Monographs Details: Strychnos guianensis (Aubl.) Mart.
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: Barinas: Bemardi 1999. Bolivar: basin of the middle Rio Orinoco, Wurdack & Monachino 39790 (Rio Pargueni), 40967 (Rio Paraguaza); south of El Dorado, Steyermark and G.C.K. & E. Dunsterville 93028; cerro Venamo, near the boundary line with British Guiana, Steyermark and G.C.K. & E. Dunsterville 92843. Amazonas; basin of the upper Rio Orinoco, Maguire & Wurdack 34609, Maguire, Wurdack & Bunting 37535, LI. Williams 15971 (F, US, Ven) ; basin of the upper Rio Negro (Rio Castanha), Cardona 1475 (Ven). Colombia: Putumayo: basin of Rio Putumayo, Idrobo 2633. Amazonas: Rio Miritiparana, Schultes & Cabrera 16473 (US). Peru: Poeppig 2918 (W). British Guiana: basin of the Mazaruni River, Forest Dept. 6396. Surinam: Kappler 2148 (W). Brazil: Para: near Belem, Pires 616; basin of Rio Guama, Pires & Silva 4313, 4330, Temé-açu, Pires 1439; Curuça, Guedes 33; basin of Rio Jamundá, Black & Ledoux 50-10704; basin of Rio Arapiuns, Pires & Silva 4195; basin of Rio Tocantins (Rio Itacaiuna), Froes & Black 24638; basin of Rio Xingu (Rio Peri), Froes 32476 (US) ; basin of Rio Tapajos, Black 47-1033 (Belterra), Froes 31650 and 31720 (planalto de Santarem). Territory of Amapa: basin of Rio Oiapoque, Froes 25780 (US), Pires 48564, Black 49-8303, 49-8535 (US). Amazonas: Froes s.n. (Merck 51R6371), 26136; basin of Rio Negro, Ducke 1926, Black 48-2793; Froes 22555, 22626 (Rio Padauiry), 22905, 25069, 29572 (US), 29653 (near Manaos) ; Black 48-2636, 48-2665 (Rio Içana) ; basin of Rio Urubú, Froes 25259; basin of Rio Sulimoes (Tefe), Froes 26323, Pires 1322. Territory of Rio Branco (Bôa Vista), Ducke 1865, Black 51-13123.Distribution : By far the most frequently collected species of the genus in the Americas. It is well distributed in the basin of the middle and upper Rio Orinoco and throughout the entire basin of Rio Amazonas. The collections from Venezuela are from Barinas, Bolivar, and Amazonas; from Colombia, from Vaupés, Putumayo and Amazonas; from Ecuador, from Napo-Pastaza (Rio Pastaza); from Peru, from Loreto (Rio Nanay and Rio Mazan). Found also in the three Guianas. In Brazil it is well distributed in the State of Para (in the basin of Rio Trombetas, a northern tributary of the Amazon; along the Amazon River proper; in the basins of Rio Xingu, of Rio Tapajos and of Rio Tocantins, the southern tributaries of the Amazon, and in the basins of various small rivers draining to the Baia de Marajo and the Atlantic Ocean, such as Rio Acara, Rio Guama and others); in the Territory of Amapa (basin of Rio Oiapoque) ; in the Territory of Rio Branco; in the State of Amazonas (in the basins of Rio Urubú, of the lower and the upper Rio Negro, including its tributaries Vaupés, Içana, Cubate, Aiary and Padauiry, of Rio Juma, of Rio Jutai, of Rio Solimoes and of Rio Javari) and in the State of Matto Grosso (Rio Juruena).
Discussion:Steyermark et al. 93038 represents a rather unusual form and this specimen matches with another sterile specimen, A. C. Smith 2836, from British Guiana.
Two other specimens are of considerable interest. Bemardi 1999 is from an elevation of 1300-1400 m and it shows that the species is found at such an elevation in subandean Venezuela. Steyermark et al. 92843 is from Cerro Venamo, from an elevation of 900-1000 m and it shows that the species is found at such an elevation in the region of the Venezuelan Highlands.
