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(Logania family)


• Medicinal / Folk-medicinal aspects: Plant material derived from several species has been used in external treatments for boils, ulcers, sloughy wounds, pruritus, and other cutaneous affections; and for certain eye and ear conditions. Anti-parasitic uses have also been reported. •
• Adverse effects: Axillary spines capable of inflicting mechanical injury are a feature of many species. Whilst reports of the extremely unpleasant and often lethal neuromuscular symptoms associated with acute strychnine poisoning predominate, associated dermatologic symptoms have sometimes also been recorded. •
• Veterinary aspects: •

The composition of this family of trees, shrubs, lianes, and herbs has in recent years repeatedly been revised by taxonomists. Brummitt (1992) recognised 20 genera. This number rose to 29 genera and 570 species in the late 1990s before the Angiosperm Phylogeny Group (2003) reduced the family to about 420 species in 13 genera (Stevens 2001-2019). Mabberley (2008) regards the family as comprising 400 species in 14 genera. This smaller family now includes several genera previously classified in their own distinct families, namely the Antoniaceae, Gardneriaceae, Geniostomaceae, Spigeliaceae, and Strychnaceae. The plants occur naturally in tropical and warm regions. The principal genera are Strychnos L. [190 spp.], Mitrasacme Labill. [54 spp.], Spigelia L. [50 spp.], and Geniostoma J.R.Forst. & G.Forst. [24 spp.].

The roots of Spigelia anthelmia L. and Spigelia marilandica L. have been used in anthelmintic (vermifuge) preparations, the roots of the latter species formerly being official in the US Pharmacopeia (see Remington et al. 1918).

Geniostoma ligustrifolium A.Cunn.
Māori Privet

[Information available but not yet included in database]

Neuburgia corynocarpa Leenh.
[syn. Couthovia corynocarpa A.Gray]

[Information available but not yet included in database]

Spigelia anthelmia L.
West Indian Pinkroot

Pammel (1911) noted that this species is irritant, but he may have been referring to gastro-intestinal rather than dermatologic effects.

Spigelia marilandica L.
[syn. Lonicera marilandica L.]
Carolina Pink, Indian Pink, Maryland Pink, Pinkroot, Woodland Pinkroot, Star Bloom, Worm-Grass

[Information available but not yet included in database]

Strychnos L.

The genus comprises 190 species found in tropical regions (Mabberley 2008). Some are spiny, for example:

Strychnos aculeata Soler.
Strychnos arborea A.W.Hill
Strychnos cathayensis Merr.
Strychnos lucida R.Br.
Strychnos nigricans Progel
Strychnos spinosa Lam. 

Strychnos aculeata Soler.
[syn. Strychnos mortehani De Wild.]

According to Irvine (1961), on the Ivory Coast the sap is rubbed on guinea worm sores [= dracunculiasis or dracunculosis or dracontiasis, caused by Dracunculus medinensis, fam. Dracunculidae. The guinea worm is a threadworm or filiarial worm. Human infestation is caused by drinking raw water containing water fleas infested with this worm].

Strychnos cocculoides Baker
[syn. Strychnos suberosa De Wild.]
Monkey Orange

[Information available but not yet included in database]

Strychnos ignatii Berg.
[syns Ignatia amara L.f., Strychnos hainanensis Merr. & Chun, Strychnos ovalifolia Wall. ex G.Don]
St Ignatius' Bean Tree

This large climbing shrub, which is a native of the Philippine Islands, is the source of Ignatia beans. Formerly official in many pharmacopoeias, they have been used as an alternative to Nux Vomica [see Strychnos nux-vomica L. below].

[Further information available but not yet included in database]

Strychnos nux-blanda A.W.Hill
[syn. Strychnos nux-vomica L. var. grandifolia Dop]

[Information available but not yet included in database]

Strychnos nux-vomica L.
[syn. Strychnos spireana Dop]
Emetic Nut Tree, Poison Nut, Quaker Buttons, Dog Buttons

The seeds of this plant are a source of the exceedingly poisonous, bitter-tasting alkaloids strychnine and brucine. Known as Nux Vomica, Semen Nucis Vomicae, or Semen Strychni, they were formerly official in various Pharmacopoeias as was strychnine (see Remington et al. 1918, Wade 1977).

