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ative Photo: Medha Rao
Common name: Amruthapala • Malayalam: Amruthapala
Botanical name: Decalepis arayalpathra    Family: Apocynaceae (Oleander family)
Synonyms: Janakia arayalpathra

Amruthapala is a rare and threatened plant from Western Ghats. It is a woody shrub with root tuberous, strongly smelling. Stem, leaf-stalks and leaves reddish brown. Leaves are like that of Peepal, 4-6.5 x 2-3.5 cm, ovate, apiculate at tip, round to broadly attenuate at base, entire or slightly wavy on margins; vein reticulations prominent on lower side; leaf-stalks 2.5-3 cm long. Small flowers are borne in axillary cymes, carried on slender, 2-3 cm long stalks. Calyx is bell-shaped. tube about 0.1 cm long, sepals 5, 0.05-0.1 cm long, ovate. Stamens 5. Carpels 2, apocarpous; ovules many in each carpel; stigma 5-angled. Follicles are linear, 3-3.5 cm long, 0.5-0.6 cm diameter, cylindric, tip tapering. Seeds many, 0.5-0.6 cm long, 0.25-0.3 cm wide, laterally compressed, winged on margins; wings variously curved; coma of white silky hairs 1.5-1.8 cm long. Amruthapala is endemic to southern forests of the Western Ghats region of Kerala, distributed at an elevation of 800-1200 m and growing in the crevices of rocks.
Medicinal uses: The tuberous roots of the plant are highly aromatic and the native Kani tribes use it as an effective remedy for peptic ulcer, cancer like afflictions and as a rejuvenating tonic. Recent pharmacological investigations of the root extract of the plant revealed immuno-modulatory and anticancer properties.

Identification credit: Anurag Sharma, Vijayasankar Raman
Photographed in Amruth Herbal Gardens, FRLHT, Bangalore.
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