Local name: Ya-hi-ae-o (Rio Putumayo, in front of Nueva Granada, Putumayo, Colombia) ; Bee-see-reé-ta-rau-ee (Yukuna Indians on Rio Miritiparana in Venezuela).
Ducke states (31: 32) that the species is found in the Territory of Acre, in the Territory of Guapore and Bolivia but I have not seen any specimens from these two territories and/or Bolivia. I also have not seen any specimens of this species from the basins of Rio Madeira and Rio Purus in the State of Amazonas. The species likely occurs in all these regions. It is also likely found at least in the western portion of the State of Maranhão.
It is not yet certain that this species occurs in the States of Espirito Santo and Minas Gerais. New collections are needed to verify its occurrence in these two States. We placed with this species with doubts (7:8) Glaziou 9944 deposited with Museu Nacional, Rio and said to have been collected in Espirito Santo. As far as Glaziou 14095 and 19645 are concerned (these are cotype collections of S. oblonga Gilg), they doubtless belong with the species, but Ducke suggests that they probably bear the wrong labels. It is curious of course that of the seven important Glaziou’s collections pertaining to three species, namely S. pseudo-quina, S. guianensis and S. subcordata and which are questioned as to the labels by Ducke (not as to our identifications), three specimens bear consecutive numbers: Glaziou 14094—S. pseudo-quina; Glaziou 14095—S. guianensis, and Glaziou 14096 —S. subcordata. The first one is said to be from Rio de Janeiro and the other two from the State of Minas Gerais. Of the other three specimens, Glaziou 9516—S. subcordata (cotype coll, of S. petrophila, said to be from Rio de Janeiro) is followed by Glaziou 9517—S. Castelnaeana labelled as a cultivated plant at Rio de Janeiro, whereas Glaziou 9944—(?) guianensis (said to be from Espirito Santo) and Glaziou 9945 (cotype coll, of S. petrophila, said to be from Rio de Janeiro) are preceded by three collections of cultivated plants at Rio de Janeiro (Glaziou 9941—S. Jobertiana; Glaziou 9942—S. toxifera; Glaziou 9945—S. medeola). I was unable to trace as to what specimens are next to Glaziou 19645— S. guianensis (cotype coll, of S. oblonga, said to be from Minas Gerais).
Since writing the above, I examined sterile specimen Glaziou 9444 from Kew. On the label it is stated that it is of a cultivated plant [not from Espirito Santo, as stated on the label of the specimen of the same collection deposited with Museu Nacional, Rio (7: 8) ]. This provides additional evidence for questioning labels as to the place of collection of seven specimens referred to above.
In our monograph (1:293, 294) we placed S. manaoensis Barb. Rodr. with doubts in the synonymy under S. darienensis, and we discussed at length as to why we were unable to place it with confidence. In his paper Ducke makes an interesting observation (31: 14): “Quanto à manaoensis, Krukoff & Monachino a consideram com muita dúvida como forma da darienensis, mas o asunto ficou resolvido pelo colheita de una legitima guianensis em que algumas flores têm o tubo do corolla bem mais comprido que os lobos” (Pires 1341; Bol. Técn. Inst. Agron. Norte 19: pl. 9, fig. A, B). I was unable to check on Ducke’s disposition of this name as the specimen of this collection deposited at the N. Y. Bot. Garden does not have good flowers.
Fruits and seeds of this species are very similar to those of S. subcordata, but are bigger. For information on its position in Ducke’s key made on the basis of fruit characters, see under S. rondeletioides.
