Cerbera manghas, the sea mango, is a small evergreen coastal tree growing up 12 metres (39 ft) tall. The shiny dark-green leaves are in spiral arrangement, ovoid in shape. The flowers are fragrant, possessing a white tubular five-lobed corolla about 3 to 5 centimetres (1.2 to 2.0 in) in diameter, with a pink to red throat. They have five stamens and the ovary is positioned above the other flower parts. The fruits are egg-shaped, 5 to 10 centimetres (2.0 to 3.9 in) long, and turn bright red at maturity.
This tree has been introduced to Hawaii and other tropical locations as an ornamental.
People in olden times used the sap of the tree as a poison for animal hunting.
In Madagascar, the seeds were used in ordeals called tangena, with often deadly results.
The fruit was reportedly eaten to commit suicide in the Marquesas Islands (Whistler, W. A. 1992. Flowers of the Pacific Island Seashore).
Because of its deadly poisonous seeds, the genus name is derived from Cerberus, the hell dog from the Greek mythology, thus indicating the toxicity of the seeds. In Madagascar, the seeds were used in sentence rituals to poison kings and queens.
In Sri Lanka, this wood is used for making masks particularly because it is a light wood.