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Adenanthera - Astragalus

(Pea or Bean family)


Adenanthera L.

The genus comprises 13 species of trees found in tropical Asia, Australia and the Pacific region (Mabberley 2008).

Some species of this genus yield lapachol (Gibbs 1963) a sensitiser of Tectona grandis L.f., fam. Labiatae.

Adenanthera pavonina L.
Circassian Tree, Coral Wood, Red Bead Tree, Red Bean Tree, Red Sandalwood, Saga, Suga, Zumbic Tree

The handsome red seeds, known as Circassian beans, are used in necklaces and other novelties (Morton 1962a).

[Further information available but not yet included in database]

Afzelia africana Sm.
[syn. Intsia africana Kuntze, Pahudia africana Prain]
Doussié, Afzelia, Lingue

This species is the source of a commercially valuable timber known variously as afzelia, doussié, and lingue. It is also known as African mahogany, a name more usually applied to the timber from various Khaya A.Juss. species (fam. Meliaceae).

This and possibly other species of this genus, notably Afzelia bipindensis Harms can produce dermatitis and respiratory symptoms in woodworkers (Raymond 1959, Irvine 1961, Zafiropoulo et al. 1968, Hublet et al. 1972, Hausen 1970, Oleffe et al. 1975a).

Albizia Durazz.
[syn. Albizzia Durazz.]

100 or possibly 150 species are found in warm regions of the Old World. The fragrant wood of A. odoratissima is known as Ceylon rosewood. The leaves of A. coriaria Welw. ex Oliv. form a lather known as Poor Man's Soap. The bark of A. lebbeck Benth. contains saponins and is also used as a soap. The West African timbers are known in industry.

Albizia falcata Backer ex Merr., A. ferruginea Benth., A. lebbeck Benth. and A. tanganyicensis Baker f. known as batai, kokko and siris and other species of this genus have been reported to cause upper respiratory symptoms in wood-workers (Lewin 1928, Griffione 1949, Vorreiter 1949, Farmer 1972, Sandermann & Barghoorn 1956, Hausen 1970). Some species were formerly placed in the genera Acacia and Calliandra.

Albizia anthelmintica Brongn.
[syns Albizia ambalusiana Sim, Besenna anthelmintica A.Rich.]
Worm-Cure Albizia

The pollen acts as a severe irritant to the eyes (Codd 1951, Watt & Breyer-Brandwijk 1962).

Albizia julibrissin Durazz.
[syns Acacia julibrissin Willd., Mimosa julibrissin Scop.]
Mimosa, Silk Tree, Silky Acacia, Persian Acacia

In traditional Chinese medicine, the tree is known as ho huan and the bark provides the crude drug he huan pi. A gummy extract prepared from the bark has been used as a plaster for carbuncles (Stuart 1911). See also Ligustrum lucidum W.T.Aiton, fam. Oleaceae.

Albizia myriophylla Benth.
[syns Acacia myriophylla Steud., Albizia thorelii Pierre]
Sensitive Liquorice

[Information available but not yet included in database]

Albizia saponaria Blume ex Miq.
[syn. Mimosa saponaria Lour.]
Whiteflower Albizia

According to an herbarium note found by von Reis Altschul (1973) on a plant collected in the Philippine Islands, the juice squeezed from bark scraped from this plant is applied to the hair to remove dandruff.

Albizia tanganyicensis Baker f.
[syns Albizia lebbeck Benth. var. australis Burtt Davy, Albizia rhodesica Burtt Davy]
Paperbark Albizia, Paper-Bark Tree

[Information available but not yet included in database]


35 species are native to tropical American and Africa. Some yield lapachol (Krogh 1964) which is a sensitiser of Tectona grandis L.f., fam. Labiatae.

Andira araroba Aguiar
[syns Vatairea araroba, Vataireopsis araroba Ducke]
Angelim Amarello, Angelim Amargoso, Bitter Angelim

Araroba is a brown-purple coloured concretion found in cavities in the trunk of this Brazilian tree. When dried and powdered, it provides Goa Powder. It contains approximately 50% of chrysarobin (Martindale & Westcott 1924), a mixture of neutral anthraquinone derivatives comprising mainly chrysophanol anthrone / chrysophanol anthranol [= 1,8-dihydroxy-3-methyl-9-anthrone] and physcion anthrone / physcion anthranol [= 1,8-dihydroxy-3-methyl-6-methoxy-9-anthrone] (Simatupang et al. 1967, Claus et al. 1970). A small amount of free chrysophanic acid [= chrysophanol] is also present in Goa Powder. The name chrysarobin is also applied to the pure substance 1,8-dihydroxy-3-methyl-9-anthrone which makes up about 30% of the naturally occurring mixture (Strakosch 1944).

