Camptothecin the third most in demand alkaloid, is commercially extracted in India from the endangered plant, Nothapodytes nimmoniana. Endophytes, the microorganisms that reside within plants, are reported to have the ability to produce host–plant associated metabolites. Hence, our research aims to establish a sustainable and high camptothecin yielding endophyte, as an alternative source for commercial production of camptothecin. A total of 132 endophytic fungal strains were isolated from different plant parts (leaf, petiole, stem and bark) of N. nimmoniana, out of which 94 were found to produce camptothecin in suspension culture. Alternaria alstroemeriae (NCIM1408) and Alternaria burnsii (NCIM1409) demonstrated camptothecin yields up to 426.7 ± 33.6 µg/g DW and 403.3 ± 41.6 µg/g DW, respectively, the highest reported production to date. Unlike the reported product yield attenuation in endophytes with subculture in axenic state, Alternaria burnsii NCIM1409 could retain and sustain the production of camptothecin up to 200 μg/g even after 12 continuous subculture cycles. The camptothecin biosynthesis in Alternaria burnsii NCIM1409 was confirmed using 13C carbon labelling (and cytotoxicity analysis on different cancer cell lines) and this strain can now be used to develop a sustainable bioprocess for in vitro production of camptothecin as an alternative to plant extraction. © 2021, The Author(s).