Gleanings in Materia Medica, cont'd.

Cont'd from previous page.

Poisonous Staranise has been observed in various parts of Europe. It is derived from Illicium religiosum, Siebold, which by most botanists has been regarded as identical with Ill. anisatum, Lour. The latter is a native of the high mountains of Yunnan in southwestern China and to the west of Canton. The former was introduced into Japan from China or the Corea in ancient times by the Buddhist priests and planted around the Japanese temples, being used when in blossom for adorning the altars and tombs. In Japan it is known as somo, sicimi or fauna skimi and in China as ao-woo-soo, while Ill. anisatum is hwai hiang. The fruit of Ill. religiosum, which is not used in Japan, is described by E. M. Holmes as being about one-third less in diameter than the Chinese drug; the number of carpels is 8 and a few only are generally developed to maturity. The curve or depression of the ventral suture near the apex is deeper and shorter, and hence the very short beak appears more erect than in the Chinese drug. Neither the pericarp nor seed has any taste of anise, but possesses a very faint taste and odor like the oil of Laurus nobilis, or distantly resembling the odor of cubebs. The seeds vary in thickness according to the degree of ripeness. The fruit when wetted and laid on a piece of blue paper reddens it immediately and strongly, while Chinese staranise causes only a very faint red coloration, and the fruits of I. Griffithii and I. majus produce no such reaction.

From Holmes' description of the fruits of other species, the following is extracted:

Ill. parviflorum, Mich., indigenous to Georgia and Carolina; carpels 8; short-beaked; taste resembles sassafras.

Ill. floridanum, Ellis, indigenous to the coast of Florida; carpels 13; taste like anise. In Alabama the leaves are reputed to be poisonous, and the plant has hence acquired the name of poison bay.

Ill. Griffithii, Hook fil. et Thorns., native of East Bengal; carpels 13; resemble in color staranise, but are darker at the ventral and dorsal sutures; on the sides with scars; beak short, incurved; terminal depression well marked; taste at first none, but shortly bitter, with some acridity, and a flavor between that of cubebs and bay leaves.

Ill. majus, Hook fil. et Thorns., native of the Thoung Gain range in Tenasserim, at an altitude of 5,500 feet; carpels 11 to 13; terminal depression longer and shallower and beak short and less incurved than in the preceding; taste strongly resembling mace, not bitter.—Phar. Jour. and Trans., 1880, Dec. 18, pp. 489 to 491.

Thalictrum macrocarpum.—The root contains, according to Hanriot and Doassans, a neutral principle, macrocarpin, and an alkaloid, thalictrina. The alcoholic tincture is concentrated in a vacuum, then treated with ether and finally precipitated by water. Macrocarpin crystallizes in yellow needles, is insoluble in ether, but soluble in water, alcohol, and more so in amyl alcohol; it dissolves also in ammonia and is precipitated by acids. By exhausting crude macrocarpin with ether, thalictrina is obtained in colorless crystals, insoluble in water, and soluble, in ether and alcohol. Its nitrate is crystalline and in its properties and reactions it resembles aconitina.—Bull. Soc. Chim., 2d ser., xxiv, pp. 33, 34.

Lawsonia alba, Lam.— "Henna al henna," a cosmetic used by the Persians, Arabs and Egyptians, is a greenish-brown, tolerably uniform powder, feeling somewhat sandy between the fingers; by long exposure the surface acquires a reddish tint. It is a powder of Lawsonia leaves rendered somewhat impure by forameniferous sand. Dr. H. Paschkis has examined three specimens of henna and two samples of Lawsonia leaves, one coming from Persia, the other from the French colony of Senegal; the latter are only distinguishable from the former by being 1 or 2 centimeters longer. The Persian leaves attain a length of 2 cm. and a greatest breadth of 1 cm.; they are ovate, acute, mucronate, short-petiolate, entire and slightly revolute at the margin, coriaceous, shining and greenish-brown on the upper surface, lighter beneath; the lateral nerves are anastomosing near the margin. In the epidermis of the upper side are irregularly distributed numerous large mucilage cells, and both the upper and lower surfaces contain numerous stomata. The mesophyll consists of a double palisade layer and of the cells containing chlorophyll, among the latter numerous rosettes of calcium oxalate.

Lawsonia leaves contain tannin, turning green with iron salts, and yield with water a bitter extract, dissolving in ammonia with a beautiful Malaga-brown color. Alcohol now extracts wax, chlorophyll and resins, two of which are soluble in ether, one being soft and acrid, the other hard and in microscopic turmeric-yellow scales. Digested with potassa, a volatile alkaloid is given off, probably trimethylamina.

