Picrasma excelsa, (Swartz) Planchon, Quassia amara, Linne.

The wood.

Habitat. 1. W. Indies (Jamaica, St. Kitt's, Antigua, St. Vincent. 2. Surinam, W. Indies, Brazil, Guiana, Columbia, Panama.

Syn. Quass., Bitter Wood, Bitter (Ash, Bark) Quassia, Lofty Quassia, Bitter-wood Tree; Br. Quassiae Lignum; Fr. Quassia de la Jamai'que, Bois (amer) de Quassia; Ger. Lignum Quassiae, Quassiaholz.

Pic-ras'ma. L. fr. Gr.

Quassia Quassia 484

bitter - i. e., the plant s chief property.

Quas'si-a. L. fr. Quassi, Quassy, Quash, name of Surinam negro slave who used the bark as a secret remedy in curing malignant fevers (febrifuge).

Ex-cel'sa. L. excelsus; ex, out, + celsus, beyond, surpassing - i. e., highest species of the genus.

A-ma'ra. L. amarus, bitter - i. e., the intense bitterness of the wood.

Plants. - Picrasma excelsa, tree 15-24 M. (50-80°) high, .6-1 M. (2-3°) thick, erect, spreading; bark grayish-brown, smooth, wrinkled; leaves imparipinnate, 4-5 pairs; leaflets 5-10 Cm. (2-4') long, ovate, petiolate, when young covered with fulvous down; flowers, Oct.-Nov., small, yellowish-green, panicles, polygamous; fruit Dec-Jan., black drupe, size of a pea; Quassia amara, small branching tree or shrub; flowers bright red, rather large racemes, hermaphrodite, decandrous; fruit 2-celled capsule, seed globular. Wood (P. excelsa): Jamaica, usually in chips, raspings, shavings, occasionally in small cubes, billets 5-20 Cm. (2-8') thick, yellowish-white, with few light gray pieces somewhat coarsely grained; fracture tough, fibrous, odor slight; taste bitter. Powder, yellowish; microscopically - fragments with large tracheae, single or 2-5 medullary rays 1-5 cells wide, 10-20 rows deep, calcium oxalate crystals, few starch grains, .01-.015 Mm. (1/2500-1/1625') broad; (Q. amara): Surinam, similar to preceding, but heavier, harder, deeper colored, tracheae usually single or 2-3-4, medullary rays narrower, larger groups, 1-4 cells wide, 10-30 rows deep, calcium oxalate crystals few or absent. Solvents: water; diluted alcohol. Dose, gr. 15-60 (1-4 Gm.).

Commercial. - Plants resemble our common ash and contribute two varieties: 1, Jamaica (P. excelsa - Quassia (Simaruba) excelsa), the larger, and furnishing most of the supply; 2, Surinam (Q. amara), the smaller and the original source of drug, upon which the slave Quassi established his own and its reputation, being prevailed upon to reveal his secret for compensation, 1756, when the wood was taken to Stockholm and soon became a popular remedy in Europe and elsewhere; owing to scarcity, smallness of plant, and great demand there arose the necessity of recognizing the larger and more abundant source.

Fig. 227.   Picrasma excelsa.

Fig. 227. - Picrasma excelsa.

The plants are felled, cut into segments, 1-1.2 M. (3-4°) long, 5-20 Cm. (2-8') thick, and shipped from Jamaica or Surinam with or without the bark, and upon reaching us are turned into cups, etc., reserving the shavings for store use; the wood at first is white, but changes by age to yellow.

Constituents. - Picrasmin (quassiin) .05-.15-.75 p. c, alkaloid (yellowish, blue fluorescence with acidified alcohol), resin, mucilage, pectin; Surinam quassia also contains trace of tannin, giving black or bluish-black with ferric salts.

Picrasmin. - Obtained by neutralizing infusion with sodium hydroxide, precipitating with tannin, decomposing precipitate by heating with lead oxide or lime, dissolving out with alcohol. It is a mixture of two crystalline compounds, a-picrasmin, C35H46O10, and b-picrasmin, C36H48O10, homologous with quassiin, C32H40O10, of Surinam quassia, crystallizing in needles or prisms, soluble in alcohol, chloroform, water (1200). Dose (amorphous) gr. 1/2-1 (.03-06Gm.); (crystalline) gr.1/32 - 1/3 (.002-.02 Gm.).

Preparations. - 1. Tinctara Quassioe. Tincture of Quassia. (Syn., Tr. Quas.; Fr. Teinture de Quassia (amere); Ger. Quassiatinktur.)

Manufacture: 20 p. c. Similar to Tinctura Veratri Viridis, page 101; menstruum: 33 p. c. alcohol. Dose, exv-60 (1-4 Ml. (Cc.)).

Unoff. Preps.: Extract (water), dose, gr. 1-3 (.06-.2 Gm.). Fluid-extract (alcohol 33 p. c), dose, exv-30 (1-2 Ml. (Cc.)). Infusum Quassioe (Br.), 1 p. c, dose, 3iv-8 (15-30 Ml. (Cc.)). Liquor Quassioe Concentratus, 10 p. c. Syrup, for fly poison.

Properties. - Tonic, febrifuge, anthelmintic, simple bitter (similar to calumba).

Uses. - Atonic dyspepsia, diarrhoea, gastric vertigo, constipation, loss of appetite, poisons flies (papier mouri), fish, dogs, rabbits. Infusion (℥viij; 240 Ml. (Cc.)), patient being in the knee-chest position, as enema for thread worms (Oxyuris vermicularis) or ascarides of rectum internally for lumbri-coid worms. Large doses cause headache, nausea, vertigo, vomiting, diarrhoea, cramps, narcosis. Substituted for hops in making beer and ale.

Allied Plants:

1. Simaru'ba ama'ra (S. officinalis, S. medicina'lis, Quassia Sima-

Fig. 228.   Jamaica quassia wood: cross section magnified 3 diam.

Fig. 228. - Jamaica quassia wood: cross-section magnified 3 diam.

Fig. 229.   Simaruba amara (officinalis): 1, calyx and ovary; 2, corolla; 3, stamens; 4. stamen and anther.

Fig. 229. - Simaruba amara (officinalis): 1, calyx and ovary; 2, corolla; 3, stamens; 4. stamen and anther.

ruba). - The bark (of root), official 1820-1880; Guiana to N. Brazil, W. Indies. Tree 15-18 M. (50-60°) high, crooked branches; leaves 22.5-30 Cm. (9-120 long, leaflets 3-5 pairs, 5-10 Cm. (2-4') long; flowers yellow; fruit drupe; bark flat, curved, or quilled, .5-1 M. (20-400 long, 3 Mm. (1/8') thick, yellowish-brown, striate, fibrous, bitter; contains picrasmin, resin, volatile oil, calcium oxalate. Used as tonic, febrifuge, diuretic (large doses cause vomiting and purging), for dysentery, diarrhoea (dysentery bark), etc.; in infusion, decoction. Dose, gr. 10-30 (.6-2 Gm.).

2. Sima'ba ce'dron and S. ferrugin'ea. - Colombia, Brazil; resembles simaruba, but flowers hermaphrodite; fruit pear-shape, size of hen's egg. Used natively as febrifuge and as antidote to poisonous animal bites.