Ruellia tuberosa L.

Last updated: 08 Mar 2017

Scientific Name

Ruellia tuberosa L.


Cryphiacanthus barbadensis Nees, Dipteracanthus clandestinus C.Presl. [1]

Vernacular Name

English Blue bell, manyroots, menow weed, minnie root [2], meadow-weed [3]
India Chatpati, chetapatakaayala, mokka, ghabri, jalvarkur, jurbula, ote sirka ba, vedikaichedi [2], tapas-kaaya [3]
Jamaica Minnie root many root, minny root, duppy gun, menow weed [4]
Virgin Islands Iron root [4]
Barbados Iron root, monkey gun [4]
France Chanderlier [4]
Gaudeloupe Patate chanderlier [4]
Martinique Patate chanderlier [4]
Spain Salta perico (Cuba); periquito (Santa Domingo) [4]
Peru Ipeca de flor roja, ipecacuanha de flor rosa [2].

Geographical Distributions

Ruellia tuberosa originates from tropical America, but is naturalized in Southeast Asia (Thailand, Peninsular Malaysia, Java) and elsewhere in the tropics (India, Sri Lanka, Africa), as an escape from cultivation and as an ornament. [5]

Botanical Description

R. tuberosa is a member of Acanthaceeae family. [1] It is an erect, perennial herb, which can grow up to 90 cm tall. It is with elongate tuberous roots and slightly four-edged stem that thickens above the nodes. [5]

The leaves are arranged opposite, simple and entire, oblong to oblong-obovate, measuring 6-18 cm x 3-9 cm, decurrently at base, obtuse to rounded at apex, sparingly hairy or hairless and with cystoliths. The petiole is up to 1.5 cm long and connected by transverse ridges. Stipules are absent. [5]

The inflorescence is an axillary cyme, rather lax and 1- to 15-flowered. The bracts are narrow and up to 9 mm long. The peduncle is up to 2.5 cm long. The flowers are bisexual and 5-merous. The pedicel is up to 2.5 cm long. The sepal is 2-3 cm long and partite with narrow and finally reflexed segments. The petal is 5-6 cm long, infundibular with narrow base, unequally to slightly equally lobed, with rounded lobes which are up to 2.5 cm long, irregularly sinuate-dentate and bright violet to pale blue but sometimes white. There are 4 stamens inserted at base of petal tube and didynamous. The ovary is superior and 2-celled while the style is awl-shaped with 2 unequal stigmatic lobes. [5]

The fruit 2-3 cm long is a spindle-shaped capsule and many-seeded. [5]

The seeds are orbicular, compressed and ringed with hygroscopic hairs. [5]


No documentation.

Chemical Constituent

R. tuberosa was found to contain apigenin, 7-ß-D glucoronoid, and malvidine 3,5-diglucoside. [6]

Aerial part of R. tuberosa was found to contain phenylethanoid glycoside (e.g. isocassifolioside), flavone glycosides (e.g. hispidulin 7-O-α-L-rhamnopyranosyl-(1'″→2″)-O-β-D-glucuronopyranoside and pectolinaringenin 7-O-α-L-rhamnopyranosyl-(1'″→2″)-O-β-D-glucuronopyranoside), and verbascoside (e.g. isoverbascoside, nuomioside, isonuomioside, forsythoside B, paucifloside, cassifolioside, hispidulin 7-O-β-D-glucuronopyranoside, and comanthoside B). [7]

Plant Part Used

Whole plant, roots, stems, and leaves. [3][8]

Traditional Use

R. tuberosa was traditionally used to improve urination [10][11], reduce fever, lower blood sugar levels, counteract the effect of poison, as thirst-quenching agent, pain killer and to treat high blood pressure problem [12][13].

In Central America, it has been used interchangeably with ipecacuanha to induce vomiting. [3] The Maya tribe applies this plant to sores in the mouth to promote its healing. [8] It also had been promoted as a remedy of heart problem [12][13] urinary problems including bladder infection and stones, and genital tract infection [14].

R. tuberosa has been promoted by traditional medical practitioners for use in the treatment of respiratory disease and various forms of cough and common cold where teas of the root bark or leaves were prescribed. [3]

A poultice of the leaves is a remedy for aching limbs but it should not be placed on for more than half an hour as it is believed to be very strong. The poultice of the roots on the other hand is a good remedy for broken bones and dislocated joints. Another interesting use of the plant is in inducing abortion and treatment of fibroids. It also used in the treatment of ear and eye problems especially infection. [10][11]

Preclinical Data


Antioxidant activity

The methanol extract of R. tuberosa and its four fractions (water, ethyl acetate, chloroform and n-hexane) were subjected to antioxidant evaluation (2,2-diphenyl-1-picrylhydrazyl (DPPH) free radical scavenging assay and H2O2 induced luminal chemiluminescence assay). The results indicated that R. tuberosa extracts have potent antioxidant activity with ethyl acetate fraction showing the highest activity. [15]

