Plumbago indica L.

Last updated: 24 May 2016

Scientific Name

Plumbago indica L. 


Plumbago rosea L., Thela coccinea Lour. [1]

Vernacular Name

Malaysia Binasa, cheraka, cheraka merah, setaka [2]
English Fire plant, Indian leadwort, officinal leadwort, rosy-flowered leadwort [2]
China Zi hua dan [2]
India Agechhit, agnichita, agnih, agyachit, akkini, cegappu-godiveli, cengodiveli, cenkodivelli, cenkotiveli, cettikkotuveli, citraka, citrakah, citrakah-rakta, cittira mulam, cittiramulam, cuvannakotuveli, dahanah, dvipih, erra chitamooluma, erra chitramulamu, errachithramoolam, kempu chitra moola, kempu chithra moola, kempucit-ramula, kotiveli, kotuveli, laalchithra, lal chita, lal chitra, lal-chitra, lalcitra, mukaklei, nalichitrak, rakta, raktachita, raktacitra, raktacitraka, rakto chitaaparu, ronga agechita, senkodiveli, senkoduveri, sitaparu, sivappukkodiveli, sweta chitaapaaru, tambdi-chitrak, telhidak, thambadachitra-moola, yerracitramulam [2]
Indonesia Tjeraka merah [2]
Philippines Hangad ang babae, laurel, pampasapit, panting-panting [2]
Bangladesh Kaing-khao [2].

Geographical Distributions

Plumbago indica is found scattered throughout the tropical Africa, tropical Asia and the Pacific region. It is commonly found throughout South-East Asia but not reported for New Guinea and Borneo. This plant is widely cultivated in other tropical and subtropical regions. [3]

Botanical Description

P. indica is a member of the Plumbaginaceae family. It is a perennial herb or small shrub up to 1.5 m tall. [3]

The stems are erect, trailing or climbing, simple or branched from the base, sometimes rooting at the nodes. [3]

The leaves are oblong. The petiole is short and the auricles are absent. The blade is narrowly ovate to elliptical-ovate in shape measuring 5-15 cm x 2-8 cm. [3]

The inflorescences are elongated spike or raceme, many-flowered, measuring 10-30 cm long, glabrous. The bracts ovate in shape measuring 2-3 mm long, apex acuminate. The peduncle measures 2-10 cm long. [3]

The flowers are bisexual, regular and pentamery. The pedicel measures 0-1 mm long. The calyx is tubular in shape measuring 8-9 mm long, glandular and red in colour. The corolla tube measures 2.5-4.5 cm long. The lobes obovate in shape measuring 2-3 cm in diameter, apex rounded, mucronate, red in colour. [3]


No documentation.

Chemical Constituent

P. indica has been reported to contain 6-hydroxyplumbagin, β-sitosterol, campesterol, leucodelphinidin, plumbagin (2-methyl juglone), plumbaginol, and stigmasterol. [4]

Plant Part Used

Roots, root bark. [5]

Traditional Use

In Malaysia and Indonesia, a poultice of the roots and leaves are used as a remedy for rheumatism, paralysis, leprosy, tumours, toothache (as a counter-irritant) and swollen glands. The root-bark is used as a vesicant. To this end, the fresh root is cut into very thin slices, which are tied on the skin. Similarly these slices may also be applied to the forehead against headache. [3]

The root and root bark’s carminative and astringent properties make them suitable for treating intestinal troubles, dysentery, diarrhea and dyspepsia. For this purpose a tincture of the roots is prepared and given to the patient. This tincture is also used for the treatment of haemorrhoids. [5][6]

In the Philippines, the bark is used as vesicant and the roots are employed in poultices to treat headache. The bark is also said to be an antidyspeptic. In Thailand, the dried root is credited with emmenagogue, stomachic and carminative activities and it is reported to be used as abortifacient in India and South-East Asia. Besides, it also used to purify the blood and stimulate digestion. [3]

The leaves are also used in the treatment of rheumatism and headache. In veterinary medicine, it is given as a vermifuge to horses only. [3]

Preclinical Data


Anticancer activity

Ethanol extract of P. indica has been studied in vivo to possess a weak antitumour effect. When used in combination with other treatment modalities (radiation and hyperthermia) they found that there was an increase in complete response and tumour free survival rates. This makes the ethanol extract a good candidate for use in combination with radiation to enhance the tumour killing effects of the latter. [7]

Their further investigation lead to the isolation of a naphthoquinone called plumbagin from P. indica which proved to have not only cytotoxic activity but also radiosensitizing effects on mouse melanoma cell in vitro [8] an also in Erlich ascited carcinoma in vivo [9]. This radiosensitizing effect was found to be not tumour specific. [10]

Antifertility activity

Ethanolic crude extract (1000 mg/k body weight/day) of compositeroots that include P. indica administrated to the adult female albino rat for 12 days showed morphological changes in the endometrial surface epithelium in rat uterus. This structural disparity would affect the smooth functioning of nidatory preparation in the endometrium. [11]

