The genus Thevetia is composed of nine species,
known as rattle trees or tropical oleander (Anzeneder et al. 1993,61*). The peels of the fruits
are hard and are used to make rattles and clappers
for Indian dances.
One species whose identity has not been clarified
is known in Colombia and the surrounding
regions as cabalonga blanca. It is considered a
weaker relative of the true cabalonga. Cabalonga
blanca is said to have magical powers and psychoactive
effects and is used as an ayahuasca additive.
In Mexico, Thevetia thevetioides (H.B.K.) K.
Schum. is known as yoyotl and is used in folk
medicine as a cardiac stimulant and analgesic (Jiu
1966, 252*). Thevetia peruviana (Pers.) Schum.
[syn. T. neriifolia Juss.], known as yellow oleander,
is originally from Peru but is now cultivated as an
ornamental in all tropical zones of the world, and
it is the species whose chemical makeup is best
known. The seeds are rich in cardiac glycosides,
e.g., peruvoside (Steinegger and Hansel 1972,
193*). Eight to ten seeds is reportedly the lethal
dose for an adult (Roth et al. 1994, 699*). In the
Mexican state of San Luis Potosi, Thevetia peruviana
is known as palo de San Antonio, "tree of St.
Anthony" (Aguilar Contreras and Zolla 1982,
196*). The name may very well be derived from a
psychoactive effect (see Claviceps purpurea). On
the Gulf Coast of Mexico, in the territory of the
Huastec, the plant is known as cabalonga de la
huasteca (Aguilar Contreras and Zolla 1982, 196*).