Ruellia tuberose: Classification, Distribution, Characteristics, Chemical Constituents, and Uses

Ruellia tuberose: Classification, Distribution, Characteristics, Chemical Constituents, and Uses


The perennial plant Ruellia tuberosa L. (Acanthaceae), which originally grew in Central America, has since spread throughout numerous nations in tropical South and Southeast Asia. It goes by several names, including Sheep Potato, Minnie Root, Fever Root, and Snapdragon Root. Locals in Sabah, Malaysia, refer to the plant as “Cracker Plant” because its seeds explode when they come into touch with water. The locals have employed the plants as diuretic, antipyretic, and anti-hypersensitive medicines and can easily find them in shady, wet areas like side drains. Over 50% of the medicines in clinical trials for anticancer efficacy, according to Cragg and Newman (2000), were extracted from or are connected to natural sources. Today, several chemotherapeutic medications are developed from plant species. Consider the isolated compounds vincristine and vinblastine from Catharanthus roseus, taxol, and taxanes from Taxus species, campthothecin from Campthotheca acuminata, etc (Costa-Lotufo et al., 2005). Few chemical components and pharmacological properties of Ruellia tuberosa from Taiwan and India have been described thus far. The stem has also been demonstrated to have antioxidant action, and the entire plant has been shown to have antibacterial activity (Arirudran et al., 2011). (Chen et al., 2004). Additionally, the examined epidermoid carcinoma (KB) and hepatoma (HepG2) cell lines were resistant to the anticancer effects of three flavonoids (cirsimarin, cirsiliol 4′-glucoside, and sorbifolin) that were extracted from the aerial sections of the plants (Lin et al., 2006). The plant is regarded as one of the promising sources for the future development of chemopreventive medications due to its claimed anticancer action and also good sustainability in Sabah. Ruellia tuberosa from Sabah was chosen for this investigation because it has antioxidant and anti-proliferative properties. Since the phenolic and flavonoid contents of this plant have not yet been reported, their total contents as well as their correlation with antioxidant and anti-proliferative activities were determined.


Kingdom: Plantae

Order: Lamiales

Family: Acanthaceae

Genus: Ruellia

Species: tuberose

Scientific Name: Ruellia tuberose

Common Name: Sheep potato, Minnieroot, Fever root, and Snapdragon root


A native of Central America and imported into Indian gardens as an adornment, Ruellia tuberosa is an erect, suberect, or spreading perennial herb growing to a height of 60–70 cm. In the West Indies, Central America, Guiana, and Peru, it is used medicinally. The common name for R. tuberosa is “Cracker plant.” In the Siddha medical system, leaves are administered with liquid copal as a treatment for gonorrhoea, ear ailments, and stomach cancer. Two ounces of dried and ground roots are used for painful eyes and to induce labour. In some nations, including Sri Lanka, Suriname, and the Dominican Republic, it is widely used as traditional medicine.

Chemical constituents

Ruellia tuberose L. Leaves include luteolin and apigenin. Capril, myristic, and lauric acids are produced from seed oil. The study produced secondary metabolites, good-quality nutrients, flavonoids, glycosides, phenols, saponins, and important minerals.

It has been claimed that the plant contains phytochemicals including coumarin, phenolic compounds, oleic acid, methyl esters, steroids, terpenoids, long-chain aliphatic compounds, and flavonoids, among others.


1. It is a perennial herb that can grow up to 40–50 cm tall and is upright, suberect, and spread.

2. Short-lived perennial Ruellia tuberosa L. (Acanthaceae), often known as minnieroot, has funnel-shaped eye-catching violet bracteate blooms on dichotomous cymes.

3. A perennial herb with tuberous roots that can reach a height of one foot or more is called Ruellia tuberosa L.

4. It has a thick fusiform tuberous root, and the white rootstock initially tastes pleasant before developing a tingly aftertaste.

5. Woody to semi-woody and hairy stem. Young nodes are inflated and slightly quadrangular; the basal half is somewhat spherical and has strong adventitious roots that are thin and slender and pale green at the nodes. Internodes up to 4 mm in diameter and 5-7 cm long.

6. Simple, opposite, decussate, petiolate leaves are hairy on the veins and measure 5 to 9 cm long by 2 to 5 cm wide. The petiole is 0.5 to 1.5 cm long.

7. The inflorescence is an axillary cyme that is mostly violet blue, actinomorphic, pedicellate, with five tubular petals and five gamopetalous sepals. The ovary is superior, syncarpous, and two-celled. Style has two stigmatic lobes that are not equal in length; Fruits are dehiscent capsules that range in size from 1.5 to 3.5 cm long and 2.5 to 4 mm in diameter. Young fruit is elliptical and gland-dotted; mature fruit is glabrous.

8. The opposite, elliptic, up to 12 cm long leaves have short petioles, a sharp base narrowing, and undulate margins.

9. Fruit is a pod that contains 7 to 8 seeds and when it becomes wet, the seeds fly out in a flurry. In the Philippines, it can be found in open landfills.

10. The fruit is a subcylindrical puberulent capsule with roughly 20 seeds per locule and a cluster of thick fusiform tuberous roots.


1. It contains germicidal properties and is recommended for eye and skin conditions.

2. Herpes and other dermatological problems can be treated externally using the leaves that have been ground.

3. Outgrowths from the epidermis are what trichomes refer to as appearing on the surfaces of leaves and other plant epidermal surfaces. They are either unicellular or multicellular and serve as the initial line of defence against diseases in plants.

4. R. tuberosa has been employed as a diuretic, anti-diabetic, antipyretic, analgesic, antihypertensive, thirst-quenching, and antidotal agent in traditional medicine. It was just recently made available in Taiwan as an ingredient in herbal drinks.

5. The herb also has emetic properties and is used as an ipecac alternative as well as to treat bladder stones and treat bronchitis using a leaf infusion.

6. It is used as an anthelmintic and to treat joint discomfort and strained muscles in Suriname’s traditional medical system.

7. Ruellia tuberosa is utilized as a cooling agent for uterine fibroids and urinary problems.

8. It is being used in Taiwan as a part of a herbal beverage. It’s antioxidant, antibacterial, anticancer, gastroprotective, antinociceptive, and anti-inflammatory properties have all been experimentally demonstrated.

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