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(Flacourtia family)


About 1000 species in 93 genera are found in tropical and subtropical regions as trees and shrubs.

Flacourtia ramontchii L'Hér. (Madagascar plum) and others have edible drupes.

[Summary yet to be added]

Carpotroche amazonica Mart. ex Eichler
[syns Carpotroche mollis J.F.Macbr., Mayna amazonica J.F.Macbr.]

The bark is used as a caustic (von Reis Altschul 1973).

Dovyalis caffra Warb.
[syn. Aberia caffra Hook.f. & Harvey]

Aplin (1976) includes this species in a list of spiny plants capable of causing mechanical injury. This (Williamson 1955) and other Dovyalis species (Burkill 1935) are used as live fences because of their spiny branches.

Dovyalis hebecarpa Warb.
[syns Aberia gardnerii Clos, Roumea hebecarpa Gardner]

Fine hairs upon the fruit are irritant to the mouth and the fruit is almost too acid to eat raw but is used in jams (Burkill 1935).

Flacourtia flavescens Willd.
Niger Plum

This species has stout thorns on the stem and makes a good hedge (Irvine 1961).

Flacourtia rukam Zoll. & Moritzi
Indian Prune, Rukam, Rukam Manis

The ripe fruit is acid and astringent but rubbing it between the hands bruises the flesh of the fruit and causes a chemical change to take place which renders the fruit sweet and palatable (Corner 1952).

Gossypiospermum praecox P.Wilson
[syn. Casearia praecox Griseb.]
Maracaibo Boxwood, West Indian Boxwood

Maracaibo boxwood from this species is widely used and has not been reported to cause ill-effects in wood-workers. According to Woods & Calnan (1976), the Maracaibo boxwood which was reported by Dr T. F. Young at a medical meeting in 1902 to cause irritation of the throat and eyes may have been Gonioma. These authors state that Dr Young's Maracaibo boxwood was incorrectly identified as Tabebuia pentaphylla by Oliver (1908). For this information, they cite Record & Mell (1924).

The wood is said to be irritant (Schwartz et al. 1957, Orsler 1973).

Oncoba spinosa Forssk.
Snuff Box Tree, Fried Egg Flower, Wild White Rose

According to Ainslie (1937), the seed produces an oil that is used [in Nigeria] in treating leprosy and skin complaints.

The branches bear horrific sharp axillary spines, as is suggested by the specific epithet (Gibson 1999, Hyde et al. 2022).

Ryania mansoana Eichler
Mata Collado, Silent Killer

The fumes of the burning plant are lethal, if inhaled (Smith 1971).


  • Ainslie JR (1937) A List of Plants used in Native Medicine in Nigeria. Institute Paper No. 7: Imperial Forestry Institute, University of Oxford [WorldCat]
  • Gibson AC (1999) Fried eggs on plants. Mildred E. Mathias Botanical Garden Newsletter 2(3): [archived online article] https://web.archive.org/web/20010410194451/http://www.botgard.ucla.edu/html/MEMBGNewsletter/Volume2number3/Friedeggsonplants.html ; accessed April 2019 [url]
  • Hyde MA, Wursten BT, Ballings P, Coates Palgrave M (2022) Flora of Zimbabwe: Oncoba spinosa Forssk. [online article]: https://www.zimbabweflora.co.zw/speciesdata/species.php?species_id=140660 ; accessed July 2022 [url]
  • [Others yet to be added. Details available on request]

Richard J. Schmidt

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