yielding them support. 


The size of the stem in this vine is commonly 
not more than an inch. Sometimes, however, in 
very old plants, it is found several times as large. 
It is usually compressed on the side which 
adheres to the support. In favourable situations 
it ascends to the tops of the highest rocks and 
trees, and is often seen restoring to decayed 
trunks the verdure which they have lost. When 
it does not meet with an elevated prop, the plant 
becomes stunted in its growth, is more branched, 
and affects a spiral mode of growth ; or falls to 
the ground, takes root and rises again. 

The genus Rhus is placed by Linnseus in 
the class Pentandria, and order Trigynia. The 
present species, however, is dioecious, a fact 
which is also true of most of the American 
species of Rhus which 1 have examined. The 
Shoes belong to the Linnsean natural order 
Dumosw, and to the Terebintacece of Jussieu. 

The leaves of the Rhus radicans are ternate, 
and grow on long semicylindrical petioles. 
Leafets ovate or rhomboidal, acute, smooth and 
shining on both sides, the veins sometimes a 
little hairy beneath. The margin is sometimes 
entire and sometimes variously toothed and 
lobed, in the same plant. The flowers are small 
and greenish white. They grow in panicles or 


compound racemes on the sides of the new 
shoots, and are chiefly axillary. The barren 
flowers have a calyx of five erect, acute segments, 
and a corolla of five oblong recurved petals. 
Stamens erect with oblong anthers. In the 
centre is a rudiment of a style. — The fertile 
flowers, situated on a different plant, are about 
half the size of the preceding. The calyx and 
corolla are similar but more erect. They have 
five small, abortive stamens and a roundish germ 
surmounted with a short, erect style, ending in 
three stigmas. The berries are roundish and of 
a pale green colour, approaching to white. 

A plant has long appeared in the Pharmaco- 
poeias under the name of Rhus toxicodendron. 
Botanists are not agreed whether this plant is a 
separate species from the one under considera- 
tion, or whether they are varieties of the same. 
Linnaeus made them different with the distinction 
of the leaves being naked and entire in Rhus 
radicans, while they are pubescent and angular 
in Rhus toxicodendron. Michaux and Pursh, 
whose opportunities of observation have been 
more extensive, consider the two as mere local 
varieties ; while Elliott and Nuttall still hold 
them to be distinct species. Among the plants 
which grow abundantly around Boston, I have 


frequently observed individual shoots from the 
same stock having the characters of both varieties. 
I have also observed that young plants of Rhus 
radicans frequently do not put out rooting fibres 
until they are several years old, and that they 
seem, in this respect, to be considerably influ- 
enced by the contiguity of supporting objects. 

The wood of the Poison Ivy is brittle, fine 
grained and white, with a yellow heart in the old 

If a leaf or stem of this plant be broken off, 
a yellowish milky juice immediately exudes from 
the wounded extremity. After a short exposure 
to the air, it becomes of a deep black colour and 
does not again change. This juice, when applied 
to linen, forms one of the most perfect kinds of 
indelible ink. It does not fade from age, 
washing, or exposure to any of the common 
chemical agents. I have repeatedly, when in 
the country, marked my wristband with spots of 
this juice. The stain was at first faint and 
hardly perceptible, but in fifteen minutes it 
became black, and was never afterwards eradi- 
cated by washing, but continued to grow darker 
as long as the linen lasted. 

Dr. Thomas Horsfield, in his valuable disser- 
tation on the American species of Rhus, made 


various unsuccessful experiments with a view to 
ascertain the nature of this colouring principle, 
and the means of fixing it on stuffs. He found 
that the juice, expressed from the pounded leaves, 
did not produce the black colour, and that strong 
decoctions of the plant, impregnated with various 
chemical mordants, produced nothing more than 
a dull yellow, brownish or fawn colour. The 
reason of this is, that the colouring principle 
resides not in the sap, but in the succus proprhis 
or peculiar juice of the plant, that this juice 
exists only in small quantity, and is wholly insol- 
uble in water, a circumstance which contributes 
to the permanency of its colour, at the same time 
that it renders some other medium necessary for 
its solution. 

With a view to ascertain the proper menstru- 
um for this black substance, I subjected bits of 
cloth stained with it, to the action of various 
chemical agents. Water, at various temperatures 
assisted by soap and alkali, produced no change 
in its colour. Alcohol, both cold and boiling, was 
equally ineffectual. A portion of the cloth, di- 
gested several hours in cold ether with occasional 
agitation, was hardly altered in appearance. 
Sulphuric acid reddened the spots, but scarcely 
rendered them fainter. The fumes of oxymuriatic 


acid which bleached vegetable leaves and bits of 
calico in the same vessel, exerted no effect on this 

Boiling ether is the proper solvent of this 
juice. A piece of linen spotted with the Ehus 
was immersed in ether and placed over a lamp. 
As soon as the fluid boiled, the spot began to 
grow fainter, and in a few minutes was wholly 
discharged, the ether acquiring from it a dark 
colour. The linen at the same time became 
tinged throughout with a pale greyish colour, 
acquired from the solution. 

This nigrescent juice, in common with that 
of the Rhus vernix, has, perhaps, claims to be 
considered a distinct proximate principle in 
vegetable chemistry. 

The leaves and bark are astringent to the 
taste, which quality appears to be occasioned by 
gallic acid rather than tannin. The infusion and 
decoction become black on the addition of salts 
of iron, but discover hardly any sensibility to 

A poisonous quality exists in the juice and 
effluvium of this plant, like that which is found 
in the Rhus vernix already described. It is said, 
that some other species of Rhus, such as Rhus 
pumilum aud Rhus typhinum, possess the same 


property in a greater or less degree. The poison 
Ivy, however, appears to he less frequently inju- 
rious than the poison Dogwood, and many persons 
can come in contact with the former with impu- 
nity, who are soon affected by the latter. I have 
never, in my own person, been affected by hand- 
ling or chewing the Rhus radicaus, though the 
Rhus vernix has often occasioned a slight eruption. 
Indeed, the former plant is so commonly diffused 
by road-sides and near habitations, that its ill 
consequences must be extremely frequent, were 
many individuals susceptible of its poison. 

Those persons who are constitutionally liable 
to the influence of this poison, experience from it 
a train of symptoms very similar to those which 
result from exposure to the Rhus vernix. These 
consist in itching, redness and tumefaction of the 
affected parts, particularly of the face ; succeeded 
by blisters, suppuration, aggravated swelling, 
heat, pain, and fever. When the disease is at its 
height, the skin becomes covered with a crust, 
and the swelling is so great as in many instances 
to close the eyes and almost obliterate the features 
of the face. The symptoms begin in a few hours 
after the exposure, and are commonly at the height 
on the fourth or fifth day ; after which, desqua- 
mation begins to take place, and the distress, in 
most instances, to diminish. 


Sometimes the eruption is less general, and 
confines itself to the part which has been exposed 
to contact with the poison. A gentleman, with 
whom I was in company, marked his wristband 
with the fresh juice, to observe the effect of the 
colour. The next day his arm was covered with 
an eruption from the wrist to the shoulder, but 
the disease did not extend further. It sometimes 
happens that the eruption continues for a longer 
time than that which has been stated, and that one 
set of vesications succeeds another, so as to protract 
the disease beyond the usual period of recovery. 

The symptoms of this malady, though often 
highly distressing, are rarely fatal. I have nev- 
ertheless been told of cases in which death 
appeared to be the consequence of this poison. 

The disease brought on by the different 
species of Rhus appears to be of an erysipelatous 
nature. It is to be treated by the means which 
resist inflammation, such as rest, low diet, and 
evacuations. Purging with the neutral salts is 
peculiarly useful, and in the case of plethoric 
constitutions, or where the fever and arterial 
excitement are very great, blood-letting has been 
found of service. 

The extreme irritability and burning sensa- 
tion may be greatly mitigated by opium. Cold 


applications, in the form of ice or cold water, are 
strongly recommended by Dr. Horsefield in his 
treatise, and when persevered in, they appear to 
exert a remarkably beneficial effect. The acetate 
of lead is perhaps as useful as any external 
palliative, and it should be used in solution rather 
than in the ointment, that it may be applied as 
cold as possible. The late Dr. Barton speaks 
highly of a solution of corrosive sublimate exter- 
nally applied in this disease, but from trials of 
the two remedies made at the same time and 
in the same patient, I have found the lead the 
more beneficial of the two. 

A person who has been in contact with the 
Rhus and finds himself poisoned, should imme- 
diately examine his hands, clothes, £)C to see if 
there are no spots of the juice adhering to him. 
These, if present, should be removed, as they will 
otherwise serve to keep up and extend the dis- 
order. From a want of this precaution, the 
disease is frequently transferred from the hands 
to different parts of the body, and likewise kept 
up for a longer time than if the cruise had been 
early removed. As washing does not eradicate 
the stains of this very adhesive juice, it is best to 
rub them off with some absorbent powder. 


The Rhus radicans has been administered 
internally in certain diseases by a few practi- 
tioners in Europe and America. Dr. Horsefield, 
in several instances, administered a strong 
infusion in the dose of about a teacup full to 
consumptive and anasarcous patients. It ap- 
peared to act as an immediate stimulant to the 
stomach, producing some uneasiness in that 
organ, also promoting perspiration and diuresis. 
Some practitioners in the Middle States, we are 
told by the same author, have exhibited it with 
supposed benefit in pulmonary consumption. A 
French physician, Du Fresnoy, has reported 
seven cases of obstinate herpetic eruption, which 
were cured by the preparations of this plant. 
His attention was drawn to the subject by finding 
that a young man who had a dartre upon his 
wrist of six years' standing, was cured of it by 
accidentally becoming poisoned with this plant. 
The same physician administered the extract in 
several cases of palsy, four of which, he says, were 
cured by it. 

Dr. Alderson, of Hull, in England, gave the 
Rhus toxicodendron in doses of half a grain, or a 
grain three times a day, in several cases of 
paralysis ; and states, that all his patients recov- 
ered, to a certain degree, the use of their limbs. 


The first symptom of amendment was an un- 
pleasant feeling of prickling or twitching in the 
paralytic limbs. Dr. Duncan, author of the 
Edinburgh Dispensatory, states, that he had 
given it in larger doses without experiencing the 
same success, although he thinks it not inactive 
as a medicine. 

My own opinion is, that the plant under 
consideration is too uncertain and hazardous to 
be employed in medicine, or kept in apothecaries' 
shops. It is true, that not more than one person 
in ten is probably susceptible of poison from it. 
Yet, even this chance, small as it is, should deter 
us from employing it. In persons not constitu- 
tionally susceptible of the eruptive disease, it is 
probably an inert medicine, since we find that 
Du Fresnoy's patients sometimes carried the 
dose as high as an ounce of the extract, three 
times a day, without perceiving any effect from it. 

It is true that the external application of the 
Rhus radicans and Rhus vernix would, in certain 
cases, afford a more violent external stimulus, 
than any medicinal substance with which we are 
acquainted. But since it is neither certain in its 
effect, nor manageable in its extent, the prospect 
of benefit, even in diseases like palsy and mania, 
is not sufficient to justify the risk of great evil, 



Rhus radicans, Willd. Sp. pi. i. 1481. — Elliott, i. — Rhus 
toxicodendron, &c. Michaux, Flor. i. 183. — Pursh, i. 205. — Toxi- 
codendron rectum &c. — Dillenius, Elth. U £91. 


Du Fresnoy, quoted in Annals of Medicine, iv. 182. — v. 483. — 
Med. and Phys. Journal, i. 308. — vi. 273. — x. 486. — Duxcan, Dis- 
pells. 294 — Horsefield, Dissertation, Philad. 1798. 


Fig. 1. Rhus radicans, the barren plant in flower. 

Fig. 2. Fruit. 

Fig. 3. Barren flower. 

Fig. 4. Fertile flower. 

Fig. 5. Petal. 

Fig. 6. Stamens and rudiment of a style in the barren flower. 

Fig. 7. Getm, style and abortive stamens in the fertile flower. 


Wax Myrtle, 


Almost every region of the United States 
produces varieties of the Wax myrtle. Michaux 
considers them all as belonging to one species, a 
conclusion which is warranted by the great num- 
ber of intermediate sizes, and forms of leaf, which 
may be observed between the different extremes. 
Pursh, however, has chosen to distinguish three 
species which bear wax, and which he names 
cerlfera after Linnaeus, Caroliniensis from Will- 
denow, and Fennsylvanica from Lamarck. The 
Wax myrtle or Bay berry, as it is often called, 
which is common in New England, varies in 
height from one to seven or eight feet. It is 
found in every kind of soil from the borders of 
swamps to the tops of barren hills, and is very 
much influenced in its size and appearance, by 
the place in which it happens to grow. 


, ////{frfr rrrs/rrsr 


The genus Myrica belongs to the class Lioecia 
and order Tetrandria. It is also ranked among 
the Mientacem of Linnaeus and Jussieu. 

The generic character consists in an imbri- 
cated ament ; the scales without a corolla ; the 
barren flowers containing four anthers, the fertile 
ones two styles. Fruit, one seeded. — The spe- 
cific character, as given by Michaux, is as follows. 
Leaves wedge-lanceolate, with a few serratures at 
top ; barren aments lax ; fruit spherical, naked, 

The Wax myrtle is found bearing fruit at 
every size, from the height of one foot, to six or 
eight. In Louisiana, it is said to grow to twelve 
feet. The top is much branched, and covered 
with a grayish bark. The leaves are wedge- 
lanceolate, varying in width, sometimes entire, 
but more frequently toothed, particularly toward 
the end. They are somewhat pubescent, a little 
paler beneath, and generally twisted, or revolute 
in their mode of growth. They are inserted in a 
scattered manner by short petioles. The flowers 
appear in May before the leaves are fully ex- 
panded. The barren ones grow in catkins, which 
are sessile, erect, about half an inch or three 
quarters long ; originating from the sides of the 
last year's twigs. Every flower is formed by a 


concave rhomboidal scale, containing three or 
four pairs of roundish anthers on a branched 
footstalk. The fertile flowers, which grow on a 
different shrub, are less than half the size of the 
barren ones, and consist of narrower scales, with 
each an ovate germ, and two filiform styles. 

To these aments succeed clusters or aggre- 
gations of small globular fruits resembling berries, 
which are at first green, but finally become nearly 
white. They consist of a hard stone inclosing a 
dicotyledonous kernel. This stone is studded on 
its outside with small black grains resembling 
fine gun-powder, over which is a crust of dry 
white wax, fitted to the grains and giving the 
surface of the fruit a granulated appearance. 
Botanically speaking, this fruit has been im- 
properly called a berry, and a drupe ; since it is 
always dry and never invested with a cuticle, or 
any thing but the grains and wax. 

Every young part of the Wax myrtle has a 
fragrant, balsamic smell, which it communicates 
to the fingers when rubbed by them. This 
appears to be derived from a resinous exudation, 
which may be seen in minute points of a bright 
transparent yellow, covering the young shoots 
and under surface of the leaves. In the berries 
this resinous substance is within the wax. 


The bark and leaves of the Myrica cerifera 
contain gallic acid, tannin, resin, and a small 
quantity of mucilage, which are manifested by 
their usual tests. 

The wax of the Myrica is obtained for com- 
mon purposes by boiling large quantities of the 
berries in kettles with water enough to cover 
them to the depth of several inches. The ber- 
ries, which float at first, gradually subside to the 
bottom when the wax is melted off, which latter 
substance floats on the surface. When the 
boiling has been continued long enough to divest 
the berries of most of their wax, the liquid is 
suffered to cool, and the wax concretes on the top. 
It is purified by melting it anew, and is then cast 
into masses. 

In this state it is of a greenish gray colour, 
with a consistence which is intermediate between 
that of bees wax and tallow, being brittle and not 
remarkable for adhesiveness or unctuosity. It 
burns with a white flame, which is less vivid than 
that of tallow or whale oil. 

The chemical properties of this wax have 
been examined by M. Cadet, in France, and Dr. 
Bostock, in England. From their experiments, 
we learn that water has no action on the Myrtle 
wax, either cold or at the boiling heat. Dr. 


Bostock informs us that alcohol, at the ordinary 
temperature of the atmosphere, has no action 
upon it ; hut one hundred parts by weight of the 
fluid, when boiling, dissolve about five parts of 
the wax. About four fifths of this is deposited 
by cooling, and the rest is slowly deposited in a 
few days, or may be precipitated by water. Of 
the mass of wax, a certain portion remains insol- 
uble in alcohol. 

Sulphuric ether, according to Dr. Bostock, 
dissolves but little of the wax, when cold, but 
acts upon it rapidly, when boiling, taking up 
somewhat more than one quarter of its own 
weight. Upon evaporation, the wax is deposited 
in a crystalline or lamellated form, its texture 
resembling that of spermaceti. — Rectified oil of 
turpentine, when assisted by heat, dissolves about 
six per cent of its own weight, most of which is 
deposited on cooling. — Pure potash, in water, 
renders the wax colourless by boiling, and forms 
a soap with a small part, which may be decom- 
posed by an acid, and affords the wax nearly un- 
changed. — The sulphuric acid, assisted by heat, 
dissolves about one twelfth of its own weight, and 
forms a dark brown mass. The nitric and muriatic 
acids exert very little action upon it. Dr. Bostock 
considers the Myrtle wax to be a fixed vegetable 
oil, rendered concrete by oxygen. 


M. Cadet, in addition to many of the above 
characteristics of Myrtle wax, found that it com- 
bined readily with the semivitreous oxyde of lead, 
forming a very hard plaister. When distilled in 
a retort, the wax was partly decomposed, and a 
portion which passed over was white and of a 
soft consistence. Oxygenated muriatic acid 
bleaches it, but with more difficulty than bees 

The experiments which I have made on this 
substance confirm the preceding statements with 
the following exceptions. Cold alcohol dissolves 
a minute portion, which is gradually separated by 
the addition of water, and floats in perceptible 
Jlocci, near the surface. Cold ether dissolves 
about one sixteenth of its weight. This it does 
with great rapidity, and if thin shavings of the 
wax be dropped into a vessel of ether, they 
disappear almost immediately. 

Dr. J. F. Dana has published, in Silliman's 
Journal, an account of some experiments made 
to ascertain the proportion of wax, and of the 
other parts which compose the entire berry. 
He found the wax to constitute nearly a third of 
the whole, or thirty two per cent ; the kernels 
47.00, the black powder 15.00, with about 5.00 of 
a resino- extractive matter. 


There undoubtedly exists, in the berries of 
this shrub, some interesting constituents beside 
the wax and insoluble portions, as the following 
results will show. If water be distilled from the 
fresh berries, it acquires a slight pearly appear- 
ance and a fine aromatic odour and taste. This 
indicates the presence of a volatile oil, though I 
have not performed the experiment sufficiently 
in the large way to obtain any oil separate. The 
decoction remaining in the retort gives proofs of 
gallic acid. 

When the wax, in a separate state, is boiled 
in alcohol, a portion is dissolved, which is mostly 
deposited on cooling, leaving the fluid clear. 
But if alcohol be boiled upon the berries till a 
strong solution is formed, it does not give a 
deposit on cooling, but the solution coagulates 
into a soft solid and remains afterwards unaltered. 
This coagulum is readily soluble in cold ether, 
and melts when exposed to heat. If the berries 
be boiled in water until the wax is melted and 
principally detached, the remaining parts still 
give a coagulating solution with alcohol. — The 
tincture made by digesting cold alcohol on the 
bruised berries is considerably coloured, and 
becomes turbid on the addition of water, but 
whether the resinous substance thus precipitated 


is the same in small quantity, which produces 
the coagulation in a large one j I am not pre- 
pared to say. 

It appears, then, that there exists in the 
berries of the Myrica a peculiar vegetable prin- 
ciple, hearing nearly the same relation to alcohol, 
as starch and gelatin do to water. I have not yet 
obtained it in a separate state, and cannot there- 
fore give any additional characteristics to those 
which have been already stated. 

The Myrtle wax is useful for many of the 
purposes for which bees wax and tallow are 
employed, particularly for candles. It burns 
with a clear flame, though less vivid than that of 
common oil, and emits a considerable fragrance. 
It Was formerly much in demand as an ingredi- 
ent in a species of blacking ball, to which it com- 
municated a temporary lustre and power of re- 
pelling water. It has occasionally been used 
in pharmacy in various compositions intended for 
external use, and is mild or stimulating according 
as it is more or less pure and freed from the 
colouring matter. 

In some parts of Europe plantations of this 
shrub have been raised with a view to the profit 
to be derived from the wax. In this country, 
where the shrub abounds, the berries are often 

40 M VllIC A C£RIF££lA. 

neglected, their collection and the separation of 
the wax being deemed too laborious to compen- 
sate the trouble. 

In Dr. Thatcher's Dispensatory, we are in- 
formed, on the authority of Dr. Mann, that the 
bark of the root of the Myrica cerifera is emetic. 
With a view to examining thoroughly its medici- 
nal properties, Dr. S. L. Dana, in 1818, made it 
the subject of an inaugural dissertation. He 
found that the powdered bark was acrid and as- 
tringent, but did not appear to possess any other 
qualities than were attributable to those two. 
Moderate doses of the powder and decoction pro- 
duced no effect on the stomach or bowels. Large 
doses, for instance two scruples, were swallowed 
with difficulty on account of their acrimony, and 
occasioned heat and nausea at the stomach. 
Larger doses, of a drachm, produced a powerful 
burning sensation and vomiting. Costiveness 
generally followed the use of this medicine. The 
powder, when snuffed up the nose, proved pow- 
erfully sternutatory, and when applied to the 
fungous granulations of an ulcerated leg,, it pro- 
duced so much pain as compelled the patient to 
wash it off. 

