March 21 is declared as the INTERNATIONAL DAY OF FORESTS

The glory lily

| February 1, 2015 | 0 Comments

Manoj Kumar Sarcar & Aruna Basu Sarcar

You might be knowing the name of the state flower of Tamilnadu. It is Kannuvalipoo (Tamil) also known as the Glory Lily which well easily draw your attention. The scarlet or crimson and yellow flowers are eye-catching during the winter months, October to January, in scrub jungles.

The botanical name is Gloriosa superba. A weak-stemmed ornamental herbaceous cimber of a small genus Gloriosa, it was first observed and described by Linneaus in 1753. It belongs to the Liliaceae family. In india it is the only species. The other, Gloriosa virescens is found in tropical south Africa, Madagascar, India to Indo-China and Malaysia.

It shoots to 4(6)m, climbing by modified leaf tip which works like a tendrill. It grows commonly in low jungles almost throughout India upto a height of 1,800 metres. The slender stems rise from a perennial, freshy, tuberous rhizome, the leaves are alternate, opposite. There are two varities of this plant. The root of one divides dichotomously, that of the other does not divide at all, a single piece shooting into the ground.

The plant is known for its medicinal uses. A paste of the root is traditionally used to heal bites of poisonous insects and snakes, scorpion-stings, parasitic skin diseases and leprosy. It is said to have an effectual antidote against cobra-poison when one or two pre-treated pieces of the slices of the root is given internally for cobra bite. The tubers are regarded as tonic, stomachic and anthelminitic when taken in small does like 5-10 grams, but larger does can be poisonous. The tuber is also given to cattle for the expulsion of worms. The juice prepared from the leaf kills lice.

The toxic properties of the drug prepared from Gloriosa superba are due to the presence of alkaloids, chiefly colchicine (C22H25O6N). Colchicine is used in medicine, mainly as salicylate, in the treatment of gout and rheumatism and in plant breeding work for including polyploidy.

During extensive analytical study on the various parts of the plant conducted by the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research Institute, Jammu-twai, it was observed that seeds are richer in colchicine than that of the tubers.

However, seeds are available in limited quantity than the tubers. Because of high content of colchicines in seeds, the cultivation of the plant has been started to a limited extent in Tamilnadu and karanataka.

It is propagated by divisions of rhizomes planted before the onset of monsoon in light rich soil with good drainage. The local people used to collect the tubers by uprooting Rs. 15 -25 per kg. As a result the number of naturally grown plants in the forests is fast decreasing leading the plant to the list of endangered species. This can be discouraged by informing local people about its cultivation practices and tying up its regular marketing facility.

Courtesy: THE HINDU (Sunday, June 29, 1997)

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