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Title: Poisonous plants around the home
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Title: Poisonous plants around the home
Series Title: Poisonous plants around the home
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Creator: West, Erdman
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Table of Contents
    Front Cover
        Page 1
    Table of Contents
        Page 2
        Page 3
        Page 4
        Page 5
        Page 6
        Page 7
        Page 8
        Page 9
        Page 10
        Page 11
        Page 12
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    Back Matter
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    Back Cover
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Full Text

C- 2
November 1993

Bulletin 175D

I SO no As p\antS ii-t'
APR 191994

a1OLVd -e eomenrsity of Florida

ErIcdman West*

Florida Cooperative Extension Service Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences
University of Florida John T. Woeste, Dean for Extension


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4 .

M ango ..................
M ilk-bush ................
Common oleander .........
Poinsettia ................
Pokeweed ...............
Top primrose .............
P rivet ...................
Tree tobacco .............
Tung-oil tree .............
Yellow-oleander ...........

*The late Mr. West was a Botanist with the Florida Agricultural
and Agricultural Sciences, University of Florida, Gainesville, F

riment Station; Cooperative Extension Service, Institute of Fooi


void Duttine anvthin-a

garden or in the woods. Collecting and eating wild
mushrooms, unless you know positively they are ed-
ible, is very dangerous business. There are no satis-
factory guides available for the identification of ed-
ible wild mushrooms in Florida.
Skin irritation or dermatitis caused by contact
with a plant is sometimes difficult to trace to its
source. If it occurs periodically, an effort should be
made to remember what contacts preceded the out-

breaks. In this way the culprit may be identified
and avoided in the future if the plant cannot be en-
tirely eliminated. Among the most common causes
of contact dermatitis are poison ivy, common rag-
weed, oleander, mango leaves and fruits, yellow
jessamine and greenhouse primulas. Not everyone
is susceptible to all or any of these and occasionally
individuals are irritated by contact with other, of-
ten less-common plants. Susceptible individuals
usually can diagnose the cause of their own
troubles by close observation of the circumstances
under which their disability occurs.
The name and nature of the toxic content of the
poisonous plants in the bulletin are mentioned
whenever they are known. In only a very few cases
is the percentage of the toxic material known. In
most poisonous plants the concentration of the poi-
son varies from one specimen to another so that
percentages are often unreliable. Since the concen-
tration of the poison may be higher in some plant
organs than in others, this information is furnished

The plump ovoid fruits are green in color at first,
becoming nearly black as they ripen and dry. Each
fruit contains 3 black seeds about 3 inch long. The
meat of the seeds is white and oily in texture.

Habitat and distribution
Barbados nut originated in the American tropics
but is now widely planted in Florida, mostly south
of Orlando. It is used as a specimen plant for the
tropical effect of the large leaves and occasionally to
make a screen because of its rapid growth. The
seeds are a source of oil for fine painting but they
are not now produced commercially for this purpose
in Florida.

Numerous cases of poisoning by this plant have
occurred in Florida during the past several years.
There seem to be 2 strains of the plant. One bears
poisonous seeds and 1 produces innocuous seeds,
but the 2 strains of the plant look alike. All cases
of poisoning have occurred from eating the seeds;
Figure 1: Yellow allamanda, some have required hospitalization. The seeds con-
tain a violent purgative and curcin, a toxin some-
what like ricin from castor-bean.
in flower size, leaf shape, hairiness and ultimate
size of the vine. The plant is usually grown on an
arbor or trellis but it is occasionally used without

The bark, leaves, seeds and juice have been used
for their cathartic effect. In Florida the plant, espe-
cially the fruit, has acquired the reputation of being
dangerously poisonous. No known poison has been
extracted from the plant.

Barbados nut Jatropha curcas L.
French purge nut-curcas bean

Barbados nut (Jatropha curcas L.) (Fig. 2) is a
coarse annual plant or small tree up to 15 feet tall.
The thick stems are green, smooth and succulent.
The dark green leaves are borne on petioles or
stalks 4 inches or more long. The leaves are thick,
6 inches or more wide, heart-shaped or coarsely 3-
to 5-lobed. The tiny yellow flowers are produced in
small clusters on stalks in the axils of the leaves
and usually are more or less hidden by the foliage. Figure 2: Barbados nut.

