Scientific Names: Croton eluteria
Common names: Sweet Bark, Bahama Cascarilla, Eluteria, Clutia Eleuteria
Arabic names: كاسكاريلا (Cascarilla)
Rain Forest names:
Approximate Number of Species Known:
Common Parts Used: Dried bark
Height: 20 feet
Actions: aromatic, bitter tonic, with possibly narcotic properties
Known Constituents: albumen, tannin, cascar illin (a bitter, crystallizable principle, soluble in alcohol, ether, and hot water), red colouring matter, fatty matter with a sickly odour, volatile oil, gum, wax, resin, starch, pectic acid potassium chloride, a salt of calcium, and lignin
Description: (please note: this is the general characteristics – colour, flavor etc)
Herb Name: Cascarilla
Other names: Sweetwood bark, sweet bark, aromatic quinquina, bahama cascarilla, false quinquina
Scientific name: Croton eleuteria
Common part used: Dried Bark
The scientific name of Cascarilla, Croton Eleuteria, comes from the Greek word for ‘a tick’, while the word Eleuteria hails from the name of an island of the Bahamas. Which is only just, as this plant is indigenous to the Bahamas.
The enterprising botanist who sought out one of these trees would undoubtedly note that it is small for a tree – it rarely reaches five to six meters in height. It’s leaves are sparse and alternate, with oval leaves that average about two inches long. The leaves are actually a distinctive feature of this tree, as they are scaled on the underside, and give the tree a metallic, almost silvery bronze appearance. Cascarilla flowers – which blossom in March and April – are small and white, and have a beautiful aroma. The bark of the tree is scented, and a pale yellow-brown in color, with numerous fissures.
Usually pieces of dried bark are about two inches in length and nearly half an inch thick, and are usually fissured crossways so that they resemble checked tartan. The external layer of wood is thin and white, and generally has a layer of lichen on it. The deeper, inner layer is brown. The bark as a whole is extremely hard, with a nauseous and extremely bitter taste – in contrast, the odour is interesting and pleasant, reminiscent of musk. Indeed, it is often mixed into tobacco – however, this is a dangerous practice, as the bark in known to have narcotic properties.
Cascarilla leaves, when boiled, made a tea that is excellent for digestion, and the bark can even be turned into a reliable dye.
The extract of the bark of these trees is a pleasantly smelling, though bitter tonic. It has historically been used for a multitude of medicinal purposes. Even today Cascarilla extract is used to help with diarrhea and dysentery, with dyspepsia, nausea and flatulence, with chronic bronchitis and the flu. And of course, because of it’s aromatic properties, it is extensively used in the production of soap, of cosmetics and in the perfume industry. Extracts are also used in various manufactured soft drinks and alcoholic beverages, as well as in some food groups.