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Argyreia nervosa

Argyreia nervosa

Argyreia nervosa is a perennial climbing vine native to the Indian subcontinent and introduced to numerous areas worldwide, including Hawaii, Africa, and the Caribbean. Though it can be invasive, it is often prized for its aesthetic and medicinal value.[3] Common names include Hawaiian baby woodrose, adhoguda अधोगुडा or vidhara विधारा (Sanskrit), elephant creeper and woolly morning glory. Its seeds are known for their powerful entheogenic properties, greater or similar to those of Ipomoea species, with users reporting significant psychedelic and spiritual experiences.[4][5] The two botanical varieties are A. n. var. nervosa described here, and A. n. var. speciosa, which are used in Ayurvedic medicine for their medicinal value.[3]

Argyreia nervosa
Argyreia nervosa flowers (enlarge)
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Tracheophytes
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Eudicots
Clade: Asterids
Order: Solanales
Family: Convolvulaceae
Genus: Argyreia
A. nervosa
Binomial name
Argyreia nervosa

Argyreia speciosa (L.f.) Sweet
Convolvulus nervosus Burm.f.
Convolvulus speciosus L.f.
Santaloides minus[2] Lettsomia nervosa (Burm.f.) Roxb.

Argyreia nervosa seeds contain various ergoline alkaloids such as ergine.[6] A study reported stereoisomers of ergine to be found in the seeds at a concentration of 0.325% of dry weight.[7] A more recent study reported presence of ergometrine, lysergol, lysergic acid and other alkaloids that contribute to its pharmacological effects.[5]


While several other plants in the family Convolvulaceae, such as Ipomoea corymbosa (ololiuhqui) and Ipomoea tricolor (tlitliltzin), were used in shamanic rituals of Latin America for centuries, A. nervosa was not traditionally used for this purpose. Its properties were first brought to attention in the 1960s.


Where temperatures fall below 13 °C (55 °F), Argyreia nervosa is grown in a warm greenhouse. Elsewhere, it is grown on arbours, pergolas, walls, or trees. It is often grown professionally under glass in a loam-based potting compost (John Innes No. 3) in full light, and watered freely from spring to autumn, with a balanced liquid fertilizer applied monthly and reduced water in winter. It is grown outdoors in moderately fertile, moist but well-drained soil in full sun. Pruning is done in late winter.[8]


  • Argyroside, (24R)-ergost-5-en-11-oxo-3β-ol-α-D-glucopyranoside, a steroidal glycoside unique to Argyreia nervosa[9]


Ergoline alkaloids of known percentage
Compound name Percentage of dry seed weight constituted Chemical structure
Isoergine 0.188%
Ergine 0.136%
Ergometrine 0.049%
Lysergic acid hydroxyethylamide 0.035%
Isolysergic acid hydroxyethylamide 0.024%
Elymoclavine 0.022%
Ergometrinine 0.011%
Chanoclavine 0.016%
Ergoline alkaloids of unknown percentage
Compound name Chemical structure
Chanoclavine II

Hydroxycinnamic acids

Hydroxycinnamic acids
Compound name Chemical structure
Caffeic acid
Ethyl caffeate

Fatty acids

Fatty acids
Compound name Chemical structure
Myristoleic acid
Myristic acid
Palmitic acid
Linoleic acid
Linolenic acid
Oleic acid
Stearic acid
Nonadecylic acid
Eicosenoic acid
Heneicosylic acid
Behenic acid
12-methylmyristic acid
15-methylstearic acid
Glycosides of fatty acids
Fatty acid Chemical structure
Palmitic acid
Oleic acid
Stearic acid
Behenic acid
Linoleic acid
Linolenic acid


