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Gymnema sylvestre - (Retz.) Schult.

Common Name Gurmar, Gymnema
Family Apocynaceae
USDA hardiness 10-12
Known Hazards None known
Habitats Secondary forest, riverine forest and dry shrub savannah, usually on sandy or loamy soils. It occurs scattered and is locally abundant and common[299 ].
Range Africa - Mauritania to Ethiopia, south to S. Africa; through Arabia to India, Sri Lanka, China, Japan, Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia, Indonesia.
Edibility Rating    (3 of 5)
Other Uses    (0 of 5)
Weed Potential No
Medicinal Rating    (4 of 5)
Care (info)
Tender Moist Soil Full sun
Gymnema sylvestre Gurmar, Gymnema

Gymnema sylvestre Gurmar, Gymnema
Dinesh Valke from Thane, India


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Gurmar or Gymnema sylvestre is a climbing plant of up to 3 m long with stems that scrambles over the ground and climb into the surrounding vegetation, and can be found in Africa, Arabia, India, Sri Lanka, China, Japan, Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia, and Indonesia. It has a woody rootstock and slender stems. The oval or sword shaped leaves are edible either raw or cooked as a vegetable. It has the ability to make bitter food taste sweet. The fruits are usually roasted. German is a well-known herb in Ayurveda medicine and used to reduce sugar levels in blood and urine. The leaves are used against cough and fever and aids in weight loss. The roots are used as antidote to snakebite and as treatment foe epilepsy. Other common names include gymnema, complaint, Australian cowplant, gurmarbooti, periploca of the woods, meshasringa, Bedki cha pala, and miracle fruit.

Physical Characteristics

 icon of manicon of climber
Gymnema sylvestre is an evergreen Climber growing to 3 m (9ft) by 0.3 m (1ft in) at a medium rate.
See above for USDA hardiness. It is hardy to UK zone 10.
Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and prefers well-drained soil. Suitable pH: mildly acid, neutral and basic (mildly alkaline) soils. It cannot grow in the shade. It prefers moist soil.

UK Hardiness Map US Hardiness Map


Ascletias geminata Roxb. Periploca sylvestris Retz. Cynanchum subvolubile Schumach. & Thonn. Gymnema

Plant Habitats

Edible Uses

Edible Parts: Fruit  Leaves
Edible Uses:

Leaves - raw or cooked[299 ]. Eaten as a vegetable or added to soups[299 ]. The leaves, for a short while after being eaten, have the ability to make even bitter foods taste sweet[46 ]. In India and China the bitter leaves are known as 'sugar destroyer', as the taste for sweetness is blocked for some time[299 ]. Fruit - cooked[299 ]. It is roasted then peeled and eaten, after discarding the seeds. The taste is similar to that of potatoes[299 ].

References   More on Edible Uses

Medicinal Uses

Plants For A Future can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants. Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.
Antidote  Astringent  Diuretic  Emetic  Epilepsy  Febrifuge  Hypoglycaemic  Poultice  
Purgative  Refrigerant  Skin  Stomachic  Tonic

Gurmar is an important, bitter-tasting Ayurvedic herb that is used especially to reduce blood sugar levels in diabetics[304 ]. Both roots and leaves can be used[304 ]. The plant contains a group of oleanane type triterpenoid saponins known as gymnemic acids, a complex mixture of at least 9 closely related acidic glycosides, which have taste-modifying activity; and gurmarin, which is a sweet taste-suppressing polypeptide. When the leaf is chewed, the ability to taste sweetness is lost temporarily[299 ]. Studies have demonstrated that the leaf powder may exert an antidiabetic effect via a number of pathways, including decreasing the uptake of glucose from the small intestine; improvements in glycogen synthesis, glycolysis, gluconeogenesis, and hepatic and muscle glucose uptake; as well as the reversal of haemoglobin and plasma protein glycosylation[299 ]. The plant is antidote, astringent, diuretic, emetic, hypoglycaemic, purgative, refrigerant, stomachic and tonic[304 ]. It is used particularly to reduce sugar levels in the blood and urine[304 ]. The leaves are used in the treatment of fevers and coughs[299 ]. The powdered leaf is considered to help curb cravings for sweets and to have lipid lowering effects, it is added to food additives as a weight loss remedy[299 ]. The powder also helps in preventing caries[299 ]. Applied externally the leaves are combined with castor oil and used as a poultice to treat swollen glands[304 ]. The roots are considered to be a useful antidote to snakebite - they are applied to the wound as a powder, made into a paste with water or given internally as a decoction[299 , 304 ]. The pounded and cooked roots are added to food and eaten as a treatment for epilepsy[299 ]. The pounded cooked root or root powder is applied externally to treat boils[299 ].

References   More on Medicinal Uses

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Other Uses

Other Uses: None known

Special Uses

Food Forest

References   More on Other Uses

Cultivation details

Gymnema sylvestre thrives in subtropical and tropical climates. The plant grows best in areas with a well-distributed rainfall of 600 - 1,000mm annually[299 ].

References   Carbon Farming Information and Carbon Sequestration Information

Temperature Converter

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Plant Propagation

Seed - it has a short period of viability and so should be sown as soon as it is ripe[299 ].

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here

"Gurmar, Gymnema, Gurmari, Periploca of the Woods, Adigam, Buko-bipilate, Chi geng teng, Kavali, Podapatri, Sirukuranjan, ajaglandini, ajashrajgi, ajasrngi, ajas??gi, ajas??gi, bedaki, bedakuli, cakkaraikkolli, cakkarakkolli, chi geng teng, ci?uku?iñca? ver (root), dhulcti, dun tiàng, gadalshingi, gudmaar, gudmar, gurmar, gurmar buti, gymnema, kaavalee, kadhasige, madhunaashini, madhunasini, madhunasini, mard shingi, med phale, medhaa singee, medhaashingi, medhaasingee, medhasinge, medhasingi, merasingi, mesarngi, meshashiringi, meshashringi, me?as??gi (leaf), me?as??gi (root), miracle-fruit, periploca of the wood, periploca of the woods, podapatri, podapatro, potla podra, ram's-horn, shakkaraikkolli, shirukurinja, shirukurum kaay, shirukurumkaay, sirukurinjan, small indian ipecacuanha. , "

Africa, Asia, Australia, Botswana, Central Africa, China, Congo, East Africa, Gabon, Guinea, Guinée, Guinea-Bissau, India, Indochina, Indonesia, Japan (Ryukyu Islands),

Weed Potential

Right plant wrong place. We are currently updating this section. Please note that a plant may be invasive in one area but may not in your area so it’s worth checking.

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Status : This taxon has not yet been assessed

Related Plants
Latin NameCommon NameHabitHeightHardinessGrowthSoilShadeMoistureEdibleMedicinalOther

Growth: S = slow M = medium F = fast. Soil: L = light (sandy) M = medium H = heavy (clay). pH: A = acid N = neutral B = basic (alkaline). Shade: F = full shade S = semi-shade N = no shade. Moisture: D = dry M = Moist We = wet Wa = water.


Expert comment


(Retz.) Schult.

Botanical References


Links / References

For a list of references used on this page please go here
A special thanks to Ken Fern for some of the information used on this page.

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