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Transcript
Ethnobotanical Importance of Plants
M.Sc Botany
SELF INSTRUCTIONAL MATERIAL
M.Sc Final
Paper VIII – Ethnobotany
Unit – III & IV
Block – II
Madhya Pradesh Bhoj (Open) University
Bhopal
1
Ethnobotanical Importance of Plants
F - 08
BLOCK - II
ETHNOBOTANY
Unit – III
Preservation of genetic diversity
Unit – IV
Ethno botanical importance of different
plants
Editor -
Dr. (Smt.) Renu Mishra,
HOD, Botany and Microbiology
Sri Sathya Sai College for Women,
Bhopal
Writer:-
Miss. Neelam Mewari
Asstt. Professor, Botany
Jaipur, Rajasthan
2
Ethnobotanical Importance of Plants
UNIT 3 PRESERVATION OF GENETIC
DIVERSITY
Structure
3.1 Introduction
3.2 Objectives
3.3 Preservation of Genetic Diversity
3.4 Plants Used in Various System of Medicine
3.4.1 Ayurveda
3.4.2 Homeopathy
3.4.3 Yunani
3.4.4 Allopathy
3.5 Plants used by Villagers and Tribal People
3.6 Role of Ethnobotany in the Development of Society
3.7 Let Us Sum Up
3.8 Check Your Progress: The Key
3.9 Assignment or Activities
4.0 References
3.1 INTRODUCTION
Over the last decade or so ethnobotany has assumed a scientific prominence. It has become
pivotal in preserving the cultural identity and knowledge of indigenous peoples whose traditional
way of life is under threat. Ethnobotany has matured over the past century from rather shallow
rooting in the documentation of “useful plants of primitive peoples” for potential economic
application and the betterment of “mankind”, to addressing a more complex web of applied and
theoretical issues of human plant interactions from cognition to biodiversity conservation.
In the previous units we have studied much about ethnobotany, indigenous knowledge and
mythology about different plants of different parts of the world. In this unit, we will be able to
understand the role of ethnobotany in the development of society and preservation of biological
diversity as well as the plants used in various system of medicines.
3.2 OBJECTIVES
The main objective of this unit is to provide information about sustainable development and
preservation of biological and genetic diversity. After reading this unit you will be able to
1. Discuss the role of ethnobotany in preservation of genetic resources.
3
Ethnobotanical Importance of Plants
2. Know about important plants used in various system of medicine like Ayurvedic, Yunani,
Homeopathy, and Allopathic.
3. Know about the plants traditionally used by tribals and villagers
4. Discuss the role of ethnobotany in the development of society.
3.3 PRESERVATION OF GENETIC DIVERSITY
Thousands of years ago human began domesticating crops as a food source. Among the wild
germplasm available, they selected those that were best adapted for cultivation and utilization.
Although wild ancestors have continued to persist in regions where domestication took place,
there is a permanent risk of loss of the genetic variability of cultivated plants and their wild
relatives in response to changing environmental conditions and cultural practices. Recognizing
this danger, plant ex situ gene bank collections were created since the beginning of the last
century.
The role of ethnobotany in the preservation of biological diversity cannot be neglected.
Ethnobotanical survey provides data about traditionally used plants and therefore useful for
preservation of genetic diversity of economically important and beneficial plants. Ethnobotany in
general, is the study of the relationship between people and plants, including ho different cultures
make use of indigenous plants for uses such as medicine, religious ceremonies, food, housing,
and clothing, and how people view nature. Currently, sustainable economies are involved in
bioprospecting for new medicinal plants, creating seed banks to maintain genetic diversity, and
tackling the issues of genetic property rights.
3.4 Plants Used in Various System of Medicine
Over the centuries, the use of medicinal plants has become an important part of daily life despite
the progress in modern medical and pharmaceutical research. Approximately 3000 plant species
are known to have medicinal properties in India.
Our traditional system of medicine, viz, Ayurveda, Yunani, Siddha, Homeopathy etc., uses
plants for treatment. Even in western medicine or Allopathy the use of plant products can not be
neglected. In India, medicinal plants offer low cost and safe health care solution. In this section
we will study the plants used in different system of medicine.
3.4.1 Ayurveda: A number of plants are used in Ayurveda system of medicine. Some
important plants are given below:
1) Acacia concinna
(Family: Fabaceae; Common name: Chikakai)
Action: Antiedematous, expectorant, emetic, used in cases of impure blood and biliary
complaints.
4
Ethnobotanical Importance of Plants
Indications: For external use it has a good astringent and cleansing action. Promotes hair
growth, has a specific anti-dundruff action and is used to treat skin diseases.
2) Albizzia lebbeck (Linn.) Benth.
(Family: Mimosaceae; Common name: Shirish)
Action: Anti-inflammatory, astringent, purifying, toning, expectorant, it calms fever.
Indications: Fever, inflammated eyes, piles, gingivitis, dysentery, skin diseases, skin eruptions,
wounds,
headache,
insect
bites,
obesity,
in
all
cases
of
poisoning.
3) Aloe vera Mill.
(Family: Lliaceae; Common name: Indian aloe, Ghrita kumari)
Action:
Alterative,
toning,
"rejuvenating",
antinflammatory. It controls the metabolism of sugars and
fats. It is a strong laxative.
Indications: Fever, obesity, constipation, inflammation of
the skin and of the lymphatic ganglions, conjunctivitis,
hepatitis, vaginitis. Recommended for external use in case
of skin diseases, sores, wounds, herpes and burns.
Aloe vera
4) Asparagus racemosus
(Family: Asparagaceae; Common name: Asparagus)
Action: Nourishing, toning, emollient, "rejuvenating".
Indications: Debilitation, infertility, impotence, menopause, diarrhea, gastric ulcers,
hyperacidity, dehydration, convalescence, chronic fever. It is the most important "Rejuvenating"
plant for women and a specific Rasayana for Pitta constitutions. It nourishes and purifies the
blood and the reproductive organs. Externally it is used against rheumatisms, muscular spasms,
and
stiffness
of
the
joints
but
also
in
case
of
skin
diseases.
5) Butea frondosa
(Family: Papilionaceae; Common name: Flame of the forest, Bengal kino)
Action: Tonic, astringent, aphrodisiac, laxative, purifying, diuretic.
Indications: It promotes bone calcification in case of fractures and it is used relieve burning.
Externally it is specific against ulcers, skin diseases, herpes, acne, boils, while internally it is
used against gas colics, worms and piles.
6) Cedrus deodara Roxb.
(Family: Pinaceae; Comon name: Deodar)
Action: Astringent, anti-inflammatory, diuretic, emollient, expectorant, diaphoretic, antiseptic, it
calms fever.
Indications: Edemas, fever, nasal complaints, earache, eye and skin problems, hiccup, asthma,
cough, bronchitis, wounds.
7) Centella asiatica Linn.
(Family: Umbelliferae; Common name: Indian pennywort)
5
Ethnobotanical Importance of Plants
Action: Rejuvenating, nervine, alterative, nourishing, emollient, diuretic, emmenagogue, toning,
blood purifying.
Indications: Nervous disorders, epilepsy, senility, early aging, baldness. It is the richest plant for
revitalizing energy for nerves and brain cells. Increasing intelligence, reinforce memory and
slows down aging. It strengthens the immune system and, at the same time is a powerful blood
purifier and a specific drug, for external use, in case of chronic skin diseases.
8) Cinnamomum camphora
(Family: Lauraceae; Common name: Camphor laurel)
Action: Expectorant, skin stimulating, diaphoretic, decongesting, antispasmodic, analgesic,
calming, antiseptic.
Indications: Gout, rheumatisms, nose congestion, bronchitis, asthma, cough, lung congestion,
insomnia, hysteria, eye and dental disorders. It is an excellent stimulant, counteracts muscular
and joint pains. Increases the prana, sharpen the senses, clear the mind.
9) Cinnamomum zeylanicum
(Family: Lauraceae; Common name: Ceylon cinnamom)
Action: Stimulant, diaphoretic, alterative, antiseptic, astringent, expectorant, diuretic, analgesic.
Indications: General weakness, colds, influenza, bronchitis. It clears nasal congestion, relieves
toothache and muscular tension. It strengthens the heart and Agni, the digestive fire.
10) Commiphora myrrh
(Family: Burseraceae; Common name: Myrrha, Myrrh)
Action: Alterative, astringent, stimulant, diaphoretic, diuretic, purifying, draining, expectorant, it
is a "rejuvenating" for Vata, Kapha and the female reproductive system, toning, antiseptic.
Indications: Coughs, asthma, bronchitis, arthritis, rheumathism, ulcers, traumas, anemia,
pyorrhoea. It promotes the growth of new tissues, cicatrizes sores and wounds, calms pain. It is
an important rasayana. It has been used since ancient times to prevent ageing and rejuvenate
body and mind, it is very specific for skin diseases.
11) Ficus bengalensis Linn.
(Family: Moraceae; Common name: Banyan)
Action: Purifying, reduces the amount of sugar in the blood, astringent, cooling, draining,
antinflammatory. It reabsorbs edemas and is used in the treatment of acne.
