Angelica glauca: Introduction, Scientific Classification, Origin, Discovery, Description, Phytochemistry and Uses
Angelica glauca, commonly known as Himalayan angelica or Chora, is a perennial herbaceous plant that belongs to the family Apiaceae. It is native to the Himalayan regions of Asia and is known for its medicinal and aromatic properties. Angelica glauca has a rich history of traditional uses and has also been the subject of scientific investigation due to its potential therapeutic benefits.
Species: Angelica glauca
Angelica glauca is primarily found in the Himalayan regions, including Bhutan, Nepal, and India. It grows in high-altitude areas, often in rocky or gravelly soil. The plant is well-adapted to harsh mountainous climates and can withstand extreme temperatures and altitudes.
The plant is endangered in status, which is distributed in Western Himalaya from Kashmir to Uttarakhand, in alpine scrub and forest shades between 2700-3700 meters.
The traditional use of Angelica glauca in the Himalayan regions predates recorded history. Indigenous communities have long recognized its medicinal properties and incorporated them into their traditional healing practices. However, in terms of formal scientific documentation, the plant was first described and classified by botanists in the 19th century.
1. Angelica glauca is a robust perennial herb that grows up to 2 meters in height.
2. It has a stout, hollow stem with purple or reddish spots and prominent branches.
3. The leaves are large, compound, and deeply divided into leaflets with serrated edges.
4. The plant produces small, greenish-white flowers arranged in umbels, which give way to small, oval-shaped fruits.
5. The entire plant, including the roots, stems, leaves, and fruits, possesses a distinct aromatic scent.
6. Inflorescence is a compound umbel with numerous rays.
7. Flowers are white, yellow or purple in colour, bracteate; florets white or purple.
8. Seeds are small in size and winged.
9. Fruits/seeds are 1.25 cm by 0.6 cm in size.
The phytochemical composition of Angelica glauca is complex and diverse. Several bioactive compounds have been identified in different parts of the plant. These include essential oils, coumarins, flavonoids, tannins, phenolic acids, and polysaccharides. The essential oils extracted from Angelica glauca are particularly notable and contribute to its characteristic aroma and potential therapeutic effects.
Climate and Soil
It requires a cool and temperate climate. It can be cultivated between 2000-3000 meters above. It requires deep rich porous and moist soil with shady situations. For its ideal cultivation, plenty of organic manure is required.
Medicinal Applications: Angelica glauca has been used in traditional medicine systems for its various medicinal properties. It is believed to possess anti-inflammatory, analgesic, antimicrobial, and antioxidant activities. The plant is commonly used to alleviate digestive disorders, respiratory ailments, rheumatic conditions, and menstrual problems. It is also employed as a tonic for overall well-being and vitality.
Aromatic Uses: Due to its pleasant aroma, Angelica glauca is often used in the production of perfumes, soaps, and cosmetics. The essential oils derived from the plant are highly valued for their fragrance and are incorporated into various products.
Culinary Purposes: In some regions, the tender stems and leaves of Angelica glauca are used as culinary ingredients. They are added to soups, stews, and pickles to enhance flavour and aroma.
Environmental Benefits: Angelica glauca plays a role in soil conservation due to its extensive root system, which helps prevent soil erosion in mountainous areas.
It is important to note that while Angelica glauca has a long history of traditional use and shows promise in various applications, further scientific research is needed to fully understand its potential benefits and ensure safe and effective utilization
Raising Propagules: Seeds are sown immediately after harvesting during November and December inside the polyhouse. Seed viability is very low and moist seeds have a better germination potential than dry seeds. Germination takes 25-40 days.
Propagule Rate and Pretreatment: Approximately 50,000 plants or 6.2 kg seeds are required for its cultivation in a one-hectare land area
Planting in the Field
Land Preparation and Fertilizer Application: The field should be ploughed thoroughly followed by harrowing to bring the soil to a fine tilth and free from weeds. Seedlings are transplanted 45X45 cm apart in April and May. Apical portions of roots are transplanted during the rainy season at 45 cm apart. By this method, plants can be harvested within two years.
Green Manuring: Sheep and goat manure is reported to be good for its cultivation. Approximately 15-20 tonnes of manure is required for one hectare of land initially, at the time of starting cultivation in lower altitudes. Manuring is done before planting. If required, manuring should be done after the completion of the vegetative growth phase during October or in the winter after two or three years of cultivation. At higher elevations, where forest litter is available, it enhances growth as well as survival and yield. Transplanting the Seedlings to Main Field and Optimum Spacing: After four to six months of growth of seedlings raised inside a greenhouse or in a small nursery, transplanting is done at the beginning of the rainy season. Raised beds are better for growth. If the site is moist or has good irrigation facilities, transplanting can be done during April and May.
Intercropping System: It requires similar climatic and edaphic conditions as Saussurea costus, so intercropping with this plant is beneficial.
Intercultural and Maintenance Practices: Intercultural operation like weeding/ hoeing is carried out periodically as and when required.
Irrigation Practices: Irrigation twice a week during the dry season is required.
Weed Control: Weeding once a month and earthing every month during the rainy season and every two to three months during the dry season is essential.
Disease and Pest Control: No diseases and pests have been reported.
Crop Maturity and Harvesting: Under cultivation, harvesting can be done within two to three years. Roots are harvested during September and October when seeds become partially mature. Harvesting can be done after every two years, once the cultivation is well established and gives the maximum yield.
Post-harvest Management: After harvesting the rhizomes, an apical portion is transplanted in a field for future crops. The remaining portion is washed with water to remove soil, and roots are cut into small pieces and put in partial shade for drying. After complete drying, roots are stored and packed in cloth bags.