Carapichea ipecacuanha - (Brot.) L.Andersson
Common Name Ipecac
Family Rubiaceae
USDA hardiness 10-12
Known Hazards The plant can be toxic in doses larger than recommended for medicinal use[ 254 ].
Habitats An understory shrub of rainforests[ 238 ].
Range S. America - Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador; through Central America to Nicaragua.
Edibility Rating  
Other Uses  
Weed Potential No
Medicinal Rating  
Tender Moist Soil Full shade Semi-shade

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Ipecac, Carapichea ipecacuanha, is a small flowering shrub that only grows up about 50 cm tall. It is native to Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Panama, Colombia, and Brazil. Mainly a medicinal plant, its roots are used against many ailments such as coughs, fever, amoebic dysentery, and bronchitis. It is used to make a powerful emetic known as “syrup of ipecac”. However, when consumed in high amounts, severe vomiting and diarrhoea will be experienced.

Carapichea ipecacuanha Ipecac
Carapichea ipecacuanha Ipecac
Physical Characteristics
 icon of manicon of shrub
Carapichea ipecacuanha is an evergreen Shrub growing to 0.5 m (1ft 8in) by 0.5 m (1ft 8in) at a medium rate.
It is hardy to zone (UK) 10. Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and prefers well-drained soil. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils and can grow in very acid soils.
It can grow in full shade (deep woodland) or semi-shade (light woodland). It prefers moist soil.

Callicocca ipecacuanha Brot. Cephaelis acuminata H.Karst. Cephaelis ipecacuanha (Brot.) A.Rich. Evea

Edible Uses
None known
Medicinal Uses
Plants For A Future can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants. Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.

The roots of ipecac contain a number of medically active constituents including isoquinoline alkaloids, tannins and glycosides[ 254 ]. They have a violently irritant action, stimulating the gastric and bronchial systems, lowering fevers and preventing cyst formation in amoebic dysentery[ 238 ]. The roots are used internally in the treatment of coughs, bronchitis, whooping cough and amoebic dysentery[ 238 , 254 ]. One of the surest of emetics, even moderate doses will induce vomiting until the contents of the stomach have been voided making it especially useful in the treatment of drug overdoses[ 254 ]. It is used in a syrup to induce vomiting in children who have ingested toxins[ 238 ]. Smaller doses are strongly expectorant and it is a common ingredient in patent cough medicines[ 254 ]. The plant needs to be used with caution since excess causes severe vomiting and diarrhoea[ 238 ]. The roots are harvested, usually when about 3 years old and the plants are in flower, and are dried for later use[ 238 , 254 ]. The plants are replanted after partial removal of the roots[ 238 ]. The plant is used in homeopathy in the treatment of nausea[ 238 ].


Other Uses
Other Uses: None known
Cultivation details
Prefers a minimum temperature in the range of 15 - 18?c[ 238 ]. Prefers a well-drained humus-rich soil and a shady position[ 238 ]. Plants need ample moisture and humidity if they are to thrive[ 238 ].
Seed - Greenwood cuttings in a sandy compost[ 238 ]. Root cuttings.
Other Names
Ipecac, Carapichea ipecacuanha.
Found In
Coming Soon
Weed Potential

Right plant wrong place. We are currently updating this section. Please note that a plant may be invasive in one area but may not in your area so it’s worth checking.

None Known
Conservation Status
IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Status : This taxon has not yet been assessed
Related Plants


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Expert comment
(Brot.) L.Andersson
Botanical References
Links / References
For a list of references used on this page please go here
A special thanks to Ken Fern for some of the information used on this page.
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Subject : Carapichea ipecacuanha  

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