Cerbera Odollam a.k.a
Suicide Tree
Plant Toxin
Reported by: Ruedas, Laurence N. and Teñido, Christene Q.
Cerbera Odollam
Cerbera Odollam
Kingdom: Plantae
Class: Eudicots
Order: Gentianales
Family: Apocynaceae
Genus: Cerbera
Species: C. odollam
Common Names: Pong
Pong Tree
Status: Vulnerable
Cerbera odollam commonly known as
the Suicide tree, Pong-pong,
and Othalanga, is a species of tree native
to India and other parts of Southern Asia.
It grows preferentially in coastal salt
swamps and in marshy areas.
It grows wild along the coast in many parts
of Kerala, India and has been grown as a
hedge between home compounds.
Cerbera odollam tree is known by a
number of vernacular names depending
on the region.
 othalanga maram in the Malayalam
language used in Kerala, India
 kattu arali in the adjacent state of
 famentana, kisopo, samanta or tangena in
 pong-pong, buta-buta,bintaro or nyan in
Southeast Asia.
The kernels of C.odollam contain cerberin,
a potent alkaloid toxin
The poison blocks the calcium ion
channels in heart muscle, causing
disruption of the heart beat. This is most
often fatal.
Cerberin is difficult to detect in autopsies
and its taste can be masked with
strong spices.
Cerberin- C32H48O9
Cerberin is a cardiac glycoside, a
substance that blocks electric impulses in
the body (including the beating of the
 It is found in the leaves and the fruits of
plants in the genus Cerbera.
Cerbera Manghas
Cerbera Tanghin
Within an hour:
retching, nausea, vomiting and abdominal
pain occur
After few hours:
- patient becomes weak and drowsy and may
lapse into coma
- Bradycardia arrhythmia is the most obvious
Management consists of the elimination of
unabsorbed poison by stomach wash,
purgatives, bowel wash and correction of
bradyarrhythmias by intravenous atropine
(0.5 mg).
In severe cases, the drug has to be
repeated even at 15 minutes intervals or it
has to be administered as a continuous
drip. When bradycardia is not corrected by
atropine, the patient may require cardiac
Cerbera Odollam
~Making the History~
In 2004, a team led by
Yvan Gaillard of the
Laboratory of
Analytical Toxicology
in La Voulte-surRhône, France
documented more than
500 cases of fatal
Cerbera poisoning
between 1989 and
1999 in the south-west
Indian state
of Kerala alone.
The seeds also have a
long history as a
poison in Madagascar.
The poison was
responsible for the
death of 2% of the
population (3000
people per year,
50,000 per generation)
of the central province
of Madagascar.
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