- Family Winteraceae
- Drimys winteri
- Pepper Bark, Winter’s Cinnamon, Wintera Aromatica, Wintera
- Spanish: Casca-de-anta, Canelo, Aktarcin
- None listed.
Native to Brazil, the plant is an evergreen tree or shrub that can reach thirty feet in height and has brownish or gray wrinkled branches. The bark is aromatic and smooth. The fragrant, white flowers have yellow centers and often form in umbel clusters at the tips of the branches. Their scent is reminiscent of jasmine. The berry-like fruit is black to violet and contains two or three fleshy and aromatic seeds. The leaves have a peppery taste and are used as a condiment. The plant is found from southern Mexico to Cape Horn and in neighbouring Argentina. It is also grown as an ornamental in England. The bark is collected in uncultivated regions from the trunks.
Its name is derived from Captain John Winter who used the bark in the area of the Strait of Magellan to treat the crew of his ship (the Elizabeth) for scurvy during the voyage of Sir Francis Drake’s fleet around the world in the 16th century. His discovery led to a great demand for the herb in Europe.
- volatile oil (mainly eugenol and pinenes)
In South America, it is used for toothaches, dermatitis, and such stomach upsets as flatulence and colic.
In Brazil, the bark is used as a treatment for respiratory ailments, asthma, and such gastrointestinal disorders as dyspepsia, nausea, vomiting, and colic. It has sometimes been substituted for quinine in treating malaria.
In Costa Rica, the bark is chewed to relieve toothaches; and an infusion is used to treat stomach disorders.
Studies in Brazil have shown that the plant has a potential in treating diseases affecting the throat and lungs. It has shown to have anti-inflammatory and anti-allergic properties, thus confirming its use in folk medicine to treat such breathing problems as asthma.