Gelsemium sumatranum (Blume) Boerl.
Leptopteris sumatrana Blume
Medicia elegans Gardner & Champ.
Gelsemium elegans is an evergreen shrub with straggly stems that scramble over the ground and twine into the surrounding vegetation. The stems can be up to 12 metres long[
Although toxic, the plant is harvested from the wild for medicinal use.
All parts of the plant, but especially the leaves and the roots, contain alkaloids including gelsemidin, and are said to be very poisonous[
]. The plant has been used as a means of murder and suicide[
E. Asia - China, India, Myanmar, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, Malaysia, Indonesia.
Scrubby forests and thickets on various soils; at elevations from 250 - 2,000 metres[
|Cultivation Status||Ornamental, Wild
In view of its twining habit, the plant is suitable for training on trellis and pergolas or for growing on steep banks. Severe pruning after flowering is recommended to retain a moderately sized plant[
Although very poisonous, the plant is used in Chinese traditional medicine as an analgesic, antispasmodic and as a remedy for certain kinds of skin ulcers[
]. Externally fresh plant parts or aqueous extracts are applied to various skin afflictions including eczema, boils, ulcers, ringworm as well as in the treatment of haemorrhoids or neuralgic pains[
Numerous oxindole and indole-alkaloids have been isolated from the plant, include gelsemine, and additional alkaloids such as hydroxydihydrogelsemine, gelsemicine, gelsenicine, gelsevirine, koumine, koumidine, kumantenidine, kumantenine and sempervirine[
Fractional amounts of the alkaloids have a stimulating effect on the central nervous system. Toxic symptoms in humans may vary considerably between individuals, but in general these will include loss of appetite, stomach upset, internal bleeding, muscle weakness, paralysis of respiration (which will eventually lead to death), heart rate disturbances, hypotensive and and vasodilating effects.[
Cuttings of semi-ripe wood root easily[
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