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Baikiaea - Cytisus

(Pea or Bean family)


Baikiaea plurijuga Harms
Zambesi Redwood, Rhodesian Teak

This species yields a valuable timber, the wood dust from which has been reported by Ordman (1949) to cause respiratory symptoms in wood-workers.

Baphia nitida

A red dye derived from the wood is used as a cosmetic in Africa (Irvine 1961).

The sawdust is very pungent, like snuff (Holtzapffel and Royle 1843).

Batesia floribunda
Acapu Rana

The woods of this species and of Campsiandra laurifolia are both colloquially named acapu rana (false acapu) or manaiara. Men sawing the wood of acapu rana suffer headaches and sometimes vomiting (Freise 1932).

Bowdichia nitida

Allergic contact dermatitis was observed in a cabinet-maker from exposure to the saw-dust of this species (Heyl 1966). Positive patch test reactions were observed to 2,6-dimethoxy-para-benzoquinone and to two other quinones derived from the wood. The patient was also contact sensitive to Dalbergia and dalbergiones (Hausen et al. 1972).

Brachystegia spiciformis Benth. var. latifoliata Hoyle

A herbarium note found by von Reis Altschul (1973) on a specimen of this plant collected in the Transvaal noted that the leaves are used as a disinfectant for wounds.


Seven species are native to central America and the West Indies.

Brya ebenus
[syn. Amerimnum ebenus]
Inga Vera, Cocus Wood, Coco Wood

During the nineteenth century cocus wood replaced boxwood as the favorite wood for flutes, though it was known to cause irritation of the lips in some players (Rockstro 1890). According to Woods and Calnan (1976) the wood of a flute made of grendadilla or red ebony which caused dermatitis of the lip and chin (Stern 1891) was almost certainly Cuban cocuswood. Flute makers who sawed cocus wood were said to develop dermatitis (Crocker 1903). Dermatitis of the face from cokus (Thompson 1914) may refer to this species. An instrument maker who had dermatitis showed a positive patch test reaction to cocus wood but evidence for contact with the wood was circumstantial (Schröpl 1935).

Bussea occidentalis

The bark, if chewed, produces salivation, tingling of the tongue, thirst, cracked and swollen lips, itching of the scalp and a hot feeling to the face. These symptoms disappear after half to one hour (Irvine 1961).

Butea monosperma Taub.
[syns Butea frondosa Roxb. ex Willd., Erythrina monosperma Lam., Plaso monosperma Kuntze]
Bastard Teak, Dhak Tree, Flame of the Forest, Arbre à Laque, Kinobaum, Lackbaum

The seeds of this tree, when pounded with lemon juice (Citrus × limon Burm.f., fam. Rutaceae) and applied locally, act as a powerful rubefacient (Chopra et al. 1960). The red juice when dried is known as Bengal kino.


100 species are found in tropical and sub-tropical regions. Several species yield a red dye named brazilin or sappan. Several can cause mechanical injury by their thorns and are used as barrier hedges.

Caesalpinia apuleia

This tree can cause dermatitis in woodworkers (Sandermann & Barghoorn 1956).

Caesalpinia bonduc
[syn. Caesalpinia crista]
Molucca Bean

The bark is used as a rubefacient and the pounded seeds have vesicant properties (Dalziel 1937, Quisumbing 1951).

Caesalpinia echinata


Caesalpinia paraensis

Freise (1932) included these among leguminous woods which caused skin irritation. Swartzia tomentosa is also known as muirapixuna (Record & Hess 1943).

Caesalpinia scortechinii Hattink
[syn. Mezoneurum scortechinii F.Muell.]

Maiden (1891) notes that Mezoneurum scortechinii is locally called "the barrister" - because its spines are hard to get away from. He also notes that the name "lawyer" is commonly applied in News South Wales and elsewhere to plants with prickly stems.

Cajanus cajan Millsp.
[syn. Cytisus cajan L.]

According to an herbarium note found by von Reis Altschul (1973) on a specimen of this plant collected in Brazil, an infusion of the leaves is used to bathe swellings and sores.


100 species are found in Madagascar, and warm regions of Asia and America.

Calliandra portoricensis

The sap is irritant to the eye and the powdered seeds are used to produce sneezing (Dalziel 1937).

Calliandra tetragona

This Mexican species is listed as a cause of dermatitis by Sandermann & Barghoorn (1956).

Campsiandra laurifolia
Acapu Rana

The wood of this species and of Batesia floribunda are both colloquially named acapu rana (false acapu) or maniara. Men sawing the wood of acapu rana suffer headaches and sometimes vomiting (Freise 1932).

Cassia siamea
Tagayasan, Tettoboku, Kassod Tree, Johar, Johor

Fissures and cavities in the wood of the Japanese nut tree, which has been used to produce hand-carved objects, contains a powder that stains the skin and can cause conjunctivitis, keratitis, iritis, and dermatitis (Iwakawa 1911, Prosser White 1934).

Cassia sophora

Contact with the bark can produce dermatitis (Uhe 1974).

Castanospermum australe
Moreton Bay Chestnut, Black Bean Australian Chestnut, Queensland Red Bean

This species can produce irritation of the nasal cavity and dermatitis in wood-workers (Maiden 1909b, Boas 1947). Eight men working the timber developed nasal irritation and nosebleeds (Aldersley 1925). The sawdust was reputed to cause eczema in certain sensitive persons (Cleland, J.B. in discussion of Aldersley 1925).

