The bark of Liriodendron Tulipifera, Linné.
COMMON NAMES: Tulip tree, Yellow wood, White wood, Poplar, Yellow poplar, Canoe wood.
ILLUSTRATION: Lloyd's Drugs and Medicines of North America, Vol. II, Pl. 26.
Botanical Source.—This tree is ordinarily about 80 feet high, with a diameter of 2 or 3 feet, but in favorable situations it frequently attains a height of 140 feet, with a diameter of 8 or 9 feet. The trunk is perfectly straight, cylindric, covered with a bark of a brown or grayish-brown color, smooth when young, rough and furrowed when old. At the top it divides rather abruptly into coarse, crooked branches, in somewhat regular order, giving a symmetrical aspect to the tree; the bark of the young branches is bluish or of a reddish tinge. The leaves are large, bright-green, alternate, on long petioles, smooth, shining, 3-lobed, lateral lobes ovate, middle one truncated, appearing as if cut off by a broad, shallow notch. Lateral lobes of the large leaves furnished with a tooth or additional lobe on their outside. There is a variety with the lobes of the leaves not pointed, but very obtuse. The flowers are large, solitary, terminal, tulip-shaped, yellowish, and 4 to 6 inches in diameter. The bracts are. 2, triangular, falling off as the flower expands. The calyx is double, the inner and proper sepals being 3, large, oval, concave, veined, of a pale-green color, spreading at first, and afterward reflexed. The corolla consists of 6, 7, or more petals, which are obtuse, concave, veined, of a pale, yellowish-green color, marked with an irregular indented crescent of a bright orange on both sides toward the base. Stamens numerous, with short filaments, and long linear, adnate anthers. Pistil a large, conical, acute body, upper half covered with minute, blackish, recurved stigmas; lower furrowed, being a mass of coalescing styles and ovaries. The fruit is a cone of imbricated seed-vessels, which are woody, and solid, their upper portion formed by the long, lanceolate style; the seeds are 2, blackish, and ovate, and one or both often abortive (L.—B.—W.).
History and Description.—This is one of the most magnificent and remarkable trees in the American forests, on account of its size, its elegant appearance when in flower, its therapeutical virtues, and its serviceable wood. It is found in rich soils from Maine to the Gulf of Mexico, and reaches its greatest size in the middle and southwestern states; its flowers appear in May and June. The wood is compact and light, and is extensively used as a substitute for pine. It is but slightly affected by dampness in the air, and is seldom injured by worms. The medicinal part is the bark of the trunk and root. It is whitish, with a yellow tinge when its epidermis is removed, light, fibrous, easily broken, of an unpleasant, somewhat aromatic odor, and an aromatic, pungent, slightly camphoraceous and amarous taste. The root-bark is colored the darkest. When fresh both kinds of bark are white, that of the root turning orange-colored on the surface next the bark, and finally gives the whole piece a streaked aspect; the tree bark turns yellowish. The fresh root bark is much the stronger, being "intensely acrid and bitter, producing, when chewed, a painful, biting sensation approaching to pepperiness" (Lloyd, in D. and M. of N. A., Vol. II, p. 12). The virtues of this bark are somewhat impaired by time, though it may possess some activity after several years' keeping. Water or alcohol take up its active properties, which are dissipated by a continued heat at 100° C. (212° F.). The bark should be collected during the winter. Squirrels are fond of the mature flower buds, which have an aromatic, terebinthinate, bitter taste, and a turpentine-like odor. The leaves are purely bitter, and not acrid.
Chemical Composition.—Prof. J. P. Emmet (Amer. Jour. Pharm., 1831, p. 5) discovered in the bark a peculiar, putty-like principle which he named liriodendrin, and which he considered as a camphor and intermediate between the volatile oils and the resins. Emmet obtained it in colorless scales or in needles, insoluble in cold water, soluble in alcohol, ether, or nitric acid, and having an aromatic, bitter, and somewhat acrid taste.
