Prayagraj (Uttar Pradesh): The goldenrod flower, also known as 'Solidago' can now be grown in the climate of Prayagraj.
Sai Bharath, a research scholar at the Sam Higginbottom University of Agriculture, Technology and Sciences, popularly known as SHUATS, has successfully grown this high-yielding and commercially viable flower round the year, including in extreme weather conditions in winter when the mercury plunges to near three degrees Celsius in the region.
The origin of goldenrod's common name refers to both the flower's colour and the plant's spindly presentation. The genus name comes from two Latin words - solidus (meaning 'whole') and 'ago' (meaning 'make). Its botanical name is Solidago canadensis.
The research scholar at SHUATS, Naini has been successful in growing 'goldenrod' that is mostly used for decorative purposes, in the climatic conditions of Prayagraj.
Bharath has developed this plant variety under the guidance of Dr. S.S. Saravanan, associate professor of the horticulture department at SHUATS, and with the help of Dr. Vijay Bahadur, head of the department.
"A Pune based farm provided me with the mother plant with a word of caution that this will not survive in the climate in Prayagraj. The crop can be cultivated throughout the year. Bright sunny warm weather is best suited for its healthy growth and can be grown in sandy loam to red loam soils with proper drainage. These factors were challenging for me to find out in Prayagraj," said Bharath.
This drought-tolerant flower can be grown under varied climatic conditions and is less prone to attack of pests and diseases.
Although it lacks fragrance, it is very popular because of its attractive colour and thus used for making bouquets as a filler material with combination of Limonium and Hollyhock flowers.
Using goldenrod fillers in combination with Limonium is becoming increasingly popular in India because professional florists use fillers not only to flatter the flowers, but also to keep the costs down.
According to the research scholar, horticulturists cannot only grow this flower but can get the harvest all year along.
He added that apart from its decorative value, this plant has various medicinal properties like anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, analgesic and spasmolytic, antibacterial, antifungal, anticancer and immune-modulatory activity.
"The Manjari farm in Pune told me that this plant is not tolerant to cold temperature and would not survive in winter, but I planted them in December and the plants stood up healthy. We have grown the flowers and their quality is extremely good and the farmers can get good income," said Bharath.
Being a high-value and low-volume crop, this is one of the most demanded cut flowers in India, and on special days, the price goes up to Rs 20-25 per spike, which is enough to give an idea of the profit and sizable market that awaits the farmers.
It is more profitable for small and marginal farmers because they can get more income at lower costs in the available land. They can save labour charges and money by involving family members for harvesting, said Bharath.