Antinociceptive activity

The ethanol extract of R. tuberosa was evaluated for its antinociceptive activity using hotplate test, hot tail flick test and acetic acid writhing test in mice. The result showed that the extract exhibit antinociceptive activity in a dose dependent manner and is comparable to diclofenac sodium. [16]

Anti-inflammatory activity

R. tuberosa ethanol extract exhibited significant anti-inflammatory activity as evidenced by its ability to inhibit serotonin and egg albumin induced hind paw oedema in rats. This activity is dose dependent and is comparable to indomethacin. [16]

Gastroprotective activity

The crude extract of R. tuberosa root at doses 470, 940, 1880 mg/kg showed a strong and dose dependent gastroprotective activity to rats with alcohol induced gastric lesions. There was significant reduction in the duration of haemorrhagic gastric lesion. The extract also exhibited mild erythropoietic and analgesic activity. It is also well tolerated with subchronic treatment. [17]

Antidiabetic activity

The whole plant methanol extract and the n-hexane and ethyl acetate fractions of R. tuberosa were subjected to antidiabetic assay both in normal and alloxan-induced diabetic rabbits. The study showed that the ethyl acetate fraction had the highest hypoglycaemic activity both in normal and diabetic rabbits in dose dependent manner. This is comparable to tolbutamide. [18]


No documentation.

Clinical Data

Clinical findings

No documentation.


No documentation.

Side effects

No documentation.

Pregnancy/Breast Feeding

While there has not been any studies done on the abortifacient property of this plant, it had been reported that the roots has been used to induce abortion in Indian traditional practices. Thus, pregnancy is contraindications for the use of this plant especially the roots. [9]

Adverse reaction

No documentation.


No documentation.

Poisonous Management

No documentation.

Line drawing


Figure 1: The line drawing of R. tuberosa [5].


  1. The Plant List. Ver1.1. Ruellia tuberosa L. [homepage on the Internet]. c2013 [updated 2012 Mar 23; cited 2017 Mar 08]. Available from:
  2. Quattrocchi U. CRC world dictionary of medicinal and poisonous plants: Common names, scientific names, eponyms, synonyms, and etymology. Volume V R-Z. Boca Raton, Florida: CRC Press, 2012; p. 102-103.
  3. Khare CP. Indian medicinal plants: An illustrated dictionary. Berlin: Springer Verlag, 2007; p. 561.
  4. Tomei R. Forbidden fruits: The secret names of plants in Caribbean culture. Perugia: Morlacchi Editore, 2008; p. 34.
  5. de Padua LS, Bunyapraphatsara N, Lemmens RHMJ, editors. Plant resources of South-East Asia No.12 (3): Medicinal and poisonous plants 2. Leiden, Netherland: Backhuys Publisher;2003.
  6. Panda H. Handbook on Ayurvedic medicines with formulae, processes and their uses. New Delhi: National Institute of Industrial Research, 2004; p. 438.
  7. Phakeovilay C, Disadee W, Sahakitpichan P, et al. Phenylethanoid and flavones glycosides from Ruellia tuberosa L. J Nat Med. 2013;67(1):228-233.
  8. Kunow MA. Maya medicine: Traditional healing in Yucatan. Albuquerque, New Mexico: UNM Press, 2003; p. 90-93.
  9. Chothani DL, Patel MB, Mishra SH. HPTLC fingerprint profile and isolation of marker compound of Ruellia tuberosa. Chromagr Res Int. 2011;2012:180103
  10. Chiu NY, Chang KH. The illustrated medicinal plants of Taiwan. Mingtong Med J. 1995;226(1).
  11. Chen FA, Wu AB, Shieh P, Kuo DH, Hsieh CY. Evaluation of the antioxidant activity of Ruellia tuberosa. Food Chem. 2006;94(1):14–18.
  12. Lans CA. Creole remedies: Case studies of ethnoveterinary medicine in Trinidad and Tobago [unpublished dissertation]. Wageningen, Netherlands: Wageningen University; 2001.
  13. Lans CA. Ethnomedicines used in Trinidad and Tobago for urinary problems and diabetes mellitus. J Ethnobiol Ethnomed. 2006;2(45):1-11.
  14. The Wealth of India. A dictionary of Indian, raw material and industrial product. New Delhi, India: Publication and Information Directorate, Council of Scientific and Industrial Research; 1972.
  15. Chen FA, Wu AB, Shieh P, Kuo DH, Hsieh CY. Evaluation of the antioxidant activity of Ruellia tuberosa. Food Chem. 2006;94(1):14-18.
  16. Alam MA, Subhan N, Awal MA, et al. Antinociceptive and anti-inflammatory properties of Ruellia tuberosa. Pharm Biol. 2009;47(3):209-214.
  17. Arambewela L, Thambugala R, Ratnasooriya WD. Gastroprotective activity of Ruellia tuberosa root extract in rats. J Trop Med Plants. 2003;4(2).
  18. Shahwar D, Ullaha S, Ahmad M, Khan MA. Hypoglycemix activity of Ruellia tuberosa Linn (Acanthaceae) in normal and alloxan-induced diabetic rabbits. Iran J Pharm Res. 2011;7(2):107-115.