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RESEARCH INFORMATION SERIES ON ECOSYSTEMS

Volume 12 No. 2
May August 2000

USEFUL PLANT SPECIES


with TOXIC SUBSTANCE

Compiled by

Wilma C. Dichoso
Foreword

Species of plants found in our forests have their own specific important economical values.
Some of these are categorized to have harmful or toxic effects. But even with the presence of
toxic substance, several of these are still beneficial and have special uses to human lives,
animals and to living organisms found in the water (fishes, crustaceans, mollusks, etc.).
Familiarity with these plant species and their economic uses gives many benefits to ranchers,
stock raisers, veterinarians and foresters. Awareness of these plants and plant parts that are
toxic or could give toxic effects on people is highly important. In this issue of RISE, we
emphasize the importance of these information.

Lets go green and plant more trees to add zest and life to our environment.

CELSO P. DIAZ
Director

Adelfa
1. Common name: adelfa; Southern rose; Oleander tree; rose bay

2. Local names: adelfa (Spanish, Tagalog); baladre (Tagalog)

3. Scientific name: Nerium indicum Mill.

4. Family name: Apocynaceae

5. Description

Adelfa is an erect, smooth shrub growing up to 1.5 to 3 m with a sticky cream-colored and
resinous juice. There are 3 to 4 leaves forming in whorl, linear-lanceolate and 10 to 15 cm
long. Flowers are showy, sweet-scented, with single or double petals, 4 to 5 cm in
diameter, white, pink or red and borne in terminal inflorescence.

Fruits are cylindrical, 15 to 20 cm long, occurring in pairs with deep linear strations, slightly
twisted. Seeds are compressed with fine, shining white grayish silky hairs.

6. Distribution

Adelfa is cultivated throughout the Philippines and thrives well in sandy loan soil.

7. Propagation

Adelfa can be propagated easily by stem cuttings and by air layering. In layering, the
method of propagation is through the use of adventitious roots which is caused to form on

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a stem while it is still attached to the parent plant. The layered stem is detached to
become a new plant growing on its own roots.

The steps recommended for air layering are:

1. Girdle or cut the bark of the stem about 1.8 to 2.5 cm wide. Remove the bark
completely around the stem.

2. Scrape the exposed surface to ensure complete removal of the phloem and cambium
to retard healing.

3. Place a slightly damp sphagnum moss around the girded section.

4. Wrap with polyethylene film around the sphagnum moss and tie each end.

8. Parts of the plant that contain toxic substance

Leaves and bark are poisonous. Roots, top of plants are pounded and used as an
insecticide.

9. Economic importance

The shrub is cultivated as an ornamental plant. Powdered bark and leaves mixed with oil
are applied to skin eruptions like herpes and ringworm. Pounded bark and leaves are also
used to treat snake bites.

10. Active principle: Nerin, oleandrin

11. Remarks

Symptoms of toxicity: Nausea, vomiting, colic in appearance, dizziness, drowsiness,


staggering, decrease in pulse rate, irregular heart action, unconsciousness, and finally,
death.

Atis
1. Common name: atis

2. Local names: Ates, atis, Yates (Tagalog)

3. Scientific name: Anona squamosa Linn.

4. Family name: Apocynaceae

5. Description

It is a small tree, 3 to 5 m in height. Leaves oblong and somewhat hairy when young.
Flowers occur singly in the axils of the leaves and are about 2.5 cm long, hairy, greenish-
white or light yellow with thick petals.

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Fruits are borne on thick stalks, ovoid, 5 to 8 cm in diameter, pale green or glaucous when
mature, the outside is roughened by rounded end of carpels which are light yellowish-
green when ripe. Seeds are smooth, brownish, embedded in very, creamy-white, sweet
and juicy fleshy meat with a mild, agreeable flavor.

