Cerbera manghas

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Sea mango
Cerbera manghas InflorescencesFlower BotGardBln0906a.jpg
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Eudicots
(unranked): Asterids
Order: Gentianales
Family: Apocynaceae
Genus: Cerbera
Species: C. manghas
Binomial name
Cerbera manghas

Cerbera manghas (sea mango, synonym:Tanghinia venenifera) is a small evergreen coastal tree growing up 12 metres (39 ft) tall. The shiny dark-green leaves are in spiral arrangement, ovoid in shape. The flowers are fragrant, possessing a white tubular five-lobed corolla about 3 to 5 centimetres (1.2 to 2.0 in) in diameter, with a pink to red throat. They have five stamens and the ovary is positioned above the other flower parts. The fruits are egg-shaped, 5 to 10 centimetres (2.0 to 3.9 in) long, and turn bright red at maturity.


Cerbera tanghin - Köhler–s Medizinal-Pflanzen-176.jpg

Cerbera manghas is naturally distributed from the Seychelle Islands in the Indian Ocean eastward to French Polynesia. It occupies coastal habitats and is often associated with mangrove forests.

This tree has been introduced to Hawaii and other tropical locations as an ornamental.


The leaves and the fruits contain the potent cardiac glycoside cerberin, which is extremely poisonous if ingested.

People in olden times used the sap of the tree as a poison for animal hunting (Tomlison, P.B. 1995. The Botany of Mangroves). (1)

In Madagascar, the seeds were used in sentence rituals to poison kings and queens. The fruit was reportedly eaten to commit suicide in the Marquesas Islands, (Whistler, W. A. 1992. Flowers of the Pacific Island Seashore).

In Hawaii Cerbera manghas is sometimes called "suicide apple".


Because of its deadly poisonous seeds, the genus name is derived from Cerberus, the hell dog from the Greek mythology, thus indicating the toxicity of the seeds. In Madagascar, the seeds were used in sentence rituals to poison kings and queens.(1)


In Sri Lanka, this wood is used for making masks particularly because it is a light wood.

Indigenous Names[edit]

Unripe Bintaro fruit of Indonesia.


1.nhttp://ntbg.org/plants/plant_details.php?plantid=2601 The (US) National Tropical Botanical Garden.