Shitolpati or Murta, Schumannianthus dichotomus

Shitolpati or Murta (Schumannianthus dichotomus, family: Marantaceae) is an evergreen and erect water-loving shrub with clump-forming rhizome. Stem is green, smooth and slender, forked at the end. The plant is up to 5 m high. The plant is found in the plain land of some districts of Bangladesh as well as Sylhet and Chittagong area. It is also found in the Indian subcontinent and tropical or subtropical Southeast Asia.

Other Bangla names: Mostak, patibet, patipata, Muktopati

Shitolpati, a gorgeous bed mat is made from the soft bark of this plant. The artistic product has recently been listed in UNESCO World Heritage List. 

Leaves at the top of the long stem. Those are entire, shinny, coriacious, elliptic-oblong, acute at the end, alternate, 15-20 cm long and 5-8 cm wide.

Flowering occurs in winter to spring. Flowers are conspicuous, white, slender, 4-5 cm long, 2-stored, lower lips are bigger. Fruits are multi-angled, dehiscent.

Propagation is by division of rhyzome.

It is cultivated for its commercial use. Leaves and stems are important ingredient for the traditional hand loom and cottage industry. Many types of commercial products are made from this.


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