Dienia muscifera Lindl.
Microstylis muscifera (Lindl.) Ridl.
Malaxis muscifera is a perennial, terrestrial orchid growing from a bulbous rootstock; the stem can be 10 - 30cm tall.
The plant is harvested from the wild for local use as a medicine. It is an important ingredient of the herbal tonic 'Chyavanprash', a popular medication in India.
Malaxis muscifera is harvested from the wild for its roots, which form an important ingredient of the herbal formulation 'chyavanprash'. The level of exploitation is high and, in the CAMP workshop organised at Kullu in 1998 it was collectively agreed by the experts that more than 40% of the wild population in the Himalayan Region of India had declined over the previous 10 years. The plant is classified as 'Vulnerable' in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species(2013)[
E. Asia - Himalayas of China, Pakistan, India, Nepal
Temperate-alpine climates, growing on on semi-shady forest floors as well as on open grassy slopes; at elevations of 1,800 - 3,650 metres[
Orchids are, in general, shallow-rooting plants of well-drained low-fertility soils. Even those species that grow in bogs tend to be in the drier areas of the bog with plenty of water 15cm or more below soil level. Their symbiotic relationship with a fungus in the soil allows them to obtain sufficient nutrients and be able to compete successfully with other plants. They are very sensitive to the addition of fertilizers or fungicides since these can harm the symbiotic fungus and thus kill the orchid[
Malaxis muscifera is one of a group of eight plants, known collectively as 'Astavarga' in India, whose underground parts are seen in Ayurveda as general tonics that can strengthen the vital force in the body, improve cell regeneration capacity and boost the immune system. They can each be used on their own, and they are also used in the preparation of different types of rejuvenating tonics in traditional Ayurvedic medicine. One of the most important of these is 'Chyavanprash', a polyherbal formulation comprising more than 50 different plant ingredients, which is widely used in India as a general tonic, energy booster, immune system strengthener and aphrodisiac[
The plant is used in the treatment of a wide range of conditions, including blood disorders, burning sensation in the body, male sterility, fever, dysentery, external and internal haemorrhage and general weakness. It is also used as an aphrodisiac, against insect bite and rheumatism[
Seed - surface sow, preferably as soon as it is ripe, in the greenhouse and do not allow the compost to dry out. The seed of this species is extremely simple, it has a minute embryo surrounded by a single layer of protective cells. It contains very little food reserves and depends upon a symbiotic relationship with a species of soil-dwelling fungus. The fungal hyphae invade the seed and enter the cells of the embryo. The orchid soon begins to digest the fungal tissue and this acts as a food supply for the plant until it is able to obtain nutrients from decaying material in the soil[
]. It is best to use some of the soil that is growing around established plants in order to introduce the fungus, or to sow the seed around a plant of the same species and allow the seedlings to grow on until they are large enough to move.
Division in autumn. The plant is very intolerant of root disturbance, any moving or dividing should be attempted in the autumn, keep a large ball of soil around the plant[