The bark of Magnolia glauca, Linné; Magnolia acuminata, Linné; Magnolia Umbrella, Lamarck, and other species of Magnolia.
COMMON NAMES: (See below.)
Botanical Source and History.—Besides the species herein described, there are four other native species of Magnolia, all probably possessing the same medicinal properties as those herein mentioned. These four are: Magnolia grandiflora, Linné; Magnolia cordata, Michaux; Magnolia macrophylla, Michaux;and Magnolia Fraseri, Walter. The M. macrophylla and grandiflora (fruit only), are figured in Lloyd's D. and M. of N. A., Vol. II. The Magnolia grandiflora is the most magnificent forest tree of the extreme south. Its flowers are large and very beautiful. The M. macrophylla has the largest leaves of any native tree, they being from 2 to 3 feet in length (C. G. Lloyd).
MAGNOLIA GLAUCA.—This tree is known by several names, as White bay, Beavertree, Sweet magnolia, Swamp sassafras, White, or Red laurel, etc.; it varies in height from 6 feet to 30 or more, being taller in the south and shorter in the north; its average height is about 25 feet. Bark of the trunk smooth, ash-colored, that of the young twigs a bright, smooth green, scarred with rings at the insertion of the leaves by the fall of the deciduous stipules. Branches crooked, spreading. Leaves alternate, petioled, regularly elliptical, entire, smooth, thick; their under side, except the midrib, of a pale, glaucous color; when young covered with a silken pubescence. Flowers large, solitary, terminal, cream-colored, of a grateful odor, on a short incrassated peduncle. Calyx composed of 3 spatulate, obtuse, concave sepals; corolla of 8 to 14 obovate, obtuse, and concave petals, contracted at their base. Stamens very numerous, inserted in common with the petals on the sides of a conical receptacle; filaments very short; anthers linear, mucronated, 2-celled, opening inwardly. Ovaries collected into a cone, each divided by a furrow, tipped with a brownish, linear, recurved style. Fruit a cone, consisting of imbricated cells, which open longitudinally at the back for the escape of the seed. Seeds obovate, scarlet, connected to the cone by a funiculus, which suspends them some time after they have fallen out (L.—B.). It is found in swamps and morasses from Massachusetts to the Gulf of Mexico, and always in maritime districts; flowering from May to August, according to the climate in which it is located. At the south it is known as White-bay, or Sweet-bay. Although the flowers yield a delicate, agreeable odor, yet it sometimes occasions unpleasant symptoms, as difficult breathing, tendency to faint, etc.
MAGNOLIA ACUMINATA, or Cucumber tree, sometimes called Blue, and Mountain magnolia, is a tree reaching from 60 to 80 feet in height, and 4 or 5 feet in diameter, with a perfectly straight trunk. Leaves oval, acuminate, green, a little pubescent beneath, scattered, about 6 inches long, half as broad. Flowers 5 to 6 inches in diameter, bluish, sometimes yellowish -white, numerous, faintly fragrant; petals 6 to 9, obovate, obtusish. Cones about 3 inches long, cylindric, bearing some resemblance to a small cucumber. This tree grows near the Falls of Niagara, and in the mountainous regions in the interior of the country from New York to Georgia; it is more abundant in the southern states. It is most abundant, however, "in the moist valleys in the northern Allegheny Mountains" (C. G. Lloyd). Its flowers appear in May and June (W.—G.—B.).
MAGNOLIA UMBRELLA, Lamarck, or Umbrella tree, the Magnolia tripetala, of Linné, is a small tree not exceeding 30 feet in height, generally having a sloping trunk. Leaves 16 to 20 inches long, by 6 or 8 in width, obovate, lanceolate, pointed at both ends, silky, when young, soon smooth, often appearing whorled at the ends of the branches in the form of an umbrella, displaying a surface 30 inches or more in diameter. Flowers terminal, white, 7 or 8 inches in diameter, with 5 to 12 narrow, lanceolate, acute petals, the 3 outer curved. Fruit conical, rose-colored, 4 to 5 inches in length. This tree is found growing in shady situations, in strong, deep, fertile soil, in the same range of country as the M. acuminata, being, however, more generally confined to the lower grounds. It also flowers in May and June (W.—G.—.B.).
