Preparations: Tincture of Nutgall - Nutgall Ointment - Ointment of Galls and Opium
Related entries: Quercus Alba (U. S. P.)—White Oak - Acidum Gallicum (U. S. P.)—Gallic Acid - Acidum Tannicum (U. S. P.)—Tannic Acid

"An excrescence on Quercus lusitanica, Lamarck (Quercus infectoria, Olivier), caused by the punctures and deposited ova of Cynips Gallae tinctoriae, Olivier.
Class: Insecta. Order: Hymenoptera"—(U. S. P.).
Nat. Ord.—Cupuliferae.
SYNONYMS: Galls, Galla tinctoria, Galla halepense, Galla levantica, Galla quercina.
ILLUSTRATION: Bentley and Trimen, Med. Plants, 249.

Botanical Source.Quercus lusitanica (Quercus infectoria), is a small shrub, or tree, from 4 to 6 feet in height. The stems are crooked; the leaves borne on short petioles, 1 to 1 ½ inches long, oblong, with a few coarse mucronate teeth on each side, bluntly mucronate, rounded and rather unequal at the base, smooth, bright-green, and shining on the upper side. The fruit or acorns are solitary, long, and obtuse; the cup is scaly and hemispherical (L).

History.—Dyer's oak, or gall oak, is indigenous to the country from the Bosporus to Syria, and from the Archipelago to the frontier of Persia. It furnishes the gall-nuts or galls of commerce. These are produced by the puncture of the foliaceous or cortical parts of the tree by an insect, for the deposition of its eggs. The insect producing the galls of commerce is the Cynips Gallae tinctoriae, Olivier (Cynips quercusfolii, of Linnaeus, or Diplolepsis Gallae tinctoriae, of Geoffroy). After the female has made a puncture, she deposits her eggs therein; in consequence of the irritation thus caused, an excrescence is soon formed, from the concretion of the morbid secretion which subsequently ensues, and which is called galls. The larva of the insect is soon developed from the egg, changing first into the pupa and then into the imago. Toward the end of July, the young insect, having passed through all its stages of transformation into the state of fly, perforates its prison and escapes. The best galls are those which are gathered about the middle of July, just before the escape of the insect. These are bluish-black, heavy, not yet perforated, and constitute the commercial black, blue, or green galls. Those galls from which the insect has escaped are commonly larger, lighter colored, perforated, and less astringent; they are called white galls, and command a lesser price in commerce (P.—Ed.).

Galls are chiefly imported from the Levant, i. e., Syria and Turkey, though some valuable grades (rhus galls) are brought in smaller quantity from several other countries, e. g., China and Japan (see below). The Aleppo or Syrian galls are blue or black; Sorian galls are small and blackish, and the radiation of the interior is absent; and the Smyrna galls are grayish or olive-gray green intermingled with white galls. European countries also furnish oak galls, e. g., England, Germany, Italy, but these are decidedly inferior in the amount of tannin they contain. For an interesting monograph on various species of galls, including American oak galls, see C. Hartwich, Arch. der Pharm., 1883, pp. 819 to 881.

Description and Chemical Composition.—Galls are described by the U. S. P. as follows: "Subglobular, 1 or 2 Cm. (⅖ to ⅘ inch) in diameter, more or less tuberculated above, otherwise smooth, heavy, hard; often with a circular hole near the middle, communicating with the central cavity; blackish olive-green or blackish-gray; fracture granular, grayish; in the center a cavity containing either the partly developed insect, or pulverulent remains left by it; nearly inodorous, taste strongly astringent. Light, spongy, and whitish-colored nutgall should be rejected"—U. S. P.). Water is the best solvent of galls, and proof-spirit the next; pure alcohol or ether acts more feebly upon them. The chemical reactions of galls in decoction or tincture, are similar to those named for tannic acid or tannin (gallotannic acid, which see), as this substance exists in galls in large proportions. A number of analyses of galls from various sources are recorded in "The Tannins" (1892) by the late Prof. Henry Trimble. The amount of tannin varied from 24 per cent in European galls (German, English, Italian), to 61 per cent in Aleppo galls, and 69 per cent or more in Chinese galls.

H. K. Bowman (Amer. Jour. Pharm., 1869) obtained from selected oak galls 80 per cent of tannin; from white galls about 30 per cent; and from good commercial powdered galls 52 per cent.

