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.
True Winter's bark is derived from Drimys Winteri, Forster (N.O. Magnoliaceoe), a tree distributed throughout the whole of South America. It was first brought to Europe in 1579 by Captain Winter from the Straits of Magellan. It is now imported from Colombia.
True Winter's bark occurs in channelled pieces or strongly inrolled quills from 3 to 8 mm. in thickness, the quills being often small in diameter in comparison with their great thickness. Both surfaces are usually of a rusty-brown colour, the outer being occasionally whitish or silvery; the thinner pieces frequently bear lichens. The inner surface is well characterised by deep and close striations, the projecting ridges being the inner margins of the bast rays, which are strongly lignified, and therefore do not contract on drying. A transverse section shows radiating lines of white bast, the intervening parenchyma as well as that of the cortex being dark brown. The bark has a terebinthinate odour and an extremely pungent taste, which, however, disappears on keeping.
Winter's bark contains 0.6 per cent. of a volatile oil consisting chiefly of the terpene, winterene. It also contains resin, tannin, and mucilage. A cold aqueous infusion is coloured dark violet by solution of potassium hydroxide, a reaction that is sometimes useful in identifying the bark.
Winter's bark has stimulant, tonic, and antiscorbutic properties. It is much used in Brazil as an astringent and stimulant.
Cinnamodendron Bark, G. corticosum, Miers (N.O. Canellaceoe); for many years substituted for true Winter's bark; dingy brown, rarely pale yellow, the freshly cut surface has a distinct odour of coriander.
Malambo Bark, Croton Malambo, Karsten (N.O. Euphorbiaceoe); hard curved or channelled pieces with silvery white cork and reddish brown inner surface; fracture short, slightly aromatic; taste very bitter.