Synonyms: Alternanthera denticulate, Alternanthera nodiflora, Alternanthera repens, Alternanthera triandra, Gomphrena sessilis, Illecebrum sessile
Common Name: Stalk less Joyweed, sessile joyweed, Dwarf copperleaf, Joyweed,Periquito Sessil.
Local Name: Bhangru ( भांगरु )
Bhangru is an erect, ascending or creeping herbaceous annual to perennial plant of Western Himalayas. It shows luxuriant growth and quite often considered as a weed to irradiate.The generic name Alternanthera of Bhangru takes its origin from ancient Greek words “alternans” which means “alternating” and “anthera” meaning “anther” thus it refers to the alternations of pseudosaminodes and stamens. The species name sessilis is based upon the presence of flowers without pedicel.
Bhangru can easily grow in almost all kind of soil upto an altitude of 1800m.Usually it shows a rich association with other plants and commonly found growing in a variety of habitats like shady damp soils, roadsides pathways, wastelands, irrigation canals,disturbed wetlands, flood-plain wetland, margins of river, streams, canals, ponds, ditches, and damp forest. Quite often it is seen growing in rice fields along with the genus Eclipta. Mostly it is found growing upright in drier soils, but become prostrate with the shoots rooting at the node in wetter conditions. Bhangru can propagate and spread to distant places through seeds. It can also grow by division of underground stems and nodal cuttings.
Quite often weeds are considered undesirable and are underestimated and underutilised because of their competition with other useful or cultivated plants, but unlike other weeds Bhangru is widely known to have tremendous beneficial nutritional and medicinal values. So, it is considered as an edible medicinal weed and consumed round the world as a source of food and medicine. Even its young leaves are often sold in local markets of Benin and Sri Lanka 1. It is largely harvested for oil extraction. The total global production of Bhangru is estimated to be 50 to 55 tons per year which is currently produced in following countries: India (17 tons/year), Bangladesh (5 tons/year), Brazil (4.5 tons/year), Sri Lanka (4 tons/year), China (3 tons/year), USA (2 tons/year), Argentina (1.5 tons/year), Nigeria (1.5 tons/year), Zambia (0.5 tons/year), Uganda (0.4 tons/year), Saudi Arabia (0.3 tons/year) and Australia (0.2 tons/year). The global statistics for the production of dried noxious weed are hard to obtain. A large amount of world production, particularly in India and Sri Lanka are not sold internationally as it is generally consumed locally. Major producer country is India while major consumer country is United Kingdom 2
.Literature review shows that In Siddha system of medicine Bhangru is described as “Kaya Kalpa” which means that it can prevent and cure chronic diseases, promote complexion and rejuvenates the body and mind. In Charaka the whole plant is described as a rejuvenating tonic for strengthening memory and intelligence. It is useful in vitiated conditions of kapha and pitta. Oil macerations for infected wounds was made from this plant since 16 century in India.Tamil Naddo (India) that this plant will cure 96 types of eye diseases, relieves neuritis and its regular use helps to live a disease free and a healthy life 3, 4, 5.
It has been used as food since the ancient times 6,7,8 So many knowledgeable people in different regions of Western Himalayas traditionally consume this plant with other wild or cultivated greens as a food and medicine to relieve pain, treat wound healing, dysentery, asthma and hypertension etc. Due to presence of diverse phytochemical constituents, such as polyphenols, terpenes, alkaloid and carotenoids in addition to its rich food value, antioxidants, fibers, vitamin A, C, and unsaturated fatty acids 9 this plant need to be included in lifestyle with some modern twist to overcome malnutrition and boost health and immunity. Usually it is taken as leafy vegetable saag with other available wild or cultivated greens, but it can be an excellent addition to pakoras, paranta, kachru, kachuri soups, and salad. As a green it can be cooked in palau, pasta, poha etc.
Bhangru is usually harvested from the wild as a source of food, oil, fodder and medicine for local personal use.
Plant is prostrate to ascending, nearly glabrous, annual to perennial herb.
Branches several from the base,30-45cm or more long, nodes hairy.
Leaves opposite, sessile, variable, elliptic, linear-oblong or oblanceolate,1.5 to 2.5 cm long obtuse, tapering towards base.
Flowers white, shinning, ,2 -2.5mm long in dense, axillary, solitary or clustered, sub lobuse head, upto 8 mm long,
Perianth white, scarious, lobes 5,ovate, often tinged purple/ Stamens 3, alternating with staminodes.
Utricle broadly obcordate otorbicular, 1 seeded; seeds suborbicular.
Bhangru can provide edible plant parts round the year depending upon habitat, but it can best harvested from spring to rainy season.
Leaves and tender shoot terminals can be taken both raw and cooked in the following manner.
Above ground parts of Bhangru, and other wild potherbs, 1 kg; mustard oil, 2 tablespoons; coriander powder 1 tablespoon; fenugreek powder, ½ table spoon; cumin seed ¼ tablespoon; turmeric powder, 1/4 tablespoon; red chilies, 2-3; chopped onions 2-4; garlic, 4-5 cloves; ginger paste ½ table spoon and salt according to taste.
Boil chopped plant parts and they become soft. Then mesh manually or in a mixer. Then sauté with hot mustard oil and the spices listed before in sequence. This sauted saag is then ready and can be served as such or can be mixed with 2 or 3 chopped onions and cooked for another 5 to 10 minutes before serving.
