Home Herbal Monograph Indian Madder

This plant was used in Indian medicine as a coloring agent and Cakradatta recommended it as an application to the brown spots of pityriasis vesicolor. Ainslie observed that the hakims were in the habit of prescribing an infusion of this plant's root as a deobstruent drink in cases of scanty lochial discharge after lying-in. Kinnier and Tavernier noticed an abundance of this plant in Persia and Makran.


It grows widely throughout India, ascending to an altitude of 3,750m.

Morphology Description (Habit)

A very variable, prickly creeper or climber. The rootstocks are perennial; the roots, long and cylindric with a thin, red bark; the stems, four angled. The leaves are very variable, cordate-ovate to ovate-lanceolate, 2-8 in a whorl, normally 4, sometimes 1 pair is larger. The flowers are small, white or greenish, or in shades of red and yellow, sweet-scented in terminal panicles of cymes; the fruits, globose, or slightly 2-lobed, dark-purplish or black, fleshy with 2 small seeds.

Principal Constituents

Purpurin, Munjistin, Xanthopurpurin or Purpuroxanthin and Pseudopurpurin.


The roots are credited with tonic, antiseptic, and deobstruent properties. They are used in rheumatism.