Collier's New Encyclopedia (1921)/Woorali Poison

WOORALI POISON, now generally called curara, obtained from the Etrychnos toxifera, and used by the South American Indians as an arrow poison. An alcoholic extract, called curara or curarin, is obtained from the crude woorali, which is in commerce a black-brown resinous mass, soluble in water, but slightly so in alcohol. The alcoholic extract, obtained by Roulin and Boussingault in 1828, was a solid transparent mass, of an excessively bitter taste, and possessed all the virulence of the woorali poison. The woorali poison contains no strychnine, but belongs to the narcotic rather than to the tetanic poisons. It is extremely virulent and rapid in its action, so much so that a large animal may be killed by a poisoned arrow in five minutes, and it may retain all its properties for an indefinite length of time if kept dry.