Herbs & Oils
~ Q ~
Picraena excelsa (LINDL.)
Constituents of Jamaica Quassia
Medicinal Action and Uses
Preparations and Dosages
---Synonyms---Bitter Wood. Jamaica Quassia. Bitter Ash. Quassia
Amara (Linn.). Quassia Lignum, B.P.
Used---Wood of trunks and branches.
tree growing 50 to 100 feet, erect stem over 3 feet in diameter.
Bark smooth and greyish. Leaves alternate, unequally pinnate,
leaflets opposite, oblong, acuminate, and unequal at the base.
Flowers small pale yellowish green, blooming October and November.
Fruit three drupes size of a pea (maturing its fruit December and
January), black, shining, solitary, globose, with a thin shell. The
wood of this tree furnishes the Quassia of commerce. It is imported
in large logs varying from a foot or more in diameter and 1 to 8
feet in length, occasionally much bigger, then it is split into
quarters, retaining a friable and feebly attached cortex which has
the same medicinal qualities as the wood, which is very tough,
close grained and white, but changes to yellow on contact with the
air. It is odourless and very bitter, the bark is thin and dark
brown or thick greyish brown transversed by reticulating
Amara, or Surinan Quassia, as found in commerce, is in much smaller
billets than the Jamaica Quassia, and is used in its place on the
Continent, and is easily recognized from the Jamaica one, which it
closely resembles, by its medullary rays, which are only one cell
wide, and contain no calcium oxalate.
Jamaica Quassia---Volatile oil, quassin, gummy extractive pectin,
woody fibre, tartrate and sulphate of lime, chlorides of calcium,
and sodium, various salts such as oxalate and ammoniacal salt,
nitrate of potassa and sulphate of soda. Quassia, U.S.P., may be
either Jamaica or Surinan Quassia.
and Uses---Quassia, found in the shops in the form of chips or
raspings, has no smell but an intense bitter taste, which will
always distinguish the pure drug from adulterations; the infusion
of these by persalt of iron gives a bluish-black colour, but as the
blue Quassia chips contain no tannic acid, no result is produced in
the infusion. Quassia wood is a pure bitter tonic and stomachic; it
is also a vermicide and slight narcotic; it acts on flies and some
of the higher animals as a narcotic poison. It is a valuable remedy
in convalescence, after acute disease and in debility and atonic
dyspepsia; an antispasmodic in fever. Having no tannic acid, it is
frequently given with chalybeates and therefore can be preseribed
with salts of iron; as an aromatic bitter stomachic it acts in the
same way as calumba. In small doses Quassia increases the appetite
large doses act as an irritant and cause vomiting; its action
probably lessens putrefaction in the stomach, and prevents the
formation of acid substances during digestion. A decoction used as
an injection will move ascarides; for an enema for this purpose, 3
parts Quassia to 1 part mandrake root are used, and to each ounce
of the mixture, 1 fluid drachm of asafoetida or diluted carbolic
acid is added; for a child up to three years, 2 fluid ounces are
injected into the rectum twice daily. Cups made of the wood and
filled with liquid will in a few hours become thoroughly
impregnated and this drink makes a powerful tonic. The infusion is
made by macerating in cold water for twelve hours 3 drachmsof the
rasped Quassia to 1 pint of cold water, 2 OZ. of the infusion
alone, or with ginger tea, taken three times a day, proves very
useful for feeble emaciated people with impaired digestive organs.
The extract can be made by evaporating the decoction to a pilular
consistence, and taken in 1 grain doses, three or four times daily,
this will be found less obnoxious to the stomach than the infusion
or decoction. Quassia with sulphuric acid acts as a cure for
drunkenness, by destroying the appetite for
Dosages---Fluid extract, 15 to 30 drops. Tincture, B.P. and U.S.P.,
1/2 to 1 drachm. Conc. Solut., B.P., 1/2 drachm. Powdered Quassia,
30 grains. The infusion for killing flies should be sweetened with
Medicinal Action and Uses
---Synonyms---Quebracho Bark. Quebracho-blanco.
