Tuberose (Polianthes tuberosa L.) is one of the most important tropical ornamental bulbous flowering plants cultivated for the production of long lasting flower spikes. It is popularly known as Rajanigandha or Nishigandha. It belongs to the family Amaryllidaceae and is native to Mexico. Tuberose is an important commercial cut as well as loose flower crop due to pleasant fragrance, longer vase-life of spikes, higher returns and wide adaptability to varied climate and soil. They are valued much by the aesthetic world for their beauty and fragrance.
The flowers are attractive and elegant in appearance with a sweet fragrance. It has long been cherished for the aromatic oils extracted from its fragrant white flowers. Tuberose blooms throughout the year and its clustered spikes are rich in fragrance; florets are star shaped, waxy and loosely arranged on a spike that can reach up to 30 to 45 cm in length. The flower is very popular for its strong fragrance, and its essential oil is an important component of high-grade perfumes. ‘Single’ varieties are more fragrant than ‘Double’ type and contain 0.08 to 0.14 percent concrete which is used in high-grade perfumes (Singh and Uma, 1995). There is high demand for tuberose concrete and absolute in international markets which fetch a very good price.
Flowers of the Single type (single row of perianth) are commonly used for extraction of essential oil, loose flowers, making garland etc., while that of Double varieties (more than two rows of perianth) are used as cut flowers, garden display and interior decoration. The fragrance of flowers is very sweet, floral and honey-like and can help give emotional strength. It is known to improve an individual’s capacity for emotional depth and can stimulate the right side of the brain and bring serenity to the mind and heart. The flower spike of tuberose remains fresh for a long time and finds a distinct place in the flower markets. Due to its immense export potential, cultivation of tuberose is gaining momentum day by day in our country.
Origin and History
Tuberose is a native of Mexico from where it spread to different parts of the world during the 16th Century. This is one of the earliest cultivated plants and may be extinct in its natural habitat. The Aztecs were growing it nearly 600 years ago. The Spanish found the Aztecs growing it in 1519 and took it back with them to the Old World. A French missionary, returning from the Indies in the 1500’s did so as well.
Once introduced to Europe, it became part of the moon garden, a collection of white or pastel flowers, which release an intense fragrance after dusk. These gardens were popular among the sun-shunning Victorian ladies, who valued a milky pale complexion. The plant did fall out of favour when it became much overused at funerals. It has an intense fragrance, and one or two open blossoms will fill the air of an entire garden. It is believed that tuberose was brought to India via Europe in the 16th century.
Importance and Uses of Tuberose
Tuberose can successfully be grown in pots, borders, beds and commercially cultivated for its various uses. Its flowers are also used for making artistic garlands, floral ornaments, bouquets, buttonholes, gajras and extraction of essential oil. It is also a popular cut flower, not only for use in arrangements but also for the individual florets that can provide fragrance to bouquets and boutonnieres. The long flower spikes are excellent as cut flowers for table decoration.The flowers emit a delightful fragrance.
It represents sensuality and is used in aromatherapy for its ability to open the heart and calm the nerves, restoring joy, peace and harmony. Tuberose flowers have long been used in perfumery as a source of essential oils and aroma compounds. Tuberose oil is used in high-value perfumes and cosmetic products. Furthermore, fragrant flowers are added along with stimulants or sedatives to the favourite beverage prepared from chocolate and served either cold or hot as desired. Tuberose bulbs contain an alkaloid -lycorine, which causes vomiting. The bulbs are rubbed with turmeric and butter and applied as a paste over red pimples of infants. Dried tuberose bulbs in powdered form are used as a remedy for gonorrhoea. In Java, the flowers are eaten along with the juices of the vegetables.
Area and Distribution
Tuberose is grown commercially in some countries including India, Kenya, Mexico, Morocco, France, Italy, Hawaii, South Africa, Taiwan, North Carolina, USA, Egypt, China and many other tropical and subtropical areas in the world. In India, commercial cultivation of tuberose is popular in Bagnan, Kolaghat, Midnapur, Panskura, Ranaghat, Krishnanagar of West Bengal; Coimbatore and Madurai districts of Tamil Nadu; Pune, Nashik, Ahmednagar, Thane, Sangli of Maharashtra; East Godavari, Guntur, Chitoor, Krishna District of Andhra Pradesh ; Mysore, Tumkur, Kolar, Belgaum and Devanhalli taluk in Karnataka ; Guwahati and Jorhat in Assam ; Udaipur, Ajmer and Jaipur in Rajasthan; Navsari and Valsad of Gujarat and parts of Uttar Pradesh and Punjab.
As per area and production statistics of National Horticulture Board (2013), the total area under tuberose cultivation in the country is about 7. 95 lakh hectare. The production of loose and cut flowers is estimated to be 27.71 ‘000 MT and 1560.70 lakh No’s respectively.
It is half-hardy, herbaceous perennial, bulbous plant and classed as a monocotyledon, often leaves lighter green. It is an erect herb, 60-120 cm high with stout and short bulbs. Bulbs are made of scales and leaf bases, and stem remains concealed within scales….read more
There are about fifteen species under the genus Polianthes, of which twelve species have been reported
from Mexico and Central America. Of these, nine species have white flowers; one is white tinged with red and two are red. Except for Polianthes tuberosa L., all the others are found growing wild…. read more
It is best suited for cultivation in tropical to subtropical and temperate climates. Prefers to grow in an open sunny location, away from the shade of trees. It requires warm and humid climate although flowering is profuse under mild climate….read more
These are propagated by bulbs, bulblets and seeds. Multiplication by bulb-segments and in vitro micro propagation from scale stem-sections is also practised….read more
Planting density markedly influences flower yield and quality. The planting distance varies with the soil and climatic conditions. Low planting density results in wastage of inputs and very high planting….read more
Tuberose responds well to the application of organic and inorganic manures. Apart from FYM (20 tonnes/ha), a fertilizer dose of 100 kg N, 50 kg P2O5 and 70 kg K2O per hectare is recommended for tuberose production…read more
High manure and irrigation requirement creates congenial conditions for the growth of various weeds. Hence to keep the plots clean and free of weeds and to avoid the exposure of bulbs, the plots should be weeded periodically and earthed-up once a month. Manual weeding is effective and should be done at monthly interval….read more
It is a hardy crop and is not much affected by attacks of insect pests and diseases.
Pests of Tuberose
The important insects are thrips, aphids, bud borer, grass hoppers, weevils, nematodes, red spider mites, rodents, etc….read more
In India, tuberoses are cultivated for the production of flower spikes and loose flowers on a commercial scale for the domestic market. The flowering of tuberose starts 3 to 3 1/2 months (80 to 100 days) after planting and flowering time is July onwards. August-September is the peak period of flowering. Tuberose flowers all the year round....read more
“Tuberose — Vikaspedia.” Vikaspedia. N.p., n.d. Web. 08 Sep. 2017 <http://vikaspedia.in/agriculture/crop-production/package-of-practices/flowers/tuberose>.
Tuberose — Vikaspedia. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://vikaspedia.in/agriculture/crop-production/package-of-practices/flowers/tuberose
- Central Coastal Agricultural Research Institute, Ela, Old Goa, Goa