A note on conservation, preservation and processing of wild edible plants and indigenous fruits of Manipur

Prof N Irabanta Singh *

Lamlong Keithel as seen on September 11 2016
Lamlong Keithel as seen on September 11 2016 :: Pix - Shankar Khangembam


By tradition, the indigenous people of Manipur consumed a large variety of wild plants as vegetables, fruits, etc. (J. Eco. Tax. Bot., 6(3): 1985:699-703). Some of these communities also used wild plants in their own traditional way (J. Eco. Tax. Bot., 13(1): 1988:113-119).

Traditional vegetables like other horticultural crops experience losses between harvest and consumption. The magnitude of post-harvest losses in fresh fruits and vegetables is estimated 5 to 25% in developed countries and 20-50%in developing countries depending upon commodity (Rader, 2000).


Wild edible plant parts as well as indigenous fruits sold in the markets of Manipur valley (Kwairamband, Singjamei, Khurai, Kongba, Lilong, Thoubal, Kakching, Nambol, Bishnupur, etc) and Hills (Churachandpur, Senapati, Ukhrul, etc) districts were collected and identified with the help of published literatures. These wild edible plants are classified into three groups, viz, I. Fruit and seed edible plants, II. Stem, tuber and rhizome edible plants and III. More than one plant parts edible plants.


I. Fruit and seed edible plants : It includes Heirikothong (Artocarpus takoocha Roxb. Family Moraceae); Heiree (Calamus caesius Blume Family Palmaceae); Nonggang hei (Baccaurea sapida Muell. Arg. Family Euphorbiaceae); Nobab (Citrus decumana Linn Family Rutaceae); Heireet (Ficus cunia Ham Family Moraceae); Heijugak (Juglans regia Linn Family Juglandaceae);

Chorphon (Elaeocarpus floribundus Blume Family Tiliaceae); Mangge (Tamarindus indica Linn. Family Leguminosae); Heijang (Citrus mediea Linn. Family Rutaceae); Heibong (Ficus glomerata Roxb. Family Moraceae); Heitup (Pyrus sylvatica Linn. Family Teliaceae); Karol (Momordica cochinchinensis Spreng Family Cucurbitaceae); Thangjing (Euryale ferox Salib. Family Nymphaeaceae);

Heikak/yelli (Trapa bispinosa Roxb. = T. nutans Linn Family Trapaceae); Heibi (Vanguirea spinosa Roxb. Family Rubiaceae); Heimang (Rhus semialata Murr. Family Anacardiaceae); Mukthrubi (Zanthoxylum alatum Roxb. Family Rulaceae); Heinaujom (Averrhoa carambola Linn. Family Geraniaceae); Yongchak (Parkia roxburghii G-Don Family Leguminosae); Mojam hei (Tetrastigma muricatum Planch. Family vitaceae), etc.

II. Stem, tuber and rhizome edible plants : It includes Saneibi wa (Bambusa arundinacea Linn. Family Gramineae); Ha (Dioscorea alata Linn. Family Dioscoreaceae); Loklei (Hedychium coronarium Koen. Family Scitaminaceae); Pulei (Alpinia allughas Rosc. Family Scitamineae); Koukha (Sagitaria sagitifolia Linn. Family Alismetaceae); Kaothum (Cyperus esculentus Linn. Family Cyperaceae); Kanghu (Alpinia galanga Linn. Family Scitamineae),etc.

III. More than one plant parts edible plants : It includes Chuchu-rangmei (Sesbania grandiflora Pers. Family Luguminosae, edible parts tender twigs and pod); Silot sougree (Hibiscus sabdariffa Family Malvaceae, edible parts leaves and flowers as vegetables); Pakhang leiton (Euphorbia hirta Linn. Family Euphorbiaceae, edible parts young twigs and inflorescence);

Yerumkeirum (Stellaria media Linn. Family Caryophyllaceae, edible parts young twigs); Uthum (Wendrandia paniculata DC. Family Rubeaceae, edible parts, tender twigs); Ananba (Corchorus capsularis L. Family Tiliaceae edible parts leaves and young shoots); Awa phadigom (Eryngium foetidum L. Family Umbelliferae, edible parts whole body); Tokningkhok (Houttunia cordata Thunb. Family Piperaceae, edible parts whole body including roots except flowers);

Sougree (Hisbiscus cannabinus L. Family Malvaceae, edible parts leaves); Ekaithabi (Neptunia prostrata Lour. Family Leguminosae, edible parts young twigs including tender leaves); Ushingsha (Cinnamonum zeylanicum P. Family Lauraceae, edible parts barks as spice); Oo-hawaimaton (Crotataria junceae Linn. Family Leguminosae, edible parts young twigs and even inflorescence for Singju);

Mayangba (Ocinum canum Sinn. Family Labiatae, edible parts young twigs, inflorescence including flower and fruits); Khongnangbot (Ficus benghalensis L. Family Moraceae, edible parts young buds and leaves); Yellang (Polygonum orientalis L. Family Polygonaceae, edible parts tender leaves); Kollamani (Ipomea repens Roth. Family Convolvulaceae, edible parts all parts);

