(Last Updated on : 31/01/2014)
:Hibiscus abelmoschus Linn.
Indian names are as follows:
Hindi, Bengali, Gujarati
: Lata Kasturi
Kasturi is the Indian term for musk. It is generally believed that musk is a type of perfume extracted from a type of deer those are found in colder region. In Vedic Hinduism Kasturi or musk is used almost in all the rituals. But on the other hand it was a taboo to use any material in various rituals extracted from dead animals. The two principles and practices naturally contradict each other. On further scrutiny it is noticed that the Vedic Aryans used extract of seed of a small plant that gives same perfume or odor. It is also reported that the plant gives better yield in essential oil if grown in high altitude places or colder region. They used to source the perfume from Kirata Desha or Gandharba Desha. Kirata Desha is the Himalayan tract and Gandharba Desha is ancient Gandhar or modern Afghanistan. This plant later identified as Muskmallow.
The plant is a small hairy plant that grows maximum up to a height of a meter or a little more. It belongs to same genus and family of Ladies finger, and is an annual plant like Ladies finger. The leaves are also identical to those of plants of Hibiscus genus, shaped like human palm. Flowers are yellow. The fruits are shaped exactly like Ladies finger, but are shorter in length and broader. It has a number of seeds that gives musk odor. Flowers and fruits appear from May to January.
Analysis of the seed gives 11.4% moisture, 2.3% protein, 13.3% starch, 31.5% fiber, 11.5% fatty oil, 6% volatile oil, besides flavanoids (myricetin cannabistrin), terpene (farnesol and ambrettolide), resin and bitter principles. Fatty oil contains 18.9% linoleleic acid. Extracts of upper parts of the plant and fruits show insecticidal toxicity.
The plant is basically known as a source of perfume and as source of medicine. However, its essential oil is not only used as perfume but also as flavor since it is used for flavoring many of the traditional sweet dishes like kheer, rabdi etc. As perfume its aroma is most valued and popular aroma all over the world.
It has a number of medicinal virtues known since ancient period in India. All Samhitas and Nighuntas acknowledge its medicinal virtues, which was later supported by modern Unani and Ayurved. It has elaborate application even in folk systems. There are a number of medicinal preparations those can be prepared using this herb, those can be standardized and presented in modern form even under a common brand.
The plant can therefore be utilized effectively for growth of a number of small and tiny units producing valuable products valued in the market. By promoting its perfume it will also be possible to save lives of many musk deer's. Above all without much effort and investment value addition of its product can be possible.