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The Amaryllis is a beautiful, fascinating flowering bulb. It is Greek female and is named after a gorgeous shepherdess. The beautiful lady is the meaning of Belladonna name. In nature, Amaryllis belladonna is found in small thick group between rocks. Thus it is very suitable to plant them in a rock garden. This type of plant can also be full-grown among a ground cover or herbaceous border.
Amaryllis was found in the South Western Cape of South Africa with small distributions in Andiean South America.Amaryllis belladonna is also cultivated in Egypt as ornamental plant. Amaryllis was first brought in the United Kingdom in the near beginning of 18 th century around 1711. Amaryllis group has two species: Amaryllis belladonna and Amaryllis paradisicola. The bulb is normally big, brown, and has an average growth rate. “The large clusters of scented, trumpet-shaped pink or white flowers are carried on a long purplish-red and green stem appearing 50cm above the soil. Up to twelve flowers are produced from the flowering stem. These flowers are 10cm long and apically flare open about 8cm.”
Amaryllis can be grown from seed in large pots using a very absorbent soil mix. Its cultivation requires a little attention and care. The seed should be planted when fresh. Diffusion of seed, which occurs in winter, is normally by wind. Germination can occur in two weeks. The seedlings require at least three to six years to open and bloom. Throughout the domain period, a large clump of bulbs is separated from the mother bulb. The bulbs should be planted instantaneously with their necks at soil level.
Common & Botanical Names
Amaryllis has different names: Amaryllis, Barbados lily, belladonna lily, cape belladonna, lirio, naked lady lily, pink-lady, resurrection lily.
The botanical name is Amaryllis sp or Hippeastrum spp.
The poisonous agent in Amaryllis is the toxic alkaloid, lycorine. There are five other alkoids: pancracine, vittatine, hydroxyvittatine. the remaining two alkaloids appeared to be hippeastrine and a new alkaloid. Those additonal alkaloids are in very small amounts which makes the lycorine the major alkaloid in this plant. The bulb is the part of the plant that carries this agent.
Poisonos & Symptoms
The alkaloid lycorine is poisonous to human and animals. Ingesting the poisoning agent is the way to transfer it to the body. The symptoms include: vomiting, depression, diarrhea, abdominal pain, hyper salivation, anorexia, and tremor. The level of toxicity is class two which is minor toxicity. Fluid replacement is the treatment required in case of poisoning.
The chemical formula of lycorine is C16H17NO4
Drawing using Chemsketch
Some species of the genus Amaryllis have been employed in folk medicine. Some have been used also in the primitive treatment of cancer. An example of that is the genus Amaryllis belladonna which is used on Java for "swelling", a synonym for cancer.
Searching for Chemical Information
Scifinder is one of the best databases to search for chemical information. I used this database to look for some relevant information related to my plant poison, which is Lycorine. I started the search by choosing the locate substance from the locate window and typed in the substance name and I got the structure of the poison. Then I clicked on the bibliographic information icon. First I got 187 hits related to different topics. When I limited my search to properties, spectral properties and uses. The search returned to 45 hits. I went back again and narrowed down my search to just spectral properties and synthesis. The number of hits this time came to 11. But not all the references were related to the poison nor were they available in full text. Since we had to find at least three journal references that pertain to the poison, I chose three. Those journals were the only ones with full text, but none of them has relevant information about chemical synthesis. I did find some information about NMR techniques used to evaluate the structure lycorine and therapeutic uses against variety of tumor cell.
Amaryllis belladonna L..Retrieved February 20, 2006 from: http://www.plantzafrica.com/plantab/amarylbella.htm
THE AFRICAN GARDEN .Retrieved February 20, 2006 from: http://www.theafricangarden.com/page51.html
Amaryffls spp.Retrieved February 21, 2006 from: http://maxshouse.com/ToxPlantDesc/amaryffls_spp.htm
Poisonous House Plants.Retrieved February 21, 2006 from: http://www.blankees.com/house/plants/amaryl_b.htm
TOXIC PLANTS.Retrieved February 21, 2006 from: http://www.calpoison.org/public/plants-toxic.html
chmoogle chemical search results.Retrieved February 21, 2006 from: http://www.chmoogle.com/cgi-bin/chemistry?t=ss&q=lycorine
Animal Poison Control Center.Retrieved February 22, 2006 from: http://www.aspca.org/toxicplants/M01826.htm
Evidence, A.; Andolfi, A.; Abou-Donia, A. H.; Touema, S. M.; Hammoda, H. M.; Shawaky, I.; Motta, A. Science Direct. 2004, 65, 2113-2118. "(−)-Amarbellisine, a lycorine-type alkaloid from Amaryllis belladonna L. growing in Egypt".
Pettit, G. R.; Gaddamidi, V.; Goswani, A.; Cragg, G. M. Amer. Chem. Soc 1984; 47(5); 796-801."Antineoplastic Agents, 99. Amaryllis belladonna".
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