Elephant Foot Yam
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Elephant Foot Yam
ative Photo: Shivaprakash Nedle
Common name: Elephant Foot Yam • Hindi: Oal, Gandira, Jangli suran, Kanda, Madana masta • Kannada: ಗಂಡೀರ Gandira, ಸುವರ್ಣಗೆಡ್ಡೆ Suvarna gadde, ಸೂರಣ Soorana, ಕಂದಗಡ್ಡೆ Kandagaḍḍe, ಚೂರ್ಣಗಡ್ಡೆ Choornagadde • Malayalam: cinapavu, karunakarang, kizhanna • Manipuri: ꯍꯥꯑꯣꯄꯟ Haopan • Marathi: suran • Sanskrit: arsaghna, arshoghna, arsoghna, bahukanda • Tamil: anaittantu, boomi sallaraikilangu, camattilai • Telugu: daradakandagadda, ghemikanda, kanda • Urdu: ज़मीनक़न्द zamin-kand
Botanical name: Amorphophallus paeoniifolius    Family: Araceae (Arum family)
Synonyms: Amorphophallus campanulatus

Elephant Foot Yam is perhaps one of the ugliest flowers in the world and to accompany it, it has one of the worst scents that you can imagine. It's hard to get close to the flower when it's releasing its smell. But the foul odor only lasts for a few hours after the flower opens. The plant only blooms when mature and even so it doesn't bloom every year. Flowers last only about 5 days. Even more interesting, during this phase the plant generates heat. The heat and the smell mimics rotting flesh to attract the flies that will pollinate the flower. Elephant yam is a striking aroid with a flower spike crowned with a bulbous maroon knob and encircled by a fleshy maroon and green-blotched bract. The solitary leaf, which emerges after the flowering parts, resembles a small tree. In India this species as a crop is grown mostly in Bihar, West Bengal, Kerala, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra and Orissa.
Medicinal uses: The elephant-foot yam is widely used in Indian medicine and is recommended as a remedy in all three of the major Indian medcinal systems: Ayurveda, Siddha and Unani. The corm is prescribed for bronchitis, asthma, abdominal pain, emesis, dysentery, enlargement of spleen, piles, elephantiasis, diseases due to vitiated blood, and rheumatic swellings. Pharmacological studies have shown a variety of effects, specifically antiprotease activity, analgesic activity, and cytotoxic activity. In addition it has been found to be a potentiator for further reducing bacteria activity when used with antibiotics.

Identification credit: Shivaprakash Nedle Photographed in Karnataka.

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