Figure 3: Castor-bean.

Castor-bean Ricinus communis L.
Palma crista-Castor-oil plant

Castor-bean (Ricinus communis L.) (Fig. 3) is a
robust annual herb, growing to the size of a small
tree in South Florida. The strong stems, 4 to 10
feet tall, are erect, often crooked, green or red to
purple in color and sometimes covered with a
white, waxy coating. The alternate leaves, 4 to 30
inches across, are simple and borne on long, stiff
stalks; the leaf-blades are thin with prominent ribs,
green or reddish, star-shaped with 5 to 9 or more
lobes, thin and finely toothed along the margin.
The stalk is attached to the leaf-blades some dis-
tance in from the margin. The flower clusters are
produced at the ends of branches, but because lat-
eral branches grow past them they appear lateral.
The flowers, produced in narrow, upright clusters 6
to 12 inches long, are greenish white or reddish
brown, about 1 inch across and lack petals. The
fruits are erect, oval, green or red and covered with
stiff, fleshy spines. The seeds, 3 in each pod, are
about inch long, elliptic, black, white or mottled
with gray, black, brown and white.

Habitat and distribution
Castor-bean, a native of the tropics, has been
widely planted as an ornamental and to a less ex-
tent as a crop plant. From these plantings, seeds
have been scattered widely over Florida. It is com-

mon on rich soil in gardens, around dumping
grounds and in the Everglades around Lake

Castor-bean contains a poisonous principle, ricin,
which is a true protein, as well as ricinoleic acid
and oleic acid.

Rosary pea Abrus precatorius L.
Crabeye-Jequirity pea

Rosary pea (Abrus precatorius L.) (Fig. 4) is a
woody vine, climbing to a height of 10 to 20 feet on
other plants, arbors or other support. The young
stems are green but the older woody parts are cov-
ered with brown to gray bark. The leaves, borne
alternately, consist of 8 to 15 pairs of oblong leaf-
lets each about inch long. The flowers are pro-
duced in axillary racemes 1 to 3 inches long. The
individual flowers are about 1 inch long, sweet pea-
shaped and either white, creamy or purplish in
color. The pods are flattened, broad, about 112
inches long, brown and covered with appressed
hairs. The pods persist on the vine, splitting along
1 side and spreading open to show the 2 rows of
seeds. Each seed is ovoid, less than inch long,

Figure 4: Rosary pea / crabeye.

bright scarlet in color except for the lower one
third, which is jet black.

Habitat and distribution
Rosary pea is a native of Burma but it has been
widely distributed around the world in tropical and
subtropical climates. In Florida it is rarely planted
but has become a weed along fencerows and in gar-
dens, citrus groves and native vegetation from Or-
lando southward. The highly colored seeds have
been made into rosaries and necklaces and fastened
on dolls for decorations. They are often used as
toys by children.

The poisonous principle, concentrated mostly in
the seed, is known as abrin, a toxalbumin. It is
slowly absorbed from the gastrointestinal tract.
Little seems known concerning the composition of
abrin. The seed coat is very hard and impervious to
moisture so that whole, uncracked seeds may be
swallowed with little or no danger. However, one
seed thoroughly chewed and swallowed is suffi-
cient to cause fatal poisoning of an adult human
The symptoms in humans are nausea, vomiting,
severe diarrhoea, weakness, cold perspiration, colic,
small and accelerated pulse, and trembling of

Crape-jasm ineTabernaemontana divaricata
(L.) R. Br. (Ervatamia coronaria (Jacq.) Stapf.)

Crape-jasmine (Tabernaemontana divaricata (L.)
R. Br.) (Fig. 5) is a rather succulent shrub, 3 to 8
feet tall, with widely forking or whorled, smooth
branches. The bright green leaves, opposite or in
threes, are oblong or lance-shaped, 3 to 6 inches
long. The flowers, 1 to 2 inches across, are pro-
duced in small clusters in the upper forks of the
branches, usually below the upper leaves. They are
pure white with a yellowish tubular base. The pet-
als are 5 in number (many in double-flowered vari-
eties) and crimped on the margins, hence the com-
mon name.

Habitat and distribution
Crape-jasmine, a native of India, is now widely
planted in Florida gardens as far north as

Figure 5: Crape-jasmine.

