R. N. Biswas., S. 0. Temburnikar 1


Safed musli is a herb commonly found in some patches of forest areas of whole of India as well as in Maharashtra State. This is having a wonderful drug locally known as Safed musli and this is used in all Ayurvedic medicines for strength and vigour. There are many muslies available in India viz. 1) Chlorophytum tuberosum; 2) Chlorophytum borivilianum; 3) (comosum; 4) C laxum. In Maharashtra State Chlorophytum borvivilianum is commonly available in the Forest areas at the altitude of 1200 metres above M.S.L., in the Western Ghat areas as well as in the Melghat areas.

Since Chlorophytum borivilianum is normally available in Maharashtra the cultivation techniques, sowing, harvesting, storing and marketing techniques are perfected by the Forest Department as well as some of the N.G.O.s like Mittal Musli Farm in Jalgaon Jamod in the Buldhana district which are discussed elaborately in this paper.

Safed musli is a wonder drug and this contains a new glycoside 5, 7-:dimethoxy myricetin 3-O- -L-.xylopyranosyl 4-0 I -D glucopyranoside from the rhizome of Curculigo orchioides. (Tiwari and Misra -- 1976). The tubers of the plant contain free sugars, 7.56 %, mucilage, 8.12 %, hemicelluloses, 12 to 15% and other polysachharides 17.01 %.

Safed musli has got very good Ayurvedic medicinal properties and is a rich source of over 25 alkaloids. The dried tubers are packed in polythene bags and sent to major markets like Delhi and Mumbai. On an average, this crop gives an yield of 20 to 30 quintals of wet musali per acre. After peeling and drying it is reduced to nearly 20% and 4 to 4.5 quintals of dry musli is finally obtained. In the indigenous market, the present rate of dry mush ranges between Rs. 800-1800 per Kg whereas it fetches beyond Rs. 3000 per Kg. in the international market.

All aspects of morphology, chemistry, yield and marketing along with the cultivation techniques of or Chlorophytum borivilianum is elaborately dealt in this paper.

Description and Occurrence

Safed musli is originally found in forest areas in natural form. Its botanical name is Chlorophytum tuberosum. This species is found in abundance in natural forest areas. The plant is distributed in the subtropical Himalayas from Kumaon eastwards, the Khasia hills, Bengal, Assam, Kokan, Kanara, West peninsula and Madras extending to Kanyakumari. This plant was observed growing in patches in Pine in Rani khet and adjoining areas. It belongs to family Liliaceae. It is a herb with sub erect lanceolate leaves. It flowers in the month of August and early September. The flowers are white in color. The leaves are dried in the month of Dec./Jan. and it remains dormant during rest of year (early winter till break of monsoon). The propagation through seeds is very scarce. Since the establishment of the crop by seeds is very rare; if the tubers are removed the herb can not be reestablished in the natural forests. It occurs near Nalas and rolling terrain and gentle slopes in the forests. . -

Curculigo orchioides (Gaertn) is a small perennial herb with elongated tuberous root stock having several lateral roots with rosette of sessile or short petiolate, linear lanceolated membranous leaves close to the ground level.

Leaves: Sessile or short petiolate, with sheathing bases, 15 to 45 cms. by 1.5 2.5 cms., liner or linear lanceolate, membranous, glabrous or sparsely softly hairy. The leaf tip in contact with soil produces adventitious roots

Inflorescence: Axillary, scapose, racemose, scape short, clavate flattened with the pedicels, bracts and overy concealed in the leaf sheaths. The lower flowers on the scape are mostly bisexual and the upper staminate, flowers: epigynous: bright yellow, bisexual or unisexual with lanceolate membraneous bracts. Perianth:

Gamophyllous, rotate, six partite, perianth segments 12 to 16 mm. long, elliptic belong acute, hairy on the back stamens:-6, tilarnents very small, adnate to the base of the perianth lobes, anthers linear erect. Ovary: inferior, tricarpellary, syncarpous with a fairly long, slender beak and stipe, ovules 6-8 with long finical styles 1 short, stigma 3 cleft with the lobes oblong, erect and apprised.

