Rauvolfia serpentina

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Rauvolfia serpentina
Rauvolfia serpentina in Kudayathoor.jpg
CITES Appendix II (CITES)[1]
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Eudicots
Clade: Asterids
Order: Gentianales
Family: Apocynaceae
Genus: Rauvolfia
Species: R. serpentina
Binomial name
Rauvolfia serpentina
  • Ophioxylon album Gaertn.
  • Ophioxylon obversum Miq.
  • Ophioxylon salutiferum Salisb.
  • Ophioxylon serpentinum L.
  • Ophioxylon trifoliatum Gaertn.
  • Rauvolfia obversa (Miq.) Baill.
  • Rauvolfia trifoliata (Gaertn.) Baill.
Rauvolfia serpentina 11.JPG
Rauwolfia serpentina at talkatora gardens delhi.jpg
Rauvolfia serpentina

Rauvolfia serpentina, the Indian snakeroot or devil pepper, is a species of flower in the family Apocynaceae. It is native to the Indian subcontinent and East Asia (from India to Indonesia).[4][5]

Rauvolfia is a perennial undershrub widely distributed in India in the sub- Himalayan tracts up to 1,000 m as well as the lower ranges of the Eastern and Western Ghats and in the Andamans.

Vernacular names[edit]

English: serpentine wood[6] Bengali: Chandra; Hindi: Chandrabagha, Chota chand; Kannada: Patalagondhi, Sarpagandhi, Shivavabhiballi, Sutranavi; Malayalam: Chuvanna-vilpori, Suvapavalforiyan; Marathi: Harkaya, Harki; Oriya:Patalgaruda, Sanochada; Tamil: Chivan amelpodi; Telgu: Paataala garuda, Paataala goni; Urdu: Asrel.[7] indonesia : pule pandak;

Chemical composition[edit]

Rauvolfia serpentina The plant contains 200 alkaloids of the indole alkaloid family. The major alkaloids are ajmaline, ajmalicine, ajmalimine, deserpidine, indobine, indobinine, reserpine, reserpiline, rescinnamine, rescinnamidine, serpentine, serpentinine and yohimbine.[8]

Traditional medicine[edit]

The extract of the plant has been used for millennia in India.[citation needed] Alexander the Great administered this plant to cure his general Ptolemy I Soter of a poisoned arrow.[citation needed] It was reported that Mahatma Gandhi took it as a tranquilizer during his lifetime.[9] The plant contains reserpine, which was used as a pharmaceutical drug in Western medicine from 1954 to 1957 to treat high blood pressure and mental disorders including schizophrenia.[10]

An effective remedy to treat gastro-intestinal ailments, Rauvolfia serpentine is also used as a cure for acne.[11]

It is one of the 50 fundamental herbs used in traditional Chinese medicine, where it has the name shégēn mù (Chinese: ) or yìndù shémù (Chinese: ).

Other uses[edit]

The wood, commonly known as serpentwood, is mildly popular amongst woodcarving and woodturning hobbyists.[citation needed]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Appendices". Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES). 2014. Retrieved 2014-08-07. 
  2. ^ "Module 11: Ayurvedic". Retrieved 2008-02-11. 
  3. ^ "The Plant List: A Working List of All Plant Species". Retrieved 12 April 2015. 
  4. ^ eFloras. "Rauvolfia serpentina". Flora of China. Missouri Botanical Garden, St. Louis, MO & Harvard University Herbaria, Cambridge, MA. Retrieved 9 April 2012. 
  5. ^ Oudhia, P. and Tripathi, R.S. (2002). Identification, cultivation and export of important medicinal plants. In Proc. National Seminar on Horticulture Development in Chhattisgarh: Vision and Vistas. Indira Gandhi Agricultural University, Raipur (India) 21-23 Jan. 2002:78-85.
  6. ^ "Rauvolfia serpentina". Natural Resources Conservation Service PLANTS Database. USDA. Retrieved 19 October 2015. 
  7. ^ http://www.bsienvis.nic.in/CITES/R.%20serpentina.pdf
  8. ^ SerpentinaDB
  9. ^ Pills for Mental Illness?, TIME Magazine, November 8, 1954
  10. ^ Sumit Isharwal and Shubham Gupta (2006). "Rustom Jal Vakil: his contributions to cardiology". Texas Heart Institute Journal. 33 (2): 161–170. PMC 1524711Freely accessible. PMID 16878618. 
  11. ^ "Sarpagandha: Benefits, Uses, Dosage and Side Effects". CashKaro.