IDENTIFICATION AND EVALUATION OF SELECTED UNDERUTILIZED LEAFY PLANT SPECIES IN THE HOMESTEADS OF KERALA, INDIA
The homestead farming system is prevalent in Kerala in India with a variety of crops grown for food, feed, fodder and fuel in the homesteads. Coconut forms the dominant crop. Four underexploited leafy plant species were identified from the homesteads of Thrissur district of the state. They were Boerhaavia diffusa (hog weed), Centella asiatica (Indian pennywort), Cassia tora (foetid cassia), and Alternanthera sessilis (sessile joyweed). Although utilized by previous generations as food and as medicine, they have almost vanished from the scene now and exist only as weeds in rural homesteads. A survey conducted in 300 rural homesteads revealed that awareness of the qualities and uses of these plants was below 50%. An experiment was conducted to study the nutritive qualities and develop agro techniques for these plants. The plants were grown both in open conditions and in the shade of coconut gardens with different manurial treatments but the source of nutrients did not significantly affect the yield. Performance of all the crop plants was better in open conditions than as intercrops in coconut gardens. Boerhaavia diffusa, Cassia tora and Alternanthera sessilis yielded 44, 94 and 57% more in open than in shaded conditions. Micronutrient contents were higher when the plants were grown in shade. Alternanthera sessilis and Boerhaavia diffusa had comparatively high contents of potassium (4.6 and 3.9%), while Boerhaavia diffusa and Cassia tora were high in calcium (3.52 and 6.7%). Except for Cassia tora, all the plant species were rich in iron and manganese. They also had high contents of beta carotene (ranging from 1.9 to 7.4 mg/100 g) and vitamin C (ranging from 96 to 265 mg/100 g). Thus these plants have great potential for relieving malnutrition. The leafy produce was also processed into curries and steamed foods and also showed promise for pickling and chutney powders.
Menon, M.V., Krishnankutty, J. and Pushpalatha, P.B. (2013). IDENTIFICATION AND EVALUATION OF SELECTED UNDERUTILIZED LEAFY PLANT SPECIES IN THE HOMESTEADS OF KERALA, INDIA. Acta Hortic. 979, 625-630
homestead farming, underexploited leafy plants, nutrient contents, micronutrients