Common names: Corkwood, Eye opening tree, Poisonous corkwood, Yellow basswood
This plant grows to a large shrub or small tree with very corky bark. It has clusters of small white flowers followed by purplish-black berries to about 8 mm in diameter. This species is rich in alkaloids and is grown commercially to produce drugs such as scopolamine and hyoscyamine. One of the drugs obtained from this plant is used to dilate one’s pupils for eye examinations. It is also used to control motion sickness. Our indigenous people used it for its stimulant, euphoric, antispasmodic and analgesic properties.
It is reported to be poisonous to horses, cattle and humans. Despite this all of the seedlings have had their tops eaten off by either the feral deer or swamp wallabies! I am keeping a watchful eye on the animals to see if I can find any with dilated pupils. (August 2013)