Fagara coco or Zanthoxylum coco is an evergreen tree of the Rutaceae family, natural of Argentina and Bolivia where it grows in the wild, mostly hilly, spinniferous forests. Its natural habitat ranges the hilly forest of Sierras Pampeanas
The coco, also cochucho or smelly sauco, is usually found either in isolated groups or standing alone. It's a small to medium sized tree, ranging 6 to 8 m high. The folliage is abundant, evergreen with imparipinnate leafs that present paired spines presumably in the place of leaflets. Punctations, in pairs, on the leaflets are quite notable. Leafs have serrated margins and pinnate venation. Flowers have five petals and are arranged in panicular inflorescences. The fruit is spheric shaped, dehiscent; containing a shiny blackish seed.
The whole plant has a characteristic unpleasant smell; there comes "smelly sauco" as another common name.
Eventhough unused in general botanical pharmacopea, Fagara coco tissues are very rich in alkaloids. Fagarine, N-methil-iso-coridine, eskimminianine, a-fagarine, fagarine-2, magnoflorinne, nitidine, cheleritrinne, berberine, palmatine and candicine have been isolated from folliage and wood.
Taxon synonym usage
The coco belongs to the Zanthoxylum genus. However, most local scientific articles use Fagara as the genus of choice. Fagara and Zanthoxylum are equivalent synonyms.
Hieronymus, G.: (1882), Plantae Diaphoricae Florae Argentinae - Bs. A.s, Ed. Kraft, 53 - 404 pp.
Dominguez, J. A.: (1928), Contribuciones a la Materia Medica Argentina, Bs. As., Ed. Peuser, 95 - 433 pp.
Stucker, G.V.: (1930), Contribucion al estudio del Fagara coco, Congreso Internacional de Biologia, Montevideo, Oct. 1930.
Fernandez Rua, R.: (1933), El alcaloide de la corteza del Fagara coco: la fagaridina, Cordoba, folleto - 12 pp. y tablas.
Boelcke, O.: (1989) Plantas vasculares de la Argentina - Bs.As., Ed. H. Sur, 2da. reimpresion, 171 - 369 pp.
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