Family • Fabaceae - Indigofera suffruticosa Miller - ANIL INDIGO - Ye qing shu

Scientific names

Indigofera suffruticosa Miller
Indigofera anil Linn.
Indigofera argentea Blanco
Indigofera argentea Blanco
Indigofera tinctoria Mill. non L.

Other vernacular names

CHINESE: Jia lan dian, Jing zi.
FRENCH : Indigotier sauvage.
GERMAN : Westindischer Indigo.
HINDI : Vilaiti nil.
MALAY : Tarum (Indonesia).
PORTUGUESE : Anil, Anil de pasto, Anil-dos-tintureiros, Anileiro, Cáa-abi, Cáa-chica, Guajaná-timbé, Indigo.
SPANISH : Añil, Añil cimarrón, Azul azulejo, Anil de pasto, Azul de hoja, Jiquelite, Platanito de tinto.
TAMIL : Shimaiyaviri.
VIETNAMESE : Chàm bụi.

Common names

Pauai (Iv.)
Tagum (S. L. Bis.)
Tagun (P. Bis.)
Tayom (Ilk.)
Tayon (Ilk.)
Tayum (Ilk., Tag., P. Bis., C. Bis.)
Yagum (Bis.)
Anil (Engl.)
Anil indigo (Engl.)
Wild indigo (Engl.)
Small-leaved indigo (Engl.)
Ye qing shu (Engl.)

Tayum is an erect, branched, half-woody plant, 1 meter or less in height. Stems are sparsely covered with short, appressed hairs. Leaves are 5 to 8 centimeters long. Leaflets are 9 to 11, oblong to elliptic-oblong, 1 to 2 centimeters in length, pale, and appressed-hairy beneath. Flowers are red, about 5 millimeters long, borne on axillary and solitary racemes 2 to 3 centimeters in length. Pods are numerous, crowded, reflexed, strongly curved, 1 to 1.5 centimeters long, containing 6 to 8 seeds.


– In waste places in and about towns, locally abundant, occasionally cultivated, from the Batan Islands and northern Luzon to Mindanao.
– Pantropic.


Additional Sources and Suggested Readings

(1) Antimicrobial Activity of Indigofera suffruticosa / Sônia Pereira Leite, Jeymesson Raphael Cardoso Vieira, Paloma Lys de Medeiros et al / Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2006 June; 3(2): 261–265.

(2) Mutagenic Activity of Indigofera truxillensis and I. suffruticosa Aerial Parts / Tamara Regina Calvo, Cassia Regina Primila Cardoso et al / eCAM, doi:10.1093/ecam/nep123

(3) Embryotoxicity in vitro with extract of Indigofera suffruticosa leaves / Sônia Pereira Leite, Paloma Lys de Medeiros, Eliete Cavalcanti da Silva et al / Reproductive Toxicology, Volume 18, Issue 5, July 2004, Pages 701-705 / doi:10.1016/j.reprotox.2004.04.004

(4) Oviposition and Embryotoxicity of Indigofera suffruticosa on Early Development of Aedes aegypti (Diptera: Culicidae) / Jaymesson Raphael Cardoso Vieira, Roberta Maria Pereira Leita et al / Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2012; 2012: 741638 / doi: 10.1155/2012/741638

(5) Indigofera suffruticosa Mill as new source of healing agent: Involvement of prostaglandin and mucus and heat shock proteins / Anderson Luiz-Ferreira, Maira Cola, Victor Barbastefano, Elisangela Farias-Silva et al / Journal of ethnopharmacology. (impact factor: 2.32) 05/2011; DOI: 10.1016/j.jep.2011.05.006

(6) Sorting Indigofera names / Authorised by Prof. Snow Barlow / Maintained by: Michel H. Porcher / MULTILINGUAL MULTISCRIPT PLANT NAME DATABASE / Copyright © 1997 – 2000 The University of Melbourne.

