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Ironwood tree









Abelmoschus moschatus


      San: Latakasturika   Hin, Guj, Ben: Mushkdana  Mal: Kasthurivenda   Mar: Kasthuri- bhendi  Tel: Kasturi benda   Tam: Varttilaikasturi   Kan: Kasturi bende   Ass: Gorukhiakorai

               Abelmoschus moschatus Medicus syn. Hibiscus abelmoshus Linn. also popularly known as musk or Muskmallow, is an erect annual herb which yields musk-like scented seeds and woos everybody through its sensuous musky fragrance

Uses: Every part of this medicinal plant is used in one or the other way.  Seeds are effective aphrodisiac and antispasmodic, and used in tonics.  They check vomiting and are useful in treating intestinal disorders, urinary discharge, nervous disorders, hysteria, skin diseases etc. Flower infusion is contraceptive. Ambrette oil of commerce is extracted from the seeds and is used in perfumery, flavouring, cosmetic and agarbathi industries. The aromatic concrete and absolute, extracted from seeds are used as base material for preparing high grade perfumes, scents and cosmetics.

Soil and climate: Ambrette is a hardy plant, which can be grown in varied climate under tropical and subtropical conditions.  It can be grown both as a rainfed crop and as an irrigated crop.  It grows on well-drained loamy and sandy loam soils.  Loamy soils with neutral pH and plenty of organic matter are ideal for its cultivation.

Seeds and sowing: It is propagated through seeds. The optimum time of sowing is June-July with pre-monsoon showers. The land is prepared well by ploughing, harrowing and levelling. Ridges and furrows are formed giving a spacing of 60 - 100 cm.  Seed rate is 2-3 kg/ha.  Seeds are soaked in water before sowing for 24 hours.  Two to three seeds are sown per hole at 60 cm spacing on one side of the ridge at a depth of 1 cm and covered with a pinch of sand or loose soil.  It takes 5-7 days for proper germination.  After germination, extra seedlings are thinned out leaving one healthy growing plant per hole within 20 days. 

Manuring: Well decomposed FYM or compost is incorporated into the soil at 10 - 15 t/ha.  Fertilisers are applied at 120:40:40 kg N, P2O5, K2O/ha.  However, a dose 160:80:80 kg/ha is recommended for best yields of seed and oil.  Phosphorus is applied fully as basal.  N and K are applied in 3 equal doses at planting, 2 and 4 months after planting.  Fertilizers are applied 10 cm away from the plants.

Irrigation:  For irrigated crop, field is irrigated soon after sowing.  Irrigation is given twice a week  during the initial period and once a week thereafter.  The field is kept weed free by regular weeding during the growing period

Plant protection:Musk plants suffer from pests like spider mites, fruit bores and leaf eating caterpillars.  Diseases like powdery mildew and wilt are also observed on the plant.  Spider mites and powdery mildew are controlled by spraying 30g wettable sulphur in 10 litres of water.  Pod borers can be controlled by spraying 20ml oxydemeton methyl in 10 litres of water.

Harvesting and processing:   The crop starts flowering about 75 days after sowing.  The flowers set into fruits in 3-4 days and the pods take nearly a month to mature.  Flowering and fruit setting extends from October to April.  Harvesting is arduous.  Fruits have to be plucked as soon as they attain black colour; otherwise, they split and seeds scatter.  Therefore, weekly collection of pods is necessary and in all 20-25 pluckings may be required as it is a 170-180 days duration crop.  The fruits are further dried and threshed to separate seeds. The seed yield is 1-1.5t /ha

.           The oil is extracted from seed by steam distillation followed by solvent extraction.  The concrete of solvent extraction is further extracted with alcohol to get the absolute, that is, the alcohol soluble volatile concentrate.

Chemical constituents: The fatty oil of seeds contain  the  phospholipids :  2 - cephalin, phosphatidylserine and its plasmalogen and phosphatidyl choline plasmalogen.  Absolute contains farnesol and ambrettolic acid lactone.  b- sitosterol and its   b d - glucosides are isolated from leaves.  Petals contain  b-sitosterol, flavonoid myricetin and its glucoside.  Anthocyanins like cyanidin - 3 - sambubioside and cyanidin - 3 - glucoside are present in the flowers. 




Asparagus racemosus

Family- Liliaceae


San, Mar, Hin, Mal: Satavari; Ben: Shatamuli, Guj: Ekalkanto, Tel: Pilligadalu, Philithaga   Tam: Ammaikodi,  Kilwari,    Kan: Aheruballi,  Ori: Manajolo   

            Apart from Asparagus racemosus Willd.  Asparagus adscendens Roxb., A. filicinus Lam., A. gonoclados Baker, A. officinalis Linn. and A. sarmentosus Willd. are the other important medicinal plant species of the genus.  A. racemosus Willd. is an armed climbing undershrub with woody stems and recurved or rarely straight spines.

Uses: Tuber is demulcent, diuretic, aphrodisiac, tonic, alterative, antiseptic, antidiarrhoeal, glalctogogue and antispasmodic.  Aerial part is spasmolytic, antiarrhythmic and anticancer. Bark is antibacterial and antifungal. It is an excellent safe herbal medicine for ante-natal care. In Ayurvedic classics it is prescribed as a cooling agent and uterine tonic.  It is the main ingredient in ayurvedic medicines like shatavari gulam and shatavari ghrtam.  Besides quenching thirst, its root juice helps in cooling down the body from summer heat, curing hyper-acidity and peptic ulcer.  It contains good amount of mucilage which soothes the inner cavity of stomach.  It relieves burning sensation while passing urine and is used in urinary tract infections.  It contains an anticancer agent asparagin which is useful against leukaemia.  It also contains active antioxytoxic saponins which have got antispasmodic effect and specific action on uterine musculature.  It is very good relaxant to uterine muscles, especially during pregnancy and is used to prevent abortion and pre-term labour on the place of progesterone preparations.  Its powder boiled  with milk is generally used to prevent abortion.  It increases milk production in cows and buffaloes.  Its preparations in milk helps in increasing breast milk in lactating women.  Its proper use helps in avoiding excessive blood loss during periods.  It clears out infections and abnormalities of uterine cavity and hence it is used to rectify infertility in women.  The plant has also ornamental value both for indoor and out door decorations

Soil and climate: Fertile moist sandy loam soils are ideal for its cultivation though it grows in a wide range of soils.  Better root development is observed in soils in increased proportion of sand. However, a decline in the yield of the crop is noticed in soils containing previous year’s residue of the roots.

           The plant comes up well under a wide range of tropical and subtropical climate. Asparagus plant is best grown from its tuberous roots even though it can be successfully propagated through seeds.  Since root tubers are of commercial value seed propagation provides economic advantage to the farmers.  Seeds usually start germinating after 40 days and average germination is 70%     

Seeds and sowing:-For the cultivation of the crop, the land is ploughed well with pre-monsoon showers and seed nurseries are raised on seed beds of approximately 1m width, 15cm height and suitable length.  Seed nursery should be irrigated regularly and kept weed free.  With the onset of monsoon in June-July the main field is ploughed thoroughly and pits of size 30cm cube are dug at a spacing of 60-100cm.

Manuring:-The pit is filled with a mixture of top soil and well decomposed FYM or compost applied at 10 - 15 t/ha and the seedlings are transplanted.  Application of N, P2O5 and K2O at 60:30:30 kg/ha increases the root yield.

Afercultivation:- Regular irrigation and weeding are required to realize higher yields.  Standards are to be provided for training the plant. Few pests and diseases are observed on this crop.

Harvesting:- Harvesting the crop after two years provided higher root yield than annual harvests in pots as well as in field experiments.  Irrigating the field prior to harvest enables easy harvesting of the root tubers.  The average yield is 10 - 15 t/ha of fresh root tubers though yields over 60t/ha have been reported.

Chemical constituents: Asparagus roots contain protein 22%, fat 6.2%, carbohydrate 3.2%, vitamin B 0.36%, vitamin C 0.04% and traces of vitamin A.  It contains several alkaloids.  Alcoholic extract  yields asparagin- an anticancer agent.  It also contains a number of antioxytocic saponins like Shatavarisn. Leaves contain rutin, diosgenin and a flavonoid glycoside identified as quercetin - 3 - glucuronide.  Flowers contain quercetin hyperoside and rutin.  Fruits contain glycosides of quercetin, rutin and hyperoside while fully ripe fruits contain cyanidin - 3 - galactoside and cyanidin - 3 - glucorhamnoside.






Aegle marmelos


San: Bilva, Sriphal : Hin, Mal: Koovalam     Tam: Vilvam

Aegle marmelos (Linn.) Corr.ex Roxb. belongs to the citrus family. The golden coloured bael fruit resembles a golden apple and hence the generic name Aegle. Bael or Bengal quince is a deciduous sacred tree, associated with Gods having useful medicinal properties.                                             

 Uses: Every part of the tree is medicinal and useful. The roots are used in many ayurvedic medicines for curing diabetes and leprosy. It is an ingredient of the ‘dasamoola’. The Bark is used to cure intestinal disorders. Leaves contain an alkaloid rutacin which is hypoglycaemic. Leaves and fruits are useful in controlling diarrhoea and dysentery. Fruit pulp is used to cure mouth ulcers as it is one of the richest natural source of riboflavin (1191 units/100g). ‘Bael sharbat’ is prepared by mixing the fruit pulp with sugar, water and tamarind juice, which is very useful for stomach and intestinal disorders. The rind of the fruit is used for dyeing and tanning. The aromatic wood is used to make pestles in oil and sugar mills and also to make agricultural implements

Soil and climate: Bael comes up well in humid tropical and subtropical climate. It grows on a wide range of soils from sandy loam to clay loam.

Seeds and sowing: The plant is propagated mainly by seeds and rarely by root cuttings. Seeds are freshly extracted from ripe fruits after removing the pulp and then dried in sun. Seeds are soaked in water for 6 hours and sown on seedbeds, which are covered with rotten straw and irrigated regularly. Seeds germinate within 15-20 days. One month old seedlings can be transplanted into polybags which can be planted in the  field after 2 months. Budded or grafted plants as well as new saplings arising from injured roots can also be used for planting. Grafted plants start yielding from the 4th year while the trees raised from seeds bear fruits after 7-10 years. Vegetative propagation by patch budding  is economical. Planting is done in the main field with onset of monsoon in June-July at a spacing of 6-8m. Pits of size 50 cmare dug. Pits are filled with a mixture of top soil and 10kg of well decomposed FYM and formed into a heap. Seedlings are transplanted in the middle of the heap and mulched.

Varieties: North Indian varieties are preferred to South Indian types for large scale cultivation. Twelve varieties are cultivated in North India for their fruits. Kacha, Ettawa, Seven Large, Mirsapuri and Deo Reo Large are varieties meant specially for ‘Sharbat’. Some improved selections are NB-4, NB-5,NB-9

Manuring: Chemical fertilisers are not usually applied. However NPK recommended is 480g N-320 g P and 480 g K/tree/year.The dose of  organic manure is increased every year till 50-80 kg/tree of 5 years or more.

Irrigation: Regular irrigation is required during early stages of growth once established, light irrigation should be given after manuring and fertilisation and proper soil moisture may be maintained after fruitset.

After cultivation:- Regular weeding is required during early stages of growth.

Plant protection:- No serious pests and diseases are noted in the crop.Fruit canker precaution should be taken so that fruit is not hurt during plucking,also during transportation ,the fruit should be packed tightly.

Harvesting and processing:- Bael tree flowers during April. The flowers are aromatic with pleasant and heavenly odour. The fruits are set and slowly develop into mature fruits. Fruits are seen from October-March. A single tree bears 200-400 fruits.Fruits are usually packed in gunny bags, baskets or woodencrates using newspaper as cushioing material. Roots can be collected from mature trees of age 10 years or more. Tree is cut down about 1m from the ground. The underground roots are carefully dug out. Roots with the attached wood is then marketed . 

Chemical constituents: Roots and fruits contain coumarins such as scoparone, scopoletin, umbelliferone, marmelosin and skimmin. Fruits, in addition, contain xanthotoxol, imperatorin and alloimperatorin and alkaloids like aegeline and marmeline identified as N-2-hydroxy-2-[4-(3’,3’-dimethyl allyloxy) phenyl] ethyl cinnamide. Roots and stem barks contain a coumarin - aegelinol. Fruit pulp is a rich source of carbohydrate, protein, fat, fibre, minerals and vitamin B and C.





Bauhinia variegata


San: Kancanarah, Kovidarah; Hin: Kancanar; Mal: Mandaram, Chuvannamandaram, Malayakatti, Kongu, Kongumandaram;

Uses: In traditional medicine, Bauhinia is extensively used in glandular diseases and as an antidote to poison. The drug is also reported to be useful in dysentery, diarrhoea, piles and worms. Seeds possess human blood agglutinating activity. Stem bark is hypothermic, CNS active and depressant. Bud, flower, leaf and stembark are antibacterial. Stem possesses juvenoid activity. Bark is alterative, tonic, antileprotic and antirheumatic. Root is carminative and antidote for snakebite.

Seeds and sowing: Well-drained hilly areas are ideal for the cultivation of Bauhinia. The plant is seed propagated. Seeds are formed in February-March. Seeds are to be collected from the dried pods, soaked in water for 12 hours before sowing in seedbeds. At four-leaved stage they are to be transferred to polybags. Two-month-old seedlings from polybags are used for field planting. Pits of size 60cm cube are to be taken and filled with 10kg dried cowdung mixed with topsoil and formed into a mound. On these seedlings are to be planted at a distance of 6-7.5m.

After cultivation: Irrigation is to be given in the first year. Two weeding and application of organic manure once is required in a year. No serious pests and diseases are reported in the plant.
Harvesting:  The plant flowers on the third year. At the end of tenth year the tree can be cut and wood used for medicinal purposes.

Chemical constituents: Flowers contain flavanoids-kaempferol-3-galactoside & kaempferol -3-rhamnoglucoside. Stem bark yields hentriacontane, octacosanol and stigmasterol. Stem yields b-sitisterol, lupiol and a flavanone.




Ammi majus



            Ammi majus Linn.(greater ammi) is an annual or beinnial herb growing to a height of 80 to 120 cm.Greater Ammi, also known as Honey plant .

Uses: It is an annual or biennial herb which is extensively used in the treatment of leucoderma (vitiligo) and psoriasis.  The compounds responsible for this are reported to be furocoumarins like ammoidin (xanthotoxin), ammidin (imperatorin) and majudin (bergapten) present in the seed.  Xanthotoxin is marketed under the trade name “Ox soralen” and also used in “Suntan lotion”.  Meladinine is a by-product of Ammi majus processing, containing both xanthotoxin and imperatorin sold in various formulations increases pigmentation of normal skin and induces repigmentation in vitiligo.  Imperatorin has antitumour activity.  Fruit or seed causes photosensitization in fouls and sheep.

Soil and climate: A wide variety of soils from sandy loam to clay loam are suitable.  However, a well drained loamy soil is the best.  Waterlogged soils are not good.  Being a hardy crop, it thrives on poor and degraded soils.

      Ammi is relatively cold loving and it comes up well under subtropical and temperate conditions.  It does not prefer heavy rainfall.  Though the plant is biennial it behaves as an annual under cultivation in India.  A mild cool climate in the early stages of crop growth and a warm dry weather at maturity is ideal.  It is cultivated as a winter annual crop in rabi season.

Seeds and sowing: The plant is seed propagated.  Seeds germinate within 10-12 days of sowing.  The best time of sowing is October and the crop duration is 160-170 days in north India.  Crop sown later gives lower yield. Seeds being very small are mixed with fine sand or soil, sown in furrows and covered lightly with a thin layer of soil. The crop can be raised either by direct sowing of seed or by raising a nursery and then transplanting the crop.  Seed rate is 2 kg/ha.  The land is brought to a fine tilth by repeated ploughing and harrowing.  Ridges and furrows are then formed at 45-60 cm spacing.

Manuring: Well decomposed FYM at 10-15 t/ha and basal fertilisers are incorporated in the furrows. A fertilizer dose of 80:30:30 kg N, P2O5 and K2O/ha is generally recommended for the crop while 150:40:40 kg/ha is suggested in poor soils for better yields.  The furocoumarin content of Ammi majus is increased by N fertiliser and the N use efficiency increases with split application of N at sowing, branching and at flowering.

Irrigation: If winter rains fail, one irrigation is essential during November to January.  As the harvesting season is spread over a long period of time, two irrigations during  March and April meets the requirements of the crop. 

Aftercultivation:  For obtaining high yields it is essential to give one or two hoeings  during November to February which keeps down the weeds.

Plant protection: White ants and cut worms are reported to attack the crop which can be controlled by drenching with 40g carbaryl in 10 l of water.  Damping off and powdery mildew are the common diseases of the crop. To control powdery mildew the crop is to be sprayed with 30g wettable sulphur in 10 l of water, whenever noticed. Drenching with 1% Bordeaux mixture will control damping off disease.

Harvesting and processing: The crop flowers in February.  Flowering and maturity of seed is spread over a long period of two months.  The primary umbels and the early maturing secondary umbels are the major contributors to yield.  A little delay in harvesting results in the shattering of the seed which is the main constraint in the commercial cultivation of the crop and the main reason for low yields in India. It is reported increased yield by 50 - 60% by the application of planofix at 5 ppm at flower initiation and fruit formation stages.  The optimum time of harvest is the mature green stage of the fruit in view of the reduced losses due to shattering and maximum contents of furocoumarins.  The primary umbels mature first within 35-45 days.  These are harvested at an interval of 2-4 days.  Later, the early appearing secondary umbels are harvested.  Afterwards, the entire crop is harvested, stored for a couple of days and then threshed to separate the seeds.  The seed yield is 900-1200 kg/ha.

           The processing of seed involves solvent extraction of powdered seeds, followed by chilling and liquid extraction and chromatographic separation after treatment with alcoholic HCl.  Bergapten, xanthotoxin and xanthotoxol can be separated.  Xanthotoxol can be methylated and the total xanthotoxin can be purified  by charcoal treatment in acetone or alcohol.

            Ammi majus fruit contains amorphous glucoside 1%, tannin 0.45%, oleoresin  4.76%, acrid oil 3.2%, fixed oil 12.92%, proteins 13.83% and cellulose 22.4%. This is one of the richest sources of linear furocoumarins. Furocoumarins have bactericidal, fungicidal, insecticidal, larvicidal, moluscicidal, nematicidal, ovicidal, viricidal and herbicidal activities





Curculigo orchioides

Family - Amaryllidaceae


San: Musali;  Hin: Kalimusali, Mushali;  Ben: Talamuli;  Mal: Nilappana; Guj: Musalikand  Tam: Nilapanai;   Tel: Nelatadi Kelangu;   Kan: Neladali

          Curculigo orchioides Gaertn. syn. C. malabarica Wight, C. brevifolia Dryand,  Hypoxis dulcis Stand belongs to the family Amaryllidaceae. Musali is a small herbaceous plant with cylindrical rootstock

Use: It is used as a rejuvenating and aphrodisiac drug. It improves complexion and is useful in general debility, deafness, cough, asthma, piles, skin diseases, impotence, jaundice, urinary disorders etc. Rootstock is the officinal part and it enters into the ayurvedic formulations like Vidaryadighrta, Vidaryadi lehya, Marmagulika, Musalyadi churna etc.

Soil and climate: The plant is found in all districts of India from near sea level to 2300m altitude, especially in rock crevices and laterite soil. It has been recorded to occur in the sub tropical Himalayas from Kumaon eastwards ascending to 1800m, the Khasia hills, Bengal, Asssam, Konkan, Kanara, the western peninsula and Madras extending south as far as a Cape Comerin.

