Minutes of the Pharmaceutical Meeting.
Philadelphia, October 15, 1895.
Mr. Beringer then gave a talk on the Eucalyptus species, referring more particularly to those grown in the United States. He said that this genus is the most distinctive of the natural order Myrtaceae, to which it belongs. The leaves on the older plants vary in shape and size, and, like all the other members of that order, are characterized by an intra-marginal vein, and also by their pellucid-punctate appearance. The seed leaves are round, oval or cordate, opposite and horizontal, but, on development, becoming scythe- or scimeter-shaped and turned on edge so as to be vertical, and alternately arranged. The flowers are white, red or yellow, but never blue, and are peculiar in that the sepals unite to form a lid or operculum covering the stamens until the time of anthesis, when the lid drops off and the stamens appear more or less exserted. The shape of the lid is an important means of distinguishing the different species, as is also the surface where it is broken off. The shape of the calyx in bud and fruit and the venation and shape of the leaf are also very important means of distinguishing the species. These plants are indigenous to Australia and Tasmania, and the number of species is said to be about 140, with many varieties. Professor Bentham, who has made a study of them, considers the shape of the anthers and the manner of discharging the pollen two important characteristics. Baron Ferd. von Mueller has stated them to be the most difficult to study of any of the Australian plants, with the exception of the acacias, certain species of which yield the wattle barks. The trees are known by such vernacular names as gum tree, fever tree and stringy bark tree, iron bark, messmate, and the Eucalyptus gunnii as the cider tree. They are noted for their rapidity of growth as well as the height which they attain, the Eucalyptus amygdalina attaining a height of over 400 feet in their native country. There are 44 species now grown in the United States, at the California Forestry Station, at Santa Monica. Of these, specimens of 40 species had been obtained by Mr. Beringer, and were exhibited. These plants, produced from the seed, after seven years' growth, are developed so as to produce fruit. Several important products are yielded by these trees, namely, a kind of resin or kino used for tanning and coloring purposes, and the wood for carpentering and fuel. A company has been organized in California for the manufacture of the leaves into an extract as an anti incrustator for boilers. The oil is also obtained in this country by distillation, and the eucalyptol extracted by distillation or chemical means, the oil from Eucalyptus globulus yielding 75 per cent. of eucalyptol, and that from Eucalyptus amygdalina yielding phellandrine. The former alone should be used for medicinal purposes. The leaves of another species. Eucalyptus citriodora, develop, on drying, an odor resembling citronella, and would likely prove of commercial importance. The Eucalyptus globulus is utilized for planting around the orange groves in California to protect against winds, and now is the common kindling wood of the lower portion of that State. Some plants not yet two years old were sent by Prof. Henry Trimble, and had been grown in a greenhouse in this city from seeds which he had procured from Baron von Mueller. They belonged to the species macrocarpa, and were quite healthy in appearance, and exhibited the leaf characteristics of the genus.
The Eucalyptus globulus is easily acclimated, and has attained in this country a height of from 50 to 70 feet in a few years. Mr. Evan T. Ellis wished to know their latitude of growth, upon which question Mr. Beringer remarked that they were quite easily acclimated, and that Eucalyptus alpina could probably be grown in the higher climates, and that different species could be adapted for different altitudes.
Mr. England said that he had heard it stated by physicians that the anti-malarial effects attributed to them were due to their power of absorbing moisture rather than to the emanations from them, to which opinion Mr. Beringer partly assented, believing that they acted in a dual capacity, and referred to the fact that in Italy these trees had been successfully used to reclaim large tracts of the most malarial marshes.
Prof. Edson S. Bastin described some plants which had been grown by Prof. Babcock at the Chicago Botanical Gardens, and remarked, in this connection, that the beneficial influence of these trees is due to the ozonizing effects of the oil, as is the case in pine districts, and that the statement of the quantity of water evaporated by them was probably exaggerated, and that they do not surpass, in this respect, other plants comparing with them in size.
Mr. Beringer spoke of the enormous underground development of some species, which would account for their absorption of water.
Prof. Bastin also referred to the intense heat and long seasons of drought in Australia as being causes which changed the shape of the leaves from their ancestral forms, as indicated by the younger leaves. Stomata exist on both sides of the leaves in equal number, and the vertical arrangement is probably due to the inherited result of heliotropism or the influence exerted by the sun.
Prof. Joseph P. Remington spoke of the rapid growth of some plants which were grown in Horticultural Hall after the Centennial Exposition in 1876.
Mr. Kebler showed quite a number of samples of beeswax. One of these contained 90 per cent. of paraffin, another both rosin and paraffin, and one sample contained a substance which he, as yet, had not been able to identify. Mr. Kebler would be glad if any one having time for the work would undertake the investigation of this unknown substance and report upon it.
Mr. Ellis said that when he was in business in 1875, tallow was the only adulterant looked for, and was detected by simply chewing the wax.