Gainesville. It is also frequently used in base
plantings and shrub borders and occasionally as a
hedge plant. It is not showy because the flowers
are hidden under the leaves. However, the flowers
are somewhat fragrant.

The roots and bark of crape-jasmine contain 1!
to 2 percent of an alkaloid that has been used in the
treatment of cataracts and cardiac diseases. The
flowers contain steroid-like compounds. None of
these materials have been more specifically identi-
fied in literature.

Euphorbia milii Ch. des Moulins

Crown-of-thorns (Euphorbia milii Ch. des Mou-
lins) (Fig. 6) is a low-growing, shrubby plant with
very thorny stems and branches. The thick, fleshy
stems are about 1 foot tall but may become scan-
dent and as much as 3 feet long in a warm climate.
They are purplish in color and armed with numer-
ous stiff, sharp-pointed spines 1 to 1 inch long. The
leaves, obovate in form, 1 to 2 inches in length,
are few in number, mostly at the ends of new

color of the leaves is green but many horticultural
forms are variously spotted, streaked or mottled
with white, lighter or darker green or yellow green.
Some varieties are green only on the margins and
midrib. The inconspicuous floral parts look like a
tightly rolled green or spotted leaf, 2 to 4 inches
long, enclosing the minute true flowers.

Habitat and distribution
Dieffenbachia is native to tropical American
countries but was brought into cultivation as a
greenhouse or conservatory plant over 100 years
ago. Although it is widely used as a house plant in
Florida, it is also planted out-of-doors in the
warmer parts of the state. It is often used for deco-
rating restaurants and hotel lobbies. Plants are
readily available in variety stores and at florists.
Figure 6: Crown of thorns.

growth. The small flowers are produced in long- The nature of the toxic constituents of
stalked clusters of 2, 4, 6, or 8, each with a pair of dieffenbachia is still a mystery. There are enough
broadly ovate, bright red bracts about inch across. raphides of calcium oxalate present to cause irrita-
tion of the mucous membranes if the plant is
Habitat and distribution chewed. Swallowing the chewed material may re-
sult in swelling of the throat and temporary loss of
Crown-of-thorns is native in Madagascar but is speech; hence, its name "dumb cane." It is reputed
now widely grown as a cultivated plant. It is often to cause temporary sterility. Other more serious
used as a house or window plant or grown in a pot or toxic symptoms have been recorded but the causal
jardiniere for a porch or doorstep ornament. In the agent has not been isolated.
southern part of the state the plant is grown out-of-
doors along walks, by walls and in rock gardens.

The milky sap or latex is quite irritating to the
skin of some people, acting as a vesicant. The root
contains an unclassified toxic substance. The plant
has been used as a purgative.

Dieffenbachia Dieffenbachia seguine (Jacq.)
Schott, D. maculata (Lodd.) Bunting

Dieffenbachia, or dumb cane (Dieffenbachia
seguine (Jacq.) Schott, D. maculata (Lodd.) Bunting)
(Fig. 7) is a tender house plant. The green stems, 3
to 6 feet tall, are fleshy, about 1 inch or less thick.
The leaves, borne on leaf-stalks 2 to 6 inches or

Figure 8: Gloriosa.

Gloriosa Gloriosa superba L.
Climbing lilly

Gloriosa (Gloriosa superba L.) is a slender, her-
baceous plant growing from a thick, fleshy, elon-
gated, pale brown, tuberous rootstock. The weak
stems, upright at first, attain a height of 5 to 7 feet.
The numerous narrow leaves grow alternately or in
pairs all along the stem except on the lower 5 to 8
inches. Each leaf is 4 to 7 inches long, 1 to 1 inch
or more wide and ends in a narrow curled tip.
These leaf ends act as tendrils, twining around any
suitable support and holding the plant in a more or
less erect position.
The long-stalked flowers are produced in the ax-
ils of the upper leaves or on 2 or 3 short lateral
branches. Each flower consists of 6 parts, 2 to 3
inches long, 1 inch wide, narrow, crinkled along the
edges and yellow or yellow and red in color or be-
coming red all over as the flower fades. The floral
parts are turned up sharply with the 6 yellow sta-
mens and the green pistil projecting below them.
The pod is pendant, 3 lobed, oblong and 2 to 3
inches long. The numerous seeds are orange brown
and globular, about 1/16 inch in diameter.

