Celastrus Scandens. False Bittersweet.
Nat. Ord. — Celastraceae. Sex. Syst. — Pentandria Monogynia.
Bark of the Root.
Description. — This plant, likewise known by various other names, as Staff-vine, Waxwork, Climbing Bittersweet, Climbing Staff-tree, etc., is a climbing, indigenous shrub, with a woody, twining stem, without thorns or prickles ; the leaves are thin, oblong, acuminate, serrate, alternate, stipulate, petiolate and smooth ; the racemes are small, terminal, and axillary ; the flowers are greenish-white, or yellowish-white, fragrant and dioecious. Calyx flat, five-lobed ; corolla spreading, of rive sessile petals ; capsule obtusely three-angled, three-celled, berry like; valves bearing the partitions on their centers ; stamens standing around a glandular five-toothed disk; .style thick; stigma three-cleft. Seeds covered with a scarlet aril, one or two in each cell.
History. — This plant grows in woods and thickets, from Canada to Carolina, creeping on hedges and rocks, or twining about other trees, or each other, and ascending to a great Light. It. flowers in June, and bears a scarlet berry which remains through the winter. The plant thrives most luxuriously in a rich, damp soil. The root is very long, creeping, woody, of a bright orange color, about 'half an inch in thickness, with a thick, red, or yellowish-red bark, which is the officinal part. On account of the similarity of name, Bittersweet, the plant has been confounded with the Solanum Dulcamara, from which, however, it essentially differs in appearance and therapeutic action. The bark has a sweetish, rather nauseous taste, and imparts its medicinal properties to water.
Properties and Uses. — Alterative, diaphoretic, and diuretic, with some narcotic powers. Used in scrofula, secondary syphilis, chronic hepatic affections, cutaneous affections, leucorrhea, rheumatism, and obstructed menstruation. Externally, an ointment has been successfully employed in inflamed and indurated breasts of nurses. Dose of the decoction, from two to four ounces, three times a day ; of the extract, from five to ten grains.
Off. Prep. — Decoctum Celastri ; Syrupus Rumicis Compositus.