Names of Poison Berry
The Botanical name of Barhanta is Solatium Indicum. Some of the other names by which this Indian herb is called are Barhanta in Hindi; Gurkamai, Byakura and Titveguna in Bengali; Mhotir-Ingni, Motaringni, Ubhibhoringni, Vadaringni and Ubhir-Ingni in Gujarati; Badane, Kirigulla, Habbagulla, Kadusonde, Kempugulla and Sonde in Kannada; Nunnuniyakoli, Bonobryhoti and Bryhoti in Oriya; Kakamunchi, Chittimulaga and Tella-Mulaka in Telugu; Janglibringan in Urdu; Dorli in Marathi, Kandyaris in Punjabi etc.
Characteristic Features of Poison Berry
Barhanta is a highly-branched spiny herb or small shrub which grows up to a height of 1.8 meters with a stout, often purple stem. The prickles are large, sharp, with a long compressed base and are slightly recurved. The leaves are 5 to 15 centimeters long and 2.5 to 7.5 centimeters wide, ovate in outline, subentire or with a few large triangular-ovate lobes, sparsely prickly and hairy on both sides, base cordate, cuneate or truncate, often unequal-sided and the petioles are 1.3 to 2.5 centimeters long and are prickly. The flowers of this herb are borne in racemose extra-axillary cymes, peduncles are short, and the pedicels are 6 to 13 millimeters long, stellate-hairy and prickly. The calyx is 3 millimeters long, stellately hairy, teeth triangular and 1.5 millimeters long. Corolla is pale purple and is 0.8 centimeters long, outside covered with darker purple stellate hairs. The lobes are 5 millimeters long, deltoid-ovate and acute. The fruits (berries) of Barhanta are globose, about 0.8 centimeters in diameter, dark yellow in colour when ripe and are glabrous. The seeds are 0.4 centimeters in diameter and are minutely pitted. Flowering in this Indian herb takes place mainly between the months of August and October and fruiting in November and December in the central parts of India and earlier in southern India.
Medicinal Uses of Poison Berry
The root of Poison Berry is considered carminative and is used for treating diseases like asthma, coughs and catarrhal affections, dysuria and colic. Its extract is given to infants in order to control vomiting that takes place after intake of milk. This is common among the Kathodias and Raibaris of Rajasthan. A decoction of the root is prescribed as a tonic as well as used to facilitate childbirth. The root in pounded form is used for treating nasal ulcers. The juice of the leaves is mixed with the juice of ginger root in order to stop vomiting. The leaves and fruit, mixed with sugar, are used externally to relieve itching. The dried, powdered fruit pulp is given to children to expel the worms. This is generally done among the Kondhs of southwestern Odisha. The partially ripened fruits of Barhanta are eaten in the form of preserves, chutneys and in curries and the leaves are also eaten as a vegetable.