Safed Musli: Indian Spider Plant


[This article is about Safed Musli (Chlorophytum borivilianum) found across India and its closely related species (Chlorophytum arundinaceum) found in India's northeastern states Arunachal Pradesh and Assam]

Known as  Swetha musli in Sanskrit and Telugu, Tannirvittang or Tannirvittan in Tamil, Safed musli in Hindi, Ujlimusli/ Dholi musali in Gujrati, Shedeveli/ Shedheveli in Malyalam, Chlorophytum borivilianum family Liliaceae is a Indian medicinal herb majorly used in the treatment of many clinical conditions in India. It is an important drug commonly known as ‘Safed Musli’. It has several therapeutic applications in Ayurvedic, Unani, Homeopathic and Allopathic system of medicine. In the Ayurvedic literature, Safed Musli is celebrated as a Divya Aushad (or divine medicine) with medicinal properties matched by few other herbs.


It is also widely used as a general health benefiting tonic .Tubers of are used in the treatment of rheumatism. Its  leaves are used as vegetable in various culinary preparations. It is traditionally used for its aphrodisiac properties. Dried root powder increases the lactation amongst the feeding mothers and lactating cows. It also removes the knee pains. Leaves are eaten by the tribal people of Western Ghats as an expectorant. In the traditional diet of nursing mothers as a energizing food. Western countries have make chips/flakes with the tubers to use it as a breakfast item. C. borivilianum has been described in ancient Indian literature such as Bhavaprakash nighantu, Rasendra Sarsangrah or ‘Vajikaran’ The roots of C. borivilianum are a constituent of ‘Chyawanaprash’. It is also known as the Indian Ginseng , because of great therapeutic importance and its tubers are. the major constituents of several ayurvedic and Unani preparations.

The species was first described from India in 1954 and reached rare status in nature due to overexploitation. Owing to its increased demand, the species has attracted the attention of farmers as well as researchers in several institutions.

A closely related species Chlorophytum arundinaceum (Tale ) in India’s northeastern state of Arunachal has been used as a medicinal food and an onion substitute.

How to cultivate:

In order to the meet market demand for tubers of the Safed Musli private growers have started cultivating Chlorophytum borivilianum species, which is a fast growing species. The technical details and the cultivation methodology arc as under.


below from FAO website:

Land Preparation:

The land is required to be prepared in the month of April-May. After deep ploughing of the fields, 20 to 50 trolleys (40 to 80 tonnes) per acre of FYM is mixed in the soil. If the soil is of clay nature them soil conditioner at the rate of one tonne per acre could be used to condition it. Green manure can also be used to enrich the soil. For this purpose, the seeds of Sunhemp (boru) @ 60 kg. per acre could be sown in the field (proposed for the cultivation of Musli) during March- April and bçfore they start flowering they are cut and mixed into the soil. Sometimes the field is irrigated also for the easy decomposition of green manure. If the soil gets clods, then 3-4 tillers are given for better pulverisation of soil.

After preparation of land, beds are prepared. For the proper growth of the tubers of Mush and to facilitate the proper drainage, raised beds are prepared. Although the size of these beds could be as per facility and ease but generally beds with height up to one foot and a width of 3.5 ft. is recommended for the proper growth and development of Mush tubers.


Being a Kharif crop, the sowing of mush starts with the first shower of the monsoons. Thus form the old bunch of tubers their fingers are separated. It is ensured that some part of that crown/disc remains in intact with all the fingers which are to be used for sowing. Generally these fingers are planted at a distance of 10 and a. total 32000 fingers are required per acre with an approximate weight of 400 to 500 kgs.

Fertilizer/ Pest Control

Waterlogging is a problem.For the control of illi and other pests, one has to spray thyrum 5 ml. liter every month. This could be applied as a precautionary measure also. The fungus that attacks Safed Musli “Fusarium”. Trichoderma virdi is used to destroy the attack of this fungus.


After 3-3.5 months of sowing (generally in the month of Oct/Nov the leaves of Musli start yellowing. Subsequently they become dry and fall off and get detached from the tuber/disc. Some research scientists are of the opinion that this is maturity stage of the crop. When the crop attains this stage then it means the crop cycle is complete, hence the tubers should be dug out.

But people engaged in the cultivation of musli in the most professional manner do not agree with it. They find that even after the drying up of the leaves, tubers/disc fingers of mush keep on maturing in the soil. So if at this stage the tubers are dug out they will not be fully matured and hence will lack some medicinal properties thus, these tubers should be left in the soil for sometime where they keep on maturing.

During this time also the moisture level in the soil should be maintained. By Jan-Feb the skin of tubers mature and it turns to dark brown. This is the right time to dig out the tubers thus on attaining this stage, the tubers should be dug out.

Production per hectare

On an average this crop gives an yield of 20-30 quintals of wet mush per acre. After peeling and drying nearly 20% (4-4.5 quintals) dry mush is finally obtained. In the indigenous market, the present rate of dry mush ranges between Rs. 800-1800 per kg., whereas it fetches beyond Rs. 3000 per kg. in the international market.


for details please see the FAO website


  2. (Indigenous biodiversity of Apatani Plateau: Learning on the biocultural knowledge of the Apatani tribe of Arunachal Pradesh for sustainable livelihoods, R.C. Srivastava al. Indian Journal of Tradition Knowledge.

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