We may then consider the bark of the Myrica 
as an acrid stimulant and astringent. That it 


sometimes proves emetic, in large doses, is to be 
explained in the same way as the operation of 
mustard and horse-radish, which some of the 
older physicians employed as emetics. When 
the stomach is burdened with an undue quantity 
of stimulus, it naturally tends to relieve itself by 


On the whole, we are to esteem the Myrica 
cerifera as more interesting in a chemical, than a 
medical point of view. The pleasant aroma of 
the water distilled from the berries, and the ap- 
plication of the wax to some purposes of phar- 
macy, are all, that this shrub at present offers, 
much deserving the attention of physicians. 


Myrica cerifera, Willd. iv. 745.— Michaux, ii. 227.— Pursh, 
ii. 620, — Myrtus foliis lanceolatis, &c. — Gronovius, 155. — Myrtus 
brabanticEe similis, &c. — Catesby, i. 13 ? 


Cadet, translated in Nicholson's Journal, 8vo. vol. iv. 1 87. 

Bostock, in ditto, 129. — Kalm, Travels, i, 129. — Dana, in Silliman's 
Journal, vol. i. — Thacher, JDisp. 288. 



Fig. 1. Myrica cerifera, icith fruit not fully ripe. 

Fig. 2. A barren branch in flower. 

Fig. 5. Fertile ditto in flower. 

Fig. 4. Jl barren flower. 

Fig. 5. Tlie same with the scale turned down, shewing the mode 

of growth of the anthers* 
Fig. 6. Fertile flower. 
Fig. 7. Fruit somewhat magnified. 

rr. jcz,n r 

S 4 

J /// // ///rr//J er>;//;s/'f" '-■> 


Common Juniper. 


JL he prostrate variety of the common Juniper 
is so peculiar in its mode of growth, that it has 
some claims to he considered a distinct species. 
On comparing it, however, with European speci- 
mens, I find the similarity so great, that I do not 
see sufficient grounds for separating it, especially 
as there are, in Europe, several varieties in size 
and mode of growth, which are not recognized as 
separate species. The variety, which is the only 
one I have met with in the Northern States, is a 
large trailing shrub, continually throwing out 
roots from its branches, and spreading in ail 
directions until it forms beds, which are many 
rods in circumference. In this way it continues 
to advance outward, supporting itself by new 
roots even after the original trunks, at the centre, 

* Very beautiful drawings, from which this and the following 
plate are engraved, were sent me by a lady in Hampshire county. 


are dead and decayed. It seldom rises more than 
two or three feet from the ground. 

The genus Juniperus belongs to the class 
Bioecia, order Monadelphia, and natural order 
Conifer ce of Linnaeus and Jussieu. It is distin- 
guished by an ovate anient with peltate scales, 
which, in the barren flowers, are whorled in threes, 
with from two to four anthers ; in the fertile ones 
opposite. Berry three seeded. — In the common 
Juniper, the leaves are ternate, spreading, mncro- 
nate, larger than the berry. 

The Juniper is with us always a shrub, never 
rising into a tree. The tips of the branches are 
smooth and angular. The leaves grow in threes 
and are linear-acerose, sharply mucronate, shining 
green on their lower surface, but witli a broad 
glaucous line through the centre of the upper. 
These leaves, however, are always resupinate, and 
turn their upper surface toward the ground. 
The barren flowers grow in small axillary aments, 
with roundish, acute, stipitate scales, inclosing 
several anthers. The fertile flowers, growing on 
a separate shrub, have a small, three parted calyx 
growing to the germ ; and three styles. The fruit 
is a fleshy, roundish, oblong berry, of a dark 
purplish colour, formed of the germ and conflu- 
ent calyx, marked with three prominences or 


vesicles at top, and containing- three seeds. It 
requires two seasons to arrive at maturity from 
the flower. 

The leaves of the Juniper have a strong* and 
rather unpleasant taste, with a little astringency. 
The peculiar juice of the bark appears to consist 
of resin and volatile oil. Gum Sandarach, which 
furnishes the material of pounce, is obtained from 
the European Juniper, from which it exudes 
spontaneously through crevices and perforations 
in the bark. 

The part principally used in medicine is the 
berries. These have a strong peculiar taste, 
accompanied with considerable sweetness. When 
long chewed, they leave an impression of bitter- 
ness. The sweetness appears to reside in the 
pulp, the bitterness in the seeds, or in their im- 
mediate investment, and the aromatic flavour in 
the essential oil. Dr. Lewis observes, that tinc- 
tures, made with these berries, differ according 
as they are prepared with the berries entire or 

When of a good quality these berries yield, in 
distillation, a large quantity of pungent, volatile 
oil of a peculiar flavour, the same which it com- 
municates to gin. The medicinal powers, for 
which this article is employed, may be considered 
as residing in this oil. 


The berries of the Juniper have long been 
employed for the purposes of a diuretic, particu- 
larly in dropsy. Many of the older writers, whose 
names are of high authority in medicine, have 
given favorable reports of the operation of this 
medicine in hydropic cases. It has been used in 
substance, in infusion, and in various compound 
medicines. The effects of its most popular prepara- 
tion, that of an ardent spirit, are too universally 
known to require particular elucidation. In addi- 
tion to the specific effect of the essential oil, 
some physicians have attributed virtues to the 
rob, or inspissated decoction of the berries. Hoff- 
man found it of great use in debility of the stomach 
and intestines, particularly in old people. The 
stronger preparations have been found useful in 
uterine obstructions, and in paralytic affections of 
the vesica urinaria. 

Linnaeus informs us, in his Flora Lapponica, 
that a fermented decoction of Juniper berries is 
used in Sweden as a common drink, but he denies 
the infusion being substituted for tea and coffee, 
as some writers have stated, in Lapland. Wood- 
ville and others have misquoted him on this 

The American Juniper berries are considera- 
bly inferior to the European in strength and 

Common juniper. 47 

flavour. The best of the latter are said to be 
from Italy. But of the imported specimens, 
which I have examined at the druggists' shops 
in this country, very few possess any remains of 
the original strength, and much the greater 
portion of them appear to have undergone at 
least one distillation, before their exportation from 
Europe. The best Juniper berries have a strong 
impregnation of volatile oil, which, having been 
once tasted, cannot be easily mistaken. Those 
which have been subjected to distillation are dry 
and tasteless. 


Juniperus communis, Linn. — Smith, Flor. Brit. iii. 1085. — Engl. 
Hot. t. 1100. — Woodville, ii. t. 95. — Michaux, ii. 245. — Puksh, ii; 
646. — Blackwell, t. 187. 


Murray, App. Med. i. 34. — Lewis, Disp. 240. — Linn^i/s, Flora 
Lap}). 376. — Woodville, ut supra. 



Fig. 1. Ji branch ofJuniperus communis in fruit. 

Fig. 2. A barren twig in flower. 

Fig. 3. Barren ament. 

Fig. 4. Scale of anthers of the same. 

Fig. 5. Fertile flower. 


Red Cedar. 


Unlike the subject of the preceding article 
this species rises into a tree of considerable size. 
It is the largest of the Junipers growing within 
the original limits of the United States, though 
it appears that Lewis and Clarke brought home 
specimens of a lofty tree, with foliage resembling 
the Savin, found on the banks of streams among 
the Rocky mountains, and which is supposed to 
be the same with J. excelsa, growing in Siberia. 

Michaux, in his North American Sylva, in- 
forms us, that it is found from Maine and from 
Lake Champlain, without interruption to the 
Cape of Florida. In the Middle and Northern 
states, it frequents the most barren soils, being 
found in abundance upon dry, rocky hills, where 
scarcely any other tree can subsist. Its size, 
however, is said to be here inferior to that which 
it attains in Virginia, and farther south. 


Its habit and foliage abundantly distinguish it 
from the species in the last article. From the 
Juniperus Sabina, or common Savin of Europe, 
its botanical distinction is by no means easy. 
The general appearance and arrangement of the 
leaves in the full grown specimens of both is 
precisely the same, except that in the Red cedar 
the leaves are shorter and more compactly im- 
bricated, having an ovate form, while in the 
Savin they are somewhat longer and more remote, 
and may be called lanceolate. In the Red cedar 
they are also more universally and pungently 
acute. The characters of the latter species, 
which I have seen given by different botanists, 
are almost all defective, in ascribing to it ternate 
leaves, which, I believe, never exist except in 
imperfect or distorted specimens. Its more true 
character is as follows. Trunk arboreous, upper 
leaves imbricated in four roivs, ovate, pungently 
acute. It is by no means certain that on mature 
examination all the present species of Juniper 
will be found sufficiently distinct to be kept 

The Red cedar, when full grown, is a middling 
sized tree, though, on account of the value of its 
wood, it is seldom suffered to reach its full dimen- 
sions. The trunk is straight and decreases rapidly 


from the ground, giving off many horizontal 
hranches. Its surface is generally unequal, and 
disfigured by knots, and the crevices and protu- 
berances they occasion. The small twigs are cov 
ered with minute, densely imbricated leaves, which 
continue to increase in size as the branch grows, 
till they are broken up and confounded with the 
rough bark. These leaves are fleshy, ovate, con- 
cave, rigidly acute, marked, with a small depressed 
gland on the middle of their outer side, growing 
in pairs, which are united at base to each other, 
and to the pairs above and below them. They do 
not alter their situation, but continue opposite till 
they are obliterated by age. A singular variety 
sometimes appears in the young shoots, especially 
those which issue from the base of the trees. This 
consists in an elongation of the leaves to five or 
six times their usual length, while they become 
spreading, acerose, considerably remote from each 
other, and irregular in their insertion, being 
either opposite or ternate. These shoots are so 
dissimilar to the parent tree that they have 
repeatedly been mistaken for individuals of a 
different species. — The barren flowers grow in 
small oblong aments, formed by peltate scales 
with the anthers concealed within them. The 
fertile flowers have a proper perianth, which 


coalesces with the germ and forms a small round- 
ish berry, with two or three seeds, covered on its 
outer surface with a bright blue powder. 

The leaves of the Red cedar have a strong 
disagreeable taste, with some pungency and 
bitterness. The peculiar taste and odour reside, 
no doubt, in a volatile oil, which, however, is 
not readily separated by distillations in a small 
way. The tincture becomes turbid when water 
is added, and very much so if suffered to stand 
a day or two. The presence of tannin is devel- 
oped by the admixture of dissolved isinglass, with 
a decoction of the bark and leaves. 

The botanical similarity of this tree to the 
Savin, which is an European shrub, has already 
been mentioned. In their sensible and medicinal 
properties, they are equally allied. The taste of 
the two species is nearly the same, except that 
the cedar leaves are the more nauseous of the 
two. As the American tree is frequently known 
throughout the country by the name of Savin, our 
apothecaries have been led to presume upon its 
identity with that medicine, and it has long been 
used in cases where the true Savin is recom- 
mended. Its most frequent use, however, is in 
the composition of the cerate employed for keep- 
ing up the irritation and discharge of blisters. 


This preparation is the same with the Savin 
cerate, used in Europe, the leaves of the Red 
cedar being substituted for those of the Savin. 
When properly prepared by boiling the fresh 
leaves for a short time in about twice their weight 
of lard with the addition of a little wax, a cerate 
is formed of peculiar efficacy as a perpetual 
epispastic. When applied as a dressing to a 
newly vesicated surface, and afterwards repeated 
twice a day, it rarely fails to keep up the dis- 
charge for an indefinite length of time. Under 
its operation, the discharge usually changes from 
a serous to a puriform appearance, and concretes 
upon the surface 5 so that it requires to be re- 
moved from time to time, to admit the full action 
of the cerate. 

Iuternally the leaves of the Juniperus Virgin- 
iana have been found to exert effects very similar 
to those of the Savin. They have proved useful 
as an emmenagogue, and as a general stimulant 
and diaphoretic in rheumatism. They have also 
had some reputation as a diuretic in dropsy. 

The wood of the Red cedar is smooth, liffht, 
and very durable. Its alburnum is white, but 
the heart wood of a beautiful red colour, whence 
its name is derived. t It is principally employed 
for posts in fences, in which capacity it proves 


more durable than almost any species of wood 
used for the same purpose. 


Juniperus Virginiana, Willd, iv. 862. — Puhsh, ii. 647". — Mi- 
uHAcXjjiL «JV. Jl. Sylva, t. 155. 


Thacher, Disp. 247. 


Fig. 1. Juniperus Virginiana in fruit, 
Fig. 2. Variety with long leaves. 
Fig. 3. Barren branch in flower. 
Fig. 4. Barren anient magnified. 
Fig;. 5. Scale and anthers. 

m I i i 

ic n //>-/■ n ///f,'i / ; i A '// < / f< 


Buck Bean, 


A he Buck bean or Marsh Trefoil is one of 
those plants which are native in Europe and 
North America, with so little difference of struc- 
ture, in the two continents, that their specific 
identity can hardly be doubted. I have com- 
pared specimens of the native, and foreign plant, 
without being able to perceive the least definable 
difference, except in size ; the American being 
smaller. Yet, if we admit the statements of 
botanical writers, the plant flowers in England at 
least a month later than it does in the neigh- 
bourhood of Boston, a circumstance not usual in 
other species of vegetables. 

The most spongy and boggy soils, which are 
inundated at certain seasons, and never wholly 
destitute of water, are the favorite situations of the 
Menyanthes trifoliata. It often constitutes large 


beds at the margin of ponds and brooks. It is 
common in IVew England, and grows, according 
to Pursh, as Far south as Virginia. 

The genus Menyanthes has its corolla hairy 
on the upper side; stigma bifid; capsule one 
celled, two valved. The species in the present 
article is named from its ternate leaves. Class 
Pentandria. Order Monogynia. Natural orders 
Botacecv, Lin. Gentiance, Juss. 

The root of this plant penetrates horizontally 
in the bog-earth to a great distance. It is regu- 
larly intersected with joints at the distance of 
about half an inch from each other, these joints 
being formed by the breaking off of the old pe- 
tioles and their sheaths. The leaves proceed from 
the end of the root on long stalks furnished with 
broad sheathing stipules at base. They are tri- 
foliate, nearly oval, glabrous, somewhat fleshy, 
and slightly repand, or furnished with many 
irregularities at the edge, which hardly prevent 
them from being entire. The scape is round, 
ascending and smooth, bearing a conical raceme 
of flowers. Peduncles straight, scattered, sup- 
ported by ovate concave bractes. Calyx erect, 
subcampanulate, five parted, persistent. Corolla 
funnel shaped, the tube short, the border five 
cleft, spreading and at length revolute, clothed on 


the upper part with a coating of dense, fleshy, 
ohtuse fibres. The colour, in the American va- 
riety, is generally white, with a tinge of red, par- 
ticularly on the outside. Stamens five, shorter 
than the corolla, and alternate with its segments ; 
the anthers oblong-arrow shaped. Germ ovate ; 
style cylindrical, persistent, as long as the corolla ; 
stigma bifid, compressed. Capsule ovate, two 
valved, one celled. Seeds numerous, minute, 
attached to two lateral receptacles. 

In New England this plant flowers about the 
middle of May. 

The whole plant and particularly the root has 
an intensely bitter taste, hardly exceeded by that 
of Gentian and Columbo. This bitterness resides 
chiefly in an extractive matter, soluble in water 
and spirit. The root is, however, resinous and 
impregnates alcohol more strongly than water, 
and may be precipitated from its tincture, in part, 
by the latter fluid. 

The root of this vegetable is undoubtedly 
entitled to a high place in the list of tonics. In 
Europe it has long been admitted to a place in 
the Materia Medica, and has received the com- 
mendations of various physicians. When given 
in small closes, about ten grains, it imparts vigour 
to the stomach and strengthens digestion. Its 


tincture, moderately used, has the same effect 
Large doses, such as a drachm of the powdered 
root, or two or three gills of the saturated decoc- 
tion, produce vomiting and purging, and fre- 
quently powerful diaphoresis. In this respect it 
agrees with many vegetable bitters, and perhaps 
resembles most nearly the Eupatorium perfolia- 
tum. Its bulk, however, and unpleasant taste 
render it inconvenient to be used as an evacuant. 
We are told by authors that the Buck bean 
has been employed with benefit in intermittent 
and remittent fevers. Boerhaave, in his own case 
of gout, was relieved by drinking the juice of the 
plant mixed with whey. Other physicians have 
found it useful in keeping off the paroxysms of 
that complaint. Dr. Cullen informs us, that he 
has " had several instances of its good effects in 
some cutaneous diseases of the herpetic or seem- 
ingly cancerous kind. It was taken by infusion 
in the manner of tea." Others have commended 
this vegetable in rheumatism, dropsy, scurvy and 
worms. Its reputation in the North of Europe, 
particularly in Germany, was at one time so high, 
that it was consumed in large quantities, and 
deemed a sort of panacea. Its true character, 
however, is simply that of a powerful bitter tonic, 
like Gentian and Centaury, to which it is closely 


related in its botanical habit, as well as sensible 

We may regard this plant as one of the 
numerous vegetable bitters abounding in our 
country, which are fully equal in strength to 
imported articles of their class, and which may 
hereafter lessen our dependance on foreign 

Linnaeus, in his Flora Lapponica, informs us, 
that in times of scarcity, sheep will subsist upon 
this plant, notwithstanding its bitterness. The 
Laplanders employ it as a substitute for hops to 
prevent acescency in their beer. They even 
introduce it in some instances into their bread, 
upon which Linnseus bestows the epithet, " ama- 
rus et detestabilis." 


Menyanthes trifoliata, Linn. Sp. pi. — OEder. Flora Dan. t. 541. 
— Curtis, Flor. Lond, 4. t. 17. — Woodville, Med. Bot. t. 2. — 
Smith, Engl. Bot. t. 495. — MicHAUx,FZora.i. »25. — Pursh, i. 139. — » 
Menyanthes palustre triphyllum, Ray. Syn. 285. — Trifoliura palu- 
dosum, Gerard, em. 1194. 


Murray, apparatus med. ii. 33. — Linnaeus, Fl. Lap. 50. — Hal- 
ler, Hist. Stirp. Helv. 633. — Cullen, Mat. Med. ii. 53. — Thomson, 
Lond. Disp. 2.5Q. 



Fig. 1. Menyanthes trifoliate 

Fig. 2. Calyx. 

Fig. 3. Petal. 

Fig. 4. Stamen. 

Fig. 5. Style. 

Fig- 6. FrMifc 

V/ //// Y/YYY 


Bulbous Crowfoot. 


It is a remarkable fact that a great portion 
of the weeds, which are most troublesome in the 
United States, are of European origin, having 
introduced themselves since the discovery of this 
country. Some of these emigrants have settled 
in our grazing and mowing lands, such as the 
Ranunculus bulbosus, acris and repens, indis- 
criminately called Buttercups, Crowfoot, and 
Yellow weed; the Chrysanthemum leucanthe- 
mum, or White weed; the Rumex acetosella, or 
Sorrel ; the Hypericum perforatum, or St. John's 
wort, fyc. In our cornfields and gardens are 
quartered the Couch grass, Triticum repens ; the 
different species of Goosefoot or Pig weed, Che- 
nopodium ; the Bock, Rumex crispus, £>c. ; the 
Charlock or Wild Badish, Raphanus Raphanis- 
trum ; Burdock, Arctium lappa, 5jc. Some have 


commenced their inroads within a few years, snch 
as the Cnicus arvensis, improperly called Canada 
thistle ; the Genista tinctoria or Dyer's weed, fyc. 
— In return for these introductions, we have sent 
them the Erigeron Canadense, and the prolific 
families of Ambrosia and Amaranthus. 

"No race of plants is more familiarly known 
than the Ranunculi. Of numerous species, both 
native and imported, which we possess ; several 
resemble each other so nearly, as to pass with 
common observers for the same plant. The 
great similarity of their properties renders it 
almost unnecessary in a medical or economical 
point of view to distinguish them. I have selected 
the bulbous-rooted species, not because it is more 
active in its properties than many others, but 
because it is one of the most common and best 

The genus belongs to the class Polyandria^ 
and order Folygynia. It is found in the natural 
orders Multisiliquoe, Linn, and Rannnculacece, 
Juss. Its generic character is formed by a five 
leaved calyx? ; five petals, with a melliferous pore 
at the base of each ; the seeds naked. "No genus 
can be more strictly natural than this. A general 
resemblance pervades the whole of the species, 
which indicates their consanguinity at sight. 


The nectary, the never failing concomitant of this 
genus, is a small cavity at the inside of the claw 
of each petal, generally covered by a flat scale, 
sometimes surrounded with a concave brim, and 
at others inclosed in a short cylinder. A subtle 
and violent acrimony, on which the medical 
properties seem to depend, is found in most, if 
not in all, of the species. 

The species bulbosus has compound leaves, 
an erect many flowered stem, a furrowed peduncle, 
reflexed calyx, and bulbous root It grows gen- 
erally in dry pastures, mowing lands and road sides, 
flowering abundantly in May and the first part of 
June, after which it gives place to its equally 
abundant successors, B. acris and repens, which, 
however, generally prefer a more moist soil. 
These three species, having flowers of similar 
size and appearance, are indiscriminately known 
by the name of Buttercups. Their distinction 
affords a pleasing instance of different combina- 
tions of features, forming separate characters for 
similar plants. The R. bulbosus has a furrowed 
flower-stalk and reflexed calyx; R. repens a 
furrowed flower-stalk and spreading calyx, and 
R. acris a round flower-stalk and spreading 


A more particular description of the plant in 
our figure is as follows. Root fleshy, solid, 
roundish, depressed, sending out radicles from 
its under side. In autumn it gives off lateral 
bulbs near its top, which afford plants for the 
next year, while the old root decays. Steins 
several, erect, round, hairy, branching. Root 
leaves on long petioles, tern ate, sometimes 
quinate ; the segments variously cut, lobed and 
toothed ; hairy. Stem leaves sessile, ternate, the 
upper ones more simple. Flowers several un a 
stem, solitary, of a bright glossy yellow. Pedun- 
cles furrowed, angular, hairy. Calyx leaves 
oblong, hairy, bent back against the peduncle. 
Petals five, inversely heart shaped ; the nectary 
at the claw covered with a small wedge-shaped 
emarginate scale. Stamens numerous, yellow, 
with oblong erect anthers. Germs numerous 
with reflexed stigmas. Fruit a spherical head 
composed of acute, naked, diverging seeds with 
recurved points. 