Methanolic extract of P. indica roots possesses a dose related inhibitory effect on uterine contractile responses elicited by oxytocic agent on isolated uteri of pregnant and pseudo-pregnant rats. However, when given orally to pregnant mice there was significant fetotoxic activity along with mild abortive potentials at higher doses. [12]

The acetone and ethanol extracts of P. indica leaves were most effective in interrupting normal oestrous cycle of rats by prolonging dioestrous stage of the oestrous cycle with consequent temporary inhibition of ovulation and this antiovulatory activity is reversible. [13]


Acute and subacute toxicity studies of ethanolic root extract of P. indica was carried out. The 24 hour LD50 values in mice were 239.88 mg/kg intraperitoneally and 1148.15 mg/kg orally. The oral dose above 1250 mg/kg produced severe diarrhoea. The subacute toxicity studies in rats did not produce mortality with 50mg/kg intraperitoneally for 30 days. It was observed that there was no weight gain but a significant reduction in weight of liver, kjdney, thymus and testes with increase in splenic weight in male rats. Female rats showed loss in weight of thymus, weight gain in uterus and not changes in liver and spleen. There was a significant increase in total WBC and neutrophil counts, levels of serum alkaline phosphatase and alanine transaminase and liver alkaline phosphatase but a significant reduction in the DNA, RNA and total proteins in both sexes. [14]

Clinical Data

Clinical findings

No documentation.


No documentation.

Side effects

No documentation.

Pregnancy/Breast Feeding

P. indica in whatever form is absolutely contraindicated in pregnancy. It is a potent abortifacient. [3]

Age limitation

No documentation.

Adverse reaction

No documentation.

Interaction & Depletion

No documentation.


No documentation.


No documentation.

Poisonous Management

No documentation.

Line drawing

No documentation.


  1. The Plant List. Ver1.1. Plumbago indica L. [homepage on the Internet]. c2013 [updated 2012 Apr 18; cited 2016 May 24]. Available from:
  2. Quattrocchi U. CRC world dictionary of medicinal and poisonous plants: Common names, scientific names, eponyms, synonyms, and etymology. Volume IV M-Q. Boca Raton, Florida: CRC Press, 2012; p. 641.
  3. Chuakul W, Soonthornchareonnon N, Saralamp, P. Plumbago indica L. In: de Padua LS, Bunyapraphatsara N, Lemmens RHMJ, editors. Plant Resources of South-East Asia No. 12(1): Medicinal and poisonous plants 1. Backhuys Publisher, Leiden, Netherlands, 1999; p. 411-412.
  4. Schmelzer GH, Gurib-Fakim A. Plant Resources of Tropical Africa (Program), Medicinal plants. Netherlands: Prota Foundation, 2008; p. 473-474.
  5. Keshvachandran R, Nazeem PA, Diraja, John PS Peter KV. Recent trends in horticultural biotechnology. New Delhi: New India Publishing Agency, 2007; p. 287.
  6. Batugal PA, Kanniah J, Sy L, Oliver JT, editors. Medicinal Plants Research in Asia - Volume I: The Framework and Project Workplans. Selangor: International Plant Genetic Resources Institute, 2004; p. 168.
  7. Devi PU, Solomon FE, Sharada AC. In vivo tumor inhibitory and radiosensitizing effects of an Indian medicinal plant, Plumbago rosea on experimental mouse tumors. Indian J Exp Biol. 1994;32(8):523-528.
  8. Prasad VS, Devi PU, Rao BS, Kamayh R. Radiosensitizing effect of plumbagin on mouse melanoma cells grown in vitro. Indian J Exp Biol. 1996;34(9):857-858.
  9. Devi PU, Rao BS, Solomon FE. Effect of plumbagin on the radiation indiced cytogenetic and cell cycle changes in mouse Ehrlich ascites carcinoma in vivo. Indian J Exp Biol. 1998;36(9):891-895.
  10. Ganasoundari A, Zare SM, Devi PU. Modification of bone marrow radiosensitizing by medicinal plant extracts. Br J Radiol. 1997;70(834):599-602.
  11. Sarma HN, Mahanta HC. Modulation of morphological changes of endometrial surface epithelium by administration of composite root extract in albino rat. Contraception. 2000;62(1):51-54.
  12. Abdul Sattar M, Abdullah NA, Khan MA, Dewa A, Samshia D. Uterotrophic, fetotoxic and abortifacient effect of a Malaysian variety of Plumbago rosea L. on isolated rat euterus and pregnant mice. Pak J Biol Sci. 2007;10(5):763-767.
  13. Sheeja E, Joshi SB, Jain DC. Antivolutory and estrogenic activity of Plumbago rosea leaves in female albino rats. Indian J Pharmacol. 2009;41(6):273-277.
  14. Solomon FE, Sharada AC, Devi PU. Toxic effects of crude root extract of Plumbago rosea (Rakta chitraka) on mice and rats. J Ethnopharmacol. 1993;38(1):79-84.