Sex. Syst. Monandria, Monogynia.
Dr. Roxburgh gave some of the dried roots of this plant to Sir Joseph Banks, who ascertained that they agreed well with the zedoaria rotunda of the shops. [Roxburgh's Flora Indica, vol. i. pp. 23 and 24.]
1. Zedoaria rotunda.—The zedoary root (radix zedouriae) now found in the shops of English druggists is the round zedoary (zedoaria rotunda) of pharmacological writers. It occurs in segments (halves, quarters, or flat sections) of a roundish or ovate tuber. The external portion of the tuber is marked by the remains, membranes, and fibres, and is of a pale brownish-gray or whitish appearance. When cut, it presents a yellowish marbled appearance, not very dissimilar to the cut surface of rhubarb. It has a warm, aromatic, bitter taste, and an aromatic odour. It has been analyzed by Bicholz [Trommsdorff's Journal, xxv. 2, p. 3.] and by Morin. [Journ. de Pharm, t. ix. p. 217.] Its constituents, according to the latter chemist, are—volatile oil, resin, gum, starch, woody fibre, vegeto-animal matter (?), osmazome (?), free acetic acid, acetate of potash, sulphur, and in the ashes carbonate and sulphate of potash, chloride of potassium, phosphate of lime, alumina, silica, oxides of iron and manganese. It possesses aromatic and tonic properties. It is less heating than ginger and galangal, and is more analogous to turmeric.
2. Zedoaria longa.—The root called long zedoary (zedoaria longa) is no longer found in the shops of English druggists. It is in pieces scarcely so long and wide as the little finger. Its chemical and medicinal properties resemble those of round zedoary. It is, perhaps, the zerumbet root (radix zerumbet), for a piece of which I am indebted to Dr. Royle. It is very similar in shape to a curved or arched piece of long turmeric. Its colour is yellowish-gray.
The plant which yields long zedoary has not been satisfactorily ascertained; but it is probably the Curcuma Zerumbet of Roxburgh, who states that the zerumbet or kuchoora of the native druggists of Calcutta are the roots of this species of Curcuma, and that they are principally obtained from Chittagong. He also adds, that he sent the sliced and dried bulbous and palmate tuberous roots to Sir J. Banks, who ascertained that they were the real zedoaria of our Materia Medica, and that the root of C. Zedoaria was the zedoaria rotunda of the shops.
3. Zedoaria lutea.—The turmeric coloured zedoary of Ainslie, [Materia Indica, vol. i. pp. 491 and 493.] the yellow zedoary (zedoaire jaune) of Guibourt, is probably the cassumunar root (radix cassumunar) of English druggists (see ante, p. 234).