Indian Squill

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Chapter: Pharmacognosy and Phytochemistry : Drugs Containing Glycosides

Indian squill consists of dried slices of the bulb of Urginea indica Kunth., belonging to family Liliaceae.






Sea onion, Urginea, Jangli Pyaj.


Biological Source


Indian squill consists of dried slices of the bulb of Urginea indica Kunth., belonging to family Liliaceae


Geographical Source


It is found throughout India (Western Himalaya, Konkan, Coramandal coast, Bihar, etc.).


Cultivation and Collection


Though it is not been cultivated, it grows well at a tempera-ture of 15–20°C and in sandy soil. The bulbs grow to full size within 5 years. The bulbs are collected after flowering, cut in to small slices and dried under sun.







A thin transverse section when observed under the micro-scope shows the following characters. Single layer of polygonal elongated epidermis is present which is covered with the cuticle. Mesophyll region consists of acicular calcium oxalate crystals, mucilage sheath, small round starch grains and vascular bundle (annular and spiral xylem vessels).


              Transverse section of slice Squill bulb

Chemical Constituents


Indian squill contains cardiac glycosides, similar to Euro-pean squill. Mucilage is present in mesophyll cells.


Chemical Tests

1.     Mucilage stains reddish purple with iodine water where as European squill does not.

2.     Colarin solution stains mesophyll region red.




It is used as cardiotonic, expectorant, stimulant, diuretic, cathartic. It is also a bronchodilator and anticancer agent.


Other Species


Scilla indica Baker (L. hyacinthina, Roth.), a native of India and Abyssinia, has a bulb often confused in the Indian bazaars with the preceding, but easily distinguished when entire by being scaly, not tunicated, its cream coloured scales overlapping one another. The bulbs are about the size and shape of a small pear, somewhat smaller than those of U. indica. It is considered a better representative of the European Squill. It has a nauseous odour and a bitter acrid taste. They are collected soon after the plants have flowered, divested of their dry, outer, membraneous coats, cut into slices and dried.


The chief constituents are bitter principles; similar to the glucosidal substances found in ordinary Squill, and needle shaped crystals of calcium oxalate are also present. The drug possesses stimulant, expectorant and diuretic activity.


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