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The family comprises just one species, a tree from southern Africa, that was previously included in the family Cornaceae.

Although the timber is listed as irritant by some authors, no published evidence of toxicity appears to exist.

Curtisia dentata C.A.Sm.
[syns Curtisia faginea Aiton, Sideroxylon dentatum Burm.f.]
Assegai Wood, Cape Lancewood

Since splinters of Australian lancewood (Acacia shirleyi Maiden, fam. Leguminosae) were said to cause painful wounds (Maiden 1919), other lancewoods - Curtisia dentata, Backhousia myrtifolia Hook. & Harvey (fam. Myrtaceae) and Oxandra lanceolata Baill. (fam. Annonaceae) - have been included in lists of toxic timber (see, for instance, Schwartz et al. 1957) without any published evidence for such toxicity (Woods & Calnan 1976).


  • Woods B, Calnan CD (1976) Toxic woods. British Journal of Dermatology 95(Suppl 13): 1-97 [doi] [url] [url-2] [pmid]

Richard J. Schmidt

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