- none important commercially
- rotenoids active at 1 part in 10 X 106
CHAPTER 12 and lecture material
Many plant products are used in "primitive societies" to capture or kill game. These range from
those used to coat or tip arrows and spears to those used to poison or stun fish (sometimes called
piscicides or barbascos).
Although we don't often consider it, we have benefited from these unusual (to us) uses in that we
use these compounds medicinally and for insecticides.
Plants are also used to capture fish in many cultures (including former European cultures). The
fish poisons used generally render the fish helpless, but not poisonous to the people that eat them.
Often, as little as 1 part in 10 million is effective in stunning the fish.
Different plants are used by different cultures, but one of the most effective types involves plants
of the Fabaceae or Leguminosae of the genera Derris(Asian), Lonchocarpus(South
American), and Tephrosia. The active compounds from these plants are called rotenoids.
They are used today in our culture as insecticides.
Many other plants used as fish poisons contain "saponins" or organic soap-like materials. Plant of
the families Menispermaceae and Loganiaceae (with alkaloids), the Solanaceae (with alkaloids and
saponins), and the Sapindaceae, Meliaceae, and Sapotaceae (with mostly saponins) often are used.
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Revised April 2005
© David S. Seigler, Plant Biology 263, Plants and Their Uses,
Department of Plant Biology, 265 Morrill Hall, 505 S. Goodwin Ave., University of Illinois, Urbana,
Illinois 61801, USA. 217-333-7577. email@example.com.