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FNA | Family List | FNA Vol. 14 | Loganiaceae

3. Strychnos Linnaeus, Sp. Pl. 1: 189. 1753; Gen. Pl. ed. 5, 86. 1754.

[Greek strychnon, name for many different poisonous plants]

Deciduous shrubs or trees [lianas]. Stems erect [climbing], with lateral branches and spines [unarmed or with prickles], glabrous or with simple hairs. Leaves petiolate [subsessile]; blade [orbiculate], suborbiculate, ovate, or [narrowly] elliptic, venation 1 or 2 pairs from near base and curved along margin, not reaching apex. Inflorescences terminal [and/or axillary], thyrsoid, 1–many-flowered. Flowers: sepals ± connate, green, linear [to orbiculate]; corolla white, pale green, green, or yellowish [orange], urceolate to campanulate [rotate to salverform], glabrous or hairy inside and out; ovary superior, 1[or 2]-celled; stigmas oblong [capitate, conic], shallowly lobed. Fruits berries, deep yellow, yellow-green, yellow-brown, or orange [red, brown, blue-black]. Seeds usually disc-shaped to spheric, smooth. x = 22.

Species ca. 200 (1 in the flora): introduced, Florida; Mexico, South America, Asia (India, Sri Lanka), Africa, Indian Ocean Islands (Madagascar), n Australia.

Strychnos is the largest genus in Loganiaceae. Its species are found in tropical rainforests and savannahs in both the Old World and New World Tropics, with the greatest number in tropical Africa. Alkaloids are prevalent in Strychnos species (N. G. Bisset and J. D. Phillipson 1971), the best known being strychnine, which is commercially extracted from the southeastern Asian S. nux-vomica Linnaeus. Some American species have been used as the primary or secondary ingredients in the dart poison curare (B. A. Krukoff and J. Monachino 1942; Krukoff and R. C. Barneby 1969); medicinal uses have been reported for Old World species (H. M. Burkill 1985–2004).

Brehmia Harvey (1842), a later homonym of Brehmia Schrank (1824), pertains here.

SELECTED REFERENCES Krukoff, B. A. and R. C. Barneby. 1969. Supplementary notes on the American species of Strychnos. VIII. Mem. New York Bot. Gard. 20: 1–93. Krukoff, B. A. and J. Monachino. 1942. The American species of Strychnos. Brittonia 2: 248–322.

Lower Taxon


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