Australian Tropical Rainforest Plants banner
  • Species information
  • About
  • Resources
  • Home

Cerbera manghas



Botanical Name

Cerbera manghas L.

Linnaeus, C. von (1753) Species Plantarum 2: 208. Type: Habitat in Indiis ad aquas..


Tanghinia manghas (L.) G.Don., Gen. Hist. 4: 98(1837), Type: ?. Cerbera odollum Gaert., Queensland Flora 3: 981(1900), Type: ?. Cerbera odollum auct. non Gaertn, Fl. Austral. 4: 306(1869), Type: ?. Cerbera odollam var. mugfordii F.M.Bailey, Queensland Agricultural Journal 3(4): 282(1898), Type: Mourilyan Harbour, near high-water mark, Wm. Mugford. Cerbera lactaria Buch.- Ham. ex Spreng., Sys. Veg. 1: 642(1824), Type: Not designated. Cerbera lactaria Ham. ex D.Dietr., Synopsis Plantarum 1: 623(1805), Type: In Ind. Orient.

Common name

Beach Milkwood; Dog Bane; Dog Bone; Grey Milkwood; Milkwood, Grey; Milkwood; Pink Eyed Cerbera; Rubber Tree


Exudate copious, usually milky but often slightly green or yellowish.


Petioles and twigs produce a milky exudate. Leaf blade rather large, about 13-25 x 4-7 cm, petioles about 1.5-6 cm long. Lateral veins about 25-35 on each side of the midrib. Stipules small and inconspicuous, wedged between the petiole and the twig.


Flowers strongly perfumed, about 20-35 mm diam., centre red. Sepals about 12-25 mm long. Corolla tube about 22-35 mm long, lobes about 18-26 mm long.


Fresh fruits produce a milky exudate when cut. Fruits about 6-7 x 3.5-4 cm. Endocarp thick, woody and fibrous.


Four to six cataphylls normally produced before the first true leaves. First leaf blades narrowly lanceolate to elliptic, apex drawn out into a fine point, base attenuate. Intramarginal vein present. At the tenth leaf stage: leaf blade about 17.5 x 3.2 cm, petiole about 1 cm long, lateral vein angle almost 90 and the veins forming loops near the blade margin. All seedling parts produce a milky exudate when cut or broken. Taproot slightly swollen. A large seed about 8 x 4 cm remains attached to the seedling.

Distribution and Ecology

A widespread species in NT, CYP and NEQ. Altitudinal range from sea level to 80 m. Grows in lowland rain forest and similar situations close to the sea. Also occurs in Malesia.

Natural History

Cases of poisoning resulting in death have been reported after consuming the seeds of this species. Everist (1974).

A potent drug cerberin has been extracted from the extremely poisonous seeds; it has some resemblance to digitalis in its effect on the heart, and has been used in medicine in very small amounts. Other parts of the plant are less toxic. Cribb (1981).







Shrub (woody or herbaceous, 1-6 m tall)




RFK Code