Ashwagandha| Withania somnifera
Ashwagandha is an important ancient ayurvedic plant and a Kharif crop. The name Ashwagandha is composed of two Sanskritwords: Ashwa means ‘horse,’ Gandha means ‘smell’ because of the strong aroma of the root described as Horse-like.
Areas receiving 600-750mm rainfall are best for the cultivation. It grows as a heavy shrub with its height reaching 170cm. It bears yellow color flowers and red color fruits. Unlike tomato though come from the same family, the fruits are of berry-like in size and shape. The cultivated plants are different from wild plants morphologically. The roots, leaves and berries of the plant are most useful. The harvesting starts in January and goes on till March.
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Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) has become one of the most popular Ayurvedic herbs in the Western world. And it is no wonder, with all the benefits this beloved root has to offer! Ashwagandha has been used in Ayurveda for thousands of years as a rasayana (rejuvenative) and it is renowned as an adaptogenic herb, which means it is used to help the body resist physiological and psychological stress by adapting to the needs of the body.
Location:– Plant ashwagandha in dry and sunny location of your garden. If the soil is poor add manure to enrich it and remove weed and debris from the planting site.
Soil:- It needs sandy and well-draining soil in a way that water will drain out quickly, pH level should be around 7.5 – 8, neutral to slightly alkaline. Growing Ashwagandha is not possible in soil that retains moisture and remains waterlogged.
Watering:- Watering should be economical and only when plant seems thirsty. Indian ginseng is a drought resistant herb and doesn’t like wet feet.
Temperature:– Ashwagandha grows best when the temperature ranges between 70 F – 95 F (20 – 35 C), below or above this it grows much slower.
Fertilizer:- Similar to ginseng, Ashwagandha plant is not fertilized usually due to medicinal uses of its roots. However, organic fertilizers are used. You can apply aged manure or compost near the base of plant.
Ashwagandha is ready to harvest in 150 – 180 days when flower and berries starts to form and leaves begins to dry out. Harvest ashwagandha roots by digging carefully using small tool. Be careful not to damage the plant when digging up and make sure soil has some moisture while doing this.
After harvesting, roots and barriers are separated from plant. Roots are washed and cleaned and cut into small pieces of 7-10 cm and dried in sun or shade.
Ashwagandha is a very useful herb. It reduces stress, strengthen the immunity and nervous system. It helps in enhancing the mental functioning. It is useful in sexual and general weakness. It gives vitality and vigour and helps in building greater endurance. It is used to cure diseases like rheumatism, leprosy and arthritis.
The leaves and the root bark of the pant are abortifacient, adaptogen, antibiotic, aphrodisiac, diuretic, narcotic and tonic. It is also used to tone the uterus after the miscarriage. The fruit and seeds are diuretic. All the parts of the plant are used in the herbal medicines.