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Medicinal and alkaloid plants

Medicinal and alkaloid plants include:

  • geranium (Geranium);
  • fenugreek (Trigonella);
  • motherwort heart (Leonurus cardiaca);
  • five-lobed motherwort (Leonurus quinquelobatus);
  • golden root (Rhodiola rosea);
  • yarrow (Achillea millefolium);
  • Jacob’s-ladder (Polemonium caeruleum);
  • coneflowers (Echinacea);
  • clary sage (Salvia sclarea);
  • common sage (Salvia officinalis);
  • elecampane (Inula helenium);
  • common nettle (Urtica dioica);
  • common thyme (Thymus vulgaris);
  • greater celandine (Chelidonium majus);
  • belladonna (Atropa belladonna);
  • fireweed (Epilobium);
  • goat’s rue (Galega officinalis);
  • greater burdock (Arctium lappa);
  • great burnet (Sanguisorba officinalis);
  • tobacco (Nicotiana tabacum);
  • strong tobacco (Nicotiana rustica);
  • peppermint (Mentha piperitя) ;
  • Valerian officinalis (Valeriana officinalis);
  • Tangut rhubarb (Rheum palmatum);
  • chamomile (Matricaria chamomilla);
  • marigold (Calendula);
  • winter rye spores.

In Russia, medicinal plants are cultivated in specialized farms in the south, in the non-chernozem and forest-steppe zones, in some regions of Siberia and the Far East.

In total, more than 50 species of medicinal plants have been introduced into the culture.





One of the most sought-after herbal medicines is Valeriana officinalis L, which contains a large amount of essential oils, valerian and other organic acids, borneiol, alkaloids and other substances. Drugs from it have a regulatory effect on the nervous system, the heart muscle, contribute to the expansion of coronary vessels, have antispasmodic effect and normalize blood circulation.

The important among natural sources of medicinal raw materials is the hybrid catnip (Nepeta x faasenii B er gm. ex Steam.), which has the ability to accumulate essential oils and is a valuable spicy, aromatic and medicinal introducer, promising for introduction into industrial and horticultural culture. Cattleya is also valuable as a raw material for soft drinks and in perfumery.

Estragon (Artemisia dracunculust) accumulates essential oils (0.1 to 0.8%) that have insecticidal properties. In addition, leaves and stems contain tannins, vitamin C (up to 70 mg %), provitamin A, rutin and trace elements – copper, manganese and cobalt. Estragon is a valuable spicy and aromatic introduced species, promising for introduction into industrial and horticultural culture. The green mass of tarragon is used in cookery as a salad dressing as a spice, for salting and making marinades. Extracts for flavoring soft drinks are prepared from tarragon greens.

Common oregano (Origanum vulgare L.) is an essential oil and is characterized by a high content of essential oils (up to 2.17%), ursolic acid, C and B vitamins, phenolcarbonic acids, tannins and flavonoids. Oregano herb is part of a sedative gathering for the treatment of neuroses and normalization of blood pressure.

Melissa officianalis V. is a valuable medicinal plant that contains up to 0.33% essential oil with a pleasant lemon scent. The oil contains citral, myrcene, geraniol, cineol and aldehydes. The leaves contain tannins, various acids, vitamin C and carotene; seeds contain up to 20% of fatty oils. Melissa is used in medical practice as an antispasmodic, regulating the gastrointestinal tract. Recommended to relieve nervous tension, with migraines, insomnia and skin rashes.

The leaves and inflorescences of Salvia officinalis L. contain up to 2.65% essential oil, as well as tannins, alkaloids, vitamin C and carotene. The seeds contain 19-25% fatty oils. The above-ground parts of sage have anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, astringent, styptic, diuretic and sedative effect.



The ancestors of modern man used wild plants for not only nutrition, but also for treatment. After the advent of agriculture, people learned to grow some of them.

The first written evidence of the use of medicinal plants refers to the state of the Sumerians, which existed on the territory of modern Iraq in 6000 BC.

Treatment with the help of plants – phytotherapy – still exists today, despite the widespread use of artificially synthesized pharmaceuticals. Many medicinal plants are collected and harvested in natural phytocenoses (forests, swamps, meadows, steppes, mountains, etc.). However, since the second half of the XX century. more purposeful introduction and selection of the most valuable medicinal plants began.

