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Odorless, colorless, crystals that are highly toxic to insects and fish but only mildly toxic to mammals. Rotenone naturally occurs in derris root and cubé. It was first isolated in 1895 by E. Geoffroy from the plant now called Lonchocarpus nicou. This powdered plant was used to catch fish by poisoning them. The pesticide is still used to eradicate exotic fish from non-native habitats. Rotenone is also used as an Insecticide, particularly in home gardens, due to its low toxicity to mammals. USDA allowed rotenone to be used on organic produce until 2005.

Chemical structure


Synonyms and Related Terms

Tubatoxin; Prentox; Rotocide; Barbasco; Chem Fish; Cube; Deril


  • Combustibe.
  • Decomposes on exposure to light and air.
  • Ingestion, inhalation, and skin absorption causes irritation.
  • Generally considered nontoxic to mammals but can cause death in large doses.
  • Cayman Chemical: SDS

Physical and Chemical Properties

Soluble in alcohol, benzene, acetone, carbon tetrachloride, chloroform, ether. Insoluble in water.

Composition C23H22O6
CAS 83-79-4
Melting Point 165-166 C
Density 1.27 g/ml
Molecular Weight mol. wt. = 394.4
Boiling Point 210-220 C

Resources and Citations

  • The Merck Index, Martha Windholz (ed.), Merck Research Labs, Rahway NJ, 10th edition, 1983 Comment: entry 8138
  • Random House, Webster's Encyclopedic Unabridged Dictionary of the English Language, Grammercy Book, New York, 1997
  • Wikipedia: Rotenone (accessed Jan. 9 2009)

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