Cestrum nocturnum L.

Last updated: 04 April 2016

Scientific Name

Cestrum nocturnum L.


Cestrum graciliflorum Dunal, Cestrum hirtellum Schltdl., Cestrum leucocarpum Dunal, Cestrum multiflorum Roem. & Schult., Cestrum nocturnum Duss, Cestrum nocturnum Griseb., Cestrum nocturnum var. mexicanum O.E. Schulz, Cestrum propinquum M. Martens & Galeotti, Cestrum scandens Thibaud ex Dunal, Cestrum scandens Vahl, Cestrum suberosum Jacq., Chiococca nocturna Jacq. [1][2]

Vernacular Name

Malaysia Sedap malam [3]
English Family nightshade, lady of the night, night blooming cestrum, night cestrum, night jasmine, night jessamine [2]
China Ye xiang shu [2], ye xiang mu [3]
India Mirch, nalliravu nayaki, rat-ki-rani, rerani [2]
Indonesia Bunga sedap malam [2]
Philippines Dama de noche [2]
Japan Ya-kô-boku [2]
Hawaii ‘ala aumoe, kupaoa, onaona Iapana [2]
Mexico Dama de noche, galán de noche, galán de tarde, huele de noche, parqui, pipilojihuite; ak’ab-yom (Maya Yucatán); ishcauico, ishcahuico’ko, scauilojó (El Tajín); pipiloxíhuitl (Aztec I.); ijyocxibitl (Telelcingo) [2]
Peru Galán de noche, palqui, parqui, quiebra olla [2]
Spain Huelo de noche, heirba hedionda, galan de tarde [3].

Geographical Distributions

Cestrum nocurnum is native to Mexico but now widely distributed as ornamentals because of the fragrant flowers. [4][5]

Botanical Description

C. nocurnum is a member of the Solanaceae family. It is an evergreen bush that can reach up to 2 m high. [4]

The leaves are ovate-lanceolate in shape measuring 8 - 16 cm long and 2.5 - 6 cm wide, dark green above and glabrous beneath. [4]

The flowers are greenish in colour and intensely fragrant especially at night. The fruit is a globose berry measuing 1 cm in diameter, deep red-purple in colour. [4]


No documentation.

Chemical Constituent

No documentation.

Plant Part Used

No documentation.

Traditional Use

C. nocturnum has been traditionally used to treat conditions like epilepsy, hysteria, nervousness and spasm. [6]

Preclinical Data

No documentation.

Clinical Data

No documentation.


No documentation.

Poisonous Management

Toxic parts

Leaves and berries. [4][5]


The leaves of C. nocturnum contain atropine-like anticholinergic alkaloids. [4] The unripe berries contain solanine while the ripe berries have the anticholinergic glycoside toxins in them. [5]

Risk management

While poisoning from this plant can pose serious effects on humans especially children, reported cases of poisoning are rather rare. To avoid incidences of poisoning especially in children, this plant should only be placed in areas where human movements are limited.

Poisonous clinical findings

Clinical features of poisoning by this plant are due to two forms of toxic agents viz. anticholinergic alkaloid intoxication and glycoalkaloid poisoning from solanine.

Anticholinergic alkaloid intoxication

Acute symptoms include dry mouth, dysphagia, dystonia, tachycardia and urine retention. This would be followed by hyperthermia with flushed and dry skin. Neurological symptoms do occur a little later and include blurred vision, excitement and delirium, headache and confusion. This could be followed by somnolence, disorientation, hallucination and mumbling speech. It could end in seizure coma and death due to respiratory failure. Symptoms would appear within 2 hours of ingestion. [4][7][8]

Solanine poisoning

Solanine is a glycoalkaloid which could cause both gastrointestinal and neurological symptoms. Gastorintestinal symptom includes burning of the throat, nausea, vomiting diarrhoea and colic. Neurological symptoms includes headache, dizziness, hallucinations, loss of sensation, paralysis. In severe cases the victim would progress from hallucination, loss of sensation, paralysis, fever, hypothermia and death. The symptoms can occur as early as 30 minutes after ingestion but normally take between 8 – 12 hours to develop. [7][8]


Management of anticholinergic alkaloid poisoning

Management would include intravenous rehydration with electrolyte correction and anti-emetics if vomiting is present. In severe cases of intoxication one can use the available antidote, physostigmine. [4]

  1. Advance life support with continuous cardiac monitoring and intravenous access should be established as necessary.
  2. Activated charcoal should be considered but should not be repeated as there is the possibility of paralytic ileus developing subsequent to intoxication which can cause impaction or aspiration.
  3. Patients with mild psychomotor hyperactivity should be observed and provided with nonspecific sedation like benzodiazepines when necessary.
  4. Physostigmine is a specific antidote for anticholinergic intoxication. It is given in a dose of 1 – 2 mg as slow IV infusion over 2 – 5 minutes for adults. In children the does is 0.02 mg/kg, up to 0.5 mg. Doses can be repeated after 10 – 20 minutes if the anticholinergic effects persist or recur. Response is usually quick and remarkable, but recurrent toxicity is relatively common. The risk of cholinergic excess in overzealous treatment would be noticed should the patient developed bradycardia, bronchorrhea dan bronchospasm and seizures. This can be reversed by atropine. [9]

Management of solanine poisoning

There is no known definitive treatment for solanine poisoning. It is entirely supportive. Dehydration and electrolyte imbalance is the main feature in solanine poisoning thus, treatment would involve standard measures to correct the fluid and electrolyte imbalance. The seriously ill patients not responding to fluid replacement therapy should be given vasopressors if necessary and put on cardiac monitoring. Recovery is usually complete, but coma dna death have been reported in cases of severe poisoning. [8][10]

Line drawing

No documentation.


  1. The Plant List. Cestrum nocturnum L. 2013 ver1.1 [updated 2012, cited 2016 April 04]. Available from http://www.theplantlist.org/tpl1.1/record/kew-2713666
  2. Quattrocchi U. CRC World Dictionary of Medicinal and Poisonous Plants: Common Names, Scientific Names, Eponyms, Synonyms and Etymology; Volume II C-D. Boca Raton, Florida: CRC Press; 2012. p. 200-201
  3. Philippine Medicinal Plants. Dama de noche. Cestrum nocturnum Linn. [homepage on the internet]. No date [updated 2015 Oct; cited 2016 April 04] Available from: www.stuartxchange.com/DamaDeNoche.html
  4. Nelson L, Shih RD, Balick MJ. Handbook of Poisonous and Injurious Plants. Berlin: Spinger; 2007. p. 118-119
  5. Scott S, Thomas C. Poisonous Plants of Paradise: First Aid and Medical Treatment of Injuries from Hawaii’s Plants. University of Hawaii; Press Honolulu; 2000. p. 41
  6. Moran DQ. Guide to Afro-Cuban Herbalism. House Bloomington; 2009. p. 296
  7. Brandenberger H, Maes RA, editors. Analytical Toxicology for Clinical, Forensic and Pharmaceutical Chemists. Walter de Gruyter; 1997.
  8. Metcalfe DD, Sampson HA, Simon RA, editors. Food Allergy: Adverse Reactions to Foods and Food Additives. 4th ed. Malden, Massachusetts: Blackwell Science, 2003; p. 404-405.
  9. Linden CH, Rippe JM, Irwin RS. Manual of Overdoses and Poisonings. Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 2006. p. 30-33
  10. Barceloux DG. Medical Toxicology of Natural Substances: Foods, Fungi, Medicinal Herbs, Plants, and Venomous Animals. New York: John Wiley and Sons; 2012