6. Distribution

Atis is cultivated throughout the Philippines and occasionally spontaneous. From tropical
America, it was introduced to the Philippines during the Spanish era and is now pantropic
in cultivation. It occurs at low and medium elevation throughout the tropics. It is videly
distributed in the Philippines except in Mindanao.

7. Propagation

Atis is propagated by seeds, grafting, cutting or marcotting.

8. Parts of the plant that contain toxic substance

Leaves and seeds.

9. Economic importance

Fruits are edible and used commercially as flavoring for ice cream.

10. Active principle: non drying oil (alkaloids)

11. Remarks

Seeds contain 45% of a yellow, non drying oil which is an irritant or poison for lice.
Crushed and pulverized seeds mixed with water or coconut oil can kill lice.

Baraibai
1. Common name: baraibai; buta-buta, marabai

2. Local names: baraibai, buta-buta, maraibai, toktok-kalau (Tagalog); batano, tabau-tabu


(Ilocos); magkanai (Bicol); buto-buto (Cebu, Visayas); lipata, arbon
(Tagbanua); lipatag, panabulon (Panay, Visayas); dita (Sulu); dungis
(Maguindanao); kaliptan (Bacolod).

3. Scientific name: Cerbera manghas Linn.

4. Family name: Apocynaceae

5. Description

An erect shrub, sometimes growing into a small tree up to 6 m in height, with stout and
cylindrical branches with leaf scars. Leaves are shiny, alternately clustered toward the

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ends, oblong, borne upon 3 cm long, petioles, short, acute, narrowly obtuse toward the
base, average blades are 15 x 15 cm. Inflorescence both smooth, terminal, often as long
as the foliage.

Flowers are white, fragrant, and about 5 cm in diameter. Fruits are smooth, and are
spreading ovately ellipsoid red on the exposed side. Solitary seed is surrounded by a
spongy or light fibrous matrix.

6. Distribution

Barabai tree is widely distributed throughout the Philippines. It also grows in India, China,
Malaysia, Australia as well as in Polynesia. It thrives along the sea coast or in swamp
area.

7. Propagation

These species is propagated by seeds.

8. Parts of the plant that contain toxic substance

Latex, fruits and seeds.

9. Economic importance

Baraibai wood is a source of fine charcoal. They are used in the Philippines to poison fish.
The seeds provide oil called Odolla fat which is used for illumination. It is also used for
expelling worms.

10. Active principle: Cerberin and odollinn

11. Remarks

Latex can cause blindness when dropped into the eyes. Seeds taken internally are
poisonous causing vomiting and purging, soon followed by collapse and death.

Ligtang
1. Common name: ligtang

2. Local names: aria (Mindanao); ligtang, bayati (Tagalog); bayating (Ilocos); lagtal, laglang
(Visayas); lagtang, lantal (Pampanga)

3. Scientific name: Anamirta cocculus (Linn.) W.&A.

4. Family name: Menispermacaeae

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5. Description

A large, woody vine with corky, gray bark and white wood. The stems are sometimes 10
cm thick with stout, smooth branches. Leaves are heart-shaped, 10 to 20 cm long with
pointed or tapering apex. Flowers are small, yellowish white, sweet-scented, 6 to 7 mm
across, crowded on 3 to 4 cm long pendulous panicles. Ligtang fruit is a drupe, round,
smooth and hard about 1 cm in diameter when dry.

6. Distribution

It is found throughout the Philippines, India, Malaysia and New Guinea.

7. Propagation

Ligtang is propagated by cuttings.

8. Parts of the plant that contain toxic substance

Seeds are pounded and placed in the hair to kill lies. The seeds are very poisonous.

9. Economic importance

Wood can be used for knife handles, cabinets, novelty items and fuelwood.

10. Active principle: Picrotoxin, picrotoxinin, picrotin, occulin minispermine,


paramenispermine

11. Remarks

Internally taken, seeds stimulate all motor and inhibitory centers in the medulla.

