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Botanical Name: Gleditschia triacanthos
Species: G. triacanthos
Synonyms: Gleditschine. Honey Locust. Gleditschia Ferox. Three-(t)horned Acacia. Gleditschine. Gleditschia triacanthos, Gleditschia macracantha.
Parts Used: The twigs and leaves.
Habitat: Eastern and Central United States.
Description: A small, thorny tree, with pinnated leaves and greenish flowers growing in dense spikes. The younger and smaller branches have strong, triple tapering thorns. In the autumn they bear thin, flat pods resembling apple-parings. They contain seeds surrounded by a sweetish pulp from which it is stated that sugar has been extracted. The wood is chiefly used for fencing.
Gleditschia triacanthos L., or Honey Locust, and G. Macracantha Desf. (Fam. Leguminosae), and are small, thorny trees having pinnate leases and forming elongated pods filled with a sweetish pulp. The trees grow in rich woods in the Eastern and Central United States and are common in cultivation. G. Macracantha is indigenous to China. These trees were chemically studied by B. F. Lautenbach (P. M. T; 1878), who abstracted from them an alkaloid, which he found to produce in the frog stupor and loss of reflex activity, due to an action upon the spinal cord. To this alkaloid Lautenbach gave the name of gleditschine. In 1887 (Med. Rec., 1887) Goodman, Seward, and Claiborne brought before the profession, as a local anesthetic, an alkaloid under the name of stenocarpine which was asserted to be obtained from the Gleditschia triacanthos. In November, 1888, however, F. W. Thompson, of Detroit (Med. Age), and T. G. Novy (Ph. Rund.) and John Marshall of the University of Pennsylvania (Phila. Med. News), published analyses of this solution, showing that it contained 6 per cent. of cocaine, besides some atropine or other mydriatic alkaloid.
Constituents: An alkaloid, Gleditschine, has been abstracted, and another called Stenocarpine. It also contains cocaine, and probably atropine.
Medicinal Action and Uses: Stenocarpine was introduced as a local anaesthetic in 1887. Gleditschine was found to produce stupor and loss of reflex activity in a frog.
Other Species: G. Macracantha possesses similar properties, and is indigenous to China.