Leaves: 5–15 cm long leaves, almost all at the base, often withered. Leaves are coarsely toothed, narrowed to a winged stalk.
Rhizomes of the plant are 15–25 cm long and woody.
Flowers: small, pale or purplish blue, borne in cylindric spikes, spikes borne on almost leafless erect stems. Flowers about 8 mm, 5-lobed to the middle, and with much longer stamens.
Fruits: 1.3 cm long.
The rhizome has a long history of use in Indian Ayurvedic medicine for the treatment of digestive problems. Other uses have been proposed (e.g. for asthma, liver damage, wound healing, vitiligo) but the medical evidence is not yet conclusive. It appears to be relatively safe based on its long history of traditional use. Kutki has hepato-protective properties and thus supports the liver and spleen. It is used in all forms of liver damage, cirrhosis and inflammation of the liver. It protects the liver against damage from the hepatitis C virus.
Chemistry: Chemical composition of Picrorhiza kurroa include Kutkin, a bitter glycoside which contains two C-9 iridoid glycosides-Picroside I and Kutakoside.
Picrorhiza kurroa is one of the major income generating non-timber forest products found in the Nepalese Himalayas. It is one of the oldest medicinal plants traded from the Karnali zone. Known as Kutki or कुटकी in Nepali, it is a perennial herb and is used as a substitute for Indian gentian (Gentiana kurroo)