Large, woody climbing plant with alternate oval leaves and long hanging clusters of greenish flowers. Has male and female flowers on separate plants. Bears red-brown kidney-shaped fruit.
Habitat & Cultivation
Indian berry is found in forests in Southeast Asia from India and Sri Lanka across to Indonesia.
Indian berry contains picrotoxin (up to 5%) and alkaloids. Picrotoxin is a very powerful poison and nerve stimulant.
History & Folklore
The fruit is used as a fish poison. Scattered in the water, it stupefies fish in the surrounding area, causing them to float to the surface.
Medicinal Actions & Uses
Indian berry fruit is sold commercially as a remedy for parasites. The plant is so toxic that it is rarely taken internally. It is mainly applied externally to kill parasites such as lice. In Ayurvedic medicine, Indian berry fruit is classified as astringent, anti-fungal, and anthelmintic (de-worming), and is used for skin ulcers and fungal conditions such as ringworm. The herb is used in homeopathic medicine as a remedy for heart conditions.
Indian berry is highly toxic. Do not take internally. Use externally only under professional supervision.