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Singpan, a precious medicinal plant on the verge of extinction

 IMPHAL | Apr 24, 2017

Source: Imphal Free Press

Security forces at Khudengthabi check post on the Imphal-Moreh highway seized some 30 gunny bags some months back.

Initially, it was suspected to be pseudo-ginseng. The items were handed over to state Forest department according to reliable sources. The sacks contained hundred of kilos of the roots of a precious medicinal plant known as Paris Polyphylla.

The consignment according to forest officials were to be transported to China through Myanmar.

Paris Polyphylla or Love Apple is an Asian species of plants native to China and the Indian sub-continent. It produces spider-like flowers that throw out long, thread-like, yellowish green petals.

Powered by GreatadsIt is a perennial, and survives in leafy, moist soil and grows up-to approximately 3 feet in height. Its leaves grow in a single whorl below a flower growing in two whorls. It is found mostly in Senapati and Tamenglong district. Locally it goes by the name of ‘Sing-pan’.

The indigenous plant has ability to treat ailments from diarrhea to cancer and is a well sought rhizome by the Chinese.

It can be used to treat abscess, appendicitis, excessive bleeding, diphtheria, edema, epilepsy, inflammation, septicemia, snakebite, sore throat, tonsillitis, wheezing cough to breast cancer. It has analgesic, anthelmintic, antibacterial, antispasmodic, anti-inflammatory, sedative, digestive, detoxicant, anti-tumor and vermifuge properties.

It is said to be a ‘jack of all trades’ medicinal plant.

But, due to excessive harvesting of the roots, the plant is slowly becoming extinct in the State. As smugglers having inadequate knowledge of the plant, all the plants are uprooted from the hillsides and easily transported to Myanmar.

This has massively destructed the growth potential of the precious medicinal plant. According to a Journal of Herbal Medicine and Toxicology –the ignorance of the potential of the plant may be the reason for its failure to make it to the list of prioritized plants for the development and cultivation under the scheme of National Medicinal Plant Board.

In a recently concluded international conference held at Manipur University, Dr Raghavendra Rao, a pioneer botanist and conservationist urged the need to market the medicinal plants of the state, however in a sustainable why.

According to the expert, he said that policy makers and researchers need to work together to formulate a practical way to conserve the rich biodiversity potential of the state. He said that the northeast has around 8000 medicinal plants but there have been no measures to market it in a global manner.

According to botanists, seed viability of the plant was found to be low and the seeds did not germinate in laboratory conditions even under different chemical treatments. They mention that there seems to be a need for raising awareness amongst people who live in environments in which Paris polyphylla propagates. It said, scientists must make known the sustainable use of the rhizome and its cultivation practice for the conservation of this plant.

One kilogram of the Rhizome is sold at Rs 5000/ 6000 approximately in the local market.