Callaeum antifebrile

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C. antifebrile
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Eudicots
(unranked): Rosids
Order: Malpighiales
Family: Malpighiaceae
Genus: Callaeum
Species: C. antifebrile
Binomial name
Callaeum antifebrile
(Griseb.) D.M.Johnson[1]

Callaeum antifebrile is a South American jungle vine of the family Malpighiaceae which occurs predominantly throughout the Upper Amazon basin, and less frequently along the Lower Amazon.[1] It is used as a folk medicine in some parts of Brazil, and has occasionally been implicated a component in ayahuasca decoctions.


Vernacular names

  • agahuasca [1]
  • ayahuasca negro [1]
  • bejuco de las calenturas (“fever vine”) [1]
  • caabi [2]
  • pajezinho [2]
  • shillinto [1][3][4]
  • shillinto blanco [1]
  • shillinto negro [1][5]

Traditional use

Callaeum antifebrile is used in folk medicine, particularly in the northern Brazilian state of Pará.[2][6] In addition to being used as a febrifuge,[1] bathing in an infusion of the plant is said to combat the evil eye, panemice (a curse or disease where the victim is afflicted by bad luck), headaches, or “thick blood,” and the juice of the plant is used to treat gastritis, stomach ulcer, and skin eruptions.[2] It may also be used to treat rheumatism, erysipelas (a skin infection), and stroke, and it may be employed when giving massages to pregnant women.[2]

It has occasionally been reported that C. antifebrile is used as a hallucinogen in the same manner as Banisteriopsis caapi,[1][7][8] but this has not been entirely substantiated in any of the published literature. Some sources[1] reference an early paper by Alfonso Ducke as the source of this claim, but Ducke said that although the plant was used in “popular medicine and sorcery,” he did not know whether it “has any narcotic property.”[9] In 1928, the German botanist Franz Josef Niedenzu, a specialist in the Malpighiaceae, published comments on some specimens housed in the Berlin herbarium.[10][11] He identified the leaves of C. antifebrile in a collection of “ayawasca” from the Yarinacocha district of Peru, but the attached packet of samaras belonged to a different species, Banisteriopsis quitensis (at present, B. quitensis is regarded as a synonym of B. caapi, but Niedenzu treated them as separate species). Pablo Amaringo reports that C. antifebrile, which he refers to as shillinto, is used as an additive in ayahuasca but not as the primary basis of the brew.[4]


The stems and leaves of C. antifebrile have been reported to contain harmine.[12][13] No other alkaloids have been reported,[14][15] but no chemical analysis has been conducted on the plant in the last half century.


Botanical Synonyms

  • Banisteria antifebrilis Ruiz ex Griseb.
  • Cabi paraensis Ducke
  • Mascagnia psilophylla var. antifebrilis (Griseb.) Nied.
  • Mascagnia psilophylla f. peruviana Nied.


Woody vine or climbing shrub 3-15 m high; stems glabrous or slightly sericeous, terete, olive-green to dull brown; pith white and spongy, or absent; interpetiolar ridges present. Lamina of larger leaves 9-16 cm long, 3.5-8.5 cm wide, lanceolate-ovate to ovate, cuneate or rounded at base, short- to long-acuminate at apex, sparsely sericeous below, soon glabrate, glabrous above, 0-8 abaxial glands borne at the margin toward the lamina base on either side; petiole 8-34 mm long, bearing minute stipules at base. Inflorescence compound, of 1-7 four-flowered umbels racemosely arranged, the floriferous shoots usually 2 per leaf axil; bracts 0.6-1.3 mm long; peduncle 3-7 mm long; bracteoles 1.0-1.7 mm long, opposite, glabrate, near peduncle apex. Pedicel 6-11 mm long, circinate in young buds, divergent in umbel. Sepals abaxially sericeous, the lateral 4 exceeding the glands by 0.6-1.1 mm, the glands ovate or oblong, 1.3-3.5 mm long. Petals abaxially sericeous, sometimes sparsely so, the 4 lateral ones 5.9-14.6 mm long, 4.2-9.8 mm wide; posterior petal 5.6-11.6 mm long, 3.3-7.3 mm wide, with a claw 0.4-1.5 mm wide forming ¼ to ½ of the petal length. Filaments 1.6-2.3 mm long, ⅓-½ connate; posterior anthers three, 0.5 mm long, anterior anthers seven, 1.0-1.2 mm long; connectives convex and faceted. Styles 1.7-2.8 mm long, straight or slightly sinuous, sericeous at base, slightly expanded at apex. Mericarp 3-lobed, corky, 1.5-2.0 cm wide, the lobes ridged, occasionally bearing wings 1.0 cm high and 0.3-0.5 cm wide; intermediate winglets absent; ventral areole 8-10.5 mm high, 5-6 mm wide, ovate.[1]

Additional botanical descriptions may be found from Grisebach,[16] Niedenzu,[17][18] Ducke,[9] Macbride,[19] Brako & Zarucchi,[20] Jørgensen & León-Yánez,[21] and Jørgensen, Nee, and Beck.[22]

Relation to other malpighiaceae

Phylogenetic analysis indicates that the genus Callaeum (represented in the study by C. septentrionale) may be grouped with the genera Alicia and Malpighiodes (represented by A. anisopetala and M. bracteosa, respectively) into a single monophyletic clade [23] (note that Alicia and Malpighiodes were only recently segregated from the genus Mascagnia in 2006[24]).


