When the colony is suffering severely for the want of labor, it may by some be deemed inopportune in offering remarks upon this article of commerce. To such dissentients I will remark, that a great portion of the work can be performed by women and children. A moiety of our anticipated increase of population will be available for this hitherto mismanaged source of wealth. At present the quantity grown in the colony is equal to three-fourths of its consumption, and which production is of a very inferior quality to the imported. These facts tend to show that my notice of the subject is not inopportune, and particularly so when the object is to point out those errors so generally adopted by the tobacco growers here. Years of practical experience, of personal observation upon the plantations of North America, and my having been, I believe, the grower of the greatest quantity of tobacco in the colony, qualify me to afford instructions thereon; whereby, if attended to, our tobacco will become fully equal to the American, as was proved to be the case by the crops I grew here (upwards of 40 tons), which were sold in Sydney by the Commissariat Department at public auction, at an advance of twenty per cent. more than the imported leaf. As the duty on tobacco is about to be reduced, the present production may fall off, unless an immediate improvement in its quality take place. Instead of being importers of tobacco, we should, if it was grown here to perfection, be exporters of it to all our sister colonies; and in its raw state, also to the European markets. At present, for home consumption, there is a greater profit to be made by its cultivation, if skilfully managed, than in any part of the world; for the duty upon imported is a positive bonus to the grower.
In 1849-50 there were fifteen manufactories of tobacco on a small scale in New South Wales, but these were reduced in 1851 to six.
Many samples of tobacco grown in the colony have been pronounced by competent judges equal to Virginian, but a very considerable prejudice exists against it. There is, however, no doubt that the dealers dispose of a great deal as American tobacco, and get a best price for it. The reduction of the import duties on foreign tobacco, recently made by the Legislative Council, will probably retard the progress of the colonial production and manufacture of this article; but with an abundance of labor there is no question that this branch of industry will be again profitably resorted to. The quantity of tobacco manufactured in New South Wales, in 1847, was 1,321 cwt.; in 1848, 714 cwt.; in 1849, 2,758 cwt.; in 1850, 3,833 cwt.; in 1851, 4,841 cwt.
A correspondent of the Adelaide Observer recommends its culture in South Australia, and supplies the following useful information:—
Without entering into botanical details, I will simply state that the plant is of a shrubby nature, about five feet high, and ought not to be planted nearer than four feet from each other, in rows five feet apart—thus allowing for each plant a space of ground four feet by five, or 20 square feet. An acre will consequently furnish sufficient room for 2,178 plants.
The tobacco plant will thrive in almost any climate, from the torrid zone to the temperature of Great Britain. It luxuriates in rich alluvial valleys, where the soil is either of a loamy or a peaty nature.
Maiden soil is not recommended. The ground should be trenched, worked as fine as possible, and well manured. Tobacco will not answer unless the subsoil is thoroughly broken. The best manure is that obtained from the bullock-yard, and bark from the tan yard; and by two or three ploughings the earth can be brought to a proper consistency, and fit for the reception of the plants.
The usual method adopted in New South Wales, is to raise the plants in a warm, sheltered bed, neither exposed to wind nor to the sun's rays; but if the weather is dry, they should be well watered night and morning. The time of sowing is the end of August or the beginning of September in the latitude of Sydney, according to the state of the weather; and they may be transplanted when they have attained their sixth leaf, which is generally about a month or five weeks after they are up.
The period is rather later in this colony, and care should be taken that the plants have gained sufficient strength in the ground after transplanting to withstand the effect of the hot winds, and, if practicable, the aspect should be either N.E. or N.W., and the rows should incline towards either of these points.
The most suitable spots in this colony for the cultivation of tobacco, are Lyndoch Valley and the districts round the town of Willunga and Morphett Vale.
The greatest care is required from the cultivator to prevent the destruction of the plant from its greatest enemy, the black grub. Daily search should be made for it, and not a plant should be left unexamined; they make their appearance about the beginning of November, when the plants have scarcely had time to take root. The soil between the rows should be kept constantly stirred with a three-pronged fork, that air and the sun's rays may be admitted, which latter are as indispensable to the growing plant as injurious to the seedling. The labor is great, and from first to last requires the constant attention of one man throughout the year, with an additional hand for about six weeks during the process of curing.
The profits even in bad seasons are considerable; but when the season and soil are favorable, they average upwards of 100 per cent. The consumption of tobacco is great in this colony, not only for personal use, but for sheep-wash; and the profits may be considerably greater for the lower leaves, which, owing to their gritty nature, cannot be manufactured, but may be advantageously cured for wash.
It is not my office to argue the point as to the advantages which may accrue from a free trade in tobacco; but this I know, and confidently assert it, from actual experiments made in this province, that a more lucrative article cannot be grown.
The consumption in South America, in 1850, was 147,178 lbs.; and the annual increase since 1840 has been a higher percentage than the increase of population, chiefly owing to extension in sheep-farming.
The probable expense of cultivation per acre may be as under:—
L s. d. Rent 0 10 0 Labor, 12 months 52 0 0 Ditto, 2 months 8 10 0 Ploughing three times 2 2 0 Harrowing twice 1 0 0 Manure, say 2 10 0 Seed, say 0 10 0 ————— L67 2 0
The Sydney average quantity is said to be 11-1/3 cwt. per acre, say 10 cwt.; and the cost price per lb. will be 141/2d., or L6 15s. 4d. per cwt. The profit will at once be seen on this article of consumption.
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Miscellaneous Drugs.—The blood tree (Croton gossypifolia), an evergreen shrub, native of the Trinidad mountains, is remarkable for yielding, when wounded, a thick juice resembling blood in color, which is one of the most powerful astringents I know of, and as such would be valuable to medical science. The bark of Croton Cascarilla is, as we have seen in a former section, aromatic, and the seeds of C. Tiglium, the physic nut, are purgative; so are those of the purging nut (Jatropha multifida), and another species (J. gossypifolia).
The pods of cow-itch (Mucuna pruriens) act as a vermifuge; the roots of the Ruellia tuberosa, or manyroot, and the bulbs of the white lily (Pancratium Carribaeum and maritimum), are emetic. The Indian root or bastard ipecacuan (Asclepias curassavica) has medicinal properties. A. tuberosa is used as a mild cathartic, and a remedy for a variety of disorders. Hydrastis canadensis, or Canadian yellow root, is a valuable bitter, and furnishes a useful yellow dye. Knowltonia vesicatoria is used commonly as a blister in the Cape Colony. Ranunculus saleratus (the R. indicus of Roxburgh, and B. camosus of Wallich), common in India, is also used by the natives for blistering purposes.
A kind of sedge rush, common in swampy places in the West India islands, the Adme cyperus, enjoys a reputation for the cure of yellow fever. It is also stated to be cordial, diuretic and cephalic, serviceable in the first stages of the dropsy, good in vomitings, fluxes, &c.
Dr. Impey, the residentiary surgeon of Malwa, has just confidence in the indigenous drugs in use by the natives of the East, many of which are quite unknown in European practice. He believes that, in the Indian bazaars and the jungle, drugs having precisely the same effect as those of Europe may be discovered, and has recently drawn up a list of ninety substances, which are perfect substitutes for an equal number of European medicines. The class of tonics, in particular, is most amply supplied, and the Englishman is not the only animal who suffers from disorders of the digestive organs.
My friend Dr. Hamilton, of Plymouth, recently brought under the notice of the profession the medical properties of the prickly poppy or Mexican thistle (Argemone Mexicana). It is indigenous to and grows wild in the greatest profusion throughout the whole of the Caribbean islands, and may be found at every season of the year covered with its bright golden blossoms, and bearing its prickly capsules in all their several stages of maturity. It is an annual plant, attaining a height of about two feet, growing abundantly in low and hot uncultivated spots. Its stem is round and prickly, furnished with alternate branches and thorny leaves. The seeds possess an emetic quality. The whole plant abounds in a yellow milky juice, resembling gamboge in color, and not improbably possessing properties similar to the seeds. In Nevis the oil is obtained from the bruised seeds by boiling, and sold by the negroes in small phials, containing about an ounce each, under the name of "thistle oil," at the price of a quarter of a dollar each. The usual dose for dry bellyache is thirty drops upon a lump of sugar, and its effect is perfectly magical, relieving the pain instantaneously, throwing the patient into a profound and refreshing sleep, and in a few hours relieving the bowels gently of the contents. This oil seems fitted to compete in utility with the far more costly and less agreeable oil of the croton.
The seeds of the sandbox (Hura crepitans) when bruised, operate powerfully as emetico-cathartic. It is probable that an oil might be obtained from them similar in its operation to the thistle oil.
A cucurbitaceous fruit, one of the Luffas (called by Von Martius Luffa purgans), a tribe closely allied to the colocynth and mornordicas, growing in South America, is a powerful purgative, and is used in the province of Pernambuco, where it is called Cabacinha. The fruit is about the size of a small pear and resembles the wild cucumber. An infusion of a fourth part of one of these fruits is administered chiefly in the form of an injection.
Another species (Luffa drastica, of Martius) is also employed for the same purpose.