The roots of Ranunculus bulbosus appear to 
consist principally of albumen intermixed with 
ligneous fibres. If the root be macerated in cold 
water, it gives a solution of this substance, which 
coagulates in flocks on the application of heat ; 
and undergoes the same process slowly on the 


admixture of alcohol. But the most interesting 


constituent in this, and in most other species, is 
the acrid principle which pervades every part of 
the plant in its green state. Like the acrimony 
of the Arum, it is volatile, and disappears in dry- 
ing, or upon the application of heat. It differs, 
however, in not being destroyed by a moderate 
heat, and in being folly preserved in distillation. 
I have subjected various species of Ranunculus 
to this experiment, and always found the distilled 
water to possess a strong acrimony ; while the 
decoction and portions of the plant remaining in 
the retort were wholly destitute of this property. 
JThis distilled water, when first taken into the 
mouth, excited no particular effect ; but after 
a few seconds a sharp, stinging sensation was 
always produced. When swallowed, a great 
sense of heat took place in the stomach. I pre- 
served some of the water distilled from leaves of 
Ranunculus repens, for several months in a close 
stopped phial ; during which time it retained its 
acrimony undiminished. In winter time it froze, 
and on thawing had lost this property. Tilebein, 
as quoted by Dr. Polteney, in some experiments 
on this genus of plants, found that water distilled 
from R. scelcratus, on cooling, deposited small 
crystals, which were hardly soluble in any men- 


struum, and were of an inflammable nature. 1 
have not met with an appearance of this kind. 
The distilled water, however, had a substance 
dissolved in sufficient quantity to yield a gradual 
precipitate with some reagents, such as muriate 
of tin and acetate of lead. The strength of the 
distilled water is impaired by continuing the 
operation too long. The acrimony of the plant 
is expended in a very short time at the boiling 
heat, and a farther continuance of the distillation 
brings over only water. 

Since the time of Dioscorides [Note A.] the 
acrid and stimulating properties of the Ranunculi 
have been well known. This acrimony resides 
in all the species, with the exception of R. auri- 
comus, which is said to be mild, and perhaps two 
or three others. It is so powerful that it speed- 
ily inflames or corrodes the lips and tongue, if 
kept in contact with them. In the nostrils it 
acts as a violent sternutatory, and if swallowed in 
considerable quantity, it brings on great pain, 
heat and inflammation of the stomach, and has 
even occasioned convulsions and death. 

Before the introduction of Cantharides as a 
vesicatory, different species of Ranunculus were 
used upon the skin, as external stimulants. 
Their power of occasioning erosion and ulceration 


appears to have been known to the ancients. 
Different medical writers have given accounts of 
their mode of operation ; but the most extensive 
history and investigation is that of Krapf, pub- 
lished at Vienna, in 1766. This work, which I 
have not seen, is quoted in all its principal facts 
by Professor Murray of Gottingen in the Appara- 
tus medicaminum. According* to this author the 
various species, with which his experiments were 
made, proved capable of exciting inflammation, 
blistering and ulceration, when applied to the 
skin. A slice of the fresh root of R. bulbosus 
placed in contact with the inside of the finger, 
brought on a sense of burning in two minutes. 
When taken off, the skin was found without red- 
ness, and the sense of heat and itching ceased. 
In two hours, however, it returned again, and in 
ten hours a full serous blister was raised. This 
was followed by an ulcer of bad character and 
difficult to heal. He remarks that, if the appli- 
cation is continued after the first itching, the 
pain and subsequent erosion is much greater. 
From the accounts given of this species, also 
of R. sceleratus, R. acris, and some others, it 
appears that the leaves, flowers, buds, or roots of 
these plants, if bruised and applied to the skin, 
excite redness and vesication, This effect is not 


constant, but fails to take place in certain con- 
stitutions or at certain seasons of the year. 
Generally, however, they are said to operate in 
half an hour, or less, from the time of their appli- 
cation. They are stated to possess the advantage 
over blisters made by flies, that they never occa- 
sion symptoms of strangury. 

With a view to their external stimulus they 
have been used advantageously in rheumatism, 
the hip disease, hemicrania, and fixed pains of 
various descriptions. Among the old practition- 
ers, who have recorded instances of their effects, 
are Baglivi, Storck, and Sennertius. A curious 
practice, at one time, prevailed in several coun- 
tries in Europe, of applying the Ranunculus to 
the wrists or fingers, for the cure of intermittent 
fever. This is mentioned by Yan Swieten, Tissot, 
and some others. In hemicrania it was applied 
to the head, and in this case it did not produce a 
discharge, nor break the skin ; but occasioned 
tumefaction of the hairy scalp. 

An objection against the use of the Ranunculi, 
as external stimulants, exists in the uncertainty of 
their operation, and the violent effects which 
sometimes have followed after they had been ap- 
plied. Those writers, who have witnessed their 
application, record instances in which these vege- 


table blisters have been followed by deep, ill- 
conditioned and sloughing ulcers, which were not 
healed without great difficulty. Tissot mentions 
an instance, in which an application made to the 
thumb caused a deep, painful ulcer, which pene- 
trated to the bone, and occupied some months in 
its cure. In another case the blister spread, in 
a few hours, over the whole arm, occasioning 
fever and delirium, and was followed by such a 
tendency to gangrene, that the limb was with 
difficulty saved. Chesnau, quoted by Murray, 
advises that the Ranunculus should be applied 
to a small surface only, and through a perforation 
in an adhesive plaister, to prevent it from spread- 
ing. From want of this caution, he had known 
extensive inflammation to arise and spread over 
a greater part of the face, neck, and breast. — . 
Linnseus, in his Flora Suecica, relates that beg- 
gars, in Sweden, were known to excite ulcerations 
of their feet with the Ranunculus sceleratus, to 
assist them in extorting charity from passengers. 
I know not to what extent the efficacy of the 
Ranunculi, externally applied, can be depended 
on. Certain it is that they do not affect all 
persons alike, and this fact is avowed by those 
who have used them most. I have repeatedly 
made applications of the contused roots and 


leaves of different species to my arm and hand, 
and worn them for a dozen hours, without feeling 
any particular sensation, or perceiving any visible 
effect. The rapid drying up of the moisture of 
the plant seemed to prevent it from acting upon 
the skin. I am inclined to believe, there is 
something in the action of these vegetables anal- 
ogous to that of the poisonous species of Rhus 
described in this work ; which some individuals, 
but not all, are susceptible of. The extensive 
and spreading inflammation, which they occa- 
sionally produce, resembles more the effect of 
these shrubs, than of any of the ordinary rube- 
facients or vesicants. 

The burning sensation which the Ranunculi 
excite in the mouth when chewed, extends to 
the stomach if they are swallowed. Krapf states 
that a small portion of a leaf or flower of R. 
sceleratus, or two drops of the juice, excited 
acute pain in the stomach, and a sense of inflam- 
mation in the throat. He gave a large quantity 
of the juice to a dog, which brought on vomiting 
and great distress ; and the animal being killed, 
was found with the stomach inflamed and con- 
tracted, and the pylorus hardly pervious. The 
same author informs us that dilution greatly 
diminishes the power of this fluid, so that half a 


drachm of the juice, in six ounces of water, may 
be taken with entire safety. 

Dr. Withering, as quoted by Dr. Pulteney in 
the Linnsean transactions, asserts, that the dis- 
tilled water of Ranunculus flammula is an emetic 
more instantaneous and less offensive than sul- 
phate of zinc. I know not in what publication of 
Dr. W. this statement is made, but the fact 
appears to me not improbable. Acrid substances, 
such as mustard, pepper, and horse-radish, if 
swallowed in large quantities, excite the stomach 
to relieve itself by vomiting. An objection, 
however, exists against the distilled water, owing 
to the uncertainty of its strength ; which must 
vary in proportion to the quantity of the plant 
employed, the time occupied in distillation, and 
the subsequent time for which the fluid is kept. 

Krapf states that R. auricomus and R. lanugi- 
nosa are so free from acrimony, that they are 
eaten as greens or sallads. All the species lose 
their pungency in boiling, so that even the R. 
sceleratus, one of the most acrid, is used for the 
same purpose. 

Grazing cattle generally avoid the plants of 
this genus, which grow among grass, as far as 
it is possible for them to do it. Accordingly we 
observe the flowers of Ranunculi left untouched. 


while the grass is closely cropped around them. 
It is nevertheless unavoidable, so common are 
these plants, that portions of them should be 
eaten very often by these animals. It is probable 
that small quantities of the less acrid sorts do 
them no injury. At least, it appears that their 
stomachs are much less susceptible to this kind 
of stimulus than ours. In the Pan Suecus some 
experiments upon these plants, with domestic 
animals, are detailed ; in which, it is stated that, 
horned cattle refused to eat all the species when 
offered to them, except R. auricomus. This 
species was rejected by horses, while they would 
eat R. flammula Sheep and goats eat the JR. 
acris, one of the most pungent species. Dr. 
Pulteney states, as a well known fact, that hogs, 
in England, devour the roots of R. bulbosus. 
How it is that these animals resist the deleterious 
effects of so virulent plants, it is not easy to say. 
It is, however, a not more remarkable fact, than 
the power of some animals to devour Cantharides 
and even mineral poisons with impunity.* 

In their dry state, various species of Ranun- 
culus enter into the composition of hay, particu- 
larly R. acris. Having lost their acrimony 
altogether in drying, they are harmless and 
probably nutritive. 

* See a note, vol. i. p. 164. 


Dr. Pulteney has published a memoir in the 
Linnsean transactions on the economical use ot 
some of the Ranunculi, particularly the R. fluvia- 
tilis, which be considers a variety of R. aquatilis. 
Contrary to the common effects of the other 
species, this plant is said, by him, to be not only 
innocent, but highly nutritive to cattle. He states 
that, "in the neighbourhood of Ringwood, on the 
borders of the Avon, which affords this vegetable 
in great abundance all the year, some of the 
cottagers sustain their cows, and even horses, 
almost wholly upon this plant ; since the remain- 
ing part of their food is nothing more than a 
scanty pittance, they get on the adjacent heath, 
which affords little more than Ling, Lichen, Bog- 
moss or Sphagnum, £$c. It is usual to employ 
a man to collect a quantity for the day every 
morning, and bring it in the boat to the edge of 
the water, from which the cows, in the instance 
seen, stood eating it with great avidity. I was 
indeed informed," says he, "they relished it so 
highly, that it was unsafe to allow them more 
than a certain quantity ; I think between twenty 
five and thirty pounds daily, each ; but with 
variation according to circumstances. The cows 
I saw were apparently not in a mean condition, 

and gave a sufficient quantity of good milk. I 


was told by the person whose cattle were feeding 
on it, that he kept five cows and one horse so 
entirely on this plant and what the heath afforded, 
that they had not consumed half a ton of hay 
throughout the whole year ; none being used 
except when the river was frozen over. I exam- 
ined the whole parcel on which four cows were 
feeding, in the beginning March, and found the 
whole consisted exclusively of the Ranunculus 
fluviatilis without any mixture of the Potamoge- 
ton, Carex, Sparganium, or other aquatic plants. 
In summer, however, it can hardly be avoided 
but that there must be a mixture of some of these, 
but other plants are not chosen. 

" This account was confirmed to me by differ- 
ent persons ; by whom I was further informed 
that hogs are also fed with the same plant, on 
which they improve so well, that it is not neces- 
sary to allow them other sustenance, till it is 
proper to put them up to fatten." 

In Veterinary practice the Ranunculus bul- 
bosus has been employed as an external stimu- 
lant. To this purpose Dr. Chapman, in his 
Therapeutics, thinks it may be better adapted 
than other topical excitants. 



Ranunculus bulbosus, Linn. Sp. pi. — Curtis, Flora Lond. i. 38. 
■*-Martyn, Flora rustica, t. 28. — Smith, Flora Britt. 591. — Engl. 
Bot. t. 515. — Michaux, i. 521. — Pursh, ii. 393. — Ranunculus tube- 
rosus magor, J. Bauhin, iii. 417. — Ranunculus pratensis, &c. — 
(Eder, Fl. Dan. t. 515. 


Murray, Apparatus, Med. iii. 88. — Krapf. Ranunculi. Vienna, 
1 766. — Lewis, Mat. Med. ii. 262. — B. S. Barton, 23. — Pulteney, 
Lin. transactions, v. 14. — Chapman, Therapeutics, ii. 411. 


Fig. 1. Ranunculus bulbosus, the radical leaf of the largest size 

and more subdivided than common. 
Fig. 2. Radical leaf of smaller size and more common shape. 
Fig. 3. Petal and nectary. 
Fig. 4. Two stamens enlarged, 
Fi?. 5. Fruit. 


Starry Jinise. 


Ihe same qualities which entitle the Lirio- 
dendron and Magnolias to a place among medi- 
cinal plants, exist abundantly in the kindred genus 
of lllicium. This family consists of fine, spicy, 
flowering shrubs, one of which, the I. anisatum, 
growing in Eastern Asia, derives its name from 
the similarity of its flavour to that of Anise, a 
quality which exists, though less simple, in the 
subject of the present article. Another species, 
the I. parviflorum, a shrub with small yellowish 
flowers, first discovered by Michaux in the 
mountains of Georgia and Carolina, has so 
exactly the flavour of the Sassafras root, that they 
are not to be distinguished by the taste. The I. 
Floridanum forms beautiful thickets in the 
country bordering on the north of the Gulf of 

- S'/n/'ff/f/ 


Mexico, and is often mentioned by the traveller 
Bartram, with his accustomed enthusiasm, as one 
of the chief beauties of that exuberant region. 
In the Northern states, as well as in Europe, it 
is preserved by artificial heat. The drawing, 
which illustrates our description, was made from 
a greenhouse specimen. 

The character assigned to this genus is 
formed by a sice leaved calyx, twenty seven petals, 
anil a number of capsules arranged in a circle, two 
valved, one seeded. The species Floridanum has 
its leaves acuminate and its petals numerous, 
oblong and linear. 

The class and order are Polyandria, Polygy- 
ria; and the Natural orders Coadunatce, Linn. 
Magnolias, Juss. 

The lllicium Floridanum is a shrub, in some 
instances entitled to be considered a small tree. 
Its leaves are scattered, or grow in tufts, on short 
petioles. They are evergreen, oval lanceolate, 
slightly acuminate, entire, smooth on both sides, 
and firm or fleshy. The flower buds proceed from 
the sides of the branches at the axils of the last 
year's leaves. The flowers grow on slender, 
nodding peduncles, an inch or two long. When 
fully expanded, they are about the size of a dollar, 
and of a dark, purplish crimson. Calyx deci- 


duous. Petals linear, obtuse, in three rows, 
about nine in a row, the uppermost row ascend- 
ing, the lowermost descending, and broader or 
more spatulate. Stamens thirty or more, diverg- 
ing, flat, depressed with the anthers recurved ; 
pollen white. Germs a dozen or more, round- 
ish-rhomboidal, compressed and arranged in a 
circular manner; styles short, recurved, pubescent 
on the inside. The fruit, which I have not seen, 
is represented by authors, as has been stated in 
the generic character. 

The leaves and young shoots of this species 
of Starry anise abound in a fine, clear mucilage, 
which becomes immediately perceptible in the 
mouth, if these parts are chewed, and which com- 
municates to water in a short time a ropy con- 
sistence. This mucilage is separated from the 
decoction by alcohol in the form of dark brown, 
tough, stringy coagula. Muriate of tin causes a 
precipitate after these coagula are withdrawn, 
which seems to indicate the presence of extract. 
Sulphate of iron added to the decoction, coagu- 
lated the mucus and darkened the colour. I 
discovered no traces of resin in the portions 
submitted to experiment, and a strong tincture 
was not disturbed by water. The trial, however, 
was conducted on a small scale. 


The bark and leaves of the Illicium Florida- 
mim are strongly impregnated with a spicy, 
aromatic taste and smell, approaching that of the 
Magnolias and Liriodendron, but perhaps more 
similar to that of some of the pungent seeds, 
particularly Anise and Coriander, between which 
they seem intermediate. This aroma is preserved 
in the distilled water, and fills the room with its 
fragrance, while distillation is going on. I was 
not able in my limited experiments to separate 
any volatile oil or camphor, on one of which 
principles, as in similar cases, the aroma doubtless 

An account of this species of Illicium is 
given, with a figure, in the Philosophical trans- 
actions for 1770, by John Ellis, Esq. He says, 
"We are indebted for the discovery of this 
curious American tree to a servant of William 
Clifton, Esq. of West Florida, who was sent to 
collect specimens of all the rarer plants by his 
master ; and in April 1765, he met with it growing 
in a swamp near Pensacola. After this, in the 
latter end of January 1706, Mr. John Bartram, 
the king's botanist for the Floridas, discovered it 
on the banks of the river St. John, in East Florida, 
as appears from- his description of it, and a draw- 
ing of a seed-vessel with some of the leaves, sent 


to Mr. Collinson." Mr. Bartram's description of it 
as it appears in his journal up the river fet. John, 
published by Dr. Stork, in his account of East 
Florida, is as follows. " Near here my son found 
a lovely, sweet tree, with leaves like the sweet 
bay, which smelled like Sassafras, and produces 
a strange kind of seed-pop ; but all the seed was 
shed. The severe frost had not hurt it ; — some 
of them grow nearly twenty feet high, a charming 
bright evergreen aromatic.''* 

Of the medicinal properties of this shrub, I am 
unable to speak with the certainty, which might 
have attended an extensive number of trials, made 
with the bark of full grown specimens. From 
the evidence afforded by the bark and leaves of a 
greenhouse specimen, and by the analogy of other 
species, and similar trees, I should not feel much 
hesitation in attributing to the Illicium tbe prop- 
ertiesof a tonic-stimulant and diaphoretic. I have 
at least satisfied myself that the bark of a twig, 
and three or four of the leaves, produce no un- 
pleasant consequence. Its bitter taste and aro- 
matic quality point out its analogy to Cascarilla, 
Canella, Sassafras, and other aromatic barks, 
which are regularly consumed in the shops. Its 

* It is very possible the above description may have been in- 
tended for Illicium parviflorum. 


co-specics, the lllicium anisatum of the East, is 
used as a condiment to communicate an agreeable 
flavour to certain dishes. The Chinese chew it 
after dinner as a stomachic and a sweetener of 
the breath. In some parts of the East Indies 
the natives and Dutch mix it with their tea and 
sherbet. It is also burnt as incense before their 
idols by some of the oriental nations, and care- 
fully kept as an antidote to various poisons. 

The beauty of both these shrubs renders them 
desirable acquisitions to collectors of plants. 


lllicium Floridanum, Linn, — Curtis, Bot. Mag, L 439. — Ml. 
chaux, i. 526 — Pursh, ii. 330. 


Ellis, in Philosophical transactions abridged, xiii, 87. t. 2. — 
Sch<eff, 91. 


Fig. 1. lUieium Floridanum. 
Fig. 2. Several stamens magnified. 
Fig. 3. Pistils magnified. 
Fig. 4. A pistil separate. 


Virginia Snakeroot. 


JLt is probable tbat this root, like many other 
articles now used in medicine, was indebted to its 
sensible qualities, for its first introduction into 
use. As the name implies, its earliest medicinal 
character was founded on a supposed antidotal 
power against the bite of venomous serpents. 
Cornutus, at the end of his book on the plants of 
Canada, published at Paris in 1635, tells us, that 
a root had been sent to him from " Notha Jhiglia" 
which was called Serpentaria, and in the vernac- 
ular tongue Snagrdel. This root was a very sure 
safeguard against the bite of a huge serpent in 
that country, which proved inevitably fatal within 
twelve hours, unless a good portion of the antidote 

* I am indebted to a gentleman in Georgia for the very natural 
drawing of this plant. 


'/y.;/^/y//w . Jf /yt /;///■/ rssr 



was swallowed in season ; which being jlone, no 
one was ever known to be in danger of his life 
from this cause. 

The snagroel has had a great many rivals in 
the character of specifics against the bite of 
serpents. So great, indeed, is the number of 
articles which are called uniformly successful in 
such cases, that we are compelled to believe, that 
the bite of the rattle snake, and doubtless of 
other venomous serpents in the country, although 
attended with severe and alarming consequences, 
is nevertheless but seldom fatal ; and hence 
that the honor of proving specific in these cases 
is one of cheap acquisition. 

The Serpentaria' grows in woods in the South- 
ern and Middle parts of the United States. It 
bears cultivation in any part of the union, though 
the most northerly situation, from which I have 
received wild specimens, is the vicinity of New 
Haven, from which place some living plants were 
sent to me by Dr. Monson. 

The genus Aristolochia has a monopetalous, 
tubular, crooked corolla, swelling at base, and 
dilated at the border. Capsule inferior, si& celled. 
The species Serpentaria has its leaves heart- 
shaped, oblong, acuminate ,• stem flexuous ; pe- 
duncles radical. Pursh mentions a variety with 


leaves so narrow, as to appear like a distinct 
species ; the flower, however, being not different. 
"Woodville's figure of our plant has the leaves 
much too broad for the common habit of the 

It belongs to the class Gynandria, order 
Heamndria, or more properly Do dec andr in. It is 
one of the few genera placed by Linnaeus in that 
class which are not of the Orchideous tribe. 
Natural orders Sarmenlaeece, Linn. Aristolochiw, 

This vegetable is humble in its growth, being 
most commonly under a foot in height. The 
root is extremely fibrous, and sends up a number 
of stems. These are simple or slightly branched, 
jointed, flexuous, and often of a reddish tinge. 
The leaves are alternate, on short petioles, oblong, 
entire, acuminate, heart-shaped at base and three 

The flowers grow close to the ground, like 
those of Asarum. They have a stiff leathery 
texture, and a dull brownish purple colour. The 
peduncle which supports them has one or more 
leafets, and gradually enlarges into a furrowed 
obovate germ. The corolla, like others in this 
singular genus, consists of a long contorted tube, 
bent in the form of the letter S, swelling at its 


two extremities, having its throat surrounded by 
an elevated edge or brim, and its border expanded 
into a broad irregular margin, forming an upper 
and under lip, which are closed in a triangular 
manner in the bud. The anthers are twelve in 
number, growing in pairs to the sides of the 
fleshy style, which is situated in the bottom of 
the corolla, and covered by a firm, spreading 
convoluted stigma, which extends over the an- 
thers. The capsule is obovate, six angled, six 
celled, with numerous small flat seeds. 