Seeds and sowing: The plant is propagated through tubers with crown. New propagules also emerge from leaf tips. Raised beds of convenient length and 1m wide are taken. FYM @ 20t/ha is incorporated into the soil. The tubers are planted at a spacing of 20x20cm. The soil is mulched immediately after planting.

After cultivation: The crop prefers shade and grows best as intercrop. Soil should be sufficiently moist to get maximum tuber development. Two – three weeding is essential to control weed competition.

Harvesting and processing: The plant is harvest as annual after 8 months as annual or can be harvested after two years as biennial. 1-1.5 t/ha tuber is obtained per hectare.

Chemical properties: Glucose, mannose, xylose and glucuronic acid from the rootstock of C. orchioides. The rootstock is also reported to contain glycoside, polysaccharides (hemicellulose and other polysaccharides), starch, resin, tannin, mucilage, fat and calcium oxalate. The hexane extract contains an alkaloid : lycorine, sterols including -sitosterols and sapogenin identified as yuccagenin. The flavone glycoside from the rootstock has been identified as 5,7- dimethoxy glucopyranoside. Fatty acids from C. orchioides root oil are palmitic, oleic, linolenic linoleic, arachidic and behenic acid. A new phenolic isolated glycoside namely, curculigoside from the rhizomes and its structure has been elucidated as 5-hydroxy-2-O--d-glucopyranosyl benzl 1,2,6-dimethoxy benzoate.





Bacopa monnieri


San: Brahmi, Sarasvati;  Hin: Barami, Jalnim;   Ben: Boihim-sak;   Mal: Brahmi, Nirbrahmi;      Tam: Nirpirami, Piramiyapundu;   

            Bacopa monnieri (Linn.) Pennell. syn. Monniera cuneifolia Michx., Herpestis monniera (Linn.) H.B. & K. belongs to the family Scrophulariaceae.

Uses: Brahmi or Thyme leaved gratiola is an important drug in Ayurveda for the improvement of intelligence and memory and revitalisation of sense organs. It is suggested against dermatosis, anaemia, diabetes, cough, dropsy, fever, arthritis, anorexia, dyspepsia, emaciation, and insanity. It dispels poisonous affections, splenic disorders and impurity of blood. It is useful in vitiated conditions of kapha and vata, biliousness, neuralgia, ascites, flatulence, leprosy, leucoderma, syphilis, sterility and general debility. The whole  plant is used in a variety of preparations like Brahmighrtam, Sarasvataristam., Brahmitailam, Misrakasneham, etc. In unani Majun Brahmi is considered as a brain tonic.

Soil and climate: The plant grows throughout the warm humid tropics up to 1200m elevation. Brahmi gets established well in water logged fields.

Seeds and sowing: The plant is propagated through stem cuttings. Ploughing 2 or 3 times prepare the land for sowing. Two to three tonnes/ha of cowdung or compost is applied and the field is again ploughed  and levelled. Stem cuttings, 10cm long are spread at a spacing of 20cm. Water logging to height of 30cm is always required. Rooting may start within 15-20 days. It will spread over the field within 6 months.

After cultivation: Regular application of organic manure will take care of the manurial requirement. Weeding once in a month is required. Care should be taken to maintain water level at a height of 15cm during the growth period. No serious pests or diseases are noted in this crop.

Harvesting: Harvesting commences from sixth months onwards. Brahmi leaves can be collected once a month. After 3 years, the whole crop is harvested and removed. Fresh cultivation can be carried out in the same field.

Chemical constituents: Leaves contain the alkaloids brahmine and hespestine.  Mannitol and saponins were reported later. A systematic examination has resulted in the isolation and identification of two saponins designated as bacosides A and B. Bacoside A has chemical structure represented as 3-(a-L-arabinopyranosyl)-O-b-D-glucopyranoside-10, 20-dihydroxy-16-ketodammar-24-ene. The mixture of bacosides A and B on hydrolysis give four sapogenins, glucose and arabinose.




Cassia  spp.

Family - Caesalpinaceae

The genus Cassia belonging to the family Caesalpiniaceae includes a number of medicinally important species. Among them C. tora, C. occidentalis and C. sophera constitute an important group of drug species.

1. C. tora Linn.

Eng: Foetid Cassia;  San: Cakramardah, Prapunnatah;  Hin: Cakunda, Cakvat;  Mal: Takara

Ben: Cakunda, Panevar;   Tam: Tagarai;    Tel: Tantemu;   Mar: Takla, Tankil

Foetid Cassia is a very common weed in waste places, fallow ground and it is found as forest undergrowth during the rainy season. It is found throughout India and in adjoining areas. It is a herbaceous foetid annual weed, sometimes growing upto 90cm in height as an undershrub. Leaves are pinnately compound, rachis grooved with a conical gland between each of the two lowest pair of leaflets. Leaflets are in three pairs, obovate-oblong, membranous with base somewhat oblique and main nerves are of 8-10 pairs. Flowers are yellow, arranged in sub sessile pairs in the axils of the leaves. The upper ones are crowded with seven perfect stamens and three staminodes. Fruits are subtetragonous obliquely septate pods, 15-23cm long with very broad sutures. Seeds are 25-30 per pod.

The leaves and seeds are useful against worm, pruritus, leprosy, skin diseases, hepatopathy, helminthiasis, flatulence, colic, dyspepsia, intermittent fevers, constipation, ophthalmopathy, cough, bronchitis, cardiac disorders and haemorrhoids (Warrier et al, 1994). In skin diseases seeds may be used with the latex of Euphorbia hirta, cow’s urine, curd, lime juice, castor oil, Eclipta prostrata, etc or in the form of poultice. The seeds may be used for arthritis, gout and sciatica. An oil called “Chakramardha” prepared by boiling C. tora plants  with Eclipta prostrata and then heating with sesame oil is widely used  for ring worm. In Ayurveda, the plant is used in “Dadrughani Vati” and “Pamari Taila” (Thakur et al, 1989). The root rubbed into paste with limejuice is said to be a specific for ringworm (Nadkarni, 1998). Leaves used as poultice hasten suppuration and also forms a remedy in gout, sciatica and pains in the joints (Nadkarni, 1954; Aiyer and Kolammal, 1964;  Kurup et al, 1979). The other important formulations using the drug are Maharajaprasarini taila, Yastimadhukadi taila, Surasadi taila, etc (Sivarajan et al, 1994).

The leaves  contain chrysophanol, aloe-emodin, rhein and emodin. Seeds give a glycoside rubrofurasin-6b-gentiobioside, chrysophanol, physcion, emodin, aloe-emodin, rhein, aloe-emodin monoglucoside, physcion diglucoside, chrysophanol diglucoside and chrysophanol triglucoside. Plant contains glucose too (Husain et al, 1992). Seeds contain oleic, linoleic, palmitic and lignoceric acids (Suba-Jois et al, 1930; Wilkinson et al, 1970). Roots of this plant contain 1, 3, 5-terhydroxy-6, 7-dimethoxy –2-methyl anthraquinone and leucopelargonidin (Tiwari et al, 1972). Leaves yeild kaempferol-3-diglucoside. A new yellow pigment torachrysone has been isolated (Joshi et al, 1976). Seeds have been used as a purgative, probably due to the presence of emodin and anthraquinone glycosides. Antifungal effect is due to chrysophanol and chrysophonic acid –9-anthrone (Acharya et al, 1974; Yogindernath et al, 1962; Narayana et al, 1956). The leaves and seeds are acrid, thermogenic, laxative, depurative, antiperiodic, anthelmintic, liver tonic, ophthalmic, expectorant and cardiotonic. Plant is antiviral, spasmolytic and diuretic.

2. C. occidentalis Linn.

Eng: Stinking weed, Negro coffee;   San: Kasamardah;   Hin: Kasondi;   Ben: Kalkashunda;           Mal: Naattu Takara, Ponnaviram;   Tam: Paeyaavarai, Thagarai;   Tel: Kasinda.

The Negro coffee or Stinking weed is found throughout India, growing abundantly on waste lands immediately after the rains. It is an offensively odorous undershrub with furrowed subglabrous branches. Leaflets are 3-5 pairs. Flowers are yellow, arranged in short peduncled few flowered racemes. Fruits are cylindrical or compressed, transversely septate glabrous pods containing 20-30 seeds. Seeds are ovoid, compressed, hard, smooth and skin dark olive green or pale brown.

The plant is useful in vitiated conditions of vata and kapha, cough, bronchitis, constipation, fever, epilepsy and convulsions. The roots are useful in inflammation, diabetes, strangury, elephantiasis, ringworm, colic, flatulence, dyspepsia, epilepsy, convulsions and scorpion sting. The leaves and seeds are used in leprosy, erysipelas, pruritus, wounds and ulcers, cough, bronchitis, hiccough, asthma, pharyngodynia, fever and hydrophobia (Warrier et al, 1994). A paste made out of roots is considered as a specific remedy for ringworm, eczema and other skin ailments (Aiyer amd Kolammal, 1964). Bark, roots, leaves and seeds are used in medicine. The drug is an ingredient of Surasadi taila (Sivarajan et al, 1994).

The plant contains emodin, physcion, chrysophanol, sitosterol and a xanthone- cassiollin. Seeds contain phytosterolin and 3-methyl-6-methoxy-1, 8-dihydroxy anthraquinone. Flowers contain physcion-b-D-glucopyranoside. Roots contain phytosterol, 1, 8-dihydroxy anthraquinone, a-hydroxy anthraquinone, quercetin, 1, 4, 5-trihydroxy anthroquinone derivatives, namely, islandicin, helminthosporon and xanthorin, a xanthone derivative-cassiollin. Leaves contain flavonoids- matteucinol-7-rhamnoside and jaceidin-7-rhamnoside. The plant is febrifuge, purgative, diuretic and tonic. Seed and leaf are bitter, sweet, acrid, thermogenic and depurative and used in skin diseases. Root is an antidote for snakebite (Husain et al, 1992).

3. C. sophera Linn.

 Eng: Senna sophera;      San: Kasamardar;      Hin: Kascenda;         Mal: Ponthakara;     Tam: Naavarai, Sularat;     Tel: Kondakashinda;       Mar: Kasodi

             Senna sophera is a diffuse undershrub with yellow flowers found throughout India. The sepals are broad and obtuse. 6-7 stamens are antheriferous and rest reduced to staminoids. Pods are usually dehiscent and transversely septate. Leaves are almost glabrous. Pods are compressed, torulose and with thickened margins. Leaflets are 5-10 pairs, oblong  lanceolate and about 2.5cm long. Pods are more or less turgid (Gamble, 1995).

            It is recommended against cough, asthma and other respiratory ailments. It helps to regain the balance of the three doshas - vata, pita and kapha, improves digestion, clears throat and purifies blood. Leaf is used in ringworm problems. The plant is used in bronchitis. Bark is used for skin diseases. This is used to prepare the drug “Kasamardah”. This drug is an ingredient of  Surasadi taila (Sivarajan et al, 1994).

            The leaves contain 3, 5, 3’, 4’, 5’-penta-hydroxy-7-methoxy flavon–8-C-L-rhamnopyranoside (Husain et al, 1992). Flowers contain anthraquinone and flavonol glycoside. Leaves contain new flavonol-8-C-glycoside (Asolkar et al, 1992). The plant is spasmolytic. Alcoholic extract of leaves is intestinal and bronchial muscle relaxant.




Ricinus communis


         San: Erandah, Pancangulah; Hin: Erandi, Erand; Ben: Bherenda;  Mal: Avanakku

Castor is a perennial evergreen shrub.

Uses: It is considered as a reputed remedy for all kinds of rheumatic affections. They are useful in gastropathy, constipation, inflammations, fever, ascitis, strangury, bronchitis, cough, leprosy, skin diseases, vitiated conditions of vata, colic, coxalgia and lumbago. Castor oil is an excellent solvent of pure alkaloids and as such solutions of atropine, cocaine, etc. is used in ophthalmic surgery. It is also dropped into the eye to remove the after-irritation caused by the removal of foreign bodies.

Soil and climate: Castor is cultivated both in the plains and the hills. As it has deep root system it is hardy and capable of resisting drought. It does not withstand water logging and frost. It requires hard dry climate for proper development of fruits and seeds. It requires a well-drained soil, preferably sandy loam or loamy sand. High soil fertility is of less importance as compared to the good physical condition of the soil. It cannot tolerate alkalinity. It is generally grown in red loamy soils, black soils and alluvial soils.

Seeds and sowing: The plant is seed propagated. The seed rate required is 5-12 kg/ha (pure crop) and 3 kg/ha (mixed crop). Seeds are to be sown on a hot bed early in March. The suitable season of growing is kharif season. The crop is usually sown in April and planting is done in early July. The land is to be ploughed 2-3 times with the onset of rains and is repeated after rain. The spacing recommended is 60x90cm in case of pure crop. It is seldom cultivated as pure but usually grown mixed with crops such as jowar, arhar, chilly, groundnut, cotton, etc.

Manuring: 10-15t FYM/ha and 50 kg N, 50kg P2O5 and 20kg K2O/ha is recommended. Addition of neem cake is beneficial for higher oil content.

After cultivation: There should be sufficient moisture in the field at the time of sowing. A month after planting, weeding and earthing up is to be done.

Plant protection:  The plant is attacked by hairy caterpillar, castor semi-looper, castor seed caterpillar, etc. which can be managed by integrated pest management measures. Spraying with Bordeaux mixture 2-3 times at 15 days interval can control the leaf blight disease occurring in castor.

Harvesting: Harvesting of ripe fruits can be done from the end of November till the end of February. The fruit branches are picked when they are still green to avoid splitting and scattering of the seeds. The pods are to be heaped up in the sun to dry. Then the seeds are to be beaten with stick and winnowed. Roots, leaves, flowers, seeds and oil constitute the economic parts. The average yield is 500-600kg/ha

Chemical constituents: The bean coat yields lupeol. Roots, stems and leaves contain several amino acids. Flowers contain apigenin, chlorogenin, rutin, coumarin and hyperoside. Castor oil is constituted by several fatty acids. Seed coat contains lipids and higher amounts of phosphatides and non-saponifiable matter than seed kernel.



Acacia catechu
Family-  Mimosaceae

San:Khadirah;            Hin:Khair, Khaira;       Ben: Kuth;        Mal: Karingali;    Tam: Karunkali; Tel: Sandra, Khandiramu;       Kan: Kaggali

            A. catechu  is a  moderate sized deciduous tree, 9-12m in height with dark greyish or brown rough bark and hooked short spines.

Uses: It is used as a blood purifier and against leoprosy and leucoderma. Catechu or Cutch tree bark is useful in melancholia, conjunctivitis and haemoptysis. The bark is anthelmintic, antipyretic, antiinflammatory and antileprotic. The flowers are antigonorrhoeic.  It is useful for the treatment of catarrh, cough, pruritus, skin diseases, foul ulcers and wounds. The gummy extract of the wood is also useful against skin diseases.

Soil and climate: It requires hot tropical climate. Catechu is suited to hilly areas and rocky places. It grows wild in places up to an elevation of 2000m MSL. It grows in all types of soils excepted waterlogged situations.

Seeds and sowing:  The plant is propagated by seeds. Seeds are soaked in water for 6 hours and sown in seedbeds. Seeds germinate within a month. At four-leaf stage, seedlings are planted in polybags. Two months old seedlings from the polybags are used for transplanting. Pits of size 50cm3 are taken at a distance of 5m between plants and filled with topsoil, sand and dried cowdung in 1:1:1 ratio. Seedlings are planted in these pits. Application of organic manure every year during the rainy season is beneficial. Regular weeding is to be carried out. Pruning of branches and tender shoots developing from the base of the plant can be done from second year onwards. Tree is to be grown as single stemmed one.

Harvesting and processing: Flowering and fruiting commences from fourth year onwards. At the end of tenth year, the tree can be cut and heartwood collected

Chemical constituents: Heartwood contains kaempferol, dihydro kaempferol, taxifolin, iso rhamnetin(+)-afzelchin, a dimeric procyanidin, quercetin, (-)epi-catechin, (-)catechin, fisetin, quercetagetin and (+)-cyanidanol. The main constituent of heartwood is catechin and catechu tannic acid. Catechin is a mixture of at least four isomers, L(-)epicatechin being one of them.      




Terminalia chebula


San, Ben: Haritaki;   Hindi: Harara, Harir, Har;   Mal: Kadukka;   Ass: Hilikha

            Chebulic myrobalan is a medium deciduous subtropical tree, the fruit of which is a common constituent of Triphala capable of imparting youthful vitality and receptivity of mind and sense.

Use: It is a major constituent in the ayurvedic preparations like Abhayarishta, Abhaya modak, Haritaki khand, Triphaladi churnam and Agastya rasayanam. In allopathy it is used in astringent ointments. In unani system it is used as a blood purifier. The pulp of the fruit is given in piles, chronic diarrhoea, dysentery, costiveness, flatulence, asthma, urinary disorders, vomiting, hiccup, intestinal worms, ascites and enlarged spleen and liver. Powder of the fruit is used in chronic ulcers and wounds, carious teeth and bleeding ulceration of the gums. The bark is a good cardiac tonic. The fruit is   valuable for its tannins and dyes. The wood is used for building purposes, agricultural implements, plywood and match box industries. It is also grown as a shade tree.

Soil and climate: Young plants prefer shade while the matured plants tolerate light frost and drought. It grows well in hilly areas. Deep fertile forest soils are preferred though it can tolerate well-drained lateritic soils also.

Seeds and sowing: This is propagated through seeds. Natural multiplication happens rarely due to the poor seeds germination. Pre-soaking of seeds in water for 48 hours before sowing in seedbeds give better germination. The hard seed coat is removed before sowing. The seedbeds should be covered with straw after sowing. It is watered immediately. Usually it takes 3-5 months to germinate. It can be transferred to polybags at two leaves stage. One-year-old seedlings are ready for transplanting. For transplanting, 50cm3pits are taken at a spacing of 8m.

After cultivation: Organic manure, added regularly, promotes growth. Irrigation is required during first year. Weeds should be removed regularly. This plant grows slowly. It fruits within 6-7 years. This is continued for many years. It is coppiced well. Fruits are to be collected immediately after falling down or the fallen fruits are to be covered with soil to protect it from pests. Fruits are dried well in sun and used or stored.

Chemical constituents: Kernel oil of Chebulic myrobalan contains 6 fatty acids viz. palmitic, stearic, oleic, linoleic, arachidic and behenic acid. The fruits contain chebulinic acid, tannic acid, gallic acid, chebulin and tannin. Leaves contain terpenes and saponins. b-sitosterol is present in the bark  




Cinchona spp.



San: Cinchona, Kunayanah     Hin: Kunain      Mal: Cinchona, Quoina       Tam: Cinchona The term cinchona is believed to be derived from the countess of cinchon who was cured of malaria by treating with the bark of the plant in 1638.

Uses: Cinchona, known as Quinine, Peruvian or Crown bark tree is famous for the antimalarial drug ‘quinine’ obtained from the bark of the plant. Commercial preparations contain cinchonidine and dihydroquinine. They are useful for the treatment of malarial fever, pneumonia, influenza, cold, whooping couphs, septicaemia, typhoid, amoebic dysentery, pinworms, lumbago, sciatica, intercostal neuralgia, bronchial neuritis and internal hemorrhoids. Besides, they are used in insecticide compositions for the preservation of fur, feathers, wool, felts and textiles.                      