Indications: Against ulcers, specific for external use in skin diseases caused by impure blood
such as rheumathisms, eczema, psoriasis etc… It controls diabetes.
12) Lawsonia inermis Linn.
(Family: Lythraceae; Common name: Mehndi)
Action: Astringent, antinflammatory, deodorant, hair toning.
Indications: Against the feeling of burning, migraine,
rheumatism, wounds and ulcers. Cosmetic action: cooling
and specific for devitalized, fragile, fine hair.
Mehndi
6
Ethnobotanical Importance of Plants
13) Melia azadirachta Linn. (Family: Meliaceae; Common name: Neem tree)
Action: Astringent, toning, cooling, detoxifying, cicatrizing, anti-inflammatory, it calms fever
and purifies the blood
Indications: For diseases of the urinary tract, preventive anti-malarial treatment, intermittent
fever, ophthalmia, rheumatism and lumbago, migraine, urticaria, scabies, ulcers, eczema, chronic
skin diseases, muscular and articular pain.
14) Ocimum sanctum Linn.
(Family: Labiatae; Common name: Tulsi)
Action: It calms fever, expectorant, blood purifying,
"rejuvenating"
Indications: Liver and gastric disorders, skin diseases,
bronchitis, excess of mucus, chronic fevers.
Cosmetic action: Emollient, nourishing, and toning.
Tulsi
15) Phyllanthus emblica Linn.
(Family: Euphorbiaceae; Common name: Gooseberry)
Action: Rejuvenating for Pitta, aphrodisiac, toning, nourishing, cooling, astringent, stomachic,
antinflammatory, haemostatic.
Indications: Hemorrhaging, piles, anaemia, gastritis, hepatitis, general debilitation, hair loss. It
is the most important source of heat-resistant vitamin C. It stimulates appetite, regulates blood
sugar levels, and strengthens eyesight.
16) Phyllanthus niruri Linn.
(Family: Euphorbiaceae; Common name: Phyllanthus plant)
Action: Diuretic, carminative, astringent, antiseptic, cooling, it calms fever.
Indications: Jaundice, chronic dysentery, dyspepsia, cough, indigestion, urinary tract affections,
skin rash, ulcers, skin problems and inflammations, intermittent fever, ophtalmia, scabies, ulcers,
sores, skin itching and scaling off.
17) Piper longum L.
( Family: Piperaceae; Common name: Indian long pepper)
Action: Rejuvenating, stimulant, expectorant, emollient, carminative, aphrodisiac, warming, and
decongestant.
Indications: Colds, coughs, asthma, arthritis, rheumatism, gout, sciatica, paralysis, general
debilitation. Strengthens the reproductive functions.
18) Piper nigrum Linn.
(Family: Piperaceae; Common name: Black pepper)
Action: Stimulant, expectorant, rubefacient, carminative, it
calms fever, tones the nervous system, diuretic.
Indications: It treats indigestion, arthritis, toxins, sluggish
metabolism, obesity, fever, cold extremities, skin diseases,
migraines, toothache, alopecia, and urticaria. It is one of the most
7
Piper nigrum
Ethnobotanical Importance of Plants
powerful digestives. For external use on the skin it is suppurative
and antinflammatory. It is used specifically as a medicated ghee
in case of skin inflammation and of the nasal sinuses.
19) Terminalia bellerica Roxb.
(Family: Combretaceae; Common name: Belleric myrobalan)
Action: Astringent, toning, "rejuvenating", expectorant,
laxative,
antiseptic.
Indications: Tonic for the lungs. The ripe fruit is laxative
while the dried fruit is an effective antidiarrhoeic. It is
specific against piles and skin diseases. Improves the voice
and eyesight and promotes hair growth. Although it is
warming it does not increase Pitta and it removes toxins
from the digestive, urinary and respiratory tracts.
Terminalia bellerica
20) Vetiveria zizaniides Linn.
(Family: Gramineae; Common name: Vetiveria)
Action: Toning, cooling, stomachic, stimulating, antispasmodic, diuretic, emmenagogue.
Indications: Fever, inflammations, stomach irritations, headache. For external use the paste is
suggested in case of burning body feeling. A root infusion is indicated in aromatic baths.
Check Your Progress 1
Notes: A) Write your answer in the space given below.
B) Compare your answer with those given at the end of the unit.
i) Give the name of few plants that are used in Ayurveda and also state their use.
……………………………………………………………………………………..
……………………………………………………………………………………..
……………………………………………………………………………………..
……………………………………………………………………………………..
……………………………………………………………………………………..
……………………………………………………………………………………..
21) Withania somnifera Linn.
(Family:
Solanaceae;
Ashwagandha)
Common
name:
Action: Tonic, rejuvenating, aphrodisiac, nervine,
sedative, astringent.
Indications: General debilitation, nervous exhaustion,
convalescence, problems related to old age, weight loss
in children, loss of memory, loss of muscular energy,
paralysis,
insomnia,
excessive
work
load,
spermatorrhoea, tissue deficiency, multiple sclerosis,
weak eyesight, rheumatism, skin complaints, coughs,
Withania somnifera
8
Ethnobotanical Importance of Plants
breathing difficulties, anaemia, tiredness, infertility,
swollen glands.
22) Zingiber officinale Rosc.
(Family: Zingiberaceae; Common name: Ginger)
Action: Stimulating, diaphoretic, expectorant, carminative.
Indications: Colds, influenza, poor digestion,
laryngitis, arthritis, migraines, heart diseases. Taken
with honey it reduces Kapha, with crystallized sugar
it reduces Pitta, with rock salt Vata. It is rubefacient,
it aids digestion and absorption of food, alleviates
congestions and inflammations connected to colds,
neutralizes toxins, removes channels obstructions.
Used externally, it is effective in the treatment of Ginger
arthritis.
3.4.2 Homeopathy: Plants, which are frequently used in Homeopathy, are described below.
1) Aconitum napellus L.
(Family: Ranunculaceae; Common name: Aconite)
Aconite has been used since ancient times,
especially as an antidote to poisoning. All parts of
the plant, except the root, are harvested when the
plant is in flower and used to make a homeopathic
medicine. This is analgesic and sedative and is
used especially in the treatment of fever,
inflammation, bronchitis, neuralgia etc.
Aconite
2) Anemone nemorosa L.
(Family: Ranunculaceae; Common name: Wood Anemone)
Various parts of this herb used to be recommended for a variety of complaints such as headaches
and gout, though the plant is virtually not used nowadays. A homeopathic remedy is made from
the leaves.
3) Atropa belladonna L.
(Family: Solanaceae; Common name: Deadly Nightshade)
Although it is poisonous, deadly nightshade has a long history of medicinal use and has a wide
range of applications; in particular it is used to dilate the pupils in eye operations, to relieve
intestinal colic and to treat peptic ulcers. The entire flowering plant is used to make a
homeopathic remedy. This is used especially in cases where there is localized and painful
inflammation that radiates heat. It is also used to treat sunstroke and painful menstruation.
4) Allium cepa L.
(Family: Liliaceae; Common name: Onion)
9
Ethnobotanical Importance of Plants
Although rarely used specifically as a medicinal herb, the onion has a wide range of beneficial
actions on the body and when eaten (especially raw) on a regular basis will promote the general
health of the body. The bulb is anthelmintic, anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, antispasmodic,
carminative, diuretic, expectorant, febrifuge, hypoglycaemic, hypotensive, lithontripic,
stomachic and tonic. Bulbs of red cultivars are harvested when mature in the summer and used to
make a homeopathic remedy. This is used particularly in the treatment of people whose
symptoms include running eyes and nose.
Atropa belladonna
Onion
5) Berberis vulgaris L.
(Family: Berberidaceae; Commmon name: Berberry)
Berberries have long been used as a herbal remedy for the treatment of a variety of complaints.
All parts of the plant can be used though the yellow root bark is the most concentrated source of
active ingredients. The plant (probably the inner bark) is used by homeopaths as a valuable
remedy for kidney and liver insufficiency.
6) Calandula arvensis L.
(Family: Compositae; Common name: Field Marigold)
The leaves are diaphoretic. The leaves, blossoms and buds are used to make a homeopathic
remedy.
7) Cuscuta epythymum (L.) L.
(Family: Convolvulaceae; Common name: Lesser Dodder)
The whole plant is antibilious, appetizer, carminative, cholagogue, mildly diuretic, hepatic,
laxative and antiscorbutic. A homeopathic remedy is made from the whole plant.
8) Digitalis purpurea L.
(Family: Scrophulariaceae; Common name: Foxglove)
The foxglove is a widely used herbal medicine with a recognised stimulatory effect upon the
heart. A homeopathic remedy is made from the leaves. It is used in the treatment of cardiac
disorders.
9) Drosera rotundifolia L.
(Family: Droseraceae; Common name: Sundew)
10
Ethnobotanical Importance of Plants
The sundew has a long history of herbal use, having been popular for its fortifying and
aphrodisiac effects. It relaxes the muscles of the respiratory tract, easing breathing and relieving
wheezing and so is of great value in the treatment of various chest complaints. The entire fresh
plant with flower is used to make a homeopathic remedy.
