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(Sapodilla family)


800 tropical species occur in 35 to 75 ill-defined genera. Many furnish useful products, especially gutta-percha and balata.

Poisoning by several Brazilian woods of this family causes alopecia (Friese 1932 cited by Senear 1933).

[Summary yet to be added]

Argania spinosa Skeels
[syns Argania sideroxylon Roem. & Schult., Lyciodes spinosum Kuntze, Sideroxylon spinosum L., Tekelia spinosa Scop.]

The fruit of this thorny North African tree provides an edible oil known as argan oil (Morton & Voss 1987).

The genus is monotypic (Mabberley 2008).

[Further information available but not yet included in database]

Autranella congolensis A.Chev.
[syn. Mimusops congolensis De Wild.]

The wood-dust from this tropical African tree is irritant to the respiratory tract (Orsler 1973). Hausen (1970) cites CTFT (1954) for mucosal irritation from the wood.

The genus is monotypic (Mabberley 2008).

Baillonella toxisperma Pierre
[syns Baillonella djave Pierre ex Dubard, Mimusops djave Engl., Mimusops toxisperma A.Chev.]
Djave, Moabi

The wood from this tropical West African tree is said to be injurious (Bois Tropicaux 1966, Helig 1957, cited by Hausen 1970).

The genus is monotypic (Mabberley 2008).

Chrysophyllum L.

150 species are found in tropical regions, especially in America. Chrysophyllum cainito L. is cultivated for its edible fruit — the star apple.

A Brazilian species of this genus was reported to produce dermatitis from the fine dust produced in making veneers (Friese 1932).

Madhuca Ham. ex J.F.Gmel.

85 species are native to Indo-China, Indo-Malaysia and Australia. The botanical name Bassia All. refers to a genus of Chenopodiaceae. The botany is complex (Hausen 1970); he confused the genus with Bassia of the Chenopodiaceae.

Madhuca betis (Blanco) J.F.Macbr.
[syns Azaola betis Blanco, Bassia betis (Blanco) Merr., Illipe betis (Blanco) Merr., Isonandra betis (Blanco) Baehni, Payena betis (Blanco) Fern.-Vill.]

The powdered bark is sternutatory (Quisumbing 1951).

Madhuca longifolia (L.) J.F.Macbr.
[syns Bassia longifolia L., Illipe longifolia — of no botanical standing, Vidoricum longifolium (L.) Kuntze]
Butter Tree, Butter-Nut Tree, Moah Wood, Mahua, Mahwa, Mowa, Arbre à Beurre, Indische Illipe

The flowers are edible and are distilled to make a liquor. The leaves yield an essential oil.

The wood was reported to produce dermatitis in all woodworkers who were exposed, suggesting an irritant effect (Pflanz 1908, Matthes and Schreiber 1914). The wood of Bassia longifolia was listed as irritant by Schwartz et al. (1947, 1957). The juice from the bark of Madhuca indica is irritant and is used as a rubefacient (Behl et al. 1966).

According to Record (1925) the moah wood or edelteak which Matthes and Schreiber (1914) identified as Illipe longifolia [or Illipe latifolia; see below] was actually Paratecoma peroba. All lists which include Bassia, Illipe and Madhuca as toxic woods appear to result from Matthes and Schreiber's error. Woods and Calnan (1976) suggest that the wood named moah (Pflanz 1908) may have been Flindersia australis. The statements of irritation re Madhuca indica above and M. parkii below are possibly irrelevant by reason of the error noted in the report of Matthes and Schreiber (1914).

The thick sticky juice from the bark is irritant and workers with a meal derived from the plant can develop cellulitis of the hands and feet (Lewin 1962, Behl et al. 1966).

Thomson (1971) does not accept reports that the wood yields lapachol, a sensitiser of teak (Tectona grandis L.f., fam. Labiatae).

Madhuca longifolia J.F.Macbr. var. latifolia A.Chev.
[syns Bassia latifolia Roxb., Illipe latifolia F.Muell., Madhuca latifolia J.F.Macbr., Vidoricum latifolium Kuntze]
Butter Tree, Champa, Illupai, Mahua, Mahwa, Arbre à Beurre

The seeds are the source of the cosmetic product ingredient Bassia Latifolia Seed Butter, also known as Illipe Butter.

The wood of Bassia latifolia was listed as irritant by Schwartz et al. (1947, 1957).

Manilkara bidentata (A.DC.) A.Chev.
[syn. Mimusops bidentata A.DC.]
Balata, Balata Rouge, Assapookoo

This West Indies species is reported to be injurious (Heilig 1957). The fine dust produced in making veneers produced dermatitis (Freise 1932). Woods and Calnan (1976) cite an incompletely referenced report that the wood of assapookoo is very poisonous.

This species yields a gutta-percha.

Manilkara huberi A.Chev.
[syns Manilkara jaimiqui Dubard, Mimusops huberi Ducke, Mimusops jaimiqui C.Wright ex Griseb.]
Masaranduba, Níspero, Sapotilla

The fine dust produced in making veneers produced dermatitis (Freise 1932).

