BENZOIN, BENJAMIN, or BENZOIC Gnat, a fragrant resinous substance, formed by the drying of the milky juice of the beezoiu or benjamin tree (styra.r, or lithocarpus benzoin), a tree of the natural order styracacas, and a congener of that which produces STOILAX (q.v.), a native of Siam, and of Sumatra, and other islands of the Indian archipelago. The tree grows to nearly 2 ft. in diameter; the smaller branches are covered with a whitish rusty down; the leaves are oblong, acuminate, and entire, downy and white beneath; the flowers are iu compound racemes. B. comes to us in reddish-yellow transparent pieces. Difforent varieties, said to depend upon the age of the trees, are of very different price; the whitest, said to be the produce of the youngest trees, being the best. There is a variety known in commerce as amygdaloidal benzoin, which contains whitish almond-like tears diffused through its substance, and is said to be the produce of the younger trees. B. is -obtained by making longitudinal or oblique incisions iu the stem of the tree: the liquid which exudes soon hardens by exposure to the sun and air. B. contains about 10 to 14 per cent. of benzoic acid (q.v.); the remainder of it is resin. B. is used in perfumery, in pastilles, etc., being very fragrant and aromatic, and yielding a pleasant odor when burned. It is therefore much used as incense in the Greek and Roman Catholic churches. Its tincture is prepared by macerating B. in rectified spirit for 7 to 14 days, and subsequently straining, when the compound tincture of benjamin, wound balsam, friar's balsam, balsam for cute, the commander's balsam, or Jcz,u it's drops, is obtained. It is frequently applied to wounds directly; or still better, when the edges of the wound are brought together, and bound with lint or plaster, the tincture of B.
may be used as an exterior varnish. In the preparation of court-plaster, sarcenet (gen erally colored black) is brushed over with a solution of isinglass, then a coating of the alcoholic solution of benzoin. The tincture is likewise employed iu making up a cos metic styled virgin's milk, in the proportion of 2 drams of the tincture to 1 pint of rose-water; and otherwise it is used in the preparation of soaps and washes, to the latter of which it imparts a milk-white color, and a smelt resembling that of vanilla. B. pos sesses stimulant properties, and is sometimes used in medicine, particularly in chronic pulmonary affections. It may be partaken of most pleasantly when beaten up with mucilage and sugar or yolk of egg. The name ass dulds (q.v.)-huts sometimes been given to it, although it is not the substance to which that name seems properly to have belonged.—The milky juice of terminalia benzoin, a tree of the natural order combrctacete, becomes, on drying, a fragrant resinous substance resembling B., which is used as incense in the churches of the 11Liuritius. It was at one time erroneously supposed that B. was the produce of benzoin odoriferum, formerly Maras benzoin, a deciduous shrub, of the natural order Maracas, a native of Virginia. about .10 to 12 ft. high, with large, some what wedge-shaped, entire leaves, which still bears iu America the name of benzoin, or benjamin tree, and is also called spice-wool or fever-bush. It has a highly aromatic bark, which is stimulant and tonic, and is much used in North America in intermittent fevers. The berries are also aromatic and stimulant, and are said to have been used in the United States during the war with Britain as a substitute for pimento or allspice. An infusion of the twigs acts as a vermifuge.