---Habitat---Chile and Argentina, Bolivia, Southern
---History---Quebracho is an evergreen tree which sometimes
rises to 100 feet, with an erect stem and wide-spreading crown. The
wood of all the species of this genus is valuable, and the name is
due to its hardness, being derived from two Spanish words, quebrar
and hacha, meaning 'the axe breaks.' It is used for
was not introduced into Europe until 1878, though was for long used
in South America as a febrifuge. Commercially, it is met with in
large, thick pieces covered on the outside with a very thick and
rough, corky layer of a greyish-brown colour, and deeply divided by
furrows and excavations. The inner bark is greyish or yellowish,
smooth or somewhat fibrous, and often with small, black spots. The
taste is very bitter, but there is scarcely any odour.
plants are known as Quebracho: Schinopsis Lorenzii, the wood of
which is sold in commerce as 'quebracho wood,' and Iodina
rhombifolia, 'quebracho flojo,' the wood and bark of which are
sometimes substituted for the 'quebracho colorado.'
---Constituents---Contains six alkaloids: Aspidospermine,
Aspidospermatine, Aspidosamine, Quebrachine, Hypoquebrachine and
Quebrachamine. All agree that quebrachine is the most
sugars, quebrachite and laevogyrate inosite, tannin and starch have
also been extracted.
and Uses---Tonic, febrifuge and anti-asthmatic.
preparation of Quebracho or Aspidosperma is injected into the
circulation, the rate and depth of the respiration increases
largely, apparently due to direct action on the respiratory centre,
and the blood-pressure falls.
Aspidosperma is used in medicine for the relief of various
types of dyspnoea, especially in emphysema and in asthma. It is not
generally useful to interrupt the paroxysm, but, as a rule, if used
continuously, it will reduce the frequency and severity of
name of amorphous aspidospermine, a mixture of the various
alkaloids has become known in commerce.
Colorado, or S. Lorenzii, has been used as a substitute), but is
essentially different, being probably a simple and gastrointestinal
stimulant, though it has been said to be a much weaker form of
amorphous aspidospermine, 1/4 to 1 grain. Of crystalline
aspidospermine, 1/40 to 1/20 grain. Of aspidospermine, 15 grains,
but it is not used in the crude state. Fluid extract, 1/4 to 1/2
Stillingia sylvatica (LINN.)
Medicinal Action and Uses
---Synonyms---Queen's Root. Silver Leaf. Also Sapium Sylvaticum
---Habitat---In the southern United States of America from
Virginia to Florida and westward to Texas.
perennial herb, with an angled glabrous stem, growing to 4 feet
high, with a milky sap. The leaves are sessile, leathery and
tapering at the base. Flowers yellow on terminal spike. Fruit a
three-grained capsule. The plant was named after Dr. B.
Stillingfleet. It flowers from April to July; a milky juice exudes
from the plant or root when cut or broken. This should be used when
fresh as it deteriorates if kept. As found in commerce, the root is
1 to 4 inches long and 1 inch or more thick, covered with a bark
wrinkled longitudinally, greyish brown externally, and
reddish-brown or rose-coloured internally, odour peculiar,
oleaginous, taste bitter and unpleasant, followed by a persistent
pungent acridity in mouth and throat. Fracture fibrous, short,
irregular, and shows a pithy soft, yellowish-pink interior porous
woody portion. The inner bark and medullary rays with brown resin
cells, its best solvent is alcohol.
---Constituents---Its resinous acrid constituent is Sylvacrol,
an acrid fixed oil, volatile oil, tannin, starch, calcium oxalate.
Woody fibre, colouring matter extractive.
and Uses---In large doses it is emetic and purgative causing a
disagreeable, peculiar, burning sensation in the stomach or
alimentary canal with considerable prostration of the system; in
smaller doses it is an excellent alterative, and influences the
secretory functions; it has almost a specific action in the
different forms of primary and secondary syphilis, also in skin
diseases, scrofula and hepatic affections, acting with most
successful results. The fluid extract combined with oils of anise
or caraway, proves very beneficial in chronic bronchitis and
laryngitis. Some pieces of fresh root chewed daily have permanently
and effectually cured these troubles, it is also useful for
leucorrhoea. The oil is too acrid for internal use uncombined with
saccharine or mucilaginous substance, for internal use the fluid
extract or syrup is sufficiently efficacious. As an external
stimulating application in most cases the oil will be found very
valuable. For croup 1 drop on the tongue three or four times daily,
has been found successful for severe attacks. The dried root is
said to be inferior in strength to the fresh one, but some chemists
consider it more powerful. It may be given either alone or combined
with sarsaparilla and other alteratives. It acts reflexly as a
sialagogue and expectorant. It is often given for syphilitic
complaints in place of mercury.