  1. 1.00 1.01 1.02 1.03 1.04 1.05 1.06 1.07 1.08 1.09 1.10 1.11 Johnson, D.M. 1986. Revision of the neotropical genus Callaeum (Malpighiaceae). Systematic Botany 11(2): 335-353.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 Coelho-Ferreira, M. 2009. Medicinal knowledge and plant utilization in an Amazonian coastal community of Marudá, Pará State (Brazil). Journal of Ethnopharmacology 126(1): 159–175.
  3. Schunke-Vigo, J. and J.G. Graham. 2004. Callaeum antifebrile herbarium sheet No. 16011. Rapid Reference Collection, Field Museum of Natural History, Chicago, IL.
  4. 4.0 4.1 Amaringo, P. and L.E. Luna. 1999. Ayahuasca Visions: The Religious Iconography of a Peruvian Shaman. North Atlantic Books, Berkeley, CA.
  5. Plowman, T. 1976. Mascagnia psilophylla herbarium sheet No. 6033. Plants of Peru Collection, Field Museum of Natural History, Chicago, IL.
  6. Ducke, A. 1946. Plantas da cultura pre-Colombiana na Amazônia Brasileira. Boletin Técnico Instituto Agronomico do Norte 8: 5.
  7. Gates, B. 1986. La taxonomía de las malpigiáceas utilizadas en el brebaje del ayahuasca. América Indígena 46(1): 49-72.
  8. Ott, J. 1994. Ayahuasca Analogues: Pangæan Entheogens. Natural Products Co.: Kennewick, WA.
  9. 9.0 9.1 Ducke, A. 1943. O cabí do Pará. Arquivos do Servicio Forestal 2(1): 13-17.
  10. Niedenzu, F.J. 1928. Über die Stammpflanzen des Yageins. Pharmazeutische Zeitung 73: 141.
  11. Schultes, R.E. 1957. The identity of the Malpighiaceous narcotics of South America. Botanical Museum Leaflets Harvard University 18(1): 1-56.
  12. Mors, W.B. and Zaltzman, P. 1954. Sôbre o alkalóide de Banisteria caapi Spruce e do Cabi paraensis Ducke. Boletin de la Instituto Agronômico do Norte, Belém 34: 17.
  13. Siqueira-Jaccoud, R.J. de. 1959. Contribucão para o estudo farmacognóstico do Cabi paraensis Ducke, I. Revista Brasileira da Farmacia 40: 75.
  14. Bristol, M.L. 1966. The psychotropic Banisteriopsis among the Sibundoy of Colombia. Botanical Museum Leaflets Harvard University 21(5): 113-140.
  15. Schultes, R.E. 1982. The beta-carboline hallucinogens of South America. Journal of Psychoactive Drugs 14(3): 205-220.
  16. Grisebach, A.H.R. 1849. Beiträge zu einer Flora der Aequinoctial-Gegenden der neuen Welt. Linnaea 22: 15.
  17. Niedenzu, F.J. 1908. Arbeiten aus dem Botanischen Institut des Königl. Lyceums Hosianum in Braunsberg 3: 28.
  18. Niedenzu, F.J. 1928. In Engler, H.G.A., Das Pflanzenreich 141(Heft 93): 121.
  19. Macbride, J.F. 1950. Malpighiaceae, flora of Peru. Publications of the Field Museum of Natural History, Botanical Series 13, Vol. 3(3): 781–871.
  20. Brako, L. and J.L. Zarucchi. (eds.) 1993. Catalogue of the Flowering Plants and Gymnosperms of Peru. Monographs in Systematic Botany from the Missouri Botanical Garden 45: i–xl, 1–1286.
  21. Jørgensen, P.M. and S. León-Yánez. (eds.) 1999. Catalogue of the Vascular Plants of Ecuador. Monographs in Systematic Botany from the Missouri Botanical Garden 75: i–viii, 1–1181.
  22. Jørgensen, P.M., M. Nee, and S.G. Beck. (eds.) 2012. Catálogo de las plantas vasculares de Bolivia. Monographs in Systematic Botany from the Missouri Botanical Garden.
  23. Davis, C.C., C.D. Bell, S. Mathews, and M.J. Donoghue. 2002. Laurasian migration explains Gondwanan disjunctions: Evidence from Malpighiaceae. PNAS 99(10): 6833–6837.
  24. Anderson, W.R. 2006. Eight segregates from the neotropical genus Mascagnia (Malpighiaceae). Novon 16(2): 168-204.
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