Monographs Details: Strychnos toxifera Benth.
Authority: Krukoff, Boris A. 1965. Supplementary notes on the American species of Strychnos VII. Mem. New York Bot. Gard. 12: 1-94.
Description:Distribution and Ecology - Venezuela: Amazonas: basin of the upper Rio Orinoco, Baumgartner s.n. (Herb. Nac. Ven. 34246) (Ven). British Guiana: Rupununi, C. D. Cook 261. Ecuador (upper Bobonaza, 1900 ft.) Charles C. Fuller 67.Distribution: Panama (common in Canal Zone); Venezuela (on the upper Rio Orinoco, as well as at Cassiquiare and Cerro Sefato in the State of Amazonas) ; British Guiana; Surinam; French Guiana; Colombia (Comis. del Vichado) ; Ecuador (Oriente, in the basin of Rio Pastaza) and in the Brazilian Amazonia. Doubtless occurs also in adjacent Amazonian Peru and Bolivia. In Brazil it has been collected in the Territory of Rio Branco (Serra do Divisor, top of hill, 900 m); in the Territory of Acre (in the basin of the upper Rio Juma) and in the State of Amazonas (in the basins of the middle Rio Jurua and of the upper Rio Solimoes). It is rare in Brazil which probably accounts for the fact that all its collections from Brazil were made by Froes and myself and we specifically searched for this plant.
Discussion:Local name: Coto iluchi (Quichua, Ecuador).
The collector’s note on the above cited specimen from Ecuador reads: “whole vine crushed in curare preparation.”
Seven sterile specimens of young plants, five from the basin of Rio Tocantins (Para) (Froes 23515, 23515a, 23884, 23399 and 23473), one from the State of Maranhão (Froes 20342) and one from the Territory of Rio Branco (Froes 23110) which were placed by us with reservations with S. toxifera (7: 5; 5: 7), are now placed with S. tomentosa. For more detailed discussion on this see under the latter species.
For information on the position of this species in Ducke’s key made on the basis of fruit characters, see under S. Blackii.
This species is well known as the main ingredient of the curare of the Macusi and Wapisiana Indians of British Guiana; used also by the Canipusana Indians in the Cassiquiare region of Venezuela; occasionally used as a secondary ingredient by the Tecunas in Brazil; frequently used as an ingredient in curare by the Canelos in Ecuador (1: 277); used in preparation of curare on the upper Orinoco in Venezuela (5: 8) and in Comis. del Vichada in Colombia (6: 12).
Fanshawe (34: 65) gives the following information on the local names, on the field characters of this bush-rope, on its distribution in British Guiana and on its alkaloids, probably on the authority of Dr. King.
“Local names: Curare; urari (Arawak, Akawaio, Arekuna, Patamona); devil-doer, wourali.
“A canopy climber, to inches in diam.; bark dark brown, rough; slash pale crimson, soft, thick (1/8-¼ inch).
“Generally distributed throughout the colony in primary or secondary rainforest but only plentiful in a few traditionally known localities: Pomeroon River, Mount Iramaikpang, Nappi Creek (Kanuku Mountains), etc.
“The bark contains, besides other alkaloids, a quaternary alkaloid, curarine, with a paralyzing action on the peripheral nerves. As a result, voluntary muscles affecting respiration gradually cease to function and death is due to asphyxiation. It is used by the Macushi Indians in the preparation of their famous blowpipe poison.’'
The species was studied rather extensively and by various workers.
As per King, the alkaloid content of this species was found to be “ + + + ” (74). In another paper by the same author (75) the alkaloid content is given as “ + + ”, curare action, “strong.” All this work was done on For. Dept. 2278 and 2285 from British Guiana and these specimens were identified by N. Y. Sandwith (his letter to me of Nov. 4, 1963). It is not known which part of the plant was used for this work, presumably stem bark. In the second paper the alkaloid content of fruits is given as “0,” curare action “none.” Referring to the alkaloids isolated, King states: “By chromatography of the less soluble reineckates, 12 crystalline quaternary salts, toxiferines 1-12, have been obtained, two as the chlorides and the remainder as picrates” (76).
Folkers and Unna studied this species in 1938. For the alkaloid content, toxicity and curare activity, see (39: 690, 691). This work was done on samples of stem and root bark of Krukoff 7539 from the basin of the upper Rio Solimoes, Amazonas, Brazil, as well as on stem bark (Martyn 9426) and seeds and fruit shells (Mather 9443), both from British Guiana.
This species was studied chemically by H. Wieland and his co-workers (83) who isolated Toxiferine I, II (= Strychnotoxine II, perhaps identical with C-alkaloid A), IIa and IIb. This work was done on the bark collected on the upper Orinoco in Venezuela.
This species was also studied chemically in great detail by Karrer, Schmid and their coworkers (87) who isolated C-toxiferine I (= Toxiferine I) and certain other alkaloids from the material (? stem bark) collected on the upper Orinoco in Venezuela. From another sample (? stem bark) collected in Venezuela the same authors isolated the following alkaloids: Caracurine I, II, III, IV, V, VI (= nor-C-alkaloid H), VII ( = Wieland-Gumlich-aldehyde), VIII (isolated as chloro-methylate), IX (isolated as chloromethylate); C-mavacerine; C-fluorocurine; Fedamazine and C-alkaloid Y (88). In the later paper (91) the same authors are listing the following additional alkaloids isolated from S. toxifera: Nor-dihydro-toxiferine, and alkaloid A8 ( = N(b)-metho-Wieland-Gumlich-aldehyde).
Battersby and his coworkers (110) isolated three new alkaloids named Hemi-toxiferine I, Macusine A and B together with Xanthocurine (previously known from Calabash curare).
All of the alkaloids from this species were isolated and not only demonstrated by paper chromatography.
Distribution:Panama Central America
| Venezuela South America
| Suriname South America
| Guyana South America
| Colombia South America
| Ecuador South America
| Brazil South America