The Luffa purgans grows spontaneously in the suburbs of Recieffe, the capital of the province of Pernambuco, and flowers in November and December. The fruit is a drastic purgative, and an infusion of it is used either internally or in the form of clyster. The tincture is prepared by macerating, for twenty-eight hours or more, four of the fruit deprived of the seeds in a bottle of spirit 21 degrees. The dose is three or four ounces daily, which occasions much sickness.
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Poisons.—The vegetable kingdom (observes Mr. Simple), to which man is largely indebted for the materials of food, clothing, and shelter, produces also some of the most deadly poisons with which science, experience, or accident, has made him acquainted. In examining the poisonous productions of the vegetable kingdom, we find that their properties are generally due to the presence of some acid or alkali contained in the plant from which they are derived. Oil of bitter almonds and cherry laurel water are poisonous in consequence of containing prussic acid. Opium owes its activity to the alkaloid morphia. The Upas-tiente derives its energetic powers from the alkaloid strychnia; conia is the active principle of hemlock; veratria of hellebore; aconita of monk's hood; and although there are several poisonous plants in which the active principle has not yet been detected, there can be little doubt that such a principle exists, although it has hitherto eluded the researches of the chemist.—("Pharmaceutical Journal," vol. 2, p. 17.)
The bark taken from the roots of the Jamaica dogwood (Piscidia erythrina), which is extensively distributed throughout the Archipelago of the Antilles, is used for stupefying fish. The pounded root is mixed with slaked lime and the low wines or lees of the distillery, and the mixture is put into small baskets or sacks, and so suffered to wash out gradually, coloring the water to a reddish hue. The fish rise to the surface in a few minutes, when they float as if dead.
The expressed juice of the root of Maranta Arundinacea is stated to be a valuable antidote to some vegetable poisons, and also serviceable in cases of bites or stings of venomous insects or reptiles. One of the most popular remedies for the bites of snakes is a decoction of the leaves of the Guaco, or snake plant, of South America, a species of willow which flourishes along the banks of the streams in the sultry regions shaded by other trees. It is said to be both a preventive and cure.
Mr. Edward Otto, writing from Cuba to the "Gardener's Magazine" for May, 1842, p. 286, describes the guaco as a tree growing from four to eight feet in height, with beautiful dark green leaves, having a brown tinge round the margin. The blossoms are small, of a bluish brown, and hang like loose bunches of grapes at the points of the shoots, or even on the stem itself, as it has seldom branches. The milky sap is said to have poisonous effects. "I was told (he adds) that this plant is used efficiently in cholera and yellow fever." This tree is said to be the Camaeladia ilicifolia of Swartz, common in Antigua and Hayti, being known in Antigua by the popular name of the holly-leaved maiden plum.
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ALOES.—The drug called aloes is the bitter, resinous, inspissated juice of the leaves of various species of an arborescent plant of the lily family, with a developed stem and large succulent leaves, growing principally in tropical and sub-tropical regions, and having a wide extent of range, being produced in Borneo and the East, Africa, Arabia, and the West Indies; many are also natives of the Cape of Good Hope. The plant will thrive in almost any soil, and, when once established, it is extremely difficult to eradicate.
The cultivation and manufacture are of the most simple kind. The usual mode of propagating the plants is by suckers; and all the care required is to keep them free from weeds.
From the high price which the best Barbados aloes fetches in the market, L7 per cwt., its culture might be profitably extended to many of the other islands. The aloes plant is indigenous to the soil of Jamaica, and although handled by thousands of the peasantry and others, there is not perhaps one in five thousand who understands its properties or the value of the plant. With the Jamaicans it is commonly used in fever cases, by slicing the leaves, permitting the juice to escape partially, and then applying them to the head with bandages;—this is the only generally known property which it possesses there.
A series of trials made recently in Paris proved that cordage manufactured from the fibre of this plant grown in Algiers, was far preferable in comparative strength to that manufactured from hemp. Cables, of equal size, showed that that made of the aloe raised a weight of one-fifth more than that of hemp.
The drug is imported into this country under the names of Socotrine, East Indian or Hepatic, Barbados, Cape and Caballine aloes. It contains a substance called Aloetine, which some regard as its active principle. The various species now defined are—Aloe spicata, vulgaris, Socotrina, Indica, rubescens, Arabica, linguae-formis and Commelina. The average imports in 1841 and 1842 were only about 170,780 cwts.; it is now much larger, and a great portion of the supply is drawn from the Cape colony.
The mode of preparing the drug, which I have myself seen in the West Indies, is exceedingly simple. When the plant has arrived at proper maturity, the laborers go into the field with tubs and knives, and cut the largest and most succulent leaves close to the stalk; these are placed upright in the tubs, side by side, so that the sap may flow out of the wound. Sometimes a longitudinal incision is made from top to bottom of the leaf, to facilitate the discharge. The crude juice thus obtained is placed in shallow flat-bottomed receivers, and exposed to the sun until it has acquired sufficient consistency to be packed in gourds for exportation. In preparing the coarser kind, or horse aloes, the leaves are cut into junks and thrown into the tubs, there to lie till the juice is pretty well drained out; they are then squeezed by the hand, and water, in the proportion of one quart to ten of juice, is added, after which it is boiled to a due consistence and emptied into large shallow coolers.
The following analysis by M. Edmond Robiquet of a specimen of Socotrine aloes, obtained from M. Chevallier, is given in the sixth volume of the "Pharmaceutical Journal," p. 277. The constituents in 100 parts were:—
Pure aloes (Aloetine) 85.00 Ulmate of potash 2.00 Sulphate of lime 2.00 Carbonate of potash } ——————-lime } traces. Phosphate of lime } Gallic acid .25 Albumen 8.
The true Socotrine aloes is the produce of A. Socotrina, which grows abundantly in the island of Socotra in the Indian Ocean. Lieutenant Wellstead says, the hills on the west side of the island are covered for an extent of miles with aloe plants. The aloe grows spontaneously on the limestone mountains of Socotra, from 500 to 3,000 feet above the level of the sea. The produce is brought to Tamarida and Colliseah, the principal town and harbor for exports. In 1833, the best quality sold for 2s. a pound, while for the more indifferent the price was 13d. The value is much impaired by the careless manner in which the aloes is gathered and packed. Aloes once formed the staple of its traffic, for which it was chiefly resorted to; but only small quantities are now exported. It was formerly shipped by the way of Smyrna and Alexandria, but is usually now brought by the way of Bombay; Melinda, on the Zanzibar coast, and Maccula on the Arabian shore, furnish the greater part of that sold in Europe as Socotrine aloes. It comes home in chests or packages of 150 to 200 lbs. wrapt in skins of the gazelle, sometimes in casks holding half a ton or more. It is somewhat transparent, of a garnet or yellowish red color. The smell is not very unpleasant, approaching to myrrh. Socotrine aloes, although long considered the best kind, is now below Barbados aloes in commercial value.
About two tons were imported from Socotra in 1833, but a much larger quantity could be obtained if required.
The price of Socotrine aloes in the Liverpool market, in the early part of 1853, was 30s. to L6 the cwt.; of Cape, 30s. to 32s.
East Indian, or Hepatic aloes.— The real hepatic aloes, so called from its liver color, is believed to be the produce of A. Arabica, or perfoliala, which grows in Yemen in Arabia, from whence it is exported by the way of Bombay to Europe. According to Dr. Thomson and the "Materia Medica," it is duller in its color than the other kinds, is bitterer, and has a less pleasant aroma than the Socotrine aloes. It should not be liquid, which deteriorates the quality.
A. Indica—a species with reddish flowers, common in dry situations, in the north-west provinces of India, is that from which an inferior sort of the drug is produced. It is obtained in Guzerat, Salem, and Trichinopoly, and fetches a local price of 2d. to 3d. a pound. In the Bombay market, Socotrine aloes fetches wholesale 16s. to 20s. the Surat maund of 41 lbs., and Maccula aloes only 9s.
Barbados aloes, is the produce of A. vulgaris, or A. barbadensis, a native of the Cape colony, and is often passed off for the Hepatic. It is brought home in calabashes, or large gourd shells, containing from 60 to 70 lbs. each, or more. It is duskier in hue than the East Indian species, being a darkish brown or black, and the taste is more nauseous and intensely bitter.
In 1786 one hogshead and 409 gourds of aloes were exported from Barbados. In 1827, there were about 96,000 packages shipped from the island. In 1844, there were 4,600 packages exported. The exports have fallen off considerably, only about 850 gourds having been shipped in the season of 1849-50; but in 1851 it increased to 2,505 gourds.
Caballine, or Horse-aloes, is the coarsest species or refuse of the Barbados aloes, and from its rank fetid smell is only useful for veterinary medicine. It is also obtained from Spain and Senegal.