The use of this species in curare is very widespread and it is often the main ingredient. Schreber in 1783 reported the species, under the name Toxicaria americana, as one of the components of curare of certain tribes of Indians in Surinam. This has been confirmed and the specimens from this colony, which we cite in our monograph, were reported by Stahel and Geijskes as the main component of curare of the Indians of the upper Litanie. In British Guiana it is said to be the most important component of “Balauitu” (arrow-poison) of Wai-wai Indians (A. C. Smith 2836 from the basin of Shodikar Creek, Essequibo Territory). It is noteworthy that the Wai-wais use chiefly the outer bark of roots. As per collector's notes on the label (Croizat s.n.; March 7, 1950; collected in the basin of Rio Paraguaza, Bolivar, near the north western boundary of the Territory of Amazonas, in Venezuela), the plant is “the basic ingredient in the making of curare by the Piaroa Indians.” Humboldt and Bonpland mentioned “Curare” or “Bejuco de Mavacure” as one of the plants furnishing the ingredients of the poison as prepared by Indians at Esmeralda on the upper Orinoco in Venezuela. This plant is the basis of S. Curare which was placed by us under the species. The collector’s note on the label (Froes 12460) indicates that the species is the main ingredient of curare, as it is prepared, on Rio Içana, in the basin of the upper Rio Negro, Amazonas, Brazil. Hoehne reports (Mus. Nac. Rio 41615) the use of the species by the Nhambiquaras on Rio Juruena in Matto Grosso. Bark of roots is used in preparation of the arrow-poison on Rio Putumayo in Colombia (Idrobo 2633) ; Schultes reports also its use in the same basin in Kofán curare (Schultes 3688). According to Gill, the plant is occasionally used as a secondary ingredient in curare of the Canelos in Ecuador (Gill 27).
Fanshawe (34: 67) 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: Devildoer; kwabanaro (Arawak); kumarawa (Akawaio, Are-kuna, Patamona, Macushi).
“A canopy climber, to 6 inches in diameter; bark brown, scaly.
“It occurs occasionally in high forest and riparian forest on sands, loams, or clay soils in the North Central and North East districts, and in the upper Essequibo River, on hilly or flat lands.
“It contains at least two alkaloids, one of which has a strong curare-like action, i.e., causing paralysis of the peripheral nerves. The bark of the roots is used by the Waiwai Indians in the preparation of an arrow poison.”
As per King (75), the alkaloid content of this species was found to be “+ +,” curare action, “weak” [For. Dept. 4431 from British Guiana which is cited by us in (4: 345) under S. guianensis]. It is not known what part of the plant was used for this work, presumably stem bark.
For the reference of studies by King of For. Dept. 2467 referred to by him as near S. guianensis, but different from it and not conspecific,” see under S. glabra.
This species was studied chemically and pharmacologically by Marini-Bettolo, Bovet and their coworkers on the basis of three collections made by Ducke. Two of these were of stem bark and one of root bark. The more detailed and interesting study is that of root bark, collected by Ducke from a very old and large vine near Curuça, Para, Brazil. Nine new alkaloids were isolated, namely Guiacurarine I, II, III, VIII, IX, Guiacurine I, II, Erythrocurarine I, II (100:372). In this connection the authors make a very important observation: “Si tratta di corteccia di radice di un esemplare eccezionalmente vecchio e grande. La corteccia della stessa pianta non contiene neanche piccolo quantità di alcaloidi” (100:372).
From stem bark of a vine collected by Ducke on Estrada de Aleixo near Manaos, Amazonas, Brazil in April 1953, nine alkaloids were isolated, namely: Guiacurarine I-VIII, and Guianine, whereas from stem bark collected by Ducke from a vine near Belem, Para, Brazil in April 1952 four alkaloids were isolated, namely: Guiacurarine II, VI, VII and Curarine ( = C-Curarine I) (108: 269).
The authors make the following interesting observation: “Questi tre campioni . . . contengono lo stesso tipo di alcaloidi, seppure si possa notare una certa diversità nella loro composizione qualitativa e quantitativa. Nel compione di Strychnos di Belem e di Manaos gli alcaloidi sono contenuti nella corteccia, mentre nel campione di Curuça di cui disponevamo di radice e di corteccia, non si sono tróvate nemmeno tracce di alcaloidi nella corteccia, mentre la radice della stessa pianta ne era ricchissima” (100: 361).
For the alkaloid content, toxicity and curare activity of the total extracts, see (25: 1142).
From another sample (? stem bark) collected by Ernani Ferreira near Manaos, Amazonas, Brazil in 1957, and determined by Ducke, the same authors isolated a new alkaloid, Urarine (104).
Distribution:Venezuela South America
| Colombia South America
| Ecuador South America
| Peru South America
| Guyana South America
| Suriname South America
| Brazil South America