Euonymus atropurpureus. Wahoo.
Nat. Ord. — Celastraceae. Sex. Syst. — Pentandria Monogynia.
Bark of the Root.
Description. — This is a small shrub or bush ; known by several other names, as Indian Arrow-wood, Burning-bush, Spindle Tree, etc., with smooth branches, and rising from five to ten feet in hight. The leaves are from two to five inches in length, and about half as wide, opposite, on petioles from one-third of an inch to an inch in length, elliptic-lanceolate, mostly acute at base, finely serrate, pubescent beneath ; peduncles opposite, slender, compressed, from an inch to two and a half inches in length, and each with a cyme of from three to six flowers. Flowers dark-purple, usually pentamerous. Corolla about two and a half lines in diameter, fiat, and inserted on the outer margin of a glandular disk ; calyx flat, of four, five, or six united sepals ; stamens five, with short filaments. Capsule or pod smooth, crimson, five-angled, five-celled, five-valved ; seeds one or two in each cell, inclosed in a red aril.
Euonymus Americanus, is of smaller size than the preceding variety, with smooth, four- angled branches ; the leaves are oval and elliptic-lanceolate, sessile, subentire at the margin, acute or obtuse at apex, smooth, coriaceous, from one-third of an inch to two inches in length, and about one-third as wide. The peduncles are round, longer than the leaves, and with two, three, or four flowers. Flowers somewhat larger than those of the preceding variety, yellow and pink ; capsule dark-red, rough-warty, depressed, not so copious as in the former plant.
History. — There are two varieties of this plant used in medicine, — the Spindle Tree, E. Atropurpureus, and the Burning Bush, or E. Americanus, to both of which the term Wahoo is indiscriminately applied. They grow in many sections of the United States, in woods and thickets, and in river bottoms, and flower in June. The bark of the root is the officinal part. It has a bitter, and somewhat unpleasant taste. Water or alcohol extracts its virtues. The decoction, concentrated by evaporation, yields acicular crystals, the exact nature of which are not yet ascertained ; probably an alkaloid. They are soluble in boiling water, but are deposited on cooling ; soluble in oils, partly soluble in nitric acid, but insoluble in cold water, sulphuric acid and alcohol. If these should prove to be the alkaloid principle of the plant, they will be termed Euonymia. The Franklin Pharmaceutical Institute of N. York advertise a preparation which they call Euonymine, and state to be the active principle of E. Americanus. It is held to be an alterative, tonic, laxative, and expectorant. Unfortunately, we have not been made acquainted with the article, nor its method of preparation.
Properties and Uses. — These plants have been in use among Eclectics for a long time. The bark is tonic, laxative, alterative, diuretic, and expectorant ; in infusion, syrup, or extract, it has been successfully used in intermittents, dyspepsia, torpid liver, constipation, dropsy, and pulmonary affections. Dose of the saturated tincture, from one to four fluidrachms ; of the syrup, from one to two fluidounces ; of the hydro-alcoholic extract, from five to fifteen grains ; of the powder, from twenty to thirty grains. The seeds are purgative and emetic.