Coriaria. Coriaria myrtifolia L. Currier's Sumach. Redoul, Sumach des Corroyeurs Fr. Gerberstrauch; G. (Fam. Coriariaceae).—This is a shrub growing wild in Southern Europe, which is sometimes cultivated in gardens on account of its handsome foliage. The leaves, which are used for dyeing black, were at one time employed to a considerable extent in France in the adulteration of senna. They have recently been reported both in Europe and in America as an adulterant of sweet marjoram, the coriaria leaves being finely broken to facilitate admixture. The presence of coriaria in marjoram may be inferred by strewing a specimen of the broken up leaves upon the surface of a dilute ferric chloride solution, which does not affect the fragments of marjoram but which quickly stains the coriaria fragments a deep greenish-black, owing to their high tannin content. The fruit, resembling berries in form, are black, and about the size of a pea. Both these and the leaves are poisonous in large doses, and several instances of death are on record from eating the fruit. (Merat and De Lens.) Riban (J. P. C., 1864, p. 487) separated from the fruit a glucoside coriamyrtin. He obtained it by treating the juice with lead acetate, precipitating the lead with hydrogen sulphide, concentrating the lead with a nitrate to a syrupy consistency and extracting with ether. It occurs as extremely bitter, white crystals, fusing at 220° C. (428° F.), sparingly soluble in water but freely so in alcohol and other organic solvents. Its empirical formula is C30H36O10. Marshall (J. P. Ex. T., 1912, iv, p. 135) studied the substance supplied by Merck under the name of coriamyrtin which, however, he believed to be different from that described by Reban, because it was soluble in water. The lethal dose was 1 mgm. per kilo. He found that it was a stimulant to the medullary centers, increasing the blood-pressure and respiration and slowing the pulse; in large doses it caused cerebral convulsions. Coriamyrtin has been employed as a stimulant in collapse in doses of one-sixtieth of a grain (0.001 Gm.).
Tlolocopetale, a Mexican drug, is said to be the product of a Coriaria, probably C. myrtifolia, containing coriarin and coriamyrtin, and to be actively poisonous.
Toot-poison. Tu-tu.—In New Zealand a poisonous plant, known as the toot-plant, has proved very destructive to the domestic animals. W. Lauder Lindsay found it to resemble either Coriaria ruscifolia of Linnaeus or C. sarmentosa Forst., and in its action on the system to be an irritant narcotic. For an elaborate account of the toot-plant, and its poisonous effects, see Brit. and For. Med. Chir. Rev., 1865, 153, and 1868, 465. From these it appears that more than one species of Coriaria inhabit New Zealand, C. thymifolia Humb. et Bonpl. and C. angustissima Hook. f., besides the ruscifolia; though Lindsay appears to think that the two former may be merely varieties of the third. It is not only cattle that are poisoned by the plant, but not infrequently also children, and occasionally even an adult. The cattle are probably, in general, poisoned by eating the young shoots. W. S. Key attributes poisonous qualities to an oil (Chem. News, 1890, xxii), but it has been shown by T. Hill Easterfield and B. C. Aston that the three New Zealand species of coriaria contain a glucoside, tutin; C17H20O7, which is not identical with coriamyrtin, and which, according to Marshall, is toxic, especially to the medulla oblongata and the basal ganglia of the brain. (Proc. Chem. Soc., xvi, 213.) It is affirmed by T. H. Hartwick (P. J., vol. xv, 22) that goats are not poisoned by the tu-tu, and that they have even been used to eradicate the plant by browsing, also that the berries when ripe are not only not poisonous to man, but, if care is taken to reject the seeds, are a grateful and refreshing fruit. The prominent symptoms of the poisoning in man are giddiness, stupor, and coma, with or without delirium or convulsions. Occasionally the delirium resembles that of alcoholic intoxication, in other instances approaches that of acute mania, and is attended with violent muscular action. Loss of memory is a characteristic of the convalescence. The toxicity of tutin, which was demonstrated by Marshall, has been confirmed by Ford (J. P. Ex. T., 1910, ii).