10) Equisetum arvensis L.
(Family: Equisetaceae; Common name: Horsetail)
Horsetails have an unusual chemistry compared to most other plants. They are rich in silica,
contain several alkaloids (including nicotine) and various minerals. Horsetail is very astringent
and makes an excellent clotting agent, staunching wounds, stopping nosebleeds and reducing the
coughing up of blood. It helps speed the repair of damaged connective tissue, improving its
strength and elasticity. The plant is anodyne, antihaemorrhagic, antiseptic, astringent,
carminative, diaphoretic, diuretic, galactogogue, haemostatic and vulnerary. A homeopathic
remedy is made from the fresh plant. It is used in the treatment of cystitis and other complaints
of the urinary system.
11) Geranium robertianum L.
(Family: Geraniaceae; Common name: Herb Robert)
The whole plant is used to prepare homeopathic remedy.
12) Grindelia squarrosa (Pursh.) Dunal.
(Family: Compositae; Common name: Rosin Weed)
Grindelia squarrosa (Rosin weed) was used by the native North American Indians to treat
bronchial problems and also skin afflictions such as reactions to poison ivy. It is still used in
modern herbalism where it is valued especially as a treatment for bronchial asthma and for states
where phlegm in the airways impedes respiration. Homeopathic remedy is prepared from the
leaves and flowering stems.
13) Iberis amara L.
(Family: Cruciferae; Common name: Rocket Candytuft)
Little used in modern herbalism, rocket candytuft is a bitter-tasting tonic, aiding digestion and
relieving wind and bloating. It is traditionally taken to treat gout, rheumatism and arthritis. All
parts of the plant are antirheumatic and antiscorbutic. The seeds are considered very useful in the
treatment of asthma, bronchitis and dropsy. The plant is gathered in the summer and can be dried
for later use. The seeds are harvested when fully ripe. A common homeopathic remedy is made
from the seeds.
14) Lactuca serriola L.
(Family: Compositae; Common name: Prickly Lettuce)
The whole plant is rich in a milky sap that flows freely from any wounds. This hardens and dries
when it comes in contact with air. The sap contains 'lactucarium', which is used in medicine for
its anodyne, antispasmodic, digestive, diuretic, hypnotic, narcotic and sedative properties. A
homeopathic remedy is made from the plant. It is used in the treatment of chronic catarrh,
coughs, swollen liver, flatulence and ailments of the urinary tract.
11
Ethnobotanical Importance of Plants
15) Lycopersicon esculetum Mill.
(Family: Solanaceae; Common name: Tomato)
A homeopathic remedy is made from the plant. It is used in the treatment of rheumatism and
severe headaches.
16) Lycopersicon pimpinellifolium (L.) Mill.
(Family: Solanaceae; Common name: Currant Tomato)
Homeopathic remedy is made from the plant. It is used to treat rheumatism and headache.
17) Lycopodium clavatum L.
(Family: Lycopodiaceae; Common name: Common Club Moss)
Plant is analgesic, antirheumatic, carminative, mildly diuretic, stomachic and tonic. It is used
internally in the treatment of urinary and kidney disorders, rheumatic arthritis, catarrhal cystitis,
gastritis etc. It is applied externally to skin diseases and irritations. Homeopathic remedy is made
from the spores. It has a wide range of applications including dry coughs, mumps and rheumatic
pains.
18) Lycopodium selago L.
(Family: Lycopodiaceae; Common name: Fir Club moss)
The plant is hypnotic. Chewing three stems is said to induce mild intoxication whilst eight can
cause unconsciousness. The plant has been used as a fast acting emetic and purgative. A
homeopathic remedy is made from the whole plant, collected during the summer. It is used as a
laxative and to kill worms.
19) Morus nigra L.
(Family: Moraceae; Common name: Black Mulberry)
The mulberry has a long history of medicinal use in Chinese medicine; almost all parts of the
plant are used in one way or another. The white mulberry (M. alba) is normally used, but this
species has the same properties. A homeopathic remedy is made from the leaves. It is used in the
treatment of diabetes.
20) Nicotiana tabacum L.
(Family: Solanaceae; Common name: Tobacco)
Tobacco has a long history of use by medical herbalists as a relaxant, though since it is a highly
additive drug it is seldom employed internally or externally at present. A homeopathic remedy is
made from the dried leaves. It is used in the treatment of nausea and travel sickness.
Check Your Progress 2
Notes: A) Write your answer in the space given below.
B) Compare your answer with those given at the end of the unit.
i)
Give the Homeopathic use of following plants:
12
Ethnobotanical Importance of Plants
a) Atropa belladonna
b) Berberis vulgaris
c) Digitalis purpurea
d) Lycopersicon esculentum
e) Nicotiana tabacum
……………………………………………………………………………………..
……………………………………………………………………………………..
……………………………………………………………………………………..
……………………………………………………………………………………..
……………………………………………………………………………………..
……………………………………………………………………………………..
21) Papaver somniferum L.
(Family: Papaveraceae; Common name: Opium Poppy)
The opium poppy contains a wide range of alkaloids and has been a very valuable medicine,
especially useful in bringing relief from pain. A homeopathic remedy is made from the dried
latex. This is used in the treatment of a variety of complaints, including constipation, fevers and
insomnia.
22) Phaseolus vulgaris L.
(Family: Leguminoseae; Common name: French Bean)
A homeopathic remedy is made from the entire fresh herb. It is used in the treatment of
rheumatism and arthritis, plus disorders of the urinary tract.
23) Rhus toxicodendron L.
(Family: Anacardiaceae; Common name: Eastern Poison Oak)
Homeopathic remedy of this plant is made from the fresh leaves. These should be harvested of a
night-time, during damp weather and before the plant flowers. This remedy has a wide range of
applications and is one of the main treatments for mumps, it is also used in a wide range of skin
disorders.
24) Solanum dulcamara L.
(Family: solanaceae; Common name: bittersweet)
Bittersweet is a poisonous plant that has a long history of use in the treatment of skin diseases,
warts, tumours, felons, etc. Homeopathic remedy is made from the fresh, green, still pliant stems
and leaves. This is used in treating a variety of complaints including backaches, cough,
diarrhoea, eye inflammations and joint pains.
25) Taxus baccata L.
(Family: Taxaceae; Common name: Yew)
The yew tree is a highly toxic plant that has occasionally been used medicinally, mainly in the
treatment of chest complaints. A homeopathic remedy is made from the young shoots and the
berries. It is used in the treatment of many diseases including cystitis, eruptions, headaches, heart
and kidney problems, rheumatism, etc.
13
Ethnobotanical Importance of Plants
26) Thuja occidentalis L.
(Family: Cupressaceae; Common name: American Arbor-Vitae)
American arbor-vitae was much used by many native North American Indian tribes as a
medicine to treat fevers, coughs, headaches, swollen hands and rheumatic problems. A
homeopathic remedy is made from the leaves and twigs, gathered when the tree starts flowering.
It is used in the household as a treatment against warts, but also has a range of other applications
that should only be prescribed by a competent homeopath.
3.4.3 Yunani: Some plants, which are used in Yunani system of medicine, are listed here.
1) Berberis lycium Royle.
(Family: Berberidaceae; Common name: Berberry)
The roots are used in Yunani system of medicine. The roots are bitter with an unpleasant taste;
used in splenic trouble; tonic, febrifuge; intestinal astringent; good for cough, chest and throat
troubles, eye sores and itching of eyes useful in chronic diarrhoea. The extract of stem and roots
has been used since old times for skin diseases, sores and leprosy; as an antidote for poisoning.
2) Terminalia arjuna Roxb.
(Family: Combretaceae; Common name: Arjun)
Arjun holds a reputed position in both Ayurveda and Yunani system of medicine. According to
Yunani system of medicine, it is used both externally and internally in gleet and urinary
discharge. It is used as an expectorant, aphrodisiac, tonic and diuretic.
3) Gloriosa superba L.
(Family:Colchicaceae; Common name: Glory lily)
In Ayurveda and Yunani systems of medicine, the tuber of plant is well known due to its
pungent, bitter, acrid, heating, anthemintic, luxative, alexiteric and abortifacient nature. It is
widely used in the treatment of ulcers, leprosy, piles, inflammations, abdominal pains, intestinal
worms, thirst, bruises, infertility and skin problem However, ingestion of all parts of the plants is
extremely poisonous and can be fatal.
4) Ocimum basilicum L.
(Family: Labiatae; Common name: Common basil, Sweet basil)
In the Yunani system of medicine, it is believed that the juice gives luster to the eye, good for
toothache, earache, headache and cure ringworms and also used as an antidote.
5) Terphrosia purpurea (Linn) Pers.
(Family: Fabaceae; Common name: Wild Indigo, Sarphonk)
According to Yunani system of medicine, the sarphonk root is diuretic and useful in treatment of
asthma, bronchitis, liver, spleen diseases, boils and pimples, inflammation etc. The leaves are
tonic to intestines and useful in treatment of respiratory diseases, piles, syphilis and gonorrhea.
