Alocasia

Botanical Name :Alocasia
Family: Araceae
Subfamily: Aroideae
Tribe: Colocasieae
Genus: Alocasia
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Alismatales
Syn. : Arum Indicum, Roxb. Sans, Alocasia macorhiza (Linn);  Alocasia odora Koch; Colocasia macrorhiza Schott

Common Name :Makanda, Giant taro, Mankachu, Great-leaved Caledium, Alavu, mankanda, Genasoo, Marambu, Alu, Merukanlilangu, Chara kanda,Elephant Ear,Giant Elephant Ear

.Bengali name :Kochu
Parts used: Stems, leave, rhizomes.

Habitat :Native to Java and Malaysia, people there use alocasia (Esculenta, Taro) as important sources of starch, such as poi in the Hawaiian food tradition. It grows most places having worm climate.Grows  very well in India, Balgladesh and Sreelankha.

Description:
Alocasia is a genus of about 70 species .These rhizomatous or bulbous perennials occur in tropical humid climates of southeast Asia and a few other places. They are grown as ornamentals for their large heart-shaped or arrowhead-shaped leaves, sometimes called African Masks or Elephant’s Ears. These plants are variable in size, height, shape, and leaf color.
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The underground stems of Alocasia Indica constitute a valu-able and important vegetable of native dietary. The stems sometimes grow to an immense size, from six to eight feet in length and can be preserved for a considerable time. Hence they are of great importance in jail dietary when fresh vegetables become scarce in the bazar or jail garden. They thrive best in shade under the eaves of huts or buildings and beside fences.
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The stem (a corm) is edible, but contains raphid or raphide crystals of oxalic acid that can numb and swell the tongue and pharynx resulting in difficult breathing, and sharp throat pain. The lower parts contain more of the poison. Prolonged boiling before serving or processing may reduce the risks but acidic fruit such as tamarind will dissolve them.

Constituents and properties:-
*Rhizomes contain phytosterols, alkaloids, glucose and fructose.
*Root tuber contains neurotoxin, sapotoxin.

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Medicinal Uses:
Medicinally manaka is said to be useful in anasarca, in which disease it is used in the following manner. Take of the powdered meal of Alocasia Indica eight tolas, powdered rice sixteen tolas, water and milk, forty-eight tol?s each, boil them together till the water is evaporated. This preparation called M?namanda, is given as diet.1 No other article is allowed in addition to it except milk. A ghrita is also ordered to be made with a decoction and paste of m?naka but it is not in vogue.

Folkloric
• Leaves and corms used for furuncles, impetigo and snake bites
• Ground petioles in near-decayed state are placed in cloth and heated in coals, used for toothaches.
• Decoction of rhizomes used for abdominal pains and vomiting.
• Acrid juice used for stings of giant nettles (Laportea).
• In Java, chopped roots and leaves applied to painful joints.
• In India, rhizomes are rubefacient; employed as external stimulant and for fevers.

Other Uses:
As Houseplants
Hybrids, such as the Amazon Lily or the African Mask (Alocasia x amazonica) are grown as popular ornamentals. Alocasia are distinctly exotic and tropical plants that are increasingly becoming popular in American and European homes as houseplants. They are typically grown as pot plants but a better way is to grow the plants permanently in the controlled conditions of a greenhouse. They do not do well in the dark and need good lighting if inside the house. They should be cared for as any other tropical plant with weekly cleaning of the leaves and frequent fine water misting without leaving the plants wet.

Unfortunately, they rarely survive cold winters, or the dryness of artificial heating, but an attempt to slowly acclimatize plants from the summer garden to the house can help . Once inside the watering period must be reduced and the plants should be protected from spider mites or red spider attack. Alternatively, let younger plants die back to the corm from when the temperature reaches 19 degrees and with some luck this could lead to a rebirth in spring.

Studies
• Antifungal / Anti-HIV1 Reverse Transcriptase: Alocasin, an anti-fungal protein was isolated from the rhizome of Alocasia macrorrhiza. and showed antifungal activity against Botrytis cineria. Alocasin also reduced the activity of HIV1 reverse transcriptase.
• Neurotoxicity / Sapotoxin: A case report of poisoning due to the raw root tuber of Chinese medicinal plant, A macrorrhiza, presenting with severe pain and numbness periorally, with nausea, vomiting and abdominal pain. Root tuber is known to contain the neurotoxin, sapotoxin.
Anti-Tumor: In a study of the antitumor effect of water extract of Alocasia macrorrhiza, the inhibitory rate was 29.38% against S180 in mice and 51.72% against transplantable human gastroadenitis in nude mice.

Known Possible Hazards :
• Stinging Raphides: Stems, corms, leaves and petioles contain stinging raphides (calcium oxalate crystals) that are destroyed by boiling and roasting.
• Neurotoxicity: Case report possiblty caused by tuber root neurotoxin, sapotoxin.

Disclaimer:
The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.

Resources:
http://www.pacificbulbsociety.org/pbswiki/index.php/alocasia
http://mgonline.com/articles/alocasia.aspx
http://www.aroid.org/gallery/kozminski/Alocasia/
http://vaniindia.org.whbus12.onlyfordemo.com/herbal/plantdir.asp
http://www.stuartxchange.org/Biga.html

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