056. Teucrium marum. Marum germander, or Syrian herb mastich.
(Some Teucriums contain livertoxic neo-clerodane diterpenoids. Their use is discouraged. --Henriette.)
Also see 057. Teucrium scordium. Water germander.
Synonyma. Marum Syriacum. Pharm. Lond.
Marum Cortusi. Bauh. Hist. v. iii. p. 242.
Marjorana Syriaca vel Cretica. Bauh. Pin. p. 224.
Marum Syriacum vel Creticum. Park. Theat. p. p. 13. Raii. Hist. p. 527.
Chamaedrys incana maritima frutescens, foliis lanceolatis. Tourn. Inst. p. 205.
Tragoriganum Thymi latioribus foliis, subtus incanis; flore magno suave-rubente. Pluk. Alm. p. 374.
Thymum Creticum, &c. Breyn Prod. ii. p. 90. C. Schreberi verticill. unilab. n. 28. et Linn. Diss. de Maro resp. Dahlgren. p. 7.
Class Didynamia. Ord. Gymnospermia. Lin. Gen. Plant. 706.
Ess. Gen. Ch. Corolla; labium superius (nullum) ultra basin 2-partitum, divaricatum ubi stamina.
Spec. Char. T. foliis integerrimis ovatis acutis petiolatis, subtus tomentosis, flor. racemosis secundis.
The root is perennial, long, ligneous, and divides into many fibrous branches: the stalks are numerous, slender, shrubby, woolly, somewhat branched, and rise above a foot in height: the leaves are oblong, pointed, entire, and near the bottom obscurely lobed: the upper pagina is of a pale green colour; the under, white and downy; they are placed in pairs upon slender footstalks, which become gradually elongated towards the lower part of the stems: the flowers are produced in spikes, and all stand on the same side in pairs, upon short peduncles: the corolla consists of a short curved cylindrical tube, which divides at the limb into two lips; the upper lip is short, erect, and divided to the base, by which it seems lost in the under lip, which is long, of a pale purple colour, and separated into six lobes, of these the outermost are the largest: the calyx is tubular, whitish, woolly, and cut into five short pointed segments: the filaments are two long and two short, slender, white, and furnished with simple antherae: the germen is quadrifid, and supports a slender style, with a bifid stigma: the seeds are four, of a brown colour, and lodged in the calyx, which serves the purpose of a capsule.
This little shrub flowers from July till September. It is a native of Spain, and is said to grow plentifully also in Greece, Aegypt, Crete, and Syria.
Whether this plant was known to the ancients or not, does not appear from the descriptions of Theophrastus and Dioscorides.—Cortufus [See Jac. Antonii Cortusi Catalogus Horti Patavini, anno 1591, & J. Bauh. l. c.] discovered that cats are remarkably fond of Marum; [Cats are also known to have a similar fondness for the Nepeta Cataria, and the roots of Valeriana off.] and from this circumstance we are enabled with certainty to trace back its history to his time, for ever since it has been known by the name of Cat-thyme: there occurs however considerable difficulty in ascertaining its synonyma; and probably some of those to which we have referred, are not sufficiently identified. It was first cultivated in England by Parkinson [Vide Aiton's Hort. Kew.] in 1640, and is now to be found in many of our gardens.
The leaves and younger branches of Marum, when recent, on being rubbed betwixt the fingers, emit a volatile aromatic [Murray says,— Ut sal volatile olfactum grato suo et camphoraceo fere aromate nares vellicant, in sternutationem usque, et per momentum temporis animum eximie erigunt. App. Med, vol. 2. p. 108.] smell, which readily excites sneezing, but to the taste they are bitterish accompanied with a sensation of heat and acrimony. Lewis observes, that "the Marum loses but little of its pungency on being dried, and in this respect it differs remarkably from many other acrid herbs, as those called antiscorbutic. It gives out its active matter partially to water, and completely to rectified spirit.—Distilled with the former,"it yields a highly pungent, subtile, volatile essential oil, similar to that of scurvy grass, but stronger, and of less perishable pungency. Rectified spirit carries off likewise, in the inspissation of the spirituous tincture, a considerable share of the smell and pungency of the Marum, but leaves much the greatest part concentrated in the extract; which, on being tasted, fills the mouth with a durable, penetrating, glowing warmth." [Lewis Mat. Med. p. 412.]
Judging from the sensible qualities of this plant, it may be supposed to possess very active powers, and on this consideration it is strongly recommended by Wedelius [Diss. de Maro refp. Hermanno 1703.—Its cephalic efficacy is highly commended by Hermann (Cynos. Mat. Med. tom. 2. p. 349.) and Boerhaave (Hist. Plant. hort. L. B. p. 262.)] as an important remedy in many diseases requiring medicines of a stimulant, aromatic, and deobstruent quality; and his opinion seems in some measure to have been since verified by actual experience of its efficacy, as appears from the instances of its successful employment by Linnaeus, [Of these we may mention Menstrua suppresia, Apoplexy, Asthma, and various other pulmonary affections. Vide l. c.] Rosenstein, [Murray says, "Litteris vero ad me datis, vir. illustris perscripsit, se eadem medela b. Rosensteinio, dirissima et pertinacissima tussi cum difficillima respiratione in ultimo morbo conflictato, levamen attulisse exoptatissimum." l. c.] and Bergius. [He mentions the case of a lady who received a blow upon the head by falling from a carriage, which brought on a species of apoplexy, and was cured by this plant, after several other means had been tried ineffectually. M. M. p. 504.] The last mentioned writer says of it, Virtus: nervina, tonica, resolvens, emmenagoga, diuretica, errhina. Usus: Cachexia, Hysteria, Debilitas nervorum.—At present however Marum is here chiefly used as an errhine, and is an ingredient in the pulvis asari compositus of the London Pharmacopoeia. The dose of the powdered leaves is from a scruple to half a dram, which Murray advises to be given in wine.