Squill (Lat. squilla or Scilla), a drug consisting of the sliced and dried bulbs of the Scilla maritima of Linnaeus, but the plant has been separated from this genus and is now the urginea maritima of Baker; it belongs to the lily family, and is a native of the Mediterranean region. It has a large, pear-shaped, onionlike bulb, sometimes weighing 4 lbs.; the leaves are long, flat, and spreading; the scape about 2 ft. high, terminated by a long dense raceme of white flowers. It is not rare in cultivation as a window plant, but has no great beauty. The only preparation given the bulbs is to slice them transversely and dry the pieces in the sun; there are two varieties, the white and the rose-tinted bulbs, the later making a dark-colored and less esteemed product. As found in the shops, squill is in the form of horn-like, curved strips, which can only be pulverized" by thorough drying, and unless the air be excluded from the powder it absorbs moisture and soon becomes a solid mass. The taste is mucilaginous, bitter and acrid; its properties are ascribed to a principle called scillitine, which has not yet been isolated.
Squill is one of the oldest of medicines, and its use is mentioned by the earliest writers; some antiquaries think that the onion which the Egyptians regarded as sacred was really the squill bulb.
Squill (Urginea [Scilla] maritima).
Its medicinal effects are diuretic and expectorant, and in large doses emetic and purgative. It is largely employed as an expectorant in domestic practice, for croup and similar affections of children. Vinegar or dilute acetic acid is found the best solvent of the active principles of squill; the drug is first exhausted by the acid, and the vinegar of squill thus obtained is made into a sirup with sugar.
Squill (squilla, Fabr.), a genus of crustaceans of the division stomapoda, so called from having the feet placed around the mouth. The body is elongated and generally slender, the head distinct from the thorax, the carapace leaving uncovered four of the thoracic rings, and the abdomen terminating in a wide caudal fin of several plates adapted for swimming. The antennas of the first segment of the body are long, ending in three many-jointed filaments, cannot be bent under the head, and are inserted below the eyes near the median line; the antennas of the second segment are shorter, more external, having at the base a large ciliated plate, and terminate in a single many-jointed filament; the eyes are at the end of movable appendages. The mouth is toward the posterior third of the carapace, and has an upper and under lip, a pair of mandibles, and two pairs of jaw feet arranged around it; the third pair of feet are prehensile, strong, bent back on themselves, serrated and spined, and used very much like the first pair of feet in the soothsayer (mantis); the next three pairs are directed forward, applied against the buccal apparatus, and inserted close together, with a wide, rounded, ciliated plate at the end; the last three thoracic limbs are slender, with styli-form process and ciliated, the segments to which they are attached resembling those of the abdomen.
Most of the rings of the body are complete, very nearly equal, and movable on each other; the carapace is nearly quadrilateral, longitudinally divided by two more or less distinct grooves; the first five abdominal rings have large false feet, to the posterior part of the base of which are attached the respiratory organs in the shape of floating, ramified, and fringed gills, which are kept constantly in motion. The heart extends almost the length of the abdomen and thorax, a little dilated anteriorly, sending off lateral branches to each ring; the venous sinuses in which the blood is collected before going to the gills are very large; the stomach advances far into the head. There are many species, all marine, most abundant in the tropics, but occasionally seen as far north as the English channel; they are usually met with far from shore and in deep water; they swim rapidly; they are voracious and carnivorous. The best known species is the 8. mantis (Fabr.), 6 or 7 in. long, pale yellowish gray, found in the Mediterranean.
Squill (Squilla mantis).