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Paraderris elliptica - (Wall.) Adema

Common Name Derris
Family Fabaceae
USDA hardiness 10-12
Known Hazards Fairly harmless to warm-blooded creatures, the root is used as a fish poison throughout southern Asia and the Pacific[303 ]. It is considered the strongest fish poison in South-East Asia[303 ]. The leaves are said to be poisonous enough to kill cattle[418 ].
Habitats Forest edges, roadsides and along rivers, usually at low elevations but up to 1,500 metres in Java[303 ]. It can occur as a weed in forest plantations of Acacia, Eucalyptus and Swietenia[303 ].
Range E. Asia - Bangladesh, Myanmar, Malaysia, Thailand, Cambodia, Indonesia, Philippines.
Edibility Rating    (0 of 5)
Other Uses    (4 of 5)
Weed Potential Yes
Medicinal Rating    (2 of 5)
Care (info)
Tender Moist Soil Semi-shade Full sun
Paraderris elliptica Derris

Forest and Kim Starr flickr.com
Paraderris elliptica Derris
Forest and Kim Starr flickr.com


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Derris, Paraderris elliptica, is an evergreen climbing shrub with woody stems that grow up to 16m long and commonly found in East Asia. There is no known edible uses of Derris but it has several medicinal uses. It is used traditionally to eliminate microorganisms that cause diseases. It is applied to abscesses and used in the treatment of leprosy. It is sometimes used to cause abortion and increase menstrual flow in women. The root contains a toxic substance known as Rotenone, which is used as an insecticide.

Physical Characteristics

 icon of manicon of climber
Paraderris elliptica is a CLIMBER growing to 16 m (52ft) by 2 m (6ft) 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 can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It prefers moist soil.

UK Hardiness Map US Hardiness Map


Deguelia elliptica (Roxb.) Taub. Derris elliptica (Wall.) Benth. Galedupa elliptica Roxb. Pongamia d

Plant Habitats

Edible Uses

None known

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.
Abortifacient  Antiseptic  Antitumor  Blood tonic  Emmenagogue  Leprosy  Parasiticide

The plant is traditionally used for antisepsis and is applied to abscesses and against leprosy and itch, and sometimes as an abortifacient[303 ]. The roots are used as emmenagogue[303 ]. The stems are a blood tonic[303 ]. Rotenone, the active insecticidal ingredient found mainly in the root, has been evaluated as a potential antitumor agent[303 ]. It is broadly cytotoxic, the growth-inhibiting effect has been demonstrated both with cultured cells and experimental tumours[303 ]. 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[303 ].

References   More on Medicinal Uses

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Other Uses

Insecticide  Parasiticide

The powdered root is widely used as an insecticide[303 ]. 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[418 ]. The root can be up to 2cm in diameter and more than 2 metres long[418 ].

Special Uses

Food Forest

References   More on Other Uses

Cultivation details

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[418 ]. It prefers a mean annual rainfall in the range 1,800 - 3,500mm, but tolerates 1,400 - 5,000mm[418 ]. It can survive dry periods of up to 4 months[418 ]. Prefers a position in full sun or in light shade[418 ]. Succeeds in most well-drained soils of at least moderate fertility[418 ]. Prefers a pH in the range 5.5 - 7, tolerating 4.3 - 8.6[418 ]. Plants can commence flowering when about 18 months old[303 ]. The yield of dried roots is 1,100 - 1,800 kg/ha, occasionally up to 3,000 kg/ha, particularly when plants are trellised[303 ]. 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[418 ]. 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)[317 ].

References   Carbon Farming Information and Carbon Sequestration Information

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Plant Propagation

Seed -

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here


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Found In

Countries where the plant has been found are listed here if the information is available

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


(Wall.) Adema

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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