A very good description of the mode of cultivating and preparing the aloes in Barbados is given in the 8th vol. of the "London Medical Journal":—
The lands in the vicinity of the sea, that is from two to three miles, which are rather subject to drought than otherwise, and are so strong and shallow as not to admit of the planting of sugar-canes with any prospect of success, are generally found to answer best for the aloe-plant. The stones, at least the larger ones, are first picked up, and either packed in heaps upon the most shallow barren spots, or laid round the field as a dry wall. The land is then lightly ploughed and very carefully cleared of all noxious weeds, lined at one foot distance from row to row, and the young plants set like cabbages, at about five or six inches from each other. This regular mode of lining and setting the plants is practised only by the most exact planters, in order to facilitate the frequent weeding by hand; because if the ground be not kept perfectly clean and free from weeds, the produce will be very small. Aloes will bear being planted in any season of the year, even in the dryest, as they will live on the surface of the earth for many weeks without a drop of rain. The most general time of planting them, however, is from April to June.
In the March following, the laborers carry a parcel of tubs and jars into the field, and each takes a slip or breadth of it, and begins by laying hold of a bunch of the blades, as much as he can conveniently grasp with one hand, whilst with the other he cuts it just above the surface of the earth as quickly as possible (that the juice may not be wasted), and then places the branches in the tub bunch by bunch or handful by handful. When the first tub is thus packed quite full, a second is begun (each laborer having two); and by the time the second is filled, all the juice is generally drained out of the blades in the first tub. The blades are then lightly taken out and thrown over the land by way of manure, and the juice is poured out into a jar. The tub is then filled again with blades, and so alternately, till the laborer has produced his jar full, or about four gallons and a half of juice, which is often done in six or seven hours, and he has then the remainder of the day to himself, it being his employer's interest to get each day's operation as quickly done as possible. It may be observed that although aloes are often cut in nine, ten, or twelve months after being planted, they are not in perfection till the second or third year, and that they will be productive for a length of time, say ten or twelve years, or even for a longer time, if good dung or manure of any kind is stirred over the field once in three or four years, or oftener if convenient.
The aloe juice will keep for several weeks without injury. It is therefore not boiled till a sufficient quantity is procured to make it an object for the boiling house. In the large way, three boilers, or coppers are placed to one fire, though some have but two, and the small planters only one boiler. The boilers are filled with the juice, and as it ripens or becomes more inspissated by a constant but regular fire, it is ladled from boiler to boiler, and fresh juice is added to that farthest from the fire, till the juice in that nearest the fire (by much the smallest of the three) becomes of a proper consistency, to be skipped or ladled out into gourds or other small vessels used for its final reception. The proper time to skip or ladle it out of the last boiler is when it has arrived at what is termed a resin height, or when it cuts freely or in thin flakes from the edges of a small wooden slice that is dipped from time to time into the boiler for that purpose. A little lime water is used by some aloe boilers during the process, when the ebullition is too great.
CAPE ALOES is the produce chiefly of A. spicata, and A. Commelini, which are found growing wild in great abundance in the interior of the Cape Colony. It has not the dark opaque appearance of the other species. About fifty miles from Cape Town is a mountainous tract, almost entirely covered with numerous species and varieties of the plant, and some of the extensive arid plains in the interior of the colony are crowded with it. The settlers go forth and pitch their waggous and campa on these spots to obtain the produce. The shipments from Table Bay and the eastern port of Algoa Bay are very considerable. The odor of the Cape aloes is stronger and more disagreeable than that of the Socotrine or Barbados, and the color is more like gamboge. It is brought over in chests and skins, the latter being preferred.
Mr. George Dunsterville, surgeon of Algoa Bay, gives the following description of the manufacture of Cape aloes:—
A shallow pit is dug, in which is spread a bullock's hide or sheep's skin. The leaves of the aloe plants in the immediate vicinity of this pit are stripped off and piled up on the skin to variable heights. These are left for a few days. The juice exudes from the leaves, and is received by the skin beneath. The Hottentot then collects in a basket or other convenient article the produce of many heaps, which is then put into an iron pot capable of holding eighteen or twenty gallons. Fire is applied to effect evaporation, during which the contents of the pot are constantly stirred to prevent burning. The cooled liquor is then poured into wooden cases of about three feet square by one foot deep, or into goat or sheep skins, and thus is filled for the market. In the colony aloes realises about 21/4 d. to 31/2 d. per pound. The Hottentots and Dutch boors employ indiscriminately different species of aloe in the preparation of the drug.
The Cape aloes, which is usually prized the highest in the English market, is that made at the Missionary institution of Bethelsdorp (a small village about nine miles from Algoa Bay, and chiefly inhabited by Hottentots and their missionary teachers). Its superiority arises not from the employment of a particular species of aloe, for all species are used, but from the greater care and attention paid to what is technically called the cooking of the aloes; that is, the evaporation, and to the absence of all adulterating substances (fragments of limestone, sand, earth, &c.), often introduced by manufacturers.
Mr. Moodie, in his "Ten Years' Residence in Southern Africa," gives a somewhat similar account.
Mr. Bunbury states that, about the neighbourhood of Graham's Town, three large kinds of aloe are very abundant, which form striking and characteristic features of the scenery; they grow irregularly scattered over the parched and naked faces of the hills, but most abundantly among the low broken ledges and knolls of sandstone rock, and are often seen spiring up above the evergreen bushes in the ravines, and crowning the cliffs. One kind grows to the height of a man. They are plants of a strange, rigid, and ungraceful appearance, but with very handsome flowers, which form tall and dense spikes, of a fine coral-red color in two of the species (A. arborescens and lineata?), and of an orange scarlet in the third (A. glaucescens?). When in blossom they are conspicuous at a great distance, and might easily be mistaken, when seen from far off, for soldiers in red uniforms.
The importance of this indigenous plant to the Cape Colony, may be estimated from the following figures:—
AMOUNT OF ALOES, THE PRODUCE OF THE COLONY, AND VALUE THEREOF, EXPORTED IN THE YEARS ENDING 5TH JANUARY 1841, 1842, AND 1846. lbs L 1841 485,574 8,821 1842 602,620 11,877 1846 266,725 3,018
EXPORTS AND VALUE FROM THE EASTERN PROVINCE. lbs. L 1835 68,042 474 1836 30,808 285 1837 13,400 115 1838 28,867 306 1839 75,500 918 1840 82,478 1,145 1841 220,214 4,271 1842 283,305 5,003 1844 318,035 3,225
EXPORTS AND VALUE FROM THE WESTERN PROVINCE. lbs. L 1841 242,860 4,175 1842 379,315 6,874 1844 506,796 6,586
ASAFOETIDA.—-This drug of commerce is procured from the milky juice of Ferula asafoetida, a plant recently described by Dr. Falconer, under the name of Narthex asafoetida. It is found in Persia, the mountains of Chorasan, the central table land of Affghanistan, and some seeds of it, sent to this country by Dr. Falconer, germinated in the Botanical Garden at Edinburgh, and are now vigorous thriving plants of six years growth. Its leaves have a resemblance to those of a paeony; the fruit is distinguished by divided and interrupted vittae, which form a network on the surface. The perennial roots grow to a very large size, and are seldom of any use until after four or five years' growth. The asafoetida is procured by taking successive slices off the top of the root and collecting the milky juice., which is allowed to concrete into masses of a fetid resinous gummy matter, with a sulphur oil, similar to that of garlic, which is probably its active ingredient.
An inferior sort is obtained from F. persica, another species with very much divided leaves, growing chiefly in the southern provinces of Persia. It comes over usually in casks and cases. The British consumption of the drug is about 10,000 lbs. a year. A little is procured from Scinde. In 1825 the quantity imported was 106,770 lbs., in 1839 only 24 cwts.
The wholesale price in the Liverpool market, in January 1853, was L1 to L3 10s. the cwt.
CAMPHOR.—The Camphor tree (Camphora officinarum, Laurus Camphora) is a native of China, Japan, and Cochin China, of the laurel tribe, with black and purple veins. Camphor is procured from all parts of the tree, but it is obtained principally from the wood by distillation, and subsequent sublimation.
Many plants, such as the cinnamon tree, supply a kind of camphor, but the common camphor of the shops is the produce chiefly of C. officinarum.
Two kinds of unrefined camphor are known in commerce.—1. The Dutch, which is brought from Batavia, and is said to be the produce of Japan. This is imported in tubs covered by matting and each surrounded by a second tub, secured on the outside by hoops of twisted cane. Each tub contains about one cwt. Most of this goes to the continent. 2. Ordinary crude camphor is imported from Singapore and Bombay, in square chests lined with lead-foil, and containing 11/4 to 11/2 cwts. It is chiefly produced in the island of Formosa, and is brought by the Chin Chew junks in very large quantities to Canton, whence foreign markets get supplied.—("Pereira's Materia Medica.")
In the southern part of Japan the tree grows in such abundance that, notwithstanding the great consumption of it in the country, large quantities are exported. Koempfer says, that the Japanese camphor is made by a simple decoction of the wood and roots, but bears no proportion in value to that of Borneo. There is also an imitation of camphor in Japan, but every body can distinguish it from the genuine.
The camphor of Sumatra is procured from the stem of a large tree, Dryobalanops Camphora, Colebrook; D. aromatica, Graertner. It is secreted in crystalline masses naturally into cavities of the wood. It supplies this camphor only after attaining a considerable age. In its young state it yields, however, by incision, a pale yellow liquid, called the liquid camphor of Borneo and Sumatra, which consists of resin and a volatile oil having a camphorated odor.