Soil and climate: The plant widely grows in tropical regions having an average minimum temperature of 14°C. Mountain slopes in the humid tropical areas with well-distributed annual rainfall of 1500-1950mm are ideal for its cultivation. Well-drained virgin and fertile forest soils with pH 4.5-6.5 are best suited for its growth. It does not tolerate water logging.

Seeds and sowing: Cinchona is propagated through seeds and vegetative means. The commercial plantations are raised through seeds. Vegetative propagation techniques such as grafting, budding and softwood cuttings are also employed. Cinchona succirubra  is commonly used as root stock in the case of grafting and budding. Hormonal treatment induces better rooting. Seedlings are first raised in nursery under shade. Raised seedbeds of convenient size are prepared, well decomposed compost or manure is applied, seeds are broadcasted uniformly at 2g/m2, covered with a thin layer of sand and irrigated. Seeds germinate in 10-20 days. Seedlings are transplanted into polythene bags after 3 months. These can be transplanted into the field after 1 year at 1-2m spacing. Trees are thinned after third year for extracting bark, leaving 50% of the trees at the end of the fifth year.

Plant protection: The crop is damaged by a number of fungal diseases like damping off caused by Rhizoctoria solani, tip blight by Phytophthora parasatica, collar rot by Sclerotiun rolfsii, root rot by Phytophthora cinnamomi, Armillaria mellea and Pythium vexans. Field sanitation, seed treatment with organo-mercurial fungicide, burning of infected plant parts and spraying 1% Bordeaux mixture are recommended for disease control.

Harvesting: Harvesting can be done in one or two phases. In one case, the complete tree is uprooted, after 8-10 years when the alkaloid yield is high. In another case, the tree is cut about 30cm from the ground for bark after 6-7 years so that fresh sprouts come up from the stem to yield a second crop which is harvested with the under ground roots after 6-7 years. Both the stem and root are cut into convenient pieces; bark is separated, dried in shade, graded, packed and traded. Bark yield is 9000-16000kg/ha.

Chemical constituents: Over 35 alkaloids have been isolated from the plant, the most important among them being quinine, quinidine, cinchonine and cinchonidine. These alkaloids exist mainly as salts of quinic, quinovic and cinchotannic acids. The cultivated bark contains 7-10% total alkaloids of which about 70% is quinine. Similarly 60% of the total alkaloids of root bark are quinine. Quinine is isolated from the total alkaloids of the bark as quinine sulphate.




Indigofera tinctoria

Family-Papilionaceae (Fabaceae)

San:Nilini, Ranjani, Nilika, Neelam, Aklika, Asita, Bhadra; Mal: Neelamari

Common indigo or Indian indigo is a branching shrub which grows up to 2m high.

Uses: Nili is a reputed drug produced from this plant, which is used in ayurveda for the promotion of hair growth and it forms a major ingredient of preparations like nilibhringadi oil. This is the original source of natural indigo. Nili is purgative in action, bitter, hot, cures giddiness, abdominal enlargement, gout and intestinal obstruction.

Soil and climate: The Indian indigo requires good sunlight and grows well in plains as well as hilly areas. Sandy loams soils are the best. Clayey soil where water logging is likely is unsuitable. It can withstand temp upto 40oC provided adequate soil moisture could be maintained. It can be sultivated in coastal sandy soils.

Seeds and sowing: This is usually propagated by seeds. Seeds are very small and the seed rate is 3kg/ha. Seeds are mixed with sand and ground gently to break the seed coat. An alternate method for enhancing germination is dipping the seeds in boiling water for a second. After pretreatment seeds are broadcasted. Broadcast the seeds preferably mixed with sand 2 or 3 times its volume to ensure uniform coverage. The seedbeds should be covered with straw and irrigated. Seeds germinate within 15 days. Seedlings are ready for transplanting after one month. For the land preparation, the soil is brought to fine tilth by ploughing 2 or 3 times.

After cultivation: Cattle manure should be applied at the rate of 10t/ha as basal dressing and incorporated into soil along with last ploughing. The best time for sowing is September-October. Weeding has to be done two times; 3 weeks after sowing and 6 weeks after sowing. Plants start flowering 2-3 months after sowing.

Harvesting: It is done by cutting the plants at this time, at a height of about 10cm from ground level. Irrigate plants after harvest. Subsequent harvests can be made at 1.5-2 months interval. Four to five cuttings can be taken in a year depending on the growth. A few plants per plot are left without cutting to set seeds. Ripe pods are to be harvested in the early morning to prevent loss of seeds by shattering during harvest.           

Chemical constituents: A blue dyestuff is obtained from the indigo plant which does not exist ready formed, but is produced during fermentation from another agent existing in the plant, known as indican. Indican is an yellow amorphous material with a nauseous bitter taste with an acid reaction, readily soluble in water, alcohol and ether. An artificial product indigotin is manufactured chemically and used as a substitute. Indirubin is another component of the plant.



Gmelina  arborea

Family- Verbenaceae

San: Gumbhari;  Hin:Gamari, Jugani-chukar;   Mal: Kumizhu, Kumpil;  Guj: Shewan             

Coomb teak,  Candahar tree or Kashmeeri tree is a moderate sized, unarmed, deciduous tree which is a vital ingredient of the ”dasamula” (group of ten roots).

Uses: The whole plant is medicinally very important. It promotes digestive power, improves memory, overcomes giddiness and is also used as an antidote for snake bite and scorpion sting. Roots are useful in hallucination, fever, dyspepsia, hyperdipsia, haemorrhoids, stomachalgia, heart diseases, nervous disorders, piles and burning sensation. Bark is used in fever and dyspepsia. Leaf paste is good for cephalagia and leaf juice is a good wash for foul ulcers and is also used in the treatment of gonorrhoea and cough. Flowers are recommended for leprosy, skin and blood diseases. The fruits are used for promoting the growth of hair and in anaemia, leprosy, ulcers, constipation, strangury, leucorrhoea, colpitis and lung disease.

Wood is one of the best and most reliable timber of India. It is used for making furniture, planks, carriages, printing boxes, musical instruments, shafts, axles, picture frames, jute bobbins, calipers, ship buildings, artificial limbs etc.

Soil and climate: Coomb teak is a sun loving plant. It does not tolerate drought. But it grows in light frost. Rainfall higher than 2000mm and loose soil are ideal.

Seeds and sowing: The best method of propagation is by seeds but sometimes  propagated thriugh stem cuttings also. Seed formation occurs in May-June.  Seeds are dried well before use. They are soaked in water for 12 hours before sowing. Seed rate is 3kg/ha. Seeds are sown in nursery beds shortly before rains. Seeds germinate within one month. Seedlings are transplanted in the first rainy season when they are 7-10cm tall. Pits of size   50cm3 are made at a spacing of 3-4m and filled with sand, dried cow dung and surface soil, over which the seedlings are transplanted.

After cultivation: 20kg organic manure is given once a year. Irrigation and weeding should be done on a regular basis.

Plant protection: The common disease reported is sooty mould caused by Corticium salmonicolor, which can be controlled by applying 1% Bordeaux mixture. Stem borer caterpillar is seen infesting in some areas.

Harvesting: The tree grows fast and may be ready for harvesting after 4 or 5 years. However, 7-10 year old trees are cut and root and heartwood extracted.

Chemical constituents: Roots and heart wood of Coomb teak are reported to contain gmelinol, hentriacontanol, n-octacosanol and b-sitosterol. The roots contain sesquiterpenoid and apiosylskimmin, a coumarin characterised as umbelliferone-7-apiosyl glucoside and gmelofuran. The heartwood gives cetyl alcohol, cluytyl ferulate, lignans, arboreol, gmelonone, 6’-bromo isoarboreol, lignan hemiacetal and gummidiol. Leaves yield luteolin, apigenin, quercetin, hentriacontanol, b-sitosterol, quercetogenin and other flavones. Fruits contain butyric acid, tartaric acid, and saccharine substances.


Costus speciosus


San: Pushkara, Kashmeera, Kemuka;  Hin: Kebu, Keyu, Kust; Mal: Channakkizhangu, Channakoova; Tam: Kostam   

            Costus speciosus (Koenig.) Sm. consists of two varieties viz., var. nepalensis Rose., found only in Nepal and Arunachal Pradesh and var. argycophyllus Wall.,

Uses: Costus is one of the plants that contains diosgenin in its rhizome. Diosgenin is the starting material in the commercial production of steroidal hormones. The rhizomes are useful in vitiated conditions of kapha and pitta, burning sensation, flatulence, constipation, helminthiases, leprosy, skin diseases, fever, hiccough, asthma, bronchitis, inflammation and aneamia. It is used to make sexual hormones and contraceptives

Soil and climate: Costus can be raised under a wide range of agroclimatic conditions. It prefers sandy loam soil for good growth.

 Seeds and sowing: Propagation is by rhizomes. The best season for planting is April-May. The seed rate recommended is 2-2.5t/ha. The spacing adopted is 50x50cm. After an initial ploughing FYM or poultry manure should be applied at the rate of 10t/ha and the field is to be ploughed again irrigated and prepared to obtain a fine seed bed. Furrows are opened and the rhizome pieces are placed horizontally at a depth of 8-10cm and covered with soil. Care is taken to place the eye buds facing upwards. After 70-75 days about 90-95% sprouting is obtained.

Manuring: Application of 5t/ha of poultry manure and fertilizers at the rate of 60kg P2O5 and 40kg K2O  /ha as a basal doze, along with 80kg N/ha applied in 3 equal split dozes gives good yields.

Irrigation:  Desiccation of the young sprouts have been observed in the hot summer months, necessitating liberal water supply during the period. As September-November is the period of maximum tuberization at least two irrigations should be given at that time. One during the sprouting period of the crop followed by two more keeps the crop fairly free of weeds. 

Harvesting: Crop is harvested at the end of seven months. Harvesting includes 2 operations, cutting the aerial shoots and digging out the rhizomes.

Chemical constituents: Tubers and roots contain diosgenin, 5-a-stigmast-9(11)-en-3-b- ol, sitosterol-b-D-glucoside, dioscin, prosapogenins A and B of dioscin, gracillin and quinones. Various saponins, several aliphatic esters and acids are reported from its rhizomes, seeds and roots. Seeds, in addition, contain a-tocopherol.




Datura metel

Family- Solanaceae

San: Dhustura       Hin.: Kaladhatura       Ben: Dhatura      Mal: Ummam   Kan; Dattura Tam: Vellummattai    Tel: Tellavummetta

            The genus Datura consists of annual and perennial herbs, shrubs and trees. Three species,viz, Datura metel Linn.,  D. stramonium Linn. and D. innoxia Mill. are medicinally important.  D. innoxia mill. and D. metel Linn. (var. alba, and var,  fastuosa) are the choice drug plants, rich in hyoscine. D. metel Linn. is the most common in India.

Uses: Downy datura or thorn apple is an erect branched under shrub whose intoxicating and narcotic properties have been made use of by man from ancient time.  The plant and fruit are spasmolytic, anticancerous and anthelmintic.  Leaves and seeds are inhaled in whooping cough, asthma and other respiratory diseases.  Root, leaf and seed are febrifuge, antidiarrhoeal, anticatarrhal and are used in insanity, cerebral complications and skin diseases.  Leaf is antitumour, antirheumatic and vermicide.  Flower is antiasthamatic, anaesthetic and is employed in swellings and eruptions on face.  Fruit juice is used in earache and seed decoction in ophthalmia.  For the rheumatic swellings of joints, lumbago, sciatica and neuralgia, warm leaf smeared with an oil is used as a bandage or sometimes the leaf is made into a poultice and applied. 

The alkaloids of pharmaceutical interest present in the plant are hyoscyamine, hyoscine and meteloidine.  Datura is the chief commercial source of hyoscine available from natural source.  Hyoscine, in the form of hyoscine hydrobromide, is used as a pre-anaesthetic in surgery, child birth, ophthalmology and prevention of motion sickness.  It is also employed in the relief of withdrawal symptoms in morphine and alcoholic addiction, paralysis agitans, post-encephaletic parkinsonianism and to allay sexual excitement.  Hyoscyamine and its salt hyoscyamine sulphate and hyoscyamine hydrobromide are used in delerium, tremour, menia and parkinsonianism

Soil and climate:-       Datura grows on majority of soils, however, alkaline or neutral clay loam soil or those tending to saline-alkaline reaction  rich in organic matter are ideal for vigorous growth.  The clayey, acidic, water-logged or moisture deficient soils do not suit this crop.

         It grows well in a wide range of climate from tropical to temperate conditions.  The plant thrives best in areas of low rainfall where winter and monsoon rains are followed by long dry periods.  Areas with annual rainfall below 1000mm with mean temperature of 10-15oC in winter and 27 - 28oC in May-June are ideal.  The crop cannot stand frost, high rainfall or high temperature in the plains in May-June.

Seeds and sowing: The plant is propagated by seeds but it is characterised by poor and often erratic seed germination which can be improved either by leaching out the inhibitor from the seeds or by alternate freezing and thawing of seeds.  The optimum season for raising the crop is Rabi in tropical and subtropical areas while Kharif in temperate areas.  The seeds can be broadcast -sown or seedlings can be raised in nursery and then transplanted.  Seed rate is 7-8 kg/ha for broadcasting  and 2-3 kg/ha. for transplanting.  The field is ploughed and disced adequately to produce fine seed bed.  In the case of direct seeding, seeds are drilled in rows taken 45-60 cm apart. The plants are thinned to keep a spacing of 30-45 cm at the time of first weeding.  In the case of transplanting 4-6 weeks old seedlings are planted at 45-60 x 30-45 cm spacing.

Varieties:- Two varieties are often noted in D. metel Linn., namely the white flowered var. alba and purple flowered var. fastuosa

Manuring:- Application of organic manure at 10-15 t/ha and fertilisers at 60:40:40 kg N, P2O5 and K2O/ha is recommended for the crop for better growth and yield  N may be applied in 3-4 equal split doses at planting and after each weeding which is required 2-3 times during the growing season.  Application of micronutrients is reported to improve the alkaloid contents. 

Irrigation:-field should be irrigated immediately after sowing or planting if soil moisture is inadequate. Thereafter 3-4 irrigations may be given if sufficient rainfall is not received.

Plant protection: No major insect pest is known to attack this crop.  However, leaf spot, wilt and mosaic diseases cause damage to this crop.  Leaf spot is caused by Alternaria tennuissima and is characterised by brown round to oval spots, becoming necrotic at later stage which leads to withering and drooping of leaves.  Wilt is caused by Sclerotium rolfsii and it  starts with dropping of leaves and finally wilting of the entire plant.  Root and foot wilt, caused by Corticium solani, appears as damping off of seedlings and mature plants.  Datura distortion mosaic is characterised by yellowing of the veins followed by inward rolling and distortion of leaves with a reduction in plant size.  For reducing the impact of these diseases, field sanitation, use of resistant varieties, crop rotation for 3-4 years and fungicide application should be resorted to.

Harvesting and processing: For the purpose of leaf and top, harvesting is done as soon as flowering starts.  Entire top containing leaves and twigs is cut, dried in shade and stored in gunny bags.  For seed and fruit, fully grown fruits, still green are picked 2-3 times before final harvest when the entire plant is cut from the base and dried in the open.  The dried fruits are then thrashed with a stick to separate the seeds.  The seed yield is 1-1.5 t/ha.

Chemical constituents:-The alkaloids hyoscyamine and hyoscine (scopolamine) and meteloidine are found in all parts of the plant.  The total alkaloid content is 0.26 - 0.42 %  Fruits contain daturaolone and daturadiol while roots contain additionally ditigloyloxy tropane derivatives, tigloidine, apohyoscine, norhyoscine, norhyocyamine, cusiohygrine and tropine. The physiological effects of hyoscyamine are qualitatively the same as those of its recemic derivative atropine.  This is relatively more active in its paralysing affect on nerve endings and less active in its stimulant action on the central nervous system.  The sedative and hypnotic action of hyoscyamine is weaker than that of hyoscine.




Desmodium gangeticum


San: Anshumati, Salaparni;   Hin, Ben: Salpani;   Mal: Orila;  Tam:Pulladi; Tel: Gitanaram; Kan: Murelehonne; Mar: Darh; Guj: Salwan; Ori: Salaparni

Desmodium gangeticum (Linn.) DC. syn. Hedysarum gangeticum Linn., Desmodium gangeticum  var. maculatum (Linn.) Baker., is an erect diffusely branched undershrub, 90-120cm in height. Desmodium is a small shrub, which is the chief of the ten ingredients in the Dasamula kwatha of Hindu medicine.

Uses: Roots are useful in vitiated conditions of vata, anorexia, dyspepsia, haemorrhoids, dysentery, strangury, fever, gout, inflammations, cough, asthma, bronchitis, cardiopathy and debility. The unani preparation “Arq dashmul” contains these roots. It is considered a curative for leucorrhoea and for pains due to cold .

Soil and climate: Although it can grow on all types of soils, waterlogged and highly alkaline soils are not suitable. Light sandy loam is preferred for commercial cultivation Desmodium can grow in a variety of climate and soils. However, it prefers tropical and subtropical climatic conditions.

Seeds and sowing: It is propagated through seeds. Seeds can be planted directly in the field or seedlings raised on the nursery beds and  transplanted. Transplanting always gives better results in commercial cultivation, as it gives assured crop stand. Planting is done at a spacing of 40x20cm on flat beds or ridges.

After cultivation: Organic manures are applied at the time of land preparation and thoroughly mixed with the soil. A little quantity of phosphatic and nitrogenous fertilizers each at 10kg/ha are also applied for better crop growth. The inter-row spaces between plants, both in the field and nursery should be kept free from weeds by frequent weeding and hoeing as the plant suffers from weed competition, especially during early stages of growth. Manual hand weeding is  usually done. Irrigation of seedlings just after planting is good for crop establishment. Although it can be cultivated as a rainfed crop under humid  tropical  conditions,  irrigation every month is beneficial during summer.

Harvesting: The root is the economic part and harvesting can be commenced after 8-9 months. About 500- 700kg roots can be harvested from a hectare of land per year.

Chemical constituents: The root contains gangetin, gangetinin, desmodin, N,N-dimethyl tryptamine, hypaphorine, hordenine, candicine, N-methyl tyramine and b-phenyl ethyl amine.




Trigonella foenum-graecum

San: Methika, Methi, Kalanusari;   Hin: Meti, Mutti;  Ben, Mar:  Methi;  Mal: Uluva      

            It is an annual herb, 30-60cm in height. Fenugreek or Greek Hayes is cultivated as a leafy vegetable, condiment and as medicinal plant.

Uses: The leaves are refrigerant and aperient and are given internally for vitiated conditions of pitta. Seeds are used for fever, vomiting, anorexia, cough, bronchitis and colonitis. An infusion of the seeds is a good cool drink for small pox patients. Powdered seeds find application in veterinary medicine. An aqueous extract of the seeds possesses antibacterial property

Soil and climate: Fenugreek can be grown on a wide variety of soils but clayey loam is relatively better. The optimum soil pH should be 6-7 for its better growth and development. It has a wide adaptability and is successfully cultivated both in the tropics as well as temperate regions. It is tolerant to frost and freezing weather. It is cultivated in rabi. It does well in places receiving moderate or low rainfall areas but can not withstand heavy rainfall area.

Seeds and sowing: Land is prepared by ploughing thrice and beds of uniform size are prepared. Broadcasting the seed on the bed and raking the surface to cover the seeds is normally followed. But to facilitate intercultural operations, line sowing is also advocated in rows at 20-25cm apart. Sowing in the plains is generally in September-November while in the hills it is from March. The seed rate is 20-25kg/ha and the seeds germinate within 6-8 days.

