Chay Root
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Chay Root
A Native Photo: P.S. Sivaprasad
Common name: Chay Root, Indian madder, Choy root • Tamil: Chayam, Chayaver, Emboorel, Imbura-ver
Botanical name: Oldenlandia umbellata    Family: Rubiaceae (Coffee family)
Synonyms: Hedyotis indica, Hedyotis wightii, Oldenlandia wightii

Chay Root is a spreading or prostrate herb, with root-stock woody. Leaves are stalkless, 0.5-1.6 x 0.2-0.4 cm, linear-lanceshaped, base narrowing into wings on stalks, margin curled, tip pointed, scabrous, 1-nerved; stipules with several bristles, base triangular. Flowers are borne in many-flowered umbel-like cymes at branch-ends, and also sometimes in leaf-axils. Sepals are 4, persistent, about 1.5 mm long, ovate-tapering. Flowers are pinkish-white, about 3 mm across, bell-shaped; petals 4, lanceshaped. Stamens are 4, in the throat of the flower tube, protruding; filaments linear. Ovary is about 1 mm across, spherical, hairy; stigma 2-fid, recurved. Capsules are 2-2.5 mm across, spherical, didymous, rough. Seeds angular, netveined. A color-fast red dye can be extracted from the root bark of a two-year-old plant. Chay root dye was once used with a mordant to impart a red colour to fabrics such as calico, wool, and silk. Chay Root is found in Peninsular India and Sri Lanka.
Medicinal uses: This plant is well known in Siddha Medicine for its styptic property. It is also a drug that can be administered for bronchial asthma, as a decoction of the entire plant, a decoction made from its root and liquorice in the ratio-10:4, or the powdered root is given either with water or honey. A decoction of the root also is a febrifuge.

Identification credit: P.S. Sivaprasad Photographed in Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu.

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