Kuasia
1. Common name: kuasia

2. Local names: Corales (Spanish, Tagalog), kuasia (Tagalog)

3. Scientific name: Quassia amara Linn.

4. Family name: Simarubaceae

5. Description

A smooth shrub growing from 2 to 3.5 m high. Leaves alternate, about 20 cm long. Petiole
and rachis are broadly-winged. There are five leaflets which are stalkless, elliptic-oblong
though the terminal one maybe oblong ovate and 7 to 12 cm long. The bright red
inflorescence are 8 to 20 cm long borne on few flowered clusters. The corolla is about 2 to
5 cm long.

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6. Distribution

Kuasia is a native of Guinea and Brazil. It is distributed and found throughout the
Philippines. It is cultivated for ornamental purposes.

7. Propagation

It is propagated by seeds.

8. Parts of the plant that contain toxic substance

Bark and wood.

9. Economic importance

The plant is used in manufacturing pharmaceutical products and medicines in the


Philippines and Infra. It is also used as an additive for flavoring tonic wines and to
accentuate the taste of marmalade.

10. Active principle: Poisonous substrate is limited to flies only.

11. Remarks

In Malaysia, the plant extract is used as an insecticidal spray. Also, it is used as a poison
in fly paper traps. A decoction (extract by boiling down raw component) of the wood is
allowed to stand overnight in a bowl and sugar or molasses are added. Several bowls of
the decoction placed in a room makes a safe and effective fly trap.

Molave
1. Common name: molave

2. Local names: Amugauan, amufauen, amugauon, amuauan, tagga (Cagayan, Isabela,


Nueva Vizcaya, Nueva Ecija); bagat (Ilocos Norte, Ilocos Sur, Cagayan
Abra, La Union, Pangasinan, Zambales); sagat-babai, sagat-lalaki (Nueva
Vizcaya); aliau, borauen, dulaoen (Pangasinan); malabali nauao
(Pampanga); malauin, malaun (Bulacan, Bataan, Rizal, Laguna, Batangas,
Quezon, Cavite); amurauan, hamuraon, hamoraun, hamaraon (Camarines,
Albay, Sorsogon, Masbate, Negros, Samar, Palawan).

3. Scientific name: Vitex parviflora Juss.

4. Family name: Verbenaceae

5. Description

Molave is a medium to large tree attaining a diameter of 100 to 150 cm and a height from
25 to 30 m. In exceptional cases, it reaches a height of 35 m or more and a diameter up to
200 cm with a bole from 16 to 20 m. It is a tree that grows irregularly or shoots too far with

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a clear bole of 2 m or less in length. It is an intolerant, light-loving species with a spreading
crown and partially or entirely sheds its leaves during the latter part of the dry season.

Leaves are typically opposite or whorled and simple. The crown usually covers more than
one-half of the total height of the tree with the main branches ascending. Fruit is dry,
separating at maturity into 2 to 4 nutlets or a drupe, containing the nutlets, the average
number of seeds per fruit ranges from 1 to 3. The woods of the family are light colored
with age, hard to very hard, straight-grained to slightly interlocked wavy, and fine to
moderately fine textured.

6. Distribution

The species is distributed throughout the country and mostly found in secondary and open
primary forests.

7. Propagation

Molave can be propagated by seeds. It has been observed that regeneration under
mother trees is a failure because it is very seldom when one can find wildlings growing
under them.

8. Parts of the plant that contain toxic substance

Wood and bark.

9. Economic importance

Being one of the hardest woods, it is used as railroad ties, for ship building, wagon
making, bridges, cabinets, carabao yokes, handles, and novelties.

10. Active principle: Hydrocyanic acid and saponin in the bark, leaves and fruit.

11. Remarks

Wood, barks and leaves have a curative effect on wounds and poisonous bites.

Paraiso
1. Common name: paraiso; bead tree; Indian lilac; China berry

2. Local names: paraiso (Tagalog, Spanish)

3. Scientific name: Melia azedarach Linn.

4. Family name: Meliaceae

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5. Description

It is a small to medium-sized deciduous tree growing from about 6 to 15 m tall and 30 to


60 cm trunk diameter, with crowded, abruptly spreading branches forming hemispherical
or flattened crown.

