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Daniella - Falcataria

(Pea or Bean family)


Daniellia spp.
Balsam Tree

African copaiba derived from species of this genus has been used to adulterate copaiba derived from Copaifera.

Derris elliptica Benth.
[syns Deguelia elliptica Taub., Galedupa elliptica Roxb., Pongamia elliptica Wall.]
Poison Vine, Tuba, Cubé

The roots of this and other species of Derris Lour. and Lonchocarpus Kunth are used to prepare derris dust, which has insecticidal and piscicidal properties. The principal active constituent is (−)-rotenone (otherwise known as tubatoxin). Workers who prepare the insecticide, and florists, gardeners, and horticulturists who use the insecticide can develop dermatitis. The clinical features suggest an irritant effect from the powder for the skin and eye rather than allergic contact dermatitis (Racouchot 1939, Dorne and Friedman 1940, Schwartz et al. 1957, Thienes and Haley 1972).


Derris dust is irritating to the eye, producing a severe conjunctivitis which may lead to fatal pulmonary symptoms (Simons 1948).

According to herbarium notes found by von Reis Altschul (1973) on a specimen of this plant collected in the Philippine Islands, the stem is applied for impetigo and the leaves are applied for oxyuriasis.

[syn. Acuan]

40 species are native to America and Madagascar. A. illinoensis was investigated for a role in weed dermatitis with negative results (Shelmire 1939).


20 species are found in southern tropical regions.

Dichrostachys spp.
Marabou Thorn

The spines of some African species are said to produce irritant or poisonous effects if they penetrate the skin (Irvine 1961, Watt & Breyer-Brandwijk 1962).


Two species are native to Guiana and the Amazon basin.

Dicorynia guianensis Amshoff
[syn. Dicorynia paraensis Benth.]

This species is said to have injurious effects from the tryptamine which it contains (Hausen 1970).

The wood is reported to be toxic (Baumer 1955). Alkaloids are present in the wood (Sandermann & Lange 1967).

Diplotropis purpurea Amshoff
[syns Bowdichia guianensis Ducke, Diplotropis guianensis Benth., Tachigali purpurea Rich.]

This wood is named sucupira as is Bowdichia nitida. The sucupira wood reported by Heyl (1966) to cause dermatitis was identified by Hausen et al. (1972) as Bowdichia nitida. Ferreirea spectabilis is named yellow sucupira.

Dipteryx Schreber

This is a genus comprising perhaps 2 species found in tropical America (Mabberley 2008). Others formerly classified in this genus are now regarded as belonging to Coumarouna Aubl. or to Taralea Aubl..

Dipteryx odorata Willd.
[syn. Coumarouna odorata Aubl.]
Tonquin, Tonco, Tonka

The red coloured sawdust of this tree caused a workman's hair, when wetted, to turn to a bright grass-green colour (Thompson 1914, Bernhard-Smith 1923). Tonquin beans are a commercial source of coumarin (Thompson 1914).

Woods and Calnan (1976) refer to a trade report of "poisoning" in a furniture factory from handling tonquin wood from the Philippines.


One species is native to tropical West Africa.

Distemonanthus benthamianus
Ayan, Nigerian Satinwood

This tree is sometimes named African or yellow satinwood and thus confused with Afrormosia laxiflora which it resembles and which bears the same vernacular name. The yellow pigment from the wood stains clothes (Irvine 1961).

A male coffin manufacturer aged 56 years, developed contact dermatitis from sawdust and shavings, affecting the upper limbs, chest, legs, groins and dorsa of the feet. Patch test reactions were strongly positive to the flavonoid compounds oxyayanin A and oxyayanin B, weakly positive to ayanin and distemonanthin, negative in one control. Two varieties of ayan wood are known, one rich in oxyayanin B, the other rich.in distemonanthin. The former seems more likely to cause sensitisation. A variation in extractive content such as this may account for the sporadic occurrence of ayan dermatitis (Morgan and Thomson 1967).

Ayanin is the orange 3,7,4'-trimethyl ether of quercetin (Dean 1963) and thus related to rutin, one of the best studied glycoside flavonoids. The above report is the first implicating members of this group of compounds in plant dermatitis. Flavonoid compounds are widely distributed in plants (Geissman and Crout 1969).

Eight of 22 furniture makers who had dermatitis showed positive patch test reactions to ayan. The wood dust may be irritant in factory conditions of heat and sweating (Woods and Calnan 1976).

Echyrospermum balthazarii Allemāo ex Mart.

Several woods are known as vinhatico, e.g. Plathymenia sp., Chloroleucon vinhatico Rec. and Echyrospermum balthazarii. The wood which was reported by Freise (1932) to irritate the nose, eyes and other mucous membranes and identified by him as E. balthazarii was more likely the Brazilian species Plathymenia reticulata (Woods and Calnan 1976).

