Family:  Araceae

Synonyms: Amorphophallus bangkokensis, Amorphophallus campanulatus, Amorphophallus chatty, Amorphophallus decurrens, Amorphophallus dixenii, Amorphophallus dubius.Amorphophallus giganteus, Amorphophallus gigantiflorus , Amorphophallus malaccensis, Amorphophallus microappendiculatus, Amorphophallus sativus,Amorphophallus virosus,  Arum campanulatum, Arum decurrens, Arum phalliferum, Arum rumphii, Arum rumphii,Candarum hookeri, Candarum roxburghii, Candarum rumphii, Conophallus giganteus, Conophallus sativus, Dracontium paeoniifolium, Dracontium polyphyllum, Dracontium polyphyllum, Hydrosme gigantiflora, Kunda verrucose, Plesmonium nobile, Pythion campanulatum.

Common Name: Elephant- Foot Yam

Local Name:    Jangli suran (जंगली सुरण)

Jangli suran is a perennial herb of Western Himalaya producing either one or two large leaves annually. It develops from a massive tuberous root that is considered medicinal by local people and often eaten as a vegetable. The common name Elephant- Foot Yam of jangli suran was given provably as decompound, radical leaves of this plant resemble the foot of an elephant and that’s why the name is Elephant- Foot Yam.

A plant of  Jangli suran

 Jangli suran often seen growing in moist shady habitats like roadsides, pathways, moist deciduous forests, shrub forests and grasslands in loose leafy detritus up to an altitude of 1200 m in Western Himalaya. Jangli suran grows best in moist habitat having well-drained, humus-rich,  sunny to dappled shade and fertile soil.

Jangli suran is well known for its ugliest flower due to its worst scent that lasts for a few hours after the flower opens. but this plant is in flower only for about 5 days. Jangli suran only blooms when mature and even doesn’t bloom every year. Most interesting thing about its flower is that it generates heat during bloom. This heat and the foul smell mimics rotting flesh to attract the flies for pollination.  Jangli suran is further propagated in natural habitat through seeds.

Corm and young leaves of jangli suran are edible and eaten by locals of this region. However, literature review shows that the tuber of the wild species are totally toxic and inedible, the wild plant only being used for medicinal purposes 1.

Most of the members of Araceae  family contain calcium oxalate crystals. This substance is toxic fresh and if eaten, makes the mouth, tongue and throat feel as if hundreds of small needles are digging in to them. However, calcium oxalate is easily broken down either by thoroughly cooking the plant or by fully drying it and, in either of these states, it is safe to eat the plant. People with a tendency to rheumatism, arthritis, gout, kidney stones and hyperacidity should take especial caution if including this plant in their diet 2.

But local people collect tubers of jangli suran from wild and consume them without any fear as vegetable after thorough cooking. Tubers are considered good for curing stomach pain, treating piles and hemorrhages. People suffering from other health issues like bronchitis, asthma, anemia, and liver malfunction use this vegetable to get rid of such health problems.

 Jangli suran is harvested from wild for its local use as a food and medicine. It is also cultivated in many parts of the world for its edible and medicinal tubers .

 Jangli suran Plant:

Annual soft tuberous herb.

Jangli suran stem

Leaves are decompound, radical, only one or two up to 2 m tall, thrice-bifid; divisions outwardly pinnatisect; segments obliquely oblong, pointed, smooth, size very unequal; always longer than the interior. The whole leaf is about one to three feet long. Petioles long, round, tapering, with darker green coloured, pretty smooth, clouded as long as leaf.

Decompound, radical leaves of jangli suran

Flowers on the lower half of the spadix. Monoecious, sessile in spadix, attached to the ground and appear when the plant is destitute of leaves. Spathe very large, leathery, campanulate, border curled; the outside near the base pale green, middle part deepr green, margin greenish purple, bottom deep dotted purple.

Fruit is berry. Berry 15 x 10 mm, oblong, obovoid, orange-red, glabrous.

Jangli suran edible corm can be best harvested when plant is mature enough usually after 3 years, corm should be harvested when flowering and fruiting is over. Plant is in flower from June to July. For ensuring sustainable use of this plant tubers need to be sustainably harvested by habitat rotation.