Related species
Gloriosa rothschildiana O'Brien (Fig. 8) is simi-
lar but the flower parts are wider and wavy on the
margins. The toxicity is said to be similar.

Habitat and distribution
Gloriosa is native to the tropics of Asia and Af-
rica but is widely used as a garden flower. It may
be planted around the home in any part of Florida.
The brilliantly colored flowers make it a favorite to
plant among shrubs or on an arbor or fence. The
tubers are often dug in the fall and stored for the
winter. The seeds are often saved the same way.

All parts of this plant are poisonous, with the
highest concentration of toxic materials in the tu-
bers. Death has been reported to have occurred
within 4 hours after tubers were eaten. Appar-
ently, the most toxic content is a mixture of alka-
loids, chiefly colchicine (0.3 percent of the tubers).
Symptoms reported include numbness of lips,
tongue and throat; nausea and diarrhea with blood;
giddiness and loss of power in limbs; heaviness of
eyelids and photophobia; respiratory embarrass-
ment; a quick, feeble pulse; convulsions and loss of

Figure 9: Hydrangea.

Hydrangea Hydrangea macrophylla Ser.

The garden hydrangea (Hydrangea macrophylla
Ser.) (Fig. 9) is a stiff, stout shrub 3 to 12 feet tall.
All parts of the shrub are smooth. The stems are
green at first but soon become pale brown in color.
The opposite leaves are elliptical, often broadly so,
3 to 6 inches long and light to dark green. The leaf
tips are sharp pointed, the bases broad and the
margins coarsely toothed. The flowers are borne
at the end of stems in dense, rounded clusters
sometimes a foot in diameter. The individual
flowers are pink, blue or almost white. Each is
about 1 inch in diameter and divided into 4 or 5
rounded lobes.

Habitat and distribution
The common garden hydrangea is a native of Ja-
pan but is widely grown in Florida. This conspicu-
ous shrub is usually planted around homes in the
base planting, but it is also used as a specimen in
the yard.

Garden hydrangea contains hydrangin, a cyano-
genetic glycoside. One instance of poisoning by this
plant in Florida is known.

Gelsemium sempervirens (L.) Ait. f.
Yellow-jessamine-Evening trumpet-flower

Carolina-jessamine (Gelsemium sempervirens
(L.) Ait. f.) (Fig. 10) is a high-climbing, woody vine
that often covers the tops of small trees and bushes,
but in the absence of support, may trail on the
ground and produce many slender, more or less up-
right stems. The main stems of large vines are
gray and 1 inch or more in diameter, but the major-
ity of the branches are thin, wiry, much branched
and tangled, glossy and dark reddish-brown in
color. The short-stalked leaves are simple and al-
ways produced in pairs; the leaf-blades, 1 to 2
inches long, are ovate to lanceolate, not very sharp
pointed, rounded at the base, smooth on the margin
and dark green, though often marked with irregu-
lar reddish-brown discolorations, especially in win-
ter. The clear yellow, sweet-scented flowers, pro-
duced in late winter and early spring, are borne in

small clusters in the leaf axils of the slender twigs
in such profusion as to form conspicuous masses of
color. The individual flowers, tubular with 5 flar-
ing lobes, are 1 to 1 inches long. The seed pods
are brown, flat, less than 1 inch long and contain
several small, winged seeds.

Habitat and distribution
Carolina-jessamine grows abundantly in open
hammocks, but is also found in thickets, swamps
and open fields, along fence rows, around stumps,
and on rocky bluffs. The vine is most widely dis-
tributed in northern Florida but occurs as far south
as Osceola County.

Yellow-jessamine contains the crystalline alka-
loid, gelsemine, and the amorphous alkaloids,
gelseminine and gelsemoidine. Other alkaloids
have been reported isolated from the plant. These
alkaloids constitute the poisonous principles in the
plant. They chiefly depress and paralyze motor
nerve endings. Depression of the motor neurons of
the brain and spinal cord result in respiratory ar-
The flowers, leaves and roots contain the toxic
alkaloids, with the highest concentration being in
the roots from which extractions have been made
for medicinal purposes.

Figure 10: Carolina-jessamine.

Figure 11: Jimsonweed.

