Cascara: Biological source,morphological features and MCQs

Cascara: Biological source,morphological features and MCQs


1. Biological sources:

• The biological source of cascara is the dried bark .
• The botanical name of Rhamnus purshiana.
• It is also known as cascara bark, chittem bark and cascara sagrada.
• It belongs to the rhamnaceae.

2. Morphological features:

• It has a characteristic nauseous odour.
• The taste is bitter.
• The thickness of it is 1 to 4 mm with varying size.
• The shape is small,single quills and also channelled.
• The external color of it is purplish brown and internally it is reddish brown in color.
• This tree is about 6-12 m.
• The outer surface is smooth with transversely elongated lenticels.
• The inner surface is definite fine longitudinal striations and faint transverse corrugation.
• The fractures are short and granular from outside in shape.
• Fractures are fibrous in the phloem region.
• It is a large shrub or small tree.
• The diameter of trunk 20-50 cm.
• Leaves are simple and arrangement is alternate.
• Leaves are deciduous.
• Leaves are clustered near the ends of twigs.
• The shape of leaves are oval and 5-15 cm long and 2-5 cm broad with a 0.6-2 cm petiole.
• Leaves are shiny and green on top and dull and paler green below.
• Leaves have tiny teeth on the margins and parallel veins.
• The size of flowers 4-5 mm (diameter).
• It have five greenish yellow petals and forms a cup shape.
• The fruit are drupe and 6-10 mm in diameter.
• Fruits are bright red at first and at maturity it have deep purple or black.
• Fruits contain a yellow pulp.
• Fruit two or three hard or smooth seeds.
• The color of seeds are olive green or black.

3. Chemical constituents:

• The chief chemical constituent of cascara is anthranol and its derivatives.
• It also contain o- glycoside and c-glycoside.
• These glycosides are also known as cascarasides A,B,C and D.
• It is composed of barbaloin and charysaloin.
• O- glycosides are fragula emodin oxathrone glucoside.
• It also contain homodianthrone of emodine,aloe-emodine and chrysophenol.
• Examples of heterodianthrone are palmidin A,B and C.
• It also contain emodin,aloe-emodin and chrysophenol as free aglycone.

4. Uses:

• It is majorly used due to its cathartic property because it promotes active movement of bowels.
• it restores the natural tone of colon.
• It is also used as a dietary supplement.
• It is used as a gentle laxative.
• It is used to treat chronic constipation.
• It also have tonic properties.
• It promotes gastric digestion and appetite.
• It is also used to treat haemorrhoids and liver problems.
• It is used to treat jaundice.

5. Adulterants:

The other species of Rhamus purshiana is Rhamus californica. The medullary rays are two in purshiana species and calcifornica species contain three or more rays.


1. What is the botanical name of cascara?
(a) Rhamus purshiana
(b) Liatris spicata
(c) Asciepias tuberose
(d) Celosia cristata

2. What is the biological source of cascara?
(a) Leaves
(b) Bark
(c) Stems
(d) Roots

3. Match the following with respect to the chemical constituents of plants.
i. Vinca                                    A.Cocaine
ii. Coca                                    B. Vincristine
iii. Cascara                             C. Ephedrine
iv. Ephedra                            D. anthranol
(a) i-A,ii-B,iii-C,iv-D
(b) i-B,ii-A,iii-D,iv-C
(c) i-C,ii-B,iii-D,iv-A
(d) i-D,ii-C,iii-B,iv-A

4. Choose incorrect statement with respect to the medicinal uses of plants?
i. Vinca is used to treat cancer.
ii. Coca is used to get rid from hunger and fatigue.
iii. Cascara is used to treat cancer.
iv. Nux vomica is used to treat cardiac failure.

(a) Both i and ii
(b) Only iii
(c) Both iii and iv
(d) Only iv

5. Anthranol is the chief chemical constituent of which plant?
(a) Vinca
(b) Kurchi
(c) Coca
(d) Cascara

6. Leaves of cascara are
(a) Paler green below
(b) Alternate in arrangement
(c) Deciduous
(d) All of the above

7. What are the chemical constituents of cascara?
(a) O- glycoside
(b) C- glycoside
(c) Aloe-emodin
(d) All of the above

8. Cascara contain large amount of which constituent?
(a) O- glycoside
(b) C-glycoside
(c) Emodine
(d) Palmidin

9. Cascara is used as
(a) Antiseptic
(b) Laxative
(c) Analgesic
(d) Sedative

10. Cascara belongs to which plant family?
(a) Rhamnaceae
(b) Solaneaceae
(c) Rubiaceae
(d) Loganiaceae


1. (a)
2. (b)
3. (b)
4. (b)
5. (d)
6. (d)
7. (d)
8. (b)
9. (b)
10. (a)


Evans W.C, Editors. Trease and Evans Pharmacognosy. New York , Saunders Elsevier; 2009, p.241.

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