Hawaiian baby woodrose seeds

Certain New Age sources claim that, according to 'various oral histories' Huna shamans used the powdered seeds to prepare an entheogenic drink.[10] This is unlikely to reflect an authentic practice having once formed a part of traditional Hawaiian Religion,[11] given that Huna has been widely discredited as a culturally appropriative New Age religion invented by Max Freedom Long.[12] The seeds of Argyreia nervosa can produce psychoactive effects, but it has not yet been demonstrated satisfactorily that their use as an entheogen predates the various countercultural movements of the 1960s.[11] Given that A. nervosa is not native to Hawaii, having been introduced there from India, any Hawaiian practices involving it are unlikely to be of any antiquity. It cannot, however, be ruled out that the plant may have been utilised as an intoxicant in its native India at some time in the past, although evidence for this (if present) has not yet come to light.[11] The seeds of A. nervosa contain ergot alkaloids varying considerably in concentration with LSA weight ranging between exactly similar looking seeds from 3 μg to 34 μg (avg 17 μg).[13] However, in its effects, LSA is about one tenth as potent as its cousin LSD, making a threshold dose level for LSA about 500 μg.[14] The psychoactive effects of the seeds may therefore be due to other alkaloids present in them and the safe and effective dose may be difficult to predict.

Uses in the traditional medicine of India

While he does not claim there to be any evidence for the use of the seeds of A. nervosa as a traditional entheogen in its native India, Christian Rätsch does describe some interesting traditional uses of the root of the plant in Ayurveda somewhat suggestive of effects upon the CNS:[11]

The root is regarded as a tonic for the nerves and brain and is ingested as a rejuvenation tonic and aphrodisiac to increase intelligence.[11]


  1. "Argyreia nervosa". Germplasm Resources Information Network (GRIN). Agricultural Research Service (ARS), United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). Retrieved 2010-11-10.
  2. Glossary Of Indian Medicinal Plants
  3. "Medicinal uses and biological activities of Argyreia speciosa Sweet (Hawaiian Baby Woodrose) An Overview". Indian Journal of Natural Products and Resources: 286–291. September 2011.
  4. E. Al-Assmar, Sami (1999). "The Seeds of the Hawaiian Baby Woodrose Are a Powerful Hallucinogen". Arch Intern Med. 159 (17): 2090. doi:10.1001/archinte.159.17.2090. PMID 10510998.
  5. Paulke, Alexander; et al. (2015). "Studies on the alkaloid composition of the Hawaiian Baby Woodrose Argyreia nervosa, a common legal high". Forensic Science International. 249: 281–293. doi:10.1016/j.forsciint.2015.02.011. PMID 25747328.
  6. Halpern, J.H. (2004). "Hallucinogens and dissociative agents naturally growing in the United States". Pharmacology & Therapeutics. 102 (2): 131–138. doi:10.1016/j.pharmthera.2004.03.003. PMID 15163594. Although LSD does not occur in nature, a close analogue, lysergic acid amide (LSA, ‘‘ergine’’) is found in the seeds of Argyreia nervosa (Hawaiian baby woodrose)
  7. Chao JM, Der Marderosian AH (1973). "Ergoline alkaloidal constituents of Hawaiian baby wood rose, Argyreia nervosa (Burmf) Bojer". J. Pharm. Sci. 62 (4): 588–91. doi:10.1002/jps.2600620409. PMID 4698977.
  8. Brickell, Christopher (2016). Royal Horticultural Society: A-Z Encyclopedia Of Garden Plants. Great Britain: Dorling Kindersley. p. 110. ISBN 9780241239124.
  9. Rahman, A.; Ali, M.; Khan, N. Z. (2003). "Argyroside from Argyreia nervosa Seeds". ChemInform. 34 (21): 60–2. doi:10.1002/chin.200321168. ISSN 0931-7597. PMID 12622256.
  10. " - Preserving Ancient Knowledge".
  11. Rätsch, Christian (2004). The Encyclopedia of Psychoactive Plants: Ethnopharmacology and Its Applications. Park Street Press, U.S. ISBN 978-0892819782.
  12. Chai, Makana Risser (2011). "Huna, Max Freedom Long, and the Idealization of William Brigham" (PDF). The Hawaiian Journal of History. 45. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2021-01-18.
  13. Paulke, Alexander; Kremer, Christian; Wunder, Cora; Wurglics, Mario; Schubert-Zsilavecz, Manfred; Toennes, Stefan W. (2014). "Identification of legal highs--ergot alkaloid patterns in two Argyreia nervosa products". Forensic Science International. 242: 62–71. doi:10.1016/j.forsciint.2014.06.025. ISSN 1872-6283. PMID 25036782.
  14. Wasson, R. Gordon; Hofmann, Albert; Ruck, Carl A. P. (2008). The Road to Eleusis: Unveiling the Secret of the Mysteries. North Atlantic Books. ISBN 9781556437526.
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