The WALA Plant Library
Nux Vomica

Synonyms for Nux Vomica: Dog button, false angostura, poison nut, Quaker buttons
Scientific Name: Strychnos Nux-vomica L.
Family: Loganiaceae (Nux vomica family)


Nux vomica should be treated with great respect. This evergreen tree with its round, short-stalked leaves can grow to 25 metres high and is permeated throughout with the deadly neurotoxin strychnine. The young, light green branches of the tropical tree contrast strongly with the dark-grey to yellow-grey bark of its trunk. The greenish-white funnel-shaped flowers grow up to one centimetre across and develop into orange-red berries with a diameter of up to six centimetres. They contain three to four ash-grey, disk-shaped seeds embedded within the white, bitter-tasting and gelatin-like flesh of the fruit: these are the nuts of the nux vomica. The nuts are extremely hard, covered in silky hairs, and are under considerable tension. When they become damp the seeds, which are one to two centimetres in size and look like buttons, burst explosively along their length and germinate. Nux vomica trees love hot, dry locations on the edge of thick woods near to the coast.