Manilkara zapota (L.) P.Royen
[syn. Achras zapota L.]
Sapodilla Plum

This species is cultivated for its edible fruit and the latex is extracted to form chicle, a chewing gum.

Burkill (1935), referring to Achras zapota, notes that the wood-dust is irritant to the nasal passages.

Mimusops sp.

The wood is injurious (Hanslian and Kadlec 1966).

Mimusops toxisperma
African Pearwood

The wood is injurious (Hanslian and Kadlec 1966). Conjunctivitis, possibly allergic, occurred in 80 per cent of workers with the wood of this species (Kubena et al. 1968).

Manilkara appears to be the preferred name for Mimusops spp. Woods and Calnan (1976) and the above reports appear to stem from Freise (1932) who reported dermatitis from this group of woods.

Pouteria procera K.Hammer
[syns Calocarpum procerum Dubard, Lucuma procera Mart., Urbanella procera Pierre, etc.]

The fine dust produced when making veneers from a Brazilian wood with the common name massaranduba, and the trade name ebano, listed as being derived from this Brazilian species, has been reported to cause dermatitis (Friese 1932, Gottwald 1958). Similar effects from wood with the common name abiuranda, and listed as being derived from various Lucuma L. species, were also noted. However, the botanical sources of these woods may not have been correctly assigned. The name massaranduba is now most commonly applied to the timber from Manilkara bidentata A.Chev. or Manilkara huberi A.Chev. [see above].

Pouteria sapota H.E.Moore & Stearn
[syns Achras mammosa L., Calocarpum mammosum Pierre, Calocarpum sapota Merr., Pouteria mammosa Cronquist, Sideroxylon sapota Jacq., etc.]
Mamey Apple, Mammee Sapote, Marmalade Plum, Sapota, Zapote

Referring to Calocarpum mammosum, Allen (1943) noted that the sap of the entire plant is caustic and vesicant, and that care should be exercised in gathering the [edible] fruits not to break the branches, or to rub the fresh sap into the eyes.

Pycnandra acuminata (Pierre ex Baill.) Swenson & Munzinger
[syns Niemeyera acuminata (Pierre ex Baill.) T.D.Penn., Sebertia acuminata (Pierre ex Baill.) Engl., Sersalisia acuminata Pierre ex Baill.]
Sève Bleue

This New Caledonian tree accumulates extraordinary amounts of nickel from the soil in which it grows. The nickel content of its blue-green latex can reach 25% on a dry weight basis (Jaffré et al. 1976). The nickel occurs predominantly as a negatively charged citratonickelate (II) complex with [Ni(H2O)6]2+ as the major cationic constituent (Lee et al. 1977). Whilst the contact sensitising properties of nickel and its salts are well documented (Cronin 1980), there appear to be no reports of contact dermatitis attributable to this plant.

Synsepalum dulcificum Daniell
Miraculous Fruit

After eating the fruit pulp, everything, even lime juice, tastes deliciously sweet. This effect persists for about an hour, depending upon the amount consumed (Fairchild 1930, Menninger 1967). See also Sphenocentrum jollyanum Pierre, fam. Menispermaceae and Thaumatococcus daniellii Benth., fam. Marantaceae.

Tieghemella africana Pierre
[syns Baillonella africana Baehni, Dumoria africana Dubard, Mimusops africana Lecomte]
Douka, Makoré, Afrikanischer Birnbaum

Nasal and respiratory irritation with haemoptysis occurred in men sawying woods from Spanish Guinea probably mainly Tieghemella africana (Dantin-Gallego and Armayor 1952). This wood is less often exported than Tieghemella heckelii but equally irritant (CTFT (1955), Subiza Martin 1971).

Tieghemella heckelii Pierre ex A.Chev.
[syns Baillonella heckelii Baehni, Dumoria heckelii A.Chev., Mimusops heckelii Hutch. & Dalziel]
Douka, Makoré, Afrikanischer Birnbaum

This West African tree provides a timber known variously as African cherry, makoré, baku, agamokwe, douka, or dumori. The wood can cause dermatitis, conjunctivitis and respiratory symptoms (Malespini 1935, Turc et al. 1950, Sandermann & Barghoorn 1955); this has discouraged its use (Bois Tropicaux 1966). Makore was listed by Oleffe et al. (1975) as a cause of dermatitis in the Belgian timber industry.

A saponin, which is a glycoside of bassic acid, has been isolated from the wood (Sandermann and Barghoorn 1955, King et al. 1955).

Vitellaria paradoxa C.F.Gaertn. subsp. paradoxa
[syns Bassia parkii G.Don, Butyrospermum paradoxum Hepper subsp. parkii Hepper, Butyrospermum parkii Kotschy, Lucuma paradoxa A.DC.]

The wood of Bassia parkii was listed as irritant by Schwartz et al. (1947, 1957).


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Richard J. Schmidt

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