An account of this tree, and of the mode of procuring the peculiar and high-priced camphor which it yields, is given by Dr. Junghuhn, who has travelled lately in Sumatra, and Prof. De Vriese, of Leyden, in the "Nederlandsch Kruidkundig Archief" for 1851. An abstract of the memoir, translated into English by Miss De Vriese, is published in "Hooker's Journal of Botany " for February and March 1852:—
The Dryobalanops is a gigantic tree, rising for fifty or even a hundred feet above those which compose the chief mass of the forests where they grow, just as the steeples of the churches appear above the roofs of the houses in a town. The trunks of the full-grown trees are from 7 to 10 feet in diameter at the very base, and from 5 to 8 feet higher up; they rise to the height of 100 or 130 feet, and their ample crown is from 50 to 70 feet in diameter. The tree has a limited range, being confined to the seaward slope of the mountains of southwestern Sumatra, most abundant on the lower slopes and the outlying hills of the alluvial plain, and extending in latitude from 1deg. 10m. to 2deg. 20m. N., and perhaps further to the north. Camphor oil occurs in all the trees, and is most abundant in the younger branches and leaves. The solid camphor is found only on the trunks of older trees, especially in fissures of the wood, and in smaller quantity than is generally supposed. Colebrooke, and authors who have copied from him, assert that camphor is found in the heart of the tree in such a quantity as to fill a cavity of the thickness of a man's arm, and that a single tree yields about eleven pounds. The price of this camphor, which at Padang sells for about 340 dollars per hundred weight, suffices to show that the account is much exaggerated. The camphor occurs only in small fissures, from which the natives, having felled the trees and split up the wood, scrape it off with small splinters or with their nails. From the oldest and richest trees they rarely collect more than two ounces. After a long stay in the woods, frequently of three months, during which they may fell a hundred trees, a party of thirty persons rarely bring away more than 15 or 20 pounds of solid camphor, worth from 200 to 250 dollars. The variety and price of this costly substance are enhanced by a custom which has immemorially prevailed among the Battas, of delaying the burial of every person who during his life had a claim to the title of Rajah (of which each village has one) until some rice, sown on the day of his death, has sprung up, grown and borne fruit. The corpse, till then kept above ground among the living, is now, with these ears of rice, committed to the earth, like the grain six months before; and thus the hope is emblematically expressed that, as a new life arises from the seed, so another life shall begin for man after his death. During this time the corpse is kept in the house, enclosed in a coffin made of the hollowed trunk of a Durion, and the whole space between the coffin and the body is filled with pounded camphor, for the purchase of which the family of the deceased Rajah frequently impoverish themselves. The camphor oil is collected by incisions at the base of the trunk, from which the clear balsamic juice is very slowly discharged.
In Sumatra the best camphor is obtained in a district called Barus, and all good camphor bears that local name. It appears that the tree is cut down to obtain the gum and that not in one tenth of the trees is it found. Barus camphor is getting scarce, as the tree must be destroyed before it is ascertained whether it is productive or not. About 800 piculs are annually sent to China. The proportion between Malay and Chinese camphor is as eighteen to one; the former is more fragrant and not so pungent as the latter.
Nine hundred and eighty-three tubs of camphor were exported from Java in 1843; 625 bales were imported in 1843, the produce of the Japanese empire; and 559 piculs exported from Canton in 1844.
The price of unrefined camphor in the Liverpool market in July, 1853, was L4 to L4 10s. the cwt. There have been no imports there direct in the last two years.
Camphor (says Dr. Ure) is found in a great many plants and is secreted in parity by several laurels; it occurs combined with the essential oils of many of the labiacae; but it is extracted for manufacturing purposes only from the Laurus Camphora, which abounds in China and Japan, as well as from a tree which grows in Sumatra and Borneo, called in the country kapur barus, from the name of the place where it is most common. The camphor exists, ready formed, in these vegetables between the wood and the bark; but it does not exude spontaneously. On cleaving the tree Laurus Sumatrensis (Qy. Dryobalanops Camphora), masses of camphor are found in the pith. The wood of the Laurus is cut into small pieces and put, with plenty of water, into large iron boilers, which are covered with an earthen capital or dome, lined within with rice straw. As the water boils, the camphor rises with the steam, and attaches itself as a sublimate to the stalks, under the form of granulations of a grey color. In this state it is picked off the straw and packed up for exportation to Europe."—(" Dictionary of Arts and Manufactures.")
The price of camphor at Canton in July, 1850, was from fourteen to fifteen dollars per picul.
Cinchona.—Peruvian or Jesuit's Bark—One of the most valuable and powerful astringents and tonics used in medicine, is the produce of several species of cinchona, natives of the Andes, from 11 north latitude to 20 south latitude, at elevations varying from 1,200 to 10,000 feet above the level of the sea, and in a dry rocky soil. There are at least twelve trees which are supposed to furnish the barks of commerce, and great obscurity prevails as to the species whence the various kinds of cinchona bark are derived. The names of yellow, red, and pale bark have been very vaguely applied, and are by no means well defined. Dr. Lindley mentions twenty-six varieties; of which twenty-one are well known. The barks are met with either in thick, large, flat pieces, or in thinner pieces, which curl inwards during drying, and are called quilled.
Quinine is one of the most important of the vegetable alkaline bitters. It was first discovered by Vauquelin, in 1811, and its preparation on a large scale pointed out by Pelletier and Caventon in 1820. It is obtained by boiling the yellow bark (Cinchona) in water and sulphuric acid, and then treating it with lime and alcohol, when the quinine is precipitated in the form of a white powder. Upwards of 120,000 ounces are made annually in Paris.
Cinchona, or the Peruvian bark, was gathered to the amount of two million dollars in one year recently, and the demand is constantly increasing.
Peruvian bark is cut in the eastern Provinces of Bolivia, skirting the river Paraguay, and now conveyed an immense distance by mules over a mountainous region to El Puerto, the only port of Bolivia on the Pacific. It is thence brought by Cape Horn to the cities of the United States and Europe. Now that Government has been successful in opening the South American rivers, this important article of commerce will be furnished in market by the Paraguay and La Plata rivers, at a much reduced price.
A species of bark from Colombia, known as Malambo or Matias bark, has been frequently administered by Dr. Alexander Ure as a substitute for cinchona with good effect. It offers the useful combination of a tonic and aromatic. It is supposed to be the produce of a species of Drimys. It is stated that in New Granada, and other districts of Central America, where the tree is indigenous, incisions are made in the bark, and there exudes an aromatic oil which sinks in water.
Cinchona bark contains two alkaloids, cinchonia and quina, to which its active properties are due; the former is best obtained from gray bark, the latter from yellow bark. In combination with these there exists an acid called kinic acid.
The imports of cinchona bark to this country are from 225,000 to 556,000 lbs. annually, and about 120,000 lbs. are retained for home consumption. It comes over in chests and serons, or ox-hides, varying from 90 to 200 lbs. We imported from France, in 1850, 489 cwt. of Peruvian bark, of the value of L6,840; and in 1851, 1,128 cwt., of the value of L15,787; also the following quantities of sulphate of quinine, on which there is a duty of 6d. and 3-10ths per ounce.
oz. L 1848 3,856 5,898 1849 1,114 1,560 1850 8,976 12,566 1851 7,605 10,647
The following is the arrangement of these barks adopted by Pereira, who has gone very fully into the subject:—
A. True cinchonas, with a brown epidermis.
I. Pale barks 1. Crown or Loxa bark. C. Condaminea. 2. Gray or silver or Huanuco bark. C. micrantha. 3. Ash or Jaen bark. C. ovata. 4. Rusty or Huamalies bark. C. pubescens.
II. Yellow barks. 5. Royal, yellow or Calisaya bark. C. sp ?
III. Red barks. 6. Red bark. C. sp ?
B. True cinchonas, with a white epidermis.
I. Pale barks. 7. White Loxa bark.
II. Yellow barks. 8. Hard Carthagena bark. C. cordifolia. 9. Fibrous ditto. Perhaps C. cordifolia. 10. Cuzco bark. C. sp.? 11. Orange bark of Santa Fe. C. lancifolia.
III. Red barks. 12. Bed bark of Santa Fe. C. oblongifolia.
The genus Exostemma yields various kinds of false cinchona bark, which do not contain the cinchona alkalies. The following are some of the kinds noticed by Pereira:—
1. St. Lucia or Piton bark. Exostemma floribundum. 2. Jamaica bark. E. caribaeum. 3. Pitaya bark. E. sp? 4. False Peruvian bark. E. peruvianum. 5. Brazilian bark. E. souzianum.
The mode adopted by the bark-peelers of obtaining cinchona varies somewhat in different districts. The Indians (says Mr. Stevenson, "Twenty Years' Residence in South America") discover from the eminences where a cluster of trees grow in the woods, for they are easily discernable by the rose-colored tinge of their leaves, which appear at a distance like bunches of flowers amid the deep-green foliage of other trees. They then hunt for the spot, and having found it out, cut down all the trees, and take the bark from the branches, and after they have stripped off the bark, they carry it in bundles out of the wood, for the purpose of drying it. The peelers commence their operation about May, when the dry season sets in. Some writers state that the trees are barked without felling.
