Onosma echioides

Synonym ► Onosma hispidum Wall. ex D. Don.

Family ► Boraginaceae.

Habitat ► Kashmir and Kumaon up to 1,000-1,500 m.

Unani ► Ratanjot (equated with Onosma echioides Linn., according to National Formularly ofUnani Medicine).

Action ► Astringent and styptic. Root—bruised and used as application to eruptions. An ingredient of ointments for ulcers, scrofula, burns. Flowers—stimulant, cardiac tonic.

Ursolic acid and naphthoquinones, onosone A and B have been isolat ed from the root. Shikonin acetate is obtained from callus cultures of the plant.

The species, distributed in western Himalayas, is Onosma echioides C. B. Clarke non Linn.; Onosma echioides Linn. is an European species. A variety of this species, var. kashmiricum Johnson, is found in Kashmir. Onosma hookeri C. B. Clarke occurs in Sikkim and Bhutan.

Maharanga emodi (Wall.) DC., synonym Onosma emodi (Wall.) DC. (the Himalayas from Garhwal to Bhutan at altitudes of 3,500-4,000 m) is also known as Ratanjot and Shankhuli.

(Ratanjot is used in a generic sense to cover a range of red dye-yielding roots, rather than the root of a single species. As many as 15 plant species belonging to four different families are known as Ratanjot; five of them do not yield red dye. General properties and colour reactions attributed to Ratanjot resemble Alkanet from Alkanna tinctoria Tausch.)

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