Snakeroot has a penetrating, rather agreea- 
ble, resinous smell, and a pungent bitter taste, 
resembling somewhat that of the Pinus Canaden- 
sis, or Hemlock spruce. It communicates its 
qualities both to spirit and water, but most to the 
former. 1 subjected a quantity of the root to 
distillation for one hour, and obtained in the re- 
ceiver a whitish pearly fluid, very strongly im- 
pregnated with the aroma, but less bitter than 
the root. On standing twenty four hours, this 
fluid deposited round the edges of the surface a 
considerable number of small white crystals, 
which proved to be pure camphor. They were 
inflammable, fusible with a sudden, and volatile 
with a gradual heat. I perceived no essential 
oil, though Dr. Lewis informs us, that if the 


quantity of root, submitted to the operation, be 
large, there arises a small portion of pale coloured 
essential oil of a considerable smell but of no very 
strong taste. There is probably a portion of 
resin present, as I found that the root, after hav- 
ing been boiled in water an hour, still impregnated 
alcohol so as to cause a precipitate with water. 
The bitterness communicated to the infusion and 
decoction appears to reside in a variety of extrac- 
tive matter. 

Medicinally considered, Serpentaria is a tonic, 
diaphoretic, and in certain cases an antispasmodic 
and anodyne. It has been abundantly used in 
fevers of various descriptions, and has been com- 
mended by a host of medical writers. There is 
no doubt that it has been injudiciously employed 
in many cases, in fever attended with an active 
pulse and inflammatory diathesis. The early 
stages, also, of febrile diseases rarely admit the 
exhibition of so decided a stimulant, without 
injury. But in the advanced stages of fever and 
those attended with typhoidal symptoms, this 
medicine is resorted to with great advantage, both 
alone and in combinaton with other tonics and 
stimulants. It is peculiarly useful in supporting 
the strength, and in allaying the irregular actions 
which attend great febrile debility, such as 


subsultus tendinum, delirium, watchfulness, ^c. 
Its bitter ingredients, and the camphor which it 
contains, no doubt contribute to these effects. 
It is most advantageously given in combination 
with bark, or with wine and opium. 

Snakeroot is a popular remedy in exanthema- 
tous disorders as a diaphoretic, being given to 
keep out the eruption, and to restore it when it 
has receded. In the latter case its use is doubt- 
less injudicious, and if it fails to reproduce the 
eruption, it greatly increases the heat, pain, and 
restlessness of the patient. It is better in cases 
where the eruption has receded to the disadvan- 
tage of the patient, to attempt its restoration by 
nauseating and saline diaphoretics, and even by 
a full emetic, than to incur the risk of aggravating 
the symptoms by a stimulating regimen. 

Dr. Chapman, in his Therapeutics, considers 
the Serpentaria as partaking the mixed qualities 
of a stimulant and tonic, and acting also as a 
diaphoretic and diuretic. It is peculiarly useful 
as an auxiliary to the bark. He states, that one 
of the more early uses of the medicine was in the 
cure of intermittent fever. Whether alone it was 
found adequate to this purpose, does not clearly 
appear. "It was used by Sydenham in con- 
junction with wine, to prevent the recurrence of 


the paroxysm, and from his account, not without 
advantage. As a general rule, he says, that in 
all cases, where it is expedient to combine wine 
with bark, the effect will be much increased by 
adding Serpentaria. The correctness of this 
observation has been fully confirmed by subse- 
quent experience, and it is now very much the 
practice to unite the two articles in the low states 
of disease." 

Dr. Chapman farther states, that though it is 
doubtful whether the Serpentaria, by itself, will 
cure ague and fever, it is certainly a powerful 
assistant to bark, not only in increasing its effi- 
cacy, but, what is of great consequence, in 
enabling the stomach to retain the medicine. 

To remittent fever he thinks this medicine 
better adapted. It has here, in many cases, an 
indisputable superiority over bark, inasmuch as 
it is rarely offensive to the stomach, and may be 
given without injury, in those obscure states of 
the disease, where the remission is not readily 
tliscernible. He prefers, in these cases, a com- 
bination of bark, snakeroot, and soda. 

Snakeroot, he informs us, is much resorted to 
as a popular remedy in the management of the 
secondary stages of pleurisy. After bleeding, it 
is the ordinary practice, in many parts of our 


country, to resort to a strong infusion of this 
article with a view of exciting perspiration. Ca- 
tarrhs, rheumatisms, and other winter complaints, 
incident to rustic life, are managed in the same 
way. In that species of pleurisy which is properly 
enough designated hy the epithet bilious, he has 
repeatedly had occasion to recur to the Serpen- 
taria, and always with more or less utility. This 
bilious pleurisy he considers as having all the 
characters of pneumonic inflammation, with the 
addition of some of the symptoms incident to au- 
tumnal fever, such as headach, great gastric dis- 
tress, and almost always violent vomitings of bile. 
It diners also from ordinary pleurisy in having less 
activity of inflammation, and consequently in not 
bearing the same extent of depletion. The sys- 
tem, indeed, will often be very evidently depressed 
by one or two bleedings. In this case the practice 
which has been commonly pursued is, after the 
removal of a comparatively small portion of blood, 
and the thorough evacuation of the alimentary 
canal ; to administer very freely draughts of the 
infusion of the Serpentaria in order to excite 
copious diaphoresis. 

Dr. Chapman concludes his remarks on this 
article, by stating, that it is admirably suited to 

check vomitings, and to tranquillize the stomach, 


more particularly in bilious cases. It is given 
for this purpose in decoction, in the small dose 
of half an ounce or less at a time, and frequently 

The most common form of exhibiting snake- 
root is in infusion, for which purpose half an 
ounce may be steeped in a pint of boiling water 
for two hours, in a covered vessel. Of this in- 
fusion an ounce or two may be taken every three 
or four hours. Decoction is a less proper mode 
of preparing this plant, as it tends to dissipate 
the volatile parts, a portion of which is detained 
in a state of mixture by the infusion. Sometimes 
the powder is given in doses of from ten to thirty 
grains. A tincture of snakeroot is made by di- 
gesting an ounce of the root in a pound or some- 
what less of proof spirit. The compound tincture 
of bark, commonly called Huxham's tincture, 
contains Serpentaria as one of its ingredients. 


Aristolochia serpentaria, Linn. Sp. pi. — Walter, Flor. Car, 
223. — Woodville, ii. 291. t. 106. — Michaux, ii. 162. — Pursh, ii. 
596. — Pistolochia sive Serpentaria Virginiana, &c. — Plukenet, t. 
148./. 5.— Catesby, Car. i. 29. 



Murray, Jlpp. Med. i. 348. — Cullen, Mat. Med. ii. 85. — Chap- 
man, Therapeutics, ii. 411. — Lind. Hot climates, 104, 254. 


Fig. 1. Jlristolochia serpentaria with the flower beginning to 

Fig. 2. Side view of the flower expanded. 
Fig. 3. Front of ditto. 
Fig. 4. Longitudinal section of the flower. 
Fig. 5. Style, anthers, and stigma magnified. 
Fig. 6. Fruit. 


Star Grass. 


JL know of no plant which surpasses the 
Alteris farinosa in genuine, intense and perma- 
nent bitterness. Neither aloes, gentian, nor 
quassia exceed it in the impression produced on 
the tongue. It has, on account of this property, 
attracted the observation of some medical men, 
and may hereafter become an article of more 
consequence in the Materia Medica. Although 
the number of trials, hitherto made, are perhaps 
not sufficient to fix with precision its exact char- 
acter, yet in a collection of American medicinal 
vegetables it ought not to pass unnoticed. 

This plant grows in most parts of the United 
States in fields and about the edges of woods, and 
flowers in June and July. I have found it near 
Boston on the south, but never to the north of it. 



'ft r///f>./f/ 


Its mode of growth is not without beauty, the 
leaves spreading- close to the ground in a radiated 
manner, like a star ; while the spike is supported 
by an almost naked stalk, at a distance above 
them. The names Star Grass and Blazing star 
are generally given to it in the country, from the 
peculiar appearance of its leaves. 

The genus Aletris has its corolla tubular, six 
cleft, wrinkled, persistent ; stamens inserted into 
the base of the segments ; style triangular, separa- 
ble into three ; capsule opening at top, three celled, 
many seeded. The species farinosa, called alba 
by Michaux and Pursh, has its flowers pedicelled, 
oblong-tubular, somewhat wrinkled in fruit ; the 
leaves broad lanceolate. Michaux observes that 
of the species referred by Linnseus to this genus, 
the A. farinosa is the only one which strictly 
belongs to it. Class TLexandria ; order Monogy- 
nia; natural orders Liliacecz, Linn. Asphodeli, 

This plant has a single circle of radical leaves, 
which are sessile, nerved, lanceolate, and smooth. 
The stem or scape is from one to three feet high, 
invested with remote scales, which sometimes 
expand into small leaves. The flowers form a 
slender, scattered spike with very short pedicels 
and minute bractcs. Calyx none. Corolla white, 


of an oblong bell-shape, divided at the mouth into 
six acute, spreading segments. The outside, 
particularly as the flower grows old, has a rough- 
ish, wrinkled or mealy appearance, by which the 
specific name was suggested. The stamens are 
short, inserted near the mouth of the corolla at 
the base of the segments. The circumstance 
of their being opposite to the segments, and not 
alternate with them, affords the most distinguish- 
ing mark of this genus. The anthers are some- 
what heart-shaped. Germ pyramidal, half infe- 
rior, tapering : style triangular, separable into 
three. Capsule invested with the permanent 
corolla, triangular, three celled, three valved at 
top. Seeds numerous, minute, fixed to a central 

The Metris aurea, of Michaux and Pursh, 
closely resembles this species, and it is difficult, 
by comparing specimens of the two, to point out 
any permanent distinctive marks. The leaves of 
A. aurea are somewhat narrower and the flowers 
bright yellow. Walter places it under A. farinosa 
as a variety, and adds that he could not detect a 
specific difference ; although the time of flowering 
and place of growth indicate that they are dis- 
tinct. In sensible properties they are similar. 


In the London Philosophical transactions for 
1730, a plant is mentioned by Clayton, which, 
though not described in botanical language, 
leaves little doubt that the Aletris farinosa is 
intended. He says, " there is another root of the 
species of hyacinths ; the leaves are grass-like, 
but smooth and stiff, of a willow-green colour, 
and spread like a star on the ground. From the 
middle shoots a tall, long, rush-like stem, without 
leaves, near two feet high ; on one side grow 
little white bell-flowers one above another. The 
root is black outwardly, but brown within. It is 
bitter and probably has the same virtues as Little 
Centaury. Some call it ague grass, others ague 
root, others star grass." 

The root of the Aletris is highly resinous, 
and appears to contain a portion of extractive 
matter. The tincture, made by digesting the 
root in alcohol, is intensely bitter, and assumes a 
milky turbidness if water be added to it. The 
decoction is moderately bitter, and is not dis- 
turbed by alcohol. With chalybeate solutions it 
undergoes little change. The tincture is to be 
considered a stronger preparation than the de- 
coction, although the latter has a good share of 
the virtues of the plant. 


The bitterness of this vegetable has brought 
it into notice in the quality of a tonic and 
stomachic. I have been informed of its use for 
this purpose by physicians in different parts of 
the country. The most common mode of its 
employment, I understand, is by infusion or 
decoction. Pursh speaks of it as a remedy in the 
colic, but on what principle it can operate in 
relieving that disease, I am at a loss to say. — The 
amount of bitter resin, which the plant contains, 
led me to suspect that it might possess some of 
the properties of aloes, to which the plant is 
botanically related ; but on trial, made in several 
instances with the root in powder, a dose of ten 
or twelve grains produced no effect of this kind 
whatever. A physician, who experimented with 
larger quantities, with a view to test this quality, 
informed me that a dose of twenty grains occa- 
sioned much nausea and tendency to vomit, 
followed by some dizziness ; but that no cathartic 
operation took place. 

Dr. Cutler, in his account of the plants of 
New England, informs us, that this plant has 
been considered useful in chronic rheumatism ; 
but does not mention the dose or preparation. 

As far as we can sum up the testimony hith- 
erto offered respecting the general properties of 


this plant, it appears that the infusion or decoction 
acts as a tonic in small doses. Indeed the exhi- 
bition of large ones would be inconvenient from 
the extreme bitterness of the plant. Tbe powder, 
in small quantities, produces no immediate visible 
effect, except that it has appeared to invigorate 
the appetite. In large doses it disturbs the 
stomach, and possibly exerts some narcotic effect 
on the system. It remains to be determined 
whether these consequences are attributable to the 
resin, which the infusion does not dissolve ; or 
whether the largeness of the dose is alone instru- 
mental. It is well known that the stomach does 
not tolerate even gentian or any common bitter 
in large dose. And it seems probable that if 
the Aletris should ever increase in reputation as 
a tonic bitter, it will only be by its use in limited 


Aletris farinosa, Linx.— Willd. Sp. pi. ii. 183. —Bot. Mag. t. 
1418.— Aletris alba, Michaux, Flora, i. 189. — Puush, i. 225. — 
Hyacinthus floridanus spicatus, Plukexet, amalth. 119, t. 437, /. 2. 
— Hyacynthus ca\ile nudo, &c. — Groxoy. Virg. 38, 



Clayton, Phil. Trans, abr. viii. 333. — Cutler, American Acadi 
vol. i. 435. 


Fig. 1. Metris farinosa. 

Fig. 2. Corolla opened to shew the insertion of the stamens. 

Fig. 4. Fistil magnijkd. 




Vs //c(/<(/f ;/f/i/>// ///s/.m. 




American Rose bay. 


The scenery of the American forest is dis- 
tinguished not less by the greatness of its natural 
features, the imposing and picturesque appearance 
of its mountains, its rocky precipices, its broad 
streams and lakes ; than it is by the magnificent 
clothing of wild shrubs and trees, the uncommon 
beauty of which, gives to rough and inaccessible 
spots a richness, that cultivation can hardly imi- 
tate. The Kalmia, described in our first volume, 
and the Rhododendron of the present article, 
which are reared with care and difficulty as 
ornaments of European gardens and pleasure 
grounds, can be seen in perfection no where but 
in the uncultivated recesses of our own continent. 


Near the summits of mountains, on the banks oi" 
torrents and deep ravines, from which rivers take 
their rise, where the deep shade, moist soil and 
dashing water, preserve the atmosphere in a state 
of perpetual humidity ; these shrubs, in luxuriant 
size and vigour, are seen to cover tracts of great 
extent, at one season presenting an unbroken 
landscape of gorgeous flowers, and at another 
with their evergreen foliage forming an impene- 
trable shelter for the wild animals of the forest. 
Of the Rhododendron maximum, Mr. Pursh 
has designated three varieties. These are, 
1. The Red, which inhabits swamps and the 
borders of mountain lakes from Canada to Caro- 
lina ; 2. The White, found in the swamps of New 
Jersey and Delaware ; 3. The Purple, on the 
highest mountains of Virginia and Carolina. 
This last variety is represented as peculiarly 
magnificent, growing to the size of a small tree, 
having its trunk eighteen inches and more in 
diameter, and its foliage triple the size of any 
other species. 

The first variety of this elegant shrub grows 
abundantly on the banks of Charles river, a dozen 
or fifteen miles from Boston. It even supports 
the winter as far north as the state of Maine, and 
was observed, by Dr. Eaton, growing plentifully 


on the borders of Sebago lake near Portland. 
It does not bear transplantation well, but is apt 
to dwindle after the first or second year. It 
succeeds best when removed to a damp springy 
soil, and to a situation calculated to afford it 
shelter from the sun. 

The Rhododendron, of the Northern states, 
is a large straggling shrub, very irregular in its 
mode of growth. The bark is of a greyish colour, 
very much cracked and broken. The leaves are 
iu tufts at the ends of the branches. They are 
evergreen, coriaceous, on round fleshy petioles, 
oblong-oval, entire, revolute at the edges, and pale 
underneath. Both leaves and petioles, when 
young, are covered with a light woolly substance. 
The flowers form a terminal cluster or thyrsus 
immediately above the leaves, the stalks and 
calyces of which are covered with a glutinous 
pubescence. Previous to its expansion, the whole 
bunch forms a large compound bud, resembling 
a strobilus or cone, each individual flower-bud 
being covered by a rhomboidal bracte, which 
falls off when the flower expands. Calyx small, 
of five unequal obtuse segments. Corolla mo- 
nopetalous, funnel-shaped, with a short tube, the 
border divided into five large, unequal segments, 
which are white, shaded with lake, the upper and 


largest, having a collection of orange coloured 
spots at its centre. Stamens declinate, unequal ; 
the filaments white, thickened and hairy at base ; 
anthers two celled, opening by two pores at 
top ; pollen white. Germ ovate, hairy, glutinous ; 
style declinate, equal to the longest stamens, 
thickened upwards ; stigma a rough surface with 
five points. Capsule ovate, obtusely angular, 
five-celled. Seeds numerous, minute. 

Considered in its chemical character, this 
shrub is a resinous astringent. A decoction of 
the leaves gives strong proofs of the presence of 
tannin in large quantities. Both the bark and 
leaves, digested in alcohol, produce a resinous 
tincture, which is immediately rendered turbid 
by water. The glutinous covering of the flower 
stalks appears of a resinous nature. A decoction 
of the leaves in water affords nothing which is not 
soluble in alcohol, and did not alter by it in two 
days' standing. 

1 have been induced to examine the Rhodo- 
dendron and to insert it in this work, on account 
of the reputation it has possessed of being poison- 
ous. The late Professor Barton, in his collec- 
tions towards an American Materia Medica, has 
given various intimations of this sort, the most 
conclusive of which is his expression, " This is 


certainly a poison."— The result of my own 
attention to this shrub does not give reason for 
attaching to it suspicions of possessing a very 
deleterious nature. None of its external charac- 
ters would lead to apprehensions of this sort, 
particularly the taste, which is simply astringent 
and herbaceous, and much like that of a common 
oak leaf. I know not what quantity might prove 
injurious, but under the conviction that the plant 
was not particularly dangerous, I have swallowed 
a green leaf of the middle size, so large that it 
required some resolution to masticate so unpala- 
table a morsel, but have found no ill effect what- 
ever to result from it. 

Medicinally considered, I think it must be 
ranked among the astringents, a place which both 
its sensible and chemical properties entitle it to 
hold. If it have any narcotic powers, they will 
probably be developed only by an extraordinary 
dose, which few persons will be likely to put to 
the test. 



Rhododendron maximum, Willd. Sp. pi. ii. 606. — Bot. Mag. t. 
951.— Schmidt, Arb. t. 121.— Pursh, i. 297.— Michaux, N. A. 
Sylva, t. 67. 


B. S. Barton, Collections, i. 18. 


Fig. 1. Jl branch of Rhododendron maximum in flower and in 

Fig. 2. Calyx and style. 
Fig. 3. Stamen. 

^v/ZAv//^ . y//fYY/r//ss////, 


Ipecacuanha spurge. 


Jb rom the specific name given to this vege- 
table we infer, that before the true origin of the 
officinal ipecacuanha was known, this plant, 
among others, was for a time considered the 
source of that drug. The Pharmacopoeia Danica 
was one of the works in which this reference was 
made, and Linnaeus undoubtedly paid some 
respect to the opinion in assigning the specific 

Nearly all the species of Euphorbia appear to 
possess the power of acting with violence on the 
stomach and alimentary canal. This power 
particularly resides in a milky juice which they 
exude on being wounded. Of the species which 
have been most extensively submitted to experi- 
ment are Euphorbia officinarum, esula, heliosco- 


pia, dulcis, peplus, exigua, Cyparissias, palustris, 
and Characias. Professor Murray has collected 
details respecting the operation of most of these, 
from various medical authorities. It appears 
that they all excite vomiting or purging, and in 
large doses bring on violent burning pains of the 
stomach and bowels, heat and thirst, followed by 
great prostration of strength, cold sweats, and in 
some instance, death. In small quantities, how- 
ever, they have been used as medicines with 
safety, although some of them are uncertain in 
regard to their dose, and difficult to manage in 
their operation. [JVofe B.] 

The genus Euphorbia comprises a vast num- 
ber of species, of different habit, size and mode 
of growth. The flowers are frequently minute, 
very complex, and difficult of examination. They 
have a calyciform involucrum with four or five 
segments like petals, and the same number of 
interior segments like nectaries. Stamens twelve 
or more. Filaments articulated. Fertile flower 
solitary, stipitate, naked. Styles three, bifid. 
Capsule three seeded. — The species Ipecacuanha 
is procumbent, with opposite, obovate, oblong or 
linear leaves ; peduncles axillary, one flowered, 


The genus was placed by Linnseus in the 
class Dodecandria, order Trigynia. Michaux, 
considering as separate male flowers, the bodies 
of stamens which correspond, in number, to the 
nectaries or lacinulse, has referred the genus to 
Moncecia, Monadelphia. In this he has been 
followed by various American botanists. — In 
natural arrangements this genus is among the 
Tricoccce of Linn, and Euphorbice of Juss. 

The Euphorbia ipecacuanha is a low, tufted 
plant, growing in sandy soils in the Middle and 
Southern states. Michaux remarks, that the 
plants are sometimes buried in the sand. It is 
a polymorphous vegetable both in its shape and 
colour, the leaves continually differing in their 
outline, even in contiguous plants ; and the 
colour varying from green to crimson. 