In a letter published in one of the Calcutta papers not long ago, from the pen, I believe, of Mr. Piddington, he strongly urged the introduction of the cinchona tree into British India:—
There is (he observes) one tree, the introduction and the copious distribution of which within certain appropriate points of the sub-Himalayan range, "would confer a greater blessing on the great body of natives, than any effort the Government has made or can make, and that is the cinchona bark tree.
Without any reference to the greater or less force of medical theories as to the efficacy of cinchona bark, I now only take an experienced and practical view, well knowing that the sufferings of many millions of poor and rich natives, especially in the jungle districts, are yearly very great, and the mortality quite enormous from remittent and intermittent fevers, by far the greater part of which would be immensely relieved, or wholly cured, by the free use of cinchona bark.
If by abundance the price be once brought within the poor native's reach, he will readily take to it, having no objection whatever on account of caste to anything of the nature of the bark of a tree.
If the cinchona tree were once growing in abundance, quinine could be easily prepared in India, from the facility of procuring, and cheapness of spirits of wine used in the process of its elimination.
I take it that every hundred Sepahees sick of fevers remaining in hospital off duty for thirty days, drawing an average pay of eight rupees each, form a full monthly loss to Government of eight hundred rupees; while a free use of quinine and bark would cure them in ten days on the average, costing at present about forty rupees; thus by the twenty days' services gained, Government would save nearly five hundred rupees.
But the cinchona tree once glowing abundantly, quinine would of course become infinitely cheaper.
Under a proper system of culture, quill bark only need be taken without destroying the trees, and an earlier return be obtained.
There never yet has been a substitute found for cinchona bark and its salts, as an antiperiodic and tonic.
It yet remains for some one to find an equally efficacious substitute, and thus make a fortune. In the mean time the importance of the cinchona is paramount.
The cinchona tree, like the pimento, deteriorates under cultivation, and in moist, warm, rich valleys the bark becomes inert. The best bark is from trees growing on mountain tops or steep declivities.
From the full accounts of Condamine, Mutis, and Humboldt, a soil and climate like that of the north west sub-Himalayan range is admirably adapted to the planting and prospering of cinchona trees.
In Lord W. Bentinck's time, before there were steamers in or to India, seeing the immense benefit to be derived, I sent in a proposition to procure young cinchona plants from Vera Cruz, begging to be then permitted to proceed there on that account, and my proposition was civilly and even favorably received; but these were not the days to act on it.
Of about the twenty species of cinchona trees the following would of course be the best to bring—the Cinchona bineifolia, the cinchona cordifolia, the cinchona oblongifolia, the cinchona micrantha, and the cinchona condaminea.
The Calumba plant (Cocculus palmatus, Decandolle, or Minispermum palmatum) furnishes the medicinal Colombo root, which is one of the most useful stomachics and tonics in cases of dyspepsia. It is scarcely ever cultivated, the spontaneous produce of thick forests on the shores of Oibo and Mozambique and many miles inland on the eastern shores of Africa, Madagascar and Bombay, proving sufficient. The supplies principally go to Ceylon. The roots are perennial, and consist of several fasciculated, fusiform, branched, fleshy, curved and descending tubers, from one to two inches thick, with a brown warty epidermis; internally deep yellow, odorless, very bitter.
The main roots are dug up by the natives in March (the hot season). The offsets are cut in slices and hung up on cords to dry in the shade. It is deemed fit to ship when, on exposure to the sun, it breaks short, and of a bad quality when it is soft and black.—("Pereira's Materia Medica.")
It contains a bitter crystallizable principle called Calumbin.
The commercial parcels are often adulterated with the roots of Costus indicus, C. speciosus, and C. Arabicus (Kusmus, Putckuk, &c.). It is imported into this country in bags and chests of from one to three cwt., and ranges in price from L1 to L2 the cwt. The imports in 1846 to London were 82 packages, and in 1850, 214 packages, but the stock held in London is always large, being nearly 2,500 packages.
Colocynth, furnished by Cucumis colocynthis and C. pseudocolocynthis, is the dried medullary part of a wild species of gourd which is cultivated in Spain. It also grows wild in Japan, the sandy lands of Coromandel, Cape of Good Hope, Syria, Nubia, Egypt, Turkey, and the islands of the Grecian Archipelago. It may be obtained in the jungles of India in cart loads. The fruit, which is about the size of an orange, with a thin but solid rind, is gathered in autumn, when ripe and yellow, and in most countries is peeled and dried either in the sun or by stoves. It comes over from Cadiz, Trieste, Mogadore, &c., in cases, casks, &c., and duty was paid on about 11,000 lbs. in 1839.
CUBEBS.—The dried unripe fruit of P. Cubebi, or Cubeba qfficinalia, a climbing plant of the pepper tribe, native of Prince of Wales' Island, Java, and the Indian islands furnishes the medicinal cubebs, which is used extensively in arresting discharges from mucous membranes. In appearance cubebs resemble black pepper, except that they are higher colored and are each furnished with a stalk two or three lines long. Dr. Blume says, that the cubebs of the shops are the fruit of P. caninum. This species of pepper, when fresh and good, contains nearly 10 per cent. of essential oil.
In 1842 the quantity entered for home consumption was 67,093 lbs. The average imports are about 40 to 50 tons annually. 3 cases were imported into Liverpool in 1851. The price in the Liverpool market, in January 1853, was L3 10s. to L4 10s. the cwt.
GAMBOGE.—This resinous juice, which is a most important article of commerce, is furnished by some of the plants of Gambogia, natives principally of South America. It is a powerful irritant, and is employed medicinally as a drastic and hydragogue cathartic. From its bright yellow color it is also used as a pigment.
Gamboge fetches in the London market from L5 to L11 per cwt.
Some of the species of Stalagmites (Murray), natives of Ceylon and the East, yield a similar yellow viscid juice, hardly distinguishable from gamboge, and used for the same purpose by painters. They are a genus of fine ornamental trees, thriving well in soils partaking of a mixture of loam and peat.
According to Koenig, the juice is collected by breaking off the leaves or young branches. From the fracture the gamboge exudes in drops, and is therefore called gum gutta. It is received on leaves, coco-nut shells, earthen pots, or in bamboos; it gradually hardens by age, and is then wrapped up in leaves prior to sale.
The common gamboge of Ceylon is produced by a plant which Dr. Graham was led to view as a species of a new genus under the name of Hebradendron Gambogoides. A very different species, the Garcinia Gambogia, of Roxburgh, once supposed to produce gamboge, and indeed actually confounded by Linnaeus with the true gamboge tree of Ceylon, he has proved not to produce gamboge at all.
This substance is also obtained from several other plants, as the Mangostana Gambogia (Gaertner), Hypericwm bacciferum and Cayanense, natives of the East Indies, Siam and Ceylon, whence it is imported in small cakes and rolls or cylindrical twisted masses. Its composition is as follows: number 1 being an analysis by Professor Christison of a commercial specimen from Ceylon; number 2 of a fine sample of common ditto:—
1 2 Resin, or fatty acid 78.84 74.8 Coloring matter 4.03 3.5 Gum 12.59 16.5 Residue 4.54 5.2 ——- ——- 100. 100.
The average imports of gamboge into the port of London, during the past five or six years, have been from 400 to 500 chests of one to two cwt. each.
Gentian.—The yellow gentian root (Gentiana lutea) is the officinal species, and a native of the Alps of Austria and Switzerland.
The stems and roots of G. amarella and campestris, British species, and G. cruciata, purpurea, punctata, &c., are similar in their effects, having tonic, stomachic, and febrifugal properties. So has G. kurroo of the Himalayas. The root is generally taken up in autumn, when the plant is a year old. It is cut longitudinally into pieces of a foot or a foot and a half long. They are imported into this country in bales from Havre, Marseilles, &c., and a good deal comes from Germany. In 1839, 470 cwts. were entered for home consumption.
Chiretta is the herb and root of Agathotes Chirayta, Don; Gentiana Chirayta, Fleming; or Ophelia chirayta, a herbaceous plant, growing in the Himalaya mountains about Nepaul and the Morungs.
Ipecacuan.— Cephaelis Ipecacuanhae, Richard, yields the ipecacuan of the shops. The plant is met with in the woods of several Brazilian provinces, as Pernambuco, Bahia and Rio Janeiro. It is found growing in moist shady situations, from 8 to 20 degs. south latitude. The roots, which are the officinal part, are contorted, knotty and annulated, and about the thickness of a goose quill.
Besides this brown or gray annulated ipecacuan, there are spurious kinds, such as the striated or black Peruvian, the produce of Pyschotria elliptica, and other species; and white or amylaceous ipecacuan, furnished by Richardsonia scabra, an herbaceous perennial, native of the provinces of Rio Janeiro and Minas Geraes. Manettia glabra or cordifolia, also furnishes ipecacuan in Buenos Ayres. It is imported into this country from Rio in bales, barrels, bags, and serons, and the average annual imports in the eight years ending in 1841 were 10,000 lbs. In 1840, the shipments from Rio were as much as 20,000 lbs.
