Flood affects medicinal herbs too; ‘Mukkutti’, ‘Keezharnelli’ rarely seen
Kottakkal (Malappuram): Little tree plant (Mukkutti) and Stonebreaker plant (Keezharnelli) are medicinal herbs commonly found in Kerala. However, the flood havoc that devastated the state also destroyed the herbs from nature.
In a survey conducted by the ‘Parimarunnu (medicinal herbs collected by plucking) Association’ that collects medicinal plants from various parts of the state, it was found that the availability of 'Keezharnelli', 'Mukkutti' and betel leaves reduced to 60-70 percent after the deluge.
'Keezharnelli' is commonly found in paddy fields. When many paddy fields were submerged in water during flood, the plants were destroyed. As water inundated areca nut plantations, 'Mukkutti' that grow in the ground and betel leaf plants that is cultivated on areca palms were destroyed massively.
The flood was more intense this time increasing the loss and damages. A. Muhammedali, senior member of Kottakkal Parimarunnu Association, said they have to travel upto 100 km now to pluck 'Mukkutti' and 'Keezharnelli' that was available from within 10 km area earlier.
The medicinal herbs they collect are distributed to institutions including Kottakkal Arya Vaidyasala. The association usually collects upto 50,000-60,000 kg 'Keezharnelli' plants in a year. But they are likely to work really hard to find that much quantity of herbs this time.
When 5 kg raw 'Keezharnelli' is dried, 1 kg medicine can be collected. Upto 5000-6000 kg 'Mukkutti' is required a year and about 25,000 kg betel leaves. 'Keezharnelli' and 'Mukkutti' are mostly collected from the villages in Palakkad and betel leaves from various areas in Malappuram.
The medicinal herbs are sold to Ayurveda medical shops as ingredients for making various Ayurvedic medicines. Both betel leaves and 'Mukkutti' fetch Rs 37 per kg while 'Keezharnelli' gets Rs 45 per kg. When the labour charge for plucking the herbs also is considered, it results in loss.