14
Ethnobotanical Importance of Plants
3.4.4 Allopathy: Allopathy uses naturally or synthetically engineered molecules. In Modern
medicine or Allopathy, treatment is based on symptoms, and is based on‘cause and effect’. It
focuses on what physical being causes the ailment and what can be done to cure it. Allopathy or
modern system of medicine has many examples of plant products used successfully in their
natural form or synthetic form. Here are a few examples.
1) Aspirin or Acetyl Salicylic Acid was originally discovered in the bark of the white willow
tree (Salix Alba).
2) The chemicals Digoxin and Digitoxin are extracted from the plant Digitalis. This is used
in the treatment of arrhythmia.
3) Alkaloids like Reserpine from the plant Rauwolfia serpentina are used in hypertensive
drugs.
4) Quinine is extracted from the bark of Cinchona calisaya and used to treat malaria.
5) An alkaloid, ephedrine extracted from Ephedra gerardiana is used in treatment of
asthma.
6) Solasodine, an alkaloid is extracted from solanaceous plants like Solanum vearum, S.
dulcamara. It is used by many pharmaceutical companies for the preparation of many
important drugs.
Check Your Progress 3
Notes: A) Write your answer in the space given below.
B) Compare your answer with those given at the end of the unit.
i)
Describe the use of following plants in Yunani system of medicine:
a) Berberis lycium
b) Terminalia arjuna
c) Gloriosa superba
d) Terphrosia purpurea
ii)
Digoxin and Digitoxin are extracted from which plant?
iii)
Name the secondary metabolite, which is extracted from Rauwlfia
serpentina?
…………………………………………………………………………………….
…………………………………………………………………………………….
…………………………………………………………………………………….
…………………………………………………………………………………….
…………………………………………………………………………………….
…………………………………………………………………………………….
3.5 PLANTS USED BY VILLAGERS AND TRIBAL
PEOPLE
The villagers and tribal people depend totally on herbal medicines. Ancient ethnic communities
around the world had learnt to utilize their neighborhood herbal flora for various curative as well
as offensive purposes. Due to lack of literacy, their knowledge on plants developed often at the
cost of their dear life through centuries old experience could not be perfectly documented and it
had rather descended from one generation to another as a domestic cultural heritage. As the
15
Ethnobotanical Importance of Plants
ethnic groups migrated from place to place in search of their livelihood, their folklore knowledge
also became fragmented and travelled with them often with ‘additions and deletions’. Their
findings in course of time have become basic leads for chemical, pharmacological, clinical and
biochemical investigations, which ultimately gave birth to drug discovery. The plants are
generally used as stomach disorders, skin diseases, aphrodisiacs, fever, tonic, ulcer, asthma,
snake-bite, respiratory diseases, leucorrhoea, dandruff, eye-diseases and diabetes. There is need
of training on cultivation and conservation of medicinal plants.
In this section, we are enlisting some important plants frequently used by villagers and tribal
peoples of Madhya Pradesh.
1. Acorus calamus Linn. Local name: Bach Family: Araceae Use: The rhizome is used to
cure stammering of children.
2. Argemone mexicana Linn. Local name: Pili Kateri Family: Papaveraceae Use: The rootpowder is mixed with sugar and taken orally with water when affected with skin diseases.
3. Asparagus racemosus Willd. Local name: Naarbod Family: Liliaceae Use: root-powder is
used to increase vigour and strength.
4. Azadirachta indica Juss. syn. Melia azadirachta L. Local name: Neem Family: Meliaceae
Use: Seeds are used in skin diseases, and in rheumatism. Bark is useful in malarial fever.
Dry fruits are used as tonic and stomachic. Tender twigs are used as tooth-brush.
5. Berberis aristata Linn. DC. Local name: Daru Haridra Family: Berberidaceae Use: used
in inflammation. Root-bark extract is used to heal the ulcer.
6. Butea frondosa Roxb. Local name: Palas Family: Papilionaceae Use: Seeds are used to
cure ringworm. Petioles are chewed during heat in urination.
7. Caesalpinia bonducella (L.) Roxb. Local name: Gatran Family: Caesalpiniaceae Use: For
the preparation of the powder for digestion.
8. Calotropis procera R. Br. Local name: Madaar Family: Asclepiadaceae Use: Used in
boils, and also to remove the thorn from the body.
9. Cassia tora Linn. Local name: Titi Family: Fabaceae Use: Powder of the the dry seeds is
used in Asthma. The powder is mixed with Gud (2-3-year old) and about 7 small balls are
prepared. One ball is taken every day with water upto 7 days.
10. Cissampelos pariera L. Local name: Karu Pahad Family: Menispermaceae Use: The root
of the plant is used in snakebite.
11. Citrullus aromatica Salisb. Local name: Kachariya Family: Cucurbitaceae Use: The
fruits are used in stomach troubles.
12. Costus speciosus (Koenig) Smith Local name: Keokanda Family: Zingiberaceae Use:
Used in skin and respiratory diseases
13. Cocculus hirsutus Diels. Syn. C. Villosus. DC. Local name: Jal Jamani Family:
Menispermaceae Use: The leaves are useful to cure leucorrhea.
14. Cuscuta reflexa Roxb. Local name: Amarbel Family: Convolvulaceae Use: The extract of
the plant is applied to get rid of dandruff.
15. Emblica officinalis Gaertn. syn. Phyllanthus emblica L. Local name: Aonla Family:
Euphorbiaceae Use: To cure dandruff.
16. Mangifera indica Linn. Local name: Aam Family: Anacardiaceae Use: The leaves are
used in erruptions of the tongue.
17. Moringa oleifera Lam. Local name: Sahjan Family: Moringaceae Use: The juice of the
leaves is used in the eye diseases.
18. Mucuna prurita Hook. Syn. M. pruriens (L.) DC. Local name: Kimaach Family:
Papilionaceae Use: Seeds are used as aphrodisiac.
16
Ethnobotanical Importance of Plants
19. Ocimum sanctum Linn. Local name: Tulsi Family: Labiateae Use: The leaves are used
against skin diseases.
20. Plumbago zeylanica Linn. Local name: Chitawar Family: Plumbaginaceae Use: The
seeds are powdered and applied on boils and carbuncles.
21. Pterocarpus marsupium Roxb. Local name: Beeja Family: Fabaceae Use: The wood of
the plant is used in diabetes.
22. Ruta graveolens L. Local name: Shitab Family: Rutaceae Use: The juice of leaves is used
as carminative.
23. Semecarpus anacardium Linn. Local name: Bhilwa Family: Anacardiaceae Use: The oil
of seeds is applied on the painful spot.
24. Solanum anguivi Lam. Local name: Family: Solanaceae Use: Used in skin diseases.
25. Solanum melongena Linn. var. incanum Local name: Jungli Baigan Family: Solanaceae
Use: The root-powder is used in stomach pain.
26. Syzygium cumini L. (Skeils.) syn. Eugenia jambolana Lamk. Local name: Jamun Family:
Myrtaceae Use: Seed-powder is useful in diarrhoea, dysentry and diabetes. Bark is used
for mouth washes.
27. Terminalia arjuna (Roxb.) W. & A. Syn. Terminalia glabra W. & A. Local name: Arjun,
Kahuaa Family: Combretaceae Use: The decoction of the bark is used as tea in heart
troubles. The bark gives strength to the heart. Good stomachic.
28. Terminalia bellerica Roxb. Local name: Beheda Family: Combritaceae Use: Epicarp of
fruit mixed with Harra is useful in digestion. Seeds mixed with Buchammia seeds are
taken in eruption of mouth.
29. Terminalia chebula Retz. Local name: Harra Family: Combritaceae Use: Used for the
preparation of digestive powder.
30. Thymus serphyllum Linn. Local name: Jungli ajwayan Family: Labiateae Use: In skin
diseases
31. Tinospora cordifolia (Lour.) Miers. Local name: Gurvail Family: Menispermaceae Use:
Juice with sugar is good after malarial and typhoid fever.
32. Verbascum thapsus Linn. Local name: Gidad Tambakhu Family: Scrophularaceae Use:
Skin diseases.
3.6 ROLE OF ETHNOBOTANY
DEVELOPMENT OF SOCIETY
IN
THE
Plants are the basis of life on earth and are central to people's livelihoods. Indigenous knowledge
of plant use and ecosystem management is considered as an important component of the world’s
cultural heritage. Ethnobotany stands at the interface of several disciplines and relies on
knowledge and research methods of botany, ecology and anthropology. It deals with
investigations on indigenous people’s plant use and management of natural resources as well as
their perception and classification of nature. Many plant based medicines and cosmetics are
derived from traditional knowledge and other articles include agricultural and non-timber
product.
Traditional knowledge can make a significant contribution to sustainable development. Most
indigenous communities are situated in areas where the vast majority of the world’s plant genetic
resources found. Many of them have been cultivated and used biological diversity in a
sustainable way for thousands of years. However, the contribution of indigenous and local
communities to the conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity goes far beyond their
17
Ethnobotanical Importance of Plants
role as natural resource managers. Their skills and techniques provide valuable information to
the global community and a useful model for biodiversity policies. Awareness of the value of
indigenous knowledge – particularly its potential contribution to sustainable development, is
growing at a time when such knowledge is being threatened as never before. Ethnobotany is a
multidisciplinary science that helps in the conservation of biological diversity and also in the
development of the society by providing data related to ethnic cultures and uses of plants, crops
and other things that may be utilized for the betterment of human culture.
