|Plant photographed at Pune|
Asparagus racemosus (satavar, shatavari, or shatamull, shatawari) is a species of asparagus common throughout India and the Himalayas. and northern Australia. It grows 1–2 m (3 ft 3 in–6 ft 7 in) tall and prefers to take root in gravelly, rocky soils high up in piedmont plains, at 1,300–1,400 m (4,300–4,600 ft) elevation. It was botanically described in 1799. Because of its multiple uses, the demand for Asparagus racemosus is constantly on the rise. Due to destructive harvesting, combined with habitat destruction, and deforestation, the plant is now considered "endangered" in its natural habitat.
Asparagus racemosus is a climber having stems up to 4 m long. Its roots are both fibrous and tuberous.
Shatavari has small pine-needle-like phylloclades (photosynthetic branches) that are uniform and shiny green. In July, it produces minute, white flowers on short, spiky stems, and in September it fruits, producing blackish-purple, globular berries. It has an adventitious root system with tuberous roots that measure about one metre in length, tapering at both ends, with roughly a hundred on each plant.
Shatavari is important in traditional Ayurvedic medicine. Extracts made from dried roots are used for various reproductive and hormonal issues in women. It is also used in cases of gastric ulcers and indigestion.
Despite its long history of use in Ayurveda, few studies exist to support health effects of shatavari. Studies of its effects on lactation have shown mixed results. Its safety has not been well studied, however small trials have found no adverse effects in mothers or their babies. The key pharmacologic constituents of shatavari are steroidal saponins, mucilage, and alkaloids.
Australian aboriginal uses
The roots of Asparagus racemosa are boiled and give a liquid used as an external wash to treat colds and other sicknesses, by the aborigines of the Moyle River area in the Northern Territory. (The Ngan'gi name for the plant is Yerrwuwu.)
- Shatavar Vatika Herbal Park, Hisar, Haryana—a herbal park in India for the research, preservation and production of Ayurveda products, including shatavari
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|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Asparagus racemosus.|
- Picture of A. racemosus flowers from "Flowers of India" website
- Caldecott, Todd (2006). Ayurveda: The Divine Science of Life. Elsevier/Mosby. ISBN 978-0-7234-3410-8. Contains a detailed monograph on Asparagus racemosus (Shatavari) as well as a discussion of health benefits and usage in clinical practice. Available online at https://web.archive.org/web/20101001013838/http://www.toddcaldecott.com/index.php/herbs/learning-herbs/331-shatavari