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This small family of 17 species in 1 genus is widely distributed in tropical Africa and Asia. Some are thorny (Mabberley 1987).

Members of this family have the potential to elicit mechanical injury by virtue of the thorns present on some species. A potential to elicit irritant or allergic contact dermatitis in rather specialised situations is also evident from the literature.

Alangium kurzii Craib

von Reis & Lipp (1982) found an herbarium note stating that the juice of the fruit is poisonous to the skin, causing itching.

Alangium lamarckii Thwaites

Achari et al. (1980) reported the presence of emetine, cephaeline, and related alkaloids in the seeds of this plant. Emetine may produce intense skin reactions in sensitised persons (see Cephaelis ipecacuanha A.Rich., fam. Rubiaceae).



  • Achari A, Ali E, Ghosh Dastidar PP, Sinha RR and Pakrashi SC (1980) Further investigations on the alkaloids of Alangium lamarckii. Planta Medica - Journal of Medicinal Plant Research (Suppl.): 5-7
  • Mabberley DJ (1987) The Plant-Book. A portable dictionary of the higher plants. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press
  • von Reis S, Lipp FJ (1982) New Plant Sources for Drugs and Foods from The New York Botanical Garden Herbarium. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press [WorldCat]

Richard J. Schmidt

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