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talamulika - Curculigo orchioides Gaertn.

talamulika :

Flowering plant Photograph by: Curculigo orchioides Gaertn. (family Amaryllidaceae) is an endangered rasayana herb which is popularly known as "Kali Musli". The plant is native to India, and holds a special position as a potent adaptogen and aphrodisiac in Ayurvedic system of medicine. It is an important ingredient of many Ayurvedic preparations and is considered to have aphrodisiac, immunostimulant, hepatoprotective, antioxidant, anticancer and antidiabetic activities. Various chemical constituents like mucilage, phenolic glycosides, saponins and aliphatic compounds from the plant have been reported. The plant is also considered as an important component of various herbal preparations of the Chinese and Kampo medicine. 


 It is believed to have originated in the shady forests of Asia

Taxonomical Classification

Kingdom: Plantae - Plants
Subkingdom: Tracheobionta - Vascular plants
Superdivision: Spermatophyta - Seed plants
Division: Magnoliophyta - Flowering plants
Class: Magnoliopsida - Dicotyledons
Family: Amaryllidaceae
Genus: Curculigo
Species: Curculigo orchioides

Allied species:

Curculigo ensifolia, Curculigo brevifolia, Hypoxis orchioides


Sanskrit: Talmuli, Musikaparni, Talpatrika, Bhumitila
English: black musale , Golden Eye Grass, Orchid palm grass
Hindi: Kali musli, Krishna musli, Musali kand, Muslikand.
Urdu: musali, musli siyah
Telugu: nallathaadigadda, nela-tati-gaddalu, nelaathadi, nelatadi, nelathaatigaddalu, nilapthaaligaddalu
Bengali: Talmuli, Talusa
Marathi: bhuyimaddi, kaalimusalee, kalimusli, masal-kamdo
Konkani: मसळकांदो Masalkamdo
Oriya: Talamuli
Gujarathi: Kalirnusali
Tamil: Nilapanai
Malayalam: Nelappana
Kannada: nela tengu, nela thengu, nela-tati-gadde, neladaale, nelathaale gadde, thaala moolike
Punjabi: Syah musali, Musali safed,
Arabic: muslisiah
Assamese: Talmuli, Tailmuli
Chinese: Shan dang shen, Po lu men shen, Du mao, Xian mao shen, Di ziang, Ya guo zi, Hai nan shen, Xian mao.
French: Musale noir
Burma: ka.Ñhwut-nak
Nepal: कालेf मुसली Kalo musali, Musali kanda
Persian: musali
Sinhalese: Heen binthal (හීන් බින්තල්)
Tulu: ನೆಲಮುಂಡ nelamunda


There are two varieties of Musli which are used for medicinal purpose, Safed Musli, and Kali Musli. Both are Rasayan drug of Ayurveda, and used to cure weakness, fatigue, and as a tonic.


This is often called as Black gold because of its numerous medicinal values. 

ker-KYOO-lee-oh -- from Latin curculi, a kind of weevil; referring to the shape of the ovary

or-ki-OY-dees -- meaning, like an orchid


Synonyms in Ayurveda: hemapuspi, musali

  1. Talamuli - it resembles root of tala
  2. Deergaskandika- tuberous root is too long 
  3. Hemapushpee- bright yellow flower 
  4. Hirangpushpee- bright yellow flowe
  5. Kanchanapushpika - flower having  color of gold
  6. Varahi - having same properties like plant varahi

Rasa: Madhura Tikta
Guna: Guru Picchila
Veerya: Ushna
Vipaka: Maduram
Karma: Pittahara

It cures morbid vata and pitta, improves complexion and is useful in general debility, deafness cough, asthma, piles, skin diseases, impotence, jaundice, urinary disorders, leucorrhoea and menorrhagia. Rootstock is the officinal part and it enters into the Ayurvedic formulations like vidaryadighrta, vidaryadi lehya, marmagulika and musalyadi churna. It is used extensively in ayurvedic formulations like Vidaryadighrta, Vidaryadi lehya, Marmagulika, Musalyadi churna etc. for a wide variety of ailments, especially as a general tonic and as an aphrodisiac


Nilappana is a slow growing  and  less competitive crop.   Hence sufficient care should be given for its initial establishment  and growth.
The land is ploughed well with the onset of monsoon and raised beds of convenient length and 1m wide are taken. 
FYM at the rate of 4 tonnes /acre is applied at the time of land preparation. 
Fresh terminal tuber segments are planted in raised beds at a spacing of 15 x 10 cm. 
Thin mulching with green leaves or straw is given immediately after planting. About 70-80% of tubers sprout within two months.

