Ashwagandha

Ashwagandha

Scientific name: Withania somnifera (L.) Dunal

English name: Winter Cherry

Local name: ‘Aswagandha’

Taxonomic Position According to Cronquist (1981)

Kingdom Plantae
Division Magnoliophyta
Class Magnoliopsida
Order Solanales
Family Solanaceae
Genus Withania
Species W. somnifera

Botanical Description of Winter Cherry

Habit: A suffruticose, erect, unarmed undershrub, thinly woolly, reaching a height of 1.5 m.

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Stem: Stem terete, branches ascending.

Leaves: Leaves 5-10 x 2.5-5.0 cm, elliptic-ovate, entire, base equal or slightly unequal, slightly attenuated, tip subacute to acute, finely stellate-pubescent especially beneath, petioles 2.0-2.5 cm long, channelled above.

leaf

Flowers: Flowers axillary, 5-10 mm long, 3-6 fascicled together, pedicels 3-4 mm long. Calyx campanulate, 5 mm long, but enlarged in fruits, 1.2-1.8 cm long, teeth short, very acute, fruiting calyx inflated, papery, over topping the fruits. Corolla 5 mm long, narrowly campanulate, greenish, lobes 5-6, lanceolate, erect but recurved in upper part, acute, pubescent outside.

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Androecium: Stamens 5,exserted, filaments 2 mm long, linear, anthers 1 mm long, oblong, basifixed, levelling with the stigma, dehiscence longitudinal.

Gynoecium: Ovary 2-celled, glabrous,  styles filiform,  glabrous,  stigmas capitate, shortly 2-fid.

Fruits: Fruit a globose berry, 6-8 mm in diameter, glabrous, enclosed by the fruiting calyx, yellow or orange-yellow.

Seeds: Seeds many, 2 mm in diameter, reniform, glabrous or minutely reticulate,   yellowish-brown.

Economic Importance: Root is regarded as tonic, alterative, aphrodisiac, and is used in consumption, emaciation of children, rheumatism and also as narcotic and diuretic. Roots and leaves are applied to carbuncles, ulcers and painful swellings. Fruit is diuretic. Seeds are hypnotic, diuretic and used for coagulating milks.

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