Leaves are alternately arranged and twice pinnate, 20 to 40 cm or more in length. Leaflets
are numerous, short-stalked, paired along slender green forks of leaf axis but single at
ends, lance-shaped to ovate, 2.5 to 5.0 cm long, 1 to 2 cm wide, long pointed, saw
toothed, short pointed, hairless or nearly so, dark green upper surface, pale underneath
with pungent odor when crushed.

Flowers in clusters (panicles) are 10 to 25 cm long at leaf bases, long stalked, branched.
Flowers are showy fragrant, pale-purplish or lilac-colored and numerous on slender stalks.
Fruits or berries (drupes) are nearly round, about 15 mm in diameter, yellow, slightly
fleshy, generally present throughout the year. Stone is hard, containing five or fewer
narrow, dark brown seeds; 8 mm long.

6. Distribution

Paraiso is a native of Southern Asia but now widespread in Iran, India and China. It occurs
from low altitude to 2,000 m asl in the Himalayas. It is cultivated in Manila and in large
towns as an ornamental plant.

7. Seed Technology and Propagation

Paraiso is easily propagated from seeds, cuttings, stump sprouts and root suckers. Fruits,
1,400 to 2,500/kg, in stones or pericarp is extracted thru maceration by soaking in tap
water to remove the pulp. Each stone contains 1 to 5 seeds. To hasten germination,
seeds should be soaked in water for a few days. Average germination is about 65%.
Seeds remain viable for a year or for several years if kept in a sealed and cold storage.
Six month old seedlings are used in the tropics as a planting stock.

8. Parts of the plant that contain toxic substance

Flowers, leaves, root-bark, bark and fruits.

9. Economic importance

Wood from paraiso is used for furniture and in making cabinets, plywood, boxes, tool
handles, small articles, tunnery articles and toys. It is also used as fuelwood. The oil from
berries is suitable for illumination. The hard angular and bony centers of the fruits are
removed by boiling, dyed and are strung for beads.

10. Active principle: Bark-margosin (azadarin), root-bark-paralisin; fruit-alkaloid.

11. Remarks

Fruit is toxic covering paralysis and narcosis; death occurs by suffocation.

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Putat
1. Common name: putat, nuling paling, tuba-tuba

2. Local names: kasouai (Mindanao); kutkut-timbalon (Sulu); paling (Ifugao); potat or putol
(Tagalog); putat (Bicol, Samar, Leyte, Sulu, Maguindanao, Tagalog).

3. Scientific name: Barringtonia racemosa (Linn.) Spreng

4. Family name: Lecythidaceae

5. Description

A tree with a smooth trunk reaching a height of 10 m. Leaf scars are prominent in its
branches. Leaves 10 to 30 cm long, oblong ovate occur at the ends of the branches,
pointed at both ends and toothed along the margins. Flowers white or pink occur in
clusters at the end of the stem or may droop from the angle between the scar and the
stem; petals range from oblong to oval lanceolate.

6. Distribution

Widely distributed throughout the Philippines. It is also extensively found in India, Malaysia
and Polynesia.

7. Propagation

Putat can be propagated by seeds. Seeds are sown in a seedbed or in a plastic bag with
ordinary garden soil. Water the seedbeds/plastic bags as necessary. Germination of the
seeds takes place after 2 weeks time.

8. Parts of the plant that contain toxic substance

Bark, fruit and seeds of the plant have toxic and insecticidal properties.

9. Economic importance

Seeds yield oil which is good for illumination. The tree can be used as hedges or fence
posts in muddy places.

10. Active principle: Barringtonin (glucoside sponin)

11. Remarks

Bark can poison fish and fruits are used to poison wild pigs.