Castelnau states, that one expert hand can gather 15 lbs. of the ipecacuan root in a day, which will fetch in Rio one dollar per pound. He estimates that, from 1830 to 1837, not less than 800,000 lbs. of this drug were exported from the province of Matto Grosso to Rio.
Jalap.—This drug is obtained from the dried tubers or root-stock of Ipomoea Jalapa or Convolvulus Jalapa, a perennial plant, native of America. Some suppose it takes its specific name from Xalapa, in Mexico, whence we chiefly import it. It grows in the woods near Chicanquiaco, at an altitude of 6,000 feet above the level of the sea. Large quantities might be gathered and exported in Jamaica. The root is of a roundish tuberous form, black externally, and of a deep, yellowish grey within, and varies in size from that of a walnut to that of a moderate sized turnip. It contains a resin in which its active properties reside. It is brought to this country in thin transverse slices, and the amount entered for home consumption is about 45,000 lbs. a year. It is imported in bales, from Vera Cruz direct, or indirectly by way of New York, and other places.
Two sorts of jalap root occur in commerce. The one which was first introduced into the market, and which is even at the present day most frequently met with, is obtained from the Ipomoea Schiedeana of Zuccarini, a plant growing on the eastern declivity of the Mexican Andes, and discovered by Von Schiedes. The root, as met with in commerce, consists of pieces varying from the size of a nut to that of the fist, sometimes whole, sometimes cut into disks, and at other times divided into two or three portions. The external surface is of a more or less dark gray brown color, corrugated and rough. It is very hard, presents a shining resinous even surface when broken, and is difficult to reduce to powder. The powder is of a brownish color, has a faint peculiar odor and irritant taste.
The second quality, which was introduced into commerce is great quantities a few years ago, by the name of stalk jalap, is now more scarce, and obtained from the Ipomoea orazabensis of Pelletan, a plant growing without cultivation in the neighbourhood of the Mexican town of Orizaba. The root, as met with in the trade, consists of pieces varying from one to three inches in length, and 11/2 to two inches in diameter. They are of a higher color than the first-named root, and of decidedly fibrous structure. The chief constituents of both varieties is a peculiar resin, of which they contain about 10 per cent.
Scammony.—The root of Convolvulus Scammonia, another plant of the same family, affords, when cut, a gummy resinous exudation or milky juice, which soon concretes and forms scammony. The plant grows abundantly in Greece, the Grecian Islands, and various parts of the Levant. It is imported from Aleppo in drums, weighing from 75 to 125 lbs. each, and from Smyrna in compact cakes like wax packed in chests. In 1839, the quantity on which duty (2s. 6d. per lb.) was paid amounted to 8,581 lbs. The duty received for scammony, in 1842, was L607. A spurious kind is prepared from Calystegia (Convolvulus) sepium, a native of Australia, and several plants of the Asclepiadacae order.
Dr. Russell ("Med. Obs. and Inqui.") thus describes the mode of procuring scammony:—
Having cleared away the earth from the upper part of the root, the peasants cut off the top in an oblique direction, about two inches below where the stalks spring from it. Under the most depending part of the slope they affix a shell, or some other convenient receptacle, into which the milky juice flows. It is then left about twelve hours, which time is sufficient for the drawing off of the whole juice; this, however, is in small quantities, each root affording but a few drachms. This milky juice from the several roots is put together, often into the leg of an old boot, for want of some more proper vessel, when in a little time it grows hard, and is the genuine scammony. Various substances are often added to scammony while yet soft. Those with which it is most usually adulterated are wheat flour, ashes, or fine sand and chalk.
Liquorice.—The plant which yields the liquorice root of commerce is Glycirrhiza glabra or Liquiritia officinalis. It is a native of Italy and the southern parts of Europe, but has been occasionally cultivated with success in Britain, especially at Pontefract, in Yorkshire, and at Mitcham, in Surrey. The plant is a perennial, with pale blue flowers. It grows well in a deep, light, sandy loam, and is readily increased by slips from the roots with eyes. The root, which is the only valuable part, is long, slender, fibrous, of a yellow color, and when grown in England is fit for use at the end of three years. The sweet, subacid, mucilaginous juice is much esteemed as a pectoral. It owes its sweetness to a peculiar principle called glycrin or glycirrhiza, which appears also to be present in the root and leaves of other papilionaceous plants, as G. echinata and glandulifera, Trifoliwm alpinum, and the wild liquorice of the West Indies, Abrus precatorius, a pretty climber.
The greatest portion of our supplies of the extract, which amount to 7,000 or 8,000 cwts. a year, are obtained from Spain and Sicily. The juice, obtained by crushing the roots in a mill, and subjecting them to the press, is slowly boiled, till it becomes of a proper consistency, when it is formed into rolls of a considerable thickness, which are usually covered with bay leaves. It is afterwards usually re-dissolved, purified, and, when formed into small quills, is known as refined liquorice.
In 1839, 1,166 tons of liquorice paste were exported from Naples, valued at L45 per ton. Mr. Poole, in his Statistics of Commerce, states that the consumption of liquorice root and paste in this country averages 500 tons per annum. 110 cwt. of the juice and 100 cwt. of the root are annually brought into Hull from the continent.
Matico—the Peruvian styptic, a powerful vegetable astringent, was first made known to the medical profession of England by Dr. Jeffreys, of Liverpool, in the Lancet, as far back as January 5th, 1839. A paper on its history and power was published in May, 1843, in the "Transactions of the Provincial Medical and Surgical Association," vol. 10. It is stated to be the Piper angustifolium of Ruiz and Parsons. Dr. Martin believes it to be a species of Phlomis. The leaves are covered with a fine hair.
The powdered leaves of the Eupatorium glutinosum, under the name of Matico, are used about Quito for stanching blood and healing wounds. A good article on the pharmaceutical and chemical character of matico, by Dr. J.F. Hodges, appeared in the "Proceedings of the Chemical Society of London," in 1845. It is stated, by Dr. Martin, that, like the gunjah, which the East Indians prepare, from the Cannabis Indica, the leaves and flowers of the matico have been long employed by the sensual Indians of the interior of Peru to prepare a drink which they administer to produce a state of aphrodisia. The leaves and flowering tops of the plant are the parts imported and introduced to notice as a styptic, which property seems to depend on their structure and not on their chemical composition.
Quassia.—The quassia wood of the pharmacopoeia was originally the product of Quassia amara, a tall shrub, never above fifteen feet high, native of Guiana, but also inhabiting Surinam and Colombia. It is a very ornamental plant, and has remarkable pinnate leaves with winged petioles. This wood is well known as one of the most intense bitters, and is considered an effectual remedy in any disorder where pure bitters are required. Surinam quassia is not, however, to be met with now. That sold in the shops is the tough, fibrous, bitter bark of the root of Simaruba (Quassia) excelsa and officinalis, very large forest trees, growing in Cayenne, Jamaica, and other parts of the West India Islands, where they bear the local name of bitter-wood. Its infusion is used as a tonic. 23 tons of bitter-wood were shipped from Montego Bay, Jamaica, in 1851. Quassia acts as a narcotic poison on flies and other insects. Although prohibited by law, it is frequently employed by brewers as a substitute for hops. The duty of L8 17s. 6d. per cwt., levied on quassia, is intended to restrict its use for such a purpose.
Rhubarb.—This most important plant belongs to the genus Rheum. The officinal rhubarb is the root of an undetermined species. There are about thirteen different kinds which are said to yield rhubarb. Lindley enumerates fifteen. I however take Professor Balfour's classification:—
1. Rheum palmatum, native of Bucharia, which has perhaps the best title to be considered the true rhubarb-plant, grows spontaneously in the Mongolian empire on the confines of China.
2. R. undulatum, native of China, which yields much of the French rhubarb.
3. R. compactum, native of Tartary, another species yielding French rhubarb, and often cultivated in Britain for its acid petioles.
4. R. Emodi (Wallich). This species yields a kind of Himalayan rhubarb. Its petioles are much used for their acid properties.
5. R. Rhaponticum, native of Asia. Used in France and Britain in the same way as the third species. It is much cultivated in the department of Morbihan.
6. R. hybridum (Murr). Much cultivated in Germany for its root and in Britain for its stalks.
7. R. Webbianum (Royle). 8. R. Spiceformi (Royle). 9. R. Moorcroftianum (Royle). Himalayan species or varieties.
10. R. crassinervium (Fisch), a Russian species.
11. R. leucorhizum (Pall), a Siberian and Altai species, said to yield imperial or white rhubarb. It has striped flowers, while all others are whitish green.
12. R. Caspicum (Fisch), a Russian and Altai species.
13. R. Ribes, native of the Levant, but some say an Afghanistan or Persian species.
All these grow in the cold parts of the world, as on the Altai mountains, in Siberia, Thibet, North of China, and on the Himalayan range. The rhubarb procured from one or more of these species is known in commerce under the names of Russian or Turkey, Chinese or East Indian, and English rhubarb.
