Related entry: Santonin
Synonyms.—Semen Contra; Semen Cinae; Worm Seeds.
Santonica consists of the dried, unexpanded flower heads of Artemisia maritima, var. Stechmanniana, Besser (N.O. Compositae), a small plant widely distributed throughout Europe and Asia. It is collected in Turkestan, and is official in the U.S.P. The flower heads are minute, 2 to 3 millimetres long, greenish-yellow when fresh, becoming brown on keeping; ovoid and somewhat angular, shining and glabrous, or at most only slightly hairy. Involucral bracts, 10 to 15 in number, ovate, keeled and furnished with shining external glands. The florets are minute and tubular, and are 3 to 6 in number. Odour, agreeable, and aromatic; taste, bitter, aromatic, and camphoraceous. The drug yields about to per cent. of ash.
Constituents.—The chief constituent of santonica is santonin (2 to 3.5 per cent.), which rapidly diminishes in quantity after the flower heads have expanded; another constituent is artemisin, C15H18O4 (melting-point, 200°), which is probably a lactone, and yields a carmine-red solution when boiled with solution of sodium hydroxide. The odour of santonica is due to a yellow volatile oil (2 to 3 per cent., specific gravity, 0.915 to 0.940), consisting chiefly of cineol (eucalyptol), associated with an unidentified hydrocarbon.
Uses.—Santonica is used chiefly as the source of santonin.