Varieties: Some of the improved cultivars available for cultivation are CO1 (TNAU), Rajendra Kanti (RAU), RMt-1 (RAU) and Lam Selection-1 (APAU).

Manuring: Besides 15t of FYM, a fertiliser dose of 25:25:50kg NPK/ha is recommended. Entire P, K and half N are to be applied basally and the remaining half N 30 days after sowing.

Irrigation: First irrigation is to be given immediately after sowing and subsequent irrigations at 7-10 days interval.

After cultivation: Hoeing and weeding are to be done during the early stages of plant growth and thinning at 25-30 days to have a spacing of 10-15cm between plants and to retain 1-2 plants per hill.

Plant protection: Root rot caused by Rhizoctonia solani is a serious disease and can be controlled by drenching carbendazim 0.1% first at the onset of the disease and another after one month of first application.

Harvesting and processing: In about 25-30 days, young shoots are nipped off 5cm above ground level and subsequent cuttings of leaves may be taken after 15 days. It is advisable to take 1-2 cuttings before the crop is allowed for flowering and fruiting when pods are dried, the plants are pulled out, dried in the sun and seeds are threshed by beating with stick or by rubbing with hands. Seeds are winnowed, cleaned and dried in the sun. They may be stored in gunny bags lined with paper. A yield of 1200-1500kg of seeds and about 800-1000kg of leaves may be obtained per hectare in crops grown for both the purposes

Chemical constituents: Seeds contain the sapogenins - diosgenin, its 25-epimer (yamogenin), tigogenin, gitogenin, yuccagenin, 25-2-spirosta-3,5-diene and its b-epimer. Seeds also contain a C27-steroidal sapogenin peptide ester, fenugreekine. Seeds, in addition, contain 4-hydroxyleucine and the saponins, fenugrins A-E and two furostanol glycosides.




Allium sativum


San: Lasunah, Rasonah;   Hin:Lasun, Lahasun;   Ben: Lashan;   Mal: Vellulli;   Kan: Belluli;   Tam: Vellaipuntu;    Mar: Lasunas;   Ass: Naharu;  Tel:Vellulli, Tella-gadda;   Garlic is a scapigerous foetid perennial medicinal herb It is one of the important bulb crops used as a spice or condiment with medicinal value throughout the world. It possesses high nutritive value..  A. sativum Linn. syn. A. porrum Linn., A. cepa Linn., A. ampeloprasum Linn, A. ascalonicum Linn., A. leptophyllum Wall., A. macleanii Baker., A. schoenoprasum Linn.and A. tuberosum Roxb. are some of the species under the genus.

Uses: Its preparations are useful in vitiated conditions of  kapha and  vata, cough, whooping cough, bronchitis, asthma, fever, facial paralysis, flatulence, colic, constipation, atonic dyspepsia, helminthiasis, duodenal ulcers, pulmonary and laryngeal tuberculosis, opthalmopathy, cardiopathy etc.

Soil and climate: Garlic requires well-drained loamy   soils rich in humus, with fairly good content of potash. It can be grown under a wide range of climatic conditions. It prefers moderate temperature in summer as well as in winter. Short days are very favourable for the formation of bulbs.

Seeds and sowing: Garlic is propagated through cloves or bulblets. In the hills, sowing is done in April and May. Types with bold and compact cloves and thick white covering sheath are preferred for planting. Garlic may be broadcasted, planted in furrows or dibbled at the rate of 150-200kg cloves/ha. In furrow planting, cloves are dropped 7.5-10cm apart in furrows 15cm deep and covered lightly with loose soil.  Cloves may be dibbled 5 to 7.5cm deep and 7.5cm apart in rows that are 15cm apart with their growing end upwards and then covered with loose soil.

Varieties: Ootty-1

Manuring: A basal dose of 60kg N and 50kg each of P2O5 and K2O are applied along with 25t/ha of FYM. 60kg N is given as topdressing 45 days after planting.

Irrigation:-First irrigation is given immediately after sowing and subsequent irrigations are given at 10-15 days interval depending upon the soil moisture availability. The last irrigation should be given 2-3 days before harvesting to facilitate easy harvest and minimum damage to bulbs.

After cultivation: First weeding and hoeing is to be done at one month after sowing followed by a second weeding one month after first inter-culture. Hoeing at about two and a half months from sowing loosens the soil and helps in setting of bigger and well-filled bulbs.

Plant protection: Garlic is attacked by Thrips tabacii which causes withering of leaves. Spraying Dithane M.45 at fortnightly intervals at 2.5g/l of water could control leaf spot caused by Alternaria solanii.

Harvesting and processing: Garlic is harvested when the tops turn yellowish or brownish and show signs of drying up. The plants are uprooted, tied into small bundles and kept in shade  for 2-3 days for curing. Average yield of garlic is 6-8t/ha.

Chemical constituents: Garlic bulb is reported to contain volatile oil, alliin (S-allyl-L-cysteine sulfoxide), S-methyl- L -cysteine sulfoxide and allinase. It is rich in vitamins like thiamine, riboflavin and niacin. Volatile oil contains allicin (diallyl thiosulphinate), an active odour principle of garlic. Other major compounds present are diallyl disulphide, diallyl trisulphide, allyl methyl trisulphide and allyl methyl disulphide.




Gymnema sylvestre

San: Mesasrngi, Madhunasini; Hin: Gudmar, Merasimgi; Mal: Chakkarakolli, Madhunasini;     

Uses: Gymnema, Australian Cowplant, Small Indian Ipecacuanha or Periploca of the woods is a woody climber. It is reported to cure cough, dyspnoea, ulcers, and pain in the eyes. The plant is useful in inflammations, dyspepsia, constipation, jaundice etc. Root has long been reputed as a remedy for snakebite. The drug is used to strengthen the function of heart, cure jaundice, piles, urinary calculi, and intermittent fevers The drug enters into the composition of preparations like Ayaskrti, Varunadi kasaya, Varunadighrtam, Mahakalyanakaghrtam, etc.

Seeds and sowing:: The plant can be propagated both by seeds and stem cuttings. Seedlings are to be raised in polybags. Pits of size 50cm3 are to be taken, filled with 10kg dried cowdung or FYM and covered with topsoil. On these pits about 3-4 months old seedlings are to be transplanted from polybags.

After cultivation: The plants are trailed on to poles or other supports. The plant will attain good spread within one year. Regular weeding, irrigation and organic manure application are beneficial. No serious pests or diseases are reported.

Harvesting: Leaves can be collected from the first year onwards at an internal of one week. This can be continued for 10-12 years. Fresh or dried leaves can be marketed.

Chemical constituents: Nonacosane and hentriacontane were isolated from the hexane extract of leaves. An alkaloid gynamine which is a trace constituent was isolated and identified. Antisweet constituent of the leaves has been found to be a mixture of triterpene saponins. These have been designated as gymnemic acids A,B,C and D which have the  gymnemagenin  and gymnestrogenins as the aglycones of gymnemic acid A and B and   gymnemic acid C and D, respectively. These are hexahydroxy triterpenes the latter being partially acylated.




Pongamia  pinnata

Family- Papilionaceae (Fabaceae)

San: Karanj;   Hin: Karanja, Dittouri;    Ben: Dehar karanja;   Mal: Ungu, Pongu

Pongamia pinnata (Linn.) Pierre syn. P. glabra Vent., Derris indica (Lam.) Bennet, Cystisus pinnatus Lam. Indian beech,  Pongam oil tree or Hongay oil tree is a handsome flowering tree with drooping branches, shining green leaves laden with lilac or pinkish white flowers

Uses: The whole plant and the seed oil are used in ayurvedic formulations as effective remedy for all skin diseases like scabies, eczema, leprosy and ulcers. The roots are good for cleaning teeth, strengthening gums and in gonorrhoea and scrofulous enlargement. The bark is useful in haemorhoids, beriberi, ophthalmopathy and vaginopathy. Leaves are good for flatulence, dyspepsia, diarrhoea, leprosy, gonorrhoea, cough, rheumatalgia, piles and oedema. Flowers are given in diabetes. Fruits overcome urinary disease and piles. The seeds are used in inflammations, otalgia, lumbago, pectoral diseases, chronic fevers, hydrocele, haemorrhoids and anaemia. The seed oil is recommended for ophthalmia, haemorrhoids, herpes and lumbago. The seed cake is suggested as a cheap cattle feed. The plant enters into the composition of ayurvedic preparations like nagaradi tailam, varanadi kasayam, varanadi ghrtam and karanjadi churna.

Soil and climate: The plant comes up well in tropical areas with warm humid climate and well-distributed rainfall. It grows well from plains to and altitude of 1000m above MSL. Though it grows in almost all types of soils, silty soils on riverbanks are most ideal. It is tolerant to drought and salinity. The tree is used for afforestation, especially in watersheds in the drier parts of the country.

Seeds and sowing:-It is propagated through seeds and root suckers. Seed setting is usually in November. Seeds are soaked in water for few hours before sowing. Raised seedbeds of convenient size are prepared, well rotten cattle manure is applied at 1kg/m2 and seeds are uniformly broadcasted. The seeds are covered with a thin layer of sand and irrigated. One-month-old seedlings can be transplanted into polybags, which after one month can be planted in the field. Pits of size 50cm3 are dug at a spacing of 4-5m, filled with topsoil and manure and planted.

Manuring: Organic manure is applied annually.

After cultivation: Regular weeding and irrigation are required for initial establishment.

Harvesting:  The trees flower and set fruits in 5 years. The harvest season extends from November- June. Pods are collected and seeds are removed by hand. Seed, leaves, bark and root is used for medicinal purposes. Bark can be collected after 10 years.

Chemical constituents: The plant is rich in flavonoids and related compounds. Seeds and seed oil, flowers and stem bark yield karanjin, pongamin, pongaglabrone, kanugin, desmethoxykanugin and pinnatin. Stem-bark gives pongachromene, pongaflavone, tetra-O-methylfisetin, glabra I and II, lanceolatin B, gamatin, flavones and a-sitosterol. Heartwood yields chromenochalcones and flavones. Flowers are reported to contain kanjone, gamatin, glabra saponin, kaempferol etc.




Phyllanthus emblica



San: Amalaka, Adiphala             Hin, Mar: Amla          Mal, Tam: Nelli

Indian gooseberry is a medium sized tree

Uses: The fruit is useful in haemorrhage, leucorrhaea, menorrhagia, diarrhoea and dysentery. It goes in combination in the preparation of triphala, arishta, rasayan, churna and chyavanaprash. Sanjivani pills made with other ingredients is used in typhoid, snake-bite and cholera. The green fruits are made into pickles and preserves to stimulate appetite. Seed is used in asthma, bronchitis and biliousness. Leaves are also useful in conjunctivitis, inflammation, dyspepsia and dysentery. The bark is useful in gonorrhoea, jaundice, diarrhoea  and  myalgia. The root bark is astringent and is useful in  ulcerative stomatitis and gastrohelcosis. Liquor fermented from fruit is good for indigestion, anaemia, jaundice, heart complaints, cold to the nose and for promoting urination. The dried fruits have good effect on hair hygiene and used as ingredient in  shampoo and hair oil. The fruit is a very rich source of  Vitamin C (600mg/100g) and is used in preserves as a nutritive tonic in general weakness .

Soil and climate: Gooseberry is quite hardy and it prefers a warm dry climate. It needs good sunlight and rainfall. It can be grown in almost all types of soils, except very sandy type.

Seeds and sowing: Amla is usually propagated by seeds and rarely by root suckers. Modified ring, patch and shield buddingaswell as soft wood grafting is now extensively practiced. The seeds are enclosed in a hard seed coat, which renders the germination difficult. The seeds can be extracted by keeping fully ripe fruits in the sun for 2-3 days till they split open releasing the seeds. Seeds are soaked in water for 3-4 hours and sown on previously prepared seedbeds and irrigated. Excess irrigation and waterlogging are harmful. One-month-old seedlings can be transplanted to polythene bags and one year old seedlings can be planted in the main field with the onset of monsoon.  Pits of size 50 cm3 are dug at 6-8m spacing and filled with a mixture of top soil and well rotten FYM and planting is done. Amla can also be planted as a windbreak around an orchard.

Varieties: Banarasi, Chakaiya, Francis, Kanchan, Krishna, Balwat, NA-6, NA-7, NA-9, Anand-2, BS-1,

Manuring:   1000g N, 500gP2O5 and 750g K2O per plant/ year. The fertilizer should be given in two split doses, viz. April-May & Sept-Oct.

Irrigation: Irrigation should be given to youg plants at 10 days interval during summer. To fruit bearing plantation, first irrigation should be given just at the time of fertiliser application and then at 15 days interval after fruit set (April) till onset on monsoon. Avoid irrigation during floering period.

Plant protection: Rust disease caused by Ravellenia emblica appears during July to September. This disease can be controlled by spraying 0.2% Zineb. Fruit rot caused by Pencillium islandium can be managed by treating the fruits with sodium chloride. If the fruits show necrosis due to boron deficiency, spray borax  at 0.05-0.06%. To control bark eating caterpillar (Indarbela tetraonis), inject kerosene oil or  Dichlorvos or  Endosuphan at 0.05%. The shoot gall maker (Betousa stylophora) is contolled by pruning gall twigs and spraying with 0.05% monocrotophos. During the rainy season, aphids (Cerciaphis emblica), scale insects and anar butterfly (Virachola isocrates) are the other common pests.

Harvesting: Planted seedlings will commence bearing from the 10th year, while grafts after 3-4 years. The vegetative growth of the tree continues from April to July. Along with the new growth in the spring, flowering also commences. Fruits will mature by December-February by vary substantially with varieties. Fruit yield ranges from 30-50kg/tree/year when full grown. Small sized fruts are used for making ayurvedic medicines. The fruits can be stored up to 15-20 days at low temp, but can be preserved  for longer periods in 10-15% salt solution.

Chemical constituents: Amla fruit is a rich natural source of vitamin C(750-80 mg/100gram pulp. It also contains cytokinin like substances identified as zeatin, zeatin riboside and zeatin nucleotide. The seeds yield 16% fixed oil, brownish yellow in colour. The plant contains tannins like glucogallia, corilagin, chebulagic acid and 3,6-digalloyl glucose. Root yields ellagic acid, lupeol, quercetin and b- sitosterol.


Ironwood tree

Mesua  nagassarium

San: Nagapuspah, Nagakesarah;    Hin: Nagakesar; Mal: Nagappuvu, Nagachempakam, Nanku, Vayanavu, Churuli, Eliponku;               

Uses: Mesua or, commonly known as Nagapushpam is an important medicinal plant which finds varied uses in Ayurveda, Siddha and Unani. Leaves are used in the form of poultice that is applied to head in severe colds. Bark and roots in decoction or infusion or tincture is a better tonic and are useful in gastritis and bronchitis. Fixed oil expressed from seeds is used as an application for cutaneous affections, sores, scabies, wounds, etc. and as an embrocation in rheumatism. Dried flowers powdered and mixed with ghee, or a paste made of flowers with addition of butter and sugar, are given in bleeding piles as well as dysentery with mucus. In Ayurveda, it is an ingredient of “Nagakeshara-adi-Churna”, used for bacillary dysentery and in “Naga Keshara Yoga”, for piles. In Unani system, the drug is an ingredient of large number of recipes like, “Jawarish Shehryaran” a stomach and liver tonic, “Hab Pachaluna”, an appetiser, “Halwa-i-supari pack” a general tonic,.

Soil and climate: The plant prefers plains, riverbanks or places which do not experiences moisture stress for its luxuriant growth. Silty loam soil is suitable for its cultivation.

Seeds and sowing: The plant is propagated by seeds. Seed formation occurs in November-March. Seeds are to be collected and sown in seedbeds or polybags. 3-4 months old seedlings are used for transplanting. Pits of size 45cm3 are to be taken at a distance of 3-3.5m and filled with a mixture of 10kg FYM, sand and topsoil and made into a mound. Seedlings are to be transplanted into small hand pits taken on these mounds.

After cultivation: FYM is to be applied twice a year. Regular irrigation and weeding are to be done.

Harvesting: The tree flowers in the fourth year. Flowers can be collected, dried in the sun and marketed

Chemical constituents: Seed oil gives 4-phenyl coumarin analogues-mesuol, mammeigin, mesuagin, mammeisin and mesuone. Bark gives ferruols A and B. Heartwood gives xanthones-euxanthone, mesuaxanthones A and B and a tetroxygenated xanthone named ferraxanthone. Seed oil is rich in oleic, stearic and palmitic acids. Linoleic, arachidic and linolenic acids are also present.




Plumbago spp.


            The genus Plumbago is a popular and medicinally very important group of plants. Three species, namely P. rosea (Rosy-flowered Leadwort; Chettikkoduveli, Chuvannakotuveli;), P. zeylanica (White flowered  Leadwort, Vellakotuveli) and P. auriculata (Blue flowered Leadwort; Neelakotuveli) have been identified. Among these P. rosea and P. zeylanica are important ones.

Uses:  Plumbago, in general is an esteemed remedy for leucoderma and other skin diseases. The synonyms of fire like agnih, vahnih, etc. are attributed to this drug to indicate the very burning action of the root, causing blisters on the skin (daranah). The drug is used only after adequate curing and purification. Root is the economic part and it enters into the composition of preparations like Citrakasavam, Dasamularista, Gulgulutiktaka kasaya, Yogarajachurna, etc.

Soil and climate: The plant is grown in tropical to subtropical ecosystems. Warm humid tropical climate is most suited. They come up well in almost all types of deep and well drained soils.

Seeds and sowing: It is propagated by stem cuttings. Three stem cuttings of size 15cm long are planted in polybags of size 14x10cm. IAA and IBA treatments will improve rooting of cuttings. The land is to be ploughed well. About 4 tonnes of FYM are to be applied, mixed thoroughly and seedbed of size 1m breadth, 15cm height and convenient length are to be prepared. On these beds pits are taken at a distance of 25cm and the rooted plants are transplanted from the polybags.

After cultivation: Regular irrigation and weeding are to be carried out. In the second year with the onset of monsoon, seedbeds are again refreshed after adding about 4 tonnes of FYM. Earthing up is to be carried out

Harvesting: At the end of second year tubers are harvested when it contains maximum content of plumbagin. Care should be taken to wear gloves; else the phenols present in the roots will cause burning sensation. The collected tubers are washed, tied into bundles and marketed. Plumbago yields about 7-10t tubers/ha with good management.




Adhatoda beddomei

Family- Acanthaceae


San:Vasaka, Vasa; Hin:Adusa;    Mal:Chittadalotakam;   Tam:Adutota;    Tel:Addasaramu

Malabar nut or Adhatoda is a large evergreen glabrous perennial shrub, 1.2m in height. Another plant Adhatoda zeylanica Medicus, syn. Adhatoda vasica Nees, Justicia adhatoda Linn. of the same genus is a very closely related plant which is most commonly equated with the drug VASA. This is seen growing wild almost throughout India while A. beddomei is seen more under cultivation, which is called Chittadalodakam in Malayalam because of its smaller stature, smaller leaves and flowers.

