Erythrophleum suaveolens (Guill. et Perr.) Brenan - syn. Erythrophleum guineense G. Don - Fillaea suaveolens Guill. & Perr. - Fabaceae
ordeal tree, sassy bark, red water tree, sassywood
Tree, up to 40m high, native to tropical Africa; bark grey to black; leaves bipinnate, shiny dark-green; flowers in axillary or terminal panicles of spike-like inflorescences, very small, pale yellow to greenish-yellow with red hairs outside; fruits are reddish-brown to grey-brown, flat pods, containing 5-11 seeds; seeds dark-brown, glabrous, shiny.
Cultivated also as ornamental in Singapore. Genus name and the name 'red water tree' refer to the red sap of the bark, which can turn water reddish. http://uforest.org/Species/E/Erythrophleum_suaveolens.html
The ingestion of a poisonous tree bark decoction as ordeal ('Sassywood') is an institution of criminal justice in contemporary Liberia.
[Sassywood., Leeson, P.T., Coyne, C.J., Journal of Comparative Economics, 40(4), 2012, 608-620] http://www.peterleeson.com/Sassywood.pdf
In Sprague-Dawley rats treated with total alkaloidal fractions of E. guineense stem-bark, plasma alanine aminotransferase activity, liver aspartate aminotransferase activity, liver glycogen, liver protein, creatinine and haemoglobin concentrations were reduced while plasma aspartate aminotransferase activity, liver alanine aminotransferase activity, plasma urea concentration, bilirubin concentration and alkaline phosphatase activity were elevated.
[Adeoye, B.A., Oyedapo, O.O. (2004), Toxicity of Erythrophleum guineense stem-bark: role of alkaloidal fraction.]
„In folk medicine, the stem bark decoction is used as emetic and purgative, as an anesthetic, anthelmintic, treatment of malaria, analgesic and disinfectant. The extracts are utilized in cases of skin disease, oedemas,
gangrenous wound, rheumatism and arthritis. It is also reported to be used as poison or repellant against rodent, insects and some aquatic animals and also in tanning hides and as dye.
The combined saponin fractions… caused hepatic damage, renal impairment and metabolic derangement in the treated rats followed by significant elevation of plasma and liver aspartate and alanine aminotransferases, total bilirubin, total protein, plasma creatinine, urea, total sugar and significant reduction in plasma and liver alkaline phosphatase, gamma glutamyl transferase, muscle creatinine and liver glycogen. Moreover, the saponin mixture caused progressive degeneration of the liver, intestine and kidney of treated animals as revealed by histophatological examination of the organs. Thus E.suaveolens stem bark saponins exhibits toxic and haemolytic activities… The symptoms of toxicity manifested by animals during acute toxicity studies of the saponin mixture include restlessness, freezing, writhing, spasmodic jerks of the limbs during locomotion, quickened respiration and convulsion which resulted eventually in death.“
[Biochemical and histopathological profile of toxicity induced by saponin fraction of Erythrophleum suaveolens (Guill. & Perri.) bark extract., Akinpelu, B.A., Oyedapo, O.O., Iwalewa, E., Shode, F., Phytopharmacology, 3(1), 2012, 38-53] http://inforesights.com/phytopharmacology/files/pp3v1i5.pdf
Erythrophleum suaveolens as Fillaea suaveolens;
Guillemin, J.B.A., Perrottet, S., Florae Senegambiae Tentamen, t.55 (1833) [J.Decaisne]