This section is from the book "An Experimental History Of The Materia Medica", by William Lewis.
Prunus: a tree with pentapetalous white flowers; each of which is succeeded by a roundish or oval fruit, Handing on a long pedicle, composed of a fleshy pulp including a flat stone pointed at both ends.
* (a) Bergius, Mat. Med. 804.
1. Prunus hortensis. Prunus domestica Linn, Garden plum tree: without prickles; hearing a sweet fruit. Three sorts of this fruit are ranked among the articles of the materia medica: they are all met with in our gardens, but the shops are supplied with them, moderately dried, from abroad. I, Pruna brignolensia. Pruna ex flavo rufescentia mixti saporis gratissima C. B. The Brignole plum or prunelloe, brought from Brignole in Provence, of a red-dim yellow colour, and a very grateful sweet subacid taste. 2. Pruna gallica Ph. Lond. & Edinb. Pruna parva dulcia atro-caerulea C. B, The common or French prunes, called by our gardeners the little black damask plum. 3. Pruna damascena: Pruna magna dulcia atro-ctcrulea C. B. Damsons, the larger damask violet plum of Tours: this is seldom kept in the shops, and has been generally supplied by the common prune.
All these fruits possess the same general qualities with the other summer fruits. The pru-nelloes, in which the sweetness has a greater mixture of acidity than in the other sorts, are used as mild refrigerants in fevers and other hot indispositions, and are sometimes kept in the mouth for alleviating thirst: in hydropic cases. The French prunes and damsons are the most emollient, lubricating and laxative: they are taken by themselves for gently loosening the belly in costive habits and where there is a tendency to inflammation: decoctions of them afford an useful basis for laxative or purgative mixtures, and the pulp in Jubilance for electuaries.
2. Prunus silvestris Pharm. Lond. &
Edinb. & C. B. Acacia Germanorum. Prunuspinosa Linn. Black thorn or floe: a prickly bush, common in hedges, producing austere fruit, somewhat smaller than an ordinary cherry.
The fruit of the floe bush is so harsh and austere, as not to be eatable till thoroughly mellowed by frosts. The juice expressed from it while unripe, or before it has been thus mellowed, infpiffated by a gentle heat to dryness, is called German acacia, and has been usually fold in the (hops for the Egyptian juice of that name; from which it differs in being harder, heavier, darker coloured, of a (harper or tarter taste, and more remarkable in this, that it gives out its astringency in good measure to rectified spirit as well as to water, whereas that of the Egyptian acacia is not at all dissoluble in spirit. A conserve of this fruit is likewise prepared in the shops, by mixing the pulp with thrice its weight of double-refined sugar: the floes being pre-viously steeped in water, over the fire, with care that they do not burst, till they are sufficiently softened to admit of the pulp being pressed out through a sieve. In some places, the unripe floes are dried in an oven, and then fermented with wines or malt liquors, for a restringent diet drink in alvine and uterine laxities.
The bark, both of the branches and of the roots, is said to have been given with success in intermitting fevers, and by some stands recommended as equal to the Peruvian bark. It is apparently a strong styptic; and its styptic matter is of that kind which is not easily extracted by watery menstrua.
Conferv. pruni fylvef-trif. Ph. Lond. prunor fyl- vestrium Ph. Ed,
The flowers, in smell very agreeable, and in taste bitterish, appear to have a laxative virtue, like those of the peach tree or the damask rose. They impregnate water, by distillation, strongly with their fragrance; and give out their active matter, by infusion, both to water and spirit. The watery infusion, sweetened with sugar, or made into a syrup, is said to be a very useful purgative for children.