NUTRUTIONAL VALUE AND CULTIVATION OF CHEKKURMANIS (Suropus androgynous Merril.)
Vernacular Name: Thavasi Keerai-Tamil.
Origin and History
The plant is originated in the Indo-Burma centre of crop origin. It was first located in the Malabar area of north Kerala, after its introduction in 1953 and was taken to the Agricultural Research Stations of Tamil Nadu during 1955-56, where it became much popular as “Thavarai Murungai”.
Nutritive Value and Uses
Chekkurmanis holds a unique position in the list of tropical leaf vegetables owing to its high nutritive value which has not well realized by many people. It is commonly known as multi vitamin and multi mineral packed leaf vegetable. It is rich source of carbohydrates, protein, vitamins and minerals. The leaves contain moisture (73.6 per cent), carbohydrate (11.6 g), protein (6.8 g), fat (3.2 g), vitamin A (9510 IU), thiamine (0.48 mg), riboflavin (0.32 mg), vitamin C (247 mg), calcium (570 mg), phosphorus (200 mg) and iron (28 mg) per 100 g . The tender shoots and leaves are used for culinary purpose like:
- The tender leaves are plucked from the plant and cut into bits, which may be cooked and made into a curry along with coconut flour.
- The cut pieces of tender leaves can be mixed along with the flour and green vadai prepared.
- The tender cut pieces can also used along with green gram. The preparation may be used for idlies and dosa for breakfast and lunch.
- Fresh tender leaves can also be used for salad.
Chekkurmanis has several medicinal properties also. The juice of leaves pounded with roots of pomegranate and used against eye diseases.
Area and Production
It is found in the Sikkim Himalayas, Khasi, Abour and Arka Hills at 1,200 elevations and in western ghats of Kerala (South India) from Wynad northwards at altitudes to 300-1200 m. In India, Chekkurmanis is minor leafy perennial vegetable crop, hence the statistic regarding area, production and productivity are not available. Apart from India, crop is also grown in Indonesia, Malayasiaans Singapore.
It is a slow growing shrub attain a height of 2-3.5 m. Its main branches are terete and flaccid. Lateral branchlets are patient and thin. Leaves are alternate and short stalked. Inflorescence is axillary with small reddish flowers.
- This leafy vegetable comes up well under all types of soils. It can tolerate shade to some extent. Often, it is grown as live fence or hedge for a kitchen garden.
- It is propagated through semi-hardwood cuttings of 20 to 30 cm lengths. These cuttings are planted during May-June, 10 to 15 cm apart.
- Chemical fertilizers are not usually applied. Well rotten farmyard manure or compost is applied at the rate of 5t/ha.
- Though, it is drought prone crop, irrigation during summer increases the number of cuttings.
- Plants are trimmed to 1 m in order to facilitate easy harvest and to have a pleasant look to the garden.
- First harvest is possible after three to four months, when the plant reaches about 60 cm height.
- Generally, crop is free from disease and insect-pest.
- The annual productivity is 30-50 t/ha with per plant yield of 1-3 kg/year.