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  Antiaris toxicaria

Accession Number



Antiaris toxicaria is native to Australia, Cameroon, China (the warmer southern and eastern areas including Hainan Island), Democratic Republic of Congo, Fiji, India, Indonesia, Kenya, Malaysia, Nigeria, Philippines, Sierra Leone, Sudan, Thailand, Tonga, Uganda and Vietnam.

Plant Name

Antiaris toxicaria


The relation between oxidative damage and viability loss of excised embryonic axes of Antiaris toxicaria subjected to rapid drying with silica gel at 15 °C was studied. Changes of survival rate, accumulation of thiobarbituric acid-reactive substances (TBARs), activities of superoxide dismutase (SOD), catalase (CAT), ascorbate peroxidase (APX), glutathione reductase (GR) and the permeability of cell membrane that was determined as relative electrolyte leakage (REL) were measured. The half-life moisture content (MCL50) was 0.41 g H2O/g DW (dry weight basis). During drying, the activities of SOD, CAT and APX increased until MCL50, and declined thereafter. The generation speed of •O2-, and content of H2O2 and TBARs remained steadily or even decreased at MC levels higher than MCL50, demonstrating a low oxidative level in these axes. There was no significant correlation between viability loss and accumulation of reactive oxygen species or lipid peroxidation within the dehydration process until MCL50. Whereas the increase in REL from the beginning of the drying process indicated that the cell membrane was damaged. In conclusion, under rapid drying with silica gel the viability loss of excised recalcitrant A. toxicaria axes seemed to be triggered by mechanical or physical damage, rather than metabolic damage.

Other Name

false mvule or upas tree

Common Name

ancar (obsolete Dutch-era spelling: antjar)

Tamil Name












Sub Family





A. toxicaria

Plant Description

Antiaris toxicaria is a magnificent deciduous tree of the forest canopy, often 20- 40 m tall with a dome-shaped crown, drooping branchlets and hairy twigs. Large trees have clear boles and are butressed at the base. Bark smooth, pale gray, marked with lenticel dots and ring marks. When cut thin creamy latex drips out, becoming darker on exposure to air. Leaves variable, usually oval 5-16 cm x 4-11 cm, the upper half often widest to a blunt or pointed tip, the base unequal and rounded. Saplings and coppice shoots have long narrow leaves, the edge toothed- but rare in mature leaves. Mature leaves prominently veined. Leaves are rough, papery with stiff hairs above but softer below. Male flowers short-stalked, discoid head with many flowers, each flower with 2-7 tepals and 2-4 stamens, growing just below leaves. Female flowers in disc or kidney-shaped heads to 3 cm across. Ovary adnate to the perianth, 1-locular with a single ovule and 2 styles. Fruit bright red, ellipsoid, dull and furry, 1.5 cm long, the swollen receptacle contains just one seed. Some botanists have referred to all African specimens as the Asiatic species. However there appear to be 2 easily recognizable taxa in west Africa. Currently, A. toxicaria is regarded as a single species with 5 subspecies; subsp. toxicaria and macrophylla occur within the Malesian region. Other subspecies are africana, humbertii and welwitschii. The generic name is after the Malay plant name ‘antjar’, and the specific epithet comes from the Greek word ‘toxicon’-an arrow poison, alluding to its toxic properties.

Parts Used

Leaves and Fruits


Antiaris toxicaria is native to Australia, Cameroon, China (the warmer southern and eastern), Democratic Republic of Congo, Fiji, India, Indonesia, Kenya, Malaysia, Nigeria, Philippines, Sierra Leone, Sudan, Thailand, Tonga, Uganda and Vietnam.



Active Compound

Tannin cardenolides antiarin and alkaloids

Medicinal Uses

Recently, the plant had allegedly been used by retired Tanzanian pastor Ambilikile Mwasapile to allegedly cure all manner of diseases, including HIV/AIDS, diabetes, high blood pressure, cancer, asthma, and others.[5] While found to be harmless to humans when boiled in accordance with Mwasapile's mode of creating a medicinal drink out of the bark, it allegedly was undergoing testing by the WHO and Tanzanian health authorities to verify whether it has any medicinal value.[6] However, conflicting reports suggest that the plant in question is not indeed Antiaris toxicaria, but rather Carissa edulis


To treat mental illnesses, oxygen intermediates and cognate redox signaling in disease resistance


Abdurrohim S and Martawijaya A. 1987. Hot and cold soaking treatment of twenty wood species from Irian Jaya, Jurnal Penelitian Hasil Hutan. 4(3): 1-9.

Bultman JD et al. 1988. Marine biodeterioration, In Evaluation of some Indian woods for natural resistance toward wood-destroying organisms. Thompson MF et al.(eds.), 673-681,Oxford & IBH Publishing Co. Pvt. Ltd., New Delhi, India.

Hutchinson J and Dalziel JM. 1958. Flora of West Tropical Africa. 2nd Ed., Vol. 1(2), Crown Agents for Overseas Governments and Adminstration, London.

Katende AB et al. 1995. Useful trees and shrubs for Uganda. Identification, Propagation and Management for Agricultural and Pastoral Communities. Regional Soil Conservation Unit (RSCU), Swedish International Development Authority (SIDA).
Kopp B, Bauer WP and Bernkop-Schnurch A. 1992. Analysis of some Malaysian dart poisons. Journal of Ethnopharmacology. 36(1): 57-62.