Thalictrum. Thalictrum macrocarpum.
Thalictrum.—It appears probable that many species of this genus (Fam. Ranunculaceae) have active medicinal or toxic properties. In 1879 Henriot and Doassans asserted that they had separated from the roots of the Thalictrum macrocarpum Gren., a shrub of the Pyrenees, a crystalline yellow substance, having very pronounced toxic principles, analogous to those of curare; and subsequently stated (C. R. S. B., 1880) that this substance really consists of two principles,—an alkaloid, thalictrine, obtained in the form of prismatic needles, insoluble in water, soluble in alcohol, forming crystalline salts with acids, and macrocarpin, a yellow crystalline body, soluble in water, representing the coloring principle of thalictrum. Subsequently berberine was found by Doassans and Mousset in Thalictrum flavum L., Fen Rue or Monk's Rhubarb, a shrub widely distributed in Europe and Asia, macrocarpin being, according to this authority, very closely allied to berberine, but differing in that its color is not affected by ammonia. Rochebrune (Toxicolog. Africaine, i) has found both thalictrine and macrocarpin in the roots of Thalictrum glaucum Desf., of Spain. Thalictrine he states to be a very active cardiac poison, producing loss of power, convulsive movements, irregularity and depression of the heart's beat, and finally death in some cases in convulsions. According to Rochebrune, thalictrine also exists in the African species Thalictrum rhynchocarpum Q. Dillon and A. Rich.