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Leaves, flowers and seeds of C. odollam From Koehler's Medicinal-Plants 1887
Cerbera odollam is known by a number of vernacular names depending on the region. These include othalanga maram in the Malayalam language used in Kerala, India; kattu arali in the adjacent state of Tamil Nadu; famentana, kisopo, samanta or tangena in Madagascar; and pong-pong, buta-buta, bintaro or nyan in Southeast Asia.[non-primary source needed] In Sri Lanka, it is known as "ගොන් කදුරු" ("gon kaduru") in Sinhala.
Cerbera odollam bears a close resemblance to oleander, another highly toxic plant from the same family. Its branchlets are whorled about the trunk, and its leaves are terminally crowded, with tapering bases, acuminate apices, and entire margins. The plant as a whole yields a milky, white latex.
Its fruit, when still green, looks like a small mango, with a green fibrous shell enclosing an ovoid kernel measuring approximately 2 cm × 1.5 cm and consisting of two cross-matching white fleshy halves. On exposure to air, the white kernel turns violet, then dark grey, and ultimately brown, or black.
C. odollam is native to India and other parts of southern Asia, growing preferentially in coastal salt swamps and in marshy areas, but also being grown as a hedge plant between home compounds. Specifically, it grows wild along the coast in many parts of Kerala, India.