The root is irregular and fleshy, very large 
in proportion to the plant it bears, running deep 
into the sand, sometimes, as Mr. Pursh informs 
us, extending to the depth of six feet. The 
stems, from one root, are numerous, erect or 
procumbent, forming large bunches on the 
surface of the ground. They are smooth, regu- 
larly dichotomous, and jointed at the forks. The 
leaves are inserted at the joints, opposite, sessile, 
smooth, haying most frequently an oblong shape 


though different plants possess every intermediate 
variety in the form of the leaf, from circular to 
linear. Their size and colour are likewise vari- 
able. The flowers are solitary on long peduncles 
from the forks of the stem. Calyx spreading, 
divided into five obtuse segments. Inner seg- 
ments or nectaries five, small, gibbous. Stamens 
numerous, in five parcels, appearing, at different 
times, two or three together, with double anthers. 
The fertile flowers have a large, roundish, droop- 
ing, pedicelled germ, crowned with six revolute 
stjgmas. Capsule three celled. 

The dried root of the Euphorbia ipecacuanha 
is of a greyish colour outside, and white within. 
It is light and brittle and has about the hardness 
of cork. To the taste it is sweetish and not 
particularly unpleasant. 

I subjected some portions of the root to 
chemical examination and obtained the following 
results. — Sulphuric ether digested on the pow- 
dered root dissolves a part of it ; and this ethereal 
solution gives a precipitate, if alcohol is added to 
it. — Alcohol alone takes up another portion of the 
root, and assumes a pearly turbidness after water 
is added. Both the ethereal and alcoholic solu- 
tions, evaporated to dryness, leave a residuum 
which is fusible and inflammable. The decoction 


gives no precipitate with gelatin or sulphate of 
iron. With alcohol it gave out a white precipi- 
tate which rendered the solution turbid, and 
subsided in flocks. The cold infusion exhibited 
the same phenomena in a smaller degree. From 
these appearances we may infer that the root 
contains caoutchouc, resin, mucus and probably 

The Euphorbia ipecacuanha has long been 
known to possess the same property, which is so 
frequent in its genus, of exciting the stomach 
powerfully as an emetic. The appropriation of 
its specific name seems even to imply that such 
a property had been recognised in this species 
in a more eminent degree, than in the rest. It 
does not appear, however, that it has ever con- 
tinued long in use, this being prevented, proba- 
bly, by the suspicious character of the race of 
plants to which it belongs. The late Dr. Barton 
mentions this vegetable among his indigenous 
emetics, but considers it too violent and uncer- 
tain to he depended on as a safe medicine. 

Within a few years the plant has been 
attended to by some medical gentlemen in 
Philadelphia, who report more favourably of its 
powers and mode of operation ; and consider it 
as a safe, certain and manageable emetic, applica- 


ble to most of the cases in which medicines of 
this kind are called for. 

Being desirous to obtain personal knowledge 
of the medicinal character of this vegetable, I 
instituted trials with different parcels of the dried 
root, some of which were gathered by myself, in 
flower, near Philadelphia, and the rest sent me 
by friends from Baltimore and Washington. 
Portions of these roots were given to a variety of 
patients in the Dispensary and Almshouse by 
myself and by other physicians, who have obliged 
me by communicating the results of their obser- 
vations. These experiments have led to the 
conclusion that the Euphorbia ipecacuanha in 
doses of from ten to twenty grains is both an 
emetic and cathartic ; that it is more active than 
ipecacuanha in proportion to the number of grains 
administered ; that in small doses it operates 
with as much ease as most emetics, in a majority 
of instances. If it fails, however, at first, it is not 
so safely repeated as the other emetics in com- 
mon use. Given in large doses it excites active 
and long continued vomiting, attended with a sense 
of heat, vertigo, indistinct vision, and prostration of 
strength. I have not ventured upon any large 
dose myself, but have been informed, that such 
is the effect, by those who have given the root in 


doses of two scruples and upwards. The plant 
appears to differ from the South American Ipe- 
cacuanha in having the degree of its operation 
proportionate to the quantity taken ; the process 
of vomiting not heing checked by the powder 
being thrown off of the stomach, as frequently 
happens, when common Ipecac is given in large 

At my request, Dr. James McKeen made this 
plant and another species, E. corollata, the sub- 
jects of an inaugural dissertation at Harvard 
University, in 1820. As his observations have 
been made with some care, and illustrate very 
fairly the action of the medicine, I insert the 
principal cases from his manuscript. 

" Case I. The first experiment," he observes, 
" made with this species of the Euphorbia was 
upon a man of intemperate habits, about twenty 
seven years of age, and who appeared to be a 
candidate for Delirium Tremens. I gave him 
ten grains. He told me that it always required 
powerful doses of medicine to produce any effects 
upon his stomach or bowels, but as I was then a 
stranger to the powers of the Euphorbia ipecacu- 
anha, it was thought prudent not to hazard a 
large quantity until something had been ascer- 
tained of its strength. When I called in the 


morning after it was taken, I learned that the 
medicine had produced a gentle purging, pre- 
ceded by a considerable degree of nausea, but 
that there had been no vomiting. 

" Case II. The next fair opportunity which 
occurred for experiment was in the case of a 
female about thirty seven years of age. This 
woman, for a considerable portion of her life, had 
suffered from syphilis ; nothing remained now, 
however, specifically of this kind, excepting the 
marked effects of a constitution shattered by 
disease. I gave her at first ten grains of the 
Euphorbia ipecacuanha, and in twenty minutes, 
no signs of vomiting occurring, I gave her eight 
grains more, and kept adding to the quantity, 
which she had taken, until it amounted in the 
whole to forty grains. I remained by this patient 
until vomiting commenced, which was precisely 
thirty five minutes after the exhibition of the first 
ten grains. As the influence of the mind, in 
contemplating the effects of an emetic, will often 
induce its more speedy operation, I diverted the 
patient's attention as much as possible, that no 
consequences might ensue, but such as were 
produced by the specific action of the medicine. 
As soon as I ascertained that this Euphorbia 
ipecacuanha was likely to produce effectual 


vomiting, I left the house. About thirty hours 
afterwards I culled to see this patient, and with 
much surprise found that the quantity I had 
given her had continued to operate by emesis 
and catharsis ever since. She was, however, 
very little exhausted, and there was nothing* of 
cramp either on the stomach or extremities which 
so often distress those who are too severely 
vomited. About this time there was a cessation 
of vomiting without the assistance of remedies. 
Two days afterwards this woman told me she had 
not been as well as she then was for a number 
of years. The powerful vomiting produced a 
considerable degree of dizziness, but this went 
off in the course of twenty four hours. I had 
quite despaired of vomiting this patient with the 
Euphorbia ipecacuanha. In no instance after- 
wards was this medicine more than half as lon«r 
in producing vomiting as it was in this case. 

Case III. A girl of about eighteen years of 
age, whose manner of living was similar to that 
of the person mentioned in the preceding case, 
applied to me for an emetic ; I gave her thirty 
grains of the Euphorbia ipecacuanha, and told 
her to take half of this quantity, and if it did not 
operate in half an hour, she might take the re- 
mainder. Contrary to my injunctions she took 


the whole at a single draught. In fifteen minutes 
her attendants told me she began to vomit, and 
continued to throw up, at intervals, smartly for 
live hours, and was purged seven or eight hours 
more. For some time after this she complained 
much of dizziness. 

Case IV. As I had found, in the first trial, 
that ten grains of the Euphorbia ipecacuanha 
failed to produce vomiting, I tried the same 
dose upon another subject, which was a woman 
of about forty eight years of age, to determine if 
so small a quantity would produce vomiting. 
In about fifteen or twenty minutes after the 
medicine was received into the stomach, it began 
to operate. After she had vomited three times, 
it commenced purging, and produced three or 
four evacuations. This woman did not complain 
of any dizziness, as those did in the two preced- 
ing cases. 

Case V. A woman about thirty «pe years of 
age took fifteen grains of the Euphorbia ipecacu- 
anha ; in seventeen minutes it began to operate, 
and vomited the patient every few minutes, until 
the operation amounted to five or six times, and 
afterwards a moderate purging ensued. The 
operation, in this case, was more satisfactory than 
any preceding ones, as it effectually evacuated 


the stomach and bowels, without a too long con- 
tinuance of the vomiting. 

Case VI. A man of forty years of age was 
seized with symptoms of fever. Four grains of 
sulphate of copper and twelve of common ipecac 
were given. This dose produced no emetic 
operation, but occasioned violent purging. Forty 
eight hours after, I gave him twenty grains of 
Euphorbia ipecacuanha, in powder, which pro- 
duced very effectual evacuations from the stomach, 
vomiting him eight or nine times ; after which 
he had one or two alvine discharges. 

Case VII. In one instance, for experiment, I 
gave four grains of this plant; but it neither 
affected the stomach nor bowels, nor the feelings 
of the patient, nor his pulse." 

From what is now known respecting the 
Euphorbia ipecacuanha, we arc justified in con- 
sidering it an active emetic, and, if prudently 
administered more safe than a majority of the 
species of its genus. It wants, however, the 
peculiar mildness of the officinal Ipecacuanha, 
which, in cases of slow operation, permits the 
dose to be accumulated by repetition, until its 
due effect takes place, without danger of excessive 
violence in the length and degree of evacuation, 
and without an injurious impression on the 


nervous system. This, indeed, appears to be the 
common defect of the active North American 
erne tirs hitherto examined. And until a more 
extensive examination has brought to light new 
substances of this class, or better defined the 
modes of preparation and use of those already 
known, we cannot wish that the South American 
drug should be diminished in our markets, or 
less familiar to our physicians. 


Euphorbia Ipecacuanha, Linn. Sp. pi. — Willd. ii. 900. — Mi- 
chaux, Flora, ii. £12. — Pursh, ii. 606. — Botanical Magazine, t. 
1494. — Euphorbia inermis, &c. — Gronovius, Virg. 74. — Tithymalus 
fiVe minimo herbaceo ? — Clayton, Fhil. trans, abr. viii. 331. 


Schoepf, Mat. Med. 74.— B. S. Barton, Coll. 26 W. P. C 

Barton, Veg. Mat. Med. vol. i. 


Fig. 1. Euphorbia Ipecacuanha. 

Fig. 2, 3, 4, 5. Different forms and sizes of the leaf observed 

in individuals of this species. 
Fig. 6. Bed variety of the leaves. 
Fig. 7. Calyx. 

Fig. 8. Calyx opened, ivithfive of the stamens expanded. 
Fig. 9. vl perfect flower. 
Fig. 10. Styles and stigmas magnified. 

r y 


I ,-////<>'/>/ a re; fufs/^' 


Large flowering spurge. 


In point of stature and the shewy appear- 
ance of its flowers, this species of Euphorbia 
differs eminently from that described in the last 
article. In the common features, however, of 
the genus, such as its lactescence, its taste, and 
its medicinal powers ; the consanguinity of the 
two plants evidently appears. I am not aware 
that this species has been much known for its 
operative qualities, until within a very recent 
period. The indians were, indeed, acquainted 
with the medicinal properties of more than one 
species of Euphorbia. They doubtless made use 
of the E. ipecacuanha, and not impossibly of the 
present species also. In Mr. Clayton's letter to 
Dr. Grew, contained in the Transactions of the 
Royal society for 1730, and which we have noticed 


in speaking of Aletris farinosa, the writer states, 
that the Aborigines made use of " the roots of 
Tythymal, of which there are two sorts, the one 
flore minimo herbaceo, the other jlore albo. The 
flower of this last," he says, " is small, but large 
in comparison with the other. They are repentes, 
and grow in old manured grounds. They chiefly 
make use of the latter of these, and it is a most 
excellent purge, though it sometimes vomits. It 
is quick but moderate in its effect, and has this pe- 
culiarity, that it opens the body, when other more 
violent purgatives will not move it." We might 
safely conclude that the white flowering species, 
here noticed, is the Euphorbia corollata, were it 
not for the term repentes applied to both plants. 
It is not improbable that in this respect, the 
writer might have been misinformed. 

Pursh informs us that Euphorbia corollata 
grows in dry fields from Canada to Carolina. I 
have never met with it north of Pennsylvania. 
The drawing which illustrates our description is 
from a specimen cultivated in the Botanic garden 
at Cambridge. It is a tall, erect plant, from 
one to five feet in height, resembling, at a dis- 
tance, some of the white flowering corymbiferw. 
It begins to flower in June, but is not fully ex- 
panded until July or August. Its specific 


character is as follows. Umbel Jive rayed, three 
parted, dichotomous ; leaves and involucra oblong, 
obtuse; segments of the calyx obovate, petaloid, 
coloured. The shape of the leaves is subject to 
variety, as is also their smoothness or hairiness. 
This plant has a large branching root which 
sends up a number of stems, frequently from two 
to five feet in height. They are erect, round 
und in most instances simple. The leaves are 
scattered, sessile ; oblong, obovate or linear, a 
little revolute at the margin, smooth in some 
plants, very hairy in others. The stem divides 
at top into a large five rayed umbel, supported by 
an involucrum of as many leaves. Not unfre- 
quently a small axillary branch or two arise from 
the sides of the stem below the umbel. The 
rays of the umbel are repeatedly trifid or dicho- 
tomous, each fork being attended by two leafets 
and a flower. The top of the stem or centre of 
the umbel is turgid, and often bears a precocious 
flower. The calyx is large, rotate, white, with 
five obtuse petal-like segments, from which the 
name of the species has been taken. The nec- 
taries or inner segments are five, very small, 
obtuse projections situated at the base of the 
segments. Stamens a dozen or more emerging 
two or three at a time, with double anthers. 


Germ pedicelled. Capsule three celled. A 
great portion of the plants are wholly stamini- 

The results of a short chemical examination 
of this plant were very similar to those afforded by 
E. ipecacuanha. The ethereal solution was made 
turbed by alcohol, and the alcoholic by water. 
The precipitate in the last instance seemed 
denser and more abundant than it was in the 
former species. The decoction deposited a 
mucus or feculent substance, by means of alco- 
hol, as in the other plant. The same sweetish 
taste characterised the solutions of both veg- 

It has been observed, by late experimenters 
in vegetable chemistry, that most of the lactes- 
cent or milky plants contain caoutchouc. That 
they contain a substance of this nature, which is 
dissolved by ether and not by alcohol, I am able 
to attest from the examination of various lactes- 
cent plants inserted in this work, and some 

The properties of Euphorbia corollata have 
been lately brought into notice by W. Zollic- 
koffer, M. D. of Baltimore, to whom I was first 
indebted for my specimens of the root and living 
plant ; and who has furnished me with a variety 


of facts relating to its properties. Dr. Z. states 
that this plant is quite common in some parts of 
the state of Virginia. In some districts of Mary- 
land, and more particularly in Anne Arundel 
county, it grows in the greatest abundance, where 
it is recognised by the common appellations of 
Milkweed, Snake's milk, Ipecacuanha and Indian 
Physic. It delights in a poor, dry, and sandy 
soil. It is seldom or never found growing in 
the woods, but in fields that are cultivated every 
two or three years. The farmers have frequently 
told him that it is very hurtful to small grain, 
when it grows in great quantities, and the com- 
mon means that are made use of, such as plough- 
ing and harrowing, in order to kill bluegrass, 
have the effect of increasing the quantity and 
rapid growth of this plant. It is never eaten by 
animals. The root is sometimes used as an 
emetic by the country people ; and it is esteemed 
in the cure of dropsy. The stalks, which arise 
from the common trunk of the root, are some- 
times as many as thirty, and from this down to 
a single one. The largest roots, which he recol- 
lects seeing, measured from an inch to two 
inches and a half in circumference. He has 
been in the habit of using the Euphorbia corol- 
lata, for some time past in practice, as an emetic, 


in the place of the Ipecacuanha of the shops ; 
and thinks it in no respect inferior to this article. 
Combined with opium and the Sulph. potassse 
in the proportions of the Pulv. doveri, he has 
found it to be a valuable diaphoretic. The con- 
tused root, in its recent state, will excite inflam- 
mation and vesication, when applied to any part 
of the body ; which generally goes off in the course 
of four or five days without being attended with 
any inconvenience whatever. He was led to 
give it a number of trials in this way from the 
circumstance of his face becoming considerably 
inflamed after having handled large quantities of 
the root. As an expectorant, this plant, he says, 
is deserving of the attention of practitioners. 

Dr. Z. has furnished me with minutes of 
seventeen cases, in which he administered the 
powdered root of this plant in doses of from ten 
to twenty grains. In all of these it operated by 
vomiting, with the exception of two cases, where 
it produced nausea, followed by catharsis. Hav- 
ing tried a variety of preparations, he states, that 
the extract may be given in doses of from five to 
eight grains ; the wine prepared in the same way 
as Vinum ipecacuanha?, in dose of an ounce or 
an ounce and an half. Of the root in powder 
from fifteen to twenty grains was found a proper 


emetic. He considers this medicine as having- a 
peculiar advantage in possessing no unplesant 
taste ; being only followed by a sense of heat in 
a few minutes after it is taken. But this is by no 
means lasting, nor does it produce any material 

In some experiments, to determine the solu- 
ble portions of this root, Dr. Z. found that two 
thousand one hundred and sixty grains of the 
recent root afforded one hundred and two grains 
of watery extract ; and a like quantity by diges- 
tion in alcohol gave one hundred and twenty 
three grains of alcoholic extract. He did not 
observe any difference in the activity of these two 

Dr. McKeen, whose Dissertation on the 
species of Euphorbia has been already cited in 
the last article, has detailed the circumstances of 
twelve eases, in which he administered the 
Euphorbia corollata. His experiments differ 
from those of Dr. Zollickoffer, in the quantity of 
the root used, being always smaller. The doses, 
which he gave, were from three to twelve grains 
of the powder. In every instance the medicine 
operated as a cathartic. In most of the cases 
nausea was produced, but in three only, out of 
the whole number, it was followed by vomitiag^ 


In one case a dose of three grains proved actively 
cathartic in four hours. In another five grains 
produced vomiting. In a third no effect was 
experienced from twelve grains, except that of a 
moderate laxative. In one instance twenty grains 
were given, which produced vomiting three times, 
followed by about twenty alvine evacuations. 

I have placed portions of this plant in the 
hands of several practitioners and medical stu- 
dents, with a request to be informed of the effect, 
when suitable opportunities for its exhibition had 
occurred. In a majority of the instances I have 
been told, that a cathartic operation had followed 
its use ; and sometimes, though less frequently, 
an emetic. It rarely has proved inactive. 

The Euphorbia corollata must undoubtedly 
be ranked among the more efficient medicines of 
the evacuating class. Dr. McKeen concludes, 
from his experiments, that it is a very certain 
purgative, possessing, he thinks, about double 
the strength of jalap. It exerts its cathartic 
efficacy in doses of less than ten grains. If given 
to the amount of fifteen or twenty grains, it is 
very sure to prove emetic ; the proportion of its 
failures, being not greater than occurs in the use 
of other emetic medicines. The only inconven- 
iences which have come to my knowledge, as 


attending it, are, that if given in small doses, for 
a purgative, it is apt to produce nausea ; while in 
the large doses suitable for an emetic, it some- 
times has induced a degree of hypercatharsis. 
But it must be observed, that many of the medi- 
cines, in common use, may occasion similar 
consequences in persons of peculiar habit and 
irritable fibre. Future experiment will, no doubt, 
determine whether the Euphorbia coroliata is 
any more irregular and unmanageable than other 
medicines of its kind, or whether it is entitled to 
a permanent and useful place in the Materia 

Many, and perhaps all the species of Euphor- 
bia are powerful external stimulants. Several 
are used as a sort of caustic to destroy warts. 
The gum, called Euphorbium, produced by the 
Euphorbia officinarum, is a strong vesicatory 
employed by farriers, and sometimes used to 
adulterate the plaister of Cantharides. The 
blistering power of E. coroliata has been stated 
by Dr. Zollickoffer. This active genus of plants 
deserves a thorough investigation with a view to 
this particular property, to determine whether 
they are safe and manageable vesications, or 
virulent and uncertain. 



Euphorbia corollata, Linn. — Willd. ii. 916. — Michaux, ii. 210. 
— Pursh, ii. 607. — Tithymalus marianus, &c. — Plukenet, Mont. 
182. *. 446. /. 2. 


Clayton, Philosophical transactions abridged, viii. 331. — Zol- 
lickoffer, Materia Medica. Baltimore, 1819. 


Fig. 1. Euphorbia corollata, the top of a plant rather below the 

common size. 
Fig. 2. Barren flower. 
Fig. 3. Calyx not fully expanded. 
Fig. 4. Stamen. 
Fig. 5. Fertile flower. 

' yo///f/fr/rr /■///•/ 


Bitter Polygala. 


A his plant is interesting from the curious 
manner in which a part of the fruit is produced, 
by a kind of imperfect flower growing close to, 
and in some instances under, the surface of the 
ground. It is not the only species of the Polygala 
which has this peculiarity. I have often observed 
little shoots at the root of P. paucifolia, one of the 
most beautiful of the genus, bearing apterous 
flowers and subterranean fruit, precisely like 
those represented in our plate. The P. polygama 
of "Walter and Pursh, if, indeed, it is a distinct 
species, has the same remarkable mode of growth. 
It is difficult to imagine what end is attained by 
nature in this singular arrangement, by which a 
part of the seeds are ripened in the sun, while 
the rest, like the fruit of Arachis hypogsea, is 


buried from the light. To the eye there is no 
difference between seeds taken from the upper or 
lower racemes of the plant. It would be worth 
while to ascertain if the two will vegetate equally 

The genus is marked by a calyx of jive leaves, 
two of which are wing-like and coloured. Capsule 
obcordate, two celled and two valved. The spe- 
cies rubella has its stems simple ; leaves linear- 
oblong, mucronated ; flowers racemed, those of the 
stem winged, those of the root apterous. 

Class Diadelphia, order Octandria ; natural 
orders Lomentacece, Linn. Pediculares, Juss. 

