Latin name: Picrasma quassioides
Family: Simaroubaceae (Quassia-wood Family)
Medicinal use of Nigaki:The wood contains a number of medicinal compounds and has been shown to be anthelmintic, antiamoebal, antiviral, bitter, hypotensive and stomachic. It increases the flow of gastric juices. It is used in Korea in the treatment of digestive problems, especially chronic dyspepsia. A decoction of the stem bark is bitter, febrifuge and tonic. The leaves have been used to treat itchy skins. (Probably acting by killing body parasites.
Description of the plant:
Habitat of the herb:Lowland woods and hills. Forests in the higher hills of the W. Himalayas, in ravines under forests of deodar, oak, fir etc, 1800 - 2400 metres.
Edible parts of Nigaki:Fruit. Small and red. The fruit is a berry about 7mm in diameter. Young buds (the report does not say if they are flower or leaf buds) are used to make a tea. A bitter substance called quassin" is extracted from (the bark of?) the tree and can be used as a hop substitute in brewing beer.
Other uses of the herb:The bark is used as an insecticide. Another report says that it is the wood that is used. It is a substitute for the insecticide quassia, which is obtained from the wood of a tropical tree. Quassia is a relatively safe organic insecticide that breaks down quickly and is of low toxicity to mammals. It has been used as a parasiticide to get rid of lice, fleas etc. Wood - hard, fine and close grained. Used for mosaic, utensils etc.
Propagation of Nigaki:Seed - best sown as soon as it is ripe in a cold frame. Stored seed requires 3 months cold stratification and should be sown as early in the year as possible. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on in the greenhouse for at least their first winter. Plant them out into their permanent positions in late spring or early summer, after the last expected frosts. Cuttings of half-ripe wood, July/August in a frame. Root cuttings 4cm long in December. Plant them out horizontally in pots in a greenhouse.
Cultivation of the herb:Lowland woods and hills. Forests in the higher hills of the W. Himalayas, in ravines under forests of deodar, oak, fir etc, 1800 - 2400 metres.
Known hazards of Picrasma quassioides:None known
Plant information taken from the Plants For A Future.