Since the tuber  elogation is vertically upwards as the plant grows,   earthing up two to three times  is essential to promote tuberization. Frequent weeding is also required to check weed competition. 
Application of small doses of chemical fertilizers is also beneficial


Fresh terminal tuber segments of 1.5-2cm size, collected from field at the time of planting and used as the propagule.
Quantity required for planting: 300 kg/acre


Collect from early February to late October.
· Remove roots and rootlets, rinse, cut into pieces.
· Sun dry


- Yields active compounds: flavones, glycosides, steroids, saponins, triterpenoids and secondary metabolites.
- Tuberous root contains resin, tannin, mucilage, fat, starch, and ash with oxalate of calcium.
- Phytochemical study yielded starch, enzymes, tannins, ash; contains glycoside, orcinol-1-0-beta-D-apiofuranosyl-(1-->6)-beta-D-glucopyranoside, curculigoside, syringic acid.
- Fresh rhizomes yield yuccagenin, a sapogenin, and alkaloid lycorin. 
- Rhizome yielded a phenolic glycoside, curculigoside.
- Chloroform extract of rhizome yielded hentriacontanol, sitosterol, stigmasterol, cycloartinol, sucrose. 
- Study of ethanol extract of rhizome by GC-MS analysis yielded six compounds viz. decane 2,3,5,8-trimethyl (1), dodecane 2,6,11-trimethyl (2) hexadecane,5-butyl (3) benzoic acid, 4-ethoxy-,ethyl ester (4) docosanoic acid 1,2,3-propanetriyl ester (Tribehenin) (5) and ethyl iso allocholate (6). (see study below) 
- Phytochemical screening of root tuber extracts yielded carbohydrates, glycosides, saponins alkaloids, protein and amino acids, phytosteroids, gums and mucilage. Percentage yield of the methanol extract (6.8%) was more than a petroleum ether extract (1.36%). 
- Phytochemical screening of methanolic extracts of rhizomes and leaves yielded alkaloids, carbohydrates, glycosides, diterpenes, flavonoids, flavones, phenols, saponins, steroids, tannins, and triterpenes


 It  is  used  extensively  in  ayurvedic  formulations  like  Vidaryadighrta,  Vidaryadi  lehya, Marmagulika, Musalyadi churna etc. for a wide variety of ailments, especially as a general tonic and as an aphrodisiac. 
 Some  of  the  commercial  formulations  containing  Curculigo  orchioides  are  kama  sutra capsule (ALMA HEALTH CARE ),  vigorous capsule (TAMPCOL), strong-nite capsule  (MEDIMIX), meno-peace capsule (D’ARCY NATURAL), potency plus (CHINESE ), braincare 2000  (CHINESE ), vaipani kamon  (VAIPANI) and sharmiotone syrup (SHARMILA) which are claimed to be rejuvenative,  energizer or aphrodisiac. 

Parts used for medicinal purpose

Leaves, Root, Underground rhizomes, Whole plant, ,


5-15  grams  of the  powdered rootstock


In chyavana prasha, Krishna musli is used as a substitute for riddhi and vriddhi


In the absence of adequate supply of priority species, alternate species kali musli (Curculigo orchioides) is used  for kshirakankoli 


Curculigo orchioides Gaertn. syn.  C.  malabarica Wight, C. brevifolia Dryand belongs to  the family      Amaryllidaceae.  Some  botanists  designate  it  as  Hypoxis  dulcis  Stand  under  the  family Hypoxidaceae

Commercial value:

The demand of the raw materials and  derivatives of the plant  for the indigenous drug  industries is satisfied mainly from the wild source, depleting the natural population


Drug occurs in transversely cut pieces of 2.5 to 5 cm long, cylindrical, straight to slightly curved, cut surface 1.0 to 4.5 cm in dia.; external surface blackish-brown, cut surface cream coloured; surface with numerous shallow wrinkles and transverse cracks; with a few rootlets and root scars; nodes and internodes prominent; taste, mucilaginous and slightly bitter.