The plants all thrive well in a rich loamy soil, or light sandy soil, and are increased by divisions of the roots or by seed.
The extent of country from which rhubarb of one kind or another is actually collected, according to Christison, stretches from Ludall, in 771/2 east longitude, to the Chinese province of Shen-si, 29 degrees further east, and from the Sue-chan mountains, in north latitude 26 degrees, nearly to the frontiers of Siberia, 24 degrees northward. The best rhubarb is said to come from the very heart of Thibet, within 95 degrees east longitude and 35 degrees north latitude, 500 or 600 miles north of Assam.
The Chinese rhubarb is inferior to that of Russia and Turkey. The price varies in China from 38 dollars per picul upwards, and about 1,500 piculs are annually exported, on an average at 50 dollars per picul. In 1844, 2,077 piculs were shipped from Canton for Great Britain; and of 95,701 lbs. imported in 1841, 43,640 lbs. were brought from China, 8,349 lbs. from the Philippines, 7,290 lbs. from the East Indies, and 33,710 lbs. from the United States; only 1,462 lbs. were brought from Russia. The imports from the East Indies have decreased more than 70 per cent. in the last twelve years, as compared with the preceding. The wholesale prices are, for round rhubarb, 8d. to 3s. per lb.; flat, 6d. to 3s. 3d. per lb.; Dutch trimmed, 6s. to 7s. per lb.; Russian, 13s. to 13s. 6d. per lb.
In 1831, we imported 133,462 lbs. from the East India Company's possessions, and 6,901 lbs. from Russia. In 1843, only 71,298 lbs. came from the East. From China we received, in 1843, 172,882 lbs.
The quantities of rhubarb on which duty of 1s. per lb. was paid in the six years ending 1840, were as follows;—
East Indian. Foreign. lbs. lbs. 1835 32,515 10,647 1836 36,836 7,752 1837 44,669 5,946 1838 37,026 7,402 1839 22,575 12,525 1840 16,745 22,203
The imports and consumption of rhubarb are thus stated in the Pharmaceutical Journal:—
Imports. Consumption. lbs. lbs. 1826 102,624 32,936 1831 140,395 40,124 1836 122,142 44,468 1841 95,701 67,877 1846 427,694 — 1847 305,736 — 1848 116,005 — 1849 94,914 —
The rhubarb brought into Siberia grows wild in Chinese Tartary, especially in the province Gansun, on hills, heaths, and meadows, and is generally gathered in summer from plants of six years of age. "When the root is dug up, it is washed to free it from earthy particles; peeled, bored through the centre, strung on a thread, and dried in the sun. In autumn all the dried rhubarb collected in the province is brought in horsehair sacks, containing about 200 lbs., to Sinin (the residence of the dealers), loaded on camels, and sent over Mongolia to Kiachta, and the ports and capital of China.
Sarsaparilla.—The root of various species of Smilax constitutes the sarsaparilla of the shops. It is an evergreen climbing undershrub, having whitish green flowers, and grows readily from suckers. It is a native of the temperate and tropical regions of Asia and America. The officinal part is the bark, which comes off from the rhizomes. They are mucilaginous, bitter, and slightly acid. Sarsaparilla is used in decoction and infusion as a tonic and alterative. The following are enumerated as sources whence sarsaparilla of various kinds is derived.
Smilax China and sagittaefolia, yielding the Chinese root, are said to come from the province of Onansi in China.
S. pseudo China, S. Sarsaparilla, S. rubens, and S. Watsoni, furnish the drug of North America.
The sarsaparilla distinguished in commerce as the Lisbon or Brazilian is the root of S. papyracea of Poiret. It is an undershrub, the stem of which is compressed and angular below, and armed with prickles at the angles. The leaves are elliptic, acuminate, and marked with three longitudinal nerves. This species grows principally in the regions bordering the river Amazon, and on the banks of most of its tributary streams. It is generally brought from the provinces of Para and Maranham. It is in large cylindrical bundles, long and straight, and the flexible stem of the plant is bound round the bundles, so as to entirely cover them. Its fibres are very long, cylindrical, wrinkled longitudinally, and furnished with some lateral fibrils. Its color is of a fawn brown, or sometimes of a dark grey, approaching to black. The color internally is nearly white. Besides this species there are others indigenous, such as S. officinalis, which grows in the province of Mina; S. syphilitica, which grows in the northern regions, and three new species, S. japicanga, S. Brasiliensis, and S. syringioides. There is also met with in Brazil another plant, Herreria sarsaparilla, belonging to the same natural order, which abounds in the provinces of Rio, Bahia, and Mina, and the roots of which receive the name of wild sarsaparilla.
From Mexico, Honduras, and Angostura very good qualities are imported. S. zeylanica, glabra, and perfoliata furnish sarsaparilla from Asia, and S. excelsa and aspera are used as substitutes for the officinal drug in Europe.
Smilax officinalis, found in woods near the Rio Magdalena in New Granada, furnishes the best in the market, which is commonly known as Jamaica Sarza. It differs from the other kinds in having a deep red cuticle of a close texture, and the color is more generally diffused through the ligneous part. It is shipped in bales, formed either of the spirally formed roots, as in the Jamaica and Lima varieties, or of unfolded parallel roots, as in the Brazilian varieties. The roots are usually several feet long, about the thickness of a quill, more or less wrinkled, and the whole quantity retained for home consumption, in 1840, was 143,000 lbs. In 1844, 184,748 lbs., and in 1845 111,775 lbs. were shipped from Honduras.
The prices in the London market, at the close of 1853, were —Brazil, 1s. 3d. per lb.; Honduras, 1s. 3d. to 1s. 8d. per lb.; Vera Cruz, 6d. to 11d. per lb.; Jamaica, 1s. 8d. to 3s. 4d. per lb. The duty received on sarsaparilla in 1842 was L1,536.
The average annual quantity of sarsaparilla obtained from Mexico and South America, exclusive of Brazil, and taken for home consumption, in the twelve years ending with 1843 was 37,826 lbs.
IMPORTS OF BRAZILIAN SARSAPARILLA. lbs. 1827 28,155 1828 49,280 1829 52,772 1830 19,842 1831 31,972 1832 91,238 1833 13,077 1834 28,803 1835 22,387 1836 1,718 1837 12,842 1838 — 1839 9,484 1840 4,141 1841 1,399 1842 5,572
The total imports in 1849 were 118,934 lbs.
Sarsaparilla has been found growing in the Port Phillip district of Australia, and has been shipped thence in small quantities. It seems to be indigenous to the Bahamas, and is to be found on many of the out islands. Mr. Wm. Dalzell, of Abaco, collected some considerable quantity at a place called Marsh Harbor, which was found to be of a superior quality.
Some thousands of pounds of sarsaparilla were brought to Falmouth, Jamaica, last year, and bought by merchants for export. It came from the parish of St. Elizabeth, and there are whole forests covered with this weed, for such in reality it is. It is too the real black Jamaica sarsaparilla, that is so much valued in the European and American markets. It is also found in other parts of the island.
In 1798 3,674 lbs. of sarsaparilla were shipped from La Guayra; 2,394 lbs. in 1801 from Puerto Cabella, and 400 quintals from Costa Rica, in 1845, valued at eight dollars a quintal.
SENNA.—Several varieties of Cassia, natives of the East, are grown for the production of this drug. The dried leaves of C. lanceolata or orientalis, grown in Egypt, Syria, and Arabia, the true Mecca senna, are considered the best. In Egypt the leaves of Cynanchum Arghel are used for adulterating senna, Cassia obovata or C. senna, also a native of Egypt, cultivated in the East Indies, as well as in Spain, Italy, and Jamaica. It is a perennial herb, one or two feet high. In the East Indies there is a variety (C. elongata) common about Tinnivelly, Coimbatore, Bombay, and Agra, &c. Several of this species are common in the West India islands. The plants, which are for the most part evergreens, grow from two to fifteen feet high; they delight in a loamy soil, or mixture of loam or peat.
The seed is drilled in the ground, and the only attention required by the plant is loosening the ground and weeding two or three times when it is young.
The senna leaves imported from India are not generally so clean and free from rubbish as those from Alexandria. They are worth from 20s. to 27s. per cwt. in the Bombay market.
The prices are—Alexandria, l1/2d. to 6d. per lb.; East Indian, 2d. to 3d. per lb.; Tinnevelly, 7d. to 91/2d. per lb.
Senna is collected in various parts of Africa by the Arabs, who make two crops annually; one, the most productive, after the rains in August and September, the other about the middle of March. It is brought to Boulack, the port of Cairo, by the caravans, &c., from Abyssinia, Nubia, and Sennaar, also by the way of Cossier, the Red Sea, and Suez. The different leaves are mixed, and adulterated with arghel leaves. The whole shipments from Boulack to Alexandria, whence it finds it way to Europe, is 14,000 to 15,500 quintals.
