(From Dictamnus, a city in Greece, on whose mountains it grew,) fraxinella, white or bastard dittany. It is a plant with leaves resembling those of the ash tree, but much smaller, and more juicy. On the tops of the stalks are long spikes of purplish and white flowers, which are followed by pods of black seeds. It is perennial, and grows wild on the mountains in France, Italy, and Germany. Dictamnus albus Lin. Sp. Pi. 548.
The roots are whitish; the cortical part, freed from the pith and small fibres, is dried, rolled up, and in this form brought to England. The young roots, about the size of a squill, are the best. When fresh, they have an agreeable smell, dissipated in drying; are considerably bitter; a quality they yield to water and spirit, and which remains in the extract. Formerly this medicine was considered as efficacious in uterine and visceral obstructions, as well as an anthelmintic. But it had been neglected, till brought again into notice by Stoerck, and recommended in tertians; against worms, particularly the lumbrici; and menstrual suppressions. A scruple of the powder was given twice a day, which may be gradually increased to 3 i. From twenty to fifty drops of the following tincture were successfully prescribed in epilepsies, given two or three times a day: R. Dictamni albi recentis ij. sp. vini rect. xiv. digere. In cho-loric patients, the root, mixed with steel, has been said to be efficacious. It is not, however, employed in this country, and probably is of little efficacy.
Dictamnus Creticus, verus; origanum Creticum, onitis, dittany of Crete, or Candy wild marjoram. It is the origanum dictamnus Lin. Sp. Pi. 823, and is a small shrubby plant, with square stalks, and roundish leaves, that are covered with a thick white down; the flowers are in spikes of a purplish colour. The flowery tops were formerly brought from Crete, and indeed these are somewhat stronger than ours, which are now always used. It is perennial, a native of stony grounds, and bears the winters of our climate. Those we have from Greece, when we receive them, are not greatly superior to our own.
Whilst the leaves are in perfection, they are warm and aromatic, have an agreeable smell, and a hot pungent taste, resembling that of the thymus citratus. The garden pennyroyal is of the same quality, but not equally strong. Both water and spirit take up the virtues of this plant. If a large quantity is distilled at once with water, a small portion of essential oil is obtained, of a yellowish colour, a highly pungent, aromatic taste and smell; congealing in the cold, so as to resemble camphor: the remaining decoction, when inspissated, is a bitterish, disagreeable mass, but destitute of the flavour and warmth of the herb: the spirituous extract possesses all its virtues. See Neumann's Chem. Works; Lewis's Mat. Med.