094. Juniperus sabina. Common savin.

Botanical name: 

094. Juniperus sabina. 094. Juniperus sabina. C. Also see 095. Juniperus communis. Common juniper.
Synonyma. Sabina. Pharm. Lond. & Edinb.
Varietates sunt, [These two varieties are precisely the same as those noticed by Dioscorides. See L. 1. C. 104.]
α Sabina foliis Cupressi. Bauh. Pin. p. 487.
Sabina baccifera. J. Bauh. Hist. vol. i. p. 288. Gerard. Emac. p. 1376.
Sabina baccifera major. Park. Theat. p. 1026.
Cedrus baccifera fructu minore caeruleo. Raii Hist. p. 1415.
Juniperus foliis cauli adpressis lanceolatis, alterne conjugatis. Hal. Stirp. Helv. n. 1662.
β Sabina folio Tamarisci Dioscoridis. Bauh. Pin. p. 487.
Sabina sterilis. Gerard. Emac. p. 1378.
Sabina vulgaris. Park. Theat. p. 1027. Raii Hist. p. 1415. (greek) Graecorum.

Class Dioecia. Ord. Monadelphia. Lin. Gen. Plant. 1134.
Ess. Gen. Ch. Masc. Amenti Calyx squams. Cor. o. St am. 3.
Fem. Cal. 3-partitus. Petala 3. Styli 3. Bacca 3-sperma, tribus tuberculis calycis inaequalis.
Spec. Char. J. foliis oppositis erectis decurrentibus: oppositionibus pyxidatis.

This shrub rises but a few feet in height: it is covered with a reddish brown bark, and sends off many branches, which are numerously subdivided: the leaves are numerous, small, erect, opposite, firm, and wholly invest the younger branches, which they terminate in sharp points: the flowers are male and female on different plants: the calyces of the male flowers stand in a conical catkin, which consists of a common spike-stalk, in which three opposite flowers are placed in a triple row, and a tenth flower at the end. At the base of each flower is a broad short scale fixed laterally to a columnar pedicle: there is no corolla: the filaments in the terminating flower are three, tapering, united at the bottom into one body, and furnished with simple anthers, but in the lateral flowers the filaments are scarcely perceptible, and the antherae are fixed to the scale of the calyx; the calyx of the female flowers is composed of three small permanent scaly segments, growing to the germen: the petals are three, stiff, sharp, permanent; the germen supports three styles, supplied with simple stigmata: the fruit is a roundish fleshy berry, marked with tubercles, which are the vestiges of the petals and calyx; when ripe the berry is of a blackish purple colour, and contains three small hard irregular shaped seeds. It flowers in May and June.

Savin is a native of the South of Europe and the Levant: it has been long cultivated in our gardens, [Cultivated in 1562. Turn. herb. part 2. fol, 124. Aiton's Hort. Kew.] and from producing male and female flowers on separate plants it was formerly distinguished into the barren and berry bearing Savin: the latter of these our plate represents. [For the male inflorescence of this genus, see the next plate, viz. n. 95.] "The leaves and tops of Savin have a moderately strong smell of the disagreeable kind, and a hot, bitterish, acrid taste; they give out great part of their active matter to watery liquors, and the whole to rectified spirit. Distilled with water they yield a large quantity of essential oil. [From thirty-two ounces Hoffman obtained five ounces of this essential oil, in which the whole virtue of the plant seems to reside.] Decoctions of the leaves, freed from the volatile principle by inspissation to the confidence of an extract, retain a considerable share of their pungency and warmth along with their bitterness, and have same degree of smell, but not resembling that of the plant itself. On inspissating the spirituous tincture, there remains an extract, consisting of two distinct substances, of which one is yellow, unctuous or oily, bitterish, and very pungent; the other black resinous, tenacious, less pungent, and subastringent." [Lewis Mat. Med.]

Savin is a powerful and active medicine, and has been long reputed the mod efficacious in the Materia Medica, for producing a determination to the uterus, and thereby proving emmenagogue; [Bergius states its virtus to be emmenagoga, abortiens, diuretica, sanguinem movens. Mat. Med. p. 814.] it heats and stimulates the whole system very considerably, and is said to promote the fluid secretions.

The power which this plant possesses in opening uterine obstructions is considered to be so great, that we are told it has been frequently employed, and with too much success, for purposes the most infamous and unnatural. [Hinc in uterino fluxu ciendo adeo potens, qua vi abusae subinde feruntur communi sere effato, a Galeno inde tempore deducto, scelestae matres ad abortum excitandum, sed haud absque proprio vitae periculo vel ante partum vel mox post istum. (Storch Hebammenb. p. 220.) Suspectae huic naturae subseripsit judicium Facultatis medicse Lipsiensis. (Ammann. med. crit. p. 42.) See Murray App. Med. vol. i. p. 42. And Haller l. c.] It seems probable however that its effects in this way have been somewhat over rated, as it is found very frequently to fail as an emmenagogue, though this, in some measure, may be ascribed to the smallness of the dose in which it has been usually prescribed by physicians; for Dr. Cullen observes, "that Savin is a very acrid and heating substance, and I have been often upon account of these qualities, prevented from employing it in the quantity perhaps necessary to render it emmenagogue. I must own however that it shows a more powerful determination to the uterus than any other plant I have employed; but I have been frequently disappointed in this, and its heating qualities always require a great deal of caution." [M. M. vol. ii, p. 366.] Dr. Home appears to have had very great success with this medicine, for in five cases of amenorrhoea which occurred at the Royal Infirmary at Edinburgh, four were cured by the Sabina, [Clinical Experiments, p. 387.] which he gave in powder from a scruple to a dram twice a day. He says it is well suited to the debile, but improper in plethoric habits, and therefore orders repeated bleedings before its exhibition. Externally Savin is recommended as an escharotic to foul ulcers, syphillitic, warts, &c. [Fabre, Mai. vener. T. i. p. 365.]

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