Jimsonweed Datura stramonium L.
Jimsonweed datura-Jamestown weed-
Thorn apple

Jimsonweed (Datura stramonium L.) is a large
annual weed, 3 to 5 feet tall, with several wide-
spreading branches near the top of the stem. The
main stem and branches are smooth and green or
purplish. The alternate leaves are smooth, light
green and stalked; the leaf-blades, 3 to 8 inches
long, are thin, ovate to elliptic, pointed at both
ends, and bear large, irregular, sharp-pointed teeth
along the margins. The erect flowers, borne singly
in the leaf axils, are short-stalked, funnel-shaped
but flaring out into a 5-pointed star and white or
pale bluish-purple in color. The 4-celled fruit is a
dry, hard capsule, ovate, green, becoming pale
brown, and covered with hard, sharp prickles. The
pod, about 1 inch long, splits into 4 sections, each
containing numerous seeds.

wise highly colored and the petals are often doubled
or tripled. The plant known as angel's trumpet or
Gabriel's trumpet (Brugmansia suaveolens H. & B.
ex Willd.) Bercht. & J. Presl (Fig. 12) has large,
white pendulous flowers and larger leaves than
jimsonweed. Other Datura spp. and Brugmansia
spp. are found occasionally in flower gardens. All
these related species are equal in toxicity to jimson-
weed and contain the same alkaloids.

Jimsonweed contains the toxic alkaloids hyo-
scyamine, atropine, and scopolamine, which make
up about 0.3 percent of the dry weight of the plant.
All parts of the plant, particularly the seeds, are
poisonous. Children have been poisoned by eating
the fruit or sucking the flowers.

from white to pink, rose, blue, or purple or may be
striped. The fruits are urn-shaped capsules. Figure 14: Hardy larkspur.

Hardy Larkspur Delphinium cheilanthum
Fisch. and Delphinium spp.

Hardy larkspur (Delphinium cheilanthum Fisch.
and Delphinium spp.) (Fig. 14) is a hardy perennial
plant often used in flower gardens. The rounded
but deeply dissected leaves borne on long slender
stalks are produced in rosettes of 5 to 10 or more
from the base of the plant. The crooked flowering
stems, growing from the center of the leafy rosette,
reach a height of 12 to 18 inches or more. The few
stem leaves, much smaller and narrower than the
basal leaves, are cut into 2 to 4 segments. The pale
blue flowers scattered along the flowering stems
are slender-stalked. There are 5 petal-like parts in
each flower with the uppermost segment prolonged
into a conspicuous spur at the back.

Habitat and distribution
Hardy larkspur is often used in home flower gar-
dens and sometimes grown by florists for cut flow-
ers. It is a short-lived plant in our climate, and
young planting stock is usually imported from
Northern nurseries. It thrives best in the northern
and western areas of Florida.

For poisonous contents and qualities of hardy
larkspur, see under Annual larkspur.

Mango Mangifera indica L.

Mango (Mangifera indica L.) (Fig. 15), a large
evergreen tropical fruit tree, grows up to 60 feet in
height. The general form of the tree is usually low
and spreading. The alternate leaves are narrow,
pointed at both ends, 6 to 16 inches in length, 1 to 2
inches wide and dark green in color. The numerous
lateral veins are prominent. Young growth is red-
dish and conspicuous. The yellowish flowers are
small, 1 inch in diameter and produced in large,
branched clusters at the ends of branches. The
fruits are large, 2 to 6 inches in length, irregularly
ovoid in shape and usually asymmetrical. The color
may be red, yellow, or green with a red cheek. The
yellow flesh is thick and penetrated by few to many
tough fibers extending from the single, flattened
seed outward towards the smooth skin.

Figure 15: Mango.

Habitat and distribution
The mango is native to India but has been widely
planted in tropical and subtropical regions around
the world. It is commonly used as a home garden
fruit tree in southern Florida. Older seedling trees
are often left for shade. Mango trees may be found
as far north as Orlando.

Because mango is related botanically to poison
ivy, susceptible individuals who encounter the
plant can develop a dermatitis similar to ivy poi-
soning. A relatively small proportion of our popula-
tion suffers from this irritation but handling any
part of the plant may result in trouble. Susceptible
persons suffer severely around the mouth after eat-
ing fresh, ripe fruits. Cooking the fruits destroys
the causal material.

