Click on any heading above to view more information about this plant
IUCN: not evaluated
Family: APOCYNACEAE Genus: Cerbera Species: manghas Species Author: L. Vernacular: Hotu Reva
Cerbera manghas is a small evergreen coastal tree growing up 12 m tall. The the shiny dark-green leaves are alternate, ovoid in shape. The flowers are fragrant, possessing a white, tubular, 5 lobed corolla about 3 to 5 cm in diameter, with a pink to red throat. There are 5 stamens, and the ovary is positioned above the other flower parts. The fruits are egg-shaped, 5 to 10 cm long, and turn purple-red at maturity. (Smith, A.C. 1988. Flora Vitiensis Nova vol. 4)
The leaves and the fruits contain the potent cardiac substance (a glycoside) called “cerberin”, which is extremely poisonous if ingested. People in olden times used the sap of the tree as a poison for animal hunting (Tomlison, P.B. 1995. The Botany of Mangroves).
In Madagascar, the seeds were used in sentence rituals to poison kings and queens. The fruit was reportedly eaten to commit suicide in the Marquesas Islands, (Whistler, W. A. 1992. Flowers of the Pacific Island Seashore).
In Hawaii Cerbera manghas is sometimes called "suicide apple".
Cerbera manghas is naturally distributed from the Seychelles Islands in the Indian Ocean eastward to French Polynesia. It occupies lowland and coastal habitats and is often associated with mangrove forests. This tree has been introduced to Hawaii and other tropical locations as an ornamental.
Because of its deadly poisonous seeds, the genus name is derived from Cerberus, the "hell dog" of Greek mythology, hence indicating the toxicity of the seeds.
(Tomlison, P.B. 1995. The Botany of Mangroves)
We currently have 40 herbarium specimens for Cerbera manghas in our collection. Click on any specimen below to view the herbarium sheet data.
054940 - collected by Michael J. Balick in Unknown