Abies Nigra.—Black Spruce.
The branches of the Abies nigra, Michaux, and the essence obtained from the same.
COMMON NAMES:—Black spruce, Double spruce.
Botanical Source and History.—This tree grows in the northern parts of this continent, and in elevated situations in the Middle States, especially in the woods of mountainous districts. It is a pyramidal tree and attains the height of from 40 to 80 feet, having short, erect, rigid, very dark-green leaves. The cones are 1 or 2 inches long, ovate, reddish-brown in color, with their scales rounded, entire, wavy, and toothed at the apex.
Action and Medical Uses.—An aqueous decoction of the young branches, strained and concentrated, forms the well-known Essence of Spruce, which enters into the formation of Spruce Beer, an agreeable and salutary summer beverage, possessing diuretic and anti-scorbutic properties, and valuable on board ships. Spruce Beer may be made as follows: Take of ginger, sassafras bark, and guaiacum shavings, each, 2 ounces; hops, 4 ounces; essence of spruce, 10 ounces; water, 4 gallons; mix them and boil for 10 or 15 minutes, then strain. Add 10 gallons of warm water, 3 quarts of molasses, and 12 fluid ounces of yeast, and allow it to ferment. While fermentation is going on, put the fluid in strong bottles and cork them well.
ESSENCE OF SPRUCE is a viscid, molasses-like liquid, having a somewhat sour and bitterish, astringent taste.