Milk-bush Euphorbia tirucalli L.
Pencil cactus-Malabartree-Euphorbia

Milk-bush (Euphorbia tirucalli L.) (Fig. 16) is a
shrub, or small, much-branched tree up to 15 feet
tall. On old plants the trunk, 3 inches or more in
diameter, is grayish but all the rest of the plant is

,erously toxic but the poisonous content has not / /
Identified. It has been used as a fish poison in\ "
ative country. Figure 17: Oleander.

The pods, n<
row, cylindrica
are furnished i


parts of the plant are poisonous if eaten. Onev
reported to be sufficient to kill an adult hu-
he dry leaves are almost as toxic as the h
ones. Children may be poisoned by carrying \
s around in their mouths in play. A number -.
viduals have suffered serious poisoning after
,frankfurters roasted on oleander stems over
*n fire at picnics. Inhaling smoke from burn-
*ander stems and leaves has caused symp-

Pokeweed Phytolacca americana L.

Pokeweed (Phytolacca americana L.) (Fig. 19) is
a robust herbaceous plant growing 6 feet or more in
height from thick, fleshy roots. The stems, simple
below, are much branched above. The stem and
branches are smooth and colored green or purple.
The lower leaves are a foot or more long, gradually
diminishing until the upper ones are about 3
inches. All are spear-shaped. The flowers, pro-
duced all summer, are white, less than inch
across, and borne in narrow clusters several inches
long. The flattened, purple-black, juicy berries are
1 to 1 inch in diameter and contain several seeds.

Habitat and distribution
Pokeweed occurs all over Florida. It is most of-
ten found in open hammocks and along their mar-
gins, but it is also frequent on neglected, cultivated
land, along fencerows, around dumps or trash piles,
and occasionally in gardens.

Figure 19: Pokeweed.

Pokeweed contains a toxic alkaloid and also a
toxic substance called phytolaccotoxin. All parts of
the plant, principally the berries and roots, are con-
sidered toxic. Cases have been reported in which
children were poisoned by eating the berries and
roots of the plant. The young spring leaves have
been used as greens after thorough boiling and dis-
carding the first water.
Symptoms occur about 2 hours after the plant
has been consumed. Severe gastric-intestinal irri-
tation occurs. Nausea, vomiting, purging, retching,
spasms and severe convulsions occur, with death
resulting from paralysis of the respiratory organs.

Top primrose Primula obconica Hance

Top primrose (Primula obconica Hance) (Fig. 20)
is a winter-flowering greenhouse ornamental plant
with leaves growing in a dense rosette. Individual
leaves are nearly round or rounded oblong, 2 to 4
inches long, blunt at the tip and heart-shaped at
the base. They are slightly hairy all over with the
margins uneven, wavy and roughened with tiny
teeth. The leaf stalks are 2 to 3 inches long. The
flowering stems, 2 to 6 in number, arise from the
center of the rosette of leaves and are 4 to 8 inches
tall, reaching well above the leaves. The pale pink
to rose-colored flowers are produced in a whorl or
cluster of 5 or more at the top of the flower stalk.
The individual circular flowers are about 2 inch in
diameter, flat and have a lobed margin. Behind
each flower there is a green collar or calyx.

Habitat and distribution
The primrose is a home or greenhouse plant. It
is not grown in Florida but many specimens are im-
ported from the North by florists and sold during
the spring months. When in flower, most of them
are presented as get-well gifts to hospital patients
or house-bound convalescents.

The glandular hairs on the stems and leaves con-
tain primin, a contact irritant. Handling primrose
plants results in an itching dermatitis in some indi-
viduals (about 6 percent of the population). The
irritation resembles ivy-poisoning but is usually
less severe.

Records of poisoning by privet seem to 1
the United States, but in Europe children
from eating the fruits. The toxic agent is
tively identified.

,ect or drooping and borne in open clusters or
les. The individual flowers, 1 to 2 inches long, ]
alloww or greenish yellow and only slightly .
open at the end. These are followed by egg-
d seed pods about 1 inch long. 7

itat and distribution
*e tobacco is a native of South America but is
ed occasionally in Florida, more as a curiosity
is an ornamental plant. The appearance of
tobacco differs widely from that of the commer-
inds of tobacco.

