012. Bubon galbanum. Lovage-leaved bubon.

Botanical name: 

012. Bubon galbanum. 012. Bubon galbanum. C. Synonyma. Bubon Galbanum. Jacquin Hort. Vindob. vol. 3, p. 21.
Anisum africanum frutescens, folio anisi, galbaniferum. Pluken. Alm. p. 31, t. 12.
Ferula africana galbanifera, folio et facie ligustici. Herm. Parad. p. 163. t. 163.
Gummi-resina. Galbanum. Pharm. Lond. & Edin.
(greek) Dioscorid.. (greek) Graec.

Class Pentandria. Ord. Digynia. L. Gen. Plant. 350.
Ess. Gen. Ch. Fructus ovatus, striatus, villosus.
Spec. Char. B. foliolis rhombeis dentatis striatis glabris, umbell. paucis. L. B. Foliolis ovato-cuneiformibus acutis argute ferratis, umbellis pavicis, seminibus glabris, cause frutescente glauco. Aiton's Hort. Kewen.

The stalk is shrubby, several feet high, [Jacquin says five feet or more; but this plant is now growing in the King's garden at Kew, four yards high.] slender, purplish, covered with a glaucous-coloured exudation, [This observation applies to the younger plants, or to the upper and softer part of the stalk.] round, bending, knotted or jointed, towards the bottom woody and naked, but towards the top sending off leaves and branches; the compound leaves rise from the striated sheathes of the stem, they are subtripinnated, the uppermost subbipinnated, and have strong round ribs; the simple leaves are rhomboidal, acute, thickish, of a sea-green colour, veined, subtrilobed, cut, or irregularly serrated, but near the base entire, and some leaves upon the upper branches are somewhat wedge-shaped; the principal umbel terminates the stem, and is large, plano-convex, and composed of numerous radii; the lateral umbels are few, and grow upon slender pendent branches; the leaflets of the general involucrum are about twelve, narrow, lanceolated, membraneous, whitish, and bent downwards; of the partial involucrum they are six, of the same shape and patent. The flowers are all hermaphrodite, fertile, first open at the circumference of the umbel, and followed successively by those towards the centre; the petals are equal, patent, have their points turned inwards, and are of a greenish yellow colour; the stamina are greenish, longer than the petals, and the antherae are yellow; the germen is round and narrow at the base, the styles are two, short and tapering; the seeds are two, brownish, oval, with smooth uneven surfaces, and marked with three elevated lines. The whole plant is smooth, has an aromatic smell, and an acrid biting taste. It is a native of Africa, about the Cape of Good Hope, and flowers in June and July. It was first introduced into Britain by Mr. John Gerard in 1596, [Aiton's Hort. Kew.] and all the four species described by Linnaeus have been since cultivated by Mr. Miller. Through the industry of Mr. Masson, a new species of the Bubon (the laevigatum) has been discovered at the Cape of Good Hope, and is now in the Royal garden at Kew. Notwithstanding we have represented the Bubon Galbanum as the plant yielding the officinal drug; yet it is still a matter of doubt which species of these umbelliferous plants really produces it; and although we have referred to Herman's Ferula Africana, yet we wish to observe, that he thought this matter still uncertain. [Genuina illa planta, quae Galbanum officinarum fundit, nostri faeculi Botanicis nondum innotuit. Ferulaceam esse veteres docent omnes, quaenam vero species sit, non constat. Parad. Bat. l. c. Hermann is certainly a good authority; he was an intelligent physician, and practised many years in the East-Indies, about the latter end of the last century, and also at the Cape of Good Hope: his judgment therefore, as well as his fidelity, is at least equal to that of Plukenett's, which Linnaeus prefers.] It seems highly probable that Galbanum is obtained from different species of the Bubon, [Plures extare possunt stirpes, quae succum Galbano similem stillant, ut de variis lachrymis quae inter se conveniunt & e diversis stirpibus leguntur, nobis compertum est. Herm. l. c.] though, upon the authority of Linnaeus, the London, Edinburgh, and other medical colleges, confine their reference to the species we have figured.

The juice is obtained partly by its spontaneous exudation from the joints of the stem, but more generally and in greater abundance by making an incision in the stalk a few inches above the root, from which it immediately issues, and soon becomes sufficiently concrete to be gathered. Galbanum is commonly imported into England from Turkey, and from the East-Indies, in large softish ductile pale-coloured masses, which by age acquire a brownish yellow appearance; these are intermixed with distinct white grumes or tears, which are accounted the best part of the mass; but the separate hard tears are externally of a ferruginous colour, and always preferred to the mass itself. Geoffroy distinguishes the former into Galbanon en larmes, and the latter into Galbanon en pains. Spielman mentions a liquid sort of Galbanum, which is brought from Persia, "Prostat etiam interdum Galbanum liquidum ex Persia, consistentia terebinthinae instructum, cui multae feeces nigrae commixtae sunt, tempore ad fundum secedentes, odorem resinae, nunquam Galbani, habet." [Mat. Med. p. 560.] Galbanum has a strong unpleasant smell, and a warm bitterish acrid taste; "like the other gummy resins it unites with water by trituration into a milky liquor, but does not perfectly dissolve, as some have reported, in water, vinegar, or wine. Rectified spirit takes up much more than either of these menstrua, but not the whole: the tincture is of a bright golden colour. A mixture of two parts of rectified spirit, and one of water, dissolves all but the impurities, which are commonly in considerable quantity." [Lewis's Mat. Med. by Dr. Aikin, p. 314. The Galbanum colour was a prevailing fashion with the Romans. Reticulumque comis auratum ingentibus implet, Caerulea indutus scutulata, aut galbana rasa; Juvenal, Sat. 2, l. 96. And Martial, speaking of an effeminate perfon, says, Galbanos habet mores. Lib. 1. Epig. 97. — Commentators differ about the colour of Galbana Rasa; we have described the Galbanum flower to be of a greenish yellow.] — In distillation with water, the oil separates and rises to the surface, in colour yellowish, in quantity about one-twentieth of the weight of the Galbanum. Newman observes, that the empyreumatic oil is of a blue colour, which changes in the air to a purple.

Galbanum, medicinally considered, may be said to hold a middle rank between Asafoetida and Ammoniacum; but its fetidness is very inconsiderable, especially when compared with the former, it is therefore accounted less antispasmodic, nor is it supposed to affect the bronchial glands so much as to have expectorant powers equal to those of the latter; it has the credit however of being more useful in hysterical disorders, and of promoting and correcting various secretions and uterine evacuations. Externally Galbanum has been applied to expedite the suppuration of inflammatory and indolent tumours, and medically as a warm stimulating plaster. It is an ingredient in the pilulae e gummi, the emplastrum lithargyri cum gummi, of the London Pharm. and in the empl. ad clavos pedum of the Edin.

Medical Botany, 1790-1794, was written by William Woodville, M. D., and illustrated by James Sowerby.