Journal of Natural Medicines

, Volume 67, Issue 3, pp 562–570 | Cite as

Discrimination of the Thai rejuvenating herbs Pueraria candollei (White Kwao Khruea), Butea superba (Red Kwao Khruea), and Mucuna collettii (Black Kwao Khruea) using PCR-RFLP

  • Suchaya Wiriyakarun
  • Woraluk Yodpetch
  • Katsuko Komatsu
  • Shu Zhu
  • Nijsiri Ruangrungsi
  • Suchada Sukrong
Original Paper


The tuberous roots of Pueraria candollei (White Kwao Khruea), Butea superba (Red Kwao Khruea) and Mucuna collettii (Black Kwao Khruea), which belong to the family Leguminosae, are used as rejuvenating herbs in traditional Thai medicine. Although all of these species have an indication for rejuvenation, each differs in its medicinal properties. Two varieties of P. candollei, var. mirifica and var. candollei, affect females, whereas B. superba and M. collettii exhibit effects on males. However, the identification of these roots according to the name “Kwao Khruea” is confusing due to the similarity in their features. Polymerase chain reaction restriction fragment length polymorphism (PCR-RFLP) was utilised to identify plant origin. The partial matK gene was amplified and subjected to restriction enzyme digestion with DdeI and TaqI. The restriction fragments generated differed in number and size. To test the reliability of the method, an admixture of the different Kwao Khruea species containing equal amounts of DNA was tested. The results showed combined restriction patterns, and each species could be detected in the background of the others. The method was also used to authenticate eight different crude drugs sold as various types of Kwao Khruea in Thai markets. The results showed that the misidentification of commercial drugs remains a problem in crude drug markets. The PCR-RFLP analysis developed here provides a simple and accurate discrimination of these rejuvenating “Kwao Khruea” species.


Pueraria candollei Butea superba Mucuna collettii Leguminosae PCR-RFLP DNA admixture 



This research was supported financially by Strategic Scholarships Fellowships Frontier Research Networks under Office of the Higher Education, Thailand. We are grateful to the Higher Education Research Promotion and National Research University Project of Thailand, Office of the Higher Education Commission (HR1166I-55) and Chulalongkorn University Centenary Academic Development Project. We also thank Dr. Charan Ditchaiwong for kindly supplying authentic plants materials for this work. S.W. was a recipient of Strategic Scholarships Fellowships Frontier Research Networks.


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Copyright information

© The Japanese Society of Pharmacognosy and Springer Japan 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Suchaya Wiriyakarun
    • 1
  • Woraluk Yodpetch
    • 1
  • Katsuko Komatsu
    • 2
    • 3
  • Shu Zhu
    • 2
  • Nijsiri Ruangrungsi
    • 1
  • Suchada Sukrong
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Pharmacognosy and Pharmaceutical Botany, Faculty of Pharmaceutical SciencesChulalongkorn UniversityBangkokThailand
  2. 2.Institute of Natural MedicineUniversity of ToyamaToyamaJapan
  3. 3.21st Century COE ProgramUniversity of ToyamaToyamaJapan

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