Definition of quassia in English:


Pronunciation /ˈkwɒʃə//ˈkwɒʃɪə//ˈkwasɪə/


  • 1A South American shrub or small tree related to ailanthus.

    • ‘This type of size reduction is of dubious value and is only officially used for quassia which is a hard wood.’
    • ‘The quassia tree grows from 50 to 100 feet high; it has smooth, gray bark and alternate, odd-pinnate leaves with oblong, pointed leaflets. Its small flowers are yellowish or greenish, its fruit is a small rupe about the size of a pea.’
    • ‘Native to tropical America and the Caribbean, quassia grows in forests and near water.’
    1. 1.1mass noun The wood, bark, or root of the quassia, yielding a bitter medicinal tonic, insecticide, and vermifuge.
      • ‘A few preparations make use of digestive enzymes, while many others contain plant substances such as chirata, gentian, calama, quassia, orange peel and many spices.’
      • ‘Emetic herbs include bayberry, boneset, buckthorn, culver, false unicorn, lobelia, mandrake, mistletoe, mustard seed, pleurisy, quassia, rue and senega’
      • ‘There is preliminary evidence that quassia may be useful in the treatment of leukemia or gastric ulcers.’
      • ‘Several early clinical studies performed on quassia verified its traditional use as a natural insecticide, documenting it as an effective treatment for head lice infestation in humans.’
      • ‘The burning of scents like frankincense and myrrh dates back to the ancient Egyptians, and continued through the centuries, gradually including sweet spices like cinnamon, quassia, cloves, allspice and nutmeg.’


Named after Graman Quassi, an 18th-century Surinamese slave who discovered its medicinal properties in 1730.