Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Ondelaga or Saraswathi Plant


Ondelaga, Indian Pennywort, or Saraswathi Plant (Centella asiatica) is yet another medicinal herb that I love to grow. In Kannada, Ondelaga means 'single leaf.' Most farms and fields would have this herb growing like a weed. There were times when people grew this herb as a substitute to lawn grass. The leaves are kidney-shaped, and the herb needs to be watered everyday (almost). This herb is also pest-resistant, and don't I love such plants!

Initially, I grew this herb in a shallow earthen container. But this season, the herb has chosen to share a container that contains dwarf ixora plant. The herb has grown leaps and bounds, and it is creeping out of the container on to the ground. The herb can also grow in hanging baskets. Also remember that at the end of each season, the stems and leaves of this herb die. If you tuck the stolons inside the soil, new plants will grow. Try it.

At India, we strongly believe that this herb re-vitalizes the brain and nervous system, and increases concentration. The leaves are slightly bitter, and can be useful to combat diabetes. There are no side effects if you consume the leaves, in my opinion. I use the leaves to prepare a chutney (or Thambulli). But I roast or fry the leaves with a drop of oil, before using it in chutney or other dishes. I may also add jaggery if the dish tastes bitter due to the herb. Our generation may not know about this chutney or may not prepare at home; but if there are elders at home, they will surely be delighted to prepare it.

The herb is also mixed in hair oils to help growth and reduce anxiety. To make home-made Brahmi oil, boil coconut oil and ondelaga leaves. (Can also add a few curry leaves or Neem leaves). When this mixture is cool, add a pinch of camphor, and store it in glass bottles. Use it regularly to enhance hair growth.

Also see http://www.ayurveda-recipes.com/brahmi.html.

Please grow this herb at your garden.

Regards,
Asha

17 comments:

  1. Hi Asha, I have been just a little busy nowadays. I hope all is well with you. Regarding this medicinal herb, I like the shape of the leaves and the very green foliages. I have not come aross this one in real yet. Happy discovering herbs :-D

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  2. Hello Steph, I hope you managed to get some rest over the weekend. All fine here; currently, it's been raining crazy. Yep, the herb's foliage is nice. Will write about one more herb this week some time.

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  3. Hi Asha,
    Wow! My mom has been pushing me to find this Choppu.. Didnt know where to get it in Bangalore. Do you know where we can get it in Bangalore? I would also like to grow in my garden.

    Thanks
    Kalyani
    kalyanise@yahoo.com

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  4. Thanks, Kalyani. I can give you a cutting. Let me email you the location at which you can collect it.

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  5. Hello Asha
    Where can I get this leaf or the plant

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    1. If you are at Bangalore, please check out the nursery stalls at Lalbagh during the August 15 Flower Show. Some of the stalls sell only herbs and medicinal plants. You may also find the plant at The Department of Horticulture, Hulimavu, Bangalore. For address, please see:

      http://rake-and-spade.blogspot.in/2012/01/visit-to-horticulture-department.html

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  6. hi
    i am kavitha, i purchased the roots from soppu tata and then i planted in pots and regularly we r
    using .

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  7. Hi Asha, it grows like weed in my MIL's house in Mangalore and everytime I bring a bit of it to Bangalore and put it in a pot, I lose it after a couple of months. It always seems to die on me. I have put it in my balcony with not harsh sunlight but enough air, I water it every other day well and yet it dies. :(. Can you please suggest what can I do to keep it healthy. Also, does it grow beyond the August -Septermber season if it is put in a pot?

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    1. Hello Rashmi, it's a funny plant! And you seem to have done every thing you can.

      I've observed that the plant grows beautifully when under shade (, say, of a tree) and on land. The plant loves to crawl all over and cover the land space.

      When we confine the plant to a container, we can use a shallow and wide container; ensuring that the plant can spread itself. Plant at center of the container. Keep the container in between other containers; water if soil is dry; add handful of compost.

      Trim the plant by using the excess leaves and roots either in cooking or to make your oil herb-infused oil. All the best, Rashmi!

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  8. Asha, can you please let me know where can I get these leaves in bangalore I need it for treatment. I looked for it in most of the vegetable markets but could not find. Email me at jeevd007@gmail.com

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    Replies
    1. Hi,

      You may find this plant at the Department of Horticulture, Hulimavu; for address, see http://rake-and-spade.blogspot.in/2012/01/visit-to-horticulture-department.html.

      Also, please check the plant's availability at Lalbagh nursery and at the University of Agricultural Sciences, Hebbal.

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  9. Hi can you please let me know how can it is useful to combat diabetes

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    1. Pls see the following websites; both mention 'diabetes' (however, doesn't specially mention how the plant is used), Pls check with doctors/physicians before using any herbs or medicines.

      http://www.webmd.com/vitamins-supplements/ingredientmono-753-GOTU%20KOLA.aspx?activeIngredientId=753&activeIngredientName=GOTU%20KOLA

      http://toddcaldecott.com/herbs/mandukaparni/

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  10. you can get these herbs in malleshwaram

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    Replies
    1. I have seen this herb at the markets; yes.

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  11. Twice I have purchased a small sapling of this plant (am told it is one variety of brahmi) and planted it in a pot at home. Both times, the plant stays alive, but doesn't grow even a little bit. I wonder if its because it's not humid enough in Bangalore? I am having the same exact problem with the other variety of Brahmi which has small leaves (called neer brahmi) and is also supposed to grow and spread easily like a weed. :-( I have tried sunny spot, shady spot, more water, adding manure, but nothing makes it grow. :(

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    Replies
    1. Sudha, you seem to be doing everything correct in terms of growing the plant. These plants grow well in BLR weather, and are easy to grow. Strange that your plants aren't cooperating.

      Let's do a quick check:

      - Container - good to grow in a shallow and wide container.
      - Soil - good to have soil mix that enables the roots to penetrate the soil, and to drain excess water.
      - Temperature - good to place in indirect or direct sunlight; too much exposure to direct sunlight or harsh sunlight tends to affect the plant.
      - Water - good to water when the soil is semi-dry. Avoid water clogging.
      - Manure - good to use a handful of compost or organic manure once a month, in case of good soil mix.

      Some times certain plants take a while to settle down and grow. Moving the plants from one location to other in a short span of time can cause stress on the plants.

      Now take a fresh container, fresh soil, and wash the plant well, and then plant it. Keep the container in a place that receives good amount of indirect sunlight. Don't move the plant. Wait. Let's see how the plant behaves.

      I wish you the best.








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Hi friends,

Thanks for visiting the blog site. Please leave a message to share experiments at your garden or to send me a feedback about my experiments. Even a simple "Hello" would make my day!

Regards,
Asha

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