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The bulb of Narcissus Pseudo-Narcissus, Linné.
COMMON NAME: Daffodil.
Botanical Source and History.—This is a perennial, bulbous plant, native of the central and northern parts of Europe, and a common plant in moist woods in England. It is often cultivated in this country, especially the form with double flowers, and is among the first of spring flowers. The bulb is globular, white internally, and has a blackish coat. The leaves are all radical, linear, and about a foot long. The scape, which is a little longer than the leaves, is erect, and bears a large, terminal, nearly nodding flower of a yellow color. The flower is inclosed in bud in a membranous spathe, which splits lengthwise when the flower expands, and remains persistent at the base. The perianth has a funnel-form tube and six acute segments, about an inch long; near the mouth of the tube is borne a large bell-shape cup, about the length of the perianth segments, and with a crisped, 6-lobed margin. The stamens are 6, attached to the perianth tube, and included in the flower. The pistil consists of a 3-celled, inferior ovary, a slender style, and a 3-lobed stigma. The seeds are numerous.
Narcissus poeticus, Linné, Poet's narcissus, is an allied species, native of central Europe, and naturalized in many places in England; it is one of the most common of spring flowers in cultivation in this country. The ovate bulb has a brown skin, and possesses medicinal properties similar to the bulbs of N. Pseudo-Narcissus. The perianth segments are spreading, and of a pure white color. The cup is very short, and has a crenate, crimson margin.
Narcissus Jonquilla, Linné.—Jonquil has a scape bearing from 2 to 5 fragrant, yellow flowers.
Chemical Composition.—M. Jourdan has described a white, deliquescent, active principle, possessing emetic properties, which he named "narcitine," and M. Caventou obtained from the flowers an odorous, yellow coloring matter, which he termed "narcissine." From the bulbs, Mr. A. W. Gerrard (Pharm. Jour. Trans., 1877, Vol. VIII, p. 214) obtained a small amount of a neutral crystalline body, and a non-crystalline alkaloid, somewhat analogous to atropine, to which the name pseudo-narcissine has been given. The flowers of the jonquil yielded Robiquet, by extraction with ether, a volatile, butyraceous, yellow oil, very fragrant, from which jonquil camphor crystallized out, upon cooling, in the form of yellowish, warty crystals, volatile by heat. Louis Robechek found the bulbs of Narcissus orientalis (Chinese lily) to contain 0.02 per cent of an alkaloid, and 0.2 per cent of a glucosid; furthermore, resin, pectin, sugar (3 per cent), mucilage (9.5) per cent), ash (3 per cent), etc. (Amer. Jour. Pharm., 1893, p. 369).
Action, Medical Uses, and Dosage.—The flowers and bulbs of this plant are the parts that have been employed, and the recent, wild plant appears to possess more active properties than the cultivated. Internally, in large doses, it is an active and even dangerous article, occasioning severe emeto-catharsis and gastro-intestinal inflammations, and its local application to the surface of ulcers and wounds is stated to occasion similar results, and, in addition thereto, serious depressing effects upon the nerve centers. The alkaloid from the bulb is a mydriatic, and, in many respects, resembles atropine in action. As a medicine, narcissus is rarely employed in this country, but is said to possess emetic, cathartic, antispasmodic, and narcotic properties. It has been used in epilepsy, in hysteria, and other spasmodic affections. Laennec employed it with success in pertussis, and other European practitioners have accorded to it an efficient action in intermittent fever, diarrhoea, dysentery, worms, etc. It has likewise been found of prompt benefit in severe catarrh. The cases for narcissus are those exhibiting epileptoid movements of the muscles, in chorea, in rheumatism, showing muscular contractions, and in cerebral diseases, with dull eyes and dilated pupils. A tincture of the bulbs by maceration in 98 per cent alcohol, may be given in doses of 1/4 drop to 10 drops. Dose of dried flowers or bulbs, in powder, from 10 to 60 grains; from 1 to 3 grains of the aqueous extract provokes vomiting. A syrup, ethereal oil, and acetous tincture have also been employed.
Specific Indications and Uses.—Epileptiform movements and muscular contractions; eyes dull, pupils dilated.