Abies excelsa. Norway Pine.
Also see: Abies balsamea. Balm of Gilead. - Abies canadensis. Hemlock spruce. - Abies excelsa. Norway Pine. - Abies larix. Larch. - Abies nigra. Black spruce. Double spruce. - Abies picea. Silver pine.
Nat. Ord.— Pinaceae. Sex. Syst.—MoncBcia. Monadelphia.
The Concrete Juice. Burgundy Pitch.
Description. — This tree, also called Norway Spruce Fir, has a trunk from three to five feet in diameter, and sometimes attains the hight of one hundred and fifty feet. The leaves are short, obscurely four-cornered, often curved, of a dusky green color, shining on the upper surface, and stand thickly upon the branches. The male catkins are purple, axillary, and solitary, scales staminiferous at the apex ; the female catkins are usually purple, terminal, and simple; ovaries two; stigmas glandular; cones, with imbricated scales, which are thin at the apex, and rounded, pendent and purple.
History. — The Norway Pine is a native of Europe and Northern Asia; and, as well as the Abies Picea, or European silver fir-tree, furnishes the Burgundy pitch of commerce. The pitch is obtained by allowing the turpentine, which flows from incisions, to harden on the bark, and then purifying it by melting it in water, and passing it through a cloth.
Pure Burgundy pitch is hard, brittle, quite opake, of a yellowish or brownish color, and a sweet, perfumed, weak, terebinthinate taste, without bitterness, and a strong, peculiar, balsamic odor. It is very fusible, and at the heat of the body softens and becomes adhesive. It contains a minute proportion of essential oil. As brought to this country, it is generally mixed with impurities ; the true pitch is seldom met with, spurious sorts being substituted, made by melting together pitch, resin, and turpentine, and agitating the mixture with water. The spurious kind may be known by their different odor, their bright yellow color, their numerous vesicles, and by the aqueous vapor they yield when heated.
The resinous exudation from this tree, in the form of concrete tears, is the Thus or Frankincense of commerce, or Abietis Resina.
Frankincense is in solid, brittle tears, externally brownish-yellow, paler internally, and emitting an agreeable odor when burned ; at the temperature of the body, it softens and becomes adhesive. It is used only as an ingredient in plasters.
Properties and Uses. — A gentle rubefacient, similar to the Canada pitch. It is applied externally in form of a plaster, and produces a slight degree of inflammation and serous effusion, without separating the cuticle. Sometimes it excites a papillary or vesicular eruption, and has been known to create excessive pain, tumefaction, and redness, followed by vesication and even ulceration. Used chiefly in chronic rheumatic pains, and chronic affections of the chest or abdominal viscera. It enters into several salves and plasters.
Off. Prep. — Emplastrum Picis Compositum ; Emplast. Resinae Cornposit.; Linimentum Olei Composit.; Liniment. Cajuputi Composit.; Liniment. Camphor. Composit.