Ajwain Plant also know as Bishop Weed or Carom in english is a remarkable plant having multipurpose use. The rich biodiversity of the earth has made the availability of different types of plants. Each plant has its unique use. Some plants have medicinal properties too. Ajwain, known as jwano in Nepali is a plant known for its medicinal value. Ajwain is categorized as minor seed spices and is grown mostly for its seeds and volatile oil. They are the most prominent spice resembling cumin. Now, let’s explore Ajwain.
Different names of Ajwain Plant
English: Bishop’s weed
Origin and Distribution
Ajwain plant is supposed to have originated possibly from the Middle East, especially Egypt. The major Ajwain producing countries in the world are India, Persia, Iran, Egypt, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and North Africa.
Botany of Ajwain Plant
Ajwain is an annual, glabrous, aromatic and herbaceous plant with a height of 60-90 cm. It is profusely branched and possesses pinnately compound leaves and terminal flowers. The inflorescence is a compound umbel possessing 16 umbellets. Flowers are actinomorphic, bisexual and with an inferior ovary. Fruits are small, ovoid and are 2-3 mm long. Fruits of Ajwain have a pungent aromatic taste. A strong aromatic odour is evolved when fruits are rubbed and it resembles that of Thyme ( Thymus vulgaris). Ajwain is a cross-pollinated crop having somatic chromosome number 18 (2n=18). Even though the flowers are self-fertile, cross-pollination occurs through insects.
Growing of Ajwain Plant
Ajwain is a cold season crop and is generally grown in the Rabi season. Temperature between 15-27oC and relative humidity of 60-70% is considered favourable during its growth period but a relatively warm period is required during its seed development. However, the Ajwain crop is moderately tolerant to drought, so it can also be grown in the Kharif season.
•Soil type and Soil preparation
Ajwain plants can be grown in a wide range of soil. However, well-drained loamy soil is considered best for Ajwain cultivation. It grows well in the soil of PH 6.5-7.5 and is also tolerant to salt.
Fine tilth is required for good germination. One deep ploughing followed by 2-3 light ploughing should be done. Each ploughing should be followed by planking.
•Sowing and Spacing
For the Rabi season crop, sowing is done in the month of September and for Kharif, season sowing is done from July to August. Due to its small seed size, the seed rate is low. The seed rate for the Rabi season crop is 2.5-3.0 kg per hectare and for the Kharif season crop 4-5 kg per hectare is required. Seeds are generally broadcasted or drilled in rows 45 cm apart and plant to plant distance is maintained at 20- 30 cm. Sowing depth for Ajwain is 1-1.5 cm.
Ajwain is grown both in irrigated or rainfed conditions. It generally requires 5 irrigations. If the soil has less moisture during sowing, it is better to give light irrigation after 4-5 days. After that, subsequent irrigations are applied in a 15-25 days interval.
•Manuring and Fertilization
Manuring and fertilization depend upon the soil fertility status. 10 tonnes of FYM or compost should be applied before ploughing. 80:50:50 kgNPK/ha is recommended for ajwain. Half dose of N (40 kg) and a full dose of P( 50 Kg) and K (50 kg) should be applied as a basal dose. The remaining dose of fertilizer should be applied in 2 splits i.e. the first dose 45 days after sowing and the second dose before flowering.
2- 3 manual weeding and hoeings are done as intercultural operations to keep the field free from weeds. First weeding should be done 30 days after sowing and subsequent weddings should be carried out at a 30 days interval as per the requirement. Chemical weeding is also found beneficial. Application of Pendimethalin 1kg/ha just after sowing followed by one hand weeding at 45 days after sowing shows better results.
•Maturity and Harvesting
The maturity of the crop depends upon the variety used and the growing season. Generally, the crop matures after130-180 days after sowing. Harvesting of crops is generally done from February to May.
Yield and Storage
The Per hectare yield of Ajwain under rainfed condition is 10 quintals and under irrigated condition is 17.5 quintals. The Ajwain seeds are stored at 7-8% moisture level and 40% relative humidity.
Insects and diseases
Common diseases of Ajwain are illustrated below:
✓Causal Agent: Alternaria alternata
✓Symptoms: Small irregular spots with reddish brown to gray in centre, Leaf spots coalesce to develop blight symptoms
✓Remedy: Spray Mancozeb 0.25%
✓Causal Agent: Sclerotium rolfsii
✓Symptoms: Lesions are formed on the stem near the soil,Growth of white hyphae around the stem which ultimately covers it.
✓Remedy: Turning of soil and Soil drenching with a biocontrol agent
✓Causal Agent: Erysiphe polygoni
✓Symptoms: Above ground plant parts get covered by white powdery mass
✓Remedy: Spray wettable sulphur 0.25% or Spraying 0.05% karathane
Some common insects of Ajwain are as:
✓Aphids (Myzus persicae):
Aphids attack the Ajwain plant during vegetative stage. Generally, tender stems and leaves get infected by aphids. Spraying Imidachloropid 0.005% is found beneficial.
✓Jassid (Empoasla spp.):
Crops get infected by jassid at an early vegetative stage and it sucks up the leaf sap causing browning.
Ajwain Seeds Benefits
Ajwain Plant seeds has many benefits because of its nutritional composition as shown below:-
The nutritional composition of Ajwain plants varies among the varieties, season of cultivation and stage of harvesting. The nutritional composition of ajwain seed is illustrated in the following table:-
Some benefits of Ajwain Seeds are:-
•The essential oils prepared from the ajwain seed contain about 50-60 % thymol. Thymol is the major component of thyme oil but is also found in Ajwain that has antimicrobial and anti hookworm activity.
•Ajwain seed oil has a wide range of fungitoxic behaviour.
•Volatile oil from Ajwain seed is used as an antioxidant.
•Ajwain seeds are also used to cure various disorders like indigestion, Colic and diarrhoea.
•Ajwain oil is used by food manufacturing industries to prevent the growth of molds and bacteria.
•It is also valued as gastrointestinal medicine and as an antiseptic.
•Consumption of Ajwain seeds helps to improve the blood cholesterol level and lowers the blood pressure.
•Ajwain seeds possess anti-inflammatory effects.
•Ajwain seeds are commonly used to treat common cold patients. It helps to prevent nasal blocking.
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