Synonyms: Arisaema cornutum, Arisaema exile
Common Name: Cobra lily
Local name: Chichyda (चिचिडा)
Chichyda is a perennial herb of Western Himalayas. It is commonly seen growing in open grassy places, rocky slopes as well as margins of coniferous forests , Juniperus or Rhododendron thickets, shrubberies and alpine zones of drier parts of Western Himalayas up to an altitude of 2000- 4000 meter.
Chichyda grows from a tuber that is usually renewed seasonally. The plant produces 2 digitately compound leaves with 5-7 leaflets and spathe green striped with white , finely ribbed; limb ending in a long-pointed tip which gives a unique attractive appearance to the plant. That’s the reason provably that Chichyda is also grown as a ornamental plant in gardens. Chichyda prefers a cool peaty soil in the woodland garden, dappled shade and shady edge
This herb like other species of Genus Arisaema is paradioecious and change its sex from year to year, changes in gender of plant expression are directly depends on nutrition and with size and are also influenced by the environment in which the plants are growing. Small plant produce only staminate flowers, whilst larger plants produce either staminate and pistillate flowers simultaneously or pistillate flowers only.
Inhabitants of hills in Western Himalayas usually harvest whole herb or tubers for food and medicine from wild. However, some people considered it poisonous due to presence of calcium oxalate crystals in it. Extremely unpleasant sensation appears from all parts of the plant, but this effect is easily neutralized by thoroughly drying or cooking the plant or by steeping it in water. According to some people plant is poisonous and is not of much use, so is classified as ‘Least Concern’ in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 1. But chichyda is medicinal and almost all the parts of this plant fruits, flowers, leaves. Rhizome, roots and tubers known to have medicinal importance. That’s the reason provably old people used to eat leaves and tuber of this plant to harness its medicinal values in spite of extremely unpleasant sensation appearing during washing and processing of tubers.
Plant is erect, tuberous herb, 30-60 cm high
Leaves usually 2, digitately compound; leaflets 5-7, unequal, lanceolate, 4.5- 13 cm long; petioles up to 22 cm long.
Spathe 15 cm long, green, striped with white; tube long; limb narrowed into a long, green or purple tail.
Spadix unisexual, included in the spathe; appendages curved, base dilated, truncate (in male) or cuneate (in female). Male flowers: stamens stipitate, anthers subglobose. Female flowers: ovary subglobose, style subsessile, stigma disciform.
Berries globose, 4- 4.5 mm broad, red when mature.
Frequent in forest undergrowth, (flora of mandi)
Chichyda can provide edible plant parts round the year.
Leaves and tuber of Chichyda are edible but they can be toxic, so must be thoroughly washed and boiled before eating even then some irritation is caused. Edibility ranking of three very common species of genus Arisaema in Western Himalayas with preference for cooking are Arisaema propinquum Arisaema jacquemontii Arisaema tortuosum. Tubers are cooked like potato and mixed with souring agent to neutralize unpleasant sensation. Leaves are cooked as PATRODU by mixing with basen (Corm flour), anardana (Dried seeds of sour pomegranate) and spices. Tuber of Chichyda are also fermented to prepare local alcohol drink called dheli.
Best way to neutralize to avoid toxicity is to completely dry and powder the tuber into flour and cooked in a variety of ways as flour is mixed with wheat flour to prepare chapattis, or mixed with green or spices to prepare sosru or kachru If anyone want to chop tubers raw they need to apply mustered oil before chopping to reduce extremely unpleasant sensation. Still even some unpleasant sensation is there.
Chichyda tubers, 250 g; potato tuber 1/2 kg mustard oil, 2 table spoons; coriander powder, ½ table spoon; fenugreek powder,1/4 table spoon; cumin seed, 1 table spoon turmeric powder, 1 table spoon; red chillies, 2-4, chopped onion, 1; chopped garlic cloves, 4-5; tomato puree half cup, salt according to taste; 1 big table spoon anardana (Dried seeds of sour pomegranate).
Boiled tuber of Chichyda potato auted in hot oil along with whole spices like coriander, cumin seeds, chillies, turmeric, onion, garlic and tomato puree etc in sequence. Add anardana then cook for another 5-10 minutes. As the tuber may cause sensation so addition of some souring agent improves the taste. Now it is ready to serve.
Sometime boiled tuber of Chichyda and potato meshed and mixed with spices and some greens then cooked like a chilla on hot pan and served as snack.
