Indian Madder (Rubia cordifolia)

Perennial Climber
Common Name Latin Name Plant Family
Indian Madder
Rubia cordifolia

A red dye is obtained from the stems and the root[46, 61, 158]. It is inferior to R. tinctoria, the madder plant[4].

  • Medicinal Use

    The roots are alterative, anodyne, antiphlogistic, antitussive, astringent, diuretic, emmenagogue, expectorant, styptic, tonic and vulnerary[147, 176, 178, 218, 240]. They have an antibacterial action, inhibiting the growth of Staphylococcus aureus, S. epidermidis, Pneumococci etc[176]. They are used to lower the blood pressure[176]. 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[238]. The roots are harvested in the autumn from plants that are at least 3 years old. They are peeled and then dried[238].

    The stems are used in Tibetan medicine, where they are considered to have a bitter taste and a cooling potency[241]. Febrifuge, they are used in the treatment of blood disorders and spreading fever of kidneys and intestines[241].

  • Edible Use

    Leaves – cooked. Used as a side dish with rice[61, 177]. It is much esteemed as a lab-lab by the Javanese[46].

    Fruit – raw[179]. The fruit is about 8mm in diameter[200].

  • Cautionary Notes

    None known

Cultivation & Habitat

Seed – best sown as soon as it is ripe in a cold frame. Stored seed can be very slow to germinate[200]. 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[200]. 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.
Prefers a loose moist leafy soil in some shade[200]. Tolerates dry soils but quickly becomes scorched when growing in full sun[200]. It is possible that the entries on edibility for this plant should apply to R. manjith. Roxb. ex Fleming. (syn R. cordifolia. auct non L.).
S. Europe to Africa and Asia.

Become ungovernable, break the chains of the matrix; grow and forage your own food and medicine.

*None of the information on this website qualifies as professional medical advice. Take only what resonates with your heart and use your own personal responsibility for what’s best for you. For more information [brackets] [000], see bibliography.