Cephalanthus. Cephalanthus occidentalis L. Button Bush. Button Wood. Crane Willow. Swamp Dogwood. (Fam. Rubiaceae.)—A common indigenous shrub which grows in moist places, as along streams or on the borders of swamps. Its bark is bitter, is said to be laxative as well as tonic, and has been given in periodical fevers, in decoction or infusion. (See M. R., 1911, 216.) E. M. Hattan found in it a crystallizable fluorescent acid, a bitter uncrystallizable principle, a principle resembling saponin, tannin, two resins, fatty matter, gum, glucose, and starch. (A. J. P., xlvi, 314.) According to Claassen (Ph. Rund., Bd. vii, 1889), the fluorescent acid of Hattan is composed of two substances, cephalin and cephaletin. Carl Mohrberg has separated from the bark a substance which he knows as cephalanthin, and also a toxic saponin-like principle which, like its allied poisons, has the power of dissolving the blood corpuscles. Cephalanthin he finds to be a distinct poison to both cold and warm blooded animals, causing destruction of blood corpuscles with conversion of oxyhemoglobin into methemoglobin, violent vomiting, convulsions, and paralysis. (See Robert's Arbeiten, viii, 1892.)
The Dispensatory of the United States of America, 1918, was edited by Joseph P. Remington, Horatio C. Wood and others.