Fruit: Capsule, 4-seeded with a slender beak and spongy septa, seeds oblong, black and shiny with crustaceans testa. Root stock stout, short or elongate, more or less cylindrical, 4 to 15 cm. long, average being 7.4 cm., 0.5- 1. cm. wide. The upper portion of the root stock remains clothed with the withered leaf bases and with copious lateral roots which are long, almost whitish or yellowish gray, shrieked. Externally the root stock is yellowish brown, thin. Fracture is starchy, odour indistinct; taste slightly bitter and mucilaginous.

Tiwarri and Misra (1976) have identified a new glycoside 5,7- dimethoxy myricetin 3-0 &-L-xylopyranosyl 4-0 3 -D glucopyranoside from the rhizome of Curculigo orchioides. The tubers of the plant contain free sugars, 7.56%: mucilage, 8.12%: hemicelluloses, 12 to 15% and other polysachharides 17.01 %.


In order to the meet market demand for tubers of the Safed Musli private growers have started cultivating Chlorophytum borivilianum species, which is a fast growing species. The technical details and the cultivation methodology arc as under.

The preparation of land

The land is required to be prepared in the month of April-May. After deep ploughing of the fields, 20 to 50 trolleys (40 to 80 tonnes) per acre of FYM is mixed in the soil. If the soil is of clay nature them soil conditioner at the rate of one tonne per acre could be used to condition it. Green manure can also be used to enrich the soil. For this purpose, the seeds of Sunhemp (boru) @ 60 kg. per acre could be sown in the field (proposed for the cultivation of Musli) during March- April and bçfore they start flowering they are cut and mixed into the soil. Sometimes the field is irrigated also for the easy decomposition of green manure. If the soil gets clods, then 3-4 tillers are given for better pulverisation of soil.

After preparation of land, beds are prepared. For the proper growth of the tubers of Mush and to facilitate the proper drainage, raised beds are prepared. Although the size of these beds could be as per facility and ease but generally beds with height up to one foot and a width of 3.5 ft. is recommended for the proper growth and development of Mush tubers.

Sowing of Musli

Being a Kharif crop, the sowing of mush starts with the first shower of the monsoons. Although its seeds could also be used for sowing, but for better result, the tubers suit most. Thus form the old bunch of tubers their fingers are separated. It is ensured that some part of that crown/disc remains in intact with all the fingers which are to be used for sowing. Generally these fingers are planted at a distance of 10 and a. total 32000 fingers are required per acre with an approximate weight of 400 to 500 kgs.

It is advisable to treat the fingers or tubers planting material either with urine of cow (proportion of cow urine and water should be 1:10) or with Bovestin and Streptocylin (30gm of Bovestin and 3 gins of Streptocylin to be mixed in 15 liters of water), before planting in order to keep it free from fungus.

Controlling of weeds

Generally two weeding of the crop are required to free it from the weeds. The first within 20-25 days of sowing and the other 20-25 days later. The fields must be kept free from weeds to obtain the proper yield for the crop.

Fertilizers and Pesticides required for the crop

Apart from the FYM used during the preparation of fields, it is advisable to apply NPK (5 0:40:40 kg. per acre) in the field after the first rain fall. The crop is generally free from most of the pests and diseases. Sometimes water logging causes damage to tuber roots which can be cured by stopping further irrigation. For the control of illi and other pests, one has to spray thyrum 5 ml. liter every month. This could be applied as a precautionary measure also. The fungus that attacks Safed Musli "Fusarium". Trichoderma virdi is used to destroy the attack of this fungus.

Harvesting of the crop

After 3-3.5 months of sowing (generally in the month of Oct/Nov the leaves of Musli start yellowing. Subsequently they become dry and fall off and get detached from the tuber/disc. Some research scientists are of the opinion that this is maturity stage of the crop. When the crop attains this stage then it means the crop cycle is complete, hence the tubers should be dug out.

