Medicinal Plants

Blond psyllium (Isabgol)

Botanical Name

Plantago ovata Forst.



Important and Utility

  • Isabgol (Plantago ovata) is an important medicinal crop of India.
  • It is an stemless herb. The husk is the rosey-white membranous covering of the seed which constitutes the drug, and is given as a safe laxative, particularly beneficial in habitual constipation, chronic diarrhoea and dysentery.
  • India is the largest producer of isabgol and exports seeds and husk worth more than Rs 25 million annually. From the total production of husk in Gujarat, 75% is being exported.

Origin and History

  • Isabgol is a native of Persia, now grows as a cash crop in the Mehsana, Palampur and Banaskantha districts of north Gujarat. It is also grown in Rajasthan, Haryana and Bihar states.


  • Isabgol is an annual plant. Plantago genus comprises 50 species, out of which 10 species are grown in India. Amongst them, 3 are important. They are Plantago ovata, P. indica and P. psyllium.

Botanical Description

  • Isabgol plant grows upto 30-45 cm height. It is almost stemless with hairs. Its roots are adventitious.
  • Main root goes straight down in the soil and produces small roots which spread in the soil.
  • Isabgol does not have original stem, which is known as pseudostem. It is hairy and does not have nodes.
  • Actually it is petiole of inflorescence. Every plant produces 25-100 pseudostems aftr 60-70 days of sowing. Leaves possesses parallel vein-structure. Leaves arise in large number from the base of plant.
  • Inflorescence of isabgol is long and its length may be 1.5 - 4.0 cm, which is known as awn or bristle. In isabgol, the female flower matures early than the male flower, hence mainly cross pollination takes place.
  • Flowers are petioleless, non-leafy small, bisexual, incomplete and irregular.
  • Fruit is a capsule which is ellipsoid in shape. Its length is 8 mm. Every fruit contains 2 seeds. Fruit inflorescence start ripening from the end. Seed length is 3mm, boat shaped, glossy and white.


  • It requires a cool climate and dry sunny weather during maturation, even a mild dew, cloudy weather or light or light showers cause seed shadding.
  • Temperature 20-25oC is required for seed germination, whereas at time, maturing it requires 30-35oC temperature. It requires 50-125 cm annual rainfall.


  • The crop grown in marginal light, well-drained sandy-loam to loamy soils having pH between 7 and 8.
  • To get more yield the soil should have NPK in enough amount.

Crop Rotations

  • The following crop rotations are being adopted in various parts of India.

    1.   Soybean - Isabgol
    2.   Maize - Isabgol
    3.   Sorghum - Isabgol
    4.   Onion - Isabgol
    5.   Groundnut - Isabgol
    6.   Maize - Isabgol - Greengram

Field Operation

  • After harvesting the kharif crops, such as sorghum (Sorghum bicolor), the land is brought to fine tilth and laid out into beds of convenient size for irrigation.

Manure and Fertilizers

  • Isabgol makes a moderate demand for nutrients, usually 25 kg each of N and P/ha is given at planting and another 25 kg of N is applied with the third irrigation.
  • Apart from these fertilizers, it is advisable to apply 8-10 tonnes FYM or compost.

Seed and Sowing

  • The seed rate is 7-8 kg/ha. Seeds are small and light about 600 mg-/g and are sown by broadcast. They are covered thinly by raking the soil. A light irrigation is given immediately.


  • Isabgol requires more irrigation. As already stated about that a light irrigation should be given just after sowing and the crop is given the second irrigation after 3 weeks and a third one at the time of formation of spikes; thus the crop needs 6-7 irrigations, It is advisable that no irrigation should be given at flowering stage.

Hoeing and Weeding

  • The crop is given 1 or 2 hand weedings during the entire growing period.


  • The plant bears the flowering spikes in about 60 days after sowing and matures in the next 2 months.
  • The yellowing of the lower leaves is an indication of maturity, that can be confirmed by pressing a spike between 2 fingers when the mature seeds come out. The crop is harvested to close to the ground in the early morning hours to avoid losses owing to seed shadding.
  • The harvested material is stacked for 1 or 2 days, made to be trampled by bullocks, winnowed and separated seed is collected.


  • The seeds are processed through a series of grinding mills to separate the husk and about 30 % of husk by weight is thus recovered. The husk contains a mucilaginous substance.


  • The average yield is 10 quintal/ha. A bold seeded crop fetches a better price.