The Physiomedical Dispensatory by William Cook, M.D., 1869
BLACK ALDER, WINTER-BERRY, FEVER BUSH
Description: Natural Order, Aquifoliaceae. In the Family with the holly, and now classed by Gray as Ilex verticillata. From similarity of common names, it is often confounded with alnus. Small shrubs, common to low grounds. Stem six to eight feet high, with a bluish-gray bark. Leaves irregularly alternate, obovate or wedge lanceolate, pointed, acute at the base, serrate, smooth and olive-green above, downy on the veins beneath. Flowers dioecious, fertile Bowers solitary or few in the axils, sterile flowers in axillary clusters; calyx minute, six-parted; corolla six-parted, united at base, small, whitish; all short-peduncled. Fruit a bright scarlet berry, about as large as a pea, containing six nut-like seeds. Blooming in July, and ripening the fruit in autumn. The bark is mostly used in medicine, and is distinguished from the alnus by coming in slender and somewhat rolled pieces, and being of an ashy-green color internally.
Properties and Uses: The bark is stimulating and relaxing, mild in action, and chiefly influencing the secernent organs. It is properly a tonic alterant of a mild grade; and though by some classed as an astringent, it is rather laxative, though leaving behind that slightly consolidated condition common to stimulating tonics. It improves the action of the bowels and gall ducts, for which it is used in jaundice, dropsy, and herpetic eruptions; and some have commended it highly in ague, for its hepatic-tonic influence. Outwardly, it is an article of medium power in weak and scrofulous ulcers; and has been spoken of in phagedrenic and mortifying sores, though its action is too light for such cases. The berries are reputed anthelmintic and somewhat actively cathartic; and a strong decoction of either bark or berries, used in considerable quantities, is likely to induce vomiting and catharsis.
Medical Herbalism journal and medherb.com