This section is from the book "A Text Book Of Materia Medica, Being An Account Of The More Important Crude Drugs Of Vegetable And Animal Origin", by Henry G. Greenish. Also available from Amazon: A Text Book of Materia Medica : Being an Account of the More Important Crude Drugs of Vegetable and Animal Origin.
Canella bark is obtained from Canella alba, Murray (N.O. Canellaceoe), a small tree distributed over the West Indian Islands and found also in Florida. With this tree the Spaniards became acquainted when they discovered America, and thinking, from its aromatic bark, that it was a kind of cinnamon (which was known to them as a valuable Asiatic spice) they brought it to Europe, where it received the name of white cinnamon or 'canella alba.' It is now used by the negroes as a condiment.
The bark of the tree is covered with a thick layer of ash-grey cork; by gentle beating, this layer of cork is detached, and the remainder of the bark, which has been at the same time loosened, can then be stripped off and dried. It is exported chiefly from the Bahamas.
Canella bark occurs in channelled pieces and single quills of very varying size, evidently obtained from small trunks and from large and small branches. The quills vary in diameter from 5 to 25 mm. or more; channelled pieces may be as much as 50 mm. broad and 5 mm. thick. Much of the bark shows evidence, in the shape of irregular longitudinal fractures, of the beating to which it has been subjected. The outer surface is of a bright pale reddish or yellowish buff colour, very hard and granular, and usually marked at somewhat distant intervals with circular, crateriform scars or with whitish spots, as well as with numerous shallow, transverse or longitudinal depressions. The inner surface is paler, and finely striated longitudinally.
The fracture is very short and granular. The smoothed transverse section exhibits under the lens a narrow, irregular, translucent, brown outer layer (phelloderm of sclerenchymatous cells), a paler cortex in which numerous brown oil-cells can be seen, and, in the bast, white wavy medullary rays.
The odour is agreeably spicy, recalling cinnamon; the taste pungent and bitter.
The student should observe
(a) The hard buff outer surface with its characteristic scars or spots.
Fig. 117. - Canella bark. Natural' size.
(b) The oil-cells and medullary rays,
(c) The characteristic odour and taste.
Canella bark contains about 1 per cent. of volatile oil which has a pungent aromatic taste and contains eugenol, cineol, and terpenes. The bitter principle has not yet been isolated, and it is doubtful whether the pungency is due entirely to the volatile oil. The bark contains no tannin, a negative character by which it may be distinguished from that of Cinnamodendron corticosum, Miers.
Canella has aromatic stimulant and tonic properties.