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From: (Steven B. Harris )
Subject: Re: Poisonous Plants (Inorganic Poisons)
Date: 24 Jul 1995

In <> (Steve Dyer) writes:

>In article <>,
> <> wrote:
>   >There's also an African plant, whose name I don't recall, but the
>   >common name is, I think "gifbaum" or "giftboom" ("poison tree") that
>   >concentrates fluorine from the soil.
>Is this it?
>Fluoroacetate, the deadly poison used to kill wolves and rats, occurs in
>nature in a South African plant known as _Dichapetalum cymosum_. Once
>ingested, fluoroacetate (by analogy to acetate) is converted to
>fluoroacetyl CoA which then enters the citric acid cycle. Just as acetate
>condenses with oxaloacetate to form citrate, fluoroacetate condenses with
>oxaloacetate to form fluorocitrate. However, fluorocitrate inhibits
>aconitase, the enzyme which converts citrate to isocitrate, the next
>product in the citric acid cycle. Fluorocitrate effectively knocks
>aconitase out of commission, the citric acid cycle literally grinds to a
>halt, and the animal (or person) dies.
>Steve Dyer

Hey, that's cool.   Also the only example I know of an organic fluorine
compound occuring in a land organism.

Sodium fluoroacetate is indeed to use to poison coyotes, since it
tastes like salt (blood) so there is no way the animal can tell the
bait has something funny in it.  Fluoroacetic acid is one of the more
deadly chemicals to manufacture outside of the nerve agents.  If you
get it on your skin, you die eventually despite immediate washes and
showers.  The folks who make it at the one or two companies which still
do, do it in space-suits.

                                               Steve Harris, M.D.

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