Derris is also one of the components of poison-arrow. The plant is also
used to produce cordage.
Akar Tuba (Malay)
It is the only common climber that grows in mangroves.
delicate white flowers, when Common Derris blooms in the Park, it
can be as pretty as bridal decorations!
Uses: The leaves contain the chemical
compound rotenone, a poison that kills a wide range of creatures from
insects to earthworms and fish. Derris trifoliata and another
species, D. elliptica, are used to produce rotenone in commercial
quantities as an insecticide. Locals
use crushed leaves to stun or kill fish and shrimp which are then
easily collected. This method of fishing, however, is prohibited in
many areas because it is so destructive.
and wetland wildlife at
Sungei Buloh Nature Park
features: Mangrove associate. A creeper with woody
stems that thicken.
Leaves: Compound leaves of
3-5, dark green shiny.
Flowers: White in racemes.
Fruits: 1-3 seeds in flat
oval pods which are green at first, turning brown when
Status in Singapore: Common
World distribution: Tropics
of the Old World from East Africa to Australia, Polynesia
and even subtropical Asia.
Classification: Family Leguminosae.
World 1 mangrove associated species.
in the habitat: Like other climbers, Common Derris provides shelter
for the smaller creatures of the mangroves. The plants also form an interlocking
framework among trees for added strength against coastal storms.
An aggressive plant, Common Derris can form deep "choke" marks
on its host tree (see right). But eventually, the host trees usually prevail,
breaking the vines. Thus Common Derris doesn't "strangle" its
- Peter K L Ng and
N Sivasothi, "A Guide to the Mangroves of Singapore I: The Ecosystem
and Plant Diversity", Singapore Science Centre, 1999 (p. 108:
description, habit, photo).
- Tony Whitten and
Jane Whitten (ed.), "Indonesian Heritage: Plants",
Plants used as Medicine by Trond Schumacher, Editions Didier Millet,
1996 (p. 69: uses).