[Chrysarobin compounds; Dithranol]

Goa powder [= Crude Chrysarobin] was introduced into Western medicine in 1878 by an English dermatologist, Balmanno Squire (Strakosch 1944). It was prepared as a paste or ointment and used for psoriasis, dermatophyte infections: "herpes circinatus, porrigo scutulata, porrigo decalvans, sycosis", eczema, lichen, acne and other skin diseases (Felter & Lloyd 1898). Chrysarobin [= Araroba Depurata] extracted from Goa powder has similarly been used (Felter & Lloyd 1898, Todd 1967). The Indian mode of using the drug was to cut a lime fruit, dip it in the powder and dab it on the affected skin. The Brazilians mix it with vinegar (Martindale & Westcott 1924).

Ward (1920) described the case of a patient with psoriasis who used chrysarobin ointment (5 grains to the ounce = approx. 1% w/w) to control the disease. Wishing to hasten a cure, he applied the ointment at double strength. This produced a psoriasis-like eruption which subsided when he stopped using the higher strength ointment and returned to using the lower strength. This propensity for chrysarobin occasionally to provoke a more severe form of the malady that it appeared to cure had earlier been recorded by Felter & Lloyd (1898), who noted also that applications of chrysarobin to the face or scalp produced erythema with swelling and cuticular desquamation, and reddening of the conjunctiva. Intensely painful inflammation lasting several weeks, associated with a recurrent crop of boils could also ensue. Chrysarobin has now largely fallen out of use, having been replaced by dithranol in the treatment of psoriasis, and by much safer modern antifungal agents in the treatment of dermatophyte infections.

The timber is used locally for construction (Hausen 1981a). The sawdust irritates the eyes of workmen (Record & Hess 1943, McCord 1958); and is irritant to the respiratory tract (White 1887). In industrial accidents, chrysophanic acid has produced conjunctivitis and keratitis (Duke-Elder & MacFaul 1972b).

Andira inermis Kunth ex DC.
Partridge Wood

The tree can cause dermatitis in wood-workers. This common name is also applied to Brosimum guianense (syn. Piratinera guianensis), fam. Moraceae and Livistona inermis, fam. Palmae (Lewin 1928).

According to Woods and Calnan (1976), a report of cough and urticaria from partridge-wood by Friese (1932) seems to refer to this species not to Pithecolobium.

The wood contains an isoflavonoid which is related to dalbergiones (see Dalbergia) and biochanin A which is retated to ayanin (see Distemonanthus) (Cocker et al. 1962).

Anthyllis cretica
[syn. Ebenus cretica]

The wood has been known as grenadilla and used for musical instruments (Hausen 1970).

Dermatitis from musical instruments (Stern 1891) seems to have been from Dalbergia.

Apuleia leiocarpa J.F.Macbr.
[syns Apoleya leiocarpa Gleason, Apoleya molaris Gleason, Apuleia ferrea Baill., Apuleia molaris Spruce ex Benth., Apuleia praecox Mart., Leptolobium leiocarpum Vogel]
Amarelāo, Ferro, Garapa, Grapia

The wood caused dermatitis in wood-workers, and one carpenter developed constitutional symptoms after contact with fresh sawdust especially on hot days. The wood, when dried, remains capable of causing dermatitis (Friese 1932, 1936).

Oxyayanins A & B, allergens of Distemonanthus have been isolated from the wood (Braz Filho & Gottlieb 1971).

Confusion over the nomenclature of the genus was discussed by Woods and Calnan (1976). Now, morphological evidence indicates that although there is great variation in Apuleia, the genus cannot reliably be separated into different species or infraspecific taxa. Accordingly, the genus is considered to be monospecific (de Sousa et al. 2010).

Arachis hypogaea L.
Groundnut, Peanut

Peanut oil was reported to cause a local reaction and generalized urticaria when used as an injection vehicle (Chafee 1941).

Contact dermatitis of the fingers from peanuts was reported by Waldbott and Shea (1948). Octyl gallate added to peanut butter as an antioxidant, can cause dermatitis (Van Ketel 1978).

Argyrolobium Eckl. & Zeyh.
Birdsfoot Trefoil

[Information available but not yet included in database]

Astracantha gummifera Podl.
[syn. Astragalus gummifer Labill.]

This and other species yield Gum Tragacanth which has been reported to cause respiratory allergy (Greenberg and Lester 1954). Cross-sensitivity was observed to Gum Arabic (Acacia senegal Willd., fam. Leguminosae) and to Gum Karaya (Sterculia urens Roxb., fam. Malvaceae).

Astragalus elegantulus Greene
[syn. Astragalus pectinatus Boiss.]
Loco Weed

Ingestion of Astragalus pectinatus, containing selenocystathionine, can cause hair loss (Schoental 1965).

Astragalus tragacantha L.
[syns Astragalus massiliensis Lam., Tragacantha massiliensis Mill.]

[Information available but not yet included in database]

Richard J. Schmidt

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