Cathormion dinklagei Hutch. & Dandy
[syns Albizia dinklagei Harms, Mimosa dinklagei Harms, Pithecellobium dinklagei Harms, Samanea dinklagei Keay]

The dry sawdust from Samanea dinklagei is irritant to the respiratory tract (Dalziel 1937).

The bark is pounded and used as soap suggesting the presence of saponins.

Centrolobium robustum
Zebra Wood

According to Hausen (1970) ill-effects from zebra wood may refer to this species or to Astronium.

Ceratonia siliqua L.
Carob Tree, European Algarrobo

The pods (algarroba, St John's bread) are full of juicy pulp containing sugar and gum, and are used for fodder. The seeds are said to have been the original of the carats of jewellers. The pollen is suspected of causing hayfever (Wodehouse 1971).

Prosopis species are also known as algarrobo trees.

Chaetocalyx latisiliqua Benth. ex Hemsl.
[syn. Hedysarum latisiliquum Poir.]

According to an herbarium note found by von Reis Altschul (1973) on a specimen of this plant collected in Ecuador, the leaves are used bruised for skin eruptions.

Chamaecrista fasciculata Greene var. fasciculata
[syns Cassia brachiata J.F.Macbr., Cassia chamaecrista L., Cassia fasciculata Michx.]
Partridge Pea

In an investigation of "weed dermatitis", an extract of this plant produced negative patch test reactions (Shelmire 1939a).

Cicer arietinum
Chick Pea

In France, cultivators of this food plant have been observed to develop dermatitis (Gougerot 1952). A chick pea was used to produce a factitial eruption (Downing 1950).


Four species are native to eastern Asia, one species to eastern North-America. C. tinctoria, known as yellow wood, yields a dye.

Cladrastis kentukea Rudd.
[syns Cladrastis luteaK.Koch, Sophora kentukeaDum.Cours., Virgilia lutea Michx.]
Kentucky Yellow Wood, Virgilia, Yellow Wood

Schwartz et al. (1957) include Cladrastis lutea in a list of irritant woods but do not provide a source for this information. Confusingly, they note also that the wood from this species may be called Florida boxwood. Florida boxwood is the common name for the completely unrelated Schaefferia frutescens Jacq., fam. Celastraceae.

Copaifera L.
[syn. Copaiba Mill.]

Several species, notably Copaifera officinalis L. yield resins (copals), balsam of Copaiba and Oil of Copaiba. Balsam of Copaiba was said to produce contact urticaria (Rost 1924). Seven of 13 patients contact sensitive to balsam of Peru (from Myroxylon balsamum Harms, fam. Leguminosae) showed positive patch test reactions to balsam of Copaiba.

Copaifera bracteata Benth.
[syn. Copaiba bracteata Kuntze]

The timber from this species (named purpleheart) was described as toxic by Großmann (1920) and was listed as injurious by Hanslian and Kadlec (1966). However, purpleheart is now known to be derived from Peltogyne Vogel species and not from Copaifera bracteata (Record & Hess 1943, Thiébault 1965).

Coronilla glauca L.
[syn. Coronilla valentina L. subsp. glauca Batt.]
Bastard Senna, Day-Smelling Coronilla, Glaucous Scorpion Vetch, Sea Green

This horticultural shrub which is naturalized in Devon, England is potentially phototoxic from a content of psoralen (Pathak et al. 1962).

Coronilla scorpioides W.D.J.Koch
[syn. Ornithopus scorpioides L.]
Annual Scorpion Vetch, Coronille Faux-Scorpion

The seeds contain psoralen.


Over 500 species are found in tropical and sub-tropical regions. Some yield hemp fibres.

Ingestion of some species, notably C. burkeana, can cause laminitic crotalism in some animals. Some species of animals appear to be unaffected. The disease is characterised by inflammation of the horn-forming membrane and thickening of the hoof to form a type of onychogryphosis (Watt & Breyer-Brandwijk 1962, Verdcourt and Trump 1969).

Cullen corylifolium (L.) Medik.
[syn. Lotodes corylifolium (L.) Kuntze, Psoralea corylifolia L., Trifolium unifolium Forssk.]
Babchi, Bavachee, Malaysian Scurfpea

Psoralea corylifolia has been used for a phototoxic effect in the treatment of vitiligo since about 1400 B.C. (Behl et al. 1966, Singh et al. 1974). The seeds are currently so used but can cause severe reactions (Behl et al. 1966).

[Further information available but not yet included in database]

Cyamopsis tetragonoloba Taub.
[syns Cyamopsis psoraloides DC., Dolichos psoraloides Lam., Psoralea tetragonoloba L.]
Cluster Bean

Dermatitis of the hands, face and exposed skin surfaces has been observed in farmers who cultivate this plant (Behl et al. 1966).

Cytisus laburnum
[syn. Laburnum vulgare]

This species is listed as injurious to the skin in several reviews. Systemic toxicity from the alkaloid, cytisine, is documented. Orsler (1973) lists the wood as producing dermatitis and respiratory symptoms.

Richard J. Schmidt

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