Botanical Name

Smilax ornata Lem.


Liliaceae / Smilacaceae.


Smilax grandifolia Regel, Smilax regelii Killip & C.V.Morton, Smilax utilis Hemsl.

Regional Name

English : Prickly Ivy, Rough Bindweed, Salsaparilla, Hindi: Salsa, Kalisar, Magrabu, Kukurdara, Kumardar, Kukarjari, Kannada: Namadaberu, Sughanda-palada-gida, Parangi chakke, Malayalam: Kizhanna, Nannari, naru-ninti, Sanskrit: Chopachini, Tamil: Kizhanna, Nannari, Naru-ninti, Telugu: Pala sugandhi, Sugandhipala.

Part Used



Ushwa is a woody, trailing vine, which can grow to 50 meters in length. It is native to South America, Jamaica, the Caribbean, Mexico, Honduras and the West Indies. It is a large perennial climber, rhizome underground, large, short, knotted, with thickened nodes and roots spreading up to 15 feet long. Stems are erect, semi woody, with very sharp prickles ½ inch long. Leaves are large, alternate stalked, almost evergreen with prominent veins, seven nerved mid-rib very strongly marked. Flowers and fruit not known.


It contains parigenin, parillin, resin, saponin, sarasaponin, sarsaparilloside, sarsaponin, sarsasapogenin, similagenin, and smilasaponin. Other saponins include diosgenin, tigogenin, and asperagenin. Other constituents present in ushwa include starch (50%), resin, cetyl alcohol, volatile oil, caffeoylshikimic acid, shikimic acid, ferulic acid, sarsapic acid, kaempferol, and quercetin.

Ayurvedic Properties

Rasa : Tikta, Guna : Laghu, Vipaka : Katu, Virya : Ushna.

Ayurvedic Applications

Garbhashaya Vishodhana, Jwara, Kushta, Arsha, Pradara, Raktadosha, Kasa, Antrasula.

Medicinal Uses

It is used for treating syphilis, leprosy, psoriasis, and other ailments. It is also used to treat gout, gonorrhoea, open wounds, arthritis, cough, fever, hypertension, pain, a lack of sexual desire, indigestion, and even certain forms of cancer.



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