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Sarphonk [Tephrosia purpurea (Linn.) Pers.]

Pankaj Oudhia
Society for Parthenium Management (SOPAM)
28-A, Geeta Nagar, Raipur - 492001 India

Copyright © 2004. All Rights Reserved. Quotation from this document should cite and acknowledge the contributor.

Scientific Name: Tephrosia purpurea (Linn.) Pers.
Family: Fabaceae.
English Name: Wild Indigo
Hindi Name: Sarphonk, Sharpunkha.

General Description: It grows as common wasteland weed. It is used traditionally as folk medicine. In many parts it is under cultivation as green manure crop.

Botanical differences among major Tephrosia species of India.

Characters T. purpurea T. falciformis T. leptostachya T. strigosa T. subtriflora T. uniflora T. villosa T. wallichii
Synonyms Cracca purpurea   T. purpurea var. leptostachya; T. incana T. tenuis, Macronyx strigosus T. multiflora T. pauciflora Galega villosa; T. hirta  
Plants A much branched, erect, Perennial herb A rigid, perennial, much branched shrub A straggling or diffuse, annual herb, woody at base A copiously branched, more or less errect slender, annual herb A perennial herb, much branched form a woody base A suffruticase perennial, profusely branchedd from the base Annual gregarious, erect bushy herb An erect or rarely at length with 3-7 spreading branches
Stem More or less hairy Angular, desenly pubescent or adpresed white silky Slender, wiry, pubescent Filiform, adpressedly hairy Erect or ascending, stiff, slender, more or less angular Erect, diffuse or procumbent, thin, angular, adpressdly grey-pubescent Angular, densely hairy with white or greenish hairs Woody with short, dense, grey, spreading pubescence
Leaves Upto 13 cm long; Stipules lanceolate, linear-subulate, erect or reflexed, hairy, triangular Imparipinnate; stipules linear, persistent 6-8 cm long, stipules 2-5 mm long, subulate, spreading Unifoliolate, linear or elliptic imparipinnate, stipules subulate 3-8 cm long, stipules subulate silvery hairy Imparipinnate, 7-8 cm long, stipules lanceolate Imparipinnate, stipules subulate
Flowers Reddish-purple, on terminal or leaf opposed peduncles Purple-red Few on 6-7 cm long peduncle, bright pink Single or germinate in all axils, bluish or bluish purple In axillary, 1-6 flowered fascicles, Pale pinkish Axillary, solitary or often germinate, Rose or purple red Large, red, in lax racemes Bright pink-purple
Pods Slightly recurved, glabrous or softly pubescent, 5-6 seeded 5-10 cm long, falcate or rarely circinate, densely pubsecent all over usually inpairs, slightly curved towards the tip, slightly pubescent. 7-9 seeded Turgid, thinly adpressefly pubescent, 6-10 seeded. Seeds suborbicular Turgid, highly curved, 6-8 seeded, densely hairy with spreading hairs, seeds ovoid Linear, curved, cuspidate, silvery white, 7-9 seeded, seeds subcylindric Reflexed, falcately curved upwards, 6-8 seeded, with blister marking 6-7 seeded, slightly troulose and depressed between the seeds, seeds reniform
Flowering & Fruiting July-Dec. in Indian conditions Aug-Oct. in Indian conditions Aug.-Oct. in Indian conditions Aug. - Oct. in Indian conditions Aug.-Nov. in Indian conditions Sept.-Nov. in Indian conditions Nov.-Feb. in Indian conditions Aug.-Dec. in Indian conditions

Useful Parts: Root, leaves, seeds and bark.

Traditional Medicinal Uses: According to Ayurveda, plant is digestible, anthelmintic, alexiteric, antipyretic, alternative, cures diseases of liver, spleen, heart, blood, tumours, ulcers, leprosy, asthma, poisoning etc. According to Unani system of medicine, root is diuretic, allays thirst, enriches blood, cures diarrhea, useful in bronchitis, asthma, liver, spleen diseases, inflammations, boils and pimples; Leaves are tonic to intestines and a promising appetizer. Good in piles, syphilis and gonorrhoea.

Other Uses
Checks the soil-erosion.
Leaves are used as fodder.
Seeds can be used as substitute to Coffee.
Fixes nitrogen.

Agharkar, S.P. (1991). Medicinal plants of Bombay presidency. Pbl. Scientific Publishers, Jodhpur, India : 209-210.
Bhandari, M. M. (1990). Flora of the Indian desert. Pbl. MPS Repros, Jodhpur, India : 118-123.
Sastry, CST and Kavathekar, K.Y. (1990). Plants for reclamation of wastelands. Pbl. CSIR, New Delhi, India : 402-405.

Resource Person
Pankaj Oudhia
Society for Parthenium Management (SOPAM)
28-A, Geeta Nagar, Raipur - 492001 India

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