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(Pittosporum family)


200 species in nine genera are found from tropical Africa to the Pacific region. Eight genera are found in Australia.

Furanocoumarins have been isolated from this family (Hegnauer 1971).

Bursaria spinosa Cav.
[syns Cyrilla spinosaSpreng., Itea spinosa Andrews]
Australian Blackthorn, Australian Boxthorn, Christmas Bush, Prickly Box, Sweet Bursaria

A man developed squamous carcinoma of the skin of the forehead at the site of a boxthorn prickle puncture injury. Tetanus followed a penetrating wound by a boxthorn prickle (Cleland 1925). Boxthorn is also a common name for Buxus.

The Australian boxthorn mentioned by Cleland (1925) is probably Bursaria spinosa (Woods and Calnan 1976).

Pittosporum eugenioides A.Cunn.
[syns Pittosporum elegans Raoul, Pittosporum enkianthoides R.Cunn. & Hügel in Putt., Pittosporum microcarpum Putt.]
Hedge Laurel, Lemon Wood

The wood is said to have produced dermatitis (Schwartz et al. 1957).

Pittosporum phillyraeoides DC.
[syns Pittosporum acacioides A.Cunn., Pittosporum longifolium Putt., Pittosporum roeanum Putt.]
Cheesewood, Weeping Pittosporum, Willow

Gardner & Bennetts (1956), citing Webb (1948a), noted that a decoction from this tree drunk and applied for pruritus and eczema has been used in Queensland.


  • Cleland JB (1925) Plants, including fungi, poisonous or otherwise injurious to man in Australia. Medical Journal of Australia ii(15): 443-451 [doi] [doi-2] [url] [url-2]
  • Gardner CA, Bennetts HW (1956) The Toxic Plants of Western Australia. Perth: West Australian Newspapers [doi] [WorldCat] [url] [url-2]
  • Hegnauer, R. (1971) Chemical patterns and relationships of Umbelliferae. In: The Biology and Chemistry of the Umbelliferae ed. Heywood, V.H. Bot. J. Linnaean Soc. 64(Suppl): 267-277.
  • Schwartz L, Tulipan L, Birmingham DJ (1957) Irritant plants and woods. In: Occupational Diseases of the Skin. 3rd edn, pp. 636-672. London: Henry Kimpton [doi] [WorldCat] [url] [url-2]
  • Webb LJ (1948a) Guide to Medicinal and Poisonous Plants of Queensland. Bulletin No. 232. Melbourne, Victoria: Council for Scientific and Industrial Research [doi] [url]
  • 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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