Rotenone characteristics and uses

What is rotenone?

Rotenone is a flavonoid obtained from the roots of a series of tropical plants all belonging to the family of the Papilionaceae, such as  cube, lancepod or barbasco (Lonchocarpus utilis= Deguelia utilis), tropical plant from the jungles of Peru and Brazil, the catgut or goat’s rue (Tephrosia virginiana ),  North American species, or  derris (Derris eliptica) from Southeast Asia and Pacific island.

Plants with rotenone were used to fish, due to their toxicity in fish

Properties of rotenone

All of them were widely used by the Native Americans before the arrival of the Spanish colonizers as toxic plants for the fish, since they produced their death or drugged them without their flesh becoming poisonous for humans.

Rotenone is still used in fish farms to eliminate unwanted species. It is also used to fumigate the mites of chickens and other birds.

Uses of rotenone

In gardening and domestic horticulture is used as a natural insecticide that causes the death of insects by asphyxia. Unlike chemical insecticides, it is biodegradable and is rapidly destroyed in contact with the sun, so it leaves no residue.

Is rotenone safe?

Although it is considered an environmentally friendly product for warm-blooded animals, there are experiments that have shown that, introduced in the blood, it  is responsible for the development of Parkinson’s in mice, so there is doubt whether it could be dangerous for humans , without this having been demonstrated.

Toxicity of rotenone

The World Health Organization considers it a slightly toxic product, since poisonings are very rare and require ingesting the product in high quantities which is unlikely given the bad taste it has.

Until the end of June 2007 it was included in the ecological insecticides allowed in the European Economic Community. As of that date it was excluded. As of April 2008, rotenone was withdrawn by the European Commission from the list of authorized plant protection products and member states were advised to remove products containing rotenone.

How is rotenone applied?

The form of application is by means of powder that is diluted in water or with spray. In both cases it is applied abundantly on the affected plant. Rotenone also enters the composition of products to treat scabies and fleas in people.

punto rojo More information on ecological treatment of plant pests

This article was endorsed by Julián Masats - Technical agricultural engineer specialized in horticulture and gardening.
Written by Editorial Botanical-online team in charge of content writing

18 March, 2024

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