Shows a narrow strip of cork, consisting of 5 to 7 rows of light brown cubical to rectangular cells; secondary cortex consists of thin-walled, parenchymatous cells, densely filled with starch grains and acicular crystals of calcium oxalate, either isolated or in bundles, in a few cells; a few small, round to tangentially elongated, lysigenous cavities also found scattered in this region; a few vascular bundles found embedded in cortical region with phloem towards outer side, and consisting of a few xylem elements; ground tissue consists of parenchymatous cells, some of which contain acicular crystals of calcium oxalate; numerous fibro-vascular bundles found scattered throughout the region, mostly towards peripheral region having phloem, almost encircled by xylem vessels having annular and spiral thickenings; starch grains simple, rounded to oval and also compound of 2 to 4 components, measuring 4 to 21 n in dia., present in cortical and central region, a number of deep red, resin canals found throughout the region, mucilage in the form of colourless mass found in a few cortical parenchymatous cells

Geographical distribution:

It  has  been  recorded  to  occur  in  the subtropical  Himalayas  from  Kumaon  eastwards  ascending  to  1800m,  the  Khasia  hills,  Bengal, Assam,  Konkan,  Kanara, the  western  peninsula and  Tamil  Nadu extending  south as  far  as  Cape Comerin. It is  also  distributed  in Sri Lanka, Japan, Malaysia and  Australia


 It is believed to have originated in the shady forests of Asia. The plant is distributed in plains and shows prostrate growth on moist fertile soil. It is found in all parts of India from near sea level to 2300m  altitude,  especially  in  rock crevices  and laterite  soil

Plant conservation:

In the CAMP workshop at IIFM (June 1999) Curculigo orchioides was included in the IUCN category of “LOWER RISK near threatened”

General Use:

Kali musli is tonic for health, and cures general weakness. It is also prescribed in the treatment of piles, jaundice, asthma, diarrhea, and gonorrhea. It is present in several herbal formulations for gynecological problems, and sexual weakness of males. Kali musli is bitter, appetizer, nervine, adaptogenic, sedative, anticonvulsive, and rogenic, and anti-inflammatory drug

Therapeutic Uses:

Arsa, Vataroga, Karsya, Kstaksina

Systemic Use:

   It  is  useful  in  pruritus,  skin  diseases,  asthma,  bronchitis,  jaundice,  diarrhea,  cuts  and wounds,  colic,  vomiting,  erectile  impotence, spermatorrhoea,  general  weakness,  burning,  fatigue, piles and menorrhagia


Extracts and pills


- Root is aromatic, slightly bitter, mucilaginous to taste, considered demulcent, diuretic, and restorative.
- According to Ayurveda, root is healing, demulcent, aphrodisiac, appetizer, alternative, immunostimulant, hepatoprotective, antioxidant, anticancer, tonic and antidiabetic.
- According to Unani, root is carminative, tonic, aphrodisiac, antipyretic.
- Studies have suggested anticancer, antihepatotoxic, and immunomodulatory activities.

Clinical trials:

1. Ameliorative Effects of Curculigoside from Curculigo orchioides Gaertn on Learning and Memory in Aged Rats / Xiu-Ying Wu, Jian-Zhong Li, Jian-Zheng Guo and Bao-Yuan Hou* / Molecules 2012, 17(9), 10108-10118; doi:10.3390/molecules170910108

2. ANALGESIC AND ANTI-INFLAMMATORY STUDIES OF THE ETHANOL EXTRACT OF CURCULIGO ORCHIOIDES GAERTN. RHIZOME / Mohammad Asif*, Ankush Kumar, Mujahidul Islam / Inventi Rapid: Ethnopharmacology , Vol. 2010, 2010

