Imagens da página




NUTMEG TREE. Class XXII. Dięcia. Order XIII. MONADELPHIA. Gen. Char. Male-Calyx, bell-shaped, trifid. Corolla, none. Fila

ment, columnar. Anthers, six or ten, united. Female-Calyx, trifid, bell-shaped, deciduous. Corolla, none. Style, none. Stigma, two. Drupe, a nut involved in an arillus. Mace, with

one seed. Spe. Char. Leaves, oblong, pointed. Fruit, smooth.

This tree rises about thirty feet in height, and produces numerous branches; the trunk is covered with a dark brown bark, but that on the branches has a more greenish appearance; the leaves are eliptical, pointed, indulated, entire, obliquely nerved, and placed alternately on short footstalks, the color of which is a bright green on the upper surface, and grayish beneath, having an aromatic taste; the flowers are small and placed on axillary peduncles; the male and female are on separate trees; in the male flowers, the filaments are short, joined into one bundle, supporting long linear anthers, and inserted into the receptacle; in the female the germen is superior, oval, covered with a style, which is terminated by two stigmas; the calyx of the male and female is bell-shaped, and divided at the brim into three small teeth; the fruit is an oval berry, with a fleshy tough covering, which opens and displays the mace, closely investing the shell of the nutmeg.

The Myristica moschata is a native of the Molucus and its neighboring Islands, but is extensively cultivated in Sumatra, Java,


[ocr errors]


[ocr errors]


Penang, and many other parts of the East Indies; it has also been introduced into the Isle of France and Bourbon, the French colony of Cayenne, and some of the West India Islands. It commences to flower about the eighth or ninth year, after which it continues in blossom, and bears fruit of all ages at the same time, which is said to continue without intermission for seventy or eighty years, and the leaves fall in so small a proportion that their loss is almost insensible.

By distillation with water nutmegs yield nearly one third of their weight of a limped essential oil, which is very fragrant, and of a pale straw color, possessing all the properties of the nutmeg; a fatty substance floats on the surface of the water, which has scarcely any taste or smell. Alcohol by infusion extracts all its active properties.

Medical Properties and Uses. Nutmeg is an aromatic, to most persons of a grateful odor and taste. By its volatile parts it is a medicine of considerable power, possessing all the virtues of the other aromatics, both with respecť to the alimentary canal, and to the whole system. Given in large doses it proves a powerful narcotic, from two to three drachms of the powdered nutmeg has in many instances been known to produce stupor, delerium, and dangerous if not fatal consequences would follow its free use. Dr. Cullen mentions a case where he was an eye witness, of a person who by mistake took two drachms of the powdered nutmeg; "he felt it warm in his stomach without any uneasiness, but in about an hour after, he was seized with a drowsiness, which gradually increased to a complete stupor and insensibility; he soon fell from his chair on the floor; being laid in bed he fell asleep, but on waking was quite delerious, and thus continued alternately sleeping and delerious, for several hours together, after which he recovered.” It is employed to cover the taste, or correct the operation of other medicines, but more frequently as an agreeable addition to farinaceous articles of diet, and to various kinds of drink.






COMMON CAMOMILE. Class XIX. Syngenesia. Order II. POLYGAMIA SUPERFLUA. Gen. Char. Receptacle, chaffy. Seed-down, none, or a membra

nous margin. Calyx, hemispherical, nearly equal. Florets of

the ray more than five. Spe. Char. Leaves, bipinnate, linear, acute, subvillous.

The roots are perennial, fibrous and spreading; the stems are slender, round, trailing, hairy, branched, of a pale green color, and about a foot in length; the leaves are doubly pinnated, linear, pointed, a little hairy and divided into three terminal segments; the flowers are compound, radiated, white, at the centre yellow, and stand singly; the calyx is common to all the florets, of a hemispherical form, and composed of several small imbricated scales; the flowers of the radius are female, usually about eighteen in number, narrow, white, and terminated with three small teeth ; the tubular part of the floret encloses the whole of the style, but does not conceal the bifid reflexed stigma; the flowers of the disk are numerous, hermaphrodite, tubular, and cut at the brim into five segments; the filaments are five, very short, and have their anthers so united as to form a hollow cylinder; the germen is oblong; the style is short, slender, and furnished with a bifid reflexed stigma; the seeds are small, and of an irregular shape, It flowers in July and August.

The common Camomile is a native of Europe, where it is found growing wild, in all the temperate parts of that continent. Though not a native of this country, it may be found growing wild


in some of the Northern and Middle States. It seeks dry meadows, pastures, and open fields, and is often seen growing in such quantities as to produce the appearance of a cultivated flower garden. Upon a closer examination it very much resenbles the Anthemis cotula Mayweed, and Matricaria chamomilla German camomile, all of which possess nearly the same medical properties, and in appearance look somewhat alike. A double flowered variety is usually kept in the shops, but as the sapid matter chiefly resides in the disk, or tubular part of the florets, the flowers alone are prefered, in which the matter proves most abundant. Both the flowers and leaves of this plant, have a strong though not ungrateful smell, and a very bitter nauseous taste. The flowers give out their virtue, both to water and rectified spirit.

Medical Properties and Uses. The flowers possess the tonic and stomachic qualities usually ascribed to simple bitters, having very little astringency, but a strong aromatic odor, which is of a very penetrating kind. They are said to possess carminative, emmenagogue, and in some measure antispasmodic and anodyne properties. In England they have been long and successfully employed for the cure of intermittent, and nervous fevers accompanied with visceral obstructions. That the flowers may be safely substituted for peruvian bark in the cure of intermittent fevers, appears from the experience and testimony of many respectable physicians, to which we may add that of Dr. Cullen, who says “I have employed these flowers by giving several times during the intermission, from half a drachm to a drachm of the flowers in powder, have cured many cases of intermittent fevers from their use; but have found, however, that the flowers were attended with this inconvenience, that is, given in a large quantity, they readily run off by stool, defeating thereby the purpose of preventing the return of paroxysms. I have used this in connexion with an opiate or an astringent, that the patient might receive the full benefit of them.

« AnteriorContinuar »