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Parker, G. W.
Nature, Volume 27, Issue 679, pp. 7 (1882).
There are two species, in both the leaf is lanceolate, dark green, glossy, hard, and brittle, and from both a thick milky juice exudes, while the fruit is like a long black pod, red at the end. One species is a tree with large leaves, and peculiar looking stem, the bark hanging down in large flakes, showing a fresh growth of bark underneath: in the words of my informant, ``What a villainous-looking tree! nasty, rough, ugly!'' The other species is a shrub, with smaller leaves, and the bark not peeling off the stem. Both species are said to possess the power of poisoning any living creature which approaches it; the symptoms of poisoning by it being severe headache, blood-shot eyes, and delirium, ending in death. The person affected dies either in delirium, or instantaneously without any delirium. A superstition is connected with this plant. Only a few persons in Zululand are supposed to be able to collect the fruits of the Umdhlebi, and these dare nut approach the tree except from the windward side. They also sacrifice a goat or a sheep to the demon of the tree, tying the animal to, or near the tree. The fruit is collected for the purpose of being used as the antidote to the poisonous effects of the tree from which they fall-for only the fallen fruit may be collected. As regards habitat, these trees grow on all kinds of soil, not specially on that which exudes carbonic acid gas, but the tree-like species prefers barren and rocky ground. In consequence of this superstition, the country around one of these trees is always uninhabited, althongh often fertile.
Parker said the Umdhlebi poisoned animals that approached so that the natural process of decay would fertilize the soil in which it was growing. Symptoms of the tree's poison reportedly included headache and bloodshot eyes, followed by delirium and then death. Parker never identified the source or nature of its poison, but hypothesized that it secreted a poisonous gas from the soil around its roots.
THE following note (the original article, not included on link but included above) has been communicated to us by the Rev. Dr. Parker, a well-known missionary in Madagascar. The story reminds one of the old myth about the Upas in Java. No light can be thrown upon it at Kew, but perhaps in the pages of NATURE it might meet the eye of some person who could give some more information about it.
Having hastily picked up some vague information concerning the Upas, he carried it to Europe, where his notes were arranged, doubtlessly by a different hand, in such a form as, by their plausibility and appearance of truth, to be generally credited.
But though the account just mentioned, in so far as relates to the situation of the Poison Tree, to its effects on the surrounding country, and to the application said to have been made of the Upas on criminals in different parts of the island, as well as the description of the poisonous substance itself, and its mode of collection, has been demonstrated to be an extravagant forgery, - the existence of a tree in Java, from whose sap a poison is prepared, equal in fatality, when thrown into the circulation, to the strongest animal poisons hitherto known, is a fact, which it is at present my object to establish and to illustrate.
The tree which produces this poison, is called Antshur, and grows in the eastern extremity of the island.
The two major types of pollution in South Africa are air and marine pollution. The industrial sector is the prime contributor to air pollution. More than 90% of South Africa's electricity is generated from the combustion of coal that contains approximately 1.2% sulfur and up to 45% ash. Coal combustion can lead to particulate matter in the air, as well as contribute to acid rain. While major cities in South Africa do not possess pollution levels comparable to many major cities in China, India or Mexico, pollutant levels are not insignificant. Nitrogen dioxide levels in Capetown, South Africa, for instance, were significantly higher than those measured in Calcutta, and surpassed the World Health Organization's annual mean guideline for air quality standard of 50 micrograms per cubic meter. In addition to industrial pollution, low-level atmospheric pollution often results from coal combustion in stoves, as well as coal-heated boilers that are found in hospitals and factories. Regulations apply to diesel-powered vehicles and are geared towards ensuring proper maintenance. Enforcement, however, is weak and sporadic.
7.6% —or about 9,203,000 hectares—of South Africa is forested.
Change in Forest Cover: Between 1990 and 2000, South Africa had no significant change or no reported in forest cover. Measuring the total rate of habitat conversion (defined as change in forest area plus change in woodland area minus net plantation expansion) for the 1990-2005 interval, South Africa lost 0.8% of its forest and woodland habitat.
Biodiversity and Protected Areas: South Africa has some 1632 known species of amphibians, birds, mammals and reptiles according to figures from the World Conservation Monitoring Centre. Of these, 13.4% are endemic, meaning they exist in no other country, and 6.5% are threatened. South Africa is home to at least 23420 species of vascular plants. 5.3% of South Africa is protected under IUCN categories I-V.
Originally posted by ravenshadow13
reply to post by star in a jar
It probably could have been used for medicine or as a weapon. It looks like the Upas tree is not really a mystery. Perhaps the trees are related?
Unpad biologist Joko Kusmoro said two tree species - Bintaro (suicide tree) and Mentega (oleander) - were among the poisonous tree species that could cause rashes, skin lesions, paralysis and even death upon contact with their sap. Oleander is also known to hold its toxicity even after drying.
"Every part of the Bintaro tree could potentially release poison called cerberin, blocking the ion calcium channel in the heart's muscle and stopping the pulse, which could lead to death," Joko told The Post at the Unpad campus in Jatinangor, Sumedang, near Bandung.
Joko added the smoke from a burning Bintaro tree also contained toxic gas that was dangerous if inhaled, while elements from the Oleander could cause heart failure if consumed by humans.