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Barbados Cherry family


800 species in 60 genera are found in tropical regions especially in South America. The plants are usually covered with branched unicellular hairs.

[Summary yet to be added]

Gaudichaudia albida Schltdl. & Cham.
[syns Aspicarpa albida Hassler, Banisteria albida Steud., Gaudichaudia schiedeana A.Juss., Tritomopterys albida Niedenzu]

The hairs on Gaudichaudia schiedeana are very irritant (von Reis Altschul 1973).

Heteropterys leona Exell
[syns Banisteria leona Cav., Malpighia reticulata Poir.]

The plant is used as a pediculicide (Irvine 1961).

Malpighia L.

35 species are found in tropical America and the West Indies. Some have stinging, some spine-toothed hairs (Chittenden 1974).

Malpighia infestissima Rich. ex Niedenzu
[syns Malpighia pallens Small, Malpighia thompsonii Britton & Small, Malpighia urens L. var. infestissima L.C. Rich. ex A.Juss.]
Cowhage Cherry

[Information available but not yet included in database]

Malpighia linearis Jacq.
[syn. Malpighia angustifolia L. var. linearis Niedenzu]

The lower surface of the leaf bears fine irritant hairs (von Reis Altschul 1973).

Malpighia polytricha A.Juss.

Appressed hairs on the lower side of leaves become detached and enter the skin. The reaction is somewhat painful (von Reis Altschul 1973).

Malpighia suberosa Small

von Reis Altschul (1973) found a warning to "look out for the prickles on the leaves" on an herbarium specimen of this species.

Malpighia urens L.
[syn. Malpighia domingensis Small]
Cowitch Cherry, Touch-me-not, Cereza, Cimarrona

This species possesses stinging hairs (Chittenden 1974) and was noted to produce skin reactions (Pardo-Castello 1923).

[Further information available but not yet included in database]

Sphedamnocarpus pruriens Szyszyl.
[syn. Acridocarpus pruriens A.Juss.]

The fruit of this plant possesses intensely irritating, bifurcated hairs (Watt & Breyer-Brandwijk 1962).


  • Chittenden F.J. (1974) The Royal Horticultural Society Dictionary of Gardening. 2nd edn. Vol. 3. Oxford. Clarendon Press.
  • Irvine FR (1961) Woody Plants of Ghana. With special reference to their uses. London: Oxford University Press [doi] [WorldCat] [url] [url-2]
  • Pardo-Castello V (1923) Dermatitis venenata. A study of the tropical plants producing dermatitis. Archives of Dermatology and Syphilology 7(1): 81-90 [doi] [url]
  • von Reis Altschul S (1973) Drugs and Foods from Little-Known Plants. Notes in Harvard University Herbaria. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press [WorldCat] [doi] [url] [url-2]
  • Watt JM, Breyer-Brandwijk MG (1962) The Medicinal and Poisonous Plants of Southern and Eastern Africa. Being an account of their medicinal and other uses, chemical composition, pharmacological effects and toxicology in man and animal, 2nd edn. Edinburgh: E & S Livingstone [doi] [WorldCat] [url] [url-2]

Richard J. Schmidt

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