Prof. J. U. Lloyd, as well as Prof. Coblentz, failed to obtain liriodendrin in crystals. Wallace Procter (1872) was likewise unsuccessful. According to Lloyd, "the characteristic principles, aside from the ordinary constituents of plants, are a bitter extractive, volatile oils, resin, coloring principles, and an alkaloid. The aroma of the fresh bark depends upon the volatile oils; the acridity upon the resin; the bitterness (especially of the green leaves), upon the bitter extractive matter; the coloring matter and the alkaloid are not perceptible to either taste or smell" (D. and M. of N. A., Vol. II, p. 15). The active constituent of the bark, according to the physiological investigations of Prof. Roberts Bartholow, is the alkaloid tulipiferine first obtained by Prof. J. U. Lloyd in 1886. According to Lloyd's description, it is colorless, odorless, tasteless, slightly soluble in water, but freely in diluted acids. Ammonia water in small amount precipitates it from aqueous solution, and an excess of ammonia dissolves it All the alkaloidal reagents afford precipitates with solutions of its salts (D. and M. of N. A., Vol. II, p. 16). (For account of color reactions, by Coblentz and Lloyd, see same authority.) The alkaloid was small in amount. A small quantity of a glucosid, soluble in benzol, was separated by Prof. Coblentz.
Action, Medical Uses, and Dosage.—Tulip-tree bark is an aromatic stimulant tonic, and has proved beneficial in intermittents, chronic rheumatism, chronic gastric and intestinal diseases, worms, and hysteria. In hysteria, combined with a small quantity of laudanum, it is said to be speedy, certain, and effectual, and also to abate the hectic fever, night-sweats, and colliquative diarrhoea of phthisis. The warm infusion is diaphoretic, and under certain states of the system has proven diuretic. It is now seldom used. Prof. Bartholow found the alkaloid tulipiferine to act energetically upon the nervous system of frogs and rabbits. Dose of the powdered bark, from 20 grains to 2 drachms; of the saturated tincture, which is the best form of administration, 1 fluid drachm; of the infusion, from 1 to 2 fluid ounces; of liriodendrin, from 5 to 10 grains.
Related Drug.—Calycanthus floridus, Linné, Florida allspice. Nat. Ord.—Calycanthaceae. A shrub, native of the southern states, and common in cultivation both in this country and Europe. The stem is from 6 to 8 feet high and much branched. The leaves are opposite, entire, coriaceous, oval, and borne on short leaf-stalks. The entire plant is pervaded with an aromatic, camphoraceous odor, which is especially the case with the bark and roots. The flowers are nearly sessile and borne near the ends of the branchlets. The are of a brownish-purple color, and exhale, especially when wilted or crushed, an abundant fragrance compared by some to that of the strawberry.
This shrub, in common with other species of Calycanthus, is known also as Carolina allspice, Sweet-scented shrub, or "Bubby." The C. laevigatus, Willdenow, and C. glaucus, are similar plants. The Californian C. occidentalis, Arnott and Hooker, is called Spice bush. The bark contains resin, volatile oil, tannin, and an acrid principle, and the seeds of C. glaucus yield fixed oils, albumen, starch, and 2.25 per cent of an alkaloid calycanthine, discovered by R. G. Eccles (Proc. Amer. Pharm. Assoc., 1888, p. 84). It dissolves freely in chloroform and ether, and but slightly in water, and is easily decomposable by caustic alkalies, a new crystallizable alkaloid resulting. A strong sweet odor like that of oil of ylang-ylang is at the same time developed. The seeds of calycanthus contain no essential oil, while the bark, flowers, and leaves do. Dr. H. W. Wiley (Amer. Chem. Jour., 1889; see also Amer. Jour. Pharm., 1890, p. 96), confirms the occurrence of calycanthine in the seeds of Calycanthus glaucus, as well as the reactions described by Dr. Eccles, and obtained 47 per cent of fatty oil from the seeds. This plant has been suggested for use in medicine as a stimulant, antiperiodic, and aromatic; its virtues in these respects are, very probably, in no way superior to the many agents already named in our materia medicas, possessing similar properties.
King's American Dispensatory, 1898, was written by Harvey Wickes Felter, M.D., and John Uri Lloyd, Phr. M., Ph. D.