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most numerous, have regularly three lobes."* It has been further remarked, that the lobed leaves are the most numerous on the upper part of the tree. The flowers, which put forth before the leaves, usually appear in Carolina and Georgia, from the middle to the last of March ; but in the vicinity of Philadelphia and New York, not before the beginning of May. They are disposed in short, slender racemes, of a pale-green colour, and protrude from the sides of the branches below the leaves, having the scales of the former bud for their floral leaves. In this species, as with the Laurus nobilis, the sexes are confined to different trees. The fruit, or seeds, is of an oval form, of a deep-blue colour, and is contained in small, bright-red cups, supported by peduncles from one to two inches in length. These seeds, when ripe, are eagerly devoured by birds, and soon disappear from the tree.

Varieties. Nuttall states in his “Genera of North American Plants," that the inhabitants of Carolina distinguish two kinds of sassafras, the “Red,” and the “White," calling the latter, also, the "Smooth." The red variety he identifies with his sub-genus Euosmus; and the white or smooth kind, he considers as belonging to the same sub-genus, which he calls Laurus Euosmus albida, and of which he has adduced the following characteristics :-Its buds and young branches are smooth and glaucous; its leaves are everywhere glabrous and thin, and the veins are obsolete on the under surface; the petiole is longer. The root is much more strongly camphorated than the root of the red sort, and is nearly white. This kind, he says, is better calculated to answer as a substitute for ochra, (Hibiscus esculentus,) from its buds and young branches being much more mucilaginous. It is abundant in North and South Carolina, from the Catawba Mountains to the east bank of the Santee, growing with the red variety, which, in North Carolina, is less abundant.

Geography and History. The Laurus sassafras is said to be indigenous to every section of the United States, east of the Rocky Mountains, and to Upper Canada, where, in the last-named country, it is found between Niagara and Hamilton, in forty-three and a half degrees of north latitude; but there it dwindles down to a tall shrub, though healthy in its appearance, not exceeding twenty feet in height. In the neighbourhood of New York and Philadelphia, however, , it grows to a height of forty or fifty feet, and attains a still greater elevation in the southern states. Indeed, it abounds from the state of New Hampshire to the banks of the Mississippi, and from the shores of the Atlantic, in Virginia, to the remotest wilds of Missouri, comprising an extent in one direction, of more than a thousand miles, and more than double that distance in the other direction.

The sassafras, from the peculiar forms of its foliage, and the properties of its bark, wood, and leaves, is rendered a prominent object of notice, and it appears to have been one of the earliest trees of the North American forests to attract the attention of Europeans. Monardez, in 1549, and after him Clusius, treat of its

Gerard calls it the "ague-tree,” and says that a decoction of its bark will cure agues and other diseases. And Bigelow states that, "Its character, as an article of medicine, was at one time so high, that it commanded an extravagant price, and treatises were written to celebrate its virtues.” 6. It still retains a place,” he adds, " in the best European pharmacopeias.” The most interesting historical recollection connected with this tree is, that it may be said to have led to the discovery of America; as it was its strong fragrance, smelt by Columbus, that encouraged him to persevere when his crew were in a state of mutiny; and enabled him to convince them that land was not far off.

The largest recorded tree of this species, in Britain, is at Syon, which is fortysix feet in height, with a trunk three feet in diameter, and an ambitus or spread of branches of thirty-four feet. There is another tree at Cobham Hall, in Kent,

* Bigelow, Medical Botany, p. 144.

uses.

which, in thirty years after planting, had attained the height of fifty feet, with a trunk eighteen inches in diameter.

In France, in the neighbourhood of Nantes, there is a sassafras, which, in twenty-four years after planting, had attained the height of thirty feet, with a trunk two feet in diameter.

Soil, Propagation, foc. The Laurus sassafras will grow in any free soil, rather moist than dry, and is generally propagated from seeds, which should be sown or put into a rot-heap, as soon as received, as they remain a year, and sometimes two or three years, in the ground, before they vegetate. The sassafras may also be propagated by cuttings of the roots, or by suckers thrown up by old trees. The situation where the tree is to be finally planted, should be sheltered; and, in the northern parts of Britain, as well as in Canada, in order to insure fine foliage, it should be planted against a wall.

