Winter's Bark

Medical Herbs Catalogue


Winter's Bark

Botanical Name: Drimys winteri (FORST.)
Family: N.O. Magnoliaceae

Synonyms: True Winter's Bark. Winter's Cinnamon. Wintera aromatica. Wintera.
Part Used: Bark.
Habitat: Antarctic America, southern parts of South America, along the Straits of Magellan and north to Chile, Brazil.

Description: This very large evergreen tree took its name from Captain Winter, who discovered its medicinal properties while attending Drake in his voyage round the world. It will grow to 50 feet high. The bark is green and wrinkled, that of the branches smooth and green, erect and scarred, leaves alternate, oblong, obtuse, with a midrib veinless, glabrous and finely dotted underside. Flowers small on terminal peduncles, approximately one-flowered, simple. Fruits up to six obovate, baccate, and many seeded. The bark is the official part and is found in small carved pieces 1/4 inch thick, dull yellow grey externally. Both Canella and Cinnamodendron are found in its transverse section, exhibiting radiating white lines at the end of the last rays, diverging towards the circumference; odour aromatic with a warm pungent taste.

Constituents: An inodorous acrid resin, pale yellow volatile oil, tannic acid, oxide of iron, colouring matter and various salts.

Medicinal Action and Uses: Stimulant, aromatic tonic, antiscorbutic, may be substituted in all cases for canella and cinnamon barks. Dose, 30 grains powdered bark; this bark is becoming very scarce and is seldom imported into Britain.

Other Species: Under the name of Winter's Bark Malambo Bark was imported into the United States (or Croton Malambo) or Matias bark, is the product of a small shrubby tree, found on the coast of Venezuela and Columbia. It has an aromatic smell and a pungent bitter taste with a calamus flavour. Active contents, a volatile oil, and bitter extractive, found most useful for dyspepsia, hemicrania, intermittent fever, and as a general aromatic tonic, also a useful adjuvant to diuretics and a good substitute for Peruvian bark.

Drimys Chilensis, growing in Chile, has analogous properties to Winter's Bark.

Cinnamodendron axillaris. The bark is used in fevers and called Casca Paratuds.

D. aromatica. An Australian species.