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Classification System: APG IV

Superregnum: Eukaryota
Regnum: Plantae
Cladus: Angiosperms
Cladus: Eudicots
Cladus: Core eudicots
Cladus: Asterids
Cladus: Lamiids
Ordo: Gentianales

Familia: Apocynaceae
Subfamilia: Rauvolfioideae
Tribus: Plumerieae
Subtribus: Thevetiinae
Genus: Cerbera
Species: C. dumicola – C. floribunda – C. inflata – C. laeta – C. manghas – C. odollam

Cerbera L., Sp. Pl. 1: 208. (1753) nom. cons.

Type species: Cerbera manghas L., Sp. Pl. 1: 208. (1753)


Odollam Adans., Fam. Pl. 2: 171 (1763)
Thevetia Adans., Fam. Pl. 2: 171 (1763), nom. illeg. non Thevetia L., Opera Var.: 212. (1758), nom. cons.
Tanghinia Thouars, Gen. Nov. Madagasc.: 10 (1806)
Odollamia Raf., Sylva Tellur.: 162 (1838)
Elcana Blanco, Fl. Filip., ed. 2, 584. (1845)
Type species: E. seminuda Blanco


Linnaeus, C. 1753. Species Plantarum 1: 208.
Farr, E. R. and Zijlstra, G. eds. (1996-) Index Nominum Genericorum (Plantarum). 2009 Aug 24 [1].
Govaerts, R. et al. 2017. Cerbera in World Checklist of Selected Plant Families. The Board of Trustees of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. Published on the internet. Accessed: 2017 Oct. 8. Reference page.
International Plant Names Index. 2017. Cerbera. Published online. Accessed: Oct. 8 2017.

Vernacular names
English: Suicide tree (Do Not Use For Fires)
suomi: Surmanpuut

Cerbera is a genus of evergreen small trees or shrubs, native to tropical Asia, Australia, Madagascar, and various islands in the Indian Ocean and the western Pacific Ocean.[2][3][4]

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.

The genus is related to Cerberiopsis,[5] endemic to New Caledonia.


Cerbera dilatata Markgraf. - Chiute - Mariana Islands
Cerbera dumicola P.I.Forst. - Queensland
Cerbera floribunda K. Schumann – Cassowary Plum - Queensland, New Guinea, Maluku, Sulawesi, Solomon Islands, Bismarck Archipelago, Micronesia
Cerbera inflata S.T. Blake – Grey Milkwood, Milky Pine - Queensland, Papua New Guinea, Bismarck Archipelago
Cerbera laeta A.J.M.Leeuwenberg - Papua New Guinea
Cerbera manghas L. - Tanzania, Madagascar, Comoros, Seychelles, Mauritius, India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, S China, Ryukyu Islands, Andaman & Nicobar Islands, Indochina, insular Southeast Asia, N Australia, numerous Pacific islands
Cerbera odollam Gaertn. – Suicide Tree - India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Andaman & Nicobar Islands, Indochina, insular Southeast Asia, Queensland, numerous Pacific islands

formerly included

Cerbera obovata Roem. & Schult. = Craspidospermum verticillatum Bojer ex Decne.
Cerbera oppositifolia Lam. = Ochrosia oppositifolia (Lam.) K.Schum.


1897 illustration from Franz Eugen Köhler, Köhler's Medizinal-Pflanzen
"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.
Potgieter, K., and V. A. Albert. (2001) Phylogenetic Relationships within Apocynaceae S.l. Based on trnL Intron and trnL-F Spacer Sequences and Propagule Characters.” Annals of the Missouri Botanical Garden 88 (4): 523–49.

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