---Dosages---Tincture, 1/2 to 2 drachms. Decoction, 1 to 2
fluid ounces. Powdered root, 6 to 10 grains. Solid extract, 2 to 5
grains. Stillingin, 1 to 3 grains. Fluid extract, 10 to 30
Pyrus Cydonia (LINN.)
---Synonym---Cydonia vulgaris (PERS.).
has been under cultivation since very remote times. It is a native
of Persia and Anatolia and perhaps also of Greece and the Crimea,
though it is doubtful if in the latter localities the plant is not
a relic of former cultivation. It is certain that the ancient
Greeks knew a common variety, upon which they grafted scions of a
better variety, which they obtained from Cydon in Crete, from which
place the fruit derived its name of Cydonia, of which the English
name Quince is a corruption.
Botanically, the plant used to be called Pyrus Cydonia, but
modern botanists now place it in the genus Pyrus and assign it to a
separate genus, to which the former specific name Cydonia has been
English literature we find the fruit called a Coyne, as in the
Romaunt of the Rose and the old English Vocabularies of the
fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, this name being adapted from
the French coin, whence Middle English Coin, Quin, the plural
quins, becoming corrupted to the singular Quince.
Quinces differ from the Pyrus genus in the twisted manner in which
the petals are arranged in the bud and in the many-celled ovary, in
which the numerous ovules are disposed horizontally, not vertically
as in the Pears. They are much-branched shrubs, or small trees,
with entire leaves and large, solitary, white or pink flowers, like
those of a pear or apple, but with leafy calyx lobes.
as we know it in this country is a different fruit to that of
Western Asia and tropical countries, where the fruit becomes softer
and more juicy. In colder climates, the fruit is of a fine,
handsome shape, of a rich golden colour when ripe and has a strong
fragrance, by some judged to be rather heavy and overpowering. The
rind is rough and woolly and the flesh harsh and unpalatable, with
an astringent, acidulous taste. In hotter countries, the woolly
rind disappears and the fruit can be eaten raw. This is the case
not only in Eastern countries, where it is much prized, but also in
those parts of tropical America to which the tree has been
introduced from Europe. This explains the fact that it figured so
prominently in classical legends. It was very widely cultivated in
the East and especially in Palestine, and many commentators
consider that the Tappuach of Scripture, always translated Apple,
was the Quince. It is also supposed to be the fruit alluded to in
the Canticles, 'I sat down under his shadow with great delight and
his fruit was sweet to my taste'; and in Proverbs, 'A word fitly
spoken is like Apples of gold in pictures of silver.'
speaks at length of the medicinal virtues of the Quince, says that
the fruit warded off the influence of the evil eye, and other
legends connect it with ancient Greek mythology, as exemplified by
statues on which the fruit is represented, as well as by
representations in the wall-paintings and mosaics of Pompeii, where
Quinces are almost always to be seen in the paws of a
Greeks and Romans, the Quince was held sacred to Venus, who is
often depicted with a Quince in her right hand, the gift she
received from Paris. The 'golden Apples' of Virgil are said to be
Quinces, as they were the only 'golden' fruit known in his time,
oranges having only been introduced into Italy at the time of the
The fruit, being dedicated to Venus, was
regarded as the symbol of Love and Happiness, and Plutarch mentions
the bridal custom of a Quince being shared by a married pair.