In the State Register for 2006, several dozen varieties of medicinal plants were included. Thus, at the end of the 20th century, a new group of industrial crops appeared in crop production – medicinal and alkaloid plants.

A clear distinction between medicinal plants and other field crops cannot be called clear. So some essential oil crops (coriander, anise, peppermint, clary sage, etc.) can be included in a separate group of medicinal plants. Often, tobacco and shag are isolated separately.

Alkaloid plants (cocoa, tea, coffee, poppy, etc.) are widely used, which contain various alkaloids (ephedrine, caffeine, quinine, nicotine, etc.) and have a strong physiological effect on the nervous system of humans and animals. Due to the content of alkaloids in these plants, they are widely used in medicine and veterinary medicine.

Despite the fact that tobacco and shag smoking, due to the negative impact on human health, has become catastrophic in our country and throughout the world, the nicotine alkaloid (a strong poison!) Obtained from these plants is used to produce pharmaceuticals and insecticides.

It should be noted that some cereals, legumes, technical and fodder crops, in addition to their main purpose, can also be used as medicinal plants. So, in some textbooks, amaranth is classified as a rare fodder plant, but in the ancient American states (Aztecs and Incas), this culture was used as a medicinal and food crop. Also, leuzea safflower-like (maral root) and Jerusalem artichoke can be simultaneously attributed to fodder and medicinal plants.

Medicinal crop rotations

Medicinal cultures are subject to high requirements for product purity. Therefore, they are cultivated in environmentally friendly conditions. Growing technology eliminates their contamination with residual agrochemicals, therefore, great importance is attached to the use of organic fertilizers, agrotechnical and biological methods of protecting plants from diseases, pests and weeds, and primarily crop rotation.

In most cases, medicinal crops are introduced into regular field, special and sometimes fodder crop rotations. They are placed according to the best predecessors – bare and seeded fallows, layer and turnover of the layer of perennial grasses, legumes, after winter crops, following the best predecessors, row crops.

Perennial medicinal crops can be introduced into hatching fields, where they are cultivated continuously for several years.

Features of cultivation

The development of industrial technology of cultivation of catnip hybrid, catnip catnip, tarragon, valerian, oregano, melissa and sage was based on the development of basic agronomic practices on the basis of modern technical means to ensure maximum productivity of plants at minimum labor costs for their growth.

Requirements to the soil

The best soils for cultivation of aromatic and medicinal plants are loamy loamy soils with humus content not less than 2%, P2O5 compounds 18,0-22,0 and K2O – 20,0-26,0 mg/100 g, with a tilling depth of 20-25 cm and pH 6,0-7,0.

Soil preparation

In the early spring period, organic and mineral fertilizers are applied, the optimum doses of which are shown in the figure.

After fertilizer application, the soil is carried out chiseled with a cultivator to a depth of 30 cm. From the ridged profile formed by the cultivator and mud-former, narrow profile trapezoidal ridges with a width of 20 cm in the upper part, 40 – in the lower part, a height of 14-16 cm are formed. To avoid soil drying out, ridging and formation of ridges is made on the day of sowing or planting seedlings.



Recommended fertilizer rates for aromatic and medicinal crops:

  • Melissa officinalis: 1-2 year – N60P90K120, 3 year – N75P120K150;
  • Sage medicinalis (Salvia officinalis): 1-3 years – N60P80K120;
  • Catnip (Nepeta cataria): N90P120K150;
  • Estragon (Artemisia dracunculus): N90P120K150;
  • Valeriana medicinalis (Valeriana officinalis): 1 year – N90P90K120 + 50 t/ha of organic fertilizer, 2 year – N120P90K120;
  • Hybrid catnip (Nepeta x faasenii): 1 year – N45P60K90 + 50 t/ha of organic fertilizer, 2-3 years – N120P150K180;
  • Oregano common (Origanum vulgare): 1 year – N15P120K150, 2 and 3 years – N60P90K120.