Uses: It is cultivated for medicinal uses, fencing, manure and as an ornamental plant in pots also. The shrub is the source of the drug vasaka well known in the indigenous systems of medicines for bronchitis. Vasaka leaves, flowers, fruits and roots are extensively used for treating common cold, cough, whooping cough, chronic bronchitis and asthma. It has sedative, expectorant, antispasmodic and anthelmintic actions. The juice of the leaves cures vomiting, thirst, fever, dermatosis, jaundice, phthisis, haematenesis and diseases due to the morbidity of kapha and pitta. The leaf juice is especially used in anaemia and haemorrhage, in traditional medicine. Flowers and leaves are considered efficacious against rheumatic painful swellings and form a good application to scabies and other skin complaints. Many ayurvedic medicines are traditionally prepared out of vasaka like vasarishtam, vasakasavam and vasahareethaki, which are effective in various ailments of respiratory system.

Soil and climate: Vasaka is seen almost in all types of climate. It prefers loamy soils with good drainage and high organic content. It can be grown well both in hilly and plain lands. It can tolerate high temperature, but is sensitive to frost. It can withstand drought to a great extent.

Seeds and sowing: Commercial propagation is by using 15-20cm long terminal cuttings. This is either grown in polybags first, then in the field or planted directly. The plant is cultivated as a pure crop or mixed with plantation crops. The land is ploughed repeatedly to a good tilth and the surface soil is broken upto a depth of 15cm and mixed with fertilizers. The beds are prepared with 1m breadth and 3-4m length. The cuttings are planted during April-May into the beds at a spacing of 30x30cm.

Manuring: FYM is given at 5-10t/ha in the first year. Regular irrigation and weeding are necessary.

Harvesting: Mature leaves can be harvested after one year. Harvesting of whole plant is done at the end of second or third year. Roots are collected by digging the seedbeds. Stems are cut 15cm above the root. Stems and roots are usually dried and stored.

Chemical constituents: Leaves yield essential oil and an alkaloid vasicine. Stem and roots contain vasicinol and vasicinone. Roots also contain vasicoline, adhatodine, anisotine and vasicolinone. Several alkaloids like quinazoline and valicine are present in this plant.




Zingiber officinale


San: Ardrakam Hin: Adrak, Mal: Inchi, Erukkilannu Tam: Inci

Ginger is a slender perennial herb with robust branched rhizome borne horizontally near surface soil.

Uses: The dried rhizomes are esteemed for its flavour, pungency and aroma. The essential oil and oleoresin extracted from the rhizome is used in the manufacture of flavouring essences and in perfumery. Taken internally, it is a stimulating carminative and externally it is used as a rubefacient and counter irritant.

Soil and climate: The plant prefers a rich soil with high humus content. The crop cannot withstand waterlogging and hence soils with good drainage are preferred for its cultivation. It requires a warm and humid climate. It thrives well from mean sea level to 1500 m. A well distributed rainfall of 1500‑3000 mm during the growing season and dry spells during land preparation and harvesting are congenial.

Seeds and sowing: The seed rhizome is 2.5‑5 cm long having at least one good bud. They are preserved in covered pits. Smoking of seed rhizome is also practised to enhance germination and ward off pests and diseases. Rhizomes with less fibre, which varies from 1.7-9.0%, have a higher demand. A good tilth is required in order to produce good shaped rhizomes in hard soils they are often malformed. Rhizome seeds at the rate of 1000‑1500 kg/ha are planted on raised beds at 20‑30 cm spacing and 5‑10 cm deep. Land is prepared during April‑May.

Varieties: Varieties preferred for green ginger are' Rio‑de Janeiro', 'China' and 'Wyanad local' and for dry ginger are 'Maran', 'Wyanad', 'Manantody'  and 'Valluvanad. In Taiwan 'Ta‑Kuang' and 'Chu‑chiang' are cultivated.

Manuring: Ginger benefits greatly from the application of organic manures. 25‑30 tonnes/ha of cattle manure or compost is applied at planting. Fertilizers are applied at 75:50:50 kg N, P2O5 and K2O/ha. Full dose of P and half of K may be applied as basal dose. Half dose of N may be applied 2 months after planting and the remaining quantity of N and K may be applied 4 months after planting. Being an exhausting crop, ginger is not cultivated continuously in the same and hence crop rotation crop is practised.

After cultivation: Mulching is an essential operation for high yield. Application of leaf mulch during planting and after each topdressing followed by earthing up, using a total of 20 tonnes of green leaves/ha is essential..

Plant protection: Rootknot nematode (Meloidogyne incognita) and shoot borer (Dichocrosis punctiferalis) attack the crop. Shoot borer can be cxontrolled by spraying dimethoate or quinaplhos at 0.05%.

Leaf spot caused by Colletotrichum zingiberis and Phyllosticta zingiberi, rhizome soft rot caused by Pythium aphanidermatum and bacterial wilt caused by Pseudomonas solanacearum are the common diseases of ginger. Leaf spot can be controlled by spraying with 0.2% thiram. Soft rot can be prevented by treating seed rhizomes with any copper-based fungicide. Whem incidence of the disease is noted in the field, dig out the affected the plants and drench the beds with Cheshunt compound or 1% Bordeaux mixture.

Harvesting and processing: For vegetable and preserved ginger, the crop can be harvested from 6 monthsand for dry ginger, harvesting is done during 8‑9 months after planting. The yields vary from 20‑30 t/ha fresh ginger, which produces 20‑30% of dried ginger. Irrigated crops have produced yields as high as 40 t/ha.

        For the production of dried ginger, the rhizomes are cleaned of dirt and roots and washed in water, carefully scraped and dried in the sun for 5‑6 days. The scraped or peeled ginger is known as uncoated ginger and that with the epidermis still attached as coated ginger. The rhizomes are sometimes bleached by sulphur fumes or lime water. The dried rhizomes may be powdered to produce ground ginger. The essential oil is generally obtained from un-scraped powdered ginger. Steam distillation for 10‑15 hours yields 1.0‑2.7% oil.  Ginger oleoresin is obtained by solvent extraction of powdered, dried ginger. The average yield is 4.5‑6.5%.

Chemical constituents: The essential oil is a pale yellow liquid with a warm spicy sweet strongly aromatic odour and sharp pungent flavour. The chief constituent is a sesquiterpene, called zingiberene. The pungent principle of ginger is zingerone.




Gloriosa superba


San : Langali, Visalya, Agnishika,Shakrapushpi, Garbhaghatini, Hin : Kalihari

Mal: Menthonni, Tam: Akkinichilam                    

Glory lily is a glabrous herbaceous climber, which yields different types of troplone alkaloids of medicinal importance. The genus has importance in the ornamental horticulture due to its bright flowers and wiry climbing stem. 

Uses: The roots and rhizomes are used in traditional system of medicine. Its abortifacient and antipyretic properties have been mentioned in ancient classics “Charaka”. The name Garbhaghatini is due to this abortifacient activity. They are useful in the treatment of inflammations, ulcers, scrofula, hemorrhoids, pruritus, dyspepsia, helminthiasis, flatulence, intermittent fevers and debility. The root is given internally as an effective antidote against cobra poison. A paste of the root is also used as an anodyne; applications in bites of poisonous insects, snakebites, scorpion sting, parasitic skin diseases and leprosy

Soil and climate: G. superba is a shallow rooted plant and grows well in a variety of soils either clay or sand through out India. It grows well in a light porous soil with good drainage. For vigorous growth, greater blooms and strong tuber, a mixture of soil, sand and compost manure is recommended. This is a rainy season plant and sprouts well in warm, humid and tropical conditions. It should be grown in sun as the plants in shade become weedy and thin and move towards light.

Seeds and sowing: The propagation is mainly by tubers, by division of rhizomes. Seeds remain dormant for 6-9 months and due to hard seed coat, about 20-30 days are required for germination and seeds may take 3-4 years before it matures to flower. Treatment of seeds by gibberellin (1-3ppm) resulted in higher yield of colchicine in the plant and higher production of tubers. The seeds and rhizomes are sown usually in the last week of June to mid July. The rhizomes are planted by splitting carefully into two from their ‘V’ shaped joints (two buds being at the extreme end of each rhizome) in lines 20cm apart at a distance of 20cm (while seeds are sown in lines at a distance of 4-6cm apart).

After cultivation: They are watered regularly when the plants are growing. After green shoots appear 2-3 showers are weekly. The irradiation of the plant at 42% natural sunlight intensity increased the production of tuber and colchicine.

Harvesting and processing: They usually takes 6-10 weeks to flower after sprouting and then set on fruits. The fruits ripen at the end of October and after that aerial shoot eventually dies, leaving the fleshy tubers underground. The tubers are dug out with great care. An individual plant produces 50g tubers on an average. The average yield is  around 4000-5000kg of  rhizomes and 1000 kg of seed per hectare. The content of colchicines is usually 0.358% and 1.013% in tubers and seeds, respectively.

Lixivation of the material is done with 70% ethyl alcohol. Concentrated under vacuum to one third of its volume and extracted with chloroform for colchicine and related substances-concentration of the aqueous phase to syrup, which is extracted, 6-8 times with a mixture of CHCl3 - alcohol (4:1) to yield colchicoside.

Chemical constituents: The major alkaloids are colchicine, 3-demethyl colchicine and colchicoside. There is another alkaloid  gloriosine which promises to be even more effective than colchicine in plant breeding for inducing polyploidy.The flowers, leaves and tubers contain colchicine, superbin, N-formyl deacetyl colchicine, demethyl colchicine and lumicolchicine. Tubers also contain gloriosine. Leaves in addition, contain chelidonic acid, 2-hydroxy-6-methoxy benzoic acid and b-sitosterol glucoside. Colchicine, demethyl colchicine and colchicoside have been reported from  Seeds.      




Alpinia galanga


San:  Sugandhamula, Rasna;  Hin:Kulainjan;  Mal:Aratta, Chittaratha;     Tam : Arattai

          The  greater galangal, Java galangal or Siamese ginger is a perennial aromatic rhizomatous herb with non-tuberous pungent rootstock. It grows to a height of 1.5m and produces around 24 suckers per clump/year

Uses: The rhizomes are used in bronchial infections and as a carminative. They are also useful in treatment against rheumatoid arthritis, inflammations, stomatopathy, pharyngopathy, cough, asthma, hiccough, dyspepsia, stomachalgia, obesity, diabetes, cephalagia, tubercular glands and intermittent fevers.

Soil and climate:-Siamese Ginger comes up well in tropical climate with an annual rainfall ranging from 1500-3000cm. It grows on a wide range of climates and soils. Well-drained hilly areas and places of 1400m high altitude are good for its cultivation. Fertile red loams to forest soils are suitable.

Seeds and sowing: This is propagated through rhizomes. Rainfed crop is planted with the onset of monsoon in May – June. Irrigated crop can be planted any time. The field should be ploughed to a good tilth. All the stones and pebbles should be removed. Seedbeds are prepared at 1m breadth, 15cm height and of convenient lengths. Take small pits on the seedbed and plant 5 cm long rhizome bits. Cover rhizome with FYM and mulch the seedbed with leaves or straw. The optimum spacing is 30X20cm under good fertility and 40X30cm under poor fertility conditions. Seedbeds are covered with dried leaves. Fresh healthy disease free rhizome bits with at least one shoot is used for planting. Seed rate is 1000 – 1500 kg/ha.

Varieties: At present, only local types are available for cultivation.

Manuring: Incorporate FYM at 10-15t/ha at the time of bed formation. Apply fertilisers at 100:50:50 kg NPK/ha/year in 2-3 split doses. Application of biofertiliser Azospirillum at 10 kg/ha and cow pea green manuring in situ are beneficial for the crop.

After cultivation: It is irrigated immediately after planting. Carry out gap filling, if any, within one month; remove weeds two months after planting followed by top dressing, earthing up and mulching. There after no weeding is required as the crop smothers the weeds. It can be cultivated also as an intercrop in coconut or rubber plantations.

Plant protection: Usually pests and diseases are not serious enough to take up any control measures. Occasionally shoot borers and leaf eating caterpillars and blight disease are observed. 

Harvesting and processing: Though the crop can be harvested after 18 months, the optimum stage of harvest for obtaining maximum rhizome and oil yield is 36- 42 months after planting. Cut and remove the shoot portion and carefully dig out the rhizomes and roots. Harvesting is very arduous due to strong and extensive root ramification. Separate the roots, clean the rhizomes and cut into 5 cm long pieces which are dried in sun for 3-5 days to 10% moisture for marketing. The average yield of rhizome is 23 t/ha, which on drying gives 25% recovery. The fresh rhizomes on steam distillation for 3-5 hours give 0.22 % essential oil. The oil recovery on dry weight basis is 0.93%. Root is also a significant contributor of essential oil. 

Chemical constituents: The rhizome contains tannins and flavonoids, some of which have been identified as kaempferide, galangin and alpinin. Rhizomes yield essential oil containing methyl cinnamate, cineole and d-pinene and sesquiterpenoids. Fresh rhizome contain 18 monoterpenoids of which a-pinene, b-pinene and limonene as major  compounds and 17 oxygen containing monoterpenoids with cineol, terpinen-4-o1 and a-terpineol as minor compounds.




Cardiospermum halicacabum


San : Sakralata, Indravati;   Hin: Kanphuti, Kapalphoti;   Ben: Lataphatkari;  Mal: Uzhinja          

Baloon Wine or Heart’s pea is a climber whose seeds have a white heart-shaped aril. This is one of the ten auspicious herbs that constitute the group Dasapushpam.

Uses:-The entire plant is used in medicine. The roots are useful in strangury, fever, arthritis, amenorrhoea, lumbago and neuropathy. The leaves are good for arthritis, otalgia and ophthalmodynia. The seeds are good for arthritis and fever. The plant has sedative action on the central nervous system .Roots and leaves are good for hair growth and are useful in rheumatism, nervous diseases, piles ,chronic bronchitis, fevers, hydrocele, amenorrhoea, sprains and edema. Juice of the plant is dropped into the ear in earache. The plant is found to exhibit significant diuretic and anti-inflammatory activity . The plant also shows sedative effect on central nervous system, significant analgesic, vasodepressant and anti-spasmodic effects are some of the preparations using the drug.

Seeds give an alkaloid fraction. Seed oil contained fatty acid esters of 1-cyano-2-hydroxy methyl prop-2-en-1-ol, 1-cyano-2-hydroxy methylprop-1-en-3-ol and methyl-4, 4-dimethoxy-3- (methoxymethyl) butyrate. The alkaloid fraction from seeds showed antibacterial and hypotensive activities and cardiac inhibition in anaesthetized dogs, blocked spasmogenic effects of acetylcholine histamine and 5-HT on guinea pig ileum, biphasic effect on frog Rectus abdominis muscle. The plant is antirheumatic and antidote for snakebite. Root is diaphoretic, diuretic, aperient, laxative, rubefacient and emmenagogue (Husain et al, 1992).




Commiphora mukul


San: Gugulu, Mahisaksah, Koushikaha, Devadhupa; Hin: Gugal; Mal: Gulgulu        

                        Indian bdellium is a small, armed, deciduous tree from the bark of which gets an aromatic gum resin, the Guggul of commerce.

Uses: It is a versatile indigenous drug claimed by ayurvedists to be highly effective in the treatment of rheumatism, obesity, neurological and urinary disorders, tonsillitis, arthritis and a few other diseases.

Soil and climate: Guggal being a plant of arid zone thrives well in arid subtropical to tropical climate. Though they prefer hard gypseous soil, they are found over sandy to silt loam soils, poor in organic matter but rich in several other minerals in arid tracks of western India. The rainfall in the guggul growing tract may average between 100mm and 500mm while air temperature may vary between 40°C in summer and -3°C during winter.

Seeds and sowing: Plants are propagated through seeds or stem cuttings. Plants are best raised from stem cuttings from the semi-woody branch. For this purpose one metre long woody stem of 10mm thickness is selected and the cut end is treated with IBA or NAA and planted in a well-manured nursery bed during June-July months. The beds should be given light irrigation periodically. The cuttings initiate sprouting in 10-15 days and grow into good green sprout in 10-12 months. These rooted plants are suitable for planting in the fields during the next rainy season. The cuttings give 80-94% sprouting usually. Air layering has also been successfully attempted and micro propogation techniques are also available. Seed germination is very poor (5%) but seedling produce healthier plants.

After cultivation: The rooted cuttings are planted in well laid-out fields during rainy season. Pits of size 0.5m3 are dug out at 3-4 m spacing in rows. FYM is mixed with filler soil and the seedlings are planted. Care should be taken to protect the new plants from white ants damage.

Manuring: Generally, the plant does not respond to fertilizers except to low level of nitrogen in very poor soils.

Aftercultivation: Removal of side branches and low level of irrigation supports a good growth of these plants. The plantation does not require much weeding and hoeing. But the soil around the bushes be pulverised twice in a year to increase their growth and given urea or ammonium sulphate at 25- 50g per bush at a time and irrigated.

Plant protection: Cercospora leaf spot and bacterial leaf blight were noticed to cause damage. Against leaf spot, spray 1% Bordeaux mixture. A leaf eating caterpillar (Euproctis lanata Walker) and White fly (Bemisia tabaci) are the important pests reported and can be controlled by spraying contact insecticides.

Harvesting and processing: Stem or branch having maximum diameter of about 5cm at place of incision, irrespective of age is tapped. The necrotic patch on the bark is peeled off with a sharp knife and Bordeaux paste is applied to the exposed surface of the stem or branch. A prick chisel of about 3cm width is used to make bark-deep incisions. If tapping is successful, gum exudation ensures after about 15-20 days from the date of incision and continues for nearly 30-45 days. A piece of polythene sheet can be pouched around the place of incision to collect gum. Alternatively, a polythene sheet can be spread on the ground to collect exuded gum. A maximum of about 500g of gum has been obtained from a plant. The best grade of guggul is collected from thick branches of tree. These lumps of guggul are translucent. Second grade guggul is usually mixed with bark, sand and is dull coloured guggul. Third grade guggul is usually collected from the ground, which is mixed with sand, stones and other foreign matter.

Chemical constituents: The gum resin contains guggul sterones Z and E, guggul sterols I-V, cembrene A and mukulol. Major components from essential oil of gum resin are myrcene and dimyrcene. Flowers contain quercetin and its glycosides as major flavonoid components, other constituents being ellagic acid and pelargonidin glucoside. 




Kaempferia rotunda


         San: Bhumicampaka, Bhucampaka, Hallakah; Hin: Abhuyicampa Mal: Chengazhuneerkizhengu, Chengazhuneerkuva;  Tam: Nerppicin

                  Kaempferia rotunda Linn. is an aromatic herb with tuberous root-stalk and very short stem.

Uses: The tubers of Indian crocus are widely used as a local application for tumours, swellings and wounds. They are also given in gastric complaints. They help to remove blood clots and other purulent matter in the body. The juice of the tubers is given in dropsical affections of hands and feet, and of effusions in joints. In Ayurveda, the improvement formulations using the herb are Chyavanaprasam, Asokarishtam, Baladthatryaditailam, Kalyanakaghritham, etc. The drug “HALLAKAM” prepared from this is in popular use in the form of powder or as an ointment application to wounds and bruises to reduce swellings.

Soil and climate: The plant is a tropical one adapted for tropical climate. Rich loamy soil having good drainage is ideal for the plant. Laterite soil with heavy organic manure application is also well suited.

Seeds and sowing: Planting is done in May-June with the receipt of 4 or 5 pre-monsoon showers. The seed rate recommended is 1500-2000kg rhizomes/ha. Whole or split rhizome with one healthy sprout is the planting material. Well developed healthy and disease free rhizomes with the attached root tubers are selected for planting. Rhizomes can be stored in cool dry place or pits dug under shade plastered with mud or cowdung. The field is ploughed to a fine tilth, mixed with organic manure at 10-15t/ha. Seedbeds are prepared at a size of 1m breadth and convenient length. Pits are made at 20cm spacing in which 5cm long pieces of rhizomes are planted.

