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Class X. DECANDRIA. Order I. MONOGYNIA.
mens, declimate. Capsules, loculicidel.
This beautiful evergreen shrub sends off spreading branches, which are covered with a brown bark, and rises from twelve to eighteen inches in height; the leaves are oblong, obtuse, thick, veined, reflexed at the margin, on the upper side of a deep green, on the under ferruginous, or glaucous, and surrounding the branches upon strong footstalks, which rise from between the imbricated stipular squamæ; the flowers are large, yellow, and terminate the branches upon long peduncles, forming umbels; the calyx is persistent divided into five teeth; the corolla is monopetalous, wheel-shaped, inclining, irregular and divided at the limb into five round spreading segments; the filaments are ten, slender, spreading, nearly of the length of the corolla, and furnished with oval anthers; the germen is pentagonal, indented, and supports a style, which is longer than the stigma; the capsule is egg-shaped, somewhat angular, and divided into five cells, which contain numerous small seeds.
This plant is a native of Siberia, inhabiting mountainous situa tions, and flowers in June and July. Its medicinal effects, were first described in the year 1747, by Gmelin and Steller, who mention it as frequently and successfully used in Siberia and other northern
situations of which it is a native, for the cure of rheumatism, and other painful affections of the joints. Little attention however was paid to this remedy until the year 1779, when it was strongly recommended by Roelpin as an efficacious medicine not only in rheumatism and gout, but in all diseases that arise from impurities of the blood.
Medical Properties and Uses. This plant is now very generally employed, in some parts of Europe, in the cure of chronic rheumatism; but has not been introduced into medical practice in this country. I have, however, seen it administered in two cases, both of which manifested alarming symptoms, the result of which must have proved fatal, had the doses been repeated, The leaf, which is the part directed for use, has a bitterish subastringent taste, and, as well as the bark and young branches, manifest a degree of acrimony. Taken in large doses they prove a powerful narcotic poison, producing those symptoms which we have described as occasioned by the Atropa belladonna, or Deadly Night Shade.
As a powerful and active medicine this shrub may probably be found an important addition to the Materia Medica. Dr. Home, who tried it unsuccessfully in some cases of acute rheumatism, says, “it appears to be one of the most powerful sedatives which we have, as in most of the trials it made the pulse remarkably slow, and in one patient reduced it to twenty-two beats; but in cases where it was used, at Edinburgh, it was said to be productive of good effects, and accordingly was introduced into the Edinburgh Pharmacopæia. The manner of using this plant by the Siberians, was by putting two drachms of the dried leaves in an earthen pot, with about ten
ounces of boiling water, keeping it near a boiling heat for a night, · when it was ready for use. It is said to occasion heat, thirst, delerium, and a peculiar sensation on the part effected. Ten leaves of this plant have been given to a goat to eat, which was seized in a few minutes with stupor, trembling, and convulsions, which lasted for some hours; but appeared well on the next day.