Strychnos nux-vomica L.
Family : Loganiaceae
Common Name : കാഞ്ഞിരം(Mal)
Trees, to 20 m high, bark thin, yellowish or blackish-grey, smooth or scurfy with lenticels. Leaves simple, opposite, -14 x 2-9 cm, elliptic, broadly elliptic or elliptic-ovate, apex acute or obtuse, base acute to attenuate, margin entire, glabrous, shiny, coriaceous; petiole 5-13 mm, slender, glabrous; 3-5 nerved from base, prominent, glabrous; intercostae reticulate. Flowers bisexual, greenish-white, in terminal sessile cymes, sessile, tomentose, bract 5 mm; bracteole 1.5 mm long. Calyx lobes 4, 1 mm long, triangular, acute, pubescent. Corolla greenish-yellow, tube 10 mm long, longer than lobes, slightly hairy near the base within, lobes 4, 4 x 1.5 mm, oblong, acute. Stamens 4, anthers sessile inserted at the throat of corolla tube. Ovary 2-celled, ovules many in each cell. Fruit a berry, 3-5 cm across, globose, yellowish-red or orange, glabrous; seeds 3 or 4, orbicular, flat, shiny, greenish-white, 2-2.5 cm diameter.
Nux Vomica is a medium-sized tree with a short, crooked, thick trunk. The wood is white hard, close grained, durable. Branches are irregular, covered with a smooth ash-coloured bark. Young shoots are deep green, shiny. Oppostely arranged short stalked leaves are elliptic, shiny, smooth on both sides, about 4 inches long and 3 broad. Flowers are small, greenish-white, funnel shaped, borne in small clusters at the end of branches They have a disagreeable smell. Fruit is about the size of a large apple with a smooth hard shell which when ripe is orange colored, filled with a soft white jelly-like pulp containing five seeds. The seeds are like flattened disks densely covered with closely appressed satiny hairs, radiating from the centre of the flattened sides and giving to the seeds a characteristic sheen.
Use: The timber is durable, used to make tool handles, agricultural implements etc. The seed and root are poisonous. Seeds are ground with human milk, made into a paste and applied on the head to cure fever due to chicken pox. The stick with three branches is used in witchcraft.
Distribution : Indo-Malesia
Flowering & Fruiting : March-December