Toxiferine cool background

A molecule of toxiferine. Toxiferine is one of the most beautiful molecules in my opinion :) Such a perfect deadly substance.


Toxiferine is one of the two main curare alkaloids, d-tubocurarine being the other. It's non-depolarizing, more potent than dTC, has a long duration, and it has one derivative that was used in medicine, Alcuronium. There are many different toxiferine molecules with slight variations between them, but the most well-known and studied one is called C-Toxiferine I. Toxiferine has the chemical formula C40H46N4O2.

Toxiferine is lesser known and is a bit closer to the "poison that kills you" side of these alkaloids (as opposed to the "helpful medicine" side) than dTC, which has spawned several derivatives all used in medicine. I mean, toxiferine has "Toxi..." in its name. Even by the name alone, it's easy to tell that this thing is poison. The 2nd part "ferine" can either mean "wild" or come from "fer" meaning "to carry". Even the adjective "toxiferous" means "producing or conveying a poison." But regardless of etymology, unless someone can give you artificial respiration, you're pretty much screwed if this gets in your bloodstream.


An indole molecule. Toxiferine is considered to be a bis-indole because it has two of these in its molecular structure.

It is produced by the plant Strychnos toxifera. And yes, that's the same genus Strychnos that strychnine (Strychnos nux-vomica) comes from. If you look at toxiferine's molecule and compare it to strychnine's, it could almost resemble two molecules of strychnine stuck together, with some changes here and there. Plants of similar families tend to produce similar looking alkaloids.

Toxiferine has bis-indole structure, and it is associated with the compounds mavacurine and fluorocurine. It and strychnine also seem to be derived from a base molecule called curan.

Plantae, Magnoliophyta, Rosopsida, Gentianales, Loganiaceae, Strychnos toxifera.

Curan toxiferine strychnine

A picture of the curan molecule compared to toxiferine and strychnine, which are both alkaloids from plants of the genus Strychnos. Parts of the curan molecule can be seen in both strychnine and toxiferine. These molecules were created in ChemSketch and were all drawn using curan as a skeleton to show structural similarity.