By Henry Kraemer.
Presented to the Am. Pharmaceutical Association, Denver Meeting, 1895.
... it seems to the author that any plant that is fairly rich in starch, oil and nitrogen is worthy of at least a record. The author refers to the fruit of the chinquapin (Castanea pumila, Mill.), to which he has devoted some attention.
Castanea pumila, Mill., [Tenth Census of U. S., Vol. IX, 1880, entitled, Forest Trees of North America.] has been variously called by systematic botanists: Fagus pumila, Linnaeus; Fagus Castanea pumila, Marshall; Fagus pumila var. praecox, Walter; Castanea nana, Muhlenberg; Castanea alnifolia, Nuttall; Castanea vesca, Lesquereaux. It varies from a small spreading shrub to a small-sized tree (15 meters high, with a trunk 0.30 meters in diameter). It has a dark greenish-colored bark, marked transversely with whitish lenticels and elliptical patches of a lichen. The wood is light-colored and marked by broad annular rings. The summer wood contains several rows of large ducts. The young green branches are covered with minute one-celled trichomes. The bark is rather tough, bast fibres numerous and long, taste astringent, and is sometimes employed as a tonic. The leaves are elliptical, oblong or lanceolate, acute with rounded base, mucronate-serrate, upper surface smooth, lower surface marked by clusters of long one-celled trichomes. This tomentose character of the under surface of the leaves distinguishes the chinquapin from the young chestnut. The leaves are 9 to 15 centimeters long by 3 to 65 centimeters at the widest portion.
The flowers are aments or catkins and are of two kinds. The lower are staminate, being 14 centimeters long, calyx 5 to 6 parted, stamens 5 to 20, filaments slender, anthers two-celled. The fertile flowers are above, fewer and are interrupted. The catkins are 6 to 7 centimeters long, usually one, sometimes two clustered together, with an ovoid scaly involucre, covered with trichomes, which in the fruit becomes coriaceous and beset with prickles, and is 4-lobed. Nut is solitary in the burr, ovoid, 11 to 16 mm. long by 7 to 12 mm. wide. The bees derive honey from the flowers during early summer (June).
The chinquapin grows [Agricultural Department Reports: 1854, 410; 1860, 421; 1868, 281; 1875, 175.] from Lancaster County, Pa., and the Valley of the Lower Wabash River, Indiana, south and southwest to Northern Florida and the Valley of the Neches River, Tex. It has been found in Southern New Jersey and the adjoining corner of Pennsylvania, along the Delaware River. In the Atlantic States it is reduced to a shrub and attains its maximum development further south. It grows on rich hillsides, borders of swamps, and is especially seen on the borders of roads, clearings, etc. It is suggested as suitable for an economical hedge. It is most common and reaches its greatest development in Southern Arkansas.
The wood of the chinquapin is light, hard, strong, cross-grained, durable in contact with the ground, and liable to check in drying. It equals that of the chestnut. In sp. gr. it is 0.5887; ash, 0.12 per cent., and weighs 36.69 pounds per cubic yard. It has the following strength and fuel value:
Approximate relative fuel value . . . 58.80
Coefficient of elasticity in kgms. per mm . . . 1,141
Ultimate transverse strength in kgms . . . 423
Ultimate resistance to longitudinal crushing in kgms . . . 7,923
Resistance to indentation to 1.27 mm. in kgms . . . 1,887
[(1) The fuel value is obtained by burning the wood in a combustion tube in a current of oxygen and determining the per cent. of C from CO2, collected in the KOH bulb, and the H from the amount of H2O found in the CaCl2 tube. Then knowing the specific gravity and ash by the usual calculations for calorific value of fuel, the fuel value per kilogramme, or per cubic decimeter or approximate relative value of the wood, may be calculated.
(2) The strength of wood is ascertained by means of "testing machines," which may be either for small or large beams. The specimens are first slowly and carefully seasoned. In determining the Resistance to Transverse Strain they are generally made 4 cm. square, and are long enough to give the necessary bearing upon the supports. The supports are shod with flat iron plates, and set exactly one meter apart. The specimens are placed upright to eliminate the influence of this weight, and hydraulic pressure is applied by means of an iron rod, acting midway between the supports when the deflection is read. In these tests (see Vol. IX, 10th Census of the United States), the pressure was applied as indicated by the direction of the arrow.
The pressure is applied slowly and uniformly. The first deflection was at 1,173 and the second at 1,141 kgms. Formula for Coefficient of Elasticity is
E = Pl3 / 4 Δ bd3
The dimensions l, b, d, being expressed in mm. and P in kgms. The formula for Modulus of Rupture, is
R = 3Pl / 2bd2
The dimensions l, b, d being expressed in cm. The modulus of rupture of Castanea pumila is 991, and the ultimate transverse strength in kilogrammes is 423.
(3) In the Longitudinal Compression Test the specimens were 4 cm. square and 32 cm. long. The specimens were introduced between the platform of the machine and pressure gradually applied until they failed. The figure given represents the number of kgms. required to cause failure.
