(Salisbury) 0. Kuntze.
Habitat. N. America - Canada, Florida to Texas; sandy, light soil, in the open.
Syn. Sassaf., Saxifrax, Saloop, Ague Tree, Cinnamon Wood; Sassafras (Cortex) Radix; Fr. Ecorce de Sassafras; Ger. Lignum Sassafras, Sassafrasholz, Sassafras-rinde.
Sas'sa-fras. L. saxum, rock, + frangere, to break - i. e., grows in crevices of rocks; Sp. for saxifrage, name given by Monardes, Spanish botanist of 16th century.
Va-ri-i-fo'li-um. L. varius, varying, + folium, leaf - i. e., leaves of several forms on the same tree, ovate, entire, 3-lobed and cuneate at base.
Plant. - Shrub in the North, tree in the South, 9-24 M. (30-80°) high, .3-.6 M. (1-2°) thick; wood whitish, reddish, light, strong, durable, aromatic; bark of stem and large branches rough, deeply furrowed, grayish, divisible into layers, young end-twigs smooth, green; leaves 10-15 Cm. (4-6') long, varying shape; flowers, March-May, dioecious, fragrant, appearing before leaves, small, greenish-yellow, racemes; fruit oval drupe, size of a pea, deep blue, 1-seeded. Bark, in irregularly, transversely curved, quilled pieces, 1-15 Cm. (2/5-6') long, 1-4 Mm. (2-3 - 6') thick, orange-brown, nearly smooth and marked with irregular ridges; inner surface reddish-brown, obscurely short-striate; fracture short with thin reddish-brown corky layer and yellowish-white inner bark; odor aromatic; taste slightly mucilaginous, astringent, aromatic, somewhat pungent. Powder, light reddish-brown; microscopically - numerous starch grains, .003-.02 Mm. (1/8325-1/1250') broad, prominent, characteristic, fusiform bast-fibres, parenchyma cells containing starch grains or yellowish-red masses of tannin, few fragments of wood with thin-walled tracheae. Solvents: alcohol; hot water. Dose, 3ss-l (2-4 Gm.).
Adulterations. - Bark: Rare - chiefly stem bark; Oil: Camphor oil, distilled in fractions and having the same specific gravity; often sold as artificial oil of sassafras, difficult to distinguish.
Commercial. - Bark of stem occurs in elongated strips or fragments, lighter gray, longer and deeper fissures on outer surface, less aromatic, more mucilaginous and bitter; powder of stem-bark without starch grains, with thick-walled wood-fibres; oil is obtained preferably from root-bark, owing to the larger yield, but in practice the whole root frequently is chipped up and distilled, yielding about .2 p. c. of unrectified oil; Maryland is the centre of production.
Constituents. - Volatile oil 6-9 p. c, Sassafrid 9 p. c, tannin 6 p. c, resin, starch, gum, wax, ash 30 p. c.
Oleum Sassafras. Oil of Sassafras, official. - (Syn., 01. Sassaf., Sassafras Oil; Fr. Essence de Sassafras; Ger. Sassa-frasol.) This volatile oil distilled from the root (better - root-bark) with water or steam, is a yellow, reddish-yellow liquid, characteristic odor and taste of sassafras, soluble in 2 vols. of 90 p. c. alcohol, solution being neutral, sp. gr. 1.070, dextrorotatory; contains chiefly safrol, C10H10O2, 80 p. c., pinene and phellandrene, C10H16, 10 p. c., d-camphor 6.8 p. c., eugenol, C10H12O2, .5 p. c., cadinene, residue 3 p. c. Should be kept cool, dark, in well-stoppered, amber-colored bottles. Dose, j-5 (.06-.3 Ml. (Cc.)).
Fig. 137. - Sassafras variifolium: 1, fruiting twig; 2, flowering twig.
Fig. 138. - Sassafras variifolium: a, staminate flower; b, pistillate flower.
Sassafrid. - Supposed to be altered tannin, the result of oxidation, analogous to cinchona-red; some disclaim its presence in fresh bark; crystallizes in yellowish-brown granules, soluble in alcohol, insoluble in ether, solutions colored red by alkalies, precipitated by alkaline earths (carmine-red), ferric salts (greenish-brown), lead acetate (white), inodorous, nearly tasteless.
Unoff. Preps.: Bark: Fluidextract,dose, 3ss-l (2-4Ml. (Cc.). Infusion (Tea), dose, ad libitum. Pith: Mucilage, 2 p.c., dose, ad libitum.
Properties. - Alterative, diaphoretic, stimulant, emmenagogue.
Uses. - To purify blood, skin diseases, rheumatism, syphilis. Infusion valuable antidote for poison-ivy, internally and externally; it (tea) was popular at one time for so-called thinning the blood (alterative) in spring; given with sarsaparilla, guaiacum, mezereum, etc.; oil popular flavoring agent in confectionery, drinks, soaps, etc., antiemetic, antagonist to narcotic effects of tobacco, hyoscyamus, etc.
1. Safrolum, Safrol, C10H10O2 - C6H3.C3H8.(OOCH2). This chemically is the methylene ether of allyl pyrocatechol, occurring in the oils of camphor, star-anise, cinnamon, etc., and constitutes 80 p. c. of the oil of sassafras. It is obtained chiefly from the red oil of camphor by collecting that fraction boiling at 230° C. (446° F.), purifying the same by repeated chilling and crystallization; it is a colorless or faintly yellow liquid, sassafras-like odor, sp. gr. 1.105, optically inactive, cooled to - 20° C. ( - 4° F.) solidifies to a mass of crystals, melting at 11° C. (52° F.), soluble in alcohol (1), 70 p. c. alcohol (30), miscible with ether, chloroform, boils at 233° C. (451 ° F.); heated with alcoholic potassium hydroxide solution forms isosafrol, which is less toxic than safrol; with bromine yields crystals of C10H5Br5O2. Reduces arterial pressure by depressing vasomotor centre; taken a long period produces fatty degeneration of heart, liver, and kidneys; it is eliminated as piperonalic acid. Dose, j-2 (.06-.13 Ml. (Cc.)).
2. Sassafras Medula, official 1830-1910; dose, 3j (4-15 Gm.); demulcent; mucilage 2 p. c.