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ID Please : Attachments (2).  6 posts by 3 authors.
Id Please
A vegetable known as Ningra (Local name in Gangtok, Sikkim)
20 May, 2013


It is a Fern, Diplazium sps. , probably Diplazium esculentum.


WE NEPALI CALL IT A NINGRO……….BUT STILL BEING IN THIS SOCIETY WE CANT IDENTIFY THE ACTUAL SPECIES. THE PICTURE WHICH U HAVE UPLOADED IS SIMPLY THE CROIZER OR A VERY YOUNG FROND…………….HARD TO IDENTIFY IT AND U CANT COME TO CONCLUSION THAT IT IS D.esculentum.
Another problem which i am facing too is that you are getting a variety of ningro which were previously not eaten but due to market demand any thing is being collected and sold as ningro.


Another thing the main motive for the identification of the species is for the determination of antioxidant activity or for the food value. Plz be conscious that every plant in this earth has antioxidant activity!!!!!!!!!!!!!


Another thing ningro isn’t a vegetable which u get in a field……………….its simply a non timber forest product.


I gave considerable detail about edible ferns, mainly Diplazium in “Taxonomic Revision of Three Hundred Indian Subcontinental Pteridophytes with a revised Census List” (2008: 290-312) [Bishen Singh Mahendra Pal Singh, Dehra Dun].

The name in eastern Nepali is Ningro, not Ningra, but in Western Nepali, from Kathmandu westwards, it is Niuro (from Niureko, bent or curled) – and is widely eaten throughout the area (including by us at home in Kathmandu!) as a very nice Asparagus-like vegetable.  
The species represented is not D. esculentum (“Shraunre Ningro”), but very probably D. maximum (“Dhaunte Ningro“), the former “D. polypodioides” of the West Himalaya, which is a much better quality vegetable than D. esculentum, with thicker croziers and a better taste. In Nepal it is chopped up, but personally I like to eat it European style, as for asparagus, by holding the whole crozier at the base and eating down from the tip to the point where the base becomes harder.
The photo doesn’t really show what is needed for a precise identification, though, as one needs to see the scales at the base of the stipe to identify Diplazium species – they are linear in D. maximum, though when prepared in bundles the shop-keepers usually rub most scales off. But I see that there appear to be yellow lines up the side of the stipe – and this gives the possibility that it might otherwise be D. laxifrons. If so then there are very few, and adpressed, ovate scales at the stipe-base. Both are eaten. 
So, as far as it is possible to go from this photo, it is either D. maximum or D. laxifrons, but is actually not D. esculentum.


Yes, I’m glad to agree it is not Timber! My false-teeth certainly aren’t up to that!

But just a small observation – when you say these other species were previously not eaten, I’m not sure what period you are referring to, but both D. maximum and D. laxifrons have been eaten at least for the last 30 years, and so also has D. kawakamii (“Jire Ningro”) in Darjeeling area. Dhaunte Niuro, D. maximum, is the main Niuro of choice in Nepal (including Sikkim and Darjeeling) and has been traditionally for a long time, but D. laxifrons is not so commonly eaten as it is a bit slippery (giu-like), but still it has long been on sale here and there each season in Kathmandu for the last 3 decades that I know about.   
Kalo Niuro is another one that has long been eaten, as a partly medicinal plant to soothe gastritic stomachs (Tectaria coadunata). In Nepal also Kuthurke has been eaten since way back (Dryopteris cochleata), though I’d be a bit scared to eat a Dryopteris – nasty chemicals in several of them.
The essential thing is NOT to eat bracken, Pteridium revolutum, but even so I see occasional records of people boiling it a long time and eating it – if the identification was correct. Some people call any fern bracken! As you will know, if one survives the initial alkaloid poisoning from Tarquiloside and Thiaminase and the cerebral oedema, then one develops haematonuria from the bladder cancers that develop later. Either way, it gets you in the end – nasty stuff!
I remember being slightly perturbed years ago on my first visit to China immediately after the Cultural Revolution, when us Brits were definitely the “anti-revolutionary running dogs of capitalism” to be given a starter plate full of pickled bracken croziers – we joked among ourselves, was it an attempt to knobble the opposition?! But our hosts ate it with gusto, so we joined in and it was soon explained that it was the edible Chinese species Pteridium esculentum – definitely not the toxic P. revolutum or P. aquilinum etc.!

 
 
 
 

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