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
Paraderris elliptica 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 one of the main sources 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[
The plant contains rotenone and has been used traditionally as a fish poison - the rotenone kills or stuns the fish making them easy to catch, but the fish remain perfectly edible for mammals. Rotenone is classified by the World Health Organization as moderately hazardous. It is mildly toxic to humans and other mammals, but extremely toxic to many insects (hence its use as an insecticide) and aquatic life, including fish. This higher toxicity in fish and insects is because the lipophilic rotenone is easily taken up through the gills or trachea, but not as easily through the skin or the gastrointestinal tract. The lowest lethal dose for a child is 143 mg/kg, but human deaths from rotenone poisoning are rare because its irritating action causes vomiting. Deliberate ingestion of rotenone, however, can be fatal.
The compound decomposes when exposed to sunlight and usually has an activity of six days in the environment.
The leaves are said to be poisonous enough to kill cattle[
E. Asia - Bangladesh, Myanmar, Malaysia, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, Malaysia, Indonesia, Philippines.
Primary and secondary 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[
Maximum yield of roots is achieved when the plant is 18 - 25 months old. Most of the roots (usually more than 90%) are found in the top 45cm of soil[
The yield of air-dried roots is 1,100 - 1,800 kg/ha, occasionally up to 3,000 kg/ha, particularly when plants are trellised[
Yield of rotenone from the roots is usually 5 - 6%, though with selected cultivars this can rise to 13%[
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)[
This species has a symbiotic relationship with certain soil bacteria; these bacteria form nodules on the roots and fix atmospheric nitrogen. Some of this nitrogen is utilized by the growing plant but some can also be used by other plants growing nearby[
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 plant is grown in rubber, cacao, kapok, coffee and tea plantations, where it can provide shade, enrich the soil and provide organic matter[
The dried, 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. It is reported to be ineffective against bedbugs, cockroaches, scale insects and red spiders.[
]. The root can be up to 2cm in diameter and more than 2 metres long[
The stems are sometimes used for rough cordage[