March 21 is declared as the INTERNATIONAL DAY OF FORESTS

A medicinal Plant

By Manoj Kumar Sarcar & K.K.Chadhuri

You might have heard, or used the common homeopathy medicine, nuxvomica. It has a remedy for patients with Illnesses relating to over sensitiveness, irritable nature, mental exertion, loss of sleep, anxiety. tendency to faint arid labour pain.

It is a medium sized tree, botanically called Strychnos nux-vornica, belonging to the natural order of Logauiaceae. The plant is first described and renowned for value of its alkaloids, by Linneaus, a well-known botanist in 1753- Strychlne and brucine. In Tamil it is called Yetti or Kanjararn. The It is a middle-sized deciduous tree, attaining medicine, nux voynica is prepared from the seeds a girth of 1 to 1.8 m and a height of 13 m. which are very bitter and contain Strychine Usually. it is a small crooked tree commonly arid Brucine. The ash-grey circular seeds found on laterIte in waste lands or in degraded remain in the fruit which is very much like a forts. ripe orange, in colour and appearance.

The plant belongs to the large genus strychnos comprising 200 species, of trees and climbing shrubs found throughout the tropics and sub-tropics of both hemispheres. The various parts of the plant of most strychnos species are intensely bitter and marty of these plants contain poisonous substances especially in the bark, roots and seed-coats; some are of medicinal value. About 23 species grow in India. of which S. nux-vomica is the best knowit species yielding the nux-vornica of commerce and renowned for value of its alkaloids, strychnine and brucine.

It is a middle-sized deciduous tree, attaining a girth of 1 to 1.8 m and a height of 13 m. Usually, it is a small crooked tree commonly found on late rite in waste lands or in degraded forests.

It grows abundantly in kankan kanara along the Western coast. It is also found in Eastern U.P, Bihar, Orissa parts of Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, the coromandel coast and Karnataka.

It can be grown in wide range of temp. i.e. 14°c. to 48°c and in wide ranges of rainfall from 900 to 3000mm or more. It grows upto height of 1.200 m. Abundant on late rite along the sea-coast in evergreen thorn scrub, it grows chiefly on deep alluvial soil.

The resists drought well but is easily damaged by frost. It coppices well and produces root-suclers freely. The yield of the seed is proportionate to the size of the tree.

It regenerates freely under natural conditions. For artificial regeneration the seeds are collected from the middle of December to the end of April. The pulp of the fruits is washed and seeds are spread on mats in the sun to dry. The seeds can be stored for about a year in gunny bags. (600-850 seeds make a kg). For raising seedlings, seeds are dibbled in poly bag containers during March – April. It takes about a month to germinate. About 150 to 200 seedlings can be raised within a period of six months from one kg seeds and the seedlings can be planted during the rainy season in 30 cm x 30cm x 30cm pits for raising plantation. The wood is used locally, mainly for making agricultural implements. The fruits are more valuable than timber for its medicinal value.

To expand and conserve the genetic biodiversity of our country, such plants of high medicinal value must be restored in all earnest for posterity.

Courtesy: THE HINDU (Sunday, September 21, 1997)

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