Check Your Progress 4
Notes: A) Write your answer in the space given below.
B) Compare your answer with those given at the end of the unit.
i)
Give the local name and use of the following plants:
a) Argemone mexicana
b) Butea frondosa
c) Syzygium cumini
d) Tinospora cordifolia
ii)
How ethnobotany helps in the development of society?
…………………………………………………………………………………….
…………………………………………………………………………………….
…………………………………………………………………………………….
……………………………………………………………………………………..
……………………………………………………………………………………..
……………………………………………………………………………………..
3.7 LET US SUM UP
After going through the unit, you would have achieved the objectives stated earlier. Let us recall
what we studied so far.

Ethnobotanical studies have great potential for establishing the credibility of certain
groups, unique knowledge, as well as expanding its application. It is useful for
preservation of biological/genetic diversity.

Our traditional system of medicine, viz, Ayurveda, Yunani, Siddha, Homeopathy etc.,
uses plants for treatment. Even in western medicine or Allopathy the use of plant
products can not be neglected.

In Ayurveda, a number of plants are used for treatment of different diseases and also in
cosmetics. For example: Aloe vera is used to treat fever, obesity, constipation,
inflammation of the skin and of the lymphatic ganglions, conjunctivitis, hepatitis, and
vaginitis. It is also used in different ayurvedic cosmetic products.

Aconitum napellus, Allium cepa, Atropa belladonna, Berberis vulgaris, Calendula
arvensis, Digitalis purpurea are some plants hich are used in Homeopathy system of
medicine.
18
Ethnobotanical Importance of Plants

In Yunani system of medicine also few plants are used like Terminalia arjuna, Gloriosa
superba, Berberis lycium, Ocimum bascilicum, etc.

Allopathy or modern system of medicine has many examples of plant products used
successfully in their natural form or synthetic form. Aspirin or Acetyl Salicylic Acid was
originally discovered in the bark of the white willow tree (Salix Alba).

The villagers and tribal people depend totally on herbally medicines. There are many
examples of traditionally used plants, which have got attention in modern civilization for
example: Argemon maxicana, Acorus calamus, Ruta gravelens, Butea frondosa, Ocimum
sanctum, Terminalia arjuna, Solanum melongena, etc.

Ethnobotany has played a crucial role in sustainable development of society. Traditional
knowledge can make a significant contribution to sustainable development. Many plant
based medicines and cosmetics are derived from traditional knowledge and other articles
include agricultural and non-timber product that can help us to develop and maintain the
society.
3.8 CHECK YOUR PROGRESS: THE KEY
1. i) Your answer may be as follows:
a) Aloe vera Mill.- It is used in fever, obesity, constipation, inflammation of the skin
and of the lymphatic ganglions, conjunctivitis, hepatitis, vaginitis. Recommended
for external use in case of skin diseases, sores, wounds, herpes and burns.
b) Ficus bengalensis Linn.- It is used against ulcers, specific for external use in skin
diseases caused by impure blood such as rheumathisms, eczema, psoriasis etc… It
controls diabetes.
c) Ocimum sanctum Linn.- It is useful for treating liver and gastric disorders, skin
diseases, bronchitis, excess of mucus, chronic fevers.
2. i) a) Atropa belladonna: This is used especially in cases where there is localized and
painful inflammation that radiates heat.
b) Berberis vulgaris: The plant (probably the inner bark) is used by homeopaths as a
valuable remedy for kidney and liver insufficiency.
c) Digitalis purpurea: It is used in the treatment of cardiac disorders.
d) Lycopersicon esculentum: It is used in the treatment of rheumatism and severe
headaches.
e) Nicotiana tabacum: It is used in the treatment of nausea and travel sickness.
3. i) a) Berberis lycium: The roots are used in Yunani system of medicine. The roots are
bitter with an unpleasant taste; used in splenic trouble; tonic, febrifuge; intestinal
astringent; good for cough, chest and throat troubles, eye sores and itching of eyes useful
in chronic diarrhoea. The extract of stem and roots has been used since old times for skin
diseases, sores and leprosy; as an antidote for poisoning.
b) Terminalia arjuna: According to Yunani system of medicine, it is used both externally
and internally in gleet and urinary discharge. It is used as an expectorant, aphrodisiac,
tonic and diuretic.
c) Gloriosa superba: It is widely used in the treatment of ulcers, leprosy, piles,
inflammations, abdominal pains, intestinal worms, thirst, bruises, infertility and skin
19
Ethnobotanical Importance of Plants
problem However, ingestion of all parts of the plants is extremely poisonous and can be
fatal.
d) Terphrosia purpurea: According to Yunani system of medicine, the sarphonk root is
diuretic and useful in treatment of asthma, bronchitis, liver, spleen diseases, boils and
pimples, inflammation etc. The leaves are tonic to intestines and useful in treatment of
respiratory diseases, piles, syphilis and gonorrhea.
ii) Digoxin and Digitoxin are extracted from the plant Digitalis.
iii) Reserpine an alkaloid is extracted from the plant Rauwolfia serpentina.
4. i) a) Argemone mexicana: Local Name- Pili Kateri; Use- The root-powder is mixed with
sugar and taken orally with water when affected with skin diseases.
b) Butea frondosa: Local Name- Palas; Use- Seeds are used to cure ringworm. Petioles
are chewed during heat in urination.
c) Syzygium cumini: Local Name- Jamun; Use- Seed-powder is useful in diarrhoea,
dysentry and diabetes. Bark is used for mouth washes.
d) Tinospora cordifolia: Local Name- Gurvail; Use- Juice with sugar is good after
malarial and typhoid fever.
ii) Ethnobotany is a multidisciplinary science that helps in the conservation of biological
diversity and also in the development of the society by providing data related to ethnic
cultures and uses of plants, crops and other things that may be utilized for the betterment
of human culture
3.9 Assignment or Activities

Visit the Ayurvedic and Hoeopathic physicians of your place and learn the medical
preparations of plants used by them.
4.0 References
Tuxill J. and Nabhan G.P. 2001. People, plants and protected areas. A guide to in situ
management. People and plants conservation manual. Earthscan, London.
Cunningham A.B. 2001. Applied ethnobotany. People, wild plant use and conservation. People
and plants conservation manual. Earthscan, London.
Nair C. K. N. 1998. Medicinal Plants of India. Nag Publishers, New Delhi.
20
Ethnobotanical Importance of Plants
UNIT 4 ETHNOBOTANICAL
IMPORTANCE OF PLANTS
Structure
4.0 Introduction
4.1 Objective
4.2 Ethnobotanical importance of plants
4.2.1 Aconitum napellus
4.2.2 Allium cepa
4.2.3 Allium sativum
4.2.4. Aloe vera
4.2.5 Atropa belladonna
4.2.6 Azadirachta indica
4.2.7 Butea monosperma
4.2.8 Cassia fistula
4.2.9 Cannabis sativa
4.2.10 Emblica officinalis
4.2.11 Eugenia aromatica
4.2.12 Eugenia zambolana
4.2.13 Hollarhena antidysentrica
4.2.14 Jatropha curcas
4.2.15 Lawsonia innermis
4.2.16 Mentha arvensis
4.2.17 Nux-vomica
4.2.18 Ocimum sanctum
4.2.19 Papaver somniferum
4.2.20 Piper nigrum
4.2.21 Pterocarpus marsupium
4.2.22 Rauvolfia serpentina
4.2.23 Ricinus communis
4.2.24 Santalum album
4.2.25 Terminalia arjuna
4.2.26 Terminalia bellerica
4.2.27 Terminalia chebula
4.2.28 Withania somnifera
4.2.29 Zingiber officinale
21
Preservation of genetic diversity
4.3 Let Us Sum Up
4.4 Check Your Progress: The Key
4.4 Assignment or Activities
4.5 References
4.0 INTRODUCTION
Ethnobotany is an anthropological approach of plant science, which deals with the total
interactions between primitive people and plant wealth present around themselves. Infact
the knowledge regarding the uses of plants present in their vicinity has been one of the
primary human concerns since ages, and has been practiced by every civilization and
culture of the world. Their knowledge has got wider spectrum through age long trial and
error. And this has led to the experimentation and discovery of the healing properties of
the plants.
Moreover, ethnobotany is a multidisciplinary science that has led to the introduction of
new and less-known potential of the plants and provides material for medicinal,
pharmacological, gynaecological, ophthalmological and other related fields.
Although, plants have been prized for their medicinal, flavouring and aromatic qualities
for centuries and yet they were overshadowed by the synthetic products of the modern
civilization for a while. But once having been realized their adverse effects, people are
going back to nature with hope of safety and security. Today, plants are finding diverse
uses in the society from medicine to manures, insecticides, pesticides and many articles
of daily uses. In this unit, we are trying to put stress on the uses of certain plants which
has got traditional importance by ethnic people in a broad spectrum that will cover the
whole subject of ethnobotanical studies.