The Polygala rubella, here described, is the 
plant designated by that name in Muhlenberg's 
catalogue, as I have formerly learnt from the 
author himself. There is little doubt that Willde- 
now's plant is the same described from an 
imperfect specimen. It is found in dry, sandy, 
or gravelly soils in many parts of the United 
States, and flowers in June and July. 

Root somewhat fusiform, perennial, branch- 
ing. Stems numerous, ascending, smooth, angu- 
lar, simple. Leaves scattered, smooth, the lower 
ones obovate, smaller; the upper ones linear- 
lanceolate, obtuse, mucronated, sessile. Flowers 
purple, short-crested, in terminal racemes. 


Bractes small, ovate-lanceolate, caducous. "Wings 
of the calyx rhomboid-oval, obtuse, with a slight 
middle nerve. Corolla small, closed, of three 
segments, the middle one largest and crested by 
the division of its sides and extremity. Anthers 
eight, forming a double row, the filaments coa- 
lescing. Germ compressed, inversely heart- 
shaped ; style deflexed ; stigma bearded inside, 
with a prominence below it. Capsule inversely 
heart-shaped, nearly smooth, margined, and in- 
vested with the wings of the calyx. Seeds two, 
obovate, hairy, with a transparent appendage or 
strophiole on the inside. From the base of the 
stems proceed a number of prostrate shoots 
situated upon, and sometimes nearly under the 
ground, bearing a row of incomplete fertile flowers. 
These flowers are furnished with a calyx without 
wings, a minute corolla and stamens, and a short 
style. The germ and fruit precisely resemble 
those of the more perfect flowers. 

Like some of the European species which it 
resembles in habit, this plant is a strong and 
permanent bitter, imparting its sensible proper- 
ties both to spirit and to water. 1 digested a 
portion of the dried plant in ether, and added 
alcohol to the solution. No change was visible 

at the time of mixture, but on standing till the 



ether had partly evaporated, the alcohol became 
turbid. A tincture of the plant was not imme- 
diately affected by adding water, but on standing 
over night it became very turbid, and in a few 
days deposited a large precipitate. The bitter- 
ness, which is probably of the extractive kind, was 
communicated to cold, as well as hot water ; and 
to alcohol. The aqueous solutions appear strong 
enough to represent the virtues of this vegetable. 
The Polygala rubella, from its extreme bit- 
terness, has attracted the notice of various 
medical practitioners in the Northern states. 
I have been assured by those who have tried its 
efficacy, that the infusion administered in small 
doses, proves a useful tonic and stimulant to the 
digestive organs. In large doses it opens the 
body and excites diaphoresis. Its powers appear 
to resemble those of Polygala vulgaris and P. 
amara of Europe, to which it has a close botanical 
resemblance ; and which have enjoyed a certain 
degree of medicinal reputation as tonics and 



Polygala rubella, Muhlenberg, Catal. — Willd. iii. 875.*— 
Pursh, ii. 464. — Polygala polygama ? — Nuttall, genera, ii. 87. 


Fig. 1. Polygala rubella, 

Fig. 2. A flower. 

Fig. 3. Calyx. 

Fig. 4. Corolla magnified* 

Fig. 5. Fruit of ditto. 

Fig. 6. Body of stamens. 

Fig. 7. Pistil, 


Sweet scented Water lily. 


J-HE common Water lily, of North America, 
very much resembles that of Europe in its 
external form, hut differs remarkably in the fine 
fragrance of its flowers, those of the old continent 
being nearly destitute of odour. It belongs to 
a very beautiful tribe of aquatic plants, a great 
part of which are natives of the torrid zone. 
Those species which support the cold of our 
northern latitudes, are enabled to do so only by 
the depth of water, under which it is their habit 
to vegetate. Nature has provided a sort of spon- 
taneous hotbed for these plants, by placing their 
roots at such a depth from the surface of the 
element in which they grow, that the frost, which 
would otherwise prove fatal, does not reach them 
at the coldest season. 

Vyzn/i/zs&z €H&ia£z 


The Nymphasa odorata, the finest of the 
northern species, grows abundantly in most 
parts of the United States, about the edges of 
rivers and ponds, where the water is more than a 
foot in depth. It is one of the largest of our 
native flowers, and though it has often been 
represented as inferior, in size, to the water lily 
of Europe, I am sure that this comparison can 
only have resulted from the inspection of culti- 
vated specimens. The annexed drawing was 
made from a full grown and fully expanded 
specimen, and is actually smaller than the flower 
from which it was taken. 

Every angler is familiar with the leaves and 
stems of this plant, which, with a few similar 
aquatics, forms floating beds about the ed^es of 
deep fresh waters, affording to the fish a favourite 
shelter from the light ; and often rendering them 
more essential service, by entangling the hooks 
and lines of their pursuers. 

The roots of this plant creep through the 
muddy bottoms of ponds to a great extent. They 
are very rough, knotted, blackish, and as large as 
a man's arm. The porous stalks, which proceed 
from these, are bouyed up by the quantity of air 
they contain, and continue to be elongated till 
they reach the surface of the water, which is 


often at the height of several feet. The upper 
side of the leaves has a highly repellent power for 
water, owing to its finely polished surface, from 
which the fluid rolls off as from a coating of oil. 
When the buds have attained to maturity, they 
emerge and expand their flowers. This takes 
place in the morning ; and when the sun is bright, 
a bed of these flowers presents a truly magnifi- 
cent spectacle. Owing to the concavity of the 
calyx and petals they continue to float during a 
great part of the day. They are seldom elevated 
from the surface, except when the stem is un- 
commonly large, or pushed upward by some 
displacement of the adjacent leaves. At night, 
or before, the flowers close, and either rest on 
the surface or sink beneath it till the subsequent 
day. When flowering is over, the germ sinks to 
the bottom and there ripens its fruit. 

The genus Nymphsea is now separated from 
some other plants formerly attached to it by the 
following character. Calyx four or jive leaved ; 
petals many, inserted into the germ below the 
stamens ; stigma radiated, sessile with a tubercle 
in the middle ; berry many celled, many seeded. 
This species very nearly resembles the JV*. Mba 
of Europe, but appears distinct by the following 
marks. Leaves orbicular-cordate, entire, the lobes 


acuminate, and veins prominent beneath; calyx 
four-leaved, equal to the petals. — Linnaeus placed 
this genus in his Miscellanece, and Jussieu with 
the Hydro char ides. 

The stalks, both of the leaves and flowers, 
spring directly from the root. They vary in 
length from one foot to five or six, according to 
the depth of the water. The petioles are some- 
what semicircular, the scapes round. Both are 
perforated throughout by long tubes or air-vessels 
which serve to float them. The leaves, which 
swim on the surface, are nearly round with a 
cleft or sinus extending to the centre, at which 
the petiole is inserted in a peltate manner. The 
lobes on each side of this sinus are prolonged 
into an acute point. The upper surface is of a 
bright glossy green almost without veins ; the 
lower surface is reddish and marked by a multi- 
tude of strong prominent veins diverging from 
the centre. The calyx has four lanceolate leaves, 
green without and white within. Petals nume- 
rous, lanceolate, of a delicate whiteness, with 
sometimes a tinge of lake on the outside. Sta- 
mens numerous, yellow, in several rows ; the 
filaments dilated, especially the outer ones, so as 
to resemble petals ; the anthers in two longitu- 
dinal cells grow ing to the filaments and opening 


inwardly. The stigma has from twelve to twenty 
four rays, very much resembling abortive anthers, 
at first incurved, afterwards spreading. At the 
centre is a solid hemispherical protuberance, 
usually called a nectary, but which appears to me 
more like the true stigma. 

The roots of this plant are among the strong- 
est astringents, and we have scarcely any native 
vegetable which affords more decided evidence 
of this property. "When fresh, if chewed in the 
mouth, they are extremely styptic and bitter. 
Their decoction instantly strikes a jet black colour 
with sulphate of iron, and yields a dense, white 
precipitate to a solution of gelatin. "With alcohol 
it deposites a slight flocculent substance resem- 
bling fsecula. Tannin and gallic acid in large 
quantities are to be considered its most character- 
istic ingredients. 

The flowers have a delicious odour, hardly 
surpassed by any perfume which the summer 
produces. This fragrance is perfect only when 
the flowers are fresh, and, as they droop, becomes 
contaminated with the common smell of aquatic 
plants. It is peculiar in its character, and 
resembles that of no other plant with which I am 
acquainted. I have several times attempted to 
separate this perfume by distillation both with 


water and spirit, but have never succeeded in 
preserving it in the faintest degree. It is much 
more fugacious than the perfume of roses, and 
seems to be destroyed by the application of heat. 
Possibly the employment of a large quantity of 
flowers at a time might yield a better product. 
The stamens appear more odorous than the 
petals, or at least preserve tbeir odour longer in 

The roots of the water lily are kept by most 
of our apothecaries, and are much used by the 
common people in the composition of poultices. 
They are, no doubt, often injudiciously applied to 
suppurating tumours, since their astringency 
must be rather discutient, than promotive of 
suppuration. They are occasionally used by 
physicians in cases where astringent applications 
are called for, and answer a purpose somewhat 
analogous to that of lead poultices and alum 
curds. The roots, which, when fresh, are large 
and fleshy ; in drying, lose a great part of tbeir 
weight and size, becoming spongy and friable. 

The N^mphsea alba of Europe, which appears 
perfectly similar in its qualities to the American 
plant, was celebrated by the ancients, [JVo/e C ] 
as an antaphrodisiac, and as a remedy in dysen- 
tery and some otber morbid discharges. To the 


latter purpose its astringency might, in some 
instances, make it well suited. The roots and 
seeds of the Nymph sea lotus were used hy the 
ancient Egyptians as bread. 


Nympheea odorata, Willd. Sp. pi. ii. 1153. — Bot. Mag. 819.— 
Bot. Expository, 297. — Pursh, ii. 368. — Nymphsea alba, Michaux, 
i. 311. — Walter, Carol. 155. Castalia pudica, Salisbury, Jlnnah 
of Bot. ii. 71. 


Cutler, Jimer. Transactions, i. 456. 


Fig. 1. Leaf and flower ofNymphcea odorata, 

Fig. 2. Different stamens from the same flower. 

Fig. 3. Stigma. 

Fig. 4. Section of the germ. 

Fig. 5. Jl cell of the germ magnified. 

Fig. 6. Section of the scape. 

Fig. 7. Section of petiole. 

■ J 7/'//r,> /'f ///'<•///'//<'<'• J 


Black Mder. 


After the leaves have fallen in autumn, this 
shrub becomes conspicuous by its glossy scarlet 
berries, which adhere in bunches, for a long time, 
to the sides of the branches. Of the objects 
which impart any liveliness to this season of 
decay, the most noticeable are those which change 
the hue of their leaves from green to red, as the 
oaks, the vaccinia, 65c. those which flower late, as 
the Hamamelis, and those whose fruit attains to 
maturity under the influence of frost, and appears 
fresh and vegetating, while other things are 
withering about them. The species of Prinos 
are of the last description. 

This genus consists of shrubs, a part of which 
are deciduous, and a part evergreen ; bearing 
§mail lateral or axillary flowers. It is nearly 


related to the Ilices or Holly s, differing chiefly 
in the number of its parts. Its character is 
formed by a six cleft calyx, a monopetalous 
subrotate six cleft corolla, and a six seeded berry. 
The Prin os verticillatus has its leaves deciduous, 
oval, serrate, acuminate, slightly pubescent be- 
neath ; flowers axillary, aggregate. 

These shrubs have usually been referred to 
Hexandria Monogynia. The present species and 
some others having different flowers on separate 
plants, Michaux was induced to place them in 
Dicecia. The natural orders to which they are 
assigned are Bumosce of Linn, and Rhamni of 

The Black Alder, for so the shrub is usually 
called, is found in swamps and about the edges of 
streams and ponds from Canada to the Southern 
states. It is irregular in its growth, but most 
commonly forms bunches six or eight feet in 
height. The leaves are alternate or scattered, 
on short petioles, oval, acute at base, sharply 
serrate, acuminate, with some hairiness, particu- 
larly on the veins underneath. The flowers are 
small, white, growing in little tufts or imperfect 
umbels, which are nearly sessile in the axils of 
the leaves. Calyx small, six cleft, persistent 
Corolla monopetalous, spreading, without a tube. 


the border divided into six obtuse segments. 
The stamens are erect, with oblong anthers. In 
the barren flowers they are equal in length to the 
corolla, in the fertile ones, shorter. The germ, 
in the fertile flowers, is large, green, roundish, 
with a short neck or style, terminating in an 
obtuse stigma. These are followed by irregular 
bunches of bright scarlet berries, which are 
roundish, supported by the persistent calyx, and 
crowned with the stigma, six celled, containing 
six long seeds, which are convex outwardly and 
sharp edged within. These berries are bitter 
and unpleasant to the taste, with a little sweet- 
ness and some acrimony. 

The bark of the Black alder is moderately 
bitter, but inferior in this respect to many of our 
shrubs and trees. It discovers very little astrin- 
gency either to the taste, or to chemical tests. 
A decoction which I made of the dried bark 
underwent no alteration on the addition of dis- 
solved gelatin, and only changed to a dark green 
with the sulphate of iron. Alcohol produced 
hjardly any change. The tincture, in alcohol, was 
found moderately bitter, and was not altered by 

The piack alder has had a considerable repu- 
tation as a tonic medicine, perhaps more than it 


deserves. The late Professor Barton tells us, 
that the bark has long been a popular remedy in 
different parts of the United States, being used in 
intermittents and some other diseases as a sub- 
stitute for the Peruvian bark ; and on some 
occasions, he thinks it more useful than that 
article. " It is employed both in substance and 
in decoction, most commonly, however, in the 
latter shape. It is supposed to be especially 
useful in cases of great debility accompanied with 
fever ; as a corroborant in anasarcous and other 
dropsies, and as a tonic in cases of incipient 
sphacelus or gangrene. In the last case," he 
says, "it is unquestionably a medicine of great 
efficacy. It is both given internally and employed 
externally as a wash." 

Dr. Thacher recommends a decoction or in- 
fusion of the bark taken internally in doses of a 
teacupful, and employed also as a wash, for the 
cure of cutaneous eruptions, particularly of the 
herpetic kind. 

I have had but little experience with the 
bark of the Prinos which gave me much satis- 
faction. Indeed the tests of tonic remedies are 
of a more ambiguous kind than those of most 
other medicines. Vegetable barks, which are 
bitter and astringent, are generally tonic, if they 


have no more striking operation ; and in this 
property they differ in a degree somewhat pro- 
portionate to their bitterness and astringency. 
Judging by these criterions, the Prinos is not 
entitled to hold a very exalted rank in the list of 
tonics. As a bitter it is at best but of the second 
rate, and in astringency it falls below a multitude 
of the common forest trees. 

The berries are recommended by the writers 
above cited, as possessing the same tonic proper- 
ties with the bark. They certainly possess some 
activity, which, in large quantity, is not of the 
tonic kind. I have known sickness and vomiting 
produced in a person by eating a number of these 
berries found in the woods in autumn. 


Prinos verticillatus, Linn, Sp. pi. — Pursh, i. 220. — Prinos Gro- 
novii, Michaux, ii. 236. — Prinos padifolius, Will©. Enum. Berok 


B. S. Barton, Collections, ii. 5. — Thacher, Lisp. 324, 



Fig. t. Prinos verticillatus, a branch in flower; 

Fig. 2. Ripe berries. 

Fig. 3. Calyx magnified. 

Fig. 4. The rest of the flower ditto. 

Fig. 5. Stamen of the barren flower magnified. 

Fig. 6. Germ of the fertile flower ditto-. 

, '/<//•/'/'//<<'/ <z //(/sf/f/ y /.i 


American Centaury. 


Under the name of Chironia angularis, this 
plant has been familiar to physicians in the 
United States as a native bitter. As it wants the 
most distinguishing characters of Chironia, while 
it has others of a very different kind, particularly 
in the anthers and stigma ; I have followed the 
example of Pursh and others in referring it to the 
genus Sabbatia of Adanson. 

This genus is characterised by a persistent 
calyx from jive to tivelve parted ; a corolla from 
jive to tivelve parted; anthers finally revolutc ; 
stigma ttvo parted, spiral ; capsule one celled. 
The Sabbatia angularis differs from the rest of 
the genus in being erect, the leaves clasping, 
peduncles elongated and corymbose, segments of 
the calyx lanceolate, half as long as the corolla ; 
stem square and winged. 


Class Pentandria, order Monogynia ; natural 
orders Rosacece, Linn. Gentianas, Juss. 

This plant grows in damp rich soils through- 
out the Middle and Southern states, and is most 
commonly known by the name of Centaury. It 
is commonly from one to two feet high. The 
stem is erect, smooth, square, with the angles 
winged. Branches axillary, opposite. The leaves 
are opposite and ovate, but vary in length and 
width. They are heart-shaped at base, clasping 
half the stem, nerved, smooth, entire, acute. 
Flowers terminal, forming a large corymb. Tube 
of the calyx angular, with five broad segments. 
Corolla five parted with oval segments twice as 
long as the calyx. The anthers are oblong and 
slightly recurved at the time when the flower 
first opens. After shedding their pollen they 
become revolute and curl up, but never assume 
the spiral form like the anthers of Chironia. 
Germ ovate ; style longer than the stamens, 
declined ; stigma two parted, the segments 
separate at first, but gradually becoming twisted 
spirally together. Capsule one celled, two 

Every part of this plant is a pure and very 
strong bitter. In this quality, as well as in its 
medicinal properties, it is resembled by several 


other species of the same genus. An extractive 
principle appears to be the seat of this property, 
as it is communicated alike to alcohol and water, 
and as the solutions in these fluids do not occa- 
sion precipitates from each other. There appears 
to be no astringency in the vegetable. 

In the collections for an American Materia 
Medica by the late Professor Barton, we are told 
that this plant is a valuable tonic bitter resembling 
the Centaury of Europe, for which it was used by 
some practitioners on the supposition of its being 
the same plant. It had long been a popular 
remedy, and was much employed in the yellow 
fever of Philadelphia, in 1793. 

In Mr. Elliott's Botany of the Southern states, 
we are told that the plant, in South Carolina, is a 
common remedy in intermittent fever. Some of 
the other species of the same family, particularly 
S. gracilis, are equally efficacious. It is deserving 
of remark, that a great number of vegetables, 
belonging to tbe same natural order, are highly 
bitter, and approved as tonic remedies. 

From the use I have made of the Sabbatia, 
I have no hesitation in attesting its utility. It 
seems to me to rank among the more pure or 
simple bitters, and acts usefully as a stomachic 
and promoter of appetite and digestion. Beyond 


this, I have no experience with it. It may he 
given in substance or in i illusion, but the latter 
mode is generally preferred. This form is one 
in which it appears to be largely used by physi- 
cians in the Middle states. Dr. Chapman tells 
us, it is resorted to extensively by every class of 
practitioners, regular and irregular, in the inter- 
mittent and remittent fevers. He thinks it has 
the advantage over Peruvian bark of being sus- 
ceptible of employment in every stage of these 


Sabbatia angularis, Pursh, Flora Jlmer. i. 137.— Elliott, Flora 
I 285.— Chironia angularis, Willd. Sp. pi. i. 1067.— Michaux, 
Flora, i. 146. 


B. S. Barton, Coll. i. 15.— Chapman, Therapeutics, ii. 417.— 
Elliott, L c. supra* 


Fig- 1. Sabbatia angularis. 

Fig. 2. The stamen before it bursts, magnified. 

Fig. 3. Stamen after bursting, do. 

Fig. 4. Pistil magnified with the stigmas not yet twisted. 

Fig. 5. Do. the stigmas having become spiral. 


( ; '///ttOftttttf/ , r /ft 



Common Erytlironium,. 


.T or a considerable time the genus Erythro- 
niuni was considered as containing only one 
species, the E. dens canis of Europe and Asia. 
The American plant was considered, by Michaux, 
as a variety of the European, differing only in 
colour. Later botanists have, with propriety, 
separated it, and besides this, one or two other 
American species have been added to the genus.* 

The natural order, called Liliacew by Linnaeus, 
and Lilia by Jussieu, is perhaps not exceeded by 
any other, in the uniform elegance of all its spe- 

* My friend Mr. F. Boott discovered a new species of Erythro- 
nium on the Camel's rump mountain in Vermont, which he calls E. 
bracteatum. Its character is E. foliis incequalibus, scapo bracteato. 
In all the specimens gathered by that gentleman, the leaves were 
very unequal, one being twice the size of the other ; the scape had 
also a lanceolate bracte near the top. The flower was yellow and 
about half the size of E. dmericanum. 


cies. The Lily, Tulip, Crown imperial, and 
Gloriosa are specimens of this order. They 
belong to the same artificial class and order Hex- 
andria trigynia, and have a close affinity in all the 
parts of their structure. The Erythronium, 
ivhich is generally called, I know not for what 
reason, Bog^s tooth violet, is one of the smallest of 
the order. 

This genus has no calycc. Its corolla As 
inferior, six petalled ; the three inner petals with 
a callous prominence on each edge near the base. 
The common American plant has its scape naked, 
its leaves lanceolate and involute at the point; and 
its style club-shaped and undivided. It is an early 
flowering plant, being in blossom in the first part 
of May. It grows in woods and fields in the 
Northern and Middle states. 

The root is a solid bulb, situated deep in the 
ground, brown outside, and white and homoge- 
neous within. The whole plant is smooth and 
glossy. Scape naked, slender. Leaves two, 
nearly equal, lanceolate, veinless, of a dark 
brownish green, clouded with irregular spots, 
sheathing the scape with their base, and termi- 
nating in an obtuse callous point. Flower solitary, 
drooping. Petals six, lanceolate, yellow, the 
three outermost partly crimson on the outside, 


the three innermost having an obscure tooth on 
each side near the base. In a clear sun the petals 
are expanded and revolute, but at night and on 
cloudy days, they are nearly closed. Filaments 
flat, anthers oblong-linear. Germ obovate, style 
longer than the stamens, club-shaped, three 
lobed at top and terminating in three distinct, 
but not detached, stigmas. Capsule oblong- 
obovate, somewhat pedicelled. 

