The starting point was ordinary(d)mannite (mannitol),C 6 H 14 0 61 a naturally occurring hexahydric alcohol, which only differed from a-acritol, the alcohol obtained by reducing a-acrose, with regard to optical activity.
Mannite on oxidation yields an aldose, mannose, C6H12061 which 3 To distinguish the isomerides of opposite optical activity, it is usual to prefix the letters d- and 1-, but these are used only to indicate the genetic relationship, and not the character of the optical activity; ordinary fructose, for example, being represented as d-fructosealthough it exercises a laevorotatory power - because it is derived from d-glucose.
D-Mannose, first prepared by oxidizing d-mannite, found in plants and manna-ash (Fraxinus ornus), was obtained by Tollens and Gans on hydrolysing cellulose and by Reis from seminine (reserve cellulose), found in certain plant seeds, e.g.
On the French Alps a sweet exudation is found on the small branchlets of young larches in June and July, resembling manna in taste and laxative properties, and known as Manna de Briancon or Manna Brigantina; it occurs in small whitish irregular granular masses, which are removed in the morning before they are too much dried by the sun; this manna seems to differ little in composition from the sap of the tree, which also contains mannite; its cathartic powers are weaker than those of the manna of the manna ash (Fraximus ornus), but it is employed in France for the same purposes.
Such are sugars (glucose, mannite, &c.), acids (acetic, citric and a whole series of lichen-acids), ethereal oils and resinous bodies, often combined with the intense colours of fungi and lichens, and a number of powerful alkaloid poisons, such as muscarin (Amanita), ergotin (Claviceps), &c.
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