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Viburnum opulus. High Bush Cranberry Bark.

Botanical name:

Related entry: Viburnum prunifolium

Viburnum Opulus. N. F. IV (U. S. P. VIII). High Bush Cranberry Bark. Cramp-bark. Wild Guelderrose. Cherry-wood. Red or Rose Elder. Pincushion Tree. Squaw Bush; in cultivation Snowball Bush. Obier, Fr. Wasserholderrinde. Wasserschweike, G.—"The dried bark of Viburnum, Opulus Linné var. americanum (Miller) Aiton (Fam. Caprifoliaceae), without the presence of more than 5 per cent. of wood and other foreign matter." N. F.

Viburnum Opulus, cranberry tree or high bush cranberry, belongs to the section of the genus which has peduncled cymes, light red, acid, roundish drupes, with very flat orbicular not sulcate stones, palmately veined leaves, and scaly winter buda. It is a large bush, reaching the height of ten feet, growing in low grounds from New Brunswick far westward, and southward to Pennsylvania. The leaves are from three- to five-ribbed, strongly three-lobed, broadly wedge-shaped or truncate at the base, with the spreading pointed lobes mostly toothed in the sides and entire in the sinuses. The petioles bear two glands at the apex. The snow-ball tree, or Guelder rose, is a variety in which the whole inflorescence has been turned into a mass of showy sterile flowers.

"In strips, or occasionally in quills or chip-like fragments, the bark attaining a thickness of 3 mm.; outer surface of the thinner pieces of a light gray color with crooked, longitudinal, purplish-brown stripes and very small brown lenticels, the thicker pieces purplish-red or occasionally blackish, except when very young, and more or less finely fissured or thinly scaly; inner surface varying in color from yellowish to rusty-brown, with very short oblique striae, except where the outer wood layer adheres; fracture short and weak, the fractured surface mostly whitish, varying to pale brown in the inner layer, rusty brown in the outer layer, covering the green tangential layers of phelloderm. Odor strong and characteristic; taste mildly astringent and decidedly bitter. Under the microscope, sections of Viburnum Opulus show as outer corky layer, of five to twenty-five rows of cells, the walls being nearly colorless, frequently thickened on the inner surface, individual cork cells from 0.015 to 0.045 mm. in radial diameter and from 0.030 to 0.075 mm. in tangential diameter; outer bark of about ten rows of cells containing a brownish-yellow, amorphous substance, small starch grains or chloroplastids; medullary rays one to two cells in width, usually not more than one cell wide; inner bark with occasional groups of bast fibers composed of one to ten cells, the walls being very thick, non-lignified, lamellated and finely porous; adhering wood with large tracheae having scalariform or reticulate thickenings, and being surrounded by wood fibers with thick lignified walls; starch grains, mostly in cells of parenchyma and medullary rays, either single or compound, the individual grains not exceeding 0.006 mm. in diameter; calcium oxalate in rosette aggregates, 0.015 to 0.04 mm. in diameter, numerous fragments of parenchyma cells, the lumina filled with a reddish-brown amorphous substance. The powder of Viburnum Opulus is light grayish-brown, consisting of irregular fragments; polygonal cork cells, with thin, colorless walls; parenchyma with rosette aggregates of calcium oxalate, from 0.015 to 0.04 mm. in diameter; starch grains very small and mostly in parenchyma cells; fragments of parenchyma containing a brownish-yellow amorphous substance; occasional tracheal fragments associated with lignified wood fibers, bast fibers. and stone-cells." N. F.

For studies of Viburnum barks, see A. J. P., 1895, 378, 394; also Ph. Post. 35, 773, Gibson (Proc. Indiana Pharm. Assoc; 1900, 112) believes that there is a glucoside present in the bark of V. Opulus; he describes it as resinous, greenish in color, soluble in alcohol, slightly soluble in water.

The berries of this plant are used to a considerable extent as a substitute for the ordinary cranberry, and are antiscorbutic, but there is no sufficient reason to believe the bark has any medicinal properties of any kind. V. obovatum. Walt., a tree shrub growing from Virginia southward, is said to be an antiperiodic. (A. J. P., 1878.) Viburnum opulus was dismissed from the U. S. P. IX, but introduced in the N. F. IV. It is used in making Fluidextract of Viburnum Opulus with a menstruum of 2 volumes of alcohol and 1 volume of water. Compound Tincture of Viburnum, and Compound Elixir of Viburnum Opulus. Dose, thirty to sixty grains (2.0-3.9 Gm.).


The Dispensatory of the United States of America, 1918, was edited by Joseph P. Remington, Horatio C. Wood and others.



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