Description.—All the species of these trees possess similar therapeutical virtues, which are found especially in the bark and fruit. The bark, either of the trunk or root, is the medicinal part; its odor is aromatic, and its taste warm, bitterish, and pungent, though these properties, with the exception of the bitterness, are lost by age. The bark is taken off during the spring and summer; it is ashen, smooth, and silvery externally, white and fibrous internally. The appearance of the bark varies much, depending upon the species. Magnolia, from these three species, was formerly official. Water or alcohol extracts its virtues.
Chemical Composition.—The various species of Magnolia probably have analogous composition. From the bark of Magnolia Umbrella and M. acuminata, John Floyd, in 1806, obtained small amounts of an aromatic, volatile oil, a resin, and bitter principles. Dr. Stephen Procter (1842) analyzed the bark of M. grandiflora in search for a substance analogous to liriodendrin of Emmet, and found numerous acicular crystals, a resinous body, and volatile oil. W. H. Harrison (1862) obtained from the bark of M. glauca a resin, volatile oil, and a crystallizable substance; from the fruit, ether extracted much fixed oil, and a pungent and acrid resin.
Wallace Procter (Amer. Jour. Pharm., 1872, p. 145), observed a deposit of colorless crystals in an evaporated tincture of the fruit of M. Umbrella (umbrella tree), which substance he called magnolin, having ascertained it to be different from liriodendrin of Emmet. Petroleum benzin readily removed it from the extractive and coloring matters. It is a neutral body, insoluble in cold, crystallizable in small quantity from hot water, freely soluble in alcohol, ether, chloroform, carbon disulphide and petroleum benzin. When pure the crystals are tasteless. A soft, pungent resin, gum, glucose, etc., were likewise found by the author.
Prof. J. U. Lloyd separated from the bark of Magnolia glauca, three uncrystallizable resins, differing in their behavior toward solvents; furthermore, a crystallizable glucosid, and a fluorescent substance, probably a product of decomposition. The filtrate from the resins and the glucosid gave reactions for alkaloids, but no alkaloid could be isolated. (See D. and M. of N. A., Vol. II, pp. 42-45, for the early chemical history.) Mr. W. F. Rawlins (1889) obtained from the leaves of Magnolia glauca a glucosidal, occasionally crystallizable substance, by abstracting an evaporated alcoholic extract with water and shaking out with chloroform. It is noteworthy that the leaves of M. glauca produce upon linen an indelible stain (C. E. Hornberger, Amer. Jour. Pharm., 1876, p. 279). Analysis of the bark of M. grandiflora, by B. A. Randolph (1891), showed the presence of volatile oil, tannin, starch, saccharine, and coloring matter; upon incineration, 6 ½ per cent of ash was left.
Action, Medical Uses, and Dosage.—Magnolia bark is an aromatic tonic bitter, of reputed efficacy, and appears likewise to possess antiperiodic properties. Intermittent fevers have been cured by it after cinchona had failed. It is not so apt to disagree with the stomach and bowels, nor to induce fullness of the head as cinchona and can be continued a longer time with more safety in all respects. Its curative agency is said to be favored by the diaphoretic action which generally follows its administration. In dyspepsia, with loss of tone in the stomach, it is very useful as a tonic, and has also proved of much service in the treatment of remittents with typhoid symptoms. A warm infusion acts as a gentle laxative and sudorific; a cold one as a tonic and antiperiodic, as does also the tincture and powder. The powder is considered the preferable form of administration. The bark of the M. Umbrella, chewed as a substitute for tobacco, has cured an inveterate tobacco chewer of the filthy habit, and deserves a further trial among those who wish to break up the pernicious practice. The bark in powder may be administered in ½- drachm or drachm doses, to be repeated 5 or 6 times a day; the infusion may be taken in wineglassful doses, repeated 5 or 6 times a day. It is used in the above forms of disease, as well as in chronic rheumatism. The tincture, made by adding an ounce of the powder to a pint of brandy, and allowing it to macerate for 10 or 12 days, may be given in tablespoon doses 3 times a day, for the same purposes. A tincture made by adding 2 ounces of the cones to a pint of brandy, has long been used as a domestic remedy for dyspepsia and chronic rheumatism; it is given 3 or 4 times a day in doses of from 1 to 4 fluid drachms. Magnolia is contraindicated whenever inflammatory symptoms are present. Though possessing undoubted tonic properties, magnolia is now seldom employed.
Related Species.—Talauma mexicana, Don. This is called, in Mexico, where it abounds, the yoloxochitl. Quercetrin, votatile oil, resin, tannin, etc., have been found in the fragrant white blossoms, which are reputed antispasmodic and tonic. Antiperiodic virtues are ascribed to the bark.