4.1 OBJECTIVES
The main objective of this unit is to acquire knowledge on certain plants and their
ethnobotanical importance. After going through this unit you will be able to1. Describe the plant and its cultivation areas in India.
2. Discuss the important role of plants that have played (and continue to play) in the
development of human culture, including its myths, religion.
3. Discuss the diverse uses of plants in traditional and indigenous culture and their
uses and prospects in modern era.
22
Preservation of genetic diversity
4.2 ETHNOBOTANICAL IMPORTANCE OF
PLANTS
Ethnobotany is a composite subject as described before. It includes study of foods, fibers,
dyes, tanns, woods, medicines, and other useful and harmful plants. We have already
touched the different fields of ethnobotanical studies in unit 1. In this section, we will
study the ethnobotanical importance of following plants in their all aspects—
4.2.1 Aconitum napellus Linn.
Family: Ranunculaceae; Eng. Aconite, Monkshood, Helmet flower; Hindi- Mitha Zaher
Description: The herb is perennial, growing to 1.5m height. The stems bear deeply
dissected, toothed leaves and clusters of purple to blue flowers. It grows mainly on damp
shady places and moist rich soils. It occurs widely in Himalayas from Garhwal to Assam.
Ethnobotanical importance: Aconite has been used since ancient time, especially as an
antidote for poisoning. All parts of the plant are used medicinally. Roots are edible after
cooking. Most importantly the roots are analgesic, anodyne, antirheumatic, diaphoretic,
diuretic, irritant and sedative. Due to its poisonous nature, it is not normally used
internally though it has been used in the treatment of fevers. Externally, it is applied to
unbroken skin in the treatment of rheumatism, painful bruises, neuralgia etc.
4.2.2 Allium cepa Linn.
Family: Liliaceae; Eng. Onion; Hindi- Piyaz
Description: This is a bulbous biennial herb. Onion thrives best in cool moist regions
with a sandy soil. It is native of South Asia or Mediterranean region. It is widely
cultivated throughout India as a food crop.
Ethnobotanical importance: The use of onion is very old, going back over 4,000 years.
It has long been used in India and China. The bulbs are used as food and condiment. The
bulb or onion is stimulant, diuretic, and expectorant. Its juice is used for piles. The
decoction is given in cough; cooked with vinegar the bulb is given in jaundice, spleenic
enlargement and dyspepsia; taken with salt it is a common remedy for colic and scurvy. It
is also used in obstruction of the intestine, prolapse of the anus and as a sedative.
23
Preservation of genetic diversity
Figure 4.2.1 Aconitum napellus Linn.
Linn.
Figure 4.2.2 Allium cepa
4.2.3 Allium sativum Linn.
Family: Liliaceae; Eng. Garlic; Hindi- Lasun, Lasan
Description: It is a strong smelling, glabrous, bulbous rooted, perennial herb about 1 feet
of height. Garlic is easy to grow and can be grown year-round in mild climates. It is
cultivated throughout the country.
Ethnobotanical importance: Garlic has been used as both food and medicine in many
cultures for thousands of years, dating as far back as the time that the Egyptian pyramids
were built. Garlic is widely used around the world for its pungent flavour, as a seasoning
or condiment. Medicinally, it is given in fever, cough, flatulence, disorder of nervous
system, pulmonary phthisis, whooping cough and dilated bronchitis. It is diuretic. A
decoction of garlic made with milk and water is given in small doses in hysteria,
flatulence, sciatica, etc. As syrup, it is a remedy for asthma and disorders of chest and
lungs. It has anthelmintic properties. Garlic is also alleged to help regulate blood sugar
levels. Regular and prolonged use of therapeutic amounts of aged garlic extracts lower
blood homocysteine levels, and has shown to prevent some complications of diabetes
mellitus. Externally it is used as rubefacient, vesicant and disinfectant. Its juice is useful
in earache. Garlic oil is useful in rheumatic pains, nervous diseases like scabies and
maggot infected wounds. Garlic also possess cancer-fighting properties due to the
presence of allylic sulfur compounds such as diallyl disulfide (DADs), believed to be an
anticarcinogen.
4.2.4 Aloe vera Mill.
Family: Liliaceae; Eng. Indian Aloe; Hindi- Ghrita kumari
24
Preservation of genetic diversity
Description: The plant is about 2-3 feet in height. Fleshy leaves tapering to a blunt point,
smooth, pale green, having horny prickles on their margins. The species requires welldrained sandy potting soil in moderate light such as the sun. The plant is native to
northern Africa. The plant is found throughout country.
Ethnobotanical importance: Aloe vera has a long history of cultivation throughout the
drier tropical and subtropical regions of the world, both as an ornamental plant and for
herbal medicine. Aloe vera has been used by the ancient Greek and Egyptian civilization
for more than 3000 years ago for wound healing and repair of skin damage by burning.
The leaf juice is given in fevers, liver enlargement, spleen enlargement and other glands
enlargements. It is also useful in the treatment of skin diseases, gonorrhoea, constipation,
piles, jaundice and rheumatic affections. The juice of roasted leaf is being given with
honey for cough and cold. Cosmetic companies add sap or other derivatives from Aloe
vera to products such as makeup-tissues, moisturizers, soaps, sunscreens, shampoos and
lotions. In Japan Aloe vera is commonly used as an ingredient in commercially available
yogurt. There are also many companies which produce Aloe vera beverages. In some of
the parts of early India (British India), now Pakistan, the plant has been used for centuries
as a carminative and digestive aid. The dried gel is mixed with seeds of various herbs and
consumed after a meal. Pashtuns in the Hazara region of the North West Frontier
Province have been using Aloe vera for centuries to improve physical endurance,
probably due to the high nutrient content of the gel. People in Rajasthan prepare Aloe
vera as a vegetable with fenugreek seeds. People in Tamil Nadu prepare a curry using
Aloe vera which is taken along with rice.
25
Preservation of genetic diversity
Figure 4.2.3 Allium sativum Linn.
Figure 4.2.4 Aloe vera Mill.
4.2.5 Atropa belladonna Linn.
Family: Solanaceae; Eng. Belladonna; Hindi- Sag angur
Description: This is a tall erect tree. It is not a very hardy perennial and is sensitive to
being transplanted. Germination requires several weeks in warm, moist, absolutely sterile
soil, usually far from normal garden conditions It is native of Europe, now cultivated in
Kashmir.
Ethnobotanical importance: The plant has been used since time immemorial. Ancient
literature suggests that the roots are sedative, stimulant, antispasmodic. The common
26
Preservation of genetic diversity
name belladonna originates from the historic use by women (Bella Donna is Italian for
beautiful lady) to dilate their pupils in a time when it was believed that the dreamy,
intoxicated stare thus produced was the height of fetching beauty; an extract of
belladonna was used as eye drops as part of their makeup preparations. The Belladonna
toxin's atropine content had the effect of dilating the pupil, thus making their eyes
supposedly more attractive. It is now known that atropine has anticholinergic activity - by
blocking the ability of the iris to constrict, mydriasis results. It had the adverse effect of
making their vision a little blurry and making their heart rates increase. Prolonged usage
was reputed to cause blindness. Medicinally, it is used externally to relieve pain and
internally to check excessive sweating, cough, etc. Dried roots and leaves are used as
sedative, anodyne and antispasmodic; also used in ophthalmology to dilate the pupils.
Leaves are stimulant and narcotic; contain atropine and hyoscyamine extremely toxic
alkaloids.
4.2.6 Azadirachta indica A. Juss
Family: Meliaceae; Eng. Neem tree, Margosa tree; Hindi- Neem
Description: A large tree 40 to 50 feet in height, common, wild or more often cultivated.
Neem grows extensively in Gujarat, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Chattisgarh, Uttarakhand,
Punjab, Haryana, Madhya Pradesh, West Bengal, Orissa, Bihar, Maharashtra, Andhra
Pradesh, Kerala, Karnataka, and Tamil Nadu.
Ethnobotanical importance: Neem is considered as a ‘divine tree’ and great gift of
nature and as an ‘all cure’ for human problems. Seeds are used in skin diseases, and in
chronic rheumatism. Bark and leaf juice is useful in chronic malarial fever. The bark is
also a bitter tonic, astringent, alterative, anthelmintic, antispasmodic, and stimulant. The
leaves are carminative, expectorant, anthelmintic, antidotal, diuretic, and insecticidal. The
fruits recommended for urinary diseases, piles, leprosy, intestinal worms, etc. Dry fruits
are used in tonic and stomachic. Tender twigs are used as tooth-brush. Seeds possess
good insecticide property also. The Neem products and the biopesticides are ecofriendly
and are widely used due to its wide range against many pests. Neem kernel oil is used as
an ingredient in bio-pesticides and also in soap, pharmaceuticals and cosmetics. The tree
is also produces a gum, which is used for making dye.
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Preservation of genetic diversity
Figure 4.2.5 Atropa belladonna Linn.
Figure4.2.6 Azadirachta indica A.
