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Derris elliptica


Galedup elliptica, Pongamia elliptica, Pongamia dubia, Pongamia volubilis, Pongamia horsfieldii, Pongamia hypoleuca, Pterocarpus ellipticus [1][2][3][5]

Vernacular Names:


Akar Tuba, Tuba, Tuba Benar

English Derris, Tuba Root
Indonesia Tuba
Brunei Tuba
Thailand Lai Nam
Vietnam D[aa]y Thu [Oos]c c[as]
Burma Hon

Tubli, Bauit, Lapak, Malasiag, Tibalau, Tibanglan, Tugli, Tubling-pula, Tuva, Upei

Fiji Nduva, Duva ni Vavalagi
French Touba
German Derris-Wurzel, Tuba-Wurzel [1][2]

General Information


Derris elliptica is a member of the Fabaceae family. It is a perennial shrub/woody climber native to East Asia and grows up to 12m long. The shoot apex is often leafless for several meters. The leaves are pinnate, measures 15-30cm long, mostly with 11-15 leaflets. The leaflets are narrowly somewhat glabrous and glaucous beneath. The petiole measures 3-7mm long. The flowers are usually in stalked clusters of 3, combined into pseudorachemes measuring 15-25cm long, rusty pubescent. The calyx measures 6-8mm long, shallowly toothed. The petals are pink in colour measure standard 13-17mm in diameter, with 2 auricles at base, softly ferruginous-hairy outside; wings and keel with interlocking longitudinal folds. The fruit elliptic to oblong-elliptic, measuring 3.5-7cm long, flat, leathery, narrowly winged. The seeds 1-3, reniform, flat. [2]

Plant Part Used

Leaves and roots [1][2][3]

Chemical Constituents

2,5-dihydroxymethyl-3,4-dihydroxypyrrolidine;3,4-dihydro-2-piperidinecarboxylic acid; (2S,4R,5S)-form;3,4-dihydro-2,5-(bis(hydroxymethyl)pyrrolidine; (2R,3R,4R,5R)-form; 3,4-dihydroxy-2,5-bis(hydroxymethyl)pyrrolidine;

b-tubaic acid; g-hydroxyhomoarginine; (+)-maackiain; (-)-maackiain; duguelin; elliptinol; elliptone; malaccol; rotenoids; rotenone; sumatrol; tephrosin; toxicarol; toxicarol isoflavone; tubaic acid [4][6]

Traditional Used:


D. elliptica is a potent fish poison used extensively in south, south-east Asia and the Pacific Islands a long time ago until it was banned by the various authorities. In Borneo, the root extract forms part of the ingredient for making arrow poison. The powdered roots is also used as insecticide.


As an abortifacient, the roots are mixed with a little opium and inserted per vaginum at night. The Thai traditional practitioners make use of the roots as an emmenagogue.

Other uses

D. elliptica is made used of to ally itching by applying the infusion or decoction of the roots mixed with coconut oil. It is also used as an antiseptic and is applied over abscesses and leprotic ulcers. [1][2][3]

Pre-Clinical Data


Teratogenicity activity

Rotenone is an effective insecticide obtained from the roots of D. elliptica form part of insecticidal formulations in the form of dusts or aerosols and is commonly used in homes and gardens. Khera et al. evaluated the teratogenic potentials of this compound. They found that at a dose of 10mg/kg there was an increased in the number of non-pregnancy and resorption; at doses of 5mg/kg and 10mg/kg there were reduction in maternal body weight gain, fetal weight and skeletal ossification together in increase incidence of extra ribs; at does of 2.5mg/kg no significant effects were found. [8]


In animal experimental studies it was shown that annonaceae acetogenins neurotoxicity is similar to those of rotenone and their simultaneous exposed could produce a synergistic toxicity on neurones manifested in an atypical Parkinsonism. 

Clinical Data

Clinical Trials

No documentation

Adverse Effects in Human:

No documentation

Used in Certain Conditions

Pregnancy / Breastfeeding

In view of the potential teratogenic effects of rotenone it is advisable to exercise caution when using insecticide aerosols containing the substance in the presence of pregnant women.

Age Limitations

Neonates / Adolescents

No documentation


No documentation

Chronic Disease Conditions

No documentation


Interactions with drugs

No documentation

Interactions with Other Herbs / Herbal Constituents

No documentation



No documentation

Case Reports

No documentation

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  1) Botanical Info


  1. Medicinal Plants of the Philippines ( Accessed on: 28th June 2010
  2. Agro-forestry Tree Database.( Accessed on: 11th July 2010
  3. Medicinal Plants of Philippines ( Accessed on: 11th July 2010
  4. Anand Prakash, Jagadiswari Rao  Botanical pesticides in agriculture, Volume 1996 CRC Press Inc. Boca Raton 1997 pg. 154
  5. Peter Hanelt, R. Büttner, Rudolf Mansfeld, Institut für Pflanzengenetik und Kulturpflanzenforschung Gatersleben, German Mansfeld's encyclopedia of agricultural and horticultural crops Springer-Verlag Berlin 2001 pg. 648
  6. Ian W. Southon, F.A. Bisby, Phytochemical dictionary of the Leguminosae Chapman & Hall London 1994 pg 773
  7. Dominique Caparros-Lefebvre, MD, PhD*, John Steele, MD, Yaichiro Kotake, PhD, Shigeru Ohta, PhD Geographic isolates of atypical Parkinsonism and tauopathy in the tropics: Possible synergy of neurotoxins Movement Disorders 2006  21(10):1769 – 1771
  8. Khera KS, Whalen C, Angers G. Teratogenicity study on pyrethrum and rotenone (natural origin) and ronnel in pregnant rats. J Toxicol Environ Health. 1982 Jul;10(1):111-9.


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