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|Therapeutic uses||The alkaloid-rich plant has long been used as a traditional medicine in many cultures. It has been used in the treatment of gout, infertility, open wounds, snakebite, ulcers, arthritis, cholera, colic, kidney problems, typhus, itching, leprosy, bruises, sprains, hemorrhoids, cancer, impotence, nocturnal emission, smallpox, sexually transmitted diseases, and many types of internal parasites.It is an anthelmintic.It has been used as a laxative and an alexiteric. The sap is used to treat acne and head lice. In a pregnant woman, it may cause abortion. In parts of India, extracts of the rhizome are applied topically during childbirth to reduce labor pain. Other uses for this plant include arrow poison in Nigeria and snake repellent in India. Some cultures consider it to be magical. The flowers are part of religious rituals. This species is the national flower of Zimbabwe. In 1947, Queen Elizabeth II received a diamond brooch in the shape of this flower for her twenty-first birthday while traveling in Rhodesia, now called Zimbabwe. It is also the state flower of Tamil Nadu.|
|Germination||In general, this plant is common in the wild. It is in great demand for medicinal use, so it is cultivated on farms in India, but most plant material sold into the pharmaceutical trade comes from wild populations. This is one reason for its decline in parts of its native range. In Sri Lanka it has become rare, and in Orissa it is thought to be nearing extinction. On the other hand, it has been introduced outside its native range and has become a weed which may be invasive. In Australia, for example, it now can be found growing in coastal areas of Queensland and New South Wales. It also is cited as an invasive species in the Cook Islands, French Polynesia, Kiribati, and Singapore.
The plant can be propagated sexually by seed or vegetatively by dividing the rhizome. Problems during cultivation include inadequate pollination, fungal diseases such as leaf blight and tuber rot, and crop pests such as the moths Polytela gloriosa and Chrysodeixis chalcites. It is also a crop that is slow to propagate; each split tuber produces only one extra plant in a year's time. In vitro experiments with plant tissue culture have been performed, and some increased the yield.
Both the fruit and the rhizome are harvested. The fruits are dried and split, and the seeds are removed and dried further. The seeds and rhizomes are sold whole, as powder, or as oil extracts.
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