Cissampelos pareira. Pareira Brava.
Nat. Ord. — Menispermaceae. Sex. Syst. — Dioecia Monadelphia.
Description. — Pareira Brava, also termed Velvet-Leaf, Ice- Vine, is a climbing shrub, attaining a great size and covering even the tallest trees with its foliage. The root is branching and woody, with numerous slender, round stems, smooth or with a closely appressed tomentum. The leaves are large, nearly orbicular, peltate, subcordate, entire, aristate at the point, smooth above, silky pubescent beneath, and of a dark-green color ; they are supported on downy footstalks, which are inserted into the back of the leaf. The flowers are very small, hispid, unisexual and disposed in racemes. The male flowers with four sepals in a double range, and four petals forming a cup-like corolla, with an entire margin ; the female flowers have but a single sepal and petal ; stamens united, bearing connate anthers opening horizontally ; peduncles solitary or in pairs, branching from the base, as long as the petiole or longer, racemose-corymbose, with divaricating downy ramifications. Racemes, in the female plant, longer than the leaves, bearing the flowers in spiked fascicles. Bracts sessile, somewhat orbicular, scarcely mucronate. Ovary solitary, and surmounted with three stigmas. Berries scarlet, round, reniform, compressed, shriveled, thinned to the edge, all over hispid with long hairs.
History. — This plant is a native of South America, and the West Indies. The root is the officinal part. It is in pieces or billets from half an inch to four or five inches in diameter, and from a few inches to two or more feet in length, cylindrical, sometimes forked or contorted, and covered with a thin, firmly adhering, grayish-brown-bark ; it is often split longitudinally. The outer surface is marked with longitudinal and annular wrinkles, and sometimes with knotty excrescences. The interior is of a yellowish hue, ligneous, very porous, and displaying a number of concentric circles traversed by many radiating lines, inodorous, and of a sweetish, nauseous, intensely bitter, and somewhat aromatic taste. It readily imparts its taste and active properties to water or alcohol. It contains a soft resin, a yellow bitter principle, a brown substance, an azotized matter, fecula, acidulous malate of lime, nitrate of potassa, and various other salts. The active property of the root depends upon an alkaloid, which is called Cissampelin, or Pelosin, said to be a white powder, uncrystallizable, insoluble in water, soluble in alcohol, ether, and the acids, of an intensely bitter and sweetish taste, and forming soluble salts of which the hydrochlorate crystallizes.
Properties and Uses. — Tonic, diuretic and aperient. Used in chronic inflammation of the bladder, and various disorders of the urinary organs. Also recommended in calculous affections, leucorrhea, dropsy, rheumatism and jaundice. Dose, of the infusion, from one to four fluidounces ; of the extract, from ten to twenty grains.p>The Cissampelos Glaberrima, growing in Brazil, a species of this plant, appears to possess similar properties.
Off. Prep. — Infusum Pareirae.