The Rare Miracle Herb
We have always known Turmeric as ‘Haldi’ in our Indian kitchen so the one image that comes up instantly is that of the Yellow Haldi.Isnt it? But there is a rare plant not easily available with the local nursery which is,’Kali Haldi’ or Black Turmeric. By etymology, Kali is the feminine form of Kala, which means black color and hence the plant is termed as Black Turmeric in English. Black Turmeric has a similar resemblance to its cousin, the Ginger.
Black Turmeric or Kali Haldi is a rare and a perennial herb found throughout the Himalayan region, North-east and central India. The exact location in India where turmeric originated is still in dispute, but all the available details point to its origin in western and southern India. Black Turmeric has been in use in India for more than 5000 years now.
It is the underground portion of the stem, or rhizome, of the Curcuma Caesia plant. Black Turmeric (Curcuma Caesia) is a kind of turmeric with bluish-black rhizome and a strong camphor odor, famous for its unique medicinal properties. It is a perennial herb, belonging to Zingiberaceae (Ginger) family, native to North-East and Central India. Presently Black Turmeric is on the verge of extinction due to Bio-piracy. Black Turmeric is highly sought after and often associated with Occult in Indian tradition. It’s been used for ages in rural India as a miracle herb because of the belief that it protects one from the negative energies, evil spirits and Black Magic. Black Turmeric is addressed by various names in India.
Ayurvedic name: Narkachur
Unani name: Siyah haldi,Kali haldi
Hindi name: Kali Haldi, Narkachur
Trade name: Black zedoary, Kali Haldi
Botanical name: Curcuma Caesia Roxb
Family: Zingiberaceae (Ginger Family)
Variety and Genuses
Curcuma Linn. is a large genus belonging to the family Zingiberaceae, comprises about 80 species of rhizomatous herbs. Curcuma plants (rhizomes and leaves) have a camphoraceous aroma and contain many functional compounds such as phenolics, flavonoids and different antioxidant enzymes. They are native to Southeast Asia, southern China, the Indian Subcontinent, New Guinea and northern Australia. The name comes from Arabic kurkum meaning "turmeric".
The leaves have a deep violet-red patch which runs through the length of the lamina. Usually, the upper side of the leaf is rough, velvety, but this character may vary. Flowering bracts are green with a rustic tinge. Flower petals may be deep pink or red in color. The inside of the rhizome is deep-blue or bluish-black in color. The name 'Black Turmeric' holds due to the presence of cells related to black color in the rhizome. The Rhizomes are of immense therapeutic uses and strong camphor odour
Leaves are about 30–60 cm long and up to 15 cm broad, broadly lanceolate or oblong, glabrous, with a deep ferruginous purple cloud down the middle, which penetrates to the lower surface.
Inflorescence is a spike, about 15 cm long or altogether about 30 cm high on basal peduncle. Flowers are pale yellow, reddish at the outer border and shorter than their bracts. The Petiole and sheath are long as the blades. The spikes appear before the leaves while the flowers starts blooming in June and July.
The fruits mature in September and October.
- Height at Maturity
This is a perennial plant which grows erect with height ranging from 0.5 – 1.0 mts.
- Life Span
These plants are perennial and the root stays fresh up to a month in a cool, dark environment and dried Black turmeric stays well in an airtight container for up to six months
The species occurs in moist deciduous forests, mostly in Bengal, North East, and Central India, within the altitudinal range of 200–1000 m. It grows as ground cover of forest area in subtropical to temperate region. It is a rare species and is mostly under cultivation.
Curcuma Caesia grows well in sandy loam, acidic soils of pH 4.5–6.5.It is a partial shade-loving species; however, it grows well in open sun under cultivated conditions.
Curcuma Caesia flourishes well in well-drained, sandy loam, acidic soils of pH 4.5–6.5.
