This South American and West Indian drug (obtained from Toluifera balsamum), was in use by the natives on the discovery of those countries, being to-day collected after the native manner, as is also Balsam of Peru. Monardes (447) in his treatise, 1574, on West Indian productions, describes the Indian method of incising the bark and affixing shells of black wax to receive the balsam, in a district near Cartagena called Tolu, from which it takes its name. (This reminds one of the method, in Asia Minor, of collecting the juice of the Scammony plant in the half shell of the clam.) He adds that it was much esteemed by the Indians, and later by the Spaniards, who transported it to Spain. Clusius (153) received, 1581, a specimen from Morgan, an apothecary to Queen Elizabeth. The price list of the city of Frankfort, Germany, 1669, gives it a place, while in 1646 it was noticed in the records of the city of Basle. Notwithstanding that Monardes (447) figured a broken pod and leaflet, and Humboldt and Bonpland (331) saw the tree in New Granada (1799), it was reserved for Weir (1863), a plant collector to the Royal Horticultural Society, London, to obtain the first good specimens of the pods and leaves, Guerin, 1868, first obtaining the flowers. Thus a complete description of a drug known for centuries was finally authoritatively established. The introduction of Balsam of Tolu into medicine and pharmacy followed the track (as is true of all other natural drugs of the Pharmacopeia), of its empirical record.
The History of the Vegetable Drugs of the U.S.P., 1911, was written by John Uri Lloyd.