Sarpagandha (Rauwolfia serpentina Benth. Ex Kurz.)A perennial medicinal plant of family Apocynaceae is well known as Serpentina root, the natural source of alkaloid reserpine used for the treatment of Hypertension, neuro disorders like psychosis, schizophrenia, insanity, insomnia and epilepsy. It contains alkaloids reserpine, yohimbine, ajmaline, ophioxylin, resin, wax, starch are used as a sedative and tranquilizing agent.
Main Ayurvedic products of Sarpagandha are Sarpagandha Ghanvati, Sarpagandha Yoga, Sarpagandha Churna and Mahesvari Vati. The world requirement for dry Sarpagandha roots is around 20,000 t per annum which is a great demand because of its high medicinal value.
Botanical Name : Rauvolfia serpentine
Common Name : Sarpagandha
Family : Apocynaceae
Soil & Climate
The plant prefers soil with plenty of humus and rich in nitrogenous and organic matter with good drainage. Alkaline soils are not suitable for commercial cultivation. The sandy loam to medium black cotton soils rich in organic matter with pH 6-8 and good drainage facility are suitable. It grows in a wide range of climatic conditions but flourishes well under hot humid tropical climates in open or partial shade. Elevations of 1300 m having a temperature range of 10-38°C and annual rainfall of 2500 mm are suitable to this species. Good yield is obtained in areas less prone to frost and having less severe winter.
For Sarpagandha plantation, it requires well prepared land. To bring soil to fine tilth, repeated ploughing is done. After tilling and ploughing the land is given manures, nutrients and growth promoters to enrich the soil.
NURSERY MANAGEMENT AND TRANSPLANTING
Sow Sarpagandha seeds on raised beds of 1.5ft widths, 150-200mm height and of convenient length. Nursery beds are sown in the month of April and are irrigated first before sowing. Germination of seedlings starts within 30-35 days.
Transplanting is done in the month of first week of July when the seedlings are 40-50 days old having 4-6 leaves. Transplanting is done in main field at the distance of 450 x 300mm. After transplanting light irrigation is done.
To protect crop from soil borne diseases, dip seedlings in Bavistin @0.1% for 30 mins before transplanting.
Time of sowing
If propagation is done through seeds then cultivation is done in the month of April–June, if propagation is by stem cutting then cultivated in June month, if propagation is by root cutting then cultivated in March-June month and if propagation is by root-stump then cultivation is done in the month of May-July.
Depending upon plant growth habit, use spacing of 30 x 30cm.
Method of sowing
Direct sowing of seeds or transplanting seedling/stem cuttings or root cutting in main field.
For good growth of plant, use seedling rate of 32,000 – 40,000/acre.
To protect crop from fungal disease such as damping off disease, before transplanting firstly soak the seeds in water for 24 hours and then do treatment by dipping seedlings in fungicidal solution i.e Thiram@2-3gm/kg of seeds. After chemical treatment use the seedling for plantation.
At the time of land preparation apply FYM (Farm Yard Manure)@8-10tonnes/acre and mix well with soil. Fertilizer dose of N:P:K @8:12:12Kg/acre is applied as a basal dose in form of Urea@18kg, SSP@75 and MOP@20kg/acre. Apply Nitrogen dose of 8kg two times during growing season of Sarpagandha.
Do weeding followed by hoeing to keep the field weed free. In initial i.e. first year two weedings are done and in next i.e. second year one weeding followed by one hoeing is done at growing period of plant. If flowering starts in initial period, flowers should be nipped to raise root growth.
Plant starts yielding by 2-3 years after plantation. Harvesting is done during winter month as the plant become dormant. Root harvesting is mainly done. For better uprooting, before harvesting irrigation is done. For processing, dried roots are used.
Dry root yield 700-800 kg /ac after 18 months of planting and when harvesting is done after 3 years an yield of 1200 kg /ac.