The rare herb ‘Nilamanga’ found from a termite mound in a house compound in Machamthode here became a curious object for many. It was found from the compound of Ubaidulla, a farmer.
Though ‘Nilamanga’ resembles ‘manga’ (Malayalam word for mango) both in name and shape, it has no connection with mango at all. In fact, ‘Nilamanga’ is a medicinal mushroom found in termite colonies and underground. The name came from its shape that resembles tender mango with a stem.
Scientific information about Nilamanga can be found in the book ‘Oushadha Koonukal’ published by MS Swaminathan Foundation in Puthurvayal in Wayanad. Scientifically named as Sclerotium Stipitatum, ‘Nilamanga’ is also locally known as ‘Chithal Kizhangu’.
As the mushroom grows in debris and termite mounds, it is favourite food of termites. During the Malayalam months of Mithunam and Karkidakam, mycelium of this mushroom are seen coming out of the ground.
‘Nilamanga’ is rarely seen these days due to overuse of chemical pesticides and fertilizers. As the houses with mud floors were replaced with concrete ones, the herb was destroyed. When the old houses were demolished for renovation, people did not notice the herbs and they were destroyed.
Due to the ignorance of people, ‘Nilamanga’ is on the verge of extinction. The new generation is totally unaware of the herb and its benefits, said Thachampara agriculture officer S Anand. As this is a rare herb, ‘Nilamanga’ found from the compound of Ubaidulla will be kept at Thachampara Eco Shop. It will be displayed at agri exhibitions.
‘Nilamanga’ was a useful medicine during the cholera outbreak. Ear ache can be cured easily by pouring coconut oil heated with crushed ‘Nilamanga’. The mushroom is said to be a good medicine for cough, jaundice, stomach ache, ear ache, eye diseases, vomiting and body pain, according to the book ‘Oushadha Koonukal’.
Dried ‘Nilamanga’ is preserved at Peramangalloor Mana at Ongallur in Pattambi. The family found the herb when the ground was tilled for renovating the Bhadrakali temple there. As they realized that it was a rare herb, they preserved it. Many people visit the residence to see it.