Quinces sent as presents, or shared, were tokens of love. The
custom was handed down, and throughout the Middle Ages Quinces were
used at every wedding feast, as we may read in a curious book, The
Praise of Musicke:
'I come to marriages, wherein as our
ancestors did fondly and with a kind of doating, maintaine many
rites and ceremonies, some whereof were either shadowes or
abodements of a pleasant life to come, as the eating of a Quince
Peare to be a preparative of sweet and delightful dayes between the
Quinces are mentioned among the curious
recipes in Manuscripts relating to domestic life in England. Wynkyn
de Worde, in the Boke of Kervynge, speaks of 'char de Quynce,' and
John Russell, in the Boke of Nurture, speaks of 'chare de Quynces'
- the old name for Quince Marmalade. This preserve is now
practically the only use made of the Quince as an article of food,
though it is sometimes added to apple-tarts, to improve their
flavour, but in Shakespeare's time, Browne spoke of the fruit as
'the stomach's comforter, the pleasing Quince,' and a little later,
'There is no fruit growing in the land
that is of so many excellent uses as this [the Quince], serving as
well to make many dishes of meat for the table, as for banquets,
and much more for their physical virtues.'
Quince is little cultivated in Great Britain, though it will thrive
almost anywhere, but is best adapted to a damp spot, in a rich,
high and somewhat moist soil. In Scotland, it seldom approaches
maturity unless protected by a wall.
Propagation is generally by cuttings or layers, the former
making the best plants, but taking longer to grow. The Quince forms
a thick bush and is generally not pruned, unless required to form
standard fruit-bearing trees, when it should be trained up to a
single stem till a height of 5 or 6 feet is attained.
three principal varieties of the Quince: the Portugal, Apple-shaped
and Pear-shaped. The Portugal is a taller and more vigorous grower
than the others and has larger and finer fruit; the Apple-shaped,
which is sometimes considered to have a finer flavour, has roundish
fruit, is more productive and ripens under less favourable
conditions than either of the others and earlier than the
Pear-shaped variety and is therefore preferred to it.
is much used as a dwarfing stock for certain kinds of pears and for
this purpose the young plants when bedded out in the quarters
should be shortened back to about 18 to 20 inches. The effect is to
restrain the growth of the tree, increase and hasten its
fruitfulness and enable it to withstand the effects of
and Uses---A syrup prepared from the fruit may be used as agrateful
addition to drinks in sickness, especially in looseness of the
bowels, which it is said to restrain by its
may be used medicinally for the sake of the mucilage they yield.
When soaked in water they swell up and form a mucilaginous mass.
This mucilage is analogous to, and has the same properties as, that
which is formed from the seeds of the flax - linseed.
somewhat resemble apple-pips in size and appearance. They are of a
dark brown colour, flattened on two sides, owing to mutual pressure
and frequently adhere to one another by a white mucilage, which is
derived from the epidermal cells of the seedcoats. The seed
contains two firm, yellowishwhite cotyledons, which have a faintly
bitter taste resembling that of bitter almonds.
Constituents---The cotyledons contain about 15 per cent fixed oil
and protein, together with small proportions of amygdalin and
emulsion or some allied ferment. The chief constituent of the seed
is about 10 per cent mucilage, contained in the seed-coat. The pulp
of the fruit contains 3 to 3.5 per cent of malic acid.
considers the mucilage peculiar to this fruit; the chemists Tollens
and Kirchner regard it as a compound of gum and cellulose. It
differs from Arabin in not yielding a precipitate with potassium
silicate and in being soluble both in hot and cold water. It is
almost free from adhesive properties.
on account of their mucilage, have soothing and demulcent
properties and are used internally in the form of Decoctum
Cydoniae, an official preparation of the British Pharmacopoeia. It
is prepared by boiling 2 drachms of Quince seed in a pint of water
in a tightly-covered vessel for 10 minutes and straining off. Large
quantities of the decoction may be drunk in dysentery, diarrhoea
and gonorrhoea and it is used in thrush and irritable conditions of
the mucous membrane. The decoction also forms a useful adjunct to
boric-acid eye-lotions. On account of its mucilaginous character,
it is not so readily washed away by the tears.
It is also
used as an adjunct to skin lotions and creams.
been proposed to evaporate the decoction to dryness and powder the
residue: 3 grains of this powder form a sufficiently consistent
mucilage with an ounce of water. According to Grant (Journal de
Pharmacie et de Chénie, Paris), 1 part communicates to a thousand
parts of water a semi-syrupy consistence.