Monsaobi (Chenopodium album L. Family Chenopodiaceae, edible parts all parts except root); Ising kundo (Jussiaea repens L. Family, Onagraceae edible parts twigs as vegetables); Leibak kundo (Portulaceae oleracea Linn. Family Portukcaceae, edible parts young twigs); Nongmangkha (Adhatoda vasica Nees. Family Acanthaceae, Edible parts leaves as vegetables);

Chengkruk (Amaranthus tristis L. Family Amaranthaceae, edible parts leaves as vegetables); Tejpat (Cinnamomum tamata Nees. Family Lauraceae, edible parts leaves as spice); Palangshak (Spinavia oleracea L. Family Chanapodiaceae, edible parts leaves as vegetables); Chingonglei Angouba (Leucaena glauca L. Family Momosaceae, edible parts young fruits and tender twigs as vegetables);

Tharo (Nymphaea pubescens Willd. Family Nymphaeceae edible parts singju/salad); Yendang (Cycas pectinata Griff. Family Cycadaceae, edible parts tender leaves as vegetables); Yempat (Plantago major L. Family Plantagenacea, edible parts all parts except root); Ishing yensang (Marsilea quadrifolia Linn. Family Salvinkceae edible parts tender leaves and stem);

Lilha maton (Piperomia pellucida Linn. Family Piperaceae, edible parts twigs as vegetables); Komprek (Telanthera phyllazeroides Family Amaranthaceae, edible parts all parts except root as salad); etc.


Conservation : It is the protection, preservation, management of wild life on natural resources such as forests and water. Through the conservation of biodiversity and the survival of many species and habitats which are threatened due to human activities can be ensured. Conservation can broadly be divided into two types viz., (i) in situ conservation and (ii) ex situ conservation.

In situ conservation is on site conservation or the conservation of genetic resources in natural population of plant or animal species such as forest genetic resources in natural population of tree species. In situ conservation is done by declaring an area as protected e.g. Sirui lily (Lilium macklini) in Ukhrul district, Manipur. Ex situ conservation is the preservation of components of biological diversity outside their natural habitats. Such stratagies include establishment of botanical gardens and other conservation stands like gene bank, seed bank, seedling bank, tissue culture bank, cryopreservation (preservation at very low temperature -1960 C in liquid nitrogen), etc.

Preservation : The natural value of indigenous vegetables is highest when they are fresh and has been reported to be superior to exotic vegetables like cabbage (Chweya, 1997) on a per weight basis. Once the vegetables are harvested they get subjected to a series of physical and biochemical changes that causes loss of nutritional value, flavor, taste and start rotting or spoilage.

Several methods of vegetables preservation are available and these include sun drying, solar drying, canning, vacuum packing, etc. drying is one of the longest established methods of food preservation and one which occupy naturally with seeds (Kumar et al, 2010). Silot sougree (Hisbiscus sabdariffa Linn. Family Malvaceae) can be preserved in the dry form and can regain its taste when cooked after proper soaking in the water.

Indigenous fruits are those which are native to Manipur. Indigenous trees such as Heitup (Pyrus sylvatica L.), Heirikothong (Artocarpus lakoocha Roxb.), etc are mostly found wild. A wide variety of indigenous fruit trees are valuable to the diets and incomes of local communities, particularly during the time of potential household insecurity.

These fruits also provide a valued source of vitamins and minerals, but often they are underutilized. Despite the benefits reaped from indigenous fruit trees, their products are often undervalued or little known among urban and international markets. Preserving the genetic diversity of indigenous fruits also means ensuring their sustainability.

Fruits are most obvious products of indigenous fruit trees. But they have many other uses as well. Sun drying of fruits such as fig, can offer a good source of vitamins and minerals all the year round.


Traditionally vegetables are processed during summer season when they are plenty and then used during winter and dry season. With the advances in modern technology, environmental control and storage facilities dried vegetables can be stored for longer periods and can be made available all round the year. For example, among stem tuber and rhizome edible plants, Saneibi wa (Bambusa arundinacea Linn.) after processing can be used as fermented bamboo shoot and can be kept for use as vegetable round the year.

Storing fruits is a skill work having whether storing fruits for sale at the market or eat at home. The process of adding value to fruits is important for a number of reasons. The processing of fruits into Jam and Juice is a good way of storing them and releasing them as a source of vitamins and minerals for longer period.

For example, Chorphol (Elaeocarpus floribundus Blume) can be processed as Jam and Heitup (Pyrus sylvatica Linn.) can be made as pickle. Also, adding value to the produce of trees means that local communities are more likely to nurture them for their benefits, rather than destroying them for their timber.

Conclusion and Recommendation

Vegetables should be dried on clean firm surfaces like black plastics, etc, raised from the ground to improve hygiene and drying efficiency. Fruits and vegetables have to be specially prepared before they can be preserved.

It can even be worthwhile to start a small preserving business. Indigenous fruits can offer a very good source of income especially if they are processed. Harvesting in the cooler part of the day or night is recommended because the vegetables and fruits will be having relatively less field heat.

* Prof N Irabanta Singh wrote this article for The Sangai Express
The writer is former Professor (Higher Academic Grade)/Life Sciences, and former Dean, School of Life Sciences, Manipur University, Canchipur, and can be contacted at irabanta(DOT)singh(AT)gmail(DOT)com
This article was webcasted on January 05, 2017.

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