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CAMELIA JAPONICA. JAPAN ROSE TREE.
Class XIII. Polyandria. Order I. Monogynia.
Gen. Char. Corolla, six or nine petalled. Calyx, five or six leaved. Capsule, tricoccous.
Spe. Char. Leaves, eliptical-oblong, rugosus.
The Camelia Japonica is an evergreen tree, rising in favorable situations, from twenty to forty feet in height, much branched, and covered with a rough, dark, redish bark: the leaves are eliptical, or lanceolate, entire, alternate, obtusely serrated, veined, and placed on short foot-stalks; the calyx is small, smooth, persistent, and divided into five obtuse segments; the flowers are of a scarlet red, often two or three together, and placed on separate peduncles; the corolla varies in the size and number of its petals, but are usually six, and of an irregular roundish form; thefilaments are short, very numerous, and inserted at the base of the corolla; the anthers are large and yellow; the germen is roundish or triangular; the style is trifid, spreading at the top, and furnished with simple stigmas; the capsule is three celled, opening, and contains three oblong brown seeds.
This beautiful tree is a native of Japan, in which country alone it is found to flourish, and grows wild by the side of fences and. in neglected fields, It was formerly cultivated for culinary purposes, but more recently as a prominent and very useful article in the manufacturing of tea, and for which purpose it is very extensively employed. All the various kinds of tea imported into this country, are more or less flavored with the leaves of this plant, which renders it much more agreeable to the taste.
Medical Properties and Uses. With respect to the qualities of this plant as a medicine, we extract from Dr. Cullen, whose opinion in this place cannot fail to be well received. "An infusion of its leaves like that of the green Tea, has the effect of destroying the sensibility of the nerves, and the irritability of the muscles; and the recent plant contains an odorous narcotic power, which we might presume from the necessity which the Chinese find of drying it with considerable heat before they will allow it to be brought into market, and even after such preparation they abstain from its use, for a year or more, until its volatile parts are still further dissipated; also it is said that unless they use this precaution, the Tea in its more resent state manifestly shows strong narcotic powers. Even in this country the more odorons Teas often show their sedative powers in weakening the nerves of the stomach, and indeed the whole system."
From these considerations we must conclude, that Tea possesses both narcotic apd sedative properties, especially'so, in its most odorous state. Its effects however appear different in different persons, and hence the various and contradictory accounts, that are reported from its use. But if we consider the difference of constitution, which occasions some difference of the operation of the same medicine in different persons, and of which we have a remarkable proof in the operation of opium, we shall not be surprised at the different operations of Tea.
If to this we add the fallacy arising from the condition of the Tea employed, which is often so inert as to have no effect at all: and still add to this the power of habit, which can destroy the powers of the most powerful substances, we shall not allow the various and contradictory reports of its effects to alter our judgment with respect to its ordinary and more general qualities in affecting the human body.