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Cerbera manghas - Köhler–s Medizinal-Pflanzen-175.jpg
Cerbera manghas[1]
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Eudicots
Clade: Asterids
Order: Gentianales
Family: Apocynaceae
Subfamily: Rauvolfioideae
Genus: Cerbera
L., 1753
Type species
Cerbera manghas
L., 1753
  • Elcana Blanco
  • Odollam Adans.
  • Odollamia Raf.
  • Tanghinia Thouars
  • Thevetia Adans.

Cerbera is a genus of evergreen small trees or shrubs, native to tropical Asia, Australia, Madagascar,and various islands in the Indian Ocean and the western Pacific Ocean.[2][3][4]

Three trees of this genus are mangroves, Cerbera floribunda, Cerbera manghas and Cerbera odollam.

The leaves are alternate and lack interpetiolar stipules; the tubular corollas are actinomorphic, i.e. they are symmetric and can be divided in halves along any diameter. All trees contain a white latex; the fruits are drupes.

The genus is named after Cerberus because all its parts are poisonous : they contain cerberin, a cardiac glycoside, a substance that blocks electric impulses in the body (including the beating of the heart). Never use Cerbera wood to light a fire. Even its smoke may cause poisoning.

The genus is related to Cerberiopsis,[5] endemic to New Caledonia.

  • Cerbera dilatata Markgraf. - Chiute - Mariana Islands
  • Cerbera dumicola P.I.Forst. - Queensland
  • Cerbera floribunda K. Schumann – Cassowary Plum - Queensland, New Guinea, Maluku, Sulawesi, Solomon Islands, Bismarck Archipelago, Micronesia
  • Cerbera inflata S.T. Blake – Grey Milkwood, Milky Pine - Queensland, Papua New Guinea, Bismarck Archipelago
  • Cerbera laeta A.J.M.Leeuwenberg - Papua New Guinea
  • Cerbera manghas L. - Tanzania, Madagascar, Comoros, Seychelles, Mauritius, India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, S China, Ryukyu Islands, Andaman & Nicobar Islands, Indochina, insular Southeast Asia, N Australia, numerous Pacific islands
  • Cerbera odollam Gaertn. – Suicide Tree - India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Andaman & Nicobar Islands, Indochina, insular Southeast Asia, Queensland, numerous Pacific islands
formerly included


  1. ^ 1897 illustration from Franz Eugen Köhler, Köhler's Medizinal-Pflanzen
  2. ^ a b c "World Checklist of Selected Plant Families". Retrieved May 21, 2014.
  3. ^ Forster, P. I. (1992). "A taxonomic revision of Cerbera L. (Apocynaceae) in Australia and Papuasia". Austrobaileya. 3 (4): 569–579.
  4. ^ Leeuwenberg, A. J. M. (1999). "Series of revisions of Apocynaceae XLVII. The genus Cerbera L". Agric. Univ. Wageningen Pap. 98–3: 1–64.
  5. ^ Potgieter, K., and V. A. Albert. (2001) Phylogenetic Relationships within Apocynaceae S.l. Based on trnL Intron and trnL-F Spacer Sequences and Propagule Characters.” Annals of the Missouri Botanical Garden 88 (4): 523–49.