(Last Updated on : 05/12/2013)
Kumarika is a prickly climbing plant having quadrangular branches. It is found in the hilly areas throughout tropical India from the Himalayas to the state of Kerala at an altitude of about 2500 meters. This species is also native to Java. The Botanical name of this plant is Smilax wightii. In different Indian languages Kumarika is known in various other names like Chobchini, Ramdatun and Jan-Gli Aushbah in Hindi, Kaltamara, Karivilanti in Malayalam, Vanamadhusnahi in Sanskrit, Kondagurvatiga and Kondatamara in Telugu, Kaadu Hambu Thaavare in Kannada, Ghotvel, Guti, Gholyel and Gutwel in Marathi and Kattu-Kodi, Periyakanni and Malaittamarai in Tamil.
Kumarika is a large climber with slender, smooth or sparsely spiny, striate and quadrangular branches. The leaves are alternate, 8 to 20 centimetres long and 4 to 12 centimetres wide, variable in shape (ovate, lanceolate or elliptic), glabrous, shining, apex acuminate or cuspidate and base is usually rounded. The main nerves are 5 to 7 and the petioles are 1.3 to 2.5 centimetres long, stout, narrowly sheathing below the middle. The tendrils are slender and very long. Flowers of Kumarika are greenish-white in colour and are borne on stalked, many-flowered umbels, 1 to 3 together. The pedicels of both male and female flowers arise from an aggregation of a number of minute bracts. There are 6 segments of the flower and are usually reflexed. The fruits (capsule) of this plant are spherical, pea-sized, smooth and green in colour and turn red when ripe.
Kumarika is a valued medicinal plant in India. A decoction of the bulbous roots of this medicinal plant is used to promote the healing of sores, swellings and abscesses. In some regions of India the roots of Kumarika are taken internally in order to treat skin diseases, and as a substitute for sarsaparilla for venereal diseases. In Ayurveda
, the roots are used in the treatment of diseases of the nervous system and urinary disorders. Among the Santhalis, it is applied to get relief from rheumatism and pains in the lower extremities. In Bastar in the state of Madhya Pradesh
in India, the roots of this medicinal plant are used in the treatment of spermatorrhoea, to promote fertility and as a refrigerant.