Quassia is a genus in the family Simaroubaceae. Its size is disputed; some botanists treat it as consisting of only one species, Quassia amara from tropical South America, while others treat it in a wide circumscription as a pantropical genus containing up to 40 species of trees and shrubs.
The therapeutic properties of the tree, it is said, were divinely revealed to a lowly, Surinam slave, named Quassia. With this knowledge of the tree, he made a tea of the wood from the tree and used it as a remedy to help many people with a deadly fever, blacks and whites alike, all who needed it he freely gave, and they were healed and restored to health as the story goes.
He kept his recipe to himself for a long time. White doctors looked on and saw the tremendous success he was having and pressured Quassia to sell his secret for a large sum of money. Eventually, in 1756 he shared his quassia recipe and a large supply was taken to England, and, at once, quassia became famous in Europe. But, owing to the small size of the trees, the remedy became scarce, until the larger and more abundant tree variety was found growing, plentifully, in Jamaica.
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Mar 10, 2020