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Plant Name        Holarrhena pubescens  

                Common name:         Indrajao            

                Marathi:                     indrajav,kutaja,pandhra kuda.               

                Hindi:                         karva indrajau     

                English:                    Bitter Oleander, Connessi Bark, sentery Rose                                                                       Bay,Tellicherry Bark        




Identification guide      


Conessi is a deciduous shrub or tree with fragrant white flowers and abundant white latex in all its parts. It grows up to 10 metres tall.

An important medicinal plant in the tropics, it is gathered from the wild for its wide range of medicinal and other uses. The plant is sometimes cultivated for medicinal purposes, the root bark is sold in local markets, whilst the plant is also cultivated in India as an ornamental for its attractive flowers.


10 m tall with brown, rough bark


Leaves simple, opposite, estipulate; petiole 4-6 mm, pubescent, stout; lamina 7-18 x 3-12 cm, broadly ovate, ovate-oblong or ovate-lanceolate; base obtuse, apex acute or acuminate, margin entire, glabrous or puberulent beneath, membranous; lateral nerves 10-14 pairs, prominent, arched, puberulous; intercostae reticulate.


Flowers bisexual, creamy-white, slightly fragrant, in terminal and axillary corymbose cymes, appear along with new leaves; calyx lobes 5, 2.5 mm long, oblong-lanceolate, ciliate, glandular within at base; corolla salvar shaped, lobes 5, oblong, obtuse, as long as the tube, tube 1.3 cm long, puberulous, mouth with a ring of hairs; stamens 5, included, attached towards the base of the corolla tube, anthers sagitate; disc absent; ovaries 2, apocarpous; ovules many in each carpel, style 2 mm long; stigma fusiform, bifid


 Fruit of 2 terete elongated follicular mericarps connected at the tip and then free, 25 x 1 cm;


Habit / Habitat

Montane forests at elevations of 500 - 1,000 metres. Dry evergreen to dry deciduous forest, scrub woodland, savannah, or in rocky localities, often near watercourses, at elevations up to 1,500 metres     



Eastern Africa, Indian subcontinent, China, through Myanmar to Indo-China.     


Edible parts

Used by tribal community in Jawhar:     Leaves


Method of consumption

Jawhar tribal:    Leaves and flower boiled and cooked


Medicinal use

An infusion of crushed bark is taken for the treatment of jaundice by the Chakma.

Tie a piece of stem with a thread round the for the treatment of uterine prolapsed. Leaves are used in chronic bronchitis and ulcers. Decoction of the bark is used to expell threadworms (Marma).

Root extract is taken in diarrhoea. Leaf paste is applied in toothache. Bark and root extract is taken in dysentery (Murang).

Pills prepared from the paste of roots are taken 3-4 times daily against diarrhoea by the Tanchangya.

The decoction or raw juice of the leaves and bark is used against dysentery, liver troubles and as an anthelmintic by the Garo of Madhupur (Yusuf et al. 2009).


Nutritional and medicinal information

The stem bark and root bark have a long history of traditional use in the treatment of amoebic dysentery throughout the distribution area of the plant. The stem bark is listed in the Pharmacopoeia of India. Although slow in action compared with emetine, it is less toxic and can be administered orally.

Most of the alkaloids of the stem bark and root bark are steroid alkaloids derived from conanine or the closely related conamine, which also occur in other Holarrhena species. The main alkaloid of the stem bark and root bark is conessine; other compounds are norconessine (kurchine), conessimine, kurchamine, kurchessine, kurcholessine, conimine, conamine and holarrhenine.

The leaves contain mainly steroid alkaloids derived from pregnane, such as holarrhimine, holaphyllamine, holamine and holaphylline, as well as the alkaloid triacanthine (an adenine derivative). Various amino-glycosteroids are also present in the leaves. These substances contain an amino-sugar and in some of them, e.g. holarosine and holacurtine, the steroidal part of the molecule is a cardenolide

The seeds contain conessine, norconessine, conamine and conarrhimine

The root is said to be abortifacient, antidote, aphrodisiac, galactagogue and laxative. An infusion is taken to stimulate milk production, to treat constipation, asthma, abdominal pains and infertility. When boiled in milk, it is applied against snakebites and is used in the treatment of venereal diseases." 


Harvesting and preserving

Though sensitive to frost, the plant recovers easily from damage.

Succeeds on a wide range of soils. Plants can stand slight shade but develop best when growing in full light. Established plants are drought tolerant.

The tree coppices well and can survive bush fires by producing sucker shoots from burned-down stumps. Juvenile plants are more susceptible to damage by fire than older ones.

Natural reproduction is abundant owing to regular and copious seeding from an early age, comparative immunity of the plant to damage by animals and its power of recovery from injury Seeds, that are dispersed by wind germinate during the early rains, and seedlings attain 10 - 15 cm by the end of the first year. In subsequent years, growth is more rapid, the mean annual diameter increment being 7 - 8 mm. In India, early height increment of Holarrhena pubescens is low, only 10 - 15 cm/year under natural conditions.

Established plants are fast-growing        


Propagation and Storage

Seed - direct sowing or raising seedlings in a nursery both work well. Fresh seeds have a high percentage of germination, but in seeds more than one year old the viability is low. The seed usually germinates in 2 - 3 weeks.       


Other uses

A dye similar to henna is extracted from the leaves.

The wood ash is used as a mordant.

The floss from the seeds is used for stuffing pillows.

Conessine, an alkaloid found in the plant, was found to possess a wide range of disruptive activities against 4 insect species, and showed potential as a larval growth inhibitor, sterilant and antifeedant in laboratory tests.

The wood is moderately soft and white, turning yellowish or pinkish with age. It has a straight grain and fine and even texture; there is no distinction between sapwood and heartwood. The wood is easy to saw and machine and fairly durable under cover. Popular for turning and carving, it is used to make small articles such as combs, picture frames, carved boxes, toys, spoons, knives, walking sticks and beads, and sometimes for furniture and ploughs.

The pulp from the wood has been used to make paper.



Kingdom:            Plantae

Division:              Spermatophyta

Sub-division:      Angiospermae

Class:                    Monocotyledonae

Sub-Class:           Gamopetalae

Series:                  Bicarpellatae

Order:                   Gentianales

Family :                Apocynaceae

Genus :                Holarrhena

Species :              pubescens      



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