Basic Information



Species                                    :           Aconitum  heterophyllum Wall. ex. Royle

Local Name                             :           Bikh, Atish (Nep)

Synonym                                 :

Family                                     :           Ranunculaceae    

Habitat                                   :           A herb 0.3-1.2 m tall. Grown in open grassy slopes and Rhododendron

                                                                                                                    shrubs of sub alpine and alpine Himalaya.

Distribution                            :           Distributed in sub- alpine and alpine Himalaya between 2,750- 3700 m and also from Indus to Kumoan at

                                                           the height of 6000- 15000 ft.

Sikkim                                     :           Memenchu Lake, Tamjay, Kyongnosla, Thangu, Green Lake Dzongri, Nathang, Lachung, and Lachen.

Out side                                  :           Jammu and Kashmir (Gulmarg, Pirpass, Amarnath, Sarbal, Dagwan, Tilail range, Panikher, Zozilla, Ladakh, Darra,

                                                           Baramula, Sonamarg, Chor, Srinagar); Himachal Pradesh (Kangra valley, Hoksar, Kyelong, Tucharpass, Chitkul,

                                                           Dalhousie, Chamba, Sirmous, Simla Aharkunda, Narkanda, Sissu, Chat, Fagu, Kulu, Lahul- spiti); Uttar Pradesh

                                                           (Surya Kund, Koshkalyan, Kedarnath, Rishiganga Valley, Birodh, Khatting, Kalyani, Bhojbara, Kultinangte Valley,

                                                           Luai, Deeban, Chakrata Pindari, Milam, Amritganga) also distributed in Pakistan and Iran.

Morphological information

A herb 0.3 - 1.2 m tall. Roots biennial tuberous, paired, whitish or green. Leaves ovate- cordate to rounded, the upper ones clasp the stem. Lowest leaves deeply lobed and long stalked. Flowers bright blue usually in lax spike like cluster with very variable bracts greenish purple conspicuously dark veined. Follicles 5, 16- 8 mm long, shortly hairy erect. Seeds obpyramidal, blackish brown.

Parts      :        Underground roots and stems

Status    :        Critically endangered



Roots of the plant yield several alkaloids-  heterophyllisine, heterophylline and heterophyllidin [4]; heteratisine, atisine, atidine, F- dihydroatisine, isolatisine, hestisine, hetidine and hetisinone have also been isolated [5].



It thrives well in cool climate and a well- drained loamy soil. Propagation is done either by divisions of roots or from seeds. If the roots are used for propagation then the roots are dug up after the stems have died down. The larger ones are used for drugs whereas smaller ones are used for propagation. If the seeds are used for propagation, they should be sown soon after harvesting. Plants have been obtained via somatic embryogenesis in Calli derived from in vitro raised leaf and petiole explants of A. heterophyllum (through Tissue culture). Complete plantlets are formed after 4 weeks and are transferred to the field.



The root forms an ingredient of a number of Ayurvedic formulations. Balchaturbhadra churna, Astivisachurna (fever and stomach troubles) Amritarishta, Chandraprabha Vati, Yograj Guggulu, Mahasudarsana Churn (in arthritis).



The roots are used as an astringent in bleeding piles, amenorrhea and leucorrhoea and are an ingredient of Sufuf Babis, Majun Bawasir, Majun Jograj Guggulu and Majun Murrawahul-Arwah.


Half of 2 gm fine powder is given as bitter tonic in diarrhoea and mal-absorption syndrome. Two and half of 6 gm powder may be given in case of fever in divided dose.



The tuberous roots are very much used in various ailments such as stomachache, bilious complaints, intermittent fevers, diarrhoea, dysentery, acute inflammatory infections, antiperiodic, aphrodisiac and as bitter tonic.


1. Kumar, Sushi [, Janardan Singh, N.C. Shah, Vinay Ranjan (1997). Indian Medicinal and Aromatic plants facing Genetic Erosion. Central Institute of Medicinal and Aromatic Plants. Lucknow 33- 35.

2. Thakur, R.S., H.S. Puri, Akhtar Hussain (1989). Major Medicinal Plants of India. Central Institute of Medicinal and Aromatic Plants Lucknow. 28- 30.

3. Singh, Janardan, Ashok Sharma, Subhash Chandra Singh, Sushil Kumar (1999). Medicinal Plants for Bioprospection (Vol. 1). Central Institute of Medicinal and Aromatic Plants, Lucknow. 39- 41.

4. Anonymous. (1985) The Wealth of India (Vol.1 A). Publications and Informations. Directorate CSIR, New Delhi. 61- 62.

5. Chatterjee, Asima, Satyesh Chandra Pakrashi (1997). The Treatise of Indian Medicinal Plants (Vol. 1). Publications and Information Directorate, New Delhi. 111- 112.

6. Tsarong, J. Tseuang (1994). Tibetan Medicinal Plants. Tibetan Medicinal Publications, Kalimpong (W.B), India. 15.

7. Progress Report of the Project "Studies on Medicinal Plants of Sikkim" (1998- 2001). State Council of Science and Technology for Sikkim.