Our Botanical Column

    Abstract

    FERULA ALLIACEA.—The late Mr. D. Hanbnry was a valuable and frequent contributor to the Kew Museums, and the very last contribution made, or rather bequeathed by him, has a scientific as well as a melancholy interest. The specimen in question was a fine umbel, bearing ripe fruits of Ferula alliacea, Boiss., the label to which we believe was written at his dictation just before his death. Seeds of this plant were also received at Kew from him some time before the receipt of this specimen, and these have germinated, and, though healthy, are as yet naturally very small plants. In the “Pharmacographia” Mr. Hsnbury refers to this plant as exhaling a strong odour of Asafætida, bnt says it is not known as the source of any commercial product. In contradistinction of this, however, Mr. W. Dymock, Professor of Materia Medica at Bombay, writing on the Asafætidss of the Bombay market in a recent number of the Pharmaceutical Jhurnal says that this plant produces one of the distinct kinds known in the above drug market under the name of “Abushaheree Hing,” and is brought from the Persian Gulf ports, principally from Ahnshaher and Bunder Abbas, and is produced in Khoraesan and Kirmsn. The specimens received at Kew from Mr. Hanbnry appear to Isave been first received by himfrom the author of the paper in question, for he refers to having sent such specimens; therefore, if the specimens are authentic, there is no reason to doubt the truth of tise statement made by Mr. Dymock, that the drug which appears in the Bombay Customs Returns as Hing or Asafætida, is produced by this plant. It arrives in Bombay either in skins sewn up so as to form a flat oblong package, or in wooden boxes. Its appearance varies according to age, being soft, and shout the thickness of treacle when quite fresh, and of a dull olive brown colour and a pure garlic odour. It becomes hard and translucent and of a yellowish brown colour after being kept some time. Slices of the root are found mixed with the resin in about equal proportion. In 1872–73 as many as 3,367 cwt. of this drug were imported into Bombay from the Persian Gulf. The information given in the paper from which we have quoted the above particulars seems to be of a trustworthy nature, and will prove a valuable addition to what we already know of the Asafætidss.

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    Our Botanical Column . Nature 12, 302 (1875). https://doi.org/10.1038/012302a0

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