Family: Loganiaceae
Genus: Strychnos
Botanical Name: Strychnos nux-vomica Linn
Sanskrit: Karaskaram, Vishatindukam, Vishadruma, Kalakutaka
English: strychnine tree, Snake-wood
Hindi: Kuchala
Malayalam: Kanjiram
Strychnine tree is a medium-sized tree with a short thick trunk. The wood is dense, hard white, and close-grained. The branches are irregular and are covered with a smooth ashen bark. The young shoots are a deep green colour with a shiny coat. The leaves have an opposite arrangement, short stalked, are oval shaped, also have a shiny coat and are smooth on both sides. The leaves are about 4 inches (10 cm) long and 3 inches (7.6 cm) wide. The flowers are small with a pale green colour with a funnel shape. They bloom in the cold season and have a foul smell. The fruit are about the size of a large apple with a smooth and hard shell which when ripened is a lovely orange colour. The meat of the fruit is soft and white with a jelly-like pulp containing five seeds covered with a soft woolly substance.
The seeds are removed from the fruit when ripe. They are then cleaned, dried and sorted. The seeds have the shape of a flattened disk completely covered with hairs radiating from the center of the sides. This gives the seeds a very characteristic sheen. The seeds are very hard, with a dark grey horny endosperm where the small embryo is housed that gives off no odour but possesses a very bitter taste. The plant is native to Southeast Asia and Australia normally in tropical and subtropical areas.
There are no uses in modern medicine, although it was widely used in medicine before World War II. Strychnine is a deadly poison with a lethal dose to humans of about 30 to 120 mg. Survival of substantially higher doses has been reported. The properties of Nux Vomica are those of the alkaloid strychnine. Strychnine is eliminated with a half-life of about 12 hours.
Strychnine tree is an important component to prepare one of the powerful medicines in Toxicology. It is used for the cure of the headache caused due to snakebite. It is also applied on the area of the snake bite.
Strychnine Tree
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