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Marsdenia tinctoria R. Br.

Marsdenia tinctoria R. Br.




Asclepias tinctoria Roxb.

Vernacular Names

Malaysia Akar tarum, tarum hutan, tarum akar.

Tarum akar (General), aka sanam (Minangkabau), tarum areuy (Sundanese).

Thailand Khraam thao.
Philippines Payangit (Tagalog), tayom-tayom (Ilokano), lamus (Bagobo).
Cambodia Dok bonenk.
Laos Büak.

Geographical Distributions

Marsdenia tinctoria is widely distributed from the subtropical Himalayas of Nepal and India, through Thailand and Peninsular Malaysia, southwards to Indonesia (Sumatra; once found in Java), and the Philippines; east and northwards to southern China, Taiwan, and the Ryukyu Islands. It is rarely cultivated in India, Burma, Thailand, and Indonesia (Sumatra, Java).


Marsdenia tinctoria is a winding shrub or vine that usually reaches up to 5 m tall. The stems are slender while the older stems are about 1.5 cm thick, nearly smooth and with longitudinal corky ridges.

The leaves are arranged opposite, simple, (broadly) ovate to lance-shaped, measuring 5-13 cm x 2-6(-7.5) cm, rounded to subcordate at the base and acute or shortly acuminate at the apex. The petiole is 1-4 cm long and minutely hairy.

The flowers are in axillary, umbel-like cymes or in many-flowered racemes up to 15 cm long, small and shortly stalked. The sepal is very small and pubescent. The petal is urn-shaped, measuring 2.5-4 mm long, yellow, somewhat fleshy and hairy inside, and with distinct corona. The stamens unite into a tube while the anthers are with the apical membranes, which are inflexed over the stigma. The ovaries are superior, 2 per flower, with 1 stigma and large.

The fruit composes of 1 or 2 lance-shaped follicles, measuring 4-6(-8) cm long and pubescent containing numerous comose seeds.

Ecology / Cultivation

Marsdenia tinctoria occurs naturally in primary and secondary forests at low and medium altitudes, climbing on trees or sometimes over rocks. It is also found in thickets and on open ground, possibly as remnants of former cultivation. It was formerly especially grown in places where heavy rainfall prevented indigo from being grown successfully.

Line Drawing / Photograph



    1. Plant Resources of South-East Asia No. 3: Dye and tannin-producing plants.

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