Manuring: Pits are covered with organic manure. They are then covered with   rotten straw or leaves. Apply FYM or compost as basal dose at 20 t/ha either by broadcasting and ploughing or by covering the seed in pits after planting. Apply fertilisers at the rate of 50:50:50 kg N, P2O5 and K2O/ha at the time of first and second weeding. After planting, mulch the beds with dry or green leaves at 15 t/ha.

Plant protection: During heavy rainy months, leaf rot disease occurs which can be controlled by spraying 1% Bordeaux mixture.

Harvesting and processsing: The crop can be harvested after 7 months maturity. Drying up of the leaves is the indication of maturity. Harvest the crop carefully without cutting the rhizome, remove dried leaves and roots. Wash the rhizome in water. They are stored in moisture-proof sheds. Prolonged storage may cause insect and fungus attack.

Chemical constituents: The tubers contain crotepoxide and b-sitosterol. Tuber contains essential oil, which give a compound with melting point 149oC, which yielded benzoic acid on hydrolysis.




Withania somnifera

Family -Solanceae

San: Aswagandha, Varahakarni   Hin: Asgandh, Punir  Mal: Amukkuram   Tam: Amukkira. Indian ginseng or Winter cherry is an erect branching perennial under-shrub

Uses: Indian ginseng is considered to be one of the best rejuvenating agents in Ayurveda. Its roots, leaves and seeds are used in Ayurvedic and Unani medicines, to combat diseases ranging from tuberculosis to arthritis. Roots are prescribed in medicines for hiccup, several female disorders, bronchitis, rheumatism, dropsy, stomach and lung inflammations and skin diseases. Its roots and paste of green leaves are used to relieve joint pains and inflammation. It is also an ingredient of medicaments prescribed for curing disability and sexual weakness in male. Leaves are used in eye diseases. Seeds are diuretic. It is a constituent of the herbal drug ‘Lactare’ which is a galactagogue. It improves physical strength and is prescribed in all cases of general debility.

Soil and climate: It is a tropical crop growing well under dry climate. The areas receiving 600 to 750mm rainfall is best suited to this crop. The roots are fully developed when 1-2 late winter rains are received. Sandy loam or light red soils having a pH of 7.5- 8.0 with good drainage are suitable for its cultivation. It is usually cultivated on poor and marginal soils.

Seeds and sowing: Withania is propagated through seeds. It is a late kharif crop and planting is done in August. Seeds are either broadcast-sown or seedlings are raised in nursery and then transplanted. Seed rate is 10-12 kg/ha for broadcasting and 5kg/ha for transplanting. In direct sown crop plants are thinned and gap filling is done 25-30 days after sowing. Seeds should be treated with Dithane M-45 at 3g/kg of seeds before sowing. Seeds are sown in the nursery just before the onset of rainy season and covered with light soil. Seeds germinate in 6-7 days. When seedlings are six weeks old they are transplanted at 60cm in furrows taken 60cm apart.

Manuring: The crop is mainly grown as a rainfed crop on residual fertility and no manure or fertilizers are applied to this crop generally. However, application of organic manure is beneficial for realizing better yields.

After cultivation: One hand weeding 25-30 days after sowing helps to control weeds effectively.

Plant protection: No serious pest is reported in this crop. Diseases like seedling rot and blight are observed. Seedling mortality becomes serious under high temperature and humid conditions. The disease can be minimized by use of disease free seeds and treatment with Thiram or Deltan at 3-4g/kg seed before sowing.  Further, use of crop rotation, timely sowing and keeping field well drained also protect the crop.

Harvesting and processing: Aswagandha is a crop of 150-170 days duration. The drying of the leaves and reddening of berries indicate the maturity of the crop. Harvesting usually starts from January and continues till March. Roots, leaves and seeds are the economical parts. The entire plant is uprooted for roots, which are separated from the aerial parts. The berries are plucked from dried plants and are threshed to obtain the seeds. The yield is 400-500kg of dry roots and 50-75kg seeds per hectare.

            The roots are separated from the plant by cutting the stem 1-2cm above the crown. Roots are then cut into small pieces of 7-10cm to facilitate drying. Occasionally, the roots are dried as a whole. The dried roots are cleaned, trimmed, graded, packed and marketed. Roots are carefully hand sorted into four grades.

Chemical constituents: Aswagandha roots contain alkaloids, starch, reducing sugar, hentriacontane, glycosides, dulcital, withaniol acid etc.



Hemidesmus indicus



San: Anantamulah, Sariba;  Hin: Anantamul, Magrabu;  Ben: Anantamul;   Mal: Nannari, Naruninti, Narunanti;  Tam: Nannari, Saribam;   Tel: Sugandipala;  Kan: Namadaballi

Indian sarasaparilla or country sarasaparilla is a climbing slender plant with twining woody stems and a rust-coloured bark.

Uses:   The roots are useful in vitiated conditions of pitta, burning sensation, leucoderma, leprosy, skin diseases, pruritus, asthma, bronchitis, hyperdipsia, opthalmopathy, hemicrania, epileptic fits, dyspepsia, helminthiasis, diarrhoea, dysentery, haemorrhoids, strangury, leucorrhoea, syphilis, abcess, arthralgia, fever and general debility. The leaves are useful in vomiting, wounds and leucoderma. The stems are bitter, diaphoretic and laxative and are useful in inflammations, cerebropathy, hepatopathy, nephropathy, syphilis, metropathy, leucoderma, odontalgia, cough and asthma. The latex is good for conjunctivitis The important formulations using the drug are Saribadyasava, Pindataila, Vidaryadi lehya, Draksadi kasaya, Jatyadi ghrita, etc.

Seeds and sowing: Hemidesmus is propagated through root cuttings. The root cuttings of length 3-5cm can be planted in polybags or in the field. They can be planted in flat beds or on ridges. Planting is done usually at a spacing of 50x20cm

Varieties: The Ayurvedic texts mention two varieties, viz.  krsna or black variety and  sveta or white variety.

After cultivation: Heavy application of organic manure is essential for good growth and root yield. Inorganic fertilizers are not usually applied. Frequent weeding and earthing up are required, as the plant is only slow growing. Provision of standards for twining will further improve the growth and yield of the plant.

Chemical constituents: The twigs of the plant give a pregnane ester diglycoside named desinine. Roots give b-sitosterol, 2-hydroxy-4-methoxy benzaldehyde, a-amyrin, b-amyrin and its acetate, hexatriacontane, lupeol octacosonate, lupeol and its acetate. Leaves, stem and root cultures give cholesterol, campesterol, b-sitosterol and 16-dehydro-pregnenolone.




Cephaelis ipecacuanha


            Ipecac is a small evergreen herb with much branched beaded roots.

Uses: It is used in powdered form or as liquid total extract, syrup and tincture. Ipecac syrup in small doses is used as an expectorant, as it is well tolerated by children. It is used in treatment of whooping cough. Ipecac with opium as in Dover’s powder is used as a diaphoretic, tincture and syrup. Emetine hydrochloride in the form of injection is used for treatment of amoebic dysentery. Emetine bismuth iodide is also given orally for amoebic dysentery. Ipecac is also used as gastric stimulant and as an anti-inflammatory agent in rheumatism.

Soil and climate: Ipecac prefers an average rainfall ranging between 2000-3000mm and evenly distributed. Maximum temperature should not exceed 38°C and the minimum not below 10°C. It thrives well in tropical mild humid climates. Virgin forest soils rich in humus are ideal for Ipecac. It prefers deep medium fertile soils which are acidic and rich in humus, potash and magnesium. Soil should be well drained. As Ipecac grows only in shade, it can be cultivated as an intercrop, or planted in artificially shaded beds.

Seeds and sowing: The plant is propagated either through seeds or by root, stem or leaf cuttings. Commercial plantations are raised through seeds. Raised seedbeds of 2x6m size are made and the soil is mixed with well rotten leaf compost and sand. These are provided with shade on the top as well as on the sides. Seeds are drilled or broadcasted in the beds and watered regularly. Seeds take 3-5 months to germinate. Seed treatment with limewater for 48 hours or hydrogen peroxide improves germination. It has been observed that providing mulch or black polythene in nursery beds improves germination as well as results in control of weeds. The suitable season of planting is January-March. 8-12 weeks old seedlings are planted in production beds at a spacing of 10x10cm. A system of raising second nursery is also practiced in some areas.

Manuring: FYM and leaf compost application is required during second and third year. Super phosphate application is found to improve root growth.

Irrigation: Frequent irrigation is required. Water logging should be avoided. Both the seedbeds and production beds should be kept free from weeds.

Plant protection: Seedlings are often attacked by Rhizoctonia sp causing damping off in nursery. Treat the seeds with a suitable seed dressing fungicide before planting. Wilt caused by Fusarium  moniliforme has been reported from India.

Harvesting and processing: The plants are ready for harvesting after 4 years. The roots are dug out, washed and dried in the sun. Rhizome and root are the economical parts.

Chemical constituents: Ipecac root contains 2.2-2.5% total alkaloids. The main alkaloids are cephaeline and emetine. It also contains psychotrine and psychotrine ethyl ether.   




Glycyrrhiza glabra

Family-Papilionaceae (Fabaceae)

San: Yashtimadhu       Hin: Jathimadh      Mal: Irattimadhuram    Tam:Athimadhuram Liquorice or Muleti is a perennial herb or undershrub about 1m high. Its dried peeled or unpeeled underground stems and roots constitute the drug

Use: It is an important constituent of all cough and catarrh syrups. Hippocrates mentioned its use as a remedy for ulcers and quenching of thirst. Dioscorides, the father of Greek medicine described this drug in detail and considered it useful for maintaining shape of arteries and in burning stomach, trouble of liver and kidney, scabies, healing of wounds and as a remedy for eye diseases. The commercial name of the dried rhizome and root of the plant is liquorice, which is used as flavouring agent in confectionery industries, and its products are widely reported to be useful in ulcer therapy

Soil and climate: Well-drained light loam soils, which are rich in calcium and magnesium with slightly alkaline pH and free from stones, are ideal for this crop. This plant thrives well in subtropical areas with very warm summers and cool winters with a rainfall not exceeding 500mm. Semi-arid and arid areas in subtropical zones are not suitable for the cultivation of this crop. It does not tolerate high humidity and waterlogged conditions.

Varieties: There are a number of varieties among which Spanish, Russian and Persian liquorice are quite common. Commercial varieties are Typica, Regel and Herd.

Seeds and sowing: It can be propagated by seed, but usually multiplied vegetatively either through crown cuttings or stolon pieces. In the case of crown cuttings, 10-15cm long crown pieces with 2-3 buds are planted vertically at a distance of 0.6-0.7m in rows 1-1.5m apart. However, most of the liquorice is propagated through stolon pieces of the above size planted horizontally, preferably on ridges during spring at the same distance as above. Manuring: This plant normally does not require much fertilizers but in deficient soils, it is better to apply 10-15 tonnes FYM per hectare before planting. The field should be immediately irrigated after planting in spring and after the crop has sprouted.

After cultivation: Space between the rows should be kept free from weeds. Short term vegetables like carrot or cabbage can be planted between the rows for additional income. In order to produce good rhizome, flowering shoots are clipped. Normally it requires very little irrigation.

Plant protection: No serious disease except leaf spot caused by Cercospora cavarae has been reported in this crop. The disease is controlled by 1% Bordeaux mixture.

Harvesting and processing: Roots are ready for harvesting after 3-4 years.  The root is dug when the top has dried during autumn (November-December). A trench 60cm deep is dug along the ridges and the entire root is lifted. Broken parts of the root left in the soil, sprout again and give another crop after 2-3 years. Thus liquorice once planted properly can be harvested for 10-15 years.

            Harvested roots are cut into pieces of 15-20cm long and 1-2cm in diameter. They are washed and dried up to 6-8% moisture in the sun and shade alternately, which reduces the weight by 50%. The average yield of dried roots varies from 1-3 tonnes per hectare depending on the variety, soil and climatic conditions.

Chemical constituents: Glycyrrhizin, a triterpene glucoside that is converted to glycyrrhetinic acid on enzyme hydrolysis, is the principal constituent of G. glabra. Root also contains flavans, flavones, isoflavanoes and coumarins including a 4-methyl coumarin, liqcoumarin, glabridin, glabrene, 4’-O-methyl and 3’-methoxyglabridin.




Piper longum


San: Pippali;  Hin, Ben, Pun: Piplamul;  Kan, Mal:Thippali ; Tam: Thippili;   Mar: Pimpli Long pepper is a slender aromatic climber whose spike is widely used in ayurvedic and unani systems of medicine particularly for diseases of respiratory tract.

Uses:  Pipalarishta, Pippalyasava, Panchakola, Pippalayadilauha, and Lavana bhaskar churan are common ayurvedic preparations made out of the dry spikes of female types. Ittrifal fauladi,  Angaruya-i-kabir and Majun khadar are well known unani preparations of long pepper. The root is useful in bronchitis, stomach ache, diseases of spleen and tumours. Root and fruit are used in gout and lumbago. The infusion of root is prescribed after parturition to induce the expulsion of placenta. The root and fruit decoction are used in acute and chronic bronchitis and cough. It contains the alkaloid piperine which has diverse pharmacological activities, including nerve depressant and antagonistic effect on electro- shock and chemo-shock seizures as well as muscular incoordination.

Soil and climate: Long pepper is successfully cultivated in well drained forest soils rich in organic matter. Laterite soils with high organic matter content and moisture holding capacity are also suitable for cultivation. It is a tropical plant adapted to high rainfall areas with high humidity. An elevation of 100-1000 m is ideal. It needs partial shade to the tune of 20-30% for best growth. The natural habitat of the plant is on the borders of streams.

Seeds and sowing: Long pepper is propagated by suckers or rooted vine cuttings.15-20 cm long 3-5 nodded rooted vine cuttings establishes very well in polybags. The best time for raising nursery is March-April. Normal irrigation is given on alternate days. The rooted cuttings will be ready for transplanting in 2 months time. With the onset of monsoon in June the field is ploughed well and brought to good tilth. 15-20 cm raised beds of convenient length and breadth are taken. On these beds, pits are dug at 60 x 60 cm spacing and well decomposed organic manure at 100 g/pit is applied and mixed with the soil. Rooted vine cuttings from polybags are transplanted to these pits.

Manuring:_The crop needs heavy manuring at the rate of 20 t FYM/ha every year. Application of wood ash is found to enhance crop growth and spike production. Application of heavy dose organic matter and mulching increase water retention in the soil  and control weeds. Small doses of chemical fertilisers can also be used.

Irrigation:-The crop needs irrigation once a week. Sprinkler irrigation is ideal. With irrigation the crop continues to produce spikes and off-season produce will be available. However, it is reported that unirrigated crop after the onset of monsoon grows vigorously and shows much hardiness than the irrigated crop.

After cultivation: Gap filling can be done after one month of planting. Piper longum can also be cultivated as an intercrop in plantations of coconut, subabul and eucalyptus. Weeding has to be resorted to whenever necessery. However,  care is to be taken not to break the roots of thippali, as any damage result in damping off the plants.

 Plant protection: Crop losses can be heavy due to pests and diseases. Mealy bugs and root grubs, attack the plant particularly during summer. Infested plants show yellowing and stunted growth. Drenching with systemic insecticides like nuvacron or dimecron will control the pests. Adults and nymphs of Helopeltis theivora severely feeds on the foliage which can be controlled by 0.25% neem kernel suspension. Rotting of leaves and  vines during monsoon season is caused by Colletotrichum gloriosporiodes and necrotic lesions and blights on the leaves during summer is caused by Colletotrichum and Cercospora spp. These diseases can be controlled by spraying of 1% Bordeaux mixture repeatedly. A virus like disease characterised by yellowing and crinkling of leaves,  stunted growth and production of spikes of smaller size and inferior quality was also recently reported.

  Harvesting and processing: The vines start flowering six months after planting and flowers are produced almost throughout the year. The spikes mature in 2 months time. The optimum stage of harvest is when the spikes are blackish green. The pungency is highest at this stage. Spikes are hand picked when they become mature and then dried. The yield of dry spike is 400 kg /ha during first year, increases to 1000kg during third year and thereafter it decreases. Therefore, after 3 years the whole plant is harvested. The stem is cut close to the ground and roots are dug up. Average yield is 500 kg dry roots/ha .

                        The harvested spikes are dried in sun for 4-5 days until they are perfectly dry. The green to dry spike ratio is 10:1.5 by weight. The dried spikes have to be stored in moisture proof containers. Stem and roots are cleaned, cut into pieces of 2.5-5 cm length, dried in shade and marketed as piplamool. There are three grades of piplamool, based on the thickness. The commercial drug consists 0.5-2.5 cm long, 0.5-2.5 mm thick, cylindrical pieces dirty light brown in colour and peculiar odour with a pungent bitter taste, producing numbness to the tongue.

Chemical constituents: The spike of long pepper contains 4-5% piperine, piplartin, piperolactam, N-isobutyl deca trans-2-trans-4-dienamide and piporadione alkaloides, besides 0.7 % essential oil. Roots gave the alkaloids piperine, piperlongamine (piplartine) and piperlongaminine; sesamine, methyl -3, 4, 5-trimethoxy cinnamate. Stem gave triacoutane 22, 23 - dihydrostigmasterol. Fruit essential oil contains piperidine, caryophyllene and sesquiterpene alcohol.





Curcuma amada


San: Amrardrakam, Karpooraharidra Hin: Ama-haldi Mal: Maanga Inchi Tam: Maankai Inchi

Mango-ginger is an under exploited spice crop which grows luxuriantly in tropical soils with good drainage

Uses: The rhizome of Mango ginger is bitter, sweet sour, aromatic, cooling, appetiser, carminative, digestive, stomachic, demulcent, vulnerary, febrifuge, alexertic, aphrodisiac, laxative, diurectic, expectorant, antiinflammatory and antipyretic. The rhizome of mango-ginger is used for preparing pickles, chutney, preserve, candy, sauce and salad and in meat and other culinary preparations. The rhizome has excellent medicinal properties.

Soil and climate: It prefers laomy well drained fertile soil. Hot humid tropical climate with high rainfall more than 1500mm are essential. The crop comes up well in open conditions, but it tolerates low levels of shade and therefore partially shaded situations can also be utilised for its cultivation.

Seeds and sowing: Whole or split mother rhizomes or well developed, healthy and a disease free finger rhizome weighing 15-20 g is suitable for planting. Prepare the land to a good tilth during February – March subject to the availability of pre-monsoon showers. Prepare beds of convenient length, 1.2m wide, 25cm high with 40 cm spacing between beds. Plant during April with the commencement of pre-monsoon showers. Take small pits in the beds with spacing of 25x30cm and at a depth of 4-5 cm. Seed rate is 1500 Kg/ha.

Varieties: In Kerala local varieties are used for cultivation.’Amba’ is a released variety from Pottangi.

Manuring: Apply cattlemanure or compost as basal dose @ 30-40 t/ha, spread over the beds and mix well. Apply NPK fertiliser @ 30:30:60 Kg/ha. Full dose of P and half dose of K may be applied 60 days after planting.

After cultivation: Mulch the crop immediately after planting with green leaves @ 15t/ha. Repeat mulching after 50 days with same quantity of green leaves.

Aftercultivation: The rhizomes germinate within 3-4 weeks. Remove weeds 45 days after planting and repeat if necessary. Earth up the crop after 60 days of planting.

