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Maral root

Leuzea safflower-like (Rhaponticum carthamoides, also “maral root”) is a medicinal plant.

Maral root (Raponticum carthamoides)
Maral root (Raponticum carthamoides)
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©Meneerke bloem (CC BY-SA 3.0)

Economic importance

The rhizomes and roots of Leuzea safflower contain alkaloids, tannins, essential oils, resins and mineral salts, ascorbic acid. Roots and rhizomes are used to obtain extracts and tinctures that have a stimulant in physical, mental and mental overwork. They can be used to increase efficiency, appetite, sexual
potency, etc.

Leuzea safflower is a promising fodder plant for the forest-meadow and forest-steppe zones of Russia. The yield of green mass reaches 30-35 t/ha. The green mass is suitable for the preparation of silage, haylage and vitamin-grass flour. Plants are readily eaten by farm animals in their pure form and in mixtures with other herbs. In terms of protein content, Leuzea safflower is not inferior to legumes. Due to the high content of sugars, it is suitable for ensiling both in pure form and in mixtures with various fodder crops, such as corn, annual grasses.

100 kg of green mass of safflower leuzea correspond to 15 feed units and contain 2.1 kg of digestible protein; 1 feed unit accounts for 140 g of protein. 100 kg of silage correspond to 16.5 feed units and 2.1 kg of digestible protein; 1 feed unit accounts for 127 g.

The inclusion of leuzea feed in the diet has a positive effect on the reproductive ability of animals.

Good honey plant.

Crop history

Leuzea safflower has long been known in Mongolia. Until now, it is believed that this plant can cure 14 diseases and give a person strength up to 100 years.


Plants of the genus Leuzea are distributed mainly in the Northern Hemisphere.

In Russia, the range of Leuzea species mainly extends to the mountains of Altai, Kuznetsk Alatau, Sayan, etc.

Botanical description

Leuzea safflower-like (russian), or safflower-shaped raponticum (Raponticum carthamoides Willd) is a perennial rhizomatous plant of the Asteraceae family.

The genus Leuzea includes 17 species, 14 of them grow in Russia.

The tap root, gradually thickening, has numerous branches, penetrates the soil to a depth of 80 cm, forms a powerful branching rhizome.

Stem erect, irregularly rounded, hollow, slightly branched, slightly leafy. Plant height 130-180 cm.

Leaves sessile, in the lower part of the plants 70-90 cm long, 15-25 cm wide, in the upper part much smaller, deeply pinnately dissected, on long petioles.

The inflorescence is a dense, rounded basket, 5-8 cm in diameter. The flowers are bisexual, violet-lilac or pinkish.

The fruit is a purple-brown tetrahedral achene. Weight of 1000 pieces – 15-18 g.

Biological features

Leuzea safflower-like – a plant of winter type of development. In the first year of life, it forms a powerful rosette of leaves.

In the second and subsequent years, plant growth begins immediately after the snow melts. Flowering occurs in late May – early June. Fruiting occurs from the second year of life. After fruit ripening, generative shoots die off completely 1-1.5 months before the end of the growing season.

Leuzea begins to produce the largest yields of green mass from the third year of life.

It tolerates double use well. The proportion of leaves by the stage of cutting maturity reaches 60-70% of the total above-ground phytomass.

Leuzea safflower-like is a light-loving plant, therefore, sowing under the cover of other crops is not carried out.

Frost-resistant. Seedlings are able to tolerate early spring frosts down to -4 °C.

Leuzea is not very demanding on moisture, therefore it can be cultivated in the conditions of the forest-steppe zone. However, it does not tolerate waterlogging of the soil and prolonged flooding.

Highly fertile sandy and loamy, gray forest and chernozem, well-aerated soils with a slightly acidic reaction (pH 5.6-6.0) are considered optimal.


For the formation of 10 tons of green mass, the safflower-like leuzea removes 35.7-50.0 kg of nitrogen from the soil; 5.9-12.0 kg of phosphorus; 48.7-55.0 kg of potassium, 30.5-37.3 kg of calcium.

Leuzea is usually grown in non-rotational areas.

The best predecessors are annual grasses, tilled and leguminous crops.

When laying a plantation, 50-60 t/ha of organic fertilizers and lime are applied to the soil, the application rate of which is calculated from the total hydrolytic acidity.

After plowing, the field is cultivated.

In the case of late autumn sowing, the treatment is carried out with an РВК-3 unit. Sowing Sowing can be done in the fall 1-2 weeks before the onset of permanent frosts, but it is best to sow in the spring. Vegetable seeders with row spacing of 60-70 cm can be used for sowing. Sowing depth is 2-3 cm. Seeding rate is 6-10 kg/ha.

In the first year of plant life , 2-4 inter-row treatments are carried out for weed control , if necessary, herbicides are applied.

Mowing of the safflower-like leuzea in the first year of life is usually not carried out so as not to weaken the plants and not worsen overwintering.

In the second and subsequent years, inter-row cultivation is carried out on the plantation in early spring with simultaneous top dressing. The fertilizer application rate for top dressing is N45-60P45-60K45-60.

After the first mowing, a second inter-row processing is done with the simultaneous application of P20-30K20-30. Every 2-3 years it is recommended to apply rotted manure on the plantation at the rate of 15-20 t/ha.


When cultivating safflower-like leuzea to obtain vitamin-herbal flour, they start harvesting in the budding phase, for silage – in the flowering phase. To protect the bees, harvesting is carried out early in the morning and late in the evening.

Leuzea safflower-like allows two-fold mowing every year, while depletion of plants is not observed.

The second mowing is usually done in late August – early September.

For use any silo harvesters.

Leuzea seeds can be obtained from ordinary forage crops, starting from the third year of life. Harvesting for seeds begins when 70% of the inflorescences turn brown. For this, semi-mounted sorghum harvesters can be used. Cut inflorescences are dried and threshed on a current. After harvesting the inflorescences, the remaining mass is suitable for livestock feed.


V.V. Kolomeichenko. Crop production / Textbook. — M.: Agrobusinesscenter, 2007. — 600 p. ISBN 978-5-902792-11-6.