This section is from the book "An Experimental History Of The Materia Medica", by William Lewis.
Buxus arborescens C. B. Buxus sempervirens Linn. Box tree: a small evergreen tree, or shrub, with numerous branches, clothed with firm, shining, somewhat oval leaves: the wood is of a yellow colour, and more compact and ponderous than any of the other European woods: the flowers are imperfect; the fruit, which grows on a distinct part of the tree, is a green berry, divided into three cells, containing six small seeds. It is found wild in some parts of England.
The leaves of this tree have a faint unplea-sant smell, which is in great part dissipated in drying, and pretty strongly impregnates water in distillation: their taste is somewhat of the bitter kind, very strong, and very nauseous. It is said, that their effluvia are narcotic; and that the leaves in substance, and infusions or decoctions of them, are aperient and purgative.
The wood gives a bright yellow tincture to spirituous menstrua, and a paler yellow to water. Chewed, in substance, it scarcely discovers any taste: an extract made from it by rectified spirit, which amounts to little more than one fifteenth part of the weight of the wood, is weakly bitterish: by water was obtained nearly one thirtieth its weight, of a stronger tailed, ungratefully saline extract. From these experiments it may be presumed, that boxwood contains little active matter; and that this matter is not of the pungent resinous, but of the saline kind; and consequently that it differs greatly from guaiacum wood, to which it is by many writers supposed to be similar.