Plant protection: Shoot borer (Dichocrocis punctiferalis) cause damage to the crop. Appearance of ‘deadheart’in the field is the main symptom. Pull out the deadhearts with the larvae inside and burn it. If infestation is severe, spray Dimethoate or quinalphos at 0.05%.

Harvesting:In homesteads partial harvesting is the practice adopted to suit the family requirement for preparing chutney or for medicinal use. Drying of the leaves is the indication of harvesting time. From sixth month onwards harvesting can be done by lifting the entire plant with a spade and then cutting away the top portion. Roots and soil particles are removed from the rhizomes and it is advisable to dry the rhizomes under shade for one day before storage or transporting.

Chemical constituents: The essential oil contains a-pinene, a-and b-curcumene, camphor, cuminyl alcohol, myristic acid and turmerone. Car-3-ene and cis-ocimene contribute the characteristic mango odour of the rhizome. The colouring matter is curcumin. Numerous sesquiterpenoids of germacrone and guaiane skeletons also are present.





Dioscorea spp.


San: Alukam  Hin: Chupri alu, Khamalu Mal: Kachil, Kavattu Tam: Perumvallikkizhangu, Kappan kachil

Some of the species like D. alata and D. esculenta have been under cultivation for a long time for their edible tubers. There are about 15 species of this genus containing diosgenin. Among the above said species, D. floribunda, D. composita and D. deltoidea are widely grown for diosgenin production.

Soil and climate: Dioscorea species prefer a tropical climate without extremity in temperature. It is adapted to moderate to heavy rainfall area. Dioscorea plants can be grown in a variety of soils, but light soil is good, as harvesting of tubers is easier in such soils. The ideal soil pH is 5.5-6.5 but tolerates fairly wide variation in soil pH.

Seeds and sowing: Dioscorea can be propagated through tubers, single node stem cuttings or seed. Tubers normally used for commercial planting. Three types of tuber pieces can be distinguished for propagation purpose, viz. (1) crown (2) median and (3) tip, of which crowns produce new shoots within 30 days and are therefore preferred. The best time of planting is the end of April so that new sprouts will grow vigorously during the rainy season commencing in June. Land is to be prepared thoroughly until a fine tilth is obtained. Deep furrows are made at 60cm distance with the help of a plough. The stored tuber pieces which are ready for planting is to be planted in furrows with 30cm between the plants for one year crop and 45cm between the plants for 2 year crop at about 0.5 cm below soil level. The new sprouts are to be staked immediately.

Manuring: Dioscorea requires high organic matter for good tuber formation. Besides a basal dose of 18-20t of FYM/ha, a complete fertilizer dose of 300kg N, 150kg P2O5 and K2O/ha are to be applied. P and K are to be applied in two equal doses one after the establishment of the crop during May-June and the other during vigorous growth period of the crop (August-September).

Irrigation:-Irrigation may be given at weekly intervals in the initial stage and afterwards at about 10 days interval during non-rainy periods.

After cultivation: After sprouting is complete, the plants are to be earthed up. Soil from the ridges may be used for earthing up so that the original furrows will become ridges and vice versa. Dioscorea vines need support for their optimum growth and hence the vines are to be trailed over pandals or trellis. Periodic hand weeding is essential for the first few months. Intercropping with legumes has been found to smother weeds and provide extra income.

Plant protection: The major pests of Dioscorea are the aphids and red spider mites. Aphids occur more commonly on young seedlings and vines. Young leaves and vine tips eventually die if aphids are not controlled. They can be controlled by spraying any contact insecticide. Red spider mites attack the underside of the leaves at the base near the petiole. Severe infestations result in necrotic areas, which are often attacked by fungi. In case of severe mite infestation, spray any acaricide – dicofol, tetradifon, chlorobenzilate or wetable sulphur at  recommended doses. No serious disease is reported to infect this crop.

Harvesting: The tubers grow to about 25-30 cm depth and hence harvesting is to be done by manual labour. The best season for harvesting is Feb-March, coinciding with the dry period. On an average 50-60t/ha of fresh tubers can be obtained in 2 years duration. Diosgenin content tends to increase with age, 2.5% in first year and 3-3.5% in the second year. Hence, two-year crop is economical.

Chemical constituents: Diosgenin is the most important sapogenin used as a starting material for synthesis of a number of steroidal drugs.





Azadirachta indica


San: Nimbah, Prabhadrah   Hin, Ben: Nim, Nim    Mal: Aryaveppu   Tel: Vepa 

Neem or margose tree, also known as Indian lilac is a highly exploited medicinal plant of Indian origin, widely grown and cultivated throughout India. Every part of the tree, namely root, bark, wood, twig, leaf, flower, fruit, seed, kernel and oil has been used for medicinal purposes.

Uses: Nimbarishta, nimbadi churna and nimbharidra khand are well known preparations. It is valuable as an antiseptic, used in the treatment of small pox. Extract from the leaves are useful for sores, eczema and skin diseases. Boiled and smashed leaves serve as excellent antiseptic. Neem oil is used in soaps, toothpaste and as a hair tonic to kill lice. Seed is used against snakebite. Neem derivatives are now used in agriculture, public health, human and veterinary medicines, toiletries, cosmetics and livestock production

Soil and climate: Neem grows on most kinds of soils including dry, stony, shallow, nutrient deficient soils with scanty vegetation, moderately saline and alkali soils, black cotton, compact clays and laterite crusts. However, silty flats, clayey depressions and land prone to inundation are not conducive for its growth. It tolerates wide soil pH range of 5.0 to 10.0. It brings surface soil to neutral pH by its leaf litter. It has extensive and deeply penetrating root system capable of extracting moisture and nutrients even from highly leached poor sandy soils. It grows in tropical arid regions with high temperatures, altitudes between 50m and 1000m, as little rainfall as 130mm/yr and long stretches of drought. 

Seeds and sowing: Neem propagates easily by seed without any pretreatment, though it can be regenerated by vegetative means like root and shoot cuttings. Seeds are collected from June to August. These remain viable for 3-5 weeks only, which necessitates sowing within this short time. Seeds may be depulped and soaked in water for 6 hours before sowing.

      Seeds are sown on nursery [w1] beds at 15x5cm spacing, covered with rotten straw and irrigated. Germination takes 15-30 days.  Seedlings can be transplanted after two months of growth onwards either to polybags or to mainfield. Neem can be grown along with agricultural crops like groundnut, bean, millets, sorghum and wheat.   For field planting, pits of size 50-75 cm3 are dug 5-6m apart, filled with topsoil and well rotten manure, formed into a heap, and seedling is planted at the centre of the heap.

Manuring: FYM is applied at 10-20 kg/plant every year. Chemical fertilizers are not generally applied.

Irrigation: Irrigation and weeding are required during the first year for quick establishment. 

Plant protection: More than 38 insect pests are reported on neem, which may become serious at times.

Harvesting: Flowering starts after 5 years. In India flowering is during January-May and fruits mature from May-August. The leaves are shed during February-March and a full-grown tree produces about 350 kg dry leaves and 40-50 kg berries per annum. Fresh fruits give 60% dry fruits, which yield 10% kernel, which contains on an average 45% fixed oil.  After 10-15 years of growth the wood can be cut and used as timber.  

Chemical constituents: Leaves contain the flavanoid quercetin, nimbosterol                  (b-sitosterol), kaempferol and myricetin. Seed and oil contains desacetylnimbin, azadirachtin, nimbidol, meliantriol, tannic acid, S and amino acids. Neem cake contains the highest sulphur content of 1.07% among common oil cakes.




Piper nigrum


Soil and Climate: Pepper prefers a light porous soil and well-drained soil rich in organic matter. Water stagnation in the soil, even for a very short period is injurious for the plant. So heavy textured soils in locations where drainage facilities are inadequate should be avoided.Pepper requires a warm humid climate.Though an annual rainfall of 250cm is ideal for the proper growth of the crop, it also come up well in low rainfall areas ,if the pattern and distribution of rainfall are conducive. The optimum temperature is 20-300c. It can be grown from sea level up to an altitude of 1200m but lower altitudes are preferable.

Seeds and sowing: Pepper is propagated vegetatively from cuttings. Select runner  shoots produced at the base of mother plants. Keep the vines to prevent them from striking roots in the soil. Separate the runner shoots from the vines in February-March. The middle one-third portion of runner shoots are preferred for planting. The shoots are cut into pieces of 2-3 nodes in each. Leaves, if any , are to be clipped off leaving a small portion of the petioles on the stop. Dipping the lower cut end of the cuttings in 1000ppm solution of 3 Indol Butyric acid for 45 seconds wil substantially increase root formation and development. Treating the cuttings with Seradix B2 is equally effective. Plant the treated cuttings in nursery beds or preferably in polythene bags filled with potting mixture. The cuttings should be planted at least one node deep in the soil. The cuttings after planting should be kept under shade. Light and frequent  watering is recommended in the nursery to maintain a humid and cool atmoshere.

                Planting standards is to be taken up in April-May with the onset of premonsoon showers. For planting pepper, prepare pits on the northern side of the standards,15 cm away from it. The pit size should be 50cm3. Fill the pits with a mixture of top soil and compost or well rotten cattle manure @5 Kg /Pit . With the onset of South West Monsoon In June-July, plant 2-3 rooted cuttings in the pits at a distance  of about 30 cm away from the standards. Press the soil  around the cuttings to form a small mound slopping outward  and away from the cuttings to prevent water stagnation around the plants.The growing portion of the cuttings are to be trailed and tied to the standards. Provide shade to the plants if the land is exposed and if there is a break in the rainfall.Pepper comes up well as intercrops in plantations.

Varieties:-Panniyoor-1, Panniyur-2( Krishna), Panniyur –3 (Syama), Panniyur-4 (Anjana), Subhakara( KS27), Karimunda,  Kottanadan, Kuthiravally, Arakulam Munda, Balankotta and Kalluvally are common cultivated varieties.

After cultivation: In the early stages tie the vines to the standards, if found necessary. Prune and train the standards in March-April every year to remove the excess growth. The effective height is to be limited to about 6m.

Manuring:-Manuring of pepper vines is to be done in basins taken around the plants 10-15 cm deep and 75 cm radius depending upon the growth of the plants. Apply cattle manure /compost/green leaves at the rate of 10 Kg./plant/annum just at the onset of South-West monsoon and cover lightly with soil.It is desirable to apply lime at the rate of 500g/vine in April-May.Recommended nutrient dosage of pepper (3years above) is: NPK 50:50:50g/vine/Year. Apply 1/3 dose for one year old plants and ½ dose for two year old plants. The fertilisers may be applied in two split doses first in May-June and the second in August- September.

Irrigation:-Irrigating pepper plants of panniyur –1 variety at IW/CPE ratio of 0.25 from Nov/Dec till the end of March and withholding irrigation thereafter till Monsoon break,increases pepper yield.The depth of irrigation recommended is 10mm.The water is to be applied in basins taken around the plants at aradius of 75 cm.

Plant protection: For the control of Pollu caused by flea beetle, Longitarsus nigripennis, spray any of Endosulfan, Dimethoate, Quinalphos or Monocrotophos, all at 0.05%. For controlling pepper leaf gall thrips, Monocrotophos 0.05%, Dimethoate 0.06% or phosphamidon 0.03% may be used. For controlling soft scales, (Lecanium spp.), spray with Quinalphos at 0.05%. For controlling the atack of nematodes namely,  Radopholus similis and the Meloidogyne incognita, apply Phorate or Carbofuran @1g a.i. per vine twice an year. For Phytophthora foot rot control, application of 1 kg lime per vine, application of 2 kg neemcake 4 weeks after lime application, drenching with 1% Bordeaux mixture or 0.2% copper oxy chloride at the rate of 5 to 10 litres per vine in May-June are effective. Foliar spray with 1% Bordeaux mixture may also to be given. Drenching and spraying are to be repeated. For the control of anthracnose caused by Colletotrichum gloeosporioides, spray 1% Bordeaux mixture or Captafol 0.1%, once before flowering and then at berry formation stage.

Harvesting and processing:-Pepper berries become mature and ready for harvest in about 180-200 days depending upon the variety. In high altitudes this period may be more by about 30-45 days. If spikes are harvested before attaining maturity ,15-20% reduction in the weight of processed material may result. Black pepper is produced by sun drying the mature pepper berries for 3-5 days after their separation from spikes by threshing.




Catharanthus roseus

Family-  Apocynaceae 

San: Nityakalyani;       Hin:  Sadabahar, Baramassi;          Mal: Ushamalari, Nityakalyani Tel: Billaganeru;    Tam: Sudukattu mallikai;   Pun:  Rattanjot;    Kan: Kasikanigale

            Periwinkle or Vinca is an erect handsome herbaceous perennial plant which is a   chief source of patented cancer  and hypotensive drugs.

Uses:- The different alkaloids possessed anticancerous, antidiabetic, diuretic, antihypertensive, antimicrobial, antidysenteric, haemorrhagic, antifibrillic, tonic, stomachic, sedative and tranquillising activities. It is known for use in the  treatment of diabetes in Jamaica  and India. It is useful in the treatment of  choriocarcinoma and Hodgkin's disease-a cancer affecting lymph glands, spleen and liver. Its leaves are used for curing diabetes,  menorrhagia and wasp stings. Root is tonic, stomachic, hypotensive, sedative and tranquilliser .

Soil and clmate:- It can grow  on any type of soil, except those which are highly saline, alkaline or waterlogged. Light soils, rich in humus are preferable for large scale cultivation since harvesting of the roots become easy. Periwinkle grows well under tropical and  subtropical climate. A well distributed rainfall of 1000 mm or more is ideal. In north India the low winter temperatures  adversely affect the crop growth.

Seeds and sowing: Catharanthus is propagated  by  seeds.  Fresh seeds should be used since they are short-viable. Seeds can be either sown directly in the field or in a nursery  and then transplanted. Seed rate is 2.5 kg/ha for direct sowing  and the seeds are drilled in rows 45 cm apart or broadcasted. For transplanted crop the  seed rate is 500g/ha. Seeds are sown in nursery and transplanted at 45x30cm spacing after 60 days when the seedlings  attain a   height of 15-20cm. Nursery is prepared two months in advance so that transplanting coincides with the on set of monsoons.

Manuring: Application of FYM at the rate of 15 t/ha is recommended. An alternate approach is to grow leguminous green manure crops  and incorporate the same into the soil  at flowering stage. Fertilisers  are recommended at 80:40:40 kg N:P2O5:K2O/ha for irrigated crop and 60:30:30 kg/ha for rainfed crop. N is applied  in three equal splits at planting 45 and 90 days after planting.

Irrigation: 4 or 5 irrigations will be needed to optimise yield when rainfall is restricted. Fortnightly irrigations support good crop growth when the crop is grown exclusively as an irrigated crop.

After cultivation:- Weeding is carried out before each topdressing. Alternatively, use of fluchloraline at 0.75 kg a.i./ha  pre-plant or alachlor at 1.0 kg a.i./ha as pre-emergence to weeds provides effective control of a wide range of weeds in periwinkle crop.

Harvesting and procewsing: Detopping of plants by 2cm at 50% flowering stage improves root yield and alkaloid contents. The crop allows 3-4 clippings of foliage beginning from 6 months. The flowering stage is ideal for collection of roots with high alkaloid content. The crop is cut about 7 cm above the ground and dried for stem, leaf and seed. The field is irrigated, ploughed and roots are collected. The average yields of leaf, stem and root are 3.6, 1.5 and 1.5 t/ha, respectively under irrigated conditions and 2.0, 1.0 and 0.75t/ha,  respectively under rainfed conditions on air dry basis. The harvested stem and roots loose 80% and 70% of their weight, respectively. The crop comes up well as an undercrop in eucalyptus plantation in north India. In  north western India a two year crop sequence of periwinkle-senna-mustard or periwinkle-senna- coriander are recommended for higher net returns and productivity.

Plant protection: No major pests, other than  Oleander hawk moth, have been reported in this  crop. Fungal diseases like twig blight (top rot or dieback ) caused by Phytophthora  nicotianae., Pythium debaryanum, P. butleri and P. aphanidermatum; leaf  spot due to Alternaria tenuissima, A. alternata, Rhizoctonia   solani  and Ophiobolus catharanthicola and foot-rot and wilt by Sclerotium rolfsii and Fusarium solani have been reported. However, the damage to the crop is not very serious. Three virus diseases causing different types of mosaic symptoms and a phyllody or little leaf disease due to mycoplasma-like organisms have also been reported; the spread of  which could be  checked by uprooting and destroying the affected  plants.

Chemical constituents:  More than 100 alkaloids and related compounds have so far been isolated and characterised from the plant.. These alkaloids includes monomeric indole alkaloids, 2-acyl indoles, oxindole, a-methylene  indolines, dihydroindoles, bisindole and others. Dry leaves contain vinblastine (vincaleucoblastine or VLB) 0.00013-0.00063%, and vincristine (leurocristine or LC) 0.0000003-0.0000153% which have anticancerous activity. Other alkaloids reported are vincoside, isovincoside (strictosidine), catharanthine, vindolinine, lochrovicine, vincolidine, ajmalicine (raubasine), reserpine, serpentine, leurosine, lochnerine, tetrahydroalstonine, vindoline, pericalline, perivine, periformyline, perividine, carosine, leurosivine, leurosidine and rovidine.



Rauvolfia serpentina


San:  Sarpagandha Hin: Chandrabhaga Mal: Sarpagandhi, Amalpori

Among the different species of Rauvolfia, R. serpentina is preferred for cultivation because of  higher reserpine content  in the root Serpentwood  is an erect, evergreen , perennial undershrub whose medicinal use has been known since 3000 years.

Uses:- Its dried root is the economical part which contains a number of alkaloids of which reserpine, rescinnamine, deserpidine, ajamalacine, ajmaline, neoajmalin, serpentine, a-yohimbine are pharmacologically important. The root is a sedative and is used to control high blood pressure and certain  forms of insanity. In Ayurveda it is also used for the  treatment of insomnia,  epilepsy, asthma, acute stomach ache and painful delivery. It is used in snake-bite, insect stings, and mental disorders. It is popular as  "Madman's medicine" among   tribals. 'Serpumsil’ tablet for high blood pressure is prepared from Rauvolfia roots. Reserpine is a potent hypotensive and tranquillizer but its prolonged usage stimulates prolactine release and causes breast cancer. The juice of the leaves is used as a remedy for the removal  of opacities of the  cornea.

Soil and climate: It grows on a wide range of soils. Medium to deep well drained  fertile soils and   clay-loam to silt-loam soils rich in organic matter are suitable for its cultivation. It requires slightly acidic to neutral soils for good growth. Though it grows in tropical   and subtropical areas, which are free from frost, tropical humid climate is most ideal. Its common habitats receive an annual rainfall of 1500-3500 mm and the annual mean temperature is 10-38°C. It grows up to an elevation of 1300-1400m from MSL. It can be grown in open as well as under partial shade conditions.

 Seeds and sowing: The plant can be propagated vegetatively by root cuttings, stem cuttings  or root stumps and by seeds. Seed propagation is the best method for  raising commercial plantation. Seed germination is very poor and variable from 10-74%. Seeds  collected during  September to November give good results. It is desirable to use fresh seeds and to sock  in 10% sodium chloride solution. Those seeds which sink to  the bottom should only be used. Seeds are treated with ceresan or captan before planting in nursery to avoid damping off. Seed rate is 5-6 kg/ha. Nursery beds are prepared in shade,   well  rotten  FYM is applied at 1kg/m2  and seeds are dibbled  6-7cm apart in May-June and  irrigated.  Two months old seedlings with 4-6 leaves are transplanted at 45-60 x 30 cm spacing  in July -August in the main field. Alternatively, rooted cuttings of 2.5-5cm long roots or 12-20cm long woody stems can also be used for transplanting. Hormone (Seradix) treatment increases rooting .

