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Sixteen species of trees in 5 genera have a markedly discontinuous distribution in South America, the West Indies, eastern Africa, and Madagascar.

The wood of Warburgia stuhlmannii Engl. yields a highly scented oil that has been used in more pungent Oriental perfumes (Watt & Breyer-Brandwijk 1962).

In common with other volatile oil containing plants, aromatic members of this family may be regarded as minor dermatological hazards. A sesquiterpene dialdehyde from Warburgia ugandensis Sprague has been shown to elicit allergic contact dermatitis in guinea pigs.

Canella winterana Gaertn.
[syn. Canella alba Murray]
False Winter's Bark, White Cinnamon, Wild Cinnamon, Bahama White Wood

The plant is said to cause skin eruptions (von Reis Altschul 1973). The bark, which is used as a spice and for flavouring tobacco, yields eugenol, methyl eugenol, anethole, asarone, etc. (Gracza 1980).

Winter's bark is derived from Drimys winteri J.R.Forst. & G.Forst. (fam. Winteraceae).

Warburgia ugandensis Sprague

(−)-Warburganal, a sesquiterpene dialdehyde from this species (Nakanishi & Kubo 1977), was found to be an elicitor of allergic contact dermatitis in guinea pigs sensitised to a related sesquiterpene dialdehyde named polygodial from Polygonum hydropiper L., fam. Polygonaceae (Stampf et al. 1982b).


  • Gracza L (1980) HPLC determination of phenylpropane derivatives in drugs and drug preparations. Part 3. Analysis of phenylpropane derivatives. Dt. ApothZtg 120(40): 1859-1863. (Chem. Abstr. 94:20478)
  • Nakanishi K and Kubo I (1977) Studies on warburganal, muzigadial and related compounds. Israel J. Chem. 16: 28.
  • Stampf J-L, Benezra C, Asakawa Y (1982) Stereospecificity of allergic contact dermatitis (ACD) to enantiomers Part III. Experimentally induced ACD to a natural sesquiterpene dialdehyde, polygodial in guinea pigs. Archives of Dermatological Research 274(3-4): 277-281 [doi] [url] [pmid]
  • von Reis Altschul S (1973) Drugs and Foods from Little-Known Plants. Notes in Harvard University Herbaria. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press [WorldCat] [doi] [url] [url-2]
  • Watt JM, Breyer-Brandwijk MG (1962) The Medicinal and Poisonous Plants of Southern and Eastern Africa. Being an account of their medicinal and other uses, chemical composition, pharmacological effects and toxicology in man and animal, 2nd edn. Edinburgh: E & S Livingstone [doi] [WorldCat] [url] [url-2]

Richard J. Schmidt

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