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.
The dill, Peucedanum graveolens, Bentham and Hooker filius (N.O. Umbelliferoe) is a short erect annual herb indigenous to the Mediterranean districts and southern Russia, but cultivated in England, Germany, and Roumania. The plant was formerly placed in a separate genus, Ane-thum, whence the name ' Fructus Anethi '; it is now included in the genus Peucedanum.
The drug has been in use in this country from very early times.
In the commercial drug the two mericarps of which the fruit is composed are usually separate and free from the pedicel; they are broadly oval in outline, and so strongly dorsally compressed as to be nearly flat. They average about 4 mm. in length and 2.5 mm. in breadth.
Each mericarp is glabrous, brown, and traversed from base to apex by five primary ridges, of which the three dorsal are only slightly raised, and are brown, filiform, and inconspicuous; whilst the lateral are prolonged into thin, yellowish, membranous wings. The transverse section exhibits under the lens six vittse, viz. four on the dorsal and two on the commissural surface; the endosperm is oily, and is not grooved on its commissural surface either in transverse or longitudinal section. Both the odour and taste are agreeably aromatic.
Fig. 64. - Dill fruit. A, entire fruit, side view, magnified 3 diam. B, commissural surface of mericarp, showing the vittae as dark lines, magnified 3 diam. C, transverse section: μ, vittae; k, ridges; v, commissural surface; 2, endosperm; magnified 14 diam. D, portion of the same, further enlarged. (Berg).
The student should observe
(a) The very flat shape of the mericarp,
(b) The inconspicuous dorsal ridges, and the prominent lateral ones (wings),
(c) The mericarps, usually separate and free from the pedicel.
Dill fruit contains from 3 to 4 per cent, of volatile oil (sp. gr. 0.900 to 0.915; O.R. + 70° to + 80°), consisting of carvone (C14H10O, 40 to 60 per cent.), a colourless liquid with strong dill odour, and limonene associated with phellandrene and other terpenes.
Indian dill (P. Sowa, Kurz); imported in large quantities and used as a substitute for caraways when these are scarce; mericarps frequently united and attached to a pedicel; dorsal surface more convex than European dill, ridges paler and more conspicuous, mericarps narrower and less prominently winged. The volatile oil is different in composition (sp. gr. 0.948 to 0.968, optical rotation + 47°.5 to + 50°.5, 40 to 50 per cent, distils over 230°, contains dill-apiol) and the fruits should not be used •in place of European dill.
Fig. 65. - Dill fruit. A, English; B, Indian. Magnified 6 diam.
Dill is employed as an aromatic stimulant and carminative.