Naruneendi or Indian Sarsaparilla – A herb for making tasty beverages

Naruneendi or Indian Sasaparilla is a medicinal plant used for blood purification. It occurs mainly in south India, Sri Lanka, and Bengal. In Kerala & Tamil Nadu, this herb has another name also – Nannari.

Naruneendi - Indian Sarsaparilla - Hemidesmus indicus
Naruneendi – Indian Sarsaparilla – Hemidesmus indicus | Photos from Kottayam, Kerala

This perennial vine plant is native to India. It has a lean appearance overall with elongated leaves and slender string-like stems. The leaves grow opposite in direction and have a bluish-green appearance. They have a pointed shape with approximately 10 cm length and 2 cm width.

Sometimes it appears erect on the soil. However, it is often a creeper plant found thriving along soil walls.

The roots are hard and fragrant. They are reddish brown outside and white inside. The greenish flowers are often overlooked because of their small size and scarcity. They grow from the leaf axils and have five petals each.
Fruits are long follicles which contain 6 to 9 mm long seeds.

Medicinal uses of Naruneendi

These are some of the known medicinal applications and health benefits (information collected from various sources).

  • Naruneendi acts as a diuretic and can treat some of the urinary tract and bladder diseases.
  • It purifies the blood.
  • It is used to treat several skin diseases.
  • According to Ayurveda, Indian Sarsaparilla can cure Kapha and Pitta imbalances.
  • It is an antidote used in traditional medicine against scorpion poisoning and rat bites.

Common name in different languages

English: Indian Sarsaparilla
Tamil: Nannari
Hindi: Salsa, Gobu
Sanskrit: Sariba, Ananthamool, Gopakanyaka, Dhavala

The plant belongs to the family Apocynaceae (milkweed) and its roots contain a substance called Hemidesmin.
Scientific name: Hemidesmus Indicus R.Br.

Other Uses – for making beverages

Now I am remembering that tasty drink we had from Chinnar Wildlife Sanctuary eco-shop after a long trek. It resembled coffee but felt more natural and rejuvenating, especially when we were tired after a long walk. That is how I got to know about this amazing plant.
FYI, Chinnar is in Idukki district, Kerala – the place is rich with a lot of unique flora and fauna.

In many parts of India, the roots of Naruneendi is used to create tasty beverages and drinks. These include a wide varieties of sarbath, milk sarbath, syrups and others. A simple googling for naruneendi drink reveals a lot of recipes and other info. 

It is also common to use it for preparing pickles.

More Photos

Naruneendi - Indian Sarsaparilla
Small plant often appear erect on the soil
Roots of Indian Sarsaparilla / Naruneendi
The aromatic roots of Naruneendi is used for making a variety of beverages in India
Naruneendi / Nannari - a medicinal herb, Kerala
Also known as Nannari

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3 thoughts on “Naruneendi or Indian Sarsaparilla – A herb for making tasty beverages

  1. This article provides the basic and true details of the plant. This plant generally grows in the rock crevices and, over decades, grows in length and girth- in my childhood, I have seen roots of the length up to 8 feet with a girth of a pencil. We children used to peel off the outer skin and eat the fleshy part. We were encouraged to do so by our elders, as this plant was well known for immunity and brain growth. With extensive cash crop cultivation, this plant is disappearing from most of its earlier habitats.

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