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.
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.
And by the oxidation of mannite, dulcite, inulin, &c., with nitric acid.
Its chief constituent is mannite or manna sugar, a hexatomic alcohol, C6H8(OH)6, which likewise occurs, in much smaller quantity, in certain species of the brown seaweed, Fucus, and in plants of several widely separated natural orders.
Mannite is obtained by extracting manna with alcohol and crystallizing the solution.
In Italy mannite is prepared for sale in the shape of small cones resembling loaf sugar in shape, and is frequently prescribed in medicine instead of manna.
Various other kinds of manna are known, but none of these has been found to contain mannite.
A white efflorescence which appears on certain Brown Algae (Saccorhiza bulbosa, Laminaria saccharina), when they are dried in the air, is found to consist of mannite.
This results from their containing starchy substances, and in some cases a small quantity of saccharine matter of the nature of mannite.