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Saging-saging
1. Common name: saging-saging

2. Local names: timbabakio, pilapil, (Bataan); kindug-kindug, gulasig (Tayabas, Quezon);


dumarai (Cagayan); tindok-tindok (Leyte); tindok (Mindanao); batay-batay
(Zambales); bulali (Negros); tayokan (Surigao).

3. Scientific name: Aegiceras conrniculatum (Linn.) Blanco

4. Family name: Myrsinaceae

5. Description

A small sized tree or shrub reaching a height of about 8 to 10 mm. Bark is dark brown,
with corky pustules. Leaves are spirally arranged, rounded and notched at the apex,
somewhat pointed at the basal 7.5 to 11 cm long and 4-6 cm wide. Inflorescence are all
umbelliferous. Flowers are very fragrant. Fruits are strongly curved, 5 to 7.5 cm long,
green or pinkish with cylindrical, rod-like embryo inside.

6. Distribution

Found in all parts of the country; it is also distributed from India to Southeastern China to
Southern Australia. Grows well along water channels in the inner parts of the swamps and
sandy shores.

7. Propagation

Saging-saging can be propagated through seeds. Germinate the seeds and allow them to
grow in seedbeds or pot them. Place them under a partially shaded area. In case of
wildlings, they should not be more than 0.5 m high with straight trunk. Wildlings for potting
should have 10 to 18 leaves and should be placed under the shade for hardening
purposes.

8. Parts of the plant that contain toxic substance

Bark.

9. Economic importance

Wood is used in the manufacture of knife handles.

10. Active principle: Tannic acid

11. Remarks

Bark is used for tanning and for poisoning fish.

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Tubang bakod
1. Common name: tubing bakod; tuba; taba-taba; tauna; physic nut.

2. Local names: Kirisol, taba-taba, tangan-tuba, tuba, tubang bakod (Tagalog); tagumbau,
tagunbau-napanau, tana-tana, tawa (Ilocos); galunbang (Pampanga);
kasla (Visayas); tuba (Ifugao, Bicol); takumbau (Zambales).

3. Scientific name: Jatropa curcas Linn.

4. Family name: Euphorbiaceae

5. Description

A smooth, erect, branched shrub growing from 2 to 5 m in height. Leaves are entire,
angular, three or five-lobed and 10 to 18 cm long. The apex is pointed while the base is
heartshaped with a long petiole. The flowers are greenish white, 7 to 8 mm in diameter.
Fruit or capsule are round, fleshy, late becoming dry and composed of 2 to 3 one-seeded
divisions of 4 cm long.

6. Distribution

A native of tropical America, this species is naturalized and widely distributed throughout
the Philippines. It is most commonly cultivated in towns as a hedge plant. It is presently
being cultivated in large plantation in Thailand.

7. Propagation

It is propagated by seeds and cuttings.

8. Parts of the plant that contain toxic substance

Seeds.

9. Economic importance

The seeds of J. curcas yield an oil which is a potential diesel fuel substance. The oil is
known commercially as curcas oil. This oil belongs to the semi-drying class oil. The sap
from the plant is milky-white with a high amount of hydrocarbons. The oil is used for
illumination. In Thailand crude oil has been tested successful to run a diesel engine. The
oil is used as an emetic and purgative. It can be used as a lubricant and in producing soap
and candles.

10. Active principle: Curcin

11. Remarks

Seeds can cause vomiting, drastic purging and violent inflammation of the mucous membrane.
Burning sensation of the throat, dizziness, drowsiness, etc.

