The Poison Nut Tree, Snake wood. The seeds are poisonous and are the source of valuable alkaloid strychnine.
A medium-sized tree with a short, crooked, thick trunk, the wood is white hard, close grained, durable and the root very bitter. Branches irregular, covered with a smooth ash-coloured bark; young shoots deep green, shiny; leaves opposite, short stalked, oval, shiny, smooth on both sides, about 4 inches long and 3 broad; flowers small, greeny-white, funnel shape, in small terminal cymes, blooming in the cold season and having a disagreeable smell. Fruit about the size of a large apple with a smooth hard rind or shell which when ripe is a lovely orange colour, filled with a soft white jelly-like pulp containing five seeds covered with a soft woolly-like substance, white and horny internally. The seeds are removed when ripe, cleansed, dried and sorted; they are exported from Cochin, Madras and other Indian ports. The seeds have the shape of flattened disks densely covered with closely appressed satiny hairs, radiating from the centre of the flattened sides and giving to the seeds a characteristic sheen; they are very hard, with a dark grey horny endosperm in which the small embryo is embedded; no odour but a very bitter taste.