Description: Natural Order, Urticaceae; sub-order, Ulmaceae. This is a tree from twenty to forty feet high, common in rich and stiff soils, near streams and other moist situations. Bark brown and rough without; thick, soft, yellowish-white, and very mucilaginous within. Leaves opposite, ovate-oblong, taper- pointed, four to eight inches long, doubly serrate, very rough above, soft-downy underneath, strongly marked with straight veins. Younger branches and buds downy. Flowers reddish, in small and nearly sessile lateral clusters, appearing before the leaves; corolla wanting; calyx bell-shaped, seven to nine lobed. Fruit a one-celled and one-seeded samara, two-thirds of an inch in diameter, the wing extending all around. Wood reddish, tough.
Properties and Uses: The inner bark is of a sweetish taste, mild odor, very mucilaginous, and slightly nutritious. When chewed, or chipped and macerated in cold water, it acts soothingly upon all mucous membranes; and the water may be used to the best advantage as a common drink in all mucous irritations and inflammations, as of the bronchi, lungs, stomach, bowels, kidneys, bladder, and uterus. It is thus employed in acute pneumonia, bronchitis, gastritis, dysentery, nephritis, etc.; and also in gastric, nervous, and other forms of fever where the intestinal canal is liable to irritation. Some use it previous to parturition, asserting that it secures moistness and early distension of the passages. The mucilage, made thick, is sometimes used as a vehicle for capsicum, quinine, and other concentrated powders; and either the mucilage or the powder makes the most soothing of all injections in acute dysentery, and a vehicle when any remedy (as lobelia, zingiber, or capsicum) is to be given by injection with reference to its being retained in the bowel for the sake of its slow action. It also makes a good demulcent and adhesive powder to incorporate with masses designed for troches or suppositories; and may even be used for powder of gum arable in the preparation of emulsions. The powder makes one of the most soothing and available of all demulcent poultices for inflamed surfaces, or a basis for poultices when any class of powders are to be mixed with a demulcent. The powder may also be sprinkled upon chafed places, on erysipelatous or other excoriations. The powder absorbs a large quantity of water, and swells; and is best prepared by first being mixed with cold water, and then warmed for the uses of a poultice, or mixed with a suitable quantity of tepid water and given at once when to he used as injection. An even teaspoonful of the powder is usually sufficient for an injection of from four to six fluid ounces. Two drachms of the whole bark, chipped, may be macerated in half a pint or more of cold water, and drank freely.
The Physiomedical Dispensatory, 1869, was written by William Cook, M.D.
It was scanned by Paul Bergner at http://medherb.com