The bulb of this plant, judging from its 
texture and taste, is almost wholly farinaceous. 
When dry, it is mealy and free from any un- 
pleasant flavour. Having lost my specimens of 
the root at the time of preparing this article, I 
was unable to submit this part to chemical exam- 
ination. A tincture was prepared from some 
dried leaves and flowers, which gave evidence of 
resin being present, when tested with alcohol. 
Water distilled from the same parts had a rather 
disagreeable odour. 

This vegetable possesses the power of acting 
on the stomach as an emetic. About twenty 
five grains of the green root and forty of the 
recently dried root have produced nausea and 
vomiting. When the root is fully and thoroughly 
dried, or when it has been exposed to heat, it 
appears to lose this property in a great measure. 


In its power of acting on the alimentary canal, 
it resembles many other plants, which are related 
to it in botanical habit. The Squill, Colchicum, 
and Aloe are examples of this class, and even the 
common Daffodil and Tulip are found to be 
emetic. I have known a family of children to be 
taken with violent vomiting from having, by 
mistake, dug up, roasted and eaten some Tulip 
roots, supposing them to be Artichokes. 

It is probable that the medicinal activity of 
the Erythronium is of a volatile naturej capable 
of being dissipated by heat. Its farinaceous 
portion, when duly separated, is no doubt innox- 
ious. Gmelin, in his Flora Sibirica, states, that 
the Tartars collect and dry the roots of Erythro- 
nium dens canis, and boil them either with milk 
or broth, and consider them as very nutritious 
food. They are said nearly to resemble salep. 
It is remarkable that farinaceous roots, which 
possess active and even virulent qualities, do not 
impart them to the fsecula, which constitutes so 
large a portion of their bulk. The different 
species of Arum, Calla, and the J;tropha Mani- 
hot are examples of this fact, affording nutritious 
bread, although their crude juices are more or 
less poisonous. 


The leaves of the American Erythronium 
are said to he more active than the root, but on 
this subject I am not fully informed. It is 
probable that the recent leaves have more activity 
than the drv. 


Erythronium Americanum, Ker, Bot. Mag. t. 1113. — NuttalLj 
Genera, i. 223. — E. lanceolatum, Pursh, i. 230. — E. longifolium, 
Poiret, Encycl. Methodique. — E. flavum, Smith, Rees' Cycl. — E. 
dens canis, Michaux, Flora, i. 198. 


Fig. 1. Erythronium Americanum, the flower rather more droop- 
ing than common. 
Fig. 2. One of the inner petals. 
Fig. 3. Stamen. 
Fig. 4. Pistil. 
Fig. 5. Stigma magnified. 
Fig. 6. Root. 



Frickly Mi. 


The Prickly Ash is a slirub of middling 
height, found in woods and moist or shady decliv- 
ities in the Northern, Middle and Western states. 
It is rare in Massachusetts and the states north 
of it, its localities being very circumscribed. 
After I had taken pains to procure specimens 
from Connecticut, I accidentally discovered a 
thicket of the shrubs in a wood in Medford, six 
miles from Boston. 

Late botanists have placed the genus Xan- 
thoxyium in Pentandria Pentagynia, although it 
is dioecious, or rather polygamous. Its calyx is 
inferior, jive parted ; corolla none ; capsules from 
three to five, one seeded. The X. fraxineum is 
prickly, the leaves pinnate ; leafets ovate, suben- 
tlre, sessile, equal at base ; umbels axillary. 



-f <' /V ///f'.j •//?/ 

"/////sir y/f/z/t /tr/.i /.'.>,/, m 

Jo ^u 


Linnaeus placed the Xanthoxyla in his natural 
order Dumoscv, but Smith thinks them better 
arranged with the Hederacece. Jussieu places 
them with his Terebintaceis ajjiiiia. 

The branches of the Prickly ash are covered 
with strong, sharp prickles, arranged without 
order, though most frequently in pairs at the 
insertion of the young branches. Leaves pinnate, 
the common petiole sometimes unarmed and 
sometimes prickly on the back. Leafets about 
five with an odd one, nearly sessile, ovate, acute, 
with slight vesicular serratures, somewhat downy 
underneath. The flowers appear in April and 
May before the leaves are expanded. They grow 
in sessile umbels about the origin of the young 
branches, are small and greenish. I have 
observed them of three kinds, making the shrub 
strictly polygamous. In the staminiferous flower 
the calyx is five leaved, the leaves oblong, obtuse, 
erect. Stamens five with subulate filaments and 
sagittate four celled anthers. In the place of 
pistils are three or four roundish corpuscles 
supported on pedicels from a common base. 
The perfect flowers, growing on the same plant, 
have the calyx and stamens like the last ; the 
germs are three or four, pedicelled, and having 
erect, converging styles nearly as long as the 


stamens. The pistilliferous flowers grow on a 
separate shrub. Calyx smaller and more com- 
pressed. Germs about five, pedicelled ; styles 
converging into close contact at top, and a little 
twisted. Stigmas obtuse. All the flowers are 
destitute of corolla. Each fertile flower produces 
an umbel of as many stipitate capsules as there 
were germs in the flower. These capsules are 
oval, covered with excavated dots, varying from 
green to red, two valved, one seeded ; the seed 
oval, blackish. 

The bark of the Prickly ash has a slight 
aromatic flavour, combined with a strong pun- 
gency, which is rather slow in manifesting itself 
in the mouth. The leaves are more aromatic, 
very much resembling, in smell, the leaves of the 
Lemon tree. The rind of the capsule is highly 
fragrant, imparting to the fingers, when rubbed 
between them, an odour much like the oil of 
lemons. The odorous portion is an essential 
oil residing in transparent vesicular points on the 
surface of the capsules and about the margins of 
the leaves. The acrimony, which resides in the 
bark, has its foundation in a different principle ; 
being separated by decoction, but not by distil- 
lation ; at least none of it came over in my 
experiments, which were repeated with both the 


green and dried bark. The water in which the 
bark is boiled has a peculiar pungent heat, which 
is not perceived when the liquid is first taken 
into the mouth, but gradually developes itself by 
a burning sensation on the tongue and fauces. 
It retains this acrimony after standing a week 
and more. The leaves do not appear to possess 
the pungency of the bark, and impart no acri- 
mony to the water in which they are boiled. 
They abound in mucilage, which coagulates in 
large films when alcohol is added to the decoction. 
They seem to possess more astringency than the 
bark, and strike a black colour with sulphate of 
iron, while solutions, made from the bark, are but 
moderately changed by the same test. The 
alcoholic tincture of the bark is bitter and very 
acrid. Its transparency is diminished by adding 
water, and after standing some time it becomes 
very turbid. Whether the acrimony of this 
shrub resides in a peculiar acrid principle, or 
whether it belongs to the resin and becomes 
miscible with water in consequence of the presence 
of mucilage, may be considered as yet uncertain. 
The Prickly ash has a good deal of reputa- 
tion in the United States as a remedy in chronic 
rheumatism. In that disease its operation seems 
analogous to that of Mezereon and Guaiacum, 


which it nearly resembles in its sensible proper- 
ties. It is not only a popular remedy in the 
country, but many physicians place great reliance 
on its powers in rheumatic complaints, so that 
apothecaries generally give it a place in their 
shops. It is most frequently given in decoction, 
an ounce being boiled in about a quart of water. 
Dr. George II ay ward, of Boston, informs me, that 
he formerly took this decoction in his own case 
of chronic rheumatism with evident relief. It 
was prepared as above stated, and about a pint 
taken in the course of a day, diluted with water 
sufficient to render it palatable by lessening the 
pungency. It was warm and grateful to the 
stomach, produced no nausea nor effect upon the 
bowels, and excited little, if any, perspiration. 

1 have given the powdered bark in doses of 
ten and twenty grains in rheumatic affections 
with considerable benefit. A sense of heat was 
produced at the stomach by taking it, but no 
other obvious effect. In one case it effectually 
removed the complaint in a few days. I have 
known it, however, to fail entirely in obstinate 
cases, sharing the opprobrium of failure with a 
variety of other remedies. 

The Prickly ash has been employed by 
physicians in some cases as a topical stimulant. 


It produces a powerful effect when applied to 
secreting surfaces and to ulcerated parts. In the 
West Indies much use has heen made of the 
bark of another species, the Xanthoxylum Clava 
Herculis, in malignant ulcers, both internally 
administered and externally applied. Commu- 
nications relating to its efficacy may be found in 
the eighth volume of the Medical and Physical 
Journal, and the fifth volume of the Transactions 
of the Medical Society of London. 

By an ambiguity which frequently grows out 
of the use of common or English names of plants, 
the Aralia spinosa, a very different shrub, has 
been confounded with the Xanthoxylum. The 
Aralia, called Angelica tree, and sometimes 
Prickly ash, is exclusively a native of the warmer 
parts of the United States, being not found, to my 
knowledge, in the Atlantic states north of Vir- 
ginia. Its flavour and pungency, as well as its 
general appearance, are different from those of 
the true Prickly ash. It is nevertheless a valu- 
able stimulant and diaphoretic, and in Mr. Elli- 
ott's Southern Botany, we are told that it is an 
efficacious emetic. For the latter purpose it is 
given in large doses, in infusion. 

The name Xanthoxylum, signifying yellotv 
wood, was originally given by Mr. Colden. The 


spelling has since been unaccountably changetl 
to Zanthoocylon in a majority of the books which 
contain the name. The etymology, however, can 
leave no doubt of the true orthography. 


Xanthoxylum fraxineum, Smith,> Cycl. No. 12. — Z. fraxi- 
neum, Pursh, i. 209. — Z. clava Herculis jS. Linnaeus, Sp. pi. — Z. 
ramiflorum, Michaux, Flora, ii. 235. — Fagara fraxini folio, Duha- 
mel, Jlrb. v. t. 97. 


B. S. Barton, Collections, i. 25, 52 ; ii. 38. — Thacher, Dispen- 
satory, sub Aralia spinosa. 


Fig. 1. Xanthoxylum fraxineum in fruit. 

Fig. 2. A barren branch in flower. 

Fig. 3. Fertile branch in flower. 

Fig. 4. Barren flower magnified. 

Fig. 5. Stamen, do. 

Fig. 6. Abortive germ of the barren flower, do. 

Fig. 7. Fertile flower, do. 

Fig. 8. Pistils of ditto, do. 

Fig. 9. Perfect flower, do. 

Fig. 10. Capsule, do. beginning to open. 

Fig. 11. Seed, do. 


Common Hop. 


jL he Hop vine is not only a native of most 
countries in Europe, but is decidedly indigenous 
in America. It often occurs wild in the Atlantic 
states, and was found, by Mr. Nuttall, growing 
spontaneously on the banks of the Missouri. 
Sir J. E. Smith has quoted an old distich, which 
seems to be illustrative of the period of its intro- 
duction into practical use in England, about 
Henry the YILI's time ; although he has no doubt 
of its being really native in that country.* The 
Hop being a medicinal article of some conse- 
quence, and one generally retained by the Phar- 
macopoeias j there is a propriety in introducing 
it in a Medical Botany of the United States. 

* " Turkeys, Carp, Hops, Pickerel and Beer 
Came into England all in one year." 




The genus Humulns, which has only a single 
species, is found in the Linnsean class Dioecia, 
and order Pentajidria. It belongs to the natural 
orders Scabridw, Linn, and Urticce, Juss. Its 
barren flowers have a calyx of five leaves and 
no corolla. The fertile flowers have for their 
calyx the scales of an anient, each two flowered ; 
corolla of one petal, lateral ; styles two ; seeds 
solitary, invested with the corolla. 

The Hop vine is an ornamental plant, much 
more frequently seen cultivated than wild, and 
climbing to a great height. The root is peren- 
nial. Stems annual, twining from right to left, 
angular, rough, with minute reflexed prickles. 
Leaves opposite, on long winding petioles, the 
smaller ones heart-shaped, the larger ones three 
or five lobed, serrated, veiny and extremely 
rough. Flowering branches axillary, angular 
and rough. Stipules two or four, between the 
petioles, ovate, reflexed. Flowers numerous, and 
of a greenish colour. Those of the barren plants 
are very numerous and panicled. Their calyx 
has five oblong, obtuse, spreading, concave leaves. 
Corolla wanting. Stamens short, the anthers 
oblong, and bursting by two terminal pores. 
The fertile flowers, growing on a separate plant, 
are in the form of an anient, having each pair of 


flowers supported by a calyx-scale, which is ovate, 
acute, tubular at base. Corolla of one scale, 
obtuse, smaller than the calyx and placed one on 
each side of it, infolding the germ by their edge. 
Germ roundish, compressed ; styles two, short; 
stigmas long, subulate, downy. The scales of 
the calyx and corolla swell into a kind of persis- 
tent cone or strobile, each flower producing a 
roundish seed. 

The full grown strobiles constitute the part 
which is preserved for use and sold in its dried 
state under the name of Hops. These have an 
aromatic, heavy odour, and a strong, bitter, but 
not unpleasant taste. Besides the bitterness, 
they have the characteristic taste which is found 
in the leaves and other portions of the plant. On 
the outside of the scales of the calyx and corolla 
and near their base, is secreted a semi-resinous 
substance in the form of minute, yellow, trans- 
parent globules. This secretion appears to be 
the seat of the whole bitterness for which the hops 
are generally prized and consumed. Dr. Suiith, 
in the English Botany, has observed, that the 
fragrance and essential properties of the hop 
reside in this resinous substance ; and more 
recently an interesting series of experiments has 
been published by Dr. A. W. Ives> of New York. 


to show that this portion may effectually super- 
cede all the rest, in common practical use. 

This substance, when separated from the hops 
by rubbing and sifting, exists in the form of a 
fine yellow powder. It is adhesive when rubbed 
hetween the fingers, and becomes agglutinated 
by moderate heat. It is very inflammable, and 
burns entirely out with a white flame, leaving a 
light cinder. 

Dr. Ives has made a variety of experiments 
with this powder, from which he concludes that 
it consists of tannin, extractive matter, a bitter 
principle, wax, resin, and a woody fibrous sub- 
stance, besides the aromatic principle, which he 
was unable to separate in the form of volatile oil. 
It may be observed, that the powder, as employed 
by him, being obtained from the hops by agitation 
and sifting, must necessarily contain a certain 
portion of chaff or minute fragments of the scales ; 
and that these are apparently the seat of the tan- 
nin, the woody insoluble substance, and possibly 
of some other ingredients. If the pure secretion 
be carefully separated from the scales by brush- 
ing, and dissolved in alcohol, it does not undergo 
any change of colour from the sulphate of iron ; 
although the scales themselves, as well as the 


leaves of the plant, strike a black colour when 
treated with that salt. 

Hops have long been made an ingredient in 
malt liquors on account of the agreeable flavour 
they communicate, and also from a preservative 
quality which they are supposed to exert in 
preventing acescency in those liquids. Dr. Ives 
has shown that a prodigious saving of expense 
might be made by brewers, if this powder were 
separated at an early period, and used instead 
of the hops themselves. He was able, without 
much trouble, to separate fourteen ounces of the 
powder from six pounds of hops, and concludes, 
that if the hops were treated, during the process 
of gathering and drying, with a view to the 
preservation of the powder, they would yield at 
least one pound in six. He has pointed out a 
vast saving, which would take place in the 
expense of transportation and storage, if an 
article containing all the strength of the hop, and 
occupying but small compass, were substituted 
for one which is of more than twenty times its 
bulk. An enormous loss would farther be pre- 
vented, which now takes place from the absorption 
produced by the hops, it being calculated that one 
barrel of wort is absorbed by every sixty pounds 
of hops used in brewing. He enumerates still 


farther advantages which would result from the 
easier preservation of the article, its superior 
flavour, and the diminished chance of adulteration, 
arising from reduction of price.* 

The researches of Dr. Ives are entitled to 
great commendation, as they seem to promise a 
highly economical improvement in an important 
branch of domestic manufacture. In Great 
Britain, where malt liquors are more extensively 
consumed than, perhaps, in any other country, 
the saving must be an object of more conse- 
quence, than with us. It remains to be ascer- 
tained whether any effectual and economical 
method of separating the powder from the stro- 
biles can be brought into practical use. 

In medical practice the hop has been found 
a decided and useful tonic. A fermented 
decoction, known by the name of hop beer, and 
usually formed from this article with the simple 
addition of treacle, is much used in the New 
England states. When made sufficiently bitter 
with the hops, and taken as a common drink at 
meals, it promotes digestion more than any of 

* The term Liipulin, by which Dr. Ives designates the powder 
of the hop, is convenient and not objectionable for practical use. 
As a chemical term, however, it does not agree with those of similar 
termination employed in the science; which express proximate 
principles of vegetables &c. and not heterogeneous bodies. 


the table liquors in common use. It is service- 
able in dyspeptic complaints, and is particularly 
adapted to obviate the lassitude and debility felt 
by persons of relaxed habit in the spring, or on. 
the approach of warm weather. A simple infu- 
sion has been employed for tins purpose, but the 
fermented liquor derives a quality from the 
presence of carbonic acid, which renders it more 
agreeable, both to the palate and stomach. 

The bitter principle of the Hop, in which its 
tonic property appears to reside, is abundantly 
soluble in water. Alcohol not only extracts this 
portion, but dissolves also the resinous constitu- 
ents of the medicine. The tincture of hops is 
found to be bitter and aromatic, and to exert not 
only a strengthening- effect on the viscera, but 
to influence considerably the nervous system in 
the character of an anodyne and soporific medi- 

I have employed the tincture of hops very 
often in practice, and have, on the whole, had 
quite as much reason to be satisfied with its tonic 
operation, as with that of any of the bitter tinc- 
tures in common use. Its narcotic power is 
slight when compared with that of opium, yet it 
nevertheless has, in certain cases, a decided 
property of procuring sleep. I have particularly 


found it effectual in the case of persons advanced 
in life, who had been accustomed to the moderate, 
but increasing use of spirituous liquors ; and who 
at length have considered it impossible to pro- 
cure a quiet night's sleep without a preparatory 
draught of this kind taken warm at bed time. 
In such cases I have found a teaspoonful of the 
tincture of hops to go as far in its composing 
effect, as two or three ounces of ardent spirit. 

Mr. Freake, who published in the Medical and 
Physical Journal some account of the properties 
of this medicine, states that he had found it de- 
cidedly advantageous in erysipelas, in gout and in 
some other diseases. He considers its beneficial 
effects to arise from its alterative and tonic power 
on the system. He thinks it sedative, aperient 
and diuretic ; and a good antiseptic and corrobo- 
rant in bowel complaints. In his practice he had 
found pain to be eased and rest procured with 
this medicine, when opium did not succeed. 

Dr. Maton found that besides allaying pain 
and procuring sleep, the preparations of hops 
were capable of reducing the frequency of the 
pulse, and increasing its firmness in a direct 
manner. One drachm of the tincture and four 
grains of the extract given once in six hours re- 
duced the pulsations from ninety six to sixty in 


the course of twenty four hours. He found the 
extract very efficacious in allaying the pain of 
of articular rheumatism. 

Some experiments of Dr. Bigsby and others 
have not been found to confirm the previous 
character of this article in all the foregoing 
respects, and its sedative powers have been called 
in question. As in most new medicines, its vir- 
tues have doubtless been exaggerated by its earli- 
est advocates ; yet it is not on this account to be 
discartled from use. Although the narcotic 
powers of the hop are not of the most energetic 
kind, they nevertheless do exist, and the very 
circumstance of their mild and temperate influ- 
ence renders them, in many cases, safer than 
those of more active drugs. 

In regard to the lithontriptic power which 
has been imputed to hops both aloue, and through 
the medium of malt liquors, it is not probable 
that they have any operation of this sort, beyond 
that of a palliative. 

The external application of hops has long had 
the popular reputation of being anodyne and com- 
posing. A pillow of hops is thought instrumental 
in procuring sleep, but with what justice I am 
unable to say. Poultices and fomentations made 

of them are in repute as sedative applications for 


painful swellings. When steeped in hot brandy 
and held in the mouth, they sometimes relieve 
the pain of a carious tooth. For all these pur- 
poses, no doubt, they often fail, yet there is little 
temerity in asserting that they are equally to be 
depended on in such cases, with the rest of the 
articles of the Materia Medica. 

The most common form for internal use, 
where a sedative effect is desired, is that of the 
saturated tincture. The powder separated from 
the hops may be given in substance with a cer- 
tainty of securing all their medicinal effects. 
This powder must be given in small doses, to be 
retained on the stomach and bowels. Dr. Bry- 
orly found that twenty or twenty five grains left 
a sense of acrimony in the throat, and were fol- 
lowed by a good deal of nausea, and in some 
instances by purging. 

The vine of the hop has been appropriated 
to some economical uses. In spring, when the 
young shoots first emerge from the ground, they 
are boiled and eaten as asparagus, and are 
accounted very salubrious. The fibres of the vine 
are strong and flexible and have been manufac- 
tured into a coarse cloth in Sweden and England, 
particularly for the sacks in which the hops are 
carried to market. 



Humulus lupulus, Linn. Sp. pi. — Smith, Engl. Bot. t. 427. — 
Miller, Illustrations, t. 88. — Michaux, ii. — Puush, i. 199. — Nut- 
tall, ii. 237. — Lupulus mas et fsemina, Ray, Syn. 137. 


Freake, Med. and Phys. Journal, xiii. 432. — Thompson, Lon- 
don Dispensatory, 200. — Bigsby, London Medical Repository, v. 97. 
— Bryorly, Inaug, Diss. Philad. 1803. — Ives, in Silliman''s Jour- 
nal, ii. 302. 


Fig. 1. Humulus lupulus in fruit. 

Fig. 2. Fertile flowers. 

Fig. 3. Calyx and pistil of do. (the corolla omitted by mistake 

of the engraver.) 
Fig. 4. B arisen flowers. 
Fig. 5. Stamen magnified. 


