Quassia : Biological source, Medicinal Uses, Morphological features and MCQs

Quassia : Biological source, Medicinal Uses, Morphological features and MCQs


1. Biological Sources:

• The botanical name of quassia is Picrasma excelsa.
• The biological source of quassia is dried stem of wood.
• It belongs to the simarubaceae plant family.
• It is also known as quassia wood, bitter wood and bharangi .

2. Morphological Features:

• The size of stem is variable.
• The color is yellowish white.
• The surface have false annual rings.
• It is odourless.
• The taste is bitter.
• The shape is rasping, shaving or chips are planoconvex and concave-convex.
• It contain 40 species of shrubs and trees.
• On contact with air,the color of stem changes to yellow.
• Its cork easily detaches from phloem.
• It is a slow growing tree having twigy limbs.
• It grows upto 6 meters.
• Pinnets are present with 3-5 leaflets and deep veined.
• Leaves are polished alternated and color is dark green.
• Leaves are 15-25 cm long .
• Leaves are distinctive for their broadly winged axis and reddish veins.
• Rachis of leaves are winged.
• Panicles have terminal red- branched racemes which are 10-30 cm long.
• Flowers are narrow and vivid.
• The color of flowers are crimson.
• Size of flowers are 2.5-3.5 cm long.
• The shape of 5 petals are lanceolate.
• Petals are remain closed and form sharpening cylinder.
• Flowers grow in a panicle which are 15 -25 cm long.
• Flowers are fragile.
• The shape of fruit elliptical.
• Fruits are purple in color and drupe.
• Fruits are 0.8-1.5 cm long.
• Fruits turned red at maturity.
• In every fruit a small seedling is present.

3. Chemical Constituents:

• The chief chemical constituent of quassia is quassin, picrasmin or isoquassin and neoquassin(terpenoid).
• Other chemical constituents are scopoletin and cathine-6 –one.
• it also contain 18-hydroxyquassin.
• Other compounds are beta-carbolines, beta-sitostenone and beta-sitosterol.
• It also contain malic acid, gallic acid, gentisic acid and isoparain.
• Isoparaines , methylcanthins and methoxycanthins are also present in quassia.
• Parain and paraines , quassialactol and simalikalactone are also in quassia.
• It also contain gummy extractive pectin and volatile oil.
• It have tartrate and sulphate of lime and also chlorides of calcium and sodium.
• Various types of salts are also present in quassia ,such as oxalate and ammoniacal salt.
• Nitrate of potash and sulphate of soda also present in quassia.

4. Uses:

• It is a bitter tonic.
• It has insecticide property. e.g. aphids, Colorado potato beetle.
• It has anthelmintic property.
• It helps to treat measles, diarrhea and fever.
• It is used to treat lice.
• It has antifungal property.
• It also have antitumor, antifertility property.
• It has antileukemic activity.
• It has stomachic property.
• It is a vermicide and it is slight narcotic.
• It is used in convalescence.
• It is used to treat atonic dyspepsia.

5. Adulterants:

• The picrosma excelsa species of quassia is adulterated by quassia amara and bruise antidysentrica.


1. What is the botanical name of quassia?
(a) Basella rubra
(b) Liatris spicata
(c) Monarda didyma
(d) Picrasma excelsa

2. Quassia belongs to which plant family?
(a) Rubiaceae
(b) Liliaceae
(c) Simarubaceae
(d) Solanicaeae

3. Match the following with respect to the chemical constituent of plants.
I. Opium                                          A. strychnine
II. Kurchi                                        B. protopine
III. Nux vomica                             C. scopoletin
IV. Quassia                                     D. connesine

4. Choose incorrect statement with respect to the medicinal uses of plants.
i. Kurchi is used to treat diarrhea.
ii. Senna is used to treat chronic constipation.
iii. Digitalis is used to treat congestive heart failure.
iv. Quassia is used to treat congestive heart failure.
(a) Both i and ii
(b) Only iv
(c) Both iii and iv
(d) Only i

5. Which is the common adulterant of quassia?
(a) Indigo dye
(b) Wrightia tinctori
(c) Quassia amara
(d) Primrose leaves

6. Quassia have properties of
(a) Stomachic
(b) Antifungal
(c) Antitumor
(d) All of the above

7. What is the length of quassia leaves ?
(a) 25-30 cm
(b) 15-25 cm
(c) 10-12 cm
(d) 5-6 cm

8. What is the main chemical constituent of quassia?
(a) Vincristine
(b) Ephredrine
(c) Quassine
(d) Strychnine

9. Quassia is used to treat which disease?
(a) Diabetes
(b) Jaundice
(c) Asthama
(d) Atonic dyspepsia

10. Which property quassia do not contain
(a) Antihypertensive
(b) Antileukemic
(c) Antifertility
(d) Antihelmintic

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


• Evans W.C, Editors. Trease and Evans Pharmacognosy. New York , Saunders Elsevier; 2009, p.344, 489.
• Shah Biren and Seth A.K. , Textbook of pharmacognosy and phytochemistry. New Delhi, Saunders Elsevier; I edition, 2010, p. 278.


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