Hin: Kiramar, Kitamar Mal: Attuthottappala, Atuthinnappala
Importance: The bracteated birthwort or worm killer is a perennial prostrate herb. As the name suggests it is a killer of intestinal worms especially roundworms. It is also used in vitiated conditions of kapha and vata, constipation, inflammations, amenorrhoea, dysmenorrhoea, foul ulcers, boils, syphilis, gonorrhoea, dyspepsia, colic, skin diseases, eczema, artheralgia and intermittent fevers. The plant is an insect repellent due to the presence of aristolochic acid, which is poisonous to man and livestock. Plant is also used against scorpion sting. Seeds ground in water to form a lotion and used for softening hair. Powdered root is used in fertility control.
Distribution: The plant is found in Sri Lanka, Arabian countries and tropical Africa. In India, the plant is grown in Deccan and Carnatic Plateau.
Botany: Aristolochia bracteolata Lam. syn. A. bracteata Retz. belongs to the family Aristolochiaceae. It is a perennial prostrate herb with weak, glabrous stems. Leaves are simple, alternate, reniform or broadly ovate, cordate at the base with a wide sinus upto 7.5cm in diameter, reticulately veined. Flowers are solitary with a large sessile orbicular bract at the base. Perianth tube is cylindric with dark purple tip having revolute margins. Fruits are oblong-ellipsoid 12-ribbed glabrous capsules. Seeds are deltoid with slightly cordate base (Warrier et al, 1993) Another important species belonging to the genus Aristolochia is A. indica Linn. The plant grows wild throughout the low hills and plains of India from Nepal to West Bengal and South India. It is a valuable anti-dote to snake bite and to bites of poisonous insects as scorpion, etc. It is given in cases of cholera and diarrhoea after macerating with black pepper corns. The juice of the leaves has stimulant, tonic and antiperiodic properties.
Agrotechnology: Shady areas and well-drained soils are most suited to Aristolochia. The plant can be seed propagated. 3-month-old seedlings raised in polybags are required for transplanting. Pits of size 50cm cube are to be taken at a distance of 3m and filled with sand, topsoil and dried cowdung. To these pits, the seedlings are to be transplanted. Regular irrigation and organic manure application is beneficial. The plant is to be trailed on iron wires tied to poles. The plant is not attacked by any serious pests or diseases. Plant attains good spread within one year. Leaves can be collected for the next 10 years. Roots and leaves constitute the economic parts (Prasad et al, 1997).
Properties and activity: Leaves and fruits yield ceryl alcohol, -sitosterol and aristolochic acid. Root contains aristolochic acid. Seeds give an alkaloid magnoflorine, aristolochic acid, fatty oil comprising palmitic, stearic, lignoseric and oleic acids and -sitosterol.
The plant is anthelmintic, cathartic, antiperiodic and emmenagogue. Leaf is antigonorrhoeic, larvicidal and used in eczema on children’s leg and ulcers. The plant is oxytocic (Husain et al,1992).