Juss
4.2.7 Butea monosperma (Lamk.) Taubert
Family: Papilionaceae; Eng. Bengal kino, Flame of the forest; Hindi- Dhak, Palas, Tesu,
Palasa.
Description: A moderate-sized, deciduous tree, found throughout India, extending in the
north-west Himalayas as far as Jhelum.
Ethnobotanical importance: Butea monosperma has been revered by the Hindus as it
has been used in the Vedic rituals from time immemorial. The palas is sometimes
represented as a sacred tree of Buddhist. The dye extracted from its flowers keeps a
special corner for Hindu festival, Holi.
The plant has maintained its medicinal value since long time. Seeds of Butea
monosperma are being used by traditional folk healers both as an anthelmintic and as an
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Preservation of genetic diversity
anti-fertility drug. The dried bark is aphrodisiac, astringent, appetizer, digestive,
constipating, anthelmintic, and a tonic. It is useful in dyspepsia, diarrhoea, dysentery,
haemorrhoids, gonorrhea, intestinal worms, bone fractures, rectal diseases,
dysmenorrheal, ulcers, tumor and diabetes. The leaves are astringent, anti-inflammatory,
anodyne, and aphrodisiac and are useful in pimples, burns, colic, and haemorrhoids. The
flowers which contain a dye are astringent, cooling, constipating, aphrodisiac,
haemostatic, diuretic, febrifuge and tonic. The seeds are purgative, ophthalmic,
anthelmintic, depurative, and tonic.
Check Your Progress 1
Notes: A) Write your answer in the space given below.
B) Compare your answer with those given at the end of the unit.
i) Write botanical names of the following plants
a) Mitha zahar
b) Flame of the forest
c) Ghrita kumari
d) Sag angur
e) Margosa tree
f) Garlic
ii) What is the meaning of Bella Donna in Italian language?
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4.2.8 Cassia fistula Linn.
Family: Caesalpinaceae; Eng. Indian laburnum, Golden shower Tree; Hindi- Amaltas
Description: A moderate-sized, deciduous tree of the sub-Himalayan tracts, and common
throughout India ascending to 3,000 feet. Growth is best in full sun on well-drained soil;
it is drought and salt tolerant, but will be damaged by even short spells of freezing
weather.
Ethnobotanical importance: Cassia fistula was traditionally used for the treatment of
constipation and as anthelmintic. In Ayurvedic medicine, Golden Shower Tree is known
as aragvadha ("disease killer"). Its fruit pulp is used as mild luxative, against fevers,
arthritis, vatavyadhi (nervous system diseases), all kinds of rakta-pitta (bleeding, such as
hematemesis or hemorrhages), as well as cardiac conditions and stomach problems such
as acid reflux. The root is considered a very strong purgative. Leaves and flowers are
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Preservation of genetic diversity
used in ringworm and other skin infections. Roots cure fever. Pulp is purgative and used
in all intestinal disorders. Bark is luxative and astringent. It is also used for tannin
extraction, and in treating leprosy, jaundice, syphilis, and cardiac ailments.
Figure 4.2.7 Butea monosperma (Lamk) Taubert
Figure4.2.8 Cassia fistula Linn.
4.2.9 Cannabis sativa Linn.
Family: Cannabinaceae; Eng. Hemp; Hindi- Ganja, Bhang
Description: It is an undershrub. It is bushy, branching annual from 5 to 15 feet height. It
is a dioecious plant with palmate leaves. It thrives best in mild humid climate and rich
loamy soil with humus. It is native to Asia. In India, it is cultivated in Uttar Pradesh,
Bengal, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Orissa.
Ethnobotanical importance: The use of hemp as a narcotic stimulant is very old,
extending back to 3,000 B.C., first in China and thereafter in India. In India, hemp is
cultivated as a drug plant. It is much used in India, Mangolia, Southern Asia and tropical
Africa. The female flowering tops and the leaves are the source of a resin (charas or
hashish), which is used as a narcotic or stimulant. It is also a good source of fiber.
Historically, tinctures, teas, and ointments have also been common preparations. In the
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Preservation of genetic diversity
north and western part of Sumatra, Indonesia, the young leaves were eaten raw as salad.
The oil obtained from seeds is used in the soap and paint and varnish industries.
4.2.10 Emblica officinalis Gaertn.
Family: Euphorbiaceae; Eng. Emblic; Hindi- Amla
Description: A moderate-sized deciduous tree, found throughout tropical India. The tree
possesses smooth, greenish grey, exfoliating bark; leaves feathery with small, pinnately
arranged leaflets; fruits depressed globose and fleshy.
Ethnobotanical importance: This is one of the sacred trees of India. “Kartik Mahatma
orders the worship of this tree, and that a Brahmin couple should feed under it, whereby
all their sins are washed off”. In Vrat Kaumudi, the vrat (fast) and worship of this tree are
ordered.
In folk medicine, dried and fresh fruits of the plant are used. All parts of the plant are
used in various Ayurvedic herbal preparations, including the fruit, seed, leaves, root, bark
and flowers. According to Ayurveda, amla fruit is sour and astringent in taste, with sweet,
bitter and pungent secondary tastes. Its qualities are light and dry, the post-digestive
effect is sweet, and its energy is cooling. According to Ayurveda, amla is specific to pitta
due to its sweet taste and cooling energy. It may be used as a rasayana (rejuvenative) to
promote longevity, and traditionally to enhance digestion, treat constipation, reduce
fever, purify the blood, reduce cough, alleviate asthma, strengthen the heart, benefit the
eyes, stimulate hair growth, enliven the body, and enhance intellect. In Ayurvedic
polyherbal formulations, Indian gooseberry is a common constituent, and most notably is
the primary ingredient in an ancient herbal rasayana called Chyawanprash. The dried
fruit is given in diarrhoea, dysentry and haemorrhage. The infusion of seeds is a useful
eye wash in ophthalmic diseases. The fruit is also used in the preparation of cosmetics. It
is helpful to cure dandruff and premature grey hairs.
31
Preservation of genetic diversity
Figure 4.2.9 Cannabis sativa Linn.
Gaertn.
Figure 4.2.10 Emblica officinalis
4.2.11 Eugenia aromatica O. Kuntze.
Family: Myrtaceae; Eng. Clove; Hindi- Laung
Description: Clove tree attains a height of 10 to 12 meters. The stem is usually forked
near its base with two or three main branches. The fruit is about 2.5 cm in width. Deep
and rich loams with high humus content are best suited for clove cultivation. It is native
to Molluccus. It was first introduced in India around 1800 A.D. by the East India
Company. In India, it is cultivated in Nilgiris, Tenkasi hills, and Kanyakumari districts of
Tamil Nadu and Kottayam and Quilon districts of Kerala.
Ethnobotanical importance: Clove is one of the most ancient and valuable spices of the
orient and holds a unique position in the international spice trade. It is vary aromatic and
fine flavoured and imparts warming qualities. It is used as a culinary spice as the flavour
blends well with both sweet and savoury dishes. It is highly valued in medicine as a
carminative, aromatic and stimulant. In Jawa, clove is used in preparation of a special
brand of cigarette for smoking. The essential oil is used medicinally in several ways. It is
also used in perfumery. Traditionally, it is believed to cure toothache and to stop
vomiting.
4.2.12 Eugenia zambolana Linn.
Family: Myrtaceae; Eng. Jambolana; Hindi- Jamun
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Preservation of genetic diversity
Description: It is a large tree, cultivated throughout the country. It ascends to 3,000 feet
in Himachal Pradesh and 5,000 feet in Kumaon.
Ethnobotanical importance: It is a sacred tree of Hindus. It has been told in Hindu
mythology that the tree is a transformation of God Megh. The fruit is supposed to be dear
to Lord Krishna, so as the dark colour of the fruit.
The fruits are edible and rich in Iodine. The vinegar is prepared from fruit juice which is
useful to cure stomach troubles. Seed powder is useful in diarrhoea, dysentery and
diabetes. Bark is used for mouth-wash. The seeds are also used for fodder. The tree yields
a reddish grey wood sometimes with darker markings. The wood is used for making
furniture and cabinet work.
Figure 4.2.11 Eugenia aromatica O. Kuntze Figure 4.2.12 Eugenia jambolana Linn.
4.2.13 Hollarhena antidysentrica Wall.
Family: Apocynaceae; Eng. Bitter oleander; Hindi- Kurchi
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Preservation of genetic diversity
Description: A small or medium sized deciduous tree, sometimes grows up to 10 meter
tall, glabrous or pubescent, young shoot sometime tomentose. It grows wild in mountains.
Tree is seen to be distributed all over the Indian subcontinent, ascending up to 1,200
meters from Chenab eastwards forests. It is found very common in the forests fringes of
Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra.
Ethnobotanical importance: It is one of the best drugs for diarrhoea. In chronic
diarrhoea and to check blood coming from stool, it should be given with Isabgol.
According to Ayurveda, the bark is useful in treatment of piles, skin diseases and
biliousness. The bark is used externally in case of skin troubles. The bark is mostly mixed
with cow urine and applies it in affected parts. In treatment of urinary troubles, the bark is
given with cow milk. The fresh juice of bark is considered good to check the diarrhoea.