Edible Uses:

Leaves and tuber of jangli suran are edible but they can be toxic due to presence of calcium oxalate, so must be thoroughly washed and boiled before eating. Tubers are cooked like potato and can be mixed with souring agent to neutralize unpleasant sensation. Tubers are also dried and ground into flour which can be cooked as bread spread ‘roti’. Leaves are cooked as vegetable, with basen  or corm flour, anardana (Dried seeds of sour pomegranate) and spices made into delicious  ‘patrodu’  a traditional dish of this region taken as snack or vegetable .

Tuber Vegetable:

Ingredients required:

Jangli suran tuber, 1 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 chilies, 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).

Method:

Boiled tuber sauted 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.

Leaf Vegetable (Saag):

Jangli suran young leaves, 1 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 chilies, 2-4, chopped onion, 1; chopped garlic cloves, 4-5; tomato puree half cup, salt according to taste.

Method:

Boil chopped leaves till they are soft and let them cool. Heat mustered oil in a pan and saute boiled leaves with spices listed above an a sequence. Mix well, cook for 5 minutes and then serve with chapattis.

Patrodu:

The tender leaves of new growth are made into a roll called ‘patrodu’ in local dialect. They are eaten as a snack with tea or vegetable. ‘patrodu’ can be made like this:

Ingredients:

3-5 finely chopped newly emerged tender leaves of jangli suran, 250 gm besan (black gram flour) or corn flour, 1 cup; fresh coriander leaves (chopped), 3-5 green chilies,  ½; table spoon turmeric powder, 2-3 chopped onions, 1 big table  spoon anardana (Dried seeds of sour pomegranate). 1cup amount chopped leaves of herb bhavri (Ocimum bacillus) and salt according to taste.      

Method:

 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. ­­­­­­­­

Nutritional Value:

Energy 330 kJ/100 g (approx), Water 72-79 %, Protein: 1.7-5.1 %, Fat: 0.2-0.4 %, Carbohydrate: 18-24 %, Fiber: 0.8 %, Calcium: 50-56 mg/100 g, Iron: 0.6-1.4 mg/100 g, Phosphorus: 20-53 mg/100 g, Vitamin A: 434 IU/100 g

Seek advice from a professional before using this plant medicinally.

 Medicinal Uses:

The root is carminative (Prevent gas formation), restorative, stomachic digestive, appetizer, aphrodisiac (Stimulating sexual desire), emmenagogue (Enhance menstrual flow) and tonic 4,5. It is dried and used in the treatment of piles and dysentery 4,6. The fresh root acts as an acrid stimulant and expectorant (Cure cough), it is much used in the treatment of acute rheumatism4. Useful in vitiated condition of vata and kapha, arthralgia, elephantiasis, tumours, inflammations, haemorrhoids, vomiting cough, bronchitis and asthma. The stem is cut, and the inside of the stem eaten raw, in the treatment of snakebites1. The sap from the petiole is fermented and drunk as a treatment for diarrhea and dysentery1.

Chemical Constituents:

The corms contain betulinic acid, Beta- sitosterol, stigmasterol, triacotane and beta- sitosterol palmitate. Besides these glucose, glactose, rhzmnose and exylose are also present. The corms are irritant due to the composition of the corms is as follows; arginine histidine, leucine, isoleucine, lysine methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan and valine5.

References:\

  1. Rai, P. P., et al. (2009). “Medicinal Plants in Papua New Guinea.” Parts I & II WHO, ISBN;,978-92-9061-249-0
  2. Bown. D. (1995): Encyclopaedia of Herbs and their Uses. Dorling Kindersley, London. ISBN,0-7513-020-31.
  3. https://www.onlyfoods.net/amorphophallus-paeoniifolius.html.
  4. Chopra, R. N., Nayar, S. L., & Chopra, I. C. (1956). Glossary of Indian medicinal plants (Vol. 1, pp. 138-139). New Delhi: Council of Scientific & Industrial Research.
  5. Purohit SS, Sharma AK, Prajapati ND, Kumar T. (2009); A handbook of medicinal plants: a complete source book. 2:352-3.
  6. Manandhar. N. P.(2002); Plants and People of Nepal. Publication; Timber Press. Oregon.ISBN; 0-88192-527-6

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