BY E. JAHNS.
Although the larch agaric (Polyporus officinalis) has been investigated by more than one chemist, conflicting statements concerning its constituents still exist. The author, with the view of clearing up the question, has re-investigated this plant. By extraction with hot strong alcohol it yielded about 18 per cent. of a crystalline acid melting at about 139°, and easily soluble in alcohol, glacial acetic acid, and turpentine; less soluble in ether, and nearly insoluble in chloroform, benzene and cold water. The acid is dibasic, forming normal salts with the alkali metals, which are easily soluble in water, and acid salts which are only slightly soluble; with the majority of the metals, it forms insoluble salts, which are precipitated in the amorphous state from aqueous solutions. Analysis showed that agaricic acid was a homologue of malic acid, represented by the formula C16H30O5H20. On oxidation with nitric acid, it is converted into succinic and butyric acids. The principal salts are described in the paper. This acid is identical with the "agaricic acid" of Fleury, the "laricin" of Martius; and the substances named by Schoonbroodt "agaricin" and "pseudo-wax" by Trommsdorff are probably the same acid in an impure state. The original alcoholic extract of the fungus also yields a substance which crystallizes in needles from a solution in absolute alcohol. It is insoluble in water, and nearly so in ether, chloroform and cold alcohol, but dissolves in potash solution. It melts at about 272°, and sublimes in white needles. This substance, which is probably an alcohol, exists to the extent of about 5 per cent. in the plant. The alcoholic mother-liquors from this substance contain a white amorphous body, which is deposited in a colloidal form from its solution in chloroform. It appears to be an acid, and occurs to the extent of about 4 per cent. in the fungus. Finally a red amorphous resin was obtained from the original alcoholic extract, in which it was very soluble. This is the bitter purgative constituent of the fungus, and is present to the extent of about 30 per cent.—Jour. Chem. Soc., March, 1884, p. 353, from Arch. Pharm., vol. 21.
The American Journal of Pharmacy, Vol. 56, 1884, was edited by John M. Maisch.