Application of this herb is useful in osteoarthritis.
Figure 4.2.13
Hollarhena antidysentrica Wall
4.2.14 Jatropha curcas Linn.
Family: Euphorbiaceae; Eng. Physic nut, Purging nut; Hindi- Safed arand, Jamalgota,
Bagbherenda
Description: This is a shrub or small tree, normally up to 5 m high. Jatropha curcas can
grow in wastelands and grows almost anywhere, even on gravelly, sandy and saline soils.
It can thrive on the poorest stony soil and grow in the crevices of rocks. It is native of
34
Preservation of genetic diversity
tropical America, whereas it has been spread to other tropical and subtropical countries as
well and is mainly grown in Asia and in Africa. In India, it is now cultivated along the
Coromandel Coast and in Travancore.
Ethnobotanical importance: The plant is also known as Biodiesel plant. It is very
useful for medicinal purposes. The fresh latex is styptic. It is applied to bleeding wounds;
it is locally applied to piles, scabies, eczema, ringworm, itch and decaying teeth. A
decoction of leaves is a febrifuge and a mouth-wash for strengthning the gums. A warm
poultice of the leaves is a galactogogue; it is applied to the breasts of nursing mothers.
The young leaves may be safely eaten, steamed or stewed. Cooked with goat meat, they
are said to advantageously counteract its smell. Pounded leaves are applied near horse’s
eyes to repel flies in India. The bark of the plant is used as a fish poison. The seeds make
an acro-narcotic poison. Slightly roasted seeds are purgative. Nuts are also used as a
contraceptive in South Sudan. The seed oil has been used for illumination, soap, candles,
the adulteration of olive oil, and making Turkey red oil. Turkey red oil, also called
sulphonated (or sulfated) castor oil, is the only oil that completely disperses in water. It is
made by adding sulfuric acid to pure Jatropha oil. It was the first synthetic detergent after
ordinary soap, as this allows easy use for making bath oil products. It is used in
formulating lubricants, softeners, and dyeing assistants. Root ashes are used as a salt
substitute. It can be used to kill molluscs, and has been listed for homicide, piscicide, and
raticide as well.
Figure 4.2.14 Jatropha curcas Linn
4.2.15 Lawsonia innermis Linn.
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Preservation of genetic diversity
Family: Lythraceae; Eng. Henna, Egyptian privet; Hindi- Mehndi, Hina
Description: A small, elegant and sweetly scented bush. The plant may be grown in any
type of soil, but thrive best on heavy soils which are retentive of moisture. In India, it is
grown as a hedge plant; as a commercial dye crop, it is chiefly cultivated mainly in
Haryana and Gujarat, and to a small extent in Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan. The most
important centres of production are- Faridabad in Haryana and Bardoli and Surat district
of Gujarat.
Ethnobotanical importance: Henna has long been used in India and Middle East
countries for colouring palms of hands, soles of feet and finger nails. It is used for dying
hairs, beard and eye brows. Different plant parts are also used for medicinal purpose from
ancient times. The roots are bitter, refrigerant, depurative, diuretic, emmenagogue,
abortifacient and trichogenous and are useful in burning sensation, leprosy, skin diseases
and amenorrhoea. It is used in pre mature greying of hair. Henna is widely used for
drawing tattoos, arts and designs. Leaves are useful in wounds ulcers strangury cough,
bronchitis, dysentery, etc. The fruit is thought to have emmenagogue properties.
4.2.16 Mentha arvensis Linn.
Family: Labiateae; Eng. Field Mint; Hindi- Pudina
Description: This is a perennial erect herb, 10 to 15 cm in height. It can be grown in all
tropical and subtropical regions under proper irrigation. It is cultivated mainly in western
Himalayas, Kashmir, Punjab, Kumaun and Garhwal.
Ethnobotanical importance: The plant is of ethnobotanical importance since ages. The
leaves are used for flavouring food stuffs. An infusion of leaves is a remedy for
indigestion and rheumatism. The essential oil obtained from the leaves by steam
distillation is used in the preparation of certain kind of cigarettes and pharmaceuticals. It
is also used medicinally as a carminative, refrigerant and stimulant. The use of plant in
cosmetics is also appreciating.
Check Your Progress 2
Notes: A) Write your answer in the space given below.
B) Compare your answer with those given at the end of the unit.
i)
Give the name of any two dye yielding plants.
ii) Which plant was used as a contraceptive in South Sudan?
iii) Write ethnomedicinal properties of Ocimum sanctum.
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Preservation of genetic diversity
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4.2.17 Nux- Vomica ( Strychnos nux-vomica Linn.)
Family: Loganiaceae; Eng. Nux-Vomica; Hindi- Kuchla
Description: The Strychnine tree also known as Nux vomica, is an evergreen tree. It is a
medium-sized tree growing in open habitats. Its leaves are ovate and 3.5 by 2 inches (~5
by 9 cm) in size. The tree is native to south east Asia. In india, it is found in Orrissa,
Bihar, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu.
Ethnobotanical importance: In high doses, the plant parts are poisonous. It is toxic to
man and animals creating muscle stiffness and convolutions, which may even invite
death. It is a carminative medicine. It is used in the treatment of impotency, neuralgia,
cardiac diseases, dysepsia and dysentry. Leaves are used to treat wounds and ulcers and
in paralytic problems. Treatment of dysentery and fever also uses bark and roots of the
tree.
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Preservation of genetic diversity
Figure 4.2.15 Lawsonia innermis Linn.
Linn.
Figure 4.2.16 Mentha arvensis
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Preservation of genetic diversity
Figure 4.2.17 Strychnos nux-vomica Linn.
4.2.18 Ocimum sanctum Linn.
Family: Labiateae; Eng. Holy basil; Hindi- Tulsi
Description: This is an erect softy hairs aromatic herb or undershrub. It is found
throughout India.
Ethnobotanical importance: The Tulsi is the most sacred plant in the Hindu religion. In
traditional systems of medicine, different parts (leaves, stem, flower, root, seeds and even
whole plant) of Ocimum sanctum Linn (known as Tulsi in Hindi), have been
recommended for the treatment of bronchitis, bronchial asthma, malaria, diarrhoea,
dysentery, skin diseases, arthritis, painful eye diseases, chronic fever, insect bite etc. the
leaf juice is also used to check vomiting. The Ocimum sanctum has also been suggested
to possess antifertility, anticancer, antidiabetic, antifungal, antimicrobial,
hepatoprotective, cardioprotective, antispasmodic, analgesic, adaptogenic and diaphoretic
actions. Eugenol (1-hydroxy-2-methoxy-4-allylbenzene), the active constituent present in
Ocimum sanctum, has been found to be largely responsible for the therapeutic potentials
of Tulsi.
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Preservation of genetic diversity
Figure 4.2.18 Ocimum sanctum Linn.
Linn.
Figure 4.2.19 Papaver somniferum
4.2.19 Papaver somniferum Linn.
Family: Papaveraceae; Eng. Opium; Hindi- Afim
Description: Poppy is an annual erect plant, 60-120 cm in height, rarely branching, with
ovate-oblong leaves; it bears large showy flowers and nearly globose to spherical
capsules, containing small white or black kidney-shaped seeds. It grows in almost all type
of soils but it prefers a sandy soil. It is native of West Asia. In India, it is cultivated in
Uttar Pradesh, East Punjab, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh.
40
Preservation of genetic diversity
Ethnobotanical importance: Use of the opium poppy predates written history. Images
of opium poppies have been found in ancient Sumerian artifacts (ca. 4000 BC)(southwest
of modern Iran). The opium poppy was also known to the ancient Greeks, from whom it
gained its modern name of Opium. In historic contexts from Greece remains have been
discovered in proto-geometric contexts at sites such as Kalapodi and Kastanas. Opium
was used for treating asthma, stomach illnesses, and bad eye sight. In the words of
Pharmacopaeia of India, it may be said that opium in its primary effects medicinally is
stimulant and its secondary action is narcotic, anodyne and antispasmodic. In overdoses it
is a powerful poison.
4.2.20 Piper nigrum Linn.
Family: Piperaceae; Eng. Black pepper; Hindi- Kalimirch, golmirch
Description: A branching, climbing perennial shrub. Pepper thrives best on virgin soil
rich in humus and other plant nutrients. Naturally well drained, red laterite soil or alluvial
soils rich in humus seem to be highly suitable. It is mostly cultivated in the hot and moist
parts of India, Ceylon and other tropical countries.
Ethnobotanical importance: Piper nigrum is very common and used practically all over
India as condiments. The fruit has been in use in various ways by tribal eg. its fruit
powder with tulsi kept below the teeth soother toothache; in cold effects is useful; mixed
with honey cures cough; for headache due to cold its powder in pure ghee is applied; in
chest pain 8 to 10 fruits are pounded with small cardamom and taken with water. In
modern Indian medicine, it is much employed as an aromatic stimulant in cholera,
weakness following fevers, coma, etc., as a stomachic in dyspepsia, as an antiperiodic in
malarial fever.
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Preservation of genetic diversity
Figