Monographs Details: Strychnos tomentosa 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: Aragua (La Mesa, entre 1400 m y la cumbre, valle de El Limón, Parque Nacional), Pittier and Nakichenovich 15680 (Ven, US). British Guiana (Roraima), Schomburgk 729 CW). Surinam (near km 14½ of the railroad), Lanjouw & Lindeman 2743. Brazil: Para: basin of Rio Tapajos, Froes 31236, Black 47-1065; basin of Rio Tocantins, Froes 23510, 23515*, 23515a*, 23384*, 23399*, 23473*. Amazonas: Froes 24050 (Lago Camatian), Froes 23849a (basin of Rio Jandiatuba). Territory of Rio Branco: Froes 23110*. Maranhão: Froes 25670, 20342* This is the first record of the species from Venezuela and from the State of Amazonas, Brazil.Distribution: Known from Venezuela, British Guiana, Surinam and Brazil where it has been collected in the State of Para (near Catú, Belem, also in the basins of Rio Tapajos and of Rio Tocantins) ; in the Territory of Rio Branco and in the States of Amazonas and Maranhão.
Discussion:Ducke is correct in stating (31: 24) that the five sterile specimens from the basin of Rio Tocantins (cited above with an asterisk) placed by us with doubts under S. toxifera (7: 5), are in reality of young plants of S. tomentosa. Our reference to these specimens reads as follows: "The five specimens from the basin of Rio Tocantins and Froes 23110 from the basin of Rio Branco are sterile and they are intermediate in their vegetative characters between S. toxifera and S. tomentosa. Flowers are very much desired. The specimens may well represent a form of S. toxifera, or be hybrids between S. toxifera and S. tomentosa.” The same applies to the sterile specimen (Froes 20342) from the State of Maranhão.
Now that we know how the leaves look of young plants as "well as of mature bush-ropes of S. tomentosa (not leaves of branchlets with flowers), there should be no difficulties in identifying sterile specimens of this species. Incidentally I never saw S. tomentosa in the wild nor had a chance to examine many sheets collected from various parts of a single mature bush-rope (also leaves of young plants). This is essential as background before sterile specimens of other collections could be identified with confidence.
The plant is a huge bush-rope. In the basin of Rio Amazonas it abounds in the high forest on terra-firme. According to Ducke its flowers are more beautiful than those of any other member of the genus, very characteristic and can measure up to 3 cm in fresh condition.
Mature fruits and seeds of this species are now known and were described by Ducke (31: 24, 55). For information on the position of this species in Ducke’s key made on the basis of fruit characters, see under S. Blackii.
Fanshawe (34: 65) gives the following information on the local names, on the field characters of this bush-rope and on its distribution in British Guiana:
“Local names: Devildoer; kwabanaro (Arawak); apotai (Carib).
“A canopy climber to 4 inches in diameter; bark light brown; slash pale pink, soft, thick.
“It occurs rarely in rain- and seasonal forest in the North Central and Rupununi districts and the Pakaraima Mountains.”
This species was studied chemically and pharmacologically by Marini-Bettolo, Bovet and their coworkers. For the alkaloid content, toxicity and curare activity of the total extracts, see (94: 856; 95: 1144). For rather extensive studies of the alkaloids of this species, see (96). In the summary the authors state that on extracting the plant a mixture of different alkaloids was obtained and 22 alkaloids were recognized by the use of chromatographic methods. The alkaloids which were characterized are as follows: “C-alkaloid E, C-toxiferine I (= Toxiferine I), C-curarine I, C-fluorocurine, C-fluorocurinine, and C-fluorocurarine (= C-cura-rine III) ” (93: 440, 441). The above referred to work was done on stem bark collected by Ducke near Belem, Para, Brazil in April 1952 (94: 862; 95: 1145).
Distribution:Venezuela South America
| Guyana South America
| Suriname South America
| Brazil South America