from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. The poisonous seed of a tropical western African woody vine (Physostigma venenosum) in the pea family, which has been used as an ordeal poison and is the source of the drug physostigmine. Also called ordeal bean.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. The seed of a tropical leguminous plant, Physostigma venenosum, poisonous to humans.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. The of a climbing legumious plant (Physostigma venenosum), a native of tropical Africa. It is highly poisonous. It is used to produce contraction of the pupil of the eye; also in tetanus, neuralgia, and rheumatic diseases; -- called also ordeal bean, being used by the negroes in trials for witchcraft.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. See bean.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. dark brown highly poisonous seed of the calabar-bean vine; source of physostigmine and used in native witchcraft


After Calabar, a town of southeast Nigeria.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
It derives the first part of its scientific name from a curious beak-like appendage at the end of the stigma, in the centre of the flower; this appendage, though solid, was supposed to be hollow (hence the name from Ancient Greek φῦσα, a bladder, and stigma). (Wiktionary)


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