Herb: Indian Madder

Latin name: Rubia cordifolia

Family: Rubiaceae (Madder Family)

Medicinal use of Indian Madder:

The roots are alterative, anodyne, antiphlogistic, antitussive, astringent, diuretic, emmenagogue, expectorant, styptic, tonic and vulnerary. They have an antibacterial action, inhibiting the growth of Staphylococcus aureus, S. epidermidis, Pneumococci etc. They are used to lower the blood pressure. The roots are used internally in the treatment of abnormal uterine bleeding, internal and external haemorrhage, bronchitis, rheumatism, stones in the kidney, bladder and gall, dysentery etc. The roots are harvested in the autumn from plants that are at least 3 years old. They are peeled and then dried. The stems are used in Tibetan medicine, where they are considered to have a bitter taste and a cooling potency. Febrifuge, they are used in the treatment of blood disorders and spreading fever of kidneys and intestines.

Description of the plant:

Perennial Climber

6 m
(20 feet)

July to

Habitat of the herb:

Amongst scrub in the Himalayas. To 2400 metres in Dehra Dun. Damp wet upland forests in China.

Edible parts of Indian Madder:

Leaves - cooked. Used as a side dish with rice. It is much esteemed as a lab-lab by the Javanese. Fruit - raw. The fruit is about 8mm in diameter.

Other uses of the herb:

A red dye is obtained from the stems and the root. It is inferior to R. tinctoria, the madder plant.

Propagation of Indian Madder:

Seed - best sown as soon as it is ripe in a cold frame. Stored seed can be very slow to germinate. Prick out the seedlings when they are large enough to handle and grow them on in light shade in the greenhouse for the first year. Plant them out into their permanent positions in early summer. Division in spring or at any time in the growing season if the divisions are kept well watered until established. Larger divisions can be planted out direct into their permanent positions. We have found it best to pot up the smaller divisions and grow them on in a lightly shaded position in a cold frame, planting them out once they are well established in the summer.

Cultivation of the herb:

Amongst scrub in the Himalayas. To 2400 metres in Dehra Dun. Damp wet upland forests in China.

Known hazards of Rubia cordifolia:

None known

Plant information taken from the Plants For A Future.