Picrorhiza kurroa

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Picrorhiza kurroa
Picrorhiza kurroa kz01.jpg
CITES Appendix II (CITES)[1]
Scientific classification edit
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Tracheophytes
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Eudicots
Clade: Asterids
Order: Lamiales
Family: Plantaginaceae
Genus: Picrorhiza
P. kurroa
Binomial name
Picrorhiza kurroa
Royle ex Benth.

Picrorhiza kurroa is one of the major income generating non-timber forest products found in the Nepalese Himalayas. It is one of the oldest medicinal plants traded from the Karnali zone. Known as kutki or कुटकी in Nepali, it is a perennial herb and is used as a substitute for Indian gentian (Gentiana kurroo).[2]


It is found in the Himalayan region from Kashmir to Sikkim at an elevation of 2700–4500 m[citation needed] and in Nepal, found abundantly between 3500 and 4800 m. It is found far away from the community and takes from hours to days to walk to its growing habitat. It has been reported that Picrorhiza has been harvested to near extinction.[2][3]


Leaves: 5–15 cm long leaves, almost all at the base, often withered.[2] Leaves are coarsely toothed, narrowed to a winged stalk.
Rhizomes of the plant are 15–25 cm long and woody.
Flowers: small, pale or purplish blue, borne in cylindric spikes, spikes borne on almost leafless erect stems. Flowers about 8 mm, 5-lobed to the middle, and with much longer stamens.
Fruits: 1.3 cm long.

Chemistry: Chemical composition of Picrorhiza kurroa include Kutkin, a bitter glycoside which contains two C-9 iridoid glycosides, Picroside I and Kutakoside.[4]


In 1997, kutki was listed in appendix II of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species[1] (CITES). This listing resulted ultimately from a request by the Indian government. Overharvesting of the wild species for use as medicine was cited as the main reason for the listing. The species not widely cultivated, though this has been discussed as a potential way to preserve wild stands,[5] especially since the Dunagiri Foundation Trust has created, implemented, and successfully employed protocols to generate export-quality organic ethical 'Dunagiri Certified' Kutki since 2014.[6] The International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List did not have a listing for this species as of 2014. Picrorhiza scrophulariiflora appears to be used heavily as a substitute for P. kurroa and is considered non-threatened by CITES.


The rhizome has a long history of use in Indian Ayurvedic medicine for the treatment of digestive problems. Other uses have been proposed (e.g. for asthma, liver damage, wound healing, vitiligo), but the medical evidence is not yet conclusive. It appears to be relatively safe based on its long history of traditional use.[3][7] Kutki has hepato-protective properties and thus supports the liver and spleen. It is used in all forms of liver damage, cirrhosis, and inflammation of the liver. It protects the liver against damage from the hepatitis C virus.[citation needed]


  1. ^ a b "Appendices". Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES). 2014. Retrieved 2014-08-07.
  2. ^ a b c "Kutki" (PDF). Kathmandu: Asia Network for Sustainable Agriculture and Bioresources. Archived from the original (PDF) on 25 February 2007. Retrieved 1 January 2014.
  3. ^ a b "PICRORHIZA: Uses, Side Effects, Interactions and Warnings". WebMD. Retrieved 1 January 2014.
  4. ^ Singh, B. and Rastogi, R.P. 1972. Chemical examination of Picrorhiza kurrooa Benth.: Part VI. Reinvestigation of Kutkin. Indian J. Chem. 10: 29-31.
  5. ^ Chandra B, Palni LMS, Nandi SK (2006). "Propagation and conservation of Picrorhiza kurroa Royle ex Benth: An endangered Himalayan medicinal herb of high commercial value". Biodiversity and Conservation. 15: 2325–2338. doi:10.1007/s10531-005-0770-z.{{cite journal}}: CS1 maint: uses authors parameter (link)
  6. ^ "Dunagiri Foundation Trust".
  7. ^ "Picrorhiza". NYU Langone Medical Center. Last reviewed August 2013 by EBSCO CAM Review Board. Retrieved 1 January 2014. {{cite web}}: Check date values in: |date= (help)