Canella alba. Canella.
Nat. Ord. — Meliaceae or Canelleae. Sex. Syst. — Dodecandria Monogynia.
Description. — Canella Alba is a tree with a very straight and upright stem, growing from ten to fifty feet in hight, and branched only near the top. It is covered with a whitish bark ; the inner bark is thick, smooth, pale, with a pungent, aromatic taste, dry and crumbling between the teeth. The branches are erect and spreading; the leaves are petiolated, irregularly alternate, oblong, obtuse, entire, of a dark-green color, shining and coriaceous, dotted when young, opake when old. The flowers grow at the extremities of the branches in clusters, they are small, of a violet color, and are seldom fully expanded. The calyx is five-leaved and persistent; the sepals are roundish, smooth, concave, and membranous. The petals are much longer than the sepals, oblong, erect, concave, thick, deciduous, two somewhat narrower than the others. Stamens monadelphous, forming an urceolate tube, to the outer-side of which the anthers adhere. The ovary is superior, ovate, three-celled, bearing a cylindrical style with three convex, blunt stigmas. The fruit is an oblong, fleshy, smooth, black berry, which is three-seeded, or by abortion one-celled, and one or two-seeded. The seeds are exalbuminous, with linear cotyledons.
History.— A South American tree; the bark is of a pale orange yellow color externally, and yellowish white on the inner surface, with an aromatic odor, and a warm, bitterish, very pungent taste. Alcohol extracts its active properties, giving a bright-yellow tincture, which is rendered milky by the addition of water. It pulverizes readily, yielding a yellowish-white powder. By distillation with water, a large proportion of a fragrant, essential oil is obtained, of a reddish or yellowish color. It contains two oils, mannite, bitter extractive, resin, gum, starch, albumen, and various saline substances.
Properties and Uses. — Aromatic stimulant and gentle tonic. Useful in debilitated conditions of the digestive organs ; generally prescribed in combination. In the West Indies it is used as a condiment, and has been advised in scurvy. Some smokers add this bark to their smoking-tobacco to remove the unpleasant odor from the tobacco, and to impart a degree of fragrance to their smoking-rooms.