Definition of quassia in English:

Share this entry


Pronunciation: /ˈkwɒʃə/


1A South American shrub or small tree related to ailanthus.
  • Genera Quassia and Picrasma, family Simaroubaceae: several species, in particular Q. amara
Example sentences
  • 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 [mass noun] The wood, bark, or root of the quassia, yielding a bitter medicinal tonic, insecticide, and vermifuge.
Example sentences
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • There is preliminary evidence that quassia may be useful in the treatment of leukemia or gastric ulcers.


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

Share this entry

What do you find interesting about this word or phrase?

Comments that don't adhere to our Community Guidelines may be moderated or removed.