Strausbaugh, Perry D. Department of Botany, West Virginia University, Morgantown, West Virginia.
Core, Earl L. Department of Biology, West Virginia University, Morgantown, West Virginia.
Last reviewed:January 2021
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Any of several low, perennial, tropical South American shrubs or half-shrubs in the family Rubiaceae. Ipecac plants (also termed ipecacuanha plants) are native to the tropical forests of Brazil and Colombia. Several species are used, but the dried roots and rhizomes (underground horizontal stems) of Carapichea ipecacuanha (alternatively Cephaelis ipecacuanha or Psychotria ipecacuanha) [see illustration], containing emetine, cephaeline, and other alkaloids, constitute the material recognized as the official drug ipecac. Medically, the principal use of ipecac is as an emetic—for example, in cases of accidental poisoning—and an expectorant. See also: Alkaloid; Gentianales; Rubiales
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