Insects. The Laurus sassafras is inhabited by the larvæ of various species of insects, among which, are those of the black swallow-tail butterfly, (Papilio ilioneus, of Smith and Abbot,) and of the (Attacus promethea, of Harris.) The latter usually come to their full size by the beginning of September, when they measure two inches or more in length, and about half of an inch in diameter. The body of this caterpillar is very plump, and but slightly contracted on the back between the rings. It is of a clear, and pale bluish-green colour; the head, the feet, and the tail are yellow; there are about eight warts on each of the rings; the two uppermost warts on the top of the second and third rings are almost cylindrical, much longer than the rest, and of a rich, coral-red; all the rest of the warts are very small, and of a deep-blue colour. Before entering into its chrysalis state, the caterpillar instinctively fastens to the branch, the leaf that is to serve for a cover to its cocoon, so that it shall not fall off in autumn, and then proceeds to spin on its upper side, bending over the edges to form a hollow, within which lies concealed its cocoon. These brown and curled leaves may be frequently seen hanging upon the trees during winter, when all the rest of the foliage has fallen. If one of these leaves be examined, it will be found to be retained by a quantity of silken thread, which is wound round the twig to the distance of half an inch or more on each side of the leaf-stalk, and is thence carried downwards around the stalk to an oval cocoon, that is wrapped up by the sides of the leaf. The cocoon itself is about an inch long, of a regular oval shape, and consists of two coats. So strong is the coating of silk that surrounds the leaf-stalk, and connects the cocoon with the branches, that it cannot be severed without considerable force; and consequently, the chrysalis swings securely within its leaf-covered hammock, through all the storms of winter. *

The sassafras, as well as the balsam poplar, the elm, the dogwood, and the leaves of clover and of Indian corn, are fed upon by the lo caterpillar (Saturnia io.)

Properties and Uses. The wood of the Laurus sassafras, in young trees, is white and tender; but in those which exceed fifteen or eighteen inches in diameter, it is of a reddish cast, and of a more compact grain. It is not, however, in the latter respect, to be compared with the oak, as a piece of considerable size may be broken with a slight effort. Consequently, the sassafras is of little value as a timber-tree, where strength is the object in view. Experience has shown, that the wood, stripped of its bark, resists, for a considerable period, the progress of decay; and it is on this account employed for the posts and rails of rural fences. It is also sometimes used for joists and rafters in the construction of houses; and is said to be secure from the attacks of insects, an advantage attributed to its odour. On this account, it has been employed for trunks, bedsteads, &c.; but a property of this kind is wrongly attributed to this wood, since it is nearly devoid of smell after a few months' drying.

* See Harris' Report, pp. 280 et 281.

But for these purposes, the timber of this tree is not in habitual use, being only occasionally employed. The wood is of very little esteem for fuel ; and the bark contains a considerable portion of air, and snaps while burning, like that of the chesnut. The wood imparts to wool a very durable orange-colour.

Medicinally, the wood, bark, and roots of the sassafras, are considered to be an excellent stimulant and sudorific, and may be advantageously employed in materia medica, and in the veterinary art. They were formerly much celebrated in the cure of various complaints, particularly in rheumatism, dropsy, and cutaneous eruptions; but, by modern practitioners, they are only recognized as forming a warm stimulant and diaphoretic. The wood is slightly aromatic and somewhat acrimonious, depending on a resin and an essential oil; but the smell and taste, which are peculiar to this vegetable, are more sensible in the young branches, and comparatively more so in the bark of the roots. A decoction of the sassafras chips, sold by druggists, is well known as a remedy for scorbutic affections. The bark and pith of the young twigs, as well as the tender leaves, abound with a pure mucilaginous principle resembling that of the Hibiscus esculentus (ochra.) Mucilage of sassafras pith is peculiarly mild and lubricatory, and has been used with much benefit in dysentery and catarrh, and particularly as a lotion in the inflammatory stages of ophthalmia. From the bark of the roots the greatest quantity of essential oil is extracted, which, after long exposure to the cold, it is said, deposits very beautiful crystals. The flowers of this tree, which have a weak aromatic odour, when fresh, are considered as stomachic and efficacious in purifying the blood; and for this purpose, during a fortnight in the spring, an infusion of them is drunk with a little sugar, in the manner of tea. In Louisiana, the leaves are used to thicken pottage; and in various parts of the United States, an agreeable beverage is formed with the aid of the young shoots, and of the bark of the roots, usually known by the name of "Root Beer,” which is considered as very salutary during the months of summer. The fruits of the sassafras are much in quest by perfumers, who convert them into powder, which they put up in small sachets; but what are known by druggists under the name of " fras nuts,” are the fruit of the Laurus pucheri, a native of Peru.

sassa

Laurus camphora,

THE CAMPHOR-TREE.

Laurus camphora,

Synonymes.

WILLDENOW, Linnæi Species Plantarum.
MICHAUX, North American Sylva.
LOUDON, Arboretum Britannicum.
FRANCE.
GERMANY.
ITALY.
BRITAIN AND ANGLO-AMERICA.

Camphrier,
Campherbaum,
Albero di canfora,
Camphor-tree, Camphire-tree,

Derivation. The word camphora is an alteration of the Arabic kânfour, the name of the camphor-tree in that language.

