||The Indian Birthwort
||Leaves and Roots
- Aristolochia indica is a perennial creeper with a woody rootstock.
- Leaves are alternate, entire with more or less undulate margins, somewhat cordate, acuminate or obovate.
- Flowers constitute of greenish-white or light purplish perianth with inflorescence in axillary cymes or fascicles, 1-2 lipped, hairy within limbs dilated.
- Stamens are six in number, adnate and filaments are not distinguishable from the style.
- Anthers are adnate to column and carpel is six locular with two ovules.
- The flowers are usually foetid in odour.
- Fruit is globose, oblong, septicidal, six valved capsule and opening from below upwards.
- Seeds are many in number, flat and winged.
Plant is distributed in lower hills and plains of India, Bengal and Assam.
Climate and Soil
- It grows in warm and moist climate, with temperature ranging from 20ºC to 33º C, and annual rainfall ranging 100-150 cm and spread out to a greater part of the year.
- It can also be cultivated over well drained sandy- loam soil rich in organic matter.
- It needs irrigation at lower elevation where rainfall is low.
Raising Propagules: Seeds mature during May-July. Germination of seed is about 80%. Seeds may be sown in rows over raised beds and 10 cm apart. Seedlings at 4-5 leaves stage can be transferred in polybags or kept in the nursery bed till it attains 15 cm height, when it is ready for transplantation. Seed viability remains at 70-80% up to one year. Seeds should be treated in Bavistin/Captan/Thiram before sowing. About 30,000 seedlings are needed for one hectare land.
Planting in the Field
- Land Preparation and Fertilizer Application: Land should be deeply ploughed and harrowed twice and made into good tilth. FYM @ 10 t/ha alongwith NPK @ 25:60:100 kg/ha during land preparation may be applied. Later N @ 25 kg/ha may be applied after planting and again at 3 months interval.
- Transplanting and Optimum Spacing: Seedlings may be raised in May-July and their transplantation done in August-September. 60X60 cm spacing is optimal requirement.
- Intercropping System: Annual herbs like chilli can be grown as intercrop.
- Inter-culture and Maintenance Practices: Hoeing and hand weedings are carried out simultaneously 45 days after planting, thereafter at 6 months interval in first year. In second year, periodicity of interculture remains same.
- Irrigation Practices: Usually rainfed crop, but supplementary irrigation is needed during dry seasons.
- Weed Control: Pre-emergence application of Pendimethaline @ 1.0 kg/ha or Simazine @ 2.0 kg/ha may be applied, thereafter hand weeding at 90 days after tansplanting and later as per weed population. Application of post-emergence herbicides is not suggested.
- Disease and Pest Control: Leaf blight is observed in the plantation during winter season. Application of Dithane M-45 @ 3 gm/lit at 15 days interval is found to control the disease. Infestation of Pachlioptera aristolochia is found to attack the vines and eat on tender leaves during May-August. Application of Rogor 30 EC @ 0.02% keeps the moth away. Thiodan 35 EC @ 0.09% is also found effective against the insect.
- Crop Maturity and Harvesting: Crop matures after one year growth but the leaves are pruned and harvested after 180 days onwards periodically. The collection of roots is advisable after two years of age.
- Post-harvest Management: Leaves and roots after collection are cleaned thoroughly and all foreign matters are removed. These may be dried in shade for a week when it has 10-12% moisture and then it is ready for storage. It is packed in air tight polythene bags and stacked in bamboo or wooden crates.
- Chemical Constituents: Plant possesses aristolochic acid upto 0.017% and essential oil upto 0.5%. Besides, it has potassium and β-sitosterol. Two sesquiterpene hydrocarbons viz. ishwarane and aristolochene have been identified from the root and their structure is established.
- Yield and Cost of Cultivation: Estimated yield is 640 kg/ha/year in the second year and onwards.
- The dried roots and rhizomes are used as a bitter tonic.
- The fresh juice of leaves and bark is used in the bowel complaints of children, diarrhoea and intermittent fevers.
- The root is used in skin diseases and heals wounds and destroys the toxic effect of all poisons.
- In the olden days, it was used against snake-bites in Southern India.
- The plant possesses emmenagogue, abortifacient, antiarthritic, anti-inflammatory, antiperiodic, diuretic and antibilious properties.
Source: Agro-techniques of selected medicinal plants
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