3. Three new phenolic glycosides from Curculigo orchioides / G. Ai-Xue Zuo, Yong Shen, Zhi-Yong Jiang, Xue-Mei Zhang, Jun Zhou, Jun Lü, Ji-Jun Chen⁎ / Fitoterapia 81 (2010) 910–913

4. Acute Toxicity Study and In-vivo Anti-inflammatory Activity of Different Fractions of Curculigo orchioides Gaertn. Rhizome in Albino Wistar Rats / Mohammad Asif*, Ankush Kumar / Iranian Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences Summer 2010: 6(3): 191-198 



2. Curculigoside isolated from Curculigo orchioides prevents hydrogen peroxide-induced dysfunction and oxidative damage in calvarial osteoblasts  / Ying Wang, Lu Zhao, Yin Wang, Jinlong Xu, Yan Nie, Yuanhui Guo ,Yongtao Tong, Luping Qin, Qiaoyan Zhang / Acta Biochimica et Biophysica Sinica, May 2012; Volume 44, Issue 5: pp 431–441 /

3. Effects of Curculigoside on Memory Impairment and Bone Loss via Anti-Oxidative Character in APP/PS1 Mutated Transgenic Mice / Lu Zhao, Sha Liu, Yin Wang, Qiaoyan Zhang, Wenjuan Zhao, Zejian Wang, Ming Yin  /  PLoS ONE, 2015; 10(7): e0133289 /

4. Curculigo orchioides Gaertn. extract improves sexual performance in diabetic male rats / M Thakur, S Bhargava, V Dixit / Planta Med, 2010; 76 / DOI: 10.1055/s-0030-1264621 

5. AN ETHNOMEDICINAL SURVEY OF MEDICINAL PLANTS UTILIZED BY FOLK PEOPLE OF THE THRISSUR FOREST CIRCLE, KERALA / Raghunathan M. / European Journal of Pharmaceutical and Medical Research, 2017; 4(11): pp 401-409


It promotes weight gain.
It has Oxytocic effects (induces labor by stimulating contractions of the muscles of the uterus).

Toxicity studies:

 In  the recommended  dose  (5-15  grams  of the  powdered rootstock),  no  adverse  reactions have been reported.

Use in other system of medicine:

• For lumbago, weak kidney, neurasthenia, urine retention, chronic nephritis, impotency, bed-wetting.
• Hypertension among women at late ages, chronic arthritis.
• Weakening of the knees and lumbar regions, numbness of the limbs, rheumatic arthritis.
• Given with milk and sugar for gonorrhea, leucorrhea, and menstrual derangements.
• In Ayurveda, increases kapha and reduces vata and pitta; used for treatment of piles, asthma, gonorrhea, biliousness, fatigue and blood disorders. Also considered a sexual tonic.
• In Unani, used for bronchitis, ophthalmic, indigestion, vomiting, diarrhea, lumbago, joint pains.
• In India, Pakistan and China, tuberous roots have been used for cancer, jaundice, asthma, wound healing. Rhizome juice extract has been used as tonic to overcome impotence.
• In India, plant rhizome has been used as an aphrodisiac. Plant paste applied to skin for itchy afflictions; also applied to hemorrhoids to relieve pain and itching. Also used for gonorrhea, jaundice, vomiting.
• In traditional Chinese medicine, used for the treatment of impotence, limb weakness, osteoarthritis of the knees and lumbar spine, and watery diarrhea. 
• In Kerala, India, decoction of tubers drunk as nutritive; decoction of rhizomes used as aphrodisiac and for leucorrhea; paste of tubers applied to bone fractures.


Talamuli consists of dried rhizome of Curculigo orchioides Gmrtn. (Fam. Amaryllidacem), a small herb, upto 30 cm high with tuberous root stock, occurring wild in sub-tropical Himalayas from Kumaon eastwards, ascending upto 1830 m in Khasi hills, Manipur and the Eastern Ghats, also from Konkan southwards; drug is collected from two year old plants, washed well and cleared of rootlets, sliced and dried in shade.

Photos of talamulika -

KEY WORDS: Curculigo orchioides Gaertn. , talamulika

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