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Tuba
1. Common name: tuba; tuba-tuba, makaisa tubli; tubang makaisa, cotton oil

2. Local names: Gasi, kasla, malapai (Sulu); kamagsa, lutong sira, tubang pasiti (Bicol);
kamaisa, kamarisa, makaisa, tubang-kamaisa (Tagalog); kamandag
(Visayas); makasla (Panay); saligau (Ilocos and Cagayan); tuba (Ilocos,
Bicol, Tagalog, Samar, Leyte, Panay)

3. Scientific name: Croton tiglium Linn.

4. Family name: Euphorbiaceae

5. Description

This is a spreading shrub. Leaves are alternate, ovate, 7 to 12 cm long is rounded at the
base, pointed at the tip and toothed at the margins. Flowers are very small. Capsule/bull is
ellipsoid, 1.5 to 2 cm long with a single seed. Seeds ovoid or oblong, 12 to 15 mm long;
the testa is dark brown or blackish. Seeds have a mild taste turning subsequently into
acrid and pungent.

6. Distribution

Tuba is native to India and China. It is usually planted in and about towns, throughout the
Philippines. It also occurs in India, New Guinea, Himalayas and in Southern China. It
thrives well in moist tropical climate up to 2000 feet asl.

7. Propagation

It is propagated by seed and cuttings.

8. Parts of the plant that contain toxic substance

Resinous oil extracted from seeds, fruits and crushed leaves.

9. Economic importance

The seeds yield croton oil which is chiefly used in pharmaceutical preparations. Fruits or
crushed leaves are used in poisoning fishes. The plant is widely regarded as a cure for
certain disorders of the body.

10. Active principle: Fixed oil with toxic alkaloid, ricinine, etc.

11. Remarks

Seeds taken internally causes stomach irritation. Pain occurs at the back of the throat and also
at the anus. Causes nausea and distention of the abdomen, colics and diarrhea. Used as fish
poison.

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Tubli
1. Common name: tubli

2. Local names: bauit, malasiag, tibalau, tibanglan, tubli, tugli, tugling-pula (Tagalog); lapak
(Bicol); tabali (Mindanao); upei (Bontoc); tura (Batanes); tuba (Malaysia)

3. Scientific name: Derris elliptica (Roxb) Benth

4. Family name: Leguminosae

5. Description

Tubli is a rambling climber with branches covered with brown hairs. Leaves pinnate 30 to
50 cm long with 9 to 13 leaflets oblong which are smooth above and silky beneath when
mature. Racemes are lax 15 to 30 cm in length with reddish flowers. Pods 5 to 8 cm
containing one to three seeds.

6. Distribution

Tubli is found abundantly in thinkets along streams in secondary forests at low and
medium altitude from Northern Luzon to Mindanao.

7. Propagation

Tubli can be propagated by seeds. Seeds are sown in a pot or in seedbeds with ordinary
garden soil. Seeds germinate within 10 to 15 days. Seedlings are outplanted when they
reach the desired height during the onset of the rainy days.

8. Parts of the plant that contain toxic substance

Roots.

9. Active principle: Rotenone.

10. Remarks

Rotenone in powder or liquid form, is sprinkled or sprayed on crops with great success. It kills
pea aphids, corn borers, bean beetles, mosquitoes, household flies and pet pests such as fleas,
ticks and lice without endangering the hosts. Powdered roots mixed with 40 parts of talc makes
a very good insect powder for dogs and cats. At the University of San Carlos, Cebu City, an
average of 4.05% rotenone crystals (98.5%) purity was isolated from the roots of Derris elliptica
and D. hetaphylla. The 5% kerosene formulation of the crude extract was found toxic as
larvicide to mosquito (Culex quinaque fasciatus Serrano 1986).

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References

Brown, W.H. 1920. Minor Products of Phil. Forest. pp. 72-76.

De Guzman, E.D., R.M. Umali and E.D. Sotalbo. 1968. Guide to Phil. Flora and Fauna, NRMC-
DENR. pp. 190-191.

ERDB. RISE. Vol. 2 No. 1, January 3, 1990.

ERDB. RISE. Vol. 4 No. 6, November-December, 1992.

ERDB. RISE. Vol. 5 No. 3, May-June, 1993.

Quisumbing, E. 1947. Vegetable Poison of the Philippines. The Phil. Journal of Forestry. 4th
Quarter. Vol. 5 Nos. 2-4.

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