Wild Snake Root
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Wild Snake Root
ntroduced Photo: Dinesh Valke
Common name: Wild Snake Root, Devil Pepper, Be Still Tree, American serpentwood, be still tree, devil root, milkbush • Hindi: बडा चन्द्रिका barachandrika, Chandrabhaga • Tamil: Pampukaalaachchedi • Malayalam: Pampumkolli, Kattamalpori • Telugu: papataku • Kannada: ದೊಡ್ಡ ಚಂದ್ರಿಕೆ Dodda chandrike • Bengali: বড চন্দ্রিকা bar chandrika, গন্ধনকুলী gandhanakuli • Oriya: patalagarudi • Sanskrit: वनसर्पगंधा Vanasarpagandha, सर्पनसिनी Sarpanasini
Botanical name: Rauvolfia tetraphylla    Family: Apocynaceae (Oleander family)
Synonyms: Rauvolfia canescens, Rauvolfia heterophylla, Rauvolfia hirsuta

Native to tropical America, Wild Snake Root is a small tree or shrub that will reach 6 ft in height. Leaves are whorled, medium to dark green in color, and occur in groups of 4 unequally-sized leaves at each node. In late summer to early fall the very small, white flowers appear. Flowers to 5 mm long, tube 3.7 mm long. Bright red berries form that turn black as they ripen, and look like large pepper corns.
Medicinal uses: The roots yield the drug deserpidine, which is an antihypertensive and tranquilizer.

Identification credit: Arvind Kadus Photographed at Kamshet, Maharashtra.

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