The Vomic Nut Tree.

Botanical name: 

Nux vomica.

A tall and spreading tree of the East, very like that which affords the wood called snake wood in the shops, and by some supposed the same with it, but that is an error: the kernels of the fruit of that tree, are indeed of the shape of the vomic nuts, but they are not half so big. The tree is large and spreading: the branches are numerous, and the leaves are large: they stand in pairs opposite to one another; and are oblong, broadest in the middle, and rounded or blunt at the end, and of a very bitter taste; the flowers are small, and stand in clusters at certain parts of the young branches: the fruit is of the bigness of an apple, and is yellow when ripe. The kernels in this are what we call nux vomica; there are fifteen of them in each fruit, and they are lodged in three divisions.

These kernels are the only part used; our druggists keep them; they are round, flat, and of a whitish colour, very firm, and tough. They have been used as poison to dogs, cats, and other animals; but there are those who give them to the human species, in small doses, without mischief, and with very good effect. Quartan agues that have stood it against the bark (Translation: fevers that recur every four days that haven't been cured by cinchona - Henriette), have been cured by them; but if the dose be too large, they bring on convulsions, and there is great reason to believe, that in very large ones they would kill. At present we have choice of so many medicines for every disorder, that it is almost unpardonable to give such as are suspicious. Some people have ventured to give even ratsbane, as a medicine, mixed with other things, and in the twentieth part of a grain for a dose; but reason condemns this rash way of practice, and doubly, as there is no necessity to authorize it.

The Family Herbal, 1812, was written by John Hill.