(4) Resistance to Indentation. Specimens were 4 cm. square and 16 cm. long, and pressure was applied perpendicularly to the fibres. Upon the platform of the machine they were indented with an iron punch 4 cm. square on its face, covering the entire width of the specimen and 1/4 of its length at the centre. The results are different according to the direction of the grain, when, as in the previous illustrations, a pressure of 2,395 kgms. produces an indentation of 2.54 mm., whereas, when the grain is parallel 2,608 kgms. = 4.81 mm., producing a slight shearing of the fibres. The following comparative table will illustrate the value of these figures, and is taken from the Tenth United States Census, which is the only comprehensive work in timber physics ever undertaken on American timbers:
Coefficient of elasticity in kgms, on mm. Ultimate transverse strength in kgms. Ultimate resistance to longitudinal curshing in kgms. Resistance to indentation to 1.27 mm. in kgms. Species. 1,658 -- -- -- Larix occidentale. 1,141 423 7,923 1,887 Castanea pumila. 971 386 8,183 3,388 Quercus alba. 856 297 6,106 1,698 Castanea sativa var. Americana. -- 541 -- -- Quercus chrysolepis. -- .. 13,767 -- Rhizophora mangle. -- -- 3,395 -- Asimina triloba. -- -- -- 12,689 Canella alba.
The nuts, or "chinquapins," as they are called, are much sought, and so soon as ripe are eagerly eaten by those who first see them. 88.116 gms. of whole nuts gave 28.785 per cent. of hulls and 71.215 per cent. of "meat" or kernel. The kernels were cut up and dried in an air bath at 110°, and were found to contain 18-17 per cent. of moisture.
For the determination of oil, 15 gms. of the powdered kernels were extracted in a Soxhlet extraction apparatus, with anhydrous ether, for eight hours. The contents were poured into a large platinum dish, the ether evaporated and the contents weighed.
Weight of platinum dish and oil . . . 50,880
Weight of platinum dish alone . . . 49,605
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1,275
The percentage of oil then on dried material was 8.50 per cent., or on the fresh chinquapin kernel 6.955 per cent. The starch was determined as follows: 2.000 gms. of the finely powdered kernels deprived of oil were put into a pressure bottle with 100 c.c. of water, and heated for eight hours at 130-140° C. It was then allowed to cool to 60° C, and 10 c.c. of HCl (sp. gr. 1.20) added, and sufficient water to make the bulk 100 c.c. The bottle was then heated at 60°-70° C. for two hours. The contents were then filtered, neutralized and made up to 500 c.c. A portion was titrated with Fehling's solution (5 c.c. = 0.50 glucose). 26.50 c.c. of chinquapin solution completely precipitated 5 c.c. of Fehling's solution, which, calculated, showed 47.17 per cent. of glucose. This was equivalent to 44.45 per cent. of starch in the dried kernels, or 36.37 per cent. on the fresh kernels.
A nitrogen determination was made by means of the combustion of 1000 gm. of powdered chinquapin, and gave 25.2 c.c. of nitrogen. Then from the following data and formula the per cent. of nitrogen was determined:
V = 25.2 c.c.
t = 20.5° C.
B = 757.
f = 17.4.
p = 0.0012562. V. 1/(1+(0.00367. t)). (B-f)./760.
p = 0-0288.
From this the per cent. of nitrogen on the natural or fresh kernels was calculated, and found to be 2.357 per cent.
One quart of chinquapins was bought in Asheville, N. C, on October 11, 1894, at 10 cents. (They were probably three or four weeks old.) This quart contained 729 chinquapins. These were kept until June 1, 1895, and yielded in all 166 worm-eaten nuts, being in per cent. 22.77. This showed that 77.22 per cent. were fit for planting or fit for eating, although a much larger per cent. are eaten at first, as the worm is not given time to develop.
The grub that feeds on the chinquapins is the larva (according to L. O. Howard, of the Division of Entomology of U. S. Department of Agriculture) of a Coleopterous insect belonging to the genus Balanius, and is probably either B. proboscideus or B. rectus.
Conclusions.—(1) The chinquapin contains the following:
Fixed oil (sweet and bland) . . . 6.955 per cent.
Starch (resembling wheat) . . . 36.37 per cent.
Nitrogen . . . 2.35 per cent.
This analysis shows that it contains a fair amount of nutritive properties.
(2) The flavor of the chinquapin is equal to that of the chestnut, and is eagerly sought and eaten in the country where it grows.
(3) The chinquapin is limited in its natural range to the region from Pennsylvania and Indiana, to Florida, and southwestward to eastern Texas. It prefers a permeable, rich, rocky soil, but will endure almost any soil except a wet one. (Fernow.)
(4) It will yield fruit in the second or third year, at least, requires no care, and might be advantageously planted and improved by those who are "land poor," as yielding a profitable investment and immediate returns.
School of Pharmacy of Northwestern University.