The Physiomedical Dispensatory by William Cook, M.D., 1869    



Description:  This species of Aralia is met along the rivers of the Middle and Western States, where it is usually from eight to fifteen feet high; but in the South it is quite common, is frequently cultivated, and attains the height of twenty-five and thirty feet. Its woody stem is crooked and branchless below, and crowded with prickles–the layers of the bark also standing out in knobs like blunt spines. It is divided into several leaf-branches at the summit, thus wearing the appearance of a palm-tree. Leaf-stalks very long, strong, and prickly. Leaves four to six feet long, bi- and tri-pinnate; leaflets sessile, ovate-acuminate, glaucous beneath. Umbels numerous, forming a very large panicle. Flowers small, white. August and September. Damp localities, yet often thriving on high, loamy ground.

Properties and Uses:  The bark of this shrub is a strong and rather bitter stimulant, very pungent to the taste, and acrid when fresh. It yields its properties to alcohol and water. It is usually sold in the markets under the common name of Southern Prickly Ash, and is considered to possess the same therapeutic properties as the xanthoxylum of the North. But it is a stronger and more irritating article than the latter; and is inclined to excite emesis, if given in strong warm infusion. This latter fact is an objection to its use in some cases where it would otherwise be more valuable, as in cholera. It is employed in the same forms of disease for which xanthoxylum is used. The berries resemble the xanthoxylum berries.


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