Manuring: In the main field 10-15 t/ha of FYM  is applied basally. Fertilisers are applied  at 40:30:30kg N: P2O5 :K2O/ha every year. N is applied  in 2-3 splits.

After cultivation: Monthly irrigation increases the  yield. The nursery and the main field should be kept weed free by frequent weeding and  hoeing. In certain regions intercroping of  soybean, brinjal, cabbage, okra or chilly is followed in  Rauvolfia crop.

Plant protection: Pests like root grubs (Anomala polita), spingid moth (Deilephila nerii), caterpillar (Glyophodes vertumnalis), black bugs and weevils are observed on the crop, but the crop damage is not serious. The common diseases reported are  leaf spot (Cercospora rauvolfiae, Corynespora cassiicola), leaf  blotch  (Cercospora serpentina), leaf blight (Alternaria tenuis), anthracnose (Colletotrichum gloeosporioides), die back (Colletotrichum dematrium), powdery mildew (Leviellula taurica), wilt (Fusarium oxysporum), root-knot (Meloidogyne sp.), mosaic and bunchy top virus diseases. Field sanitation, pruning and burning of diseased parts and repeated spraying of 0.2% Zineb or Mancozeb are recommended for controlling various fungal diseases.

Harvesting and processing: Rauvolfia is harvested after 2-3 years of growth. The optimum time of harvest is in November-December when the plants shed leaves, become dormant and the roots contain maximum alkaloid content. Harvesting is done by digging up the roots by deeply penetrating implements .

            The roots are cleaned washed cut into 12-15cm pieces and dried to 8-10% moisture. The dried roots are  stored in polythene lined gunny bags in cool dry place to protect it from mould. The yield is 1.5-2.5 t/ha of dry roots. The root bark constitutes 40-45% of the total weight of root and contributes 90% of the total alkaloids yield.

Chemical constituents: Over 200 alkaloids have been isolated from the plant. Rauwolfia serpentina root contains 1.4-3% alkaloids. The alkaloids are classsified into 3 groups, viz, reserpine, ajmaline and serpentine groups. Reserpine group comprising reserpine, rescinnamine, deserpine etc act as hypotensive, sedative and tranquillising agent. Overdose may cause diarrhoea, bradycardia and drowsiness. Ajmaline, ajmalicine, ajmalinine, iso-ajmaline etc of the ajmaline group stimulate central nervous system, respiration and intestinal movement with slight hypotensive activity. Serpentine group comprising serpentine, sepentinine, alstonine etc is mostly antihypertensive.





Solanum  spp.


Solanums comprise a very important group of medicinal plants having multifarious uses. These plants belong to the family Solanaceae and genus Solanum. A number of species are reported to be medicinal which are briefly described below.

                S. anguivi Lam. syn. S. indicum ( poison berry), S. dulcamara Linn.Eng: (Bittersweet, Bitter night shade;  San: Kakmachi) S. erianthum, syn. S. verbascifolium (San: Vidari; Hin: Asheta; Mal: Malachunda), S. melongena Linn. (Eng: Brinjal, Egg plant) S. melongena var. incanum (Linn.) (San: Brihati;  Hin: Baigan;   Mal: Cheruvazhuthina)   S. nigrum Linn. syn. S. rubrum Mill.(Eng: Black night shade); S. spirale Roxb. (Hin: Munguskajur), S. stramoniifolium Jacq. (San: Garbhada;     Hin: Rambaigan;     Mal: Anachunda;) are the important species. S. torvum Sw. (Eng: West Indian Turkey Berry; Hin, Mal: Kattuchunda), S. trilobatum Linn. (Eng: Climbing Brinjal;  San: Alarka;  Mal: Tutavalam;)  and S. viarum, syn. S. khasianum (Hin: Kantakari) are the important species.

Uses: All these species possess specific medicinal properties.

Climate and soil:  They come up very well in tropical and subtropical climate upto 2000m altitude. They can be raised on a variety of soils good in organic matter.

Seeds and sowing: Propagation is by seeds. The seedlings are first raised in the nursery and transplanted to the main field 30-45 days after sowing when the plants attain 8-10cm height. During rainy season, planting is done on ridges while during summer in furrows, at a spacing ranging from 30-90cm depending upon the stature and spreading habit of the plant. The transplanted seedlings should be given temporary shade for 2-4 days during summer.

Manuring:- FYM or compost at 20-25t/ha is applied at the time of land preparation. A moderate fertiliser dose of 75:40:40 N, P2O5, K2O/ha may be given. P is given as basal dose, N and K are applied in 2-3 split doses.

After cultivation: One or two intercultural operations are needed to control weeds. The plants need earthing up after weeding and topdressing. Irrigation is needed at 3-4 days interval during summer and on alternate days during fruiting period. Plants need staking to avoid lodging due to heavy bearing.

Plant protection:-Shoot borers, mealy bugs, leaf webbers and miners are noted on the crop, which can be controlled by spraying mild insecticides. Root knot nematode, wilting and mosaic diseases are also noted on the crop. Field sanitation, crop rotation and burning of crop residues are recommended. 




Strobilanthes ciliatus

San: Sahacarah, Sairyakah;   Hin: Karvi, Kara;    Mal: Karimkurunji, Kurunji;

            The genus Strobilanthes consists of 3 species namely,S. ciliatus Nees.,syn. Nilgirianthus ciliatus (Nees) Bremek ,S. auriculatus Nees. and S. callisus Nees.

Uses: Strobilanthes is an important shrub used in the treatment of rheumatism. The roots are useful in rheumatalgia, lumbago, siatica, limping, chest congestion, bronchitis, odontalgia and general debility. The leaves and bark are useful in whooping cough, fever, bronchitis, dropsy, leucoderma, leprosy, pouritus, inflammations, scrofula and fever

Soil and climate: Strobilanthes prefers silty loam soil, mixed with sand, for good growth. It grows abundantly in river banks, lowlands and plains. The best season of planting is May-June.

Seeds and sowing: The field is to be ploughed to a fine tilth and mixed with 5-7t/ha of FYM/compost/dried cowdung. Seedbeds of convinient length, 1.5m width and 15cm height are to be made in which 10cm long stem cuttings are to be planted at a spacing of 30cm between plants. Rooting occurs within 20 days.

After cultivation: Two weeding should be carried out at 2 months and 4 months after planting, followed by organic manure application. Irrigation is not a must but during summer months it is beneficial. Any serious pests or diseases are reported in this crop.

Harvesting: Harvesting can be done at the end of the second year. For this the plants are to be cut, roots dug out and collected. Roots are to be washed well, dried in sun and marketed. Roots, leaves and bark constitute the economic parts.

Properties: The leaves and stem yield essential oil, which is of good medicinal value.




Strychnos nux-vomica

Family - Loganiaceae

San: Karaskara;      Hin: Kajra, Kuchila;      Mal: Kanjiram;      Tam: Itti, Kagodi, Kanjirai Mar:Jharkhatchura;   Kan: Hemmushti, Ittangi;   Tel: Mushti, Mushidi 

              It is a large deciduous tree, with simple leaves and white fragrant flowers. Strychnos is highly toxic to man and animals producing stiffness of muscles and convulsions, ultimately leading to death.

Uses: In small doses it can serve as efficacious cure forms of paralysis and other nervous disorders. The seeds are used as a remedy in intermittent fever, dyspepsia, chronic dysentery, paralytic and neuralgic affections. It is also useful in impotence, neuralgia of face, heart disease. Leaves are applied as poultice in the treatment of chronic wounds and ulcers and the leaf decoction is useful in paralytic complaints. Root and root bark used in fever and dysentery.

Soil and climate: The plant is distributed throughout India in deciduous forests up to 1200m. It is also found in Sri Lanka, Siam, Indochina and Malaysia.


               The leaf fall is during December (do not shed all the leaves at a time) and new foliage appears in February. Flowering is during March - April and fruiting during May - December. Fruits take about 8-9 months to mature. 

Chemical properties: Strychnine and brucine are the most important and toxic alkaloids present in the plant.




Acorus calamus

Family-  Araceae

San: Vaca, Ugragandha, Bhadra;        Hin: Bacc, Gorbacc;   Ben: Bach;          Mal:Vayampu;              Tam: Vasampu;        Kan: Bajai;     Tel: Vasa Vadaja

            Acorus calamus Linn. is a semi-aquatic rhizomatous perennial herb.

Uses: The sweet flag is an important medhya drug, capable of improving memory power and intellect. It is used for the treatment of cough, bronchitis, odontalgia, inflammations, gout, epilepsy, convulsions, depression and other mental disorders, tumours, dysentery, skin diseases, numbness and general debility. The rhizome is an ingredient of preparations like Vacaditaila, Ayaskrti, Kompancadi gulika, Valiya rasnadi kashaya, etc.          

Soil and climate:  Acorus may be cultivated in any good but fairly moist soil. It is usually grown in areas where paddy can be grown. It comes up well in clayey soils and light alluvial soils of riverbank. It is a hardy plant found growing from tropical to subtropical climates. It needs a good and well-distributed rainfall throughout the year. It needs ample sunlight during the growth period.

Seeds and sowing: The field is laid out and prepared exactly as for rice, irrigated sufficiently and after ploughing twice, watered heavily and again ploughed in the puddle. Sprouted rhizome pieces are used for planting and pressed into the mud at a depth of about 5cm at a spacing of 30x30cm. The rhizomes are planted in such a way that the plants in the second row comes in between the plants of the first row and not opposite to them.

Manuring: FYM is to be applied at 25t/ha. Fertilisers are applied at 25:50:60 kg/ha/yr N:P2O5:K2O. Whole of FYM and 1/3 of  N,  P2O5 and K2O are to be added in the field during March - April as a basal dose. The remaining 2/3 of nutrients is to be given in two equal split doses at 4 months and 8 months after planting.

Irrigation: The field is to be regularly irrigated. About 5 cm of standing water is to be maintained in the field in the beginning. Later, it is to be increased to 10 cm as the plant grows. The water is drained off from the field at least two weeks before harvest.

After cultivation:  The field is to be regularly weeded. About 8 weeding are to be carried out in all. At each weeding the plants are pressed into the soil.

Plant protection: The plant is attacked by mealy bugs. Both shoot and root mealy bugs can be controlled by spraying the shoot and drenching the roots of grown up plants with 10 ml Methyl parathion or 15ml Oxydemeton methyl or 20ml Quinalphos in 10 litres of water.

Harvesting and processing: The leaves start turning yellow and dry, indicating maturity. The crop is ready for harvest at the end of first year. The field is to be dried partially so that sufficient moisture is left in the soil to facilitate deep digging. The rhizome will be at a depth of 60cm and having about 30-60cm spread. Therefore, harvesting is to be done carefully. The rhizomes are to be cut into 5-7.5cm long pieces and all the fibrous roots are to be removed. Yield of  rhizome is about 7-10t/ha

Chemical constituents: Rhizomes, roots and leaves yield essential oil. The important constituents of the Indian oil are asarone and its b-isomer. Other constituents are a and b-pinene, myrcene, camphene, p-cymene, camphor and linalool, sesquiterpenic ketones like asarone, calamone, calacone, acolamone, iso-acolamone, acoragermacrone, epishyobunone, shyobunone and iso-shyobunone.




Tinospora cordifolia


                San: Amrita, Guduchi;   Hin, Ben: Giloe;     Mal: Amritu, Chittamritu;     Tam: Amridavalli;   Kan: Amritaballi;  Tel: Tivantika, Tippatige;  Pun: Batindu;  Ori: Gulochi

Tinospora cordifolia (Willd) Miers ex Hk. f & Thoms. syn. Menispermum cordifolium Willd, Cocculus cordifolius (Willd) DC is a climbing shrub with rough corky bark.

Uses: Tinospora is used in medicine, usually in the fresh state, though it is commercially available in the dried state. It is probably one of the most useful preparations acting as a tonic and aphrodisiac. As a tonic it is best given in infusion with or without milk. It is a popular remedy for snakebite and leprosy. It is generally prescribed in general debility, diabetes, fever, jaundice, skin diseases, rheumatism, urinary diseases, dyspepsia, gout, gonorrhoea and leucorrhoea. It is a constituent of several preparations like guduchayado churna, gududyadi kwath, guduchilouha, amritarista, sanjivanivati, guduchi taila, amiritastak kwath, etc.

Soil and climate: It requires a warm humid tropical climate with an annual rainfall of 2000-3000cm. It thrives well in deep fertile soils that are rich in organic matter. Acidic to neutral soils are preferred though it can come up in alkaline soils as well.

Seeds and sowing: It is propagated through stem cuttings. About 10-15cm long stem cuttings having at least 2 nodes are planted in the field or polybags. Treatment of cut ends with rooting hormones gives better results. The usual planting time is with the onset of monsoon in May-June. Usually it is planted along boundaries or nearby tall trees and allowed to trail on the trees or hedges and hence regular spacing is not followed.

Manauring: While planting, adequate amounts of organic manure are applied.

After cultivation: Once the plant is established no much management is needed.

Harvesting and processing: The stem is the most economic part. Harvesting can be commenced after one year and usually partial harvesting is followed depending on the necessity. The stem and root should be collected in hot season when the concentration of the bitter principle is the highest. A full-grown well-ramified plant may give 2-3kg vines, which are cut into smaller pieces and traded either fresh or after drying.

Chemical constituents: The plant contains cordifol, tinosporidine, tinosporide, perberilin, heptacosanol, b-sitosterol, cordifolone, tinosporon, tinosporic acid, tinosporol, cordifolide, tinosporine, magnoflorine and tembetarine.




Curcuma longa


San: Haridra, Varavarnini Hin: Haldi, Halda Mal: Manjal, Pacca manjal, Varattu manjal Tam: Manchal

            It is the most important member of genus Curcuma. The medicinal properties of turmeric is so well known that attempts were even made in the US to gain Intellectual Property Rights on its products.

Uses: Due to the strong antiseptic properties, turmeric has been used as a remedy for all kinds of poisonous affections, ulcers and wounds. It gives good complexion to the skin and so it is applied to face as a depilatory and facial tonic. The drug cures diseases due to morbid vata, pitta and kapha, diabetes, eye diseases, ulcers, oedema, anaemia, anorexia, leprosy and scrofula.

Soil and climate: Turmeric is a tropical herb and can be grown on different types of soils both under irrigated and rainfed conditions. Rich loamy soils having good drainage are ideal for the crop.

Seeds and sowing: The plant is propagated by whole or split mother rhizomes. Well developed, healthy and disease free rhizomes are to be selected. Rhizomes are to be treated with copper oxychloride fungicides and stored in cool, dry place or earthen pits plastered with mud and cowdung. The best season of planting is during April with the receipt of pre-monsoon showers. Beds of size 3x1.2m with a spacing of 40cm between beds are to be prepared. Small pits are to be taken in the beds in rows with a spacing of 25-40cm. Finger rhizomes are to be planted flat with buds facing upwards and covered with soil or dry powdered cattle manure. The crop is to be mulched immediately after planting and 50 days after first mulching.

Varieties: Duggirala, Tekurpetta, Sugantham, Kodur, Suvarna, Suguna, Sudarshana

Manuring: Cattle manure or compost is to be applied as basal dose at 20-40t/ha at the time of land preparation or by spreading over the beds after planting. Apply NPK fertilizers at 30:30:60 kg/ha. Full P and half K as basal two-third N at 30days after planting and the reamining Kand N at 60 days.

After cultivation: Weeding is to be done twice at 60 and 120 days after planting, depending upon weed intensity.  Earthing up is to be done after 60 days.

Plant protection: No major incidence of pest or disease is noticed in this crop. Leaf blotch and leaf spot can be controlled by spraying Bordeaux mixture or 0.2% Mancozeb.  Shoot borers can be controlled by spraying 0.05% Dimethoate or 0.05% Quinalphos.

Harvesting: Time of harvest usually extends from January-March.  Harvesting is generally done at about 7-10 months after planting depending upon the species and variety. Harvested rhizomes are to be cleaned of mud and other materials adhering to them. Good fingers separated are to be used for curing.

Chemical constituents: It contains ar-turmerone, and ar-curcumene as major constituents. Some of the other compounds of oil are a-and b-pinene, sabinene, myrcene, a-terpinene, limonene, p-cymene, perillyl alcohol, turmerone, eugenol, isoeugenol, eugenol methyl ether and isoeugenol methyl ether. 




Curcuma aromatica


Tam: Kastoori manjal, Kattu manjal

            Wild turmeric known as vanharidra in Sanskrit Jangali-haldi in Hindi and Kasthurimanjal in Malayalam is rhizomatous herbaceous medicinal plant. The rhizome is an odoriferous ingredient of the cosmetics.

Uses: Rhizome of wild turmeric is used in combination with astringents and aromatics for bruises, sprains, hiccough, bronchitis, cough, leucoderma and skin eruptions. It is used for the cure of chromic skin diseases caused by impure blood. It is used as appetiser and tonic for women after childbirth. It is also useful against high fever and worm infestation.

Climate and soil:  It is distributed in South East Asia. The plant grows wild in the eastern Himalayas and in moist deciduous forests of Kerala and Karnataka. It is grown as a subsistence crop in backyard, kitchen garden and interspaces of other crops in areas with good rainfall. Well-drained rich loamy soils are ideal for the drop.

Seeds and sowing: It is largely raised as a rain fed crop during May- June with the pre-monsoon showers. It is propagated vegetatively by rhizomes and by tissue culture methods. Clear the area, remove all the pebbles and stones and plough the field to good tilth. Incorporate FYM/organic manure at 10-15t/ha. Prepare raised seedbeds of 1.2m breadth and convenient length. Healthy disease free mother rhizomes with at least one germinated sprout is the planting material, which is required at 1500kg/ha. Take small pits at 60X40 cm spacing on the seedbed and plant seed rhizome with the germinating sprout facing upwards. Cover the rhizome with FYM and mulch the bed with leaves or straw.

Varieties: At present, only local types are available for cultivation

Manuring: Apply fertilisers at 100:50:50 kg NPK/ha, entire P as basal and N and K in two equal splits at planting and two months after planting.

Aftercultivation: Carry out gap filling if necessary within one month. Remove weeds 2 months after planting followed by top dressing, earthing up and mulching.

Plant protection: No serious pest and diseases are encountered in the crop.

Harvesting and processing: The crop matures in 7 months. Drying up of leaves is the indication of maturity. Dig out the rhizomes without causing damage. Remove the dry leaves and roots. The clean rhizomes are either marketed or dried and stored. The average yield of fresh rhizome is 28t/ha which on drying gives 27% recovery. The rhizome is thinly sliced and steam distilled for 3-4 hours for extracting the essential oil and the yield is 90l/ha. Oil recovery is 0.33 % on fresh weight basis and 1.05 % on dry weight basis.

Chemical constituents: Essential oil contains a-and -b-curcumene, d-camphene and p-methoxy cinnamic acid.

Correct citation:

Thomas, J., Joy, P. P., Mathew, S., Skaria, B. P., Duethi, P. P. and Joseph, T. S. 2000. Agronomic Practices for Aromatic and Medicinal Plants. Kerala Agricultural University (Aromatic and Medicinal Plants Research Station, Odakkali, Asamannoor P.O.) and Directorate of Arecanut & Spices Development (Min. of Agri., Govt. of India), Calicut, Kerala, India. 124p.

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