Related entry: Dicentra
Corydalis. N. F. IV. Turkey Corn. Squirrel Corn. Bicuculla.—"The dried tubers of Bicuculla canadensis (Goldie) Millspaugh, usually somewhat mixed with the dried bulb-like portions of Bicuculla Cucullaria (Linne) Millspaugh (Fam. Fumariaceae), and without the presence of more than 5 per cent. of other parts of the plants or other foreign matter." N. F. It is described in the N. F. as "the tubers are spheroidal and frequently vertically depressed, the flattened surface more or less concave, up to 15. mm. in diameter; usually single, rarely two or more in a cluster; externally, minutely pitted or nearly smooth; grayish-brown, grayish-black, or amber-colored and more or less translucent; one of the flattened surfaces with a triangular scar from detached roots, the other usually with remains of the slender rhizome; fracture, hard and horny, exhibiting a yellowish, waxy interior, or somewhat tough and granular, exhibiting a yellowish-white interior. The grains of the granulate bulb of Bicuculla Cucullaria are ovoid or triangular-ovoid and up to 12 mm. in length; the larger grains distinctly concave on one surface, with a scar at the apex from the detached petiole, and usually attached to the short root-stock in clusters of three; the smaller grains usually separated from the root-stock, with an acute apex, and a scar at the base; externally, yellowish or grayish-brown, usually translucent; fracture hard and horny, exhibiting a grayish, waxy interior, or granular and tough, exhibiting a whitish interior. Nearly odorless; taste slightly bitter." N. F. It is said to yield its active properties to water and alcohol. It contains corydaline, corycavine, bulbocapnine, and corydine, all alkaloidal principles. Corydaline, C22H27O4N, is a tertiary base; corycavine, C33H23O4N, is a difficultly soluble base; bulbocapnine, C19H19O4N, which is present in largest amount, was originally called corydaline; corydine is a strong base found in the mother liquors of bulbocapnine. The total amount of alkaloids in the dried bulbs is about 5 per cent. according to Gadarner, who found in addition to the foregoing crystalline alkaloids, corybulbine and several amorphous bases which were not named. The chemistry of these numerous bases is somewhat confused and needs further research work. It is used in the N. F. Compound Elixir of Corydalis, the Fluidextract of Corydalis, and the Compound Fluidextract of Stillingia.
"The powdered drug is light yellow or yellowish-gray and, when examined under the microscope, exhibits numerous oval, ovoid or oblong, simple starch grains, the broad end of the grain sometimes truncate, up to 0.06 mm, in length and frequently with a cleft or horseshoe-shaped fissure in the small end of the grain; occasionally in two-compound grains; altered starch grains up to 0.09 mm. in length; numerous angular or rounded parenchyma cells isolated or in groups and containing more or less altered starch grains the outlines of which are indistinct; tracheae few with reticulate, simple pores, annular or spiral markings; fragments of epidermal cells with thin brownish walls; sclerenchyma fibers very few or absent; few characteristic sclerotic cells from the root-stock of Bicuculla Cucullaria, irregular in outline, mostly elongated up to about 0.75 mm. in length and 0.1 mm. in width, walls heavily lignified and about 0.02 mm. in thickness and porous, occurring isolated or in groups of from two to four; very few sclerotic cells from the rhizome of Bicuculla canadensis, mostly isodiametric, uniformly smaller than in Bicuculla Cucullaria and with walls about 0.012 mm. in thickness, not distinctly irregular in outline; very few rosette aggregates of calcium oxalate, up to 0.02 mm. in diameter, from the portions of rhizome of Bicuculla canadensis. An infusion prepared by placing 5 Gm. of powdered Corydalis in 100 mils of hot distilled water, stirring occasionally during ten minutes and then filtering, is of a light amber color, and gives a precipitate with potassio-mercuric iodide T.S. and a dark blue color with iodine T.S. Corydalis yields not more than 8 per cent. of ash." N. F.
For further information concerning the composition of corydalis, see U. S. D., 19th ed., p. 1414.
The tubers of bicuculla are asserted to be tonic, diuretic, and alterative, and are given in syphilitic, scrofulous, and cutaneous affections, in the dose of from ten to thirty grains (0.65-2.0 Gm.). They are also used in the form of tincture and decoction. Corydalin or corydalia, of the eclectics, is an impure resinous mixture. Fischer and Svell have found that the Dicentra Cucularia Torr., a plant closely resembling B. canadensis, but producing no tubers, contains three alkaloids, one of which is protopine. (Ph. Archiv, No. 7, 1903.)
Makoshi has found in Corydalis ambigua, which is employed as a medicine in China, a number of the same alkaloids as occur in the above species, and others closely allied to them. (A. Pharm., 1908, ccxivi, p. 387.) According to Heyl (P. J., 1910, lxxxv, p. 325) the alkaloid protopine occurs in several species of corydalis, although it is not found in C. cappa.