This is a fairly new name (first published in 2000) and not universally accepted. We are following it here, but many publications still call the plant Derris elliptica[
Deguelia elliptica (Roxb.) Taub.
Derris elliptica (Wall.) Benth.
Galedupa elliptica Roxb.
Pongamia dubia Grah.
Pongamia elliptica Wall.
Pongamia horsfieldii Miq.
Pongamia hypoleuca Miq.
Pongamia volubilis Zoll. & Moritzi
Common Name: Derris
Derris is a climbing, evergreen shrub that produces woody stems up to 16 metres long[
]. These stems scramble over the ground and twine into other plants for support[
The plant is widely cultivated in the tropics as the main source of rotenone, which can be obtained from the roots[
]. Rotenone has had a long traditional use as a fish poison and has been used as an insecticide and parasiticide since early in the 19th century[
]. Until 1930 the species was cultivated in home gardens, but since then it has been grown on a larger scale in plantations[
]. The main producers are Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines[
Fairly harmless to warm-blooded creatures, the root is used as a fish poison throughout southern Asia and the Pacific[
]. It is considered the strongest fish poison in South-East Asia[
The leaves are said to be poisonous enough to kill cattle[
E. Asia - Bangladesh, Myanmar, Malaysia, Thailand, Cambodia, Indonesia, Philippines.
Forest edges, roadsides and along rivers, usually at low elevations but up to 1,500 metres in Java[
]. It can occur as a weed in forest plantations of Acacia, Eucalyptus and Swietenia[
|Other Uses Rating||
|Cultivation Status||Cultivated, Wild
A plant mainly found in humid, lowland tropical areas, though it can also be grown at elevations up to 1,500 metres. It grows best in areas where annual daytime temperatures are within the range 24 - 30°c, but can tolerate 20 - 36°c[
]. It prefers a mean annual rainfall in the range 1,800 - 3,500mm, but tolerates 1,400 - 5,000mm[
]. It can survive dry periods of up to 4 months[
Prefers a position in full sun or in light shade[
]. Succeeds in most well-drained soils of at least moderate fertility[
]. Prefers a pH in the range 5.5 - 7, tolerating 4.3 - 8.6[
Plants can commence flowering when about 18 months old[
The yield of dried roots is 1,100 - 1,800 kg/ha, occasionally up to 3,000 kg/ha, particularly when plants are trellised[
There is a danger of soil erosion during the first few months after planting and again after harvesting, therefore land suitable for this crop should either be flat or only slightly sloping[
Several cultivars (mostly clones of this vegetatively propagated crop) are widespread in cultivation and have bean selected for high rotenone content (13% of the roots)[
The plant is traditionally used for antisepsis and is applied to abscesses and against leprosy and itch, and sometimes as an abortifacient[
The roots are used as emmenagogue[
The stems are a blood tonic[
Rotenone, the active insecticidal ingredient found mainly in the root, has been evaluated as a potential antitumor agent[
]. It is broadly cytotoxic, the growth-inhibiting effect has been demonstrated both with cultured cells and experimental tumours[
The roots also contain tubaic acid (0.01% of air-dried root). This compound has shown anti-microbial activity, inhibiting the growth of Bacillus subtilis, Staphylococcus aureus and Escherichia coli at high concentrations[
The powdered root is widely used as an insecticide[
]. It is effective against a range of horticultural pests, such as aphids and caterpillars, and also against external body parasites like ticks, lice, fleas and flies[
]. The root can be up to 2cm in diameter and more than 2 metres long[
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