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Ashwagandha

What is Ashwagandha?

Ashwagandha is a medicinal plant whoch is used mainly in several Ayurvedic and Unani preparations.

It is commonly known as ‘winter cherry’

Botanically named as ‘Withania Somnifera’, Ashwagandha belongs to the family ‘Solanaceae’

The plant parts of Ashwagandha which are used are leaves and roots

What is the medicinal importance of Ashwagandha?

Ashwagandha has two very important – withanine and somniferine

Withaferine-A having antibiotic and antitumor properties

Total alkaloid content in roots of Indian type of Ashwagandha is  0.13-0.31%

Paste from leaves used for curing inflammation of tubercular glands

Fruits and seeds are used for diuretic problems and chest complaints

Fruits and seeds are used for diuretic problems and chest complaints

What are the popular varieties of Ashwagandha?

Jawahar aswagandha and JNKVV mandsur are popular varieties

What are the soil and climatic requirements for Ashwagandha cultivation?

Soil

Sandy loam or light red soils with good organic matter are best soil and are easy to dig roots in this condition

Climate

Requires subtropical climate

preferably dry weather and it needs 1-2 winter rains for full development of roots

What are methods of Propagation of Ashwagandha?

There are two methods

1. Direct sowing

2. Raising seedlings

Direct sowing

Seeds are directly broadcasted with a seed rate of 10-12 kg/ha during second week of July

Nursery raising seedlings

Seedlings are raised in a raised nursery bed with 5 kg seed to provide seedlings for one ha area

Seeds treated with fungicide and seeds sown in nursery are spaced at 5 cm

Germination takes place in 6-7 days and six week seedlings are ready for transplanting with a spacing 60 x 60 cm

Manuring and interculture information

Manuring

Does not require heavy doses of manures

Interculture

Thinning of Directly sown crop at 25-30 days to maintain a population of 20,000 to 25,000/ha

Harvesting information

Harvesting from January to March at 150-170 days after transplanting and drying of leaves, change of berry colour to orange red were the maturity indices

Entire plant uprooted and roots separated by cutting 1-2 cm above crown, transversely cut into smaller pieces 7-10cm for drying and occasionally roots dried as whole

Berries plucked from dried plants threshed to obtain seeds

How much Yield is expected from Ashwagandha?

Average yield 300-500 kg/ha dry roots and 50-75 kg/ha- seeds

Further readings and references

Handbook of Horticulture