Classification. Nat. Order of Magnolides. Polyandria polygynia L.
Genus ILLICIUM. Calix 6 leaved. Corolla 7 to 27 petals. Many staminaand pistils. Capsules ranged like a star around a central receptacle, bivalve, one seeded.
Sp. Illicium floridanum. Leaves subverticillate, subsessile, broad lanceolate, acuminate, entire, evergreen. Flowers geminate, nodding. Petals many, oblong, obtuse.
Description. A handsome large evergreen, 10 to 20 feet high, with fine purple flowers, similar to those of Calycanthus. The leaves grow in tufts or whorls three or four together, are similar to those of Kalmia, but sharper. The calyx is deciduous, shorter than the corolla, which has many (20 to 27) petals, oblong, linear or cuneate; distorted, obtuse. The pistils form a kind of yellow star in the centre.
History. This Genus is nearly related to Magnolia and Liriodendron. Two species, are both found in Florida, equally fragrant in all their parts, like the I. anisatum of China. Their fragrance is however different; the Asiatic species smell like Aniseed, the I. floridanum somewhat between Coriander and Magnolia, and the I. parviflorum exactly like Sassafras. This last is distinguished by small yellow flowers with few (7 to 9) round petals, and the leaves alternate. Both grow in East and West Florida, Louisiana, and Texas. They are worthy of cultivation for beauty and use, but demand the shelter of a green house in winter north of Virginia. Their bark and seeds ought to be collected for an article of trade.
Properties. The Bark of I. floridanum is bitter, fungent, and aromatic, with a spicy taste and smell. It is tonic, stimulant, and diaphoretic chiefly, like the barks of the Magnolias and of Cascarilla, to which it is equivalent. Bigelow has found in it mucilage, extractive, and an aroma soluble in the distilled water. The leaves and seeds have the same qualities. It may be substituted for Cascarilla in some peculiar fevers, and for the Starry Anise of commerce, which the Chinese chew after dinner as a stomachic and sweetener of the breath. They mix it also as condiment in some dishes, in tea and sherbet, besides burning it as a perfume and considering it as an antidote to various poisons.
The I. parviflorum has the same properties, but partakes also of the qualities of Sassafras, to which it may sately be substituted as a sudorific and alterative.
Medical Flora, or Manual of the Medical Botany of the United States of North America, Vol. 2, 1830, was written by C. S. Rafinesque.