[Further information available but not yet included in database]

Strychnos potatorum L.f.
[syns Strychnos heterodoxa Gilg, Strychnos stuhlmannii Gilg]
Cleaning Nut Tree, Clearing Nut Tree, Indian Gum Nut

The name of the plant refers to its traditional use as a water purifier: one of the dried nuts is rubbed hard for a short time around the inside of the earthenware water pot; on settling, the water is left pure and tasteless (Remington et al. 1918, Gupta & Chaudhuri 1992).

[Further information available but not yet included in database]

Strychnos pungens Solered.
Spine-Leaved Monkey Orange, Bushman's Orange Tree

[Further information available but not yet included in database]

Strychnos spinosa Lam.
[syns Brehmia spinosa Harvey, Strychnos buettneri Gilg, Strychnos cuneifolia Gilg & Busse]
Kaffir Orange, Natal Orange, Wood Orange, Monkey Orange, Green Monkey Orange

[Further information available but not yet included in database]

Strychnos wallichiana Steud. ex A.DC.
[syns Strychnos bourdillonii Brandis, Strychnos cinnamomifolia Thwaites, Strychnos cirrhosa Stokes, Strychnos colubrina L., Strychnos gauthierana Pierre ex Dop, Strychnos pierriana A.W.Hill, Strychnos rheedei C.B.Clarke]
Snakewood, Pao de Cobra, Modira-Caniram

Lakshminarasimhan (2003) drew attention to the confusion over a period of 250 years regarding the identity of Strychnos colubrina, formally proposing that the name be rejected in favour of Strychnos wallichiana.

[Further information available but not yet included in database]


  • Angiosperm Phylogeny Group (2003) An update of the Angiosperm Phylogeny Group classification for the orders and families of flowering plants: APG II. Botanical Journal of the Linnean Society 141(4): 399-436 [doi] [url] [url-2]
  • Brummitt RK (1992) Vascular Plant Families and Genera. Kew: Royal Botanic Gardens [WorldCat]
  • Gupta A, Chaudhuri M (1992) Domestic water purification for developing countries. Aqua 45(5): 290-298
  • Irvine FR (1961) Woody Plants of Ghana. With special reference to their uses. London: Oxford University Press [doi] [WorldCat] [url] [url-2]
  • Lakshminarasimhan P (2003) Proposal to reject the name Strychnos colubrina (Loganiaceae). Taxon 52(2): 364-365 [doi] [doi-2] [url] [url-2]
  • Mabberley DJ (2008) Mabberley's Plant-Book. A portable dictionary of plants, their classification and uses, 3rd edn. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press [WorldCat]
  • Pammel LH (1911) A Manual of Poisonous Plants. Chiefly of North America, with Brief Notes on Economic and Medicinal Plants, and Numerous Illustrations. Cedar Rapids, IA: Torch Press [WorldCat] [url] [url-2]
  • Remington JP, Wood HC, Sadtler SP, LaWall CH, Kraemer H, Anderson JF (Eds) (1918) The Dispensatory of the United States of America. 20th edn. Philadelphia: JB Lippincott [WorldCat] [url] [url-2]
  • Stevens PF (2001-2019) Angiosperm Phylogeny Website. Version 14. Gentianales. [online article]: https://www.mobot.org/MOBOT/research/APweb/orders/gentianalesweb.htm#Gentianales ; accessed April 2019 [url] [url-2]
  • Wade A (Ed.) (1977) Martindale. The Extra Pharmacopoeia. 27th edn. London: Pharmaceutical Press [WorldCat]
  • [ + 15 further references not yet included in database]

Richard J. Schmidt

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