Cydonice (Mucilage of Quince Seeds, B.P.) is stronger than the
decoctionand has similar properties. It forms a useful suspending
agent for such liquids as tincture of Benzoin, when added to toilet
preparations. When used for this purpose, it is sometimes prepared
core the Quinces and cut them up, putting them into water as they
are cored, to prevent them from blackening. Put them into a
preserving pan with 1 lb. sugar and 1 pint water for every lb. of
fruit. Boil over a gentle fire until soft. Then put through a
sieve, or mash with a spoon, boil up again and tie down in the same
way as any other preserve.
before putting the marmalade into pots, a little rosewater and a
few grains of musk, mixed together, are added. This is most
delicious and among the French, by whom it is called Cotiniat, has
a reputation for its digestive powers.
Quince and Apple
quantities of Apple and Quinces. Put into an earthenware jar, 2
quarts of water and, as quickly as they can be pared and sliced, 4
lb. of Quinces. Stew them gently till soft and then strain them.
They must not be boiled too long, or they will become red. Boil
together, for 3/4 hour, 4 lb. of sliced Apples, with the same
weight of Quince juice. When it boils, take it off the fire and add
1 1/2 lb. sugar. When dissolved, put it back on the fire and boil,
together with the Quinces, for another 20 minutes, stirring all the
time and removing the scum. Then pot.
core some ripe Quinces, cut them up, weigh them and put them at
once into part of the water in which they will be cooked. Put the
Quinces on the fire, with 1 pint water to each pound of fruit and
let it simmer, but not long enough to change the colour to red - it
should be quite pale. Strain through a jelly-bag. Weigh the juice
the next day and put it in a preserving pan and boil it quickly for
15 minutes. Then take it from the fire and stir into it 12 OZ.
sugar for each lb. of juice. Boil for another 15 or 20 minutes,
till cooked, stirring all the time, and remove the
and Apples can be mixed, making a good combination.
Cydonia Japonica, Pyrus Japonica
Japanese Quince, familiar in our gardens, and formerly known as
Pyrus Japonica, now usually described as Cydonia Japonica, is grown
for the sake of its blossoms, which vary in colour from creamy
white to rich red and are produced during the winter and early
spring months. It is a handsome shrub, generally planted in a
sheltered spot, often against a dwarf wall or a trellis, the
brilliant flowers of the ordinary red variety being produced soon
after the New Year. For the last hundred years it has been the
chief spring ornament of English gardens and being quite hardy and
easily grown is often seen covering the walls of cottages. A deep,
moist loam suits it exactly. The flowers appear before the leaves,
and later on in the year, old trees on warm walls will in a dry,
hot summer produce a few fruits (Quinces), though it cannot be
described as a fruitful tree in this country. They are nearly round
and about thesize of a tangerine orange, ripening off a dull green
colour, very fragrant and as hard as flints. When cut up, they are
found to be packed with large dark pips, around which is a broad
rim of flesh of a most uninviting character and quite uneatable,
the flavour being rough and styptic.
many varieties, differing chiefly in the colour of the flowers:
there is often abundance of fruit on the white variety. C. Maulei,
a more recently introduced shrub from Japan, bears a profusion of
beautiful orange-red flowers, followed by fruit of a yellow colour
and agreeable fragrance, so that when cooked with sugar, it forms a
Asperula cynanchica (LINN.)
Quinsy-Wort was formerly esteemed a remedy for the disorder the
name of which it bears. The specific name, cynanchica, is derived
from the Greek Kunanchi (dog strangle), from its choking
like those of the Galiums and Rubia, yield a red dye, which has
been occasionally used in Sweden.
It is no
longer applied in medicine.
not a common British plant, except locally in dry pastures on a
chalky or limehouse soil.
It is a
small, smooth plant, 6 to 10 inches high, with very narrow,
close-set leaves, four in a whorl, two of each whorl much smaller
than the others.
flowers are in loose terminal bunches, the corollas only 1/6 inch
in diameter, pink externally and white inside, and are in bloom
during June and July.
