131. Croton Pseudo-China, Schlectendal.—Copalche Bush.
(Cortex Copalche vel Copalchi.)
Croton Pseudo-China, Schlectendal, Berlin, Jahrb. f. d. Pharmacie, 1829, p. 1 (with a figure); Linnaea, Bd. v. S. 84, 1830; and Bd. vi. S. 359, 1831.—Croton Cascarilla, Don, Ed. New Phil. Journ. vol. xvi. p. 368.
This species of Croton was discovered by Schiede (Linnaea, Bd. iv. S. 211, and 579, 1829) between Plan del Rio and Puente in Mexico. A small variety (C. Pseudo-China var. minor) was found between Laguna Verde and Actopan. Both plants yield a bark very similar to that of cascarilla, and which is called in the apothecaries' shops of Jalapa quina blanca or copalche.
According to v. Bergen and v. Santen four serons of this bark were imported in 1817 into Hamburgh from Cuba under the name of cascarilla de Trinidad. In 1827, more than 30,000 lbs. of it came along with cinchona bark from Peru to Hamburgh, by way of Liverpool. Of this, 32 serons were shipped at Payta and 300 serons at Guayaquil. It was said to be a cinchona called copalchi (quina dit copalchi). The Prussian Minister, v. Altenstein, received it from Mexico under the name of copalcke. [Martiny, Encycklop. d. med.-pharm. Naturalien- und Rohwaarenkunde, Bd. i. 1813; also, Göbel and Kunze, Pharmaceut. Waarenkunde.] In 1825, Mercadieu [Journ. de Chimie Méd. t. i. p. 238 bis, 1825.] published an analysis of it; and stated that it was known in Mexico as copalchi or cortex amarus. He showed a sample of it to Humboldt, who suggested that it might be the produce of Croton suberosum, HBK.
I have met with two sorts of copalche bark in English commerce:—
1. Quilled Copalche.—Under the name of a new kind of cinchona bark I received copalche bark in the form of small thin quills, which in shape, size, and general appearance, resemble that kind of cinchona bark called by druggists "ash cinchona." In flavour, it closely resembles cascarilla bark; and in burning evolves a similar odour. It is the kind figured by Göbel and Kunze, and is doubtless the sort which the late Mr. Don mistook for genuine cascarilla bark. It might with propriety be called Mexican cascarilla. From genuine or Bahama cascarilla it is distinguished by the length of the quills, their colour, and the absence of transverse cracks.
2. Corky Copalche Bark.—Under the name of copalche or chiquique bark, I have received a bark in coarser larger quills and twisted pieces covered with a very thick and much cracked corky coat. Its taste is very bitter. In burning, it evolves an aromatic odour. Is this the produce of Croton suberosum? Dr. Stark [Pharmaceutical Journal, vol. ix. p. 463, April, 1850.] states that he received it from Chili under the name of nutri; and that at Santa Cruz it is known as chiquique.
Copalche bark has been analyzed both by Mercadieu and Brandes. According to the latter chemist, 100 parts of the bark yield a yellow bitter extractive with malates 13.3, brown tasteless extractive obtained by potash 3.3, acrid aromatic soft resin 6.3, green resin 1.0, semi-resin 8.3, fat with green resin 1.1, wax with malate of lime 0.7, glutinous nitrogenous matter 33.3, albumen 8.7, malate of lime 3.3, oxalate of lime 4.1, phosphate of lime 1.4, sulphates and muriates 0.7, ligneous fibre 18.0, loss in water and volatile oil 6.2.
The medicinal properties of copalche resemble those of cascarilla bark. In Mexico it is used as a substitute for cinchona in the treatment of intermittents. It may be exhibited in powder, infusion, decoction, tincture, or spirituous extract, in the same doses as cascarilla. Dr. Stark says the infusion or decoction is best made by half an ounce of bark to a pint of water: the dose being a tablespoonful or small wineglassful. The tincture he prepares with an ounce of bark to one pint of proof spirit; the dose being one or two teaspoonfuls.