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N. O. MENISPERMACEÆ.

Kakkây-Kolli-Virai (Tam.); Kâki-Champa; Kâka-Mâri; Vittu (Tel.); Kâkamâri-bija (Kan.); Karanta-Kattin-Kâya; Polluk-Kaya (Mal.); Titta-wel (Sinhalese).

A large woody twiner, bark thick, vertically furrowed or corrugated, young shoots glabrous. Leaves 3-6 in., broadly ovate, acute or obtuse, rounded or subcordate at base, sub-coriaceous, glabrous above, paler and with very small tufts of hair in the axils of the veins beneath. Petioles 2-4 in., thickened and prehensile at lower ends. Flowers pale, greenish-yellow, sweet-scented, 1/2 in. diam, with 2 or 3 small bracts at base, on short, thick, divaricate pedicels, arranged on the horizontal branches of large glabrous panicles, 8-12 in. long, springing from the old leaves, buds globular. Sepals equal ultimately reflexed. Petals O; Male Fl.:—Anthers forming a globose head on the short, stout column of coherent filaments; Female Fl.:—Carpels usually 5, on short, globose gynophore, surrounded at base by a ring of ten very small bifid, fleshy staminodes, smooth, stigmas reflexed. Ripe carpels 1-3 (usually 3) on thickened branches of enlarged gynophore, nearly globose, ½ in., smooth, black.

Parts used:—The berries, and leaves.

Uses:—The bitter berries are sometimes used in the form of an ointment. This ointment is employed as an insecticide, to destroy pediculi, and in some obstinate forms of chronic skin diseases. (Bentley and Trimen).

The fresh leaves are used in Bengal as a snuff in the treatment of quotidian ague.

Chemistry:—Pikrotoxin is an astringent principle of the fruit. The commercial product usually melts between 192° and 200°, but after recrystallisation from water invariably yields a product melting at 199-200°; it is extremely bitter and very poisonous, producing similar effects to those obtained with strychnine. Paterno and Oglialoro, Schmidt, and others regard it as a definite compound which is readily decomposed into pikrotoxinin and pikrotin, but, according to the authors (Richard Joseph Meyer and P. Bruger), it is merely a mixture of these two indefinite, but not molecular, proportions, namely, 54-55 per cent. of pikrotoxinin and 45-46 of pikrotin. It may be partially separated into the two constituents by boiling with benzene or chloroform, or by treatment with barium hydroxide; the only method which gives anything like quantitative results is that with bromine water.