Locally available vegetable (chopped) of summers, leaves and soft shoot terminals of Bhangru ,1/2 kg; mint leaves,10-15 (chopped); corn flour, 1 spoon; black pepper powder,1/4 teaspoon, salt acc.to taste.
Boil leaves and vegetables in one litre water till they are soft, mesh these manually and sieve the extract in a container. Add to it mint leaves, corn flour, black pepper and salt, then boil for 5-10 minutes. Now soup is ready to serve
Kachru or sosaru:
Kachru is a traditional dish of Western Himalaya cooked as chilla with spices and basen or corn flour. It is served as an evening snack with tea/ chutney/tomato ketch-up.
For preparing a kachru, ingredients required are 300g fresh leaves of Bhangru, 1/2 kg besan (black grampowder) or corn flour. 1 cup amount fresh coriander leaves,1/2 tablespoon ajwain, 3-5 green chillies, ½ table spoon turmeric powder, 2-3 chopped onions and salt according to taste
Make a paste of leaves, besan or corn flour and spices. Heat some oil on a flat heating pan. Put this paste over a pan and cook for 15 to 20 minutes then kachru will be ready to serve.
Fresh leaves of Bhangru ,250 g; besan (black gram flour) or corn flour,1/2 kg ;mustard oil, 10-12 table spoon; 1 cup fresh coriander plus curry and mint leaves (chopped), 5-6 green chilies, ½ table spoon turmeric powder, 2-3 medium sized chopped onions, 2-3 medium sized finely chopped potato and salt according to taste.
Make a paste of leaves, chopped potatoes, basen and spices listed above. Mix well and make a small ball of this paste. Put mustard oil in a fry pan and give these balls a deep fry. Repeat this process till the whole paste is over. Pakoras are now ready to serve. Serve these hot with chutney or tomato-ketchup
Food Values in g/100 gm on dry weight basis
Moisture content 75.6 ± 2.56; Total ash 8.5 ± 1.56; Water soluble ash 1.8 ± 1.25 ; Acid insoluble ash 3.2 ± 0.78; Sulphated ash value 1.8 ± 0.08; Water soluble extractive value 9.5 ± 0.05; Alcohol soluble extractive value 18 ± 0.56; Carbohydrate 74.56 ± 1.25; Protein 36.16 ± 1.90; Crude fat 3.87 ± 0.65; Crude fiber 8.80 ± 2.12 12; Calorific value 760 .0 ± 5.65 Kcal/day 10
Minerals mg/100 gm dry weight Sodium; 285.78 ± 5.95 ; Potassium, 4450 ± 2.50 ; Calcium, 510.35 ± 9.69 ; Phosphorus, 48.7 ± 2.45 ; Magnesium, 80.0 ± 8.6 6; Zinc ,8.9 ± 2.45 7; Iron, 9.85 ± 1.98 8; Copper, 1.6 ± 0.02 9 ;Manganese, 6.97 ± 1.25 10; Chromium. (μg) 65 ± 0.0510
Seek professional advice before treating this plant medicinally.
Bhangru is one of medicinal edible herbs since ancient times and has the oldest records of it’s medicinal use. Its healing properties were described in India in Ayurvedic texts of Charaka in around 1000 BCE, Sushruta around 600BCE, and in 16th century Bhava Prakasha. Traditionally it is considered a useful remedy to treat fever, vomiting, indigestion, stomach disorder and headache. It is taken as a tonic both fresh and dry in the form of powder. Literature studies show that plants have a great potential to treat a wide spectrum of diseases like anemia, diabetes, hypertension, piles, blood disorders, worm infection, to treat low sperm count, and fight depression. It is given to nursing mothers for increasing milk flow. An infusion of the entire plant is used as a remedy against intestinal cramps, fever, diarrhoea and dysentery. abortifacient, cholagogue, febrifuge and galactagogue, In South India it is widely used to enhance complexion and treat eye diseases. The juice of the plant is used to treat white discharge in the urine. It significantly increases blood platelet number, improve male sexual potency, relieve tiredness, laziness, and sleepiness. skin diseases, eye diseases, hazy vision, ophtalmia (eyes inflammation) 188.8.131.52.15.
A lots of bioactive chemicals was identified in tissues of this plant including : triterpenes alpha-spinasterol, beta-spinasterol, stigmasterol, campesterol, lupeol, beta-sitosterol, oleanolic acid and its derivatives and saturated (aliphatic) esters, ellagic acid, myristic acid, palmitic acid, stearic acid, linoleic acid, oleic acid, ricinoleic acid, phenolic acid, ascorbic acid, alpha and beta tocopherols, nonacosane, handianol, saponins, alkaloids, phenolic compounds, polyphenols, flavonols, triterpenoids, tannins, 24-methylenecycloartanol, cycloeucalenol, 5α-stigmasta-7-enol 16.
Bhangru is considered a sacred plant and is worshipped usually in death ceremony/ Western Himalaya being a culturally rich region of India known to worship nature as a God. Ancient people has intelligently integrated many religious plants like Bhangru with our culture and tradition to conserve and sustainably utilize these plants from generation to generation. But at present many of these plants remain only sacred plants and very few of us might be knowing and using the vast medicinal, nutritive and economic potential of these plants. Bhangru is one such plant whose use has declined significantly and at present its religious uses are limited to a few knowledgeable and purist only.
Green plant is often given to milch cattle to increase milk yield. Due to its tremendous medicinal properties, bhangru is traditionally used in making kohl, eye wash, hair wash and hair oils.
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