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Strychnos madagascariensis (Black Monkey Orange)

It is usually 6m tall, and has a spreading, irregular crown. The bark is mostly pale grey, with some white and dark gray patches. It can be smooth or powdery. Although branches are not equipped, the lateral shoots can be short and rigid, and may look like spines. The opposite leaves, which are often tufted, are smooth to hairy and leathery. They are elliptic to circular, shiny, dark green above, and markedly pale below.

In clusters of 1-4 flowers, the flowers are small and yellowish-green. The fruit is a near-spherical shape with a thick woody shell that measures 8 cm in diameter. It turns yellow when mature and becomes blue-green when it reaches about 8 cm. The poisonous seeds are tightly packed and covered with a fleshy, orange pulp. This pulp is rich in iridoids and citric Acid. Baboons and humans love it. The bitter taste of iridoids is a defense against pathogens and herbivory.

This tree is closely related to Strychnos Nux-vomica and the seed of which is a source for strychnine. The practice of fishing with poisonous plants was once common in Africa. It is now illegal. The seeds, like other Strychnos, are pulverized and thrown in a pool or section of a stream to allow the affected fish to rise to the surface. After that, the poison oil is removed from the fruit’s inner skin. This results in a high Oleic Acid content.

Strychnos madagascariensis (4337703118).jpg

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