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Deguelia utilis - (A.C.Sm.) A.M.G.Azevedo

Common Name Barbasco, cube, timbo, nicou, lancepod
Family Fabaceae
USDA hardiness 10-12
Known Hazards The plant is used as a fish poison[ 748 ]. Cub? resin, the root extract from cub? and from barbasco (Lonchocarpus urucu), is used as a commercial insecticide and piscicide (fish poison). The major active ingredients are rotenone and deguelin. Although "organic" (produced by nature) rotenone is no longer considered an environmentally safe chemical.
Habitats Both dense, primary rainforest and also in more open areas of secondary growth, often as a relict of cultivation. It is found in a range of conditions, sometimes in soils subject to periodic flooding, often near rivers, in acid to neutral soils[ 748 ].
Range S. America - Brazil, Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, Venezuela, the Guyanas.
Edibility Rating    (0 of 5)
Other Uses    (5 of 5)
Weed Potential No
Medicinal Rating    (3 of 5)
Tender Moist Soil Full shade Semi-shade Full sun
Deguelia utilis Barbasco, cube, timbo, nicou, lancepod

International Institute of Tropical Agriculture
Deguelia utilis Barbasco, cube, timbo, nicou, lancepod


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Deguelia utilis is an evergreen climbing shrub or small tree. It is one of the sources of rotenone, an organic insecticide used as a fish and ant poison. It is commonly found in South America. It has a symbiotic relationship with a certain soil bacteria that forms nodules on the roots and fixes atmospheric nitrogen.

Physical Characteristics

 icon of manicon of cone
Deguelia utilis is an evergreen Tree growing to 15 m (49ft) by 15 m (49ft) at a medium rate.
It is hardy to zone (UK) 10. The flowers are pollinated by Insects.
It can fix Nitrogen.
Suitable for: medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and prefers well-drained soil. Suitable pH: acid and neutral soils and can grow in very acid soils.
It can grow in full shade (deep woodland) semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It prefers moist soil.


Derris nicou auct Derris utilis (A.C.Sm.) Ducke Lonchocarpus nicou auct Lonchocarpus nicou utilis (A.C.Sm.) A.M.G.Azevedo


Edible Uses

None known

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.

The plant contains some compounds similar to curare. Traditional healers crush the bark until a white milky substance exudes, they take one spoonful of this and retire. Twenty-four hours later they relate their visions to the tribes people[ 748 ].

Other Uses

Other Uses: The roots contain rotenone, which can be used as an insecticide[ 46 ].

Cultivation details

A plant of the moist, lowland tropics, usually in areas with year-round rainfall. Succeeds in moderate sun to fairly deep shade so long as the top growth can climb towards the light. Prefers a neutral to acid soil, usually found on more or less clay soils in the wild[ 748 ]. In some areas where it grows it is subject to periodic inundation of the soil[ 748 ]. Some forms of this plant do not produce seed, probably as a result of long term cultivation with propagation by cuttings[ 748 ]. 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[].


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Seed - Cuttings root easily[ 748 ].

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here

barbasco, cube, timbo nicou - French, barbasco -Spanish.

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


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(A.C.Sm.) A.M.G.Azevedo

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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