Lauri, Jussieu.—Laurineae, Vent, and Rob. Brown.
Characters.—Calyx 4- to 6-cleft, with imbricated aestivation, the limb sometimes obsolete. Petals 0. Stamens definite, perigynous opposite the segments of the calyx, and usually twice as numerous; the 3 innermost, which are opposite the 3 inner segments of the calyx, sterile or deficient; the 6 outermost scarcely ever abortive; anthers adnate, 2- to 4-celled; the cells bursting by a longitudinal persistent valve from the base to the apex; the outer anthers valved inwards, the inner valved outwards for both valved inwards, Lindl.]. Glands usually present at the base of the inner filaments. Ovary single, superior, 1-celled [formed of 3 valvate carpellary leaves, and as many rib-like placentae stationed at the sutures, all generally imperfect except one, Endl.], with 1 or 2 single pendulous ovules; style simple; stigma obtuse, 2-or 3 lobed. Fruit baccate or drupaceous, naked or covered. Seed without albumen; embryo inverted; cotyledons large, plano-convex, peltate near the base! radicle very short, included, superior; plumule conspicuous, 2-leaved.—Trees, often of great size. Leaves without stipules, alternate, seldom opposite, entire, or very nearly lobed. Inflorescence panicled or umbelled (Rob. Brown).
Properties.—The plants of this order owe their most important qualities to the presence of volatile oil, which is found, more or less abundantly, in all parts of the vegetable. This oil is sometimes liquid and highly aromatic, as oil of cinnamon; at others, it is solid in ordinary temperatures, and is endowed with narcotic properties, as camphor. The acrid principle of some species is probably a volatile oil.
In the bark and leaves, the volatile oil is usually associated with tannic acid, which gives them astringency, as in cinnamon. In the fruit and seeds, on the other hand, it is usually combined or mixed with fixed oil, as in bay-berries.
Besides the officinal lauraceous barks, presently to be described, there are several others which have obtained considerable celebrity, in the countries producing them, on account of their aromatic qualities.
Two of these bear the name of clove bark, on account of their odour. The Indian clove bark or cortex culilawan is a large flat bark, and is obtained from Cinnamomum Culilawan, Blume, a native of the Indian islands. Its properties are analogous to those of Cassia-lignea. [See Pereira, in Lindley's Flora Medica, p. 331.] It is rarely met with in London. I have received from Dr. Martiny, of Hesse Darmstadt, a bark marked Culilawan papuanus. It is, I presume, the produce of Cinnamomum xarthoneuron of Blume.
The Brazilian clove bark, or clove cassia bark, cortex cassiae caryophyllatae, is the produce of Dicypellium caryophillatum, and grows in Para and Rio Negro. Its bark occurs in tubular quills.
Massoy bark (in commerce Misoi) is the cortex oninus of Rumphius. It is used in the cosmetics of the natives of India. [Crawford, Hist. of the Ind. Archip. vol. i. p. 510.] I have never found it in the London shops.
Sintoc bark is the produce of Cinnamomum Sintoc, Blume. Its properties are analogous to those of Culilawan.
The folia malabathri of India are obtained from Cinnamomum nitidum, Hooker and Blume; and from C. Tamala. They are aromatic tonics, but are not found in the London market.