Since the ancient times human beings have been using plants more particularly as a source of
food. They also studied the available plant material and distinguished between poisonous and
non-poisonous plants i.e. whether they are edible or non-edible through trial and error
methods. By the same time by knowingly or unknowingly they also get the benefits from the
plants while using them as food. Gradually knowledge of drugs developed. It is the Rig Veda
where the use of medicinal plants was mentioned first. Later on, between 2,500 & 500 B.C the
use of medicinal plants was incorporated in Ayurvedic system of treatment.
Importance of plants as sources of drug or medicine are due to the presence of some chemical
substance or substances in their tissues. In the beginning drug plants were used as such or the
drugs were prepared in the crude form as paste, decoction, etc. But with the progress of
science and technology, the active principles of several plants have been isolated for use. The
important chemical substances present in plants are mainly alkaloids, glycosides,
corticosteroid, essential oils, C, H, O, N, etc. If these substances produce a definite
physiological action on human body, then it may either be beneficial or harmful but sometimes
it may even cause death.
Different ethnic groups have been using several species of Dioscorea in their area of
habitations as a source of food due to its high starch content & calorie value and also to cure
certain ailments. Most of the species of Dioscorea have a wide adaptability to diverse agro
Medicinal Dioscorea (Dioscorea floribunda Mart and Gal.)
Arka Upkar, Pusa 1 and FB(C) – 2 are very popular.
Soil and climate
Well drained clay loam soil is suitable. It can be grown in tropical and sub-tropical climatic conditions upto 1500m above mean sea level.
It can be propagated through single node leaf cuttings or tuber pieces.
Single node leaf cuttings
This consists of a single leaf with petiole and about 0.8 cm of the stem. The cuttings are quick dipped in 5000 ppm IBA and planted in mist chamber for rooting. After about 8 – 10 weeks, the plants are transferred to polythene bags. After 5 – 6 months, they are planted in the main field at a spacing of 45 x 30 cm during June – July or September – October. Tuber pieces each weighing 50 – 60 g with one or two buds can also be used for planting. A pre-planting dip in Carbendazim 2 g/lit for 10 minutes is essential.
In addition to basal application of FYM 20t/ha, NPK 300:150:150 kg/ha is also recommended. The entire dose of P is applied as basal dose. N and K can be applied in 4 equal splits at 2, 4, 6 and 8 months after planting.
The vines need support for optimum growth and a pandal may be provided. Bamboo poles or gunny twines may be used to lead the vines to the pandal. 1 – 2 weedings are essential in the first year. Upto 4 months of planting, the intercrops like cowpea, horse gram, lab lab etc can be cultivated. Spray the crop with 25 ml Dicofol in 10 lit of water to control aphids and red spider mites.
Weekly irrigation is done for first two months of planting and then according to the crop requirement.
Harvest at 2 years of age using pick axes or deep ploughing with mould plough.
Fresh tubers : 50 – 60 t/ha
Diosgenin content : 3.0 to 3.5 %