In Oriental countries, henna is used for ulcers and against all possible diseases. Its principal use is as a dye. Mixed with water, or perhaps with a little alkali, it is used for coloring orange-red the finger nails, the soles of the feet, the palms of the hands, also the points of the beard and the hair; for dyeing the hair black, the henna is used in combination with indigo.—Zeitsch. Oest. Apoth. Ver.; Phar. Jour. and Trans., April 16, pp. 855-857.

Commercial Patchouli leaves have been examined by Dr. Henry Paschkis and compared with leaves of Pogostemon Patchouli from the Vienna Botanical Gardens. True patchouly leaves are from 6 to 10 centimeters (2 to 4 inches) long, ovate or rhombic ovate, narrowed at the entire base into a long petiole, above with an irregularly doubly crenate margin, light brown, moderately thin, not very abundantly hairy on both sides, with one principal nerve and the secondary nerves forming curves running towards the margin. The microscopic examination reveals in the epidermis of the upper and under side deeply indented, mostly elongated flat cells; among them, in greater number below and fewer above, are stomata with a single contiguous cell. The epidermal cells of the upper side are coarsely papillose, here and there brownish-colored. The hairs are simple throughout, several-celled (up to 6), with a warty cuticle, especially in the younger hairs On both sides of the leaf are numerous glands, the smaller ones being stalked, the larger ones stalkless and deeply imbedded in the epidermis.

The commercial leaves were found to be mixed with other leaves, of which the following are described:

  1. Roundish, nearly transversely oval, 5-fid, dentate, 10 cm. broad, 8 cm. long, with radiate venation and cordate base; dark brown above, gray-green beneath; moderately hairy on both sides, more so on the under side; rather thin; in the mesophyll mucilage cells; on both sides small club-shaped cells; the hairs one-celled and clustered. in bundles of 6 to 8.
  2. Rhomboid, obtuse, coarsely dentate, 5 cm. long, 2'5 cm. broad, three-nerved, abundantly hairy on both sides, thick, brownish-gray.
  3. Five-nerved and five-lobed, sinuate, 7 cm. long, 5.5 cm. broad, the two lower lobes small and rounded, the next pair larger and with a shallow sinus at the margin, the terminal lobe largest; the base cordate; coarsely dentate; abundantly hairy on both sides; thick; brown above, green underneath.
  4. Palmately five-nerved and sinuately five-lobed, each lobe again divided into two smaller lobes; all acute; coarsely dentate; obcordate at the base; about 10 cm. long and broad; brown above, gray-green beneath. In the microscopic structure, they agree with the preceding and differ but slightly from No. 1, mainly in the absence of mucilage cells.

Unmixed patchouli leaves appear to be rarely met with in the market; the sophistications amount in many cases to 80 per cent.; Nos. 2 and 3 were more frequently met with than the other two forms.

The author directs also attention to Plectranthus Patchouli, a labiate sold under the name of patchouly herb. The leaves are similar to true patchouli leaves, are 6 cm. long and 5 cm. broad, ovate, acute, doubly dentate and petiolate; on both sides with few stomata, with simple several-celled (up to 14) hairs and with numerous glands, the larger ones of which are imbedded in the epidermis.

The leaves of two malvaceae, Lavatera obia and Pavonia Weldenii, are five-nerved, resemble some of the false patchouli leaves, the former containing mucilage cells.—Zeits. Oest. Apoth. Ver.; Phar. Jour. and Trans., April 2, pp. 813-815.

False Jaborandi.—Dr. A. Tschirch has received from Gehe & Co. leaves which bear a considerable resemblance to the leaves of Pilocarpus pennatus, and which are probably also derived from a rutacea. The shape and size of the leaflets of rutaceae vary considerably; in commercial jaborandi, variations from lanceolate to oval may be observed, differing in size from 6 to 15 cm. The venation is very distinct and, anastomosing near the margins, separates the inner part of the blade quite plainly from a narrow marginal zone. In the false jaborandi the final divisions of the fibro-vascular bundles are less distinct, and their anastomosing lines near the margin less clear.

Jaborandi leaves. Apex and transverse section. False Jaborandi. Apex and transverse section. The anatomical structure furnishes further differences. The upper epidermal tissue of both leaves consists of one row of cells, which in the true jaborandi are larger, have thin walls, and are usually filled with a brown mass, insoluble even in boiling alcohol. The epidermal cells of the false jaborandi have the inner walls relatively much thicker and occasionally contain a granular, but never a brown mass, hence these leaves are always of a brighter green. The palisade tissue under the upper epidermis is in the true jaborandi of about the height of the epidermal cells, but in the false jaborandi it is mostly twice as high. The fibrovascular bundles in the midrib of the true jaborandi have almost always a, nearly continuous circle of bast cells, while the false jaborandi has usually merely a few scattered groups of bast cells on the line of the cambium circle.—Phar. Zeitung, May 21, p. 305.

The American Journal of Pharmacy, Vol. 53, 1881, was edited by John M. Maisch.