Hedysarum tuberosum Roxb. ex Willd.
Pueraria tuberosa is a vigorous climbing shrub growing from a large, tuberous rootstock - the tubers can weigh up to 35 kilos and are often produced in strings connected to the main roots by thin roots. Strong, twining stems up to 12mm in diameter and many metres long are produced, these scramble over the ground and climb into the surrounding vegetation[
The plant is harvested from the wild for local use as a food and medicine. The dried roots are sometimes sold in local markets for medicinal purposes[
]. The plant is sometimes used in soil stabilization projects.
Although this species is reported to have an edible root, there are said to be certain forms of the plant where the root is not considered to be edible and is instead used as a fish poison[
E. Asia - sub-Himalayan tract from Pakistan through India to central Nepal
Shrubberies and streamsides, at elevations from 300 - 2,000 metres[
]. Hill forests, deciduous vegetation, slopes, sides of rocky streams, growing in exposed and eroded areas, covering the ground, bushes and even trees[
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Pueraria tuberosa is native to mainly sub-tropical regions in the lower elevations of the Himalayas, though it can be found at elevations up to 2,000 metres. It is unlikely to experience much frost, except at the higher parts of its range.
Requires a sunny position in a well-drained soil[
This species has a symbiotic relationship with certain soil bacteria, these bacteria form nodules on the roots and fix atmospheric nitrogen. Some of this nitrogen is utilized by the growing plant but some can also be used by other plants growing nearby[
Tubers - raw or cooked[
] .Mainly used in times of scarcity and then usually boiled[
]. Rich in starch, the tubers have a liquorice flavour[
]. The starch is sometimes extracted for use as a food[
]. Very large, the tubers can be up to 50cm long and 30cm in diameter, weighing up to 35 kilos in mature individuals[
]. Some forms of this plant are said to produce roots that are not edible - see notes above on toxicity.
The root is emetic, galactagogue and tonic. It is used to treat renal complaints and bowel conditions, and also as a demulcent and refrigerant in the treatment of fevers[
Applied externally, it is peeled and bruised to make a cataplasm, which is used to reduce swellings[
]. It is crushed and rubbed on the body in the treatment of fevers and rheumatism[
Extracts from the plant (part not specified, but likely to be the tuber[
]) showed anti-implantation activity in female rats[
The plants vigorous growth and ability to cover the soil make it useful for controlling soil erosion[
Pre-soak the seed for 12 hours in warm water and sow in a warm greenhouse in early spring. Germination should take place within 2 weeks. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots when they are large enough to handle and plant them out after the last expected frosts[
]. Cover the young plants with a frame or cloche until they are growing away well.