Engravings. Michaux, North American Sylva, pl. 83; Loudon, Arboretum Britani cum, iii., fig. 1174; and the igures
below.
Specific Characters. Leaves triple-nerved, shining above, glandular in the axils of the veins. Panicles
axillary and terminal, corymbose, naked.— Pereira, Materia Medica.

[graphic]

Description.

HE Laurus camphora is a lofty,

evergreen tree, growing to a

height of fifty or sixty feet, with

os a trunk of a proportionate diameter. The young branches are of a yellowish-green, and smooth. The leaves are oval, acuminate, attenuate at the base, of a bright-green colour, shining above, and paler beneath, with petioles from one inch to an inch and a half in length. The flowers, which are small, and of a yellowish-white, are succeeded by round, dark-red berries, about the size of a black currant, each containing a solitary seed.

Geography and History. The Laurus camphora is indigenous to China, Japan, and Cochin-China, and has been introduced into Java, and other islands of the same group.

" I'he ancient Greeks and Romans," observes Pereira, "do not appear to have been acquainted with camphor. C. Bauhin, and several subsequent writers, state that Aëtius speak of it; but I have been unable to find any notice of it in his writings; and others have been equally unsuccessful in their search of it. Avicenna and Serapion speak of it; the latter calls it kaphor, and erroneously cites Dioscorides. Simeon Seth, who lived in the XIth century, describes it; and his description is considered, both by Voigtels and by Sprengel to be the earliest record.” This tree, Michaux remarks, possesses a high degree of interest for the United States, and should especially engage the attention of the inhabitants of Florida, the lower parts of the Carolinas, and of Louisiana. Its multiplication, in these climates, he says, would be so easy, that after a few years, it might be abandoned to nature.

Properties and Uses. The wood of the camphor-tree, which is of a whitish colour, is strongly impregnated with camphor, and is sometimes employed for making trunks and boxes, that are liable to be infested with insects or worms.

[graphic]
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Every part of the tree, particularly the flowers, possess the smell and taste of camphor in a high degree; but, it is especially from the roots, that this substance, so useful in medicine, is obtained. According to Kæmpfer and Thunberg, the method of extracting camphor in the provinces of Saltzuma and the islands of Gotha, in Japan, is to chop up the roots and wood of the tree, and boil them in water in an iron vessel, with an earthen head, containing a quantity of straw, adapted to it, on which the camphor condenses or sublimes. * But the method practised in China, from the statements of the Abbé Grosier, Dentrecolles, and Davies, appears to be somewhat different. The chopped branches are steeped in water, and afterwards boiled, until the camphor begins to adhere to the stick or spatula used in stirring. The liquid is then strained, and by standing, the camphor concretes. Alternate layers of dry earth, finely powdered, and of this camphor, are then placed in a copper basin, to which another inverted one is luted, and by this means sublimation is effected.

There are two kinds of crude camphor known in commerce, namely, the Dutch or Japan camphor, and the China, Formosa, or ordinary crude camphor. The former is brought from Batavia, and is said to be the produce of Japan. It is imported in tubs covered by mating, and each surrounded by a second tub, secured on the outside by hoops of twisted cane. Each tub contains from one hundred to one hundred and fifty pounds. It consists of pink-coloured grains, which, by their natural adhesion, form various sized masses. It differs from the ordinary crude camphor in having larger grains, in being cleaner, and in subliming, usually at a lower temperature. The ordinary crude camphor is imported from Singapore, Bombay, &c., in square chests, lined with lead foil, and containing from one hundred and forty to one hundred and seventy pounds. It is chiefly produced in the island of Formosa, and is bronght by the Chin-Chew junks in very large quantities to Canton, whence foreign markets are supplied. It consists of dirty grayish grains, which are smaller than those of Dutch camphor. Its quality varies-being sometimes wet and impure, but occasionally it is as fine as the Dutch kind.

Liquid camphor, and Sumatra or Borneo camphor, is obtained from the Dryobalanops aromatica, a large tree growing in Sumatra and Borneo. The liquid camphor or camphor oil is obtained by making deep incisions in the tree, from which the liquid oozes out, and is received in bamboos, or other convenient utensils. It is occasionally imported in tin canisters, and sometimes consists of a perfectly limpid, transparent Auid, but most usually it is more or less tinged with yellow or brown. Its odour is somewhat analogous to that of the oil of cajuputi, combined with the odour of camphor and cardamoms. Sumatra or Borneo camphor, called by the natives Kapurbarus, is found in the natural fissures or crevices of the wood, and occurs in small, white, transparent fragments of crystals, of a camphoraceous odour, and a hot taste. It is much esteemed by the Chinese; but, from its exorbitant price, it rarely enters into their foreign commerce. *

Camphor is also found in numerous herbs, especially peppermint, rose-mary, thyme, lavender, &c. The quantity, however, thus produced, is too small to yield a commercial supply.

* See Pereira's Materia Medica, ii., pp. 243, 244 et 655.

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