Production of aromatic and medicinal plants is recommended to be maximally oriented to the seedling culture, because it significantly reduces the use of seeds and expenses to fight with weeds, and also increases the productivity of plants in the first year of their growth. Estragon, sage, catnip and hybrid seedlings are planted under the scheme 70 x 30 cm, valerian, oregano, melissa – 70 x 15-20 cm, the number of plants is respectively 47.6 and 71.4 thousand pcs / ha. Seeding is carried out in a double-line technique with a distance between the lines of 8 cm and a row spacing of 70 cm. Seeding rate is determined depending on the germination of seeds. With 40% germination of valerian seeds, the seeding rate is 10 kg/ha, with 50% and 60% germination – respectively 8.8 and 7.3 kg/ha. Seeding depth – not more than 1-1.5 cm on loamy soils and 2 cm – on soils with lighter texture.

The timing of sowing valerian seeds is determined by the timing of planting seedlings. If the seedlings are planned for planting in late September, sowing is carried out at the end of the 1st decade of July. When planning to plant seedlings in April, sow in the II-III decade of July, so that the plants have time to develop and mature by winter. It is desirable to sow fresh seeds, as they quickly lose their germination during storage.

Estragon and catnip hybrid propagate only vegetatively (green cuttings, bush division). Cuttings are planted in plastic cassettes with the volume of cells 65 cm3, filled with peat (pH 6-6,5) with 0.15 kg/m2 – urea, 0.2 – potassium sulfate and 0.25 kg/m2 – double superphosphate. Cassettes with cuttings kept at a temperature of 18-20 ° C and relative humidity of 80-90%. During the winter period, cuttings should be taken from mother plants transplanted into the climatic chamber in mid-October, in the spring and autumn period – from field plants.


Planting care

As weeds appear, inter-row cultivation is carried out with a cultivator with a set of working tools – lancet tine, side razors, rotary harrow and hiller. Crops are weeded manually, which eliminates the use of herbicides and makes it possible to obtain high-quality raw materials.

Due to the fact that valerian gives flower-bearing shoots, it is necessary to ensure their timely removal (“rejuvenation”, or topping). This usually coincides with the 1st weeding. “Rejuvenation” of crops is also carried out manually. During the growing season, there are 2-3 weeding operations, “rejuvenating” as needed, and 3 inter-row treatments. During the 2nd treatment, plants in the rows are fed with ammonium nitrate (50-70 kg/ha).


Grasses may be harvested by rotary mower (Л-501, Л-502) at a cutting height of 15-20 cm from the soil surface (catnip, tarragon), 8-10 cm (catnip hybrid, oregano, melissa, sage). The raw mass is placed in windrows, loaded on a trailer and taken for drying. Drying can be carried out on floor dryers with active ventilation. Avoid direct sunlight.

Roots of valerian is usually harvested in the fall 2-3 weeks before the soil freezes, as intensive root growth and accumulation of biologically active compounds continues until mid-September. Roots harvested in the fall have better marketable qualities than roots harvested in the spring. Harvesting can be carried out with potato diggers with subsequent clearing of soil and manual pruning of roots at the base of the root neck. Valerian, grown by seedling method on a high agrophon, has powerful thickened rhizomes, so for a more complete removal of soil during washing large rhizomes are cut along the longitudinal axis into 2-4 parts. To avoid loss of active substances they are quickly washed, dried 1-2 days under awning, then dried in dryers at a temperature not exceeding 35-40 ° C. Moisture of the dried roots should not exceed 18%.

Multifaceted use technology

Taking into account the peculiarities of the implementation of many medicinal plants, the Kabardino-Balkarian Agricultural Academy (Fisun M.N.) proposed a technology for the multilateral use of plants that simultaneously have medicinal, fodder, decorative and other properties.

Under production conditions, a comprehensive experiment was carried out, in which single-species tape crops of goat’s rue, high elecampane, woolly comfrey and dioica nettle are used depending on the market situation. If it is possible to sell medicinal raw materials, cleaning is carried out along the tapes. If there is no opportunity to sell medicinal raw materials, the plants are used to harvest high-quality silage or haylage, for which the green mass is mowing across the tapes. Such permanent multi-purpose plantations showed high and stable productivity: 2.5-4 t/ha of medicinal raw materials or 45-60 t/ha of green mass.


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

Modern technologies in vegetable production / Dr. A.A. Autko [etc.]; edited by A.A. Autko. – National Academy of Sciences of Belarus, Institute of Vegetable Growing. – Minsk : Belarus. nauvuka, 2012. – 490 p., [16] l. ill.