The bark of Larix americana, Michaux.
COMMON NAMES: American larch, Tamarac, Hackmetack, Black larch.
Botanical Source.—This is the Pinus pendula, Pinus microcarpa, and Abies americana of various botanists, and is known by the several names of Black larch, American larch, Hackmetack, etc. The tree has a straight and slender trunk, with slender horizontal branches, and attains the height of 80 or 100 feet. The leaves are short, 1 or 2 inches long, very slender, almost thread-form, soft, deciduous, without sheaths, in fascicles of from 20 to 40, being developed early in the spring from lateral, scaly, and globular buds, which produce (the same or the second year) growing shoots on which the leaves are scattered. The cones are oblong, of few rounded scales, inclining upward, from 1/2 to 1 inch in length, and of a deep-purple color. The scales are thin and inflexed on the margin. The bracts are elliptical, often hollowed at the sides, abruptly acuminate, with a slender point, and, together with the scales, persistent (W.—G.).
History.—This is a beautiful tree, more common throughout New England; it is found in swamps and moist places, and flowers in April and May. It may be distinguished from the pines, by the branches being without leaves for nearly half the year. Its wood is very heavy, strong, and durable, and is the most valuable of all the pines or spruces. The bark is the part used as medicine.
Action, Medical Uses, and Dosage.—A decoction of the bark of this tree is said to be laxative, tonic, diuretic, and alterative, and is recommended in obstructions of the liver, rheumatism, jaundice, and some cutaneous diseases; a decoction of the leaves has been employed in piles, hemoptysis, menorrhagia, diarrhoea, and dysentery, and externally in cutaneous diseases, ulcers, burns, etc. In dropsy, combined with spearmint, juniper berries, and horseradish, it has proved valuable. Dose of the decoction, from 2 to 4 fluid ounces, 2 to 4 times a day.