Prof. Trimble (Amer. Jour. Pharm., 1890, p. 563) found in two species of galls, both from Quercus alba, growing in the vicinity of Philadelphia, from 32 to about 35 per cent of tannin, and 1.11 and 1.71 per cent of ash, referred to dried substance. Moisture was 46 and 73 per cent. Trimble observed that galls, when allowed to air-dry slowly, will deteriorate in tannin strength, hence must be rapidly dried at 100° C. (212° F.) in order to destroy the insect in whose development the tannic acid seems to be consumed. Gallic acid is present in galls in small amounts (about 1.5 per cent).

Action, Medical Uses, and Dosage.—Galls are astringent, and were used in all cases where astringents are indicated, as in chronic dysentery, diarrhoea, passive hemorrhages, and in cases of poisoning by strychnine, veratrine, and other vegetable alkaloids, with which it forms tannates possessing less activity than the other salts of these bases. Boiled in milk the decoction is used for the diarrhoea of children. As a local application, the infusion is employed as an injection in gleet, leucorrhoea, prolapsus ani, or for a gargle in indolent ulceration of the fauces, relaxed uvula, and the chronic stage of mercurial action on the mouth. The addition of alum is said to render it more beneficial. Dose of the powder, from 5 to 20 grains; of the tincture, ½ to 1 fluid drachm; of the infusion, from ½ to 1 fluid ounce. Gallic and tannic acids have now supplanted it as a medicine.

Related Galls and Drugs.—GALLAE CHINENSES SEU JAPONICAE. Chinese and Japanese galls. This important variety of galls, containing 70 per cent of gallotannic, or common tannic acid, is derived from the Rhus semialata, Murray, being produced upon the leaf or leafstalk through the agency of the Aphis chinensis, Bell, which punctures the part. These galls are hollow, light, very irregular in shape, more or less lobed, and have numerous protuberances. Their shell is thin, horny and translucent, brittle, and breaks with a smooth, glistening fracture. These galls are attenuated toward the base and inflated at the other extremity. The shell is of a red-brown color, densely covered with a velvety gray downy pubescence. interior of the gall contains a number of dead insects. The Japanese galls are similar but more slender, and have more lobes. Their pubescence is denser than that of the Chinese variety, and of a pale brown color. The Japanese galls are thought to be derived from Rhus Japonica, Siebold.

TAMARISK GALLS.—Product of Tamarix orientalis, Forskal. South and southwest Asia. These are knotty, subglobular, and from ⅙ to ½ inch in thickness. They yield tannin to the extent of 40 to 50 per cent. Tamarisk africana, Poiret, of northern Africa, yields a similar gall, while the bark and leaves of the Tamarisk gallica, Linné, are used as astringents in Europe.

AMERICAN NUTGALLS.—Several species of Quercus, especially Quercus alba, Linne, yield inferior light, spongy galls, which contain comparatively little tannin. Forty percent of tannin is said to be yielded, however, by a Texan species, the Quercus virens, Aiton (see Trimble, The Tannins). The Quercus lobata, Engelmann, furnishes California oak-galls, rich in tannin.

VALLONEA (Valonia), Acorn cups.—Several varieties of acorn cups, including many of our indigenous products, are astringent. Those of Quercus Robur, Linné, furnish Hungaria valonia, while the Oriental valonia is the product of several species of Quercus from southwestern Asia and southeast Europe, especially Greece and Asia Minor, such as Quercus Vallonea, Kotschy, Quercus Aegilops, Linné, and others.

Other tomes: (USDisp)

BASSORA GALLS contain on an average 27 per cent of tannin. They are ground and subsequently pressed into rectangular cakes. Persia and Asia Minor produce them, and they are employed in tanning.

NANCE BARK.—Probably from Malpighia glabra. Contains over 26 per cent of tannin (Holberg, Amer. Jour. Pharm., Vol. XVI). Considerably employed by the Mexicans in tanning.

Other tomes: USDisp

BEDEGUAR.—An excrescence, known as Fungus rosarum, produced by the puncture of insects (Cynips) upon the Eglantine or Sweet briar and other species of the rose family. It is roundish or irregular, about an inch through, and made up of cavities, each containing a larva. It is feebly astringent and almost odorless. It was formerly regarded anthelmintic, lithontriptic and diuretic, being given in doses of from 10 to 40 grains.

King's American Dispensatory, 1898, was written by Harvey Wickes Felter, M.D., and John Uri Lloyd, Phr. M., Ph. D.