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Derris elliptica


Derris elliptica (Wall.) Benth.

Family Name: Fabaceae (Leguminosae)
Synonyms: Millettia piscatoria Merr.
Common Name: Tuba, Poison Vine


Family Name
Genus Epithet
Species Epithet
Name Authority
Name Status (botanical)
Common Names

Classifications and Characteristics

Plant Division Angiosperms (Flowering Seed Plants) (Dicotyledon)
Plant Growth Form Climber
Lifespan (in Singapore) Perennial
Mode of Nutrition Autotrophic


Native Distribution From India to Indonesia. 
Native Habitat Terrestrial
Preferred Climate Zone Tropical
Local Conservation Status Non-native (Spontaneous (Naturalised))

Description and Ethnobotany

Growth Form A large climber which can grow up to 5 to 12m long. 
Foliage The leaves are pinnate-compound and alternately arranged along the stems. New leaves are red but turn green when mature. Leaflets are obovate and coriaceous with an acute apex and are very pale green on the underside.  
Flowers Flowers are borne on axillary racemes which can grow up to a length of 18cm. Flowers are pink in colour. 
Habitat It is found along muddy river banks, mangrove forests and forests at low-altitude. 
Cultivation Can be grown under partial sun with free draining, moisture-retentive and loam based growing medium. 
Etymology The genus name was derived from Greek, 'Derris' meaning a leathery covering in reference to the leathery seed pods. 
Ethnobotanical Uses Others: It is cultivated for the insecticide Rotenone which is derived from the roots and used widely in the horticulture industry. The freshly pounded roots are also used as fish poison. 

Landscaping Features

Desirable Plant Features Ornamental Foliage
Landscape Uses Parks & Gardens
Thematic Landscaping Naturalistic Garden

Plant Care and Propagation

Light Preference Semi-Shade
Water Preference Moderate Water
Plant Growth Rate Fast


Foliage Retention Evergreen
Mature Foliage Colour(s) Green
Mature Foliage Texture(s) Smooth
Prominent Young Flush Colour(s) Red
Young Flush Texture(s) Smooth
Foliar Type Compound
Foliar Arrangement Along Stem Alternate
Foliar Attachment to Stem Petiolate
Foliar Shape(s) Non-Palm Foliage
Foliar Venation Pinnate / Net
Foliar Margin Entire
Foliar Apex - Tip Cuspidate

Floral (Angiosperm)

Flower Colour(s) Pink
Flower Grouping Cluster / Inflorescence
Individual Flower Shape Papilionaceous / Pea-shaped

Fruit, Seed and Spore

Mature Fruit Texture(s) Leathery
Fruit Classification Simple Fruit

Image Repository



Master ID 31340
Species ID 5737
Flora Disclaimer The information in this website has been compiled from reliable sources, such as reference works on medicinal plants. It is not a substitute for medical advice or treatment and NParks does not purport to provide any medical advice. Readers should always consult his/her physician before using or consuming a plant for medicinal purposes.
Species record last updated on: 05 August 2022.