Lycium. Lycium halimifolium. Matrimony Vine.
Lycium. Lycium halimifolium Mill. Matrimony Vine. (Fam. Solanaceae.)—Different species have been used in various parts of the world for supposed medicinal virtues. Lycium vulgare, which is indigenous in the south of Europe and in Asia, is a thorny shrub, with long flexible branches, and is cultivated for hedges and arbors. Husemann and Marme found in the leaves and stem an alkaloid, lycine, C5H11O2N. (A. J. P., 1864, 226.) It is very deliquescent, and is soluble in both water and alcohol, but nearly insoluble in ether. It is crystallizable, of a sharp but not bitter taste, and forms crystallizable salts with the acids. Husemann believes that lycine does not exist in the plant, but is formed during the process of extraction, and also that it is identical with betaine, C5H11NO2, the alkaloid obtained from beet juice by Scheibler, and with the oxyneurine of Liebreich. (A. J. P., xlvii, 209.) E. Schmidt found in Lycium vulgare traces of mydriatic alkaloids, resembling those of belladonna. (Ap. Ztg., 1890, 511.) The young shoots of one of the species of Lycium are eaten in Spain as asparagus, and its leaves as salad, and the aborigines of Colombia used another species against erysipelas. The leaves of L. vulgare, as well as the fruit, are said to be used by the physicians of Japan. (Merat and. De Lens.)