(From a daughter, and of the sea.) Coral. It is also called lithodendron, or thee stone; almarago, mergen, almargen, gorgonias.
Corallium album ramosum, Madrerpora vulgaris, corallium, officinarum oculatum, and white coral.
Cohallium nigrum. Also called antiphates, lithq.-jihyton nigrum, pseudocorallium nigrum, and black Coral.
What is usually shown for black coral is petrified wood. See Keratophyton.
The best sort of white coral is brought from the Mediterranean, and, like the other corals, solid.
The most ancient naturalists considered coral as a vegetating stone; Dioscorides, Pliny, Caesalpinus, and Tournefort, a plant, which indeed it greatly resembles. It is, however, the work and habitation of a polypus, and its internal parts resemble marble in hardness: the external covering is soft, and the extremity is still softer. It hardens by age, but not, as supposed, by the access of air. The surface is mamillated, and each mamilla is the residence of an animal. By calcination it is found to consist of many concentric laminae.
The red coral has been chiefly used in medicine. It is, like the others, a hard, brittle, branched substance, resembling a plant without leaves, usually about the thickness of a goose quill, full of knots, sometimes straight, and sometimes variously bent, both externally and internally of a deep bright red colour. It is found adhering to rocks and other bodies, particularly in the Indian and Mediterranean seas, and in the Persian Gulf. The soft fungous matter which covers it contains a great number of cells full of a milky liquor. This cortical part is separated easily whilst fresh and soft.
The common testacea, coloured with dragon's blood, are sold for it; but by shaking this substitute in water, the fraud is discovered; for the colouring matter being separated, the other becomes white, whilst red coral is still red. The fraud is, however, innocent, and, indeed, the substituted earth is often a more active medicine; but the coral and its substitutes are equally neglected. It was once considered as an absorbent, an astringent, a tonic, and a diuretic. It is now only, and indeed very seldom, the basis of a tooth powder.