Usefulness of the Plant
Medicinal plants have played a significant role in ancient traditional systems of medication in many countries. They are rich source of bioactive compounds and thus serve as important raw materials for drug production. The entire Black Turmeric plant is used for medicinal purpose. It emits a bitter, pungent with an earthy taste.
The curcumin present in all three kinds of Turmeric (black, white and yellow Turmeric) is what makes them very effective medicinally. However, like any other medicinal plants/herbs, it has specific uses and purposes. The Ayurvedic usage of the plant are:
- Illnesses, such as a toothache, are just one of the back Turmeric’s most common uses.
- The paste of a freshly crushed Black Turmeric applied on a heals the wound at a faster rate.
Other benefits medicinally are:
- Curcuma Caesia has medicinal value due to its bioactive compound viz alkaloids, steroids, phenolics, and tannins. Essential oil of Curcuma Caesia has been known for its antifungal activity
- Curcuma Caesia has scientifically studied for various therapeutical activities like antioxidant, antibacterial, antipyretic, larvicidal, insecticidal, antimicrobial, wound healing and antihyperglycemic
- It is a powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory
- Black turmeric root is crushed and can be applied to bruises and sprains to ease discomfort or applied to the forehead to help relieve symptoms of migraines. Also used as a cure for Epilepsy
- Curcuma has anti-ulcerogenic properties used as a blood purifier
- It is an anti-venom for snake, insects and scorpion bites
- Black Turmeric possesses anti-cancer properties
Chemicals isolated from the plant
Black Turmeric consists of many essential chemical complexes of which only 30 have been known. It has almost 97.5% oil content which contains of Camphor, AR-Turmerone and others. Dried rhizomes of Curcuma Caesia are reported to contain 1.6% essential oil containing 76.6% d-camphor; 8.2% camphene and bornylene; and 10.5% sesquiterpenes, curcumine, ionone, and turmerone.
- Sowing Season
The cultivation method of Black Haldi is like general turmeric. It is generally cultivated in June - July and harvested in January - February.
- Land Preparation
The land is ploughed, harrowed, and planked, mixed with FYM (farmyard manure) @ 5 tonnes per as basal dose during land preparation. If required, lime @ 2 tonnes per hectare may be applied to reduce excessive acidity in soils, at least one month before planting.
The combination of farm manure and chemical fertilizer is intended to have higher yield than a single treatment.
The crop is usually grown under rain-fed conditions in high rainfall tracts of Assam and Kerala states. Constant humidity is to be maintained in other areas through regular irrigation. Sprinkler irrigation is the most suitable method.
- Disease and Pest Control Management
Leaf spot (Tephrina sp., Coletotrichum sp.) and leaf blotch (Corticium sp.) are sometimes observed on the crop. They can be controlled by spraying of 1% Bordeaux mixture at monthly intervals.
- Harvesting Methods
The crop takes about nine months to mature. Harvesting is done in mid-January. Before digging the rhizomes, soil is moistened through irrigation, so that the rhizomes are not injured. Injury to the rhizomes may cause decay of the harvesting methods.
- Post-Harvesting methods
Peeled, half cut or sliced rhizomes should be kept in oven at 55 °C or under well-ventilated shade for drying. These dried rhizomes should be stored in suitable damp-proof containers. The Seller offers various packing options depending on the client requirements.
The Black turmeric confirms to the international quality standards and is appreciated worldwide for its various medicinal quality attributes. Estimated yield of fresh rhizomes is 48 tonnes per hectare while dry rhizome yield is about 10 tonnes per hectare. The herb is sold fresh or dried in markets across India and Southeast Asia. Black Turmeric is an ever-popular herbal medicinal plant but with its usage ever demanding, it is an endangered plant recognized by the Indian Agricultural Department. It is hunted by too many people. Since this is a rare plant and slowly dying out, the need of the hour is to preserve this precious herb. Consistent efforts are being made to protect and conserve Black turmeric in Odisha (formerly Orissa), on the central eastern coast, along the Bay of Bengal.