QUEEN OF THE MEADOWS, MEADOW
OR MEAD SWEET
The stalks of these are reddish, rising to be three feet high,
sometimes four or five feet, having at the joints thereof large
winged leaves, standing one above another at distances, consisting
of many and somewhat broad leaves, set on each side of a middle
rib, being hard, rough, or rugged, crumpled much like unto elm
leaves, having also some smaller leaves with them (as Agrimony
hath) somewhat deeply dented about the edges, of a sad green colour
on the upper side, and greyish underneath, of a pretty sharp scent
and taste, somewhat like unto the Burnet, and a leaf hereof put
into a cup of claret wine, gives also a fine relish to it. At the
tops of the stalks and branches stand many tufts of small white
flowers thrust thick together, which smell much sweeter than the
leaves; and in their places, being fallen, come crooked and
cornered seed. The root is somewhat woody, and blackish on the
outside, and brownish within, with divers great strings, and lesser
fibres set thereat, of a strong scent, but nothing so pleasant as
the flowers and leaves, and perishes not, but abides many years,
shooting forth a-new every Spring.
Place : It
grows in moist meadows that lie mostly wet, or near the courses of
Time : It
flowers in some places or other all the three Summer months, that
is, June, July, and August, and the seed is ripe soon
and virtues : Venus claims dominion over the herb. It is used to
stay all manner of bleedings, fluxes, vomitings, and women's
courses, also their whites. It is said to alter and take away the
fits of the quartan agues, and to make a merry heart for which
purpose some use the flowers, and some the leaves. It helps
speedily those that are troubled with the cholic; being boiled in
wine, and with a little honey, taken warm, it opens the belly; but
boiled in red wine, and drank, it stays the flux of the belly.
Outwardly applied, it helps old ulcers that are cankerous, or
hollow fistulous, for which it is by many much commended, as also
for the sores in the mouth or secret parts. The leaves when they
are full grown, being laid on the skin, will, in a short time,
raise blisters thereon, as Tragus saith. The water thereof helps
the heat and inflammation in the eyes.
THE QUINCE TREE
The ordinary Quince Tree grows often to the height and bigness of a
reasonable apple tree, but more usually lower, and crooked, with a
rough bark, spreading arms, and branches far abroad. The leaves are
somewhat like those of the apple tree, but thicker, broader, and
full of veins, and whiter on the under side, not dented at all
about the edges. The flowers are large and white, sometimes dashed
over with a blush. The fruit that follows is yellow, being near
ripe, and covered with a white freeze, or cotton; thick set on the
younger, and growing less as they grow to be thorough ripe, bunched
out oftentimes in some places, some being like an apple, and some a
pear, of a strong heady scent, and not durable to keep, and is
sour, harsh, and of an unpleasant taste to eat fresh; but being
scalded, roasted, baked, or preserved, becomes more
Time : It best likes to grow near ponds and water sides, and is
frequent through this land: and flowers not until the leaves be
come forth. The fruit is ripe in September or October.
and virtues : Old Saturn owns the Tree. Quinces when they are
green, help all sorts of fluxes in men or women, and choleric
lasks, casting, and whatever needs astriction, more than any way
prepared by fire; yet the syrup of the juice, or the conserve, are
much conducible, much of the binding quality being consumed by the
fire; if a little vinegar be added, it stirs up the languishing
appetite, and the stomach given to casting; some spices being
added, comforts and strengthens the decaying and fainting spirits,
and helps the liver oppressed, that it cannot perfect the
digestion, or corrects choler and phlegm. If you would have them
purging, put honey to them instead of sugar; and if more laxative,
for choler, Rhubarb; for phlegm, Turbith; for watery humours,
Scammony; but if more forcible to bind, use the unripe Quinces,
with roses and acacia, hypocistis, and some torrified rhubarb. To
take the crude juice of Quinces, is held a preservative against the
force of deadly poison; for it hat been found most certainly true,
that the very smell of a Quince hath taken away all the strength of
the poison of white Hellebore. If there be need of any outwardly
binding and cooling of hot fluxes, the oil of Quinces, or other
medicines that may be made thereof, are very available to anoint
the belly or other parts therewith; it likewise strengthens the
stomach and belly, and the sinews that are loosened by sharp
humours falling on them, and restrains immoderate sweatings. The
muscilage taken from the seeds of Quinces, and boiled in a little
water, is very good to cool the heat and heal the sore breasts of
women. The same, with a little sugar, is good to lenify the
harshness and hoarseness of the throat, and roughness of the
tongue. The cotton or down of Quinces boiled and applied to plague
sores, heals them up: and laid as a plaister, made up with wax, it
brings hair to them that are bald, and keeps it from falling, if it
be ready to shed.