The tender leaves of new growth of Chichyda along with other greens and basen plus spices are made into a roll called PATRODU in local dialect. Other greens are added to lessen the irritation caused by Chichyda leaves Patrodu is used as snack or vegetable Patrodus can be made like .
8 -15 finely chopped newly emerged tender leaves of Chichyda and some other green, 250 gm besan (black gram flour) or corn flour, 1 cup; fresh coriander leaves (chopped), 3-5 green chillies, ½; table spoon turmeric powder, 2-3 chopped onions, 1 big table spoon anardana (Dried seeds of sour pomegranate). 1cup amount chopped leaves of herbbhavri(Ocimum bacillus) and salt according to taste.
Make a mixture of chopped leaves, spices and besan (or corn flour) by blending them together. Roll this mixture like bedding. Tie it with thread or wrap inside by large Turmeric leaf or Colocasia leaf to make it one piece. Take a big pan and add some water then put small sticks to make rack over the water. Place the folded leaves on rack and let it be steam cooked for 15 to 20 minutes. Take out the rolls and let it cool down. Then cut into small pieces. These pieces can be shallow fried or deep fried according to taste.
Serve as a snack with tea or use as vegetable.
Local alcoholic drink:
Take 10-12 kg barley flour (Hordeum vulgare) and mix to it Chichyda tubers, finally chopped whole singali – mingli plant (Dioscorea deltoidea) and some other medicinal herbs of rainy season like Arisaema tortuosum tubers, Angelica glauca, Selinum vaginatum etc. Mix all well and prepare dough. Now make small bread spread from this dough and place inside wooden blocks. Collect Cannabis sativa green foliage and spread on floor of a dark room as a mat. Put all the wooden blocks containing bread spread over the Cannabis mat and also cover the bread spread with cannabis leaves. Keep this setup for 12-15 days. Take out dry bread spread for further fermentation. Bread spread prepared like this can be used as small fragments for further fermentation and kept or preserved for rest of the year.
Now for fermentation take a large piece of bread spread, mix it with koda millet flour (Paspalum scrobiculatum) and water then place in a clay vessel. Air tight this setup and again place in dark room. After 30-45 days alcoholic beverage is ready to drink it can be used upto next six to eight months.
Seek advice from a professional before using this plant medicinally.
Tubers are Anti-insect, antimalarial and anti-cancer 2,3. Roots are antioxidant, antifungal and antibacterial 4 Rhizome is ground with edible oil to form a paste, which is used for massage purposes in order to regain the muscular strength and in skin problems such as blisters, pimples by people of Uri Kashmir 5,6,7.Purified root powder is taken in worm infestations 8, paste of crushed dried root powder mixed with ghee or oil is applied externally to treat boils in Baramulla and Kupwara. The tuber of plant is used as antidote to poisonous mushrooms and snake bite and also for cough, kidney and skin diseases in Garhwal Himalaya 9 Uttarakhand state it is used for snake bites 10 . Chopped tuber is used for chronic boils, cough, kidney and skin diseases in Kedarnath western Himalaya11. In Bhutan Chichyda is used to alleviates microbial infection, swelling, malignant growth of tissues and bones, throat infection, obstruction, infertility and uterus disease In Tibetan therapy flower is used against fever, stomach problems, swelling, toothache, scabies, chest infection, uterus and menstrual disorders and throat problems 12.. Tubers are given to sheep as a remedy for colic and also as wormicide in North West of Himalaya 13.
Fruits (methanol or chloroform) contain terpenes, saponins and glycosides 14. Leaves (methanol) contain glycosides, terpenoids, coumarins, quinines, saponins, tannins, alkaloids, anthraquinones, flavonoids and phenols 16. Plant (chloroform) contains triterpenoid 2- hydroxyl diplopterol 2. Roots (chloroform) contain phenol, flavonoid, Terpenes, saponins and glycoside 14. Shoots (methanol or chloroform) have terpenes, saponins and glycoside14. Tubers contains Amino acids i.e Alanine, arginine, aspartic acid, leucine, lycine, serine, theonine, tyrosine, valine15 Seeds have 13-phenyltridecanoic acid15
Plant is grown as a ornamental herb in gardens. As Chichyda have insecticidal properties, so plant is collected from wild in bulk and used to prepare bedding for domesticated animals. Ripe fruits are source of food for fauna.
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