Medical Herbs Catalogue



Botanical Name: Hippomane mancinella (LINN.)
Family: N.O. Euphorbiaceae
Synonym: Manchineel.
Parts Used: Juice of berries, leaves, bark.
Habitat: South America, West Indian Islands, Venezuela, Panama.

Description: A tree growing to a height of 40 to 50 feet, mostly on sandy seashores, said to be so poisonous that men die under the shade of it; leaves shiny green, stalked, elliptical edges cut like saw teeth, a single gland on upper side where the stalk and leaf join, very small inconspicuous flowers (of separate sexes) on long slender spikes, the few females placed singly at base of the spike with a three-parted calyx, the males in little clusters on the upper part with a twoparted calyx and two or four stamens joined by their filaments, the females with a manycelled ovary crowned with from four to eight styles and reflexed stigmas. Fruit a rounded, fleshy, yellow-green berry.

Constituents: A milky, very acrid juice both in the bark and the berries.

Medicinal Action and Uses: A violent irritant and powerful cathartic, diuretic vesicant. The least drop applied to the eye will cause blindness for some days; the smoke from the wood when burnt will also seriously affect the eyes. Much used in Cuba for tetanus. Indians use the juice to poison their arrows.

Dosage: 2 minims as a cathartic.