Entada phaseoloides Merr.
[syns Acacia scandens Willd., Entada scandens Benth., Lens phaseoloides L., Mimosa scandens L.]

The juice of the bark causes conjunctivitis and irritation of the eye (Burkill 1935, Watt & Breyer-Brandwijk 1962).

Enterolobium cyclocarpum Griseb.
[syns Feuilleea cyclocarpa Kuntze, Inga cyclocarpa Willd., Mimosa cyclocarpa Jacq., Pithecellobium cyclocarpum Mart.]
Elephant Ear Tree, Guanacaste, Monkey Soap

The sawdust is "irritant" (Thiébault 1965) for the respiratory tract (Orsler 1973).

The fine dust arising from machining the dry wood causes irritation of the mucous membranes of most individuals (Kukachka 1970).

Eriosema grandiflorum G.Don
[syn. Rhynchosia grandiflora Schldl. & Cham.]

According to an herbarium note found by von Reis Altschul (1973) on a specimen of this plant collected in Mexico, a decoction of the roots is used as an insecticide against fleas on dogs.

Erythrina L.

According to Mabberley (2008), 120 species are to be found in warm regions of Asia, Africa and the Americas.

Several species are adorned with thorns capable of inflicting mechanical injury; some are for this reason planted as barrier hedges (Codd 1951, Corner 1952, Williamson 1955, Conn & Damas 2005g). The following species are representative:

Erythrina acanthocarpa E.Mey. — Tambookie Thorn
[syn. Corallodendron acanthocarpum Kuntze]
Erythrina berteroana Urb. — Coral Bean, Porotillo
Erythrina caffra Thunb. — Kaffirboom
Erythrina fusca Lour. — Coral Bean, Purple Coral-Tree, Bois Immortelle
[syns Corallodendron fuscum Kuntze, Erythrina caffra Blanco, Erythrina glauca Willd.]
Erythrina livingstoniana Baker — Aloe Coral Tree
Erythrina merrilliana Krukoff — Coral Tree
Erythrina variegata L. — Dabdab, Indian Coral Tree
[syns Corallodendron divaricatum Kuntze, Erythrina indica Lam., Erythrina picta L.] 

Erythrina corallodendron L.
[syns Corallodendron occidentale Kuntze, Erythrina inermis Mill., Erythrina spinosa Mill.]
Coral Erythrina, Pink Coral-Tree

The wood of this tropical American tree is noted as injurious from a content of alkaloid (Hausen 1970).

Erythrina crista-galli L.
[syns Corallodendron crista-galli Kuntze, Erythrina laurifolia Jacq., Erythrina speciosa Tod., Micropteryx crista-galli Walp.]
Cockscomb Tree, Cockspur Coral Tree, Coral Tree, Cry Baby Tree

The common name "cry baby tree" alludes to the copious nectar that drips from the flowers of this small thorny tree. Other "rain-trees" are noted under Acer. The plant yields cystisine and related alkaloids (Richard and Luco 1944).


17 species are found in Africa, the Seychelle Islands, tropical and eastern Asia and Australia.

Erythrophleum guineense
Ordeal Tree, Doom Bark

The bark is irritant to the eye and nasal cavity and has a local anaesthetic action in the mouth (Irvine 1961, Watt & Breyer-Brandwijk 1962).

The sawdust can produce dermatitis and sneezing in woodworkers (Watt & Breyer-Brandwijk 1962).

An extract of the wood produced vomiting, respiratory symptoms, headache, dizziness and bradycardia (Lewin 1928). Hausen (1970) found alkaloids in the bark (but not in the wood). E. laboucheri in Australia and E. coumiga in Madagascar are probably also toxic (Golse 1937, Hausen 1970).

Eysenhardtia polystachya Sarg.
[syn. Eysenhardtia amorphoides Kunth, Varennea polystachya DC., Viborquia polystachya Ortega, Wiborgia amorphodes Kuntze, Wiborgia polystachya Kuntze]

The source of Lignum Nephriticum was uncertain for a long time. The history is recorded by Stapf (1909).

The wood, which was used medicinally as Lignum Nephriticum (Howes 1974), may be that described as irritant by Senear (1933) and Weber (1937).

Falcataria moluccana Barneby & J.W.Grimes
[syns Adenanthera falcataria L., Albizia falcata auct., Albizia falcataria Fosberg, Albizia moluccana Miq., Paraserianthes falcataria I.C.Nielsen]
Batai, Moluccan Albizia, Peacocks Plume

The fine sawdust produced by machining the dry wood is said to produce sneezing and tearing in some individuals (Kukachka 1970).

Richard J. Schmidt

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