Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Eudicots
(unranked): Rosids
Order: Fabales
Family: Fabaceae
Subfamily: Faboideae
Tribe: Millettieae
Genus: Derris

D. cumingii
D. ferruginea
D. marginata
D. microphylla
D. ovalifolia
D. philippinensis
D. polyantha
D. robusta
D. scandens
D. trifoliata

Derris is a climbing leguminous plant of Southeast Asia and the southwest Pacific islands, including New Guinea. Its roots contain rotenone, a strong insecticide and fish poison.

Also known as derris powder and tuba root,[1] it was formerly used as an organic insecticide used to control pests on crops such as peas. However, due to studies revealing its extreme toxicity, as well as due to the concentration level of rotenone to which the powder is often refined, experts in ecological and organic growing no longer consider it ecologically sound. Rotenone is still sold in the U.S., however.

Derris root, when crushed, releases rotenone. Some native residents of Fiji and New Guinea practice a form of fishing in which they crush the roots and throw them into the water.[2] The stunned or killed fish float to the surface where they can be easily reached.[3] In Indonesia these roots are called tuba.[4]

Despite its toxicity, Derris is used as a food plant by the larvae of numerous Lepidoptera [5]species including Batrachedra amydraula.


  1. Fryer, J.C.F; et al. (February 1923). "A Quantitative Study Of The Insecticidal Properties Of Derris Elliptica (Tuba Root)". Annals of Applied Biology. Warwick, England: Association of Applied Biologists. 10 (1): 18. doi:10.1111/j.1744-7348.1923.tb05651.x.
  5. Morse, Clinton. "Derris elliptica {Fabaceae}". Retrieved 2016-08-21.
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