But people engaged in the cultivation of musli in the most professional manner do not agree with it. They find that even after the drying up of the leaves, tubers/disc fingers of mush keep on maturing in the soil. So if at this stage the tubers are dug out they will not be fully matured and hence will lack some medicinal properties thus, these tubers should be left in the soil for sometime where they keep on maturing.

During this time also the moisture level in the soil should be maintained. By Jan-Feb the skin of tubers mature and it turns to dark brown. This is the right time to dig out the tubers thus on attaining this stage, the tubers should be dug out.

After digging out the tubers they are properly washed. Of these tubers, the longer and healthy fingers are. detached from the tubers, whereas the smaller ones are kept to be used as planting material for the next season. The longer and healthy fingers already detached from the tubers are then taken for processing. During processing the skin of the fingers are peeled out with a stainless steel knife and then they are kept in the sun for drying. Within 3 days the fingers dry up. These are then packed in the polythene bags and sent to the market.

Production Per Acre

On an average this crop gives an yield of 20-30 quintals of wet mush per acre. After peeling and drying nearly 20% (4-4.5 quintals) dry mush is finally obtained. In the indigenous market, the present rate of dry mush ranges between Rs. 800-1800 per kg., whereas it fetches beyond Rs. 3000 per kg. in the international market.

Uses of Safed Musli

Safed Musli has very good ayurvedic medicinal use. It is a rich source of over 25 alkaloids, vitamins, minerals, proteins, carbohydrates, steroids saponins and polysachharides etc. Musli or Talamuli ha.s been used iii the indigenous systeni of medicine for a long period. According to Bhavprakash the drug is sweet, cooling, mucilaginous increases Kapha and reduces `Pitta daha and acts as stimulant, it gives strength Mush prepared as a paste with goats milk or honey and applied locally over the face, brightens the complexion of the face.

It is extensively used by the Ayurvedic practitioners for a wide variety of ailments and particularly an ingredient of aphrodisiac preparations.

In Raj Nighantu it has been described that the Kali mush is more effective than Sweta mush, which is botanically identified as Chlorophytum tuberosum. The root stock extracts is effective mainly on the urinary system and is considered to be diuretic in action. it is given in dysuria, poluria, gonorrhoea in addition to the menorrhagia, lcueorrhoea, piles and leucoderma. The drug is considered to be alternative appetiser, fattening and restorative (Charka Samhita, Sushrutá Samhita, Vagbhatta, Misra, 1969, Kirtikar and Basu, 1933, Nadkami, 1954 and Sharma, 1956) presently a number of health tonics (sexual tonics) are prepared from it.

In Unani system of medicine, the drug is employed in bronchitis, opthalmic conditions, vomiting, than hoca, dyspepsia, lumbago, pain in the joints and in the diseases of nerves. It is considered to have carminative, tonic, aphrodisiac and anti-pyretic properties (Kirtikar and Basu, 1933, Nadkarni, 1954).


The tubers of the Safed Musli have got very good Ayurvedic medicinal properties. It is a rich source of over 25 alkaloids.

The outer layer of the tubers is removed and it is dried in the Sunlight. The dried tubers are then bagged and weighed. The tubers in such dried form are then sent to major markets like Delhi, Mumbai etc. The Ayurvedic medicine companies directly contact the cultivators who can sale the tubers directly to them as per their requirement. Those who want to grow mush on their farm they to have to buy fresh tubers from the other cultivators. For storing fresh stock cold storage is required.

Legal aspects

Safed Musli is a rare herb and hence its preservation and conservation carries lot of importance. As per the provisions embodied in the Indian Forest Act 1927 Safed Musli and its derived products come under the purview of definition of forest produce. Hence its transit need be covered by a transit pass. This will ensure to check illegal transportation of the herb. The produce of the cultivators can be allowed to be transported after they have procured a legal procurement certificate from forest authorities. The existing laws can be amended so as to check the illegal transportation of Safed Musli.


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1 Conservator of Forests, Wildlife Circle, Nashik, Maharashira, India.
Dy. Conservator of Forests, Buidhana Division, Buidhana, Maharashira, India.