Checker-Berry, Partridge-Berry, Mountain Tea, Box-Berry.
Description: Natural Order, Ericaceae. This is a little evergreen found in moist woods throughout the United States and Canada; with two reddish stems from four to six inches high, bearing at the top a few broadly-ovate, smooth, leathery, dark-green, and shining leaves. Rowers few, white or blushed, one to three in the axils, nodding. Fruit a bright-red berry. Blooming in July, and bearing the round berries through the winter.
The common names of this plant often lead to its being confounded with mitchella repens. Its limited number of stems, with leaves only at the top, (really but leaf-stalks from a subterranean stem,) thick and shining leaves, and the peculiar aroma of sweet birch with which both the leaves and berries are strongly impregnated, at once serve to distinguish it from the mitchella. Its aroma depends upon a volatile oil, in which the plant abounds. This oil is the heaviest of the essential oils; at first colorless, but afterwards a little reddish; soluble in alcohol; of a penetrating and rather pleasant odor.
Properties and Uses: The leaves, and the oil from the leaves, are relaxing and gently stimulating, very diffusive and transient, acting somewhat upon the kidneys when used cold, but most valued as carminatives to relieve flatulence and wind colic. At present, their use is confined mainly to an employment of the essence as a flavor to alterative sirups–especially the sirup of sarsaparilla. The taste and smell are agreeable to most persons, but unpleasant to some; and a very small quantity will serve.
The Physiomedical Dispensatory, 1869, was written by William Cook, M.D.
It was scanned by Paul Bergner at http://medherb.com