La sarcocolla era una gommoresina in polvere o in grani ricavata dal latice dell’omonima pianta centro-sudafricana che oggi va sotto il nome di Saltera sarcocolla (L.) Bullock, della famiglia Penaeaceae, a portamento arbustivo. Sinonimi: Penaea fucata L., Penaea sarcocolla L., Sarcocolla minor DC..
La sarcocolla, come spiega il suo stesso nome, era usata per saldare le ferite. Ma era molto utile anche ai pittori, come riferisce Plinio in Naturalis historia XIII,67: Fit et e sarcocolla — ita vocatur arbor et cummis — utilissima pictoribus ac medicis, similis pollini turis et ideo candida quam rufa melior. Pretium eius quod supra. - Della sarcocolla parlano anche Galeno e Dioscoride.
The gum-resinous exudate from Penaea Sarcocolla, Linné; Penaea mucronata, Linné, and other species of Penaeae (Nat. Ord.—Penaeaceae). Shrubs of central and south Africa. The exudation, according to Dymock (1879), also comes from Bushire. The latter product is usually accompanied by fragments and seeds of a leguminous plant, probably an Astragalus. Sarcocolla consists of small, rounded, yellowish, reddish or brownish, sponge-like grains, quite friable, and often in agglutinated masses. Fine hairs are often found intermixed with it. It has no odor, except, when heated, it evolves the odor of burning sugar, but has an insipid and sweetish taste, followed by bitterish acridity; the taste has been compared to that of liquorice root. Water dissolves the gum; in alcohol it is nearly wholly soluble, the residue consisting of impurities. According to Pelletier (1834), ether separates from it a resin; from the residue, alcohol extracts a peculiar body (sarcocollin), white gummy material remaining. Sarcocollin (C13H23O6), or pure sarcocolla, constitutes about 65 per cent of the drug. It is amorphous, both bitter and sweet to the taste, and soluble in water and alcohol. It was regarded by Dr. Thompson as holding a position intermediate between gum and sugar. Sarcocolla is not now employed in medicine, but was formerly used to heal wounds, check otorrhoea, and as an application to scrofulous enlargements and chronic articular inflammations.