Derris elliptica

Derris eliptica is a species of leguminous plant from Southeast Asia and the southwest Pacific islands, including New Guinea. The roots of D. elliptica contain rotenone, a strong insecticide and fish poison.

Derris elliptica
Starr 010425-0043 Derris elliptica.jpg
Scientific classification
Derris elliptica (Wall.) Benth.

Cylista piscatoria Blanco
Deguelia elliptica (Benth.) Taub.
Derris elliptica var. elliptica
Galactia termimaliflora Blanco
Galedupa elliptica Roxb.
Millettia piscatoria Merr.
Millettia splendidissima S.Vidal
Pongamia elliptica Wall.
Pongamia volubilis Zoll. & Moritzi [1]

Also known as derris powder and tuba root (in Indonesia),[2] it was formerly used as an organic insecticide used to control pests on crops such as peas. However, due to studies[which?] revealing the extreme toxicity of rotenone to which the powder is often refined, it is unsafe: in spite of its popularity with organic growers.[3]

Derris root, when crushed, releases rotenone. Some native residents of Fiji and New Guinea practice a form of fishing in which they crush the roots and throw them into the water.[4] The stunned or killed fish float to the surface where they can be easily reached.[5]

Despite its toxicity, Derris is used as a food plant by Lepidopteran larvae [6] including Batrachedra amydraula.


The following sub-species are listed:[7]

  • D. e. chittagongensis
  • D. e. elliptica
  • D. e. malacensis
  • D. e. tonkinensis

See alsoEdit

"Derris" insecticides based on rotenone


  1. ^ The Plant List
  2. ^ Fryer, J.C.F; et al. (February 1923). "A Quantitative Study Of The Insecticidal Properties Of Derris Elliptica (Tuba Root)". Annals of Applied Biology. 10 (1): 18–34. doi:10.1111/j.1744-7348.1923.tb05651.x.
  3. ^ "(PDF) A Study of Rotenone from Derris Roots of Varies Location, Plant Parts and Types of Solvent Used". ResearchGate. Retrieved 2020-09-17.
  4. ^ "Potential of milkfish farming development in fiji". Retrieved 2018-10-18.
  5. ^ "Marine Update and The Fish Drive". Retrieved 2018-10-18.
  6. ^ Morse, Clinton. "Derris elliptica {Fabaceae}". Retrieved 2016-08-21.
  7. ^ Roskov Y., Kunze T., Orrell T., Abucay L., Paglinawan L., Culham A., Bailly N., Kirk P., Bourgoin T., Baillargeon G., Decock W., De Wever A., Didžiulis V. (ed) (2014). ”Species 2000 & ITIS Catalogue of Life: 2014 Annual Checklist.”. Species 2000: Reading, UK. [1]

External linksEdit