Botanical name: Swertia chirayita Family: Gentianaceae (Gentian family)
Synonyms: Swertia chirata, Ophelia chirata
Chirayita is a medicinal plant indigenous to temperate Himalaya. Chirayita has an erect, about 2–3 ft long stem, the middle portion is round, while the upper is four-angled, with a prominent decurrent line at each angle. The stems are orange brown or purplish in colour. Leaves are opposite- arranged in mutually perpendicular pairs, broadly ovate or lanceshaped, 3.5-10 x 1.5-4 cm, hairless, blunt or heart-shaped at base, tapering at tip, margins entire, usually with 3-7 prominent lateral veins. Flowering in Chirayita is in the form of numerous small, axillary, opposite, lax cymes arranged as short branches and the whole inflorescence is 2 ft long. Flowers are small, stalked, green-yellow, tinged with purple colour. The flower-tube is twice as long as the sepal-cup and has 4 ovate-lanceshaped petals. The upper surface of the petal has a pair of nectaries covered with oblong scales and ending as fringes. There are 4 sepals, much narrower and smaller than the petals. The plant is found in the Himalayas at altitudes of 1200-3000 m, from Kashmir to Bhutan, and NE India. It can be grown in sub-temperate regions between 1500 and 2100 m altitudes.
Medicinal uses: Its medicinal usage is reported in Indian pharmaceutical codex, the British and the American pharmacopoeias and in different traditional systems of medicines such as the Ayurveda, Unani and Siddha.
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