A large climber with twining stem. Leaves ovate-long-pointed, stalked, base cordate with rounded lobes. Fruit a broad 3-winged capsule. Seeds winged. The thick fleshy tuberous rootstock is not edible but was (mostly in the past) used for washing clothes. Chris have noted it growing abundantly in a number of places, close to habitation in the Kulu Valley. Dr Ralph recorded it as common throughout Northern Pakistan and Kashmir from 600-2700m. Hes confident it remains common in suitable habitats.
Polunin & Stainton gave its distribution as from Afghanistan to SW China. Even when the rootstock was collected, this species flourished. Once it was discovered that the tubers contain diosgenin – which can be converted chemically into the hormone progesterone, considerable interest has been aroused.
However, he dispute the claim that it is either ‘Rare’ or ‘Endangered’, let alone ‘Critically Endangered’ as one article has claimed, supposedly due to an 80% reduction in population but even if this were true, it can only have applied to a very small sample area. It is grossly misleading to suggest otherwise. This has led others to emphasise the FALSE ‘Endangered’/ ‘Under Threat’ aspects in subsequent articles….