The quantities imported for home consumption were—
From the East Indies. Other places. Total. lbs. lbs. lbs. 1838 72,576 69,538 142,114 1839 110,409 63,766 174,175
In 1840, 211,400 lbs. paid duty, which is now only 1d. per lb.
In 1848, we imported 800,000 lbs. from India; in 1849, the total imports were 541,143 lbs. The imports into the United Kingdom were, in 1847, 246 tons; 1848, 402 tons; 1849, 240 tons.
Alexandrian senna (Cassia acutifolia). This species is said by some to constitute the bulk of the senna consumed for medical purposes in Europe. It is much adulterated with the leaves of Cynanchum Arghel, Tiphrosia apollinea, and Coriaria myrtifolia.
C. lanceolata and C. ethiopica furnish other species of the same article, the greater part of the produce of which find its way to India, through the Red Sea, Surat, Bombay and Calcutta, the imports into Calcutta, in 1849, having been 79,212 lbs. C. obovata furnishes the Aleppo and Italian drug.
At least eight varieties of senna leaf are known in commerce in Europe—1. the Senna palthe; 2. Senna of Sennaar or Alexandria; 3. of Tripoli; 4. of Aleppo; 5. of Moka; 6. of Senegambia; 7. the false or Arghel; 8. the Tinnevelly.
In Egypt the senna harvest takes place twice annually, in April and September; the stalks are cut off with the leaves, dried before the sun, and then packed with date leaves. At Boulka, the drug is sorted, mixed, and adulterated, and passed into commerce through Alexandria.
Alexandrian senna, according to Mr. Jacob Bell ("Pharmaceutical Journal," vol. 2, p. 63), contains a mixture of two or more species of true senna. It consists principally of Cassia obovata and C. obtusata, and according to some authorities it occasionally contains C. acutifolia. This mixture is unimportant, but the Cynanchum Arghel, which generally constitutes a fifth of the weight on an average, possesses properties differing in some respects from true senna, and which render it particularly objectionable. The Tinnevelly senna, that most esteemed by the profession, is known by the size of the leaflets, which are much larger than those of any other variety; they are also less brittle, thinner and larger, and are generally found in a very perfect state, while the other varieties, especially the Alexandrian, are more or less broken. The leaves of the Cynanchum are similar in form to those of the lanceolate senna, but they are thicker and stiffer, the veins are scarcely visible, they are not oblique at the base, their surface is rugose, and the color grey or greenish drab; their taste is bitter and disagreeable, and they are often spotted with a yellow, intensely bitter gummo-resinous incrustation. Being less fragile than the leaflets of the true senna, they are more often found entire, and are very easily distinguishable from the varieties which constitute true Alexandrian senna.
In their botanical character they are essentially different, being distinct leaves, not leaflets, which is the case with true senna.
The SUMBUL root, which has recently been introduced into the French market, is the root of an umbelliferous plant, which is characterised by a strong odor of musk. The pilgrims, on their return from Mecca, generally import to Salonika, Constantinople, &c., among other articles of trade, various plants with a musk-like odor. The preparation of these vegetable substances is said to be effected by smearing them over with musk-balsam.
[Footnote 1: Ure's Dictionary of Arts and Manufactures.]
[Footnote 2: Fractional parts are not necessary to include.]
[Footnote 3: Dr. Lindley is in error as to the discriminating duties—British cacao pays 9s., and foreign 18s.]
[Footnote 4: According to Breen's History of St. Lucia up to 1844.]
[Footnote 5: Caffeine (the principle of coffee) and theobromine (the principle of cacao) are the most highly nitrogenised products in nature, as the following analysis will show:—
Caffeine, according to Pfaff and Liebig, contains—
Carbon 49.77 Hydrogen 5.33 Nitrogen 28.78 Oxygen 16.12
Theobromine, according to Woskreseusky, contains—
Carbon 47.21 Hydrogen 4.53 Nitrogen 35.38 Oxygen 12.80
Of the two, cacao contains the larger quantity of nitrogen; and this chemical fact explains why cacao should be so much more nutritive than tea, though the principle of tea (theine) is nearly identical with the principle of cacoa—tea containing in 100 parts 29.009 of nitrogen. On this subject Liebig has made an observation which I cannot avoid noticing. He says, "We shall never certainly be able to discover how men were led to the use of the hot infusion of the leaves of a certain shrub (tea), or of a decoction of certain roasted seeds (coffee). Some cause there must be, which would explain how the practice has become a necessary of life to whole nations. But it is surely still more remarkable that the beneficial effects of both plants on the health must be ascribed to one and the same substance, the presence of which in two vegetables, belonging to different natural families, and the produce of different quarters of the globe, could hardly have presented itself to the boldest imagination. Yet recent researches have shown, in such a manner as to exclude all doubt, that caffeine, the peculiar principle of coffee, and theine, that of tea, are in all respects identical."—(Anim. Chem., pp. 178-9.) We really can see nothing in all this but the manifestation of that instinct which, implanted in us by the Almighty, led the untutored Indian (as we are pleased to call him) to breathe into the nostril of the buffalo or the wild horse, and by that single act to subdue his angry rage, or that impelled the first discoverer of combustion to extract fire from the attrition of two pieces of wood. The American Indian, living entirely on flesh, "discovered for himself in tobacco smoke a means of retarding the change of matter in the tissues of the body, and thereby of making hunger more endurable."—(P. 179.) But the wonder ceases, when we reflect that man was endued with certain properties by his Maker which must have been at some remote period, of which we can form no idea, active and manifest the moment he breathed the breath of life. To inquire how he lost this property is not our business at present, but it is only by supposing the quondam existence of such a property, active and manifest, that can in any way explain a first knowledge of the therapeutic, or threptic, qualities of plants and shrubs. With regard to the identity of theine, caffeine, theobromine, &c., it would be as well that the reader should keep in mind that it is so chemically only, for in appearance, taste, weight, odor, &c., no substances can differ more. Does the palate exert some peculiar action on the ingesta, so as to give to each a distinct sapor? Or vice versa?]
[Footnote 6: In the West Indies, from my own experience, I have found this to be one of the worst descriptions of soil. P.L.S.]
[Footnote 7: Correspondent of the Singapore Free Press, December, 1852.]
[Footnote 8: It is important, in considering what tea may be had from China, to consider the manner of its production. It is grown over an immense district, in small farms, or rather gardens, no farm producing more that 600 chests. "The tea merchant goes himself, or sends his agents to all the small towns, villages, and temples in the district, to purchase tea from the priests and small farmers; the large merchant, into whose hands the tea thus comes, has to refire it and pack it for the foreign market."—(Fortune's Tea Districts.) This refiring is the only additional process of manufacture for our market. Mr. Fortune elsewhere, in his valuable work, giving an account of the cost of tea from the farmers, the conveyance to market, and the merchant's profit, states that " the small farmer and manipulator is not overpaid, but that the great profits are received by the middlemen." No doubt these men do their utmost to keep the farmers in complete ignorance of the state of the tea-market, that they may monopolise the advantages, but it is pretty certain that the news of a bold reduction of duty, and the promise of an immensely increased consumption, would reach even the Chinese farmers, and make them pick their trees more closely—a little of which amongst so many would make a vast difference in the total supply.]
[Footnote 9: See article Thea, by Dr. Royle, in "Penny Cyclopaedia," vol xxiv., p. 286.]
[Footnote 10: Hooker's "Bot. Mag.," 1.3148. It is the Assam tea plant.]
[Footnote 11: Report on Tea Cultivation submitted to House of Commons. See Blue Book, 1839, p. 1-3.]
[Footnote 12: In a short time rain gauges will be established at Bheemtal, Huwalbaugh, Paoree, and Kaolagir, in order to measure the quantity of rain that falls annually, for the purpose of ascertaining how much the quantity and quality of the produce of tea is affected by the weather.]
[Footnote 13: In China this process, according to the statement of tea manufacturers, is carried on to a great extent.]
[Footnote 14: Dr. Jameson, in a late communication, remarks—"From the accounts I have received of that place (Darjeeling), I doubt not but that the plants there grown will yield tea of a superior description."]
[Footnote 15: The crops of this district, such as rice, mundooa, and other grains, are so plentiful and cheap as scarcely to pay the carriage to the nearest market town, much less to the plains. In Almorah a maund of rice or mundooa sells for something less than a rupee; barley for eight annas; and wheat for a rupee.]
[Footnote 16: There is frequently a discrepancy in the figures in the Parliamentary papers, which will account for a want of agreement in some of these returns.]
[Footnote 17: See the "Pharmaceutical Journal" for June, 1849, p. 15, et seq.]
[Footnote 18: Reports of Dr. Roxburgh, Mr. Touchet of Radanagore, and Mr. Cardin of Mirzapore, Cutna. Papers on East India Sugar, page 258.]
[Footnote 19: Many are of opinion, that although the juice of this cane is larger in quantity, yet that it contains less sugar. There is some sense in the reason they assign, which is, that in the Mauritius and elsewhere it has the full time of twelve or fourteen months allowed for its coming to maturity—whereas the agriculture of India, and especially in Bengal, only allows it eight or nine months, which, though ample to mature the smaller country canes, is not sufficient for the Otaheite.]