(7) PRELIMINARY MOLLUSCICIDAL ACTIVITY IN AQUEOUS EXTRACT FROM LEAVES OF Indigofera suffruticosa. / Cleideana B. Silva; Ana M. M. A. Melo; José O. Apolinário-Segundo; Vera L. M. Lima /

(8) Potential Use of I. suffruticosa in Treatment of Tuberculosis with Immune System Activation / Camila Bernardes de Andrade Carli, Marcela Bassi Quilles, Danielle Cardoso Geraldo Maia, Clarice Q. Fujimura Leite, Wagner Vilegas and Iracilda Z. Carlos



– Indigo: One of the sources of natural indigo; along with Indigofera tinctoria, represents the chief indigo of commerce.
– Phytochemical screening yielded alkaloids, iridoids, saponins, carbohydrates, coumarins, flavonoids, phenol, terpenoids, and indigo carmine, sterol and essential oils (linalool and pinene).

– Considered febrifuge, vulnerary, purgative, antispasmodic, diuretic, stomachic.

Parts used
Seeds, roots, leaves.

Bruised leaves used as anodyne in warm baths.
Decoction of leaves used as sudorific.
Aztecs used the seeds for urinary diseases and ulcers.
Poultice of seeds applied to the head for fever.
Whole plant used as a remedy for syphilis.
Used for epilepsy.
In Brazil, a reputed remedy for snake bites.
In the U.S., applied to stings of bees and other insects.
In Mexico, leaves used as cataplasm or decoction, applied to child’s forehead for fever, or other painful areas.
Powdered seeds used for ulcers.

– Manure: In Malaya and Java, used to be cultivated as green manure.
– Dye: Source of indigo dye.
– Cover crop: Also used as a perennial cover crop for coffee.
– Roots and seeds, powdered, decoction or infused in rum, used for destroying vermin upon the human body.

Study Findings
• Antibacterial / Antifungal: Studies of various extracts of Indigofera suffruticosa showed the aqueous extract of leaves with strong inhibitory activity against S aureus and against dermatophyte strains – Trichophyton rubrum and Microsporum canis. Results suggests aqueous extracts of leaves of IS by infusion can be used as treatment of dermatophytic skin diseases.
• Mutagenicity: Flavonoid and alkaloid fractions showed mutagenicity. The alkaloid fraction contained indigo and indirubin; indigo was found mainly responsible for the mutagenic activity. Results also suggest that indiscriminate use of homemade preparations of the plant can be dangerous to health, and that natural products, like synthetic medicines, need to be evaluated with regard pharmacologic properties, toxicity, dosage and safety.
• Antitumor: Aqueous extracts of leaves of Indigofera suffruticosa showed a tumor reducing activity on Sarcoma 180 in mice. The actual mechanism is not known, but the antitumor activity may be due to its interference with cell development.
• Embryotoxicity: In a study of the aqueous extract of leaves of IS for adverse effects in preimplantation mouse embryos showed embryotoxicity effects that suggest use of AELIs may be hazardous to humans who make use of it in folk medicine.
• Antimycobacterial: A study evaluated the antimycobacterial activity and innate immune response of methanol and dichlormethane extracts of I. suffruticosa. Results showed induction of innate immune response through the production of high levels of NO and TNF-a (p<.001) suggesting a possible important immunological role in TB control once macrophage activity is induced.
• Mosquitocidal / Repellent / Embryotoxicity: A study of aqueous extract of I. suffruticosa leaves showed repellent activity, specific embryotoxicity, and general growth retardation in Aedes aegypti.
• Immunostimulatory / Cytotoxic Activities: Study of an alkaloidal fraction and a pure alkaloid indo showed cytotoxic activity against both breast and lung adenocarcinoma cell lines. Results showed immunostimulatory and cytotoxic activity of IS, enhancing macrophage function and contributing to host defense against tumors.
• Gastroprotective / Ulcer Healing: Study of methanolic extract of IS in a rodent experimental model investigated ulcer healing and gastroprotective effects via mucus and gastric secretion. Results showed the AcF accelerated ulcer healing, acting as gastroprotective agent stimulating prostaglandin, mucus and HSP70.
• Anticonvulsant / GABAergic: Study a methanol extract of leaves of Indigo suffruticosa for anticonvulsant effect. Results showed an anticonvulsant effect, attributed, at least partly, with involvement of GABA-BDZ system.
• Molluscicidal Activity / Leaves: Study evaluated the molluscicidal effect against Schistosoma mansoni life cycle. An aqueous extract showed a dose-dependent toxic effect against the mollusk, suggesting a potential natural product as molluscicidal agent.