Benzoin odoriferum. Spicewood.
Nat. Ord. — Lauraceae. Sex. Syst. — Enneandria Monogynia.
The Bark and Berries.
Description. — Benzoin Odoriferum, or the Laurus Benzoin of Linnaeus, is sometimes known as Spicebush, Feverbush, Wild Allspice, Benjamin Bush, etc. ; it is a shrub growing from five to twelve feet in bight, with obovate-lanceolate, veinless, entire, deciduous leaves, green on each side, and slightly pubescent beneath ; flowers yellow, in little naked umbels on the naked branches, often dioecious ; buds and pedicels smooth ; fruit the size of an olive, bright-red, in clusters, containing an ovate, pointed nut. Calyx six-cleft, with oblong segments.
History. — This shrub grows in moist, shady places, in all parts of the United States ; it bears greenish-yellow flowers in April, which are succeeded by small clusters of oval berries, and which in the latter part of September, when ripe, are of a shining crimson color. The whole plant has a spicy, agreeable flavor, which is strongest in the bark and berries, and which is communicated to boiling water, or proof spirit.
Properties and Uses. — Aromatic, tonic, and stimulant. An infusion or decoction has been successfully used in the treatment of intermittents, and low forms of fever, also as an anthelmintic. The berries afford a stimulant oil, much esteemed as an application to bruises, chronic rheumatism, itch, etc., and has some reputation as a carminative in flatulence, flatulent colic, etc. The bark, in decoction, is said to be refrigerant and exhilarating, and exceedingly useful in all kinds of fever, for allaying excessive heat and uneasiness ; a warm decoction is employed to produce diaphoresis. The decoction may be drank freely.