Note A. 

Ranunculi, quod aliqui apium agreste nominant, plura quideiu 
sunt genera : at vis tamen omnibus una, acris scilicet ac vehementer 
exulcerans. Ac unum quidem coriandri foliis constat, sed latioribus, 
subalbidis et pinguibus: flore luteo, interdiim purpureo. Caulis 
minime crassus est, sed cubitum altus. Radice nititur exigua, Can- 
dida et amara, adnatis ceu capillamentis, hellebori modo, fibrata: 
juxta fluenta nascitur. Alterum est lanuginosius, longioreque 
caule, pluribus foliorum incisuris, plurimum in Saridinia proveniens, 
acerrimum, quod etiam sjlvestre apium appellant. Est et tertium 
valde parvum et odore gravi; flore aureo. Quartum simile huic, 
flore lacteo. Folia et caules tenelli vim habent illitu exulcerandi, et 
usque adeo urendi, ut etiam crustas cum dolore inducant. Quare 
scabros ungues auferunt, psoras removent, stigmata delent : itemque 
formicationes ac pensiles verrucas et alopecias ad breve tempus im- 
posita tollunt. Quin et repente eorum decocto perniones foventur. 
Radix vero sicca tritaque, sternutamenta ciet, naribus admota: 
dentium quoque dolores appensa levat, ipsos tamen rumpit. 

Dioscorides. Interp. Sarraceni, Lib. ii. Cap. 206. 

Note B. 

Sponte jam patet, internum Euphorbii usum periculo plenum 
esse. Sed confirmant id infortunia, specialibus casibus subnata. 
Obiit quidam, cui empiricus illud imprudenter exhibuerat, dysenteria 
eodem die. Virgo venusta seni decrepito, se invita, desponsata ad 
mortem sibi conciliandam pulverem Euphorbii ingessit, unde dolores 
ventris atrocissimi, hvpercatharses cum vomitionibus frequentissi- 

176 NOTES. 

mis, singultu, ardore ventriculi et faucium sitique inextinguibili, 
tandem sudores frigidi et animi deliquia : ex quibus angustiis tamen 
arte emersit Nihilomimus tamen quidam illud praecipere ausi 
sunt, et instar drastid, quod pituitam, sed potentius aquam, subdu- 
ceret in iis, quibus venter nimis contra alia mitiora torpet, vel ut 
loqui amant, friget, in hydropicis praecipue admiserunt. Ita ./Etius, 
Actuarius et Arabes non nulli. Galenus et Dioscorides tacent de vi 
ejus purgante. Omnes tamen, qui ore captum concedunt, cautionem 
summam injungunt, et connubium, cum iis, quae acrimonium ejus 
frangere valent, vel praegressam mitigationem desiderant. Hanc 
ipsam tentarunt oleo amygdalino, succo Citri, phlegmate Vitrioli, 
Mastiche, Croco, Tragacantha, Melle aliisque bene multis secundum 
varium de ejus natura conceptum. Sed ejusmodi correctiones vel 
non sufficiunt, vel, si sufficiunt, ipsam vim medicaminis destruunt. 
Minuere dosin vel rite illam diluere, aliis exemplis artis est. Ast 
nondum comprobata vera dosis est. Ad grana decern permittit 
Sennertus, alias non ineptus subdolse Euphorbii vis judex; a grano 
uno ad octo cum semisse concedit Heurnius ; a granis duobus sex 
vel octo Geoffroy. Omnibus hisce audacior et Fallopius, qui prse- 
ceptovis sui Machesii auctoritate et propria experientia ductus, non 
dubitavit Euphorbii vetusti drachmam unam, rarius scrupulos qua- 
tuor, dare. Mixtum Cassia mitius deprehendit quam solutum, qua 
forma sitim intolerabilem et evacuationem largiorem creavit. Sed 
praestat usum internum eiusdem omnino negligere. 

Murray Apparatus Medicaminum sub Euphorbia officinarum. 

Note C. 

Nymplisea in paludibus stagnantibusque aquis nascitur: folia 
vero habet iEgyptiee fabee similia, at minora oblongioraque, plura ab 
una eademque radice prodeuntia: quorum alia super aquam quodam- 
modo extant, alia in ea ipsa demerguntur: florem album, lilio simi- 
lem, in quo medium croceiim est. At cum defloruerit, calyculus 
rotundus, figura malo aut papaveris capiti similis, idemque niger, 
extuberat : in quo semen nigrum, latum, densum, atque gustanti len- 
tum glutinosumve recluditur. Caulis est lsevis, minime crassus, 

NOTES. 177 

niger, iEgyptise fabse caiili similis : radix nigra, scabra, clavee simi- 
lis, quse autumno secatur. Ea sicca, cum vino pota, cceliacis ac 
dysentericis auxiliatur, lienemque consumit. Stomachi quoque ac 
vesicae doloribus sedandis ipsa radix imponitur, et alphos ex aqua 
emendat : alopeciis etiamnum cum pice imposita medetur. Eadem 
contra veneris insomnia bibitur, siquidem ilia in totiim adimit : quin 
et aliquot diebus continenter epota, genitale ita infirmat, ut arrigi 
minime possit. Idem porro seminis quoque poti effectus est. Cse- 
teriim a nymphis nymphwee nomen sibi vendicasse creditur, quoniam 
loca amet aquosa. Plurima autem inuenitur in Helide, Anygro 
amne, et in Bceotiee Aliarto. 

Dioscorides interp. Sarraceni, iii 148. 



It has been already stated that the incon- 
veniences in the emetic operation of this plant are 
its slow commencement, long continuance, and 
occasional narcotic effect. I have, since writing 
the article, become acquainted with instances of 
hypercatharsis, following the employment of this 
medicine in large doses. A physician informed 
me that having himself occasion for an emetic, 
he took twenty grains of Pulv. Phytolacca, which 
not operating readily he took twenty more within 
an hour. This large quantity brought on severe 
vomiting, which continued until his strength was 
exhausted. A hypercatharsis followed attended 
with inflammation of the bowels from which he was 
a week in recovering. In a few other instances 
I have known a decided effect take place on the 
retina, producing blindness for two or three 



hours. In general, it may be considered im- 
proper to give large quantities of this medicine, 
or to accumulate it bj the repetition of small 
quantities. In these respects it has not the safety 
of the officinal Ipecacuanha. See some remarks 
on this subject under the article Euphorbia 
ipecacuanha, Vol. iii. p. 117. 


The root of this plant has sometimes been 
taken internally as it would seem without injury. 
The late Dr. Osborne, of New York, informed me 
that he had given it in the form of confection, or 
in emulsion with milk and sugar, in cases of great 
prostration attending the advanced stages of 
typhoid fevers. He thought it useful as part of 
a cordial regimen, and had found that patients 
bore it as well as cayenne pepper or any similar 
stimulant. In the American Medical Recorder, 
for July 1820, Dr. Burgon, of Pennsylvania, has 
inserted some account of its beneficial operation 
in asthma, chronic, catarrh, and similar com- 
plaints. It is undoubtedly a stimulant of the 
most powerful kind, and when fresh should be 
taken with great caution. In its dried state it is 
uncertain in its strength, and sometimes wholly 



That the Aborigines made use of this plant 
in medicine is attested in Mr. Clayton's letter to 
Dr. Grew in the Philosophical transactions, Vol. 
VIII. of Hutton's abridgment. He says, 
" There is another herb which they call Indian 
purge. This plant has several woody stalks 
growing near three feet tall, and perfoliate ; it 
bears yellow berries round about the joints. 
They only make use of the root of this plant." 
From this description it is sufficiently obvious 
that the plant in question was no other than 
Triosteum perfoliatum. 


The following is part of a letter from Dr. 
Richard Hazeltine of Lynn, Mass. dated May 
9, 1818, which was accompanied by a root o 
Cicuta maculata, but received after I had printed 
the article on that plant. 

" On Friday, the 17th of last month, between 
two and three o'clock P. M. I was called to see 
a boy aged four years, in the last struggles of 


expiring life, from having eaten and swallowed 
some of a root, of which I send you a sample. 
" The history of the circumstances of the case, 
as accurately as I could obtain them, was as 
follows : — Between nine and ten o'clock A. M. 
of that day, two or three of the children of the 
Family were observed to be eating certain roots 
which they had found in a ploughed field near 
the house, and which they supposed to be 
ground nuts, artichokes, or something that was 
innoxious. The boy first complained that he had 
pain in his bowels, and felt as if he had a call to 
a dejection, and was directed to go to stool ; but 
very soon returned and said he could do nothing. 
In a few seconds he puked, and brought up, as 
an intelligent woman, who was present, told me, 
a teacup full of what she believes to be the 
recently masticated root. Upon questioning her 
particularly upon the point, she told me that the 
first impression made upon her mind after seeing 
the boy puke was, that the vomiting was occa- 
sioned by the root that he had eaten. Immedi- 
ately after puking, he fell back in convulsions, 
which, with various remissions and exacerbations, 
continued till he died. A physician was directly 
called, who, believing the convulsions to be owing 
to the poisonous quality of the root which he had 


eaten, endeavoured to excite vomiting, by admin- 
istering what I supposed to be a solution of 
tartrite of antimony in water. I was told that 
the physician took his leave about one o'clock, 
having been unable to excite vomiting, and ex- 
pressing an opinion, that the boy would continue 
but a few moments. I found the boy in a profuse 
sweat, and in constant convulsions. The convul- 
sive agitations consisted of tremors ; violent con- 
tractions and distortions, with alternate and 
imperfect relaxations of the whole muscular 
system ; astonishing mobility of the eyeballs and 
eyelashes, with zvidely dilated pupils ; stridor den- 
tium; trismus ; frothing at the mouth and nose, 
mixed with blood ; and occasionally, violent and 
genuine epilepsy ; of which he had two paroxysms 
after I arrived, which was only about half an hour 
before he expired. The convulsive agitations 
were so powerful and incessant, that I could not 
examine his pulse with sufficient constancy to 
ascertain its character. Yery soon after dissolu- 
tion, and sometime before the natural warmth 
had become extinct, the limbs became remark- 
ably rigid. With a view to empty the stomach, 
I attempted to get down Pulv. Ipecac in warm 
water, in which, although I succeeded tolerably 
well, yet I could not possibly excite vomiting. 


even with the addition of frequent and active 
titillation of the internal fauces with a goose 

"The next day (Saturday) at 4 o'clock, P. M. 
rather more than twenty four hours after dis- 
solution, I examined the body. The extremities 
were more flexile than usual after death. Upon 
turning the body on the left side, a quantity of 
greenish coloured fluid issued from the mouth. 
The viscera of the thorax and abdomen being 
exposed, nothing remarkable appeared, except 
a greater degree than common of distention from 
flatus. The stomach was distended to the 
capacity of at least three pints, from flatus, and 
about three gills of a muciform, greenish fluid, 
such as had flowed from the mouth ; on the sur- 
face of which was plainly distinguished some of 
the masticated root. On this point the persons 
present spoke with confidence. There were 
no appearances of inflammation. I endeavoured 
to ascertain whether there were worms, but 
could find none. The liquid found in the stomach 
after exposure to the air for half an hour in a 
vessel, assumed a dark green. 

"Highly interested to know what the root was 
which had caused the boy's death ; immediately 
after he died I went to the ploughed ground 


whence he procured it, and soon found one of the 
same kind, entire, and of the size of a middling 
potatoe. It is, I helieve, what botanists call a 
'tuberous root.' I broke off one of the knobs 
or buds, by which it was unequivocally ascer- 
tained to be of the same kind of that of which he 
ate a portion, and of which a piece was preserved. 
I planted the root which 1 found. in my garden ; 
and perceive that its sprouts already begin to 
appear above ground ; so that I flatter myself 
the ensuing seasons will develop its botanical 
character. The specimen which I send you, is 
a knob broken off from the main body of the 
root which I planted in my garden ; and will, 
perhaps, at once, be recognised by you. If it 
should not, I hope ere long to exhibit the vege- 
table in its perfect state, and thereby obtain from 
your kindness its botanical name and character." 


I believe that no narcotic effect ensues from 
this shrub in any case where a moderate quantity 
is taken. Dr. Osgood of Danvers informs me, 
that having chewed and swallowed five or six 
large leaves at once, he was affected with head- 


ach and vomiting in consequence. Whether 
this effect was owing to a peculiar quality of the 
leaves, or merely to the large amount of a crude, 
resinous substance taken into the stomach at 
once, admits of some doubt. At any rate, if the 
plant be of a deleterious nature, the quantity 
requisite to produce ill consequences is greater 
than any person will probably be in much dan- 
ger of taking at a time. 


Dr. Burgon, in the Medical Recorder, gives 
the following account of the medical operation of 
this plant. " The powdered root," says he, " is 
extensively employed as a cathartic in bilious 
complaints, and I am persuaded with as much 
success as jalap. I have often prescribed it, 
combined with calomel in the proportion of 
twenty grains of the former to eight or ten of the 
latter, and have uniformly been pleased with its 
effects on my patients. In this dose it is ex- 
tremely prompt and efficacious. My experience 
enables me to state, that it is more drastic than 
jalap, and of course occasions more active 
catharsis, more severe griping, and makes a 


more permanent impression on the system. Its 
operation, in all cases in which I have admin- 
istered it, is slower than that of jalap, hut it leaves 
the howels longer in a lax and soluble condition. 
I once took twenty grains at four o'clock P. M. 
which gave me no disturbance till next morning, 
when its operation commenced and produced 
continual motions all that day and part of the 
next night together with severe tornina ; this 
was the first dose of Podophyllum I had ever 
administered ; and its effects being so decided, I 
have since prescribed it in a multitude of cases, 
and for the most part with similar results. Like 
most other drastic cathartics it is rendered milder 
by combining it with calomel, and hence, in most 
cases, this combination is to be preferred to 
giving it alone. It is more disagreeable to the 
stomach than common purgatives, and will 
oftener occasion emesis. In bilious affections it 
usually supercedes the necessity of an emetic 
previous to a cathartic, and hence two desirable 
effects are produced by one agent. 

I was employed one afternoon in a close room 
in powdering the Had. podophylli, which, by the 
next morning, occasioned a most violent inflam- 
mation of my right eye and eyelid ; it yielded, 
however, to the antiphlogistic regimen in eight 

or ten days. 





Iris versicolor. 

Cornus florida. 

Datura stramonium. 
Hyoscyamus niger. 
Nicotiana tabacum. 
Solanum dulcamara. 
Menyanthes trifoliata. 
Sabbatia angularis. 
Spigelia Marilandica. 
Triosteum perfoliatum. 
Lobelia inflata. 

Aletris farinosa. 
Erythronium Americanum 



Ictodes foetidus. 

Conium maculatum. 
Cicuta maculata. 
Gentiana Catesbsei. 
Asclepias tuberosa. 
Apocynum androsaemifolium. 
Rhus vernix. 
Rhus radicans. 
Panax quinquefolium. 
Statice Caroliniana. 

Prinos verticillatus. 

Dirca palustris. 

Laurus sassafras. 

Kalmia latifolia. 
Rhododendron maximum. 
Arbutus Uva ursi. 
Gaultheria procumbens. 



Pyrola umbellata. 
Cassia Marilandica. 
Phytolacca decandra. 



Asarum Canadense. 


Gillenia trifoliata. Rubus villosus. 


Sanguinaria Canadensis. Liriodendron tulipifera. 

Podophyllum peltatum. Magnolia glauca. 

Nymphaea odorata. Illicium floridanum. 

Coptis trifolia. Ranunculus bulbosus. 


Geranium maculatum. 


Polygala senega. Polygala rubella. 


Eupatorium perfoliatum. Solidago odora. 

Aristolochia serpentaria. 


Arum triphyllum, Juglans cinerea. 


Xanthoxylum fraxineum. Myrica cerifera. 

Humulus lupulus. Juniperus communis. 

Euphorbia ipecacuanha. Juniperus Virginiana. 

Euphorbia corollata. 


Veratrum viride. 





Aletris farinosa, 

Apocynum androsaemifolium, 

Arbutus Uva ursi, 

Aristolochia serpentaria, 

Arum triphyllum, 

Asarum Canadense, 

Asclepias tuberosa, 

Cassia Marilandica, 

Chimaphila corymbosa. Vide Pyrola umbellata. 

Chironia angularis. Vide Sabbatia angularis. 

Cicuta maculata, XII. 

Conium maculatum, XI. 

Coptis trifolia, V, 

Cornus florida, XXVIII. 

Datura stramonium, I. 

jDirca palustris, XXXVII. 

Dracontium fcetidum. Vide Ictodes fcetidus. 

Erythronium Americanum, 
Eupatorium perforatum. 
Euphorbia corollata, 
Euphorbia ipecacuanha, 
Gaultheria procumbens, 
Gentiana Catesbsei, 
Geranium maculatum, 
Gillenia trifoliata, 















































Helleborus trifolius. Vide Coptis trifolia. 

192 LA 


Helonias viridis. Vide Veratrum viride. 

Humulus lupulus, 




Hyoscyamus niger, 




Ictodes fcetidus, 




Ulicium Floridanum, 




Iris versicolor, 




Juglans cinerea, 




Juniperus communis, 




Juniperus Virginiana, 




Kalmia latifolia. 




Laurus sassafras, 




Liriodendron tulipifera, 




Lobelia inflata, 




Magnolia glauca, 




Menyanthes trifoliata. 




Myrica cerifera, 




Nicotiana tabacum, 




Nymphsea odorata, 




Panax quinquefolium, 




Phytolacca decandra, 




Podophyllum peltatuin, 




Polygala rubella, 




Polygala senega, 




Prinos verticillatus, 




Pyrola umbellata, 




Ranunculus bulbosus, 




Rhododendron maximum, 




Rhus radicans, 




Rhus vernix, 




Rubus villosus, 




Sabbatia angularis, 




Sanguinaria Canadensis, 




Solanum dulcamara, 




Solidago odora, 




Spigelia Marilandica, 





Spiraea trifoliata. Vide Gillenia trifoliata. 

Symplocarpus fcetidus. Vide Ictodes fcetidus. 

Triosteum perfoliatum, IX. 

Veratrum viride, XXXIII. 

Xanthoxylum fraxineum, LIX. 

Zanthoxylum fraxinifolium. Vide Xanthoxylum fraxineum. 








American Centaury, 
American Hellebore, 
American Hemlock, 
American Rosebay, 
American Senna, 
Apple Peru. See Thorn Apple. 
Bayberry. See Wax Myrtle. 
Bitter Polygala, 
Bitter sweet, 
Black Alder, 

Blazing Star. See Star Grass. 
Blood root, 
Blue flag, 
Blue Gentian, 

Bone set. See Thorough wort. 
Buck Bean, 
Bulbous Crowfoot, 
Buttercup. See Bulbous Crowfoot. 
Butterfly weed, 
Callico bush. See Mountain Laurel. 
Canada Snake root. See Wild Ginger. 
Candle berry. See Wax Myrtle. 
Carolina Pink root, XIV. 

' Chequer berry. See Partridge berry. 




















































Cocum. See Poke. 

Common Erythronium, 

Common Gillenia, 

Common Juniper, 

Crane's bill, 

Dog's bane, 

Dog wood, 

Dragon root, 

Fever root, 

Garget. See Poke. 


Golden rod, 

Gold Thread, 




Indian Physic. See Common Gillenia. 

Indian Tobacco, XIX, 

Indian Turnip. See Dragon root. 

Ipecacuanha spurge, LI I. 

Ivy. See Poison Ivy. 

Jamestown weed. See Thorn Apple. 

Lamb kill. See Mountain Laurel. 















Large flowering spurge, 


Marsh Rosemary, 

Marsh trefoil. See Buck Bean, 

May Apple, 

Mountain Laurel, 

Night shade. See Bitter sweet. 

Oilnut. See Butternut. 

Partridge berry, 

Pink root. See Carolina Pink root. 

Pipsissewa. See Winter green. 

Pleurisy root. See Butterfly weed. 





































Poison Dogwood. See Poison Sumach. 

Poison Ivy, 




Poison Sumach, 








Poke root. See American Hellebore. 

Poplar. See Tulip tree. 

Prickly ash, 




Red Cedar, 




Red root. See Blood root, 





Savin. See Red Cedar. 

Seneca Snake root, 




Sheep poison. See Mountain Laurel. 


Skunk Cabbage, 




Swamp Sumach. See Poison Sumach. 

Small Magnolia, 




Snake weed. See American Hemlock. 

Spoon wood. See Mountain Laurel. 

Star Grass, 




Starry Anise, 




Tall Blackberry, 




Thorn Apple, 












Tulip Tree, 




Virginia Snake root, 




"Water Lily, 




Wax Myrtle, 




Wild Ginger, 




Wild Lemon. See May Apple. 

Winter Green, 





Gillenia trifoliata, 
Rhus Radicans, 
Myrica cerifera, 
Juniperus communis, 
Juniperus Virginiana, 
Menyanthes trifoliata, 
Ranunculus bulbosus, 
lllicium fioridanum, 
Jlristolochia serpentaria, 
Metris farinosa, 
Rhododendron maximum, 
Euphorbia Ipecacuanha, 
Euphorbia corollata, 
Polygala rubella, 
Nymphcea odorata, 
Prinos verticillatus, 
Sabbatia annularis, 
Erythronium Jlmericanum, 
Xanthoxylum fraxineum, 
Hamulus lupulus, 

Common Gillenia, page 11 

Poison Ivy, 19 

Wax Myrtle, 32 

Common Juniper, 43 

Red Cedar, 49 

Buck Bean, 55 

Bulbous Crowfoot, 61 

Starry Anise, 76 

Virginia Snakeroot, 82 

Star Grass, 92 

American Rosebay, 101 

Ipecacuanha Spurge, 107 

Large flowering Spurge, 119 

Bitter Polygala, 129 
Sweet scented Water Lily, 134 

Black Alder, 141 

American Centaury, 147 

Common Erythronium, 151 

Prickly Ash, 156 

Common Hop, 163