- A Modern Herbal, by Mrs. M. Grieve Home Page

Tallow Tree

Botanical: Sapium salicifolium
Family: N.O. Euphorbiaceae

---Parts Used---Leaves, fruit.
---Habitat---Tropics of both Hemispheres and cultivated in China and Paraguay.

---Description---It yields a milky juice, which is acrid and even poisonous, the leaves are willow-like, and at their point of union with the stalk have two round glands; the flowers are small and greenish, and grow in terminal spikes, the lower portion bearing the fertile, and the upper ones the sterile flowers. The bark of Sapium Salicifolium yields a substance for tanning which is used instead of oak; most modern writers unite this genus with Stillingia, from which there are no reliable characters to distinguish it. In America, S. Biglandulosum is a source for rubber. Sapium or S. Indicum is known in Borneo under the name of Booroo; the leaves are used for dyeing and staining rotang a dark colour; theacrid milky juice burns the mouth as Capsicum does; the young fruit is acid and eaten as a condiment; the fruit is also used to poison alligators; the ripe fruit are woolly, trilobed capsules, about 1 inch across, threecelled and containing only one seed in each.

S. sebiyerum, the Chinese Tallow Tree, gives a fixed oil which envelops the seeds. The tallow occurs in hard brittle opaque white masses, which consists of palmatin and stearin. The oil is used for lighting and the waste from the nuts for fuel and manure.


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Bear in mind "A Modern Herbal" was written with the conventional wisdom of the early 1900's. This should be taken into account as some of the information may now be considered inaccurate, or not in accordance with modern medicine.

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