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For the car with the same name, see TVR Cerbera.
Cerbera manghas - Köhler–s Medizinal-Pflanzen-175.jpg
Cerbera manghas
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Eudicots
(unranked): Asterids
Order: Gentianales
Family: Apocynaceae
Subfamily: Rauvolfioideae
Tribe: Plumerieae
Genus: Cerbera
L., 1753
Type species
Cerbera manghas
L., 1753

See text.

  • Elcana Blanco
  • Odollam Adans.
  • Odollamia Raf.
  • Tanghinia Thouars
  • Thevetia Adans.

Cerbera is a genus of 10-15 species of evergreen small trees or shrubs, native to tropical Asia, Australia, Madagascar, the Seychelles, and islands in the western Pacific Ocean.

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.

Cerbera odollam poisoning was a significant cause of death in Madagascar in Victorian times.

Selected species


  1. ^ "World Checklist of Selected Plant Families". Retrieved May 21, 2014. 
  • Forster, P. I. (1992). "A taxonomic revision of Cerbera L. (Apocynaceae) in Australia and Papuasia". Austrobaileya 3 (4): 569–579. 
  • Leeuwenberg, A. J. M. (1999). "Series of revisions of Apocynaceae XLVII. The genus Cerbera L". Agric. Univ. Wageningen Pap. 98–3: 1–64. 
  • Scott, S. and Thomas, C., 2000. Poisonous Plants of Paradise: First Aid and Medical Treatment of Injuries from Hawaii's Plants. University of Hawaii Press: ISBN 0-8248-2251-X