AGROECONOMICS OF SOLANUM LACINIATUM AIT - A NEW MEDICINAL PLANT IN DARJEELING HILLS

P. Bharati, S.K. Chatterjee
Darjeeling is rich in the flora of medicinal plants distributed from the tropical to the alpine regions of the District. Many of them have been studied for their medicinal properties but still some remain to be identified pharmacologically. The importance of any plant is to be judged by its economic potentialities. At the face of continuous destruction and gradual dwindling of the forest resources, there is an urgent need to identify economically viable wild plant species, especially those capable of coming under cultivation- practices. Till now there are very few plants of medicinal importance which have been brought under successful cultivation in Darjeeling District. The most important of them are Cinchona, Ipeeac and Dioscore a. Largescale cultivation of these plants has been undertaken by the Directorate of Cinchona and other medicinal plants, Govt. of West Bengal, since many years. Amongst these, four species of Chincho na, viz., C. ledgeiana, C. officinalis, C. succirubra and C. Calisaya, besides many hybrids; Cephaclis ipecacaunha and C. acuminate, the two species of Ipecac; and Dioscorea composita, D. floribunda and D. prazeri, the three species of Dioscorea being mainly cultivated. Besides these, many other medicinal plants are being tried to be brought under commercial cultivation. In a similar attempt, Solanum laciniatum has been introduced in this District in 1981 for production of solasodine.

Solasodine is the N. anologue of diosgenin and effectively serves as the substitute of diosgenin. In 1967, about two-thirds of the world's total production of steroid drug came from diosgenin and was available in sufficient quantity wild sources at low price. As the world sources gradually depleted and the demand for diosgenin increased, the need for alternative sources of steroid drugs is being increasingly felt.

About 5 percent of the world's total steroid production goes into antifertility drugs, the sale of which gives back 25 percent of the sale value of the total steroid products. The remaining 95 percent of the drug is utilised to manufacture corticosteroids that are used in the treatment of arthritis, skin inflammation etc. Solasodine derived from Solanum laciniatum, has been reported to be the sole source of cortisone and progesterone in USSR (Alesoenko et al., 1976b).

Bharati, P. and Chatterjee, S.K. (1986). AGROECONOMICS OF SOLANUM LACINIATUM AIT - A NEW MEDICINAL PLANT IN DARJEELING HILLS. Acta Hortic. 188, 253-260
DOI: 10.17660/ActaHortic.1986.188.32
https://doi.org/10.17660/ActaHortic.1986.188.32
188_32
253-260

Acta Horticulturae