*e tobacco, like other tobaccos, contains the
>id, nicotine, but this species also contains
Lsine. Cattle are reported to have been poi- Figure 23: Tung.
by this plant in California, Australia and

Tung-oil tree Aleurites fordii Hemsl.
Tung tree-Tung nut

The tung-oil tree (Aleurites fordii Hemsl.)
(Fig. 23) is a small deciduous tree with smooth
bark, mucilaginous sap, thick twigs and horizontal
branches often produced in whorls. The leaves are
alternate, long-stalked and simple. The leaf-
blades, 5 to 10 inches long, are broadly ovate,
sharp-pointed, and often exhibit an additional point
on each side of the tip; margins are entire and
bases broad, sometimes rounded. The leaf-stalk
bears 2 reddish or brownish glands or small knobs
close to the leaf-blade. The flowers are produced in
large clusters at the tips of the twigs in spring be-
fore the leaves appear. They are about 1 inch in
diameter, consist of 5 to 7 pale pink or white petals,
with deep brownish-red lines running lengthwise,
and have reddish brown bases. The flowers are of 2
kinds, several pistillate (female) flowers and many
staminate (male) flowers occurring in the same
cluster. The fruits, produced on drooping stalks
several inches long, are nearly globular, 2 to 3
inches in diameter and dark green, later turning
brown. Each fruit contains 3 to 7 large, hard,
22: Tree tobacco. rough-coated seeds with white flesh.

Habitat and distribution pale brown or tan in color and shaped much like
the fruit, is frequently carried as a good luck piece.
The tung-oil tree, native of China, has been It contains 2 seeds.
planted extensively in northern and western
Florida as a source of oil. Stray seeds have pro-
duced trees along fencerows, on roadsides, and in Habitat and distribution
other locations near tung orchards. It is sometimes Yellow-oleander is native in tropical America but
planted as a shade tree in the yard. has been introduced into most of the subtropical
regions, including Florida. Only occasional speci-
Toxicity mens are found north of Orlando. It is planted as a
specimen ornamental in gardens, parks and home
The foliage, sap and fruit, as well as commercial grounds. Although it is commonly called yellow-
tung meal, contain a toxic principle, a saponin, oleander, the plant is not a true oleander.
which characteristically induces gastroenteritis in
animals to which they are fed. Cases of tung poi-
soning have occurred in humans, particularly from Toxicity
eating the nuts. A severe gastroenteritis develops All parts of yellow-oleander are poisonous if
with resultant mild to violent purging. Such casesoisonous materials in the lant in-
should be treated symptomatically under the direc- dude the pois s, t an pa in
tio elude the glucoside, thevetin, and cardioton
(digitaloid). The kernels or seeds from the nut con-
tain a potent insecticide. All parts of the plant are
Yellow-oleander unpalatable and not likely to be eaten freely except
by children. Adults have been poisoned by eating
Thevetia peruviana Schum. the seeds out of curiosity.

Yellow-oleander, lucky nut or tigerapple
(Thevetia peruviana Schum.) (Fig. 24) is a shrub or
small tree with a dense crown. The short trunk is
widely branched with the branches dividing into
numerous smaller branches to form a dense,
rounded top. The alternate dark green leaves are
narrow, 3 to 6 inches long, about inch wide, glossy
above and paler beneath. The yellow to dull-orange
flowers are produced in small clusters near the tips
of the twigs. Each flower, 2 to 3 inches long, is tu-
bular but flares out into 5 lobes. The fruits are
somewhat triangular in shape, attached to the /
middle of one side, making them wider than long or
thick. They are fleshy and green, turning yellow
and finally black at maturity. The "seed" or stone, Figure 24: Yellow-oleander.

(The illmustrations in this circular were prepared,
artist anCd assistant in research, College of Agri

Director, in cooperation with the United States Department of Agriculture, pub
30,1914 Acts of Congress; and is authorized to provide research, educational ii
function without regard to race, color, sex, age, handicap or national origin.
publications) are available free to. Florida residents from county extension offi

this information to further the purpose of the May 8 and June
ition and other services only to individuals and institutions that
i copies of extension publications (excluding 4-H and youth
formation on bulk rates or copies for ou-of-state purchasers

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