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Fruit and blossoms of Cestrum tomentosum
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Tracheophytes
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Eudicots
Clade: Asterids
Order: Solanales
Family: Solanaceae
Subfamily: Cestroideae
Tribe: Cestreae
Genus: Cestrum

Some 150-250, see text


Cestrum is a genus of — depending on authority — 150-250 species of flowering plants in the family Solanaceae. They are native to warm temperate to tropical regions of the Americas, from the southernmost United States (Florida, Texas: day-blooming cestrum, C. diurnum) south to the Bío-Bío Region in central Chile (green cestrum, C. parqui). They are colloquially known as cestrums or jessamines (from "jasmine", due to their fragrant flowers).

They are shrubs growing to 1–4 m (3 ft 3 in–13 ft 1 in) tall. Most are evergreen; a few are deciduous. All parts of the plants are toxic, causing severe gastroenteritis if eaten.

Uses and ecology[edit]

Several species are grown as ornamental plants for their strongly scented flowers. Numerous cultivars have been produced for garden use, of which ‘Newellii’ has gained the Royal Horticultural Society’s Award of Garden Merit.[1] (confirmed 2017).[2]

Some are invasive species. Especially notorious is green cestrum (C. parqui) in Australia, where it can cause serious losses to livestock which eat the leaves (particularly of drying broken branches) unaware of their toxicity.[3]

C. laevigatum is employed by wajacas (shamans) of the Krahô tribe in Brazil. It is used "to see far", i.e. to aid in divination. Like the other hallucinogenic plants consumed by them, Craós wajacas consider it a potent entheogen, not to be taken by the uninitiated.[4]

Cestrum species are used as food by the caterpillars of several Lepidoptera species. These include the glasswing (Greta oto), the Antillean clearwing (Greta diaphanus)[5] and Manduca afflicta, which possibly[6][7] feeds only on day-blooming cestrum. It is either known or suspected that such Lepidoptera are able to sequester the toxins from the plant, making them noxious to many predators.

Cestrum species are reported as piscicidal.[8][9]

Selected species[edit]

Day-blooming cestrum (C. diurnum), the northernmost species
Green cestrum (C. parqui), the southernmost species


  1. ^ "RHS Plantfinder - Cestrum 'Newellii'". Retrieved 12 January 2018.
  2. ^ "AGM Plants - Ornamental" (PDF). Royal Horticultural Society. July 2017. p. 16. Retrieved 24 January 2018.
  3. ^ North West Weeds (2003): Green cestrum Archived August 20, 2006, at the Wayback Machine. Version of 2003-APR-15. Retrieved 2007-NOV-14.
  4. ^ Rodrigues, Eliana; Carlini, E.A. (2006). "Plants with possible psychoactive effects used by the Krahô Indians, Brazil" (PDF). Revista Brasileira de Psiquiatria. 28 (4): 277–282. doi:10.1590/s1516-44462006000400006.
  5. ^ A. Sourakov; T. C. Emmel (1995). "Life history of Greta diaphana from the Dominican Republic (Lepidoptera: Nymphalidae)" (PDF). Tropical Lepidoptera. 6 (2): 155–157.
  6. ^ Oehlke, Bill. "Manduca afflicta afflicta man-DOO-kuhM af-FLIK-ta (Grote, 1865) Sphinx". silkmoths.
  7. ^ "Eating grubs". All About Heaven.
  8. ^ CS JAWALE; LB DAMA (2010). "Haematological Changes In The Fresh Water Fish, Exposed To Sub-Lethal Concentration Of Piscicidal Compounds From (Fam: Solanaceae)". National Journal of Life Sciences. 7 (1): 82–84.
  9. ^ Chetan Jawale; Rambhau Kirdak; Laxmikant Dama (2010). "Larvicidal activity of Cestrum nocturnum on Aedes aegypti". Bangladesh Journal of Pharmacology. 5 (1): 39–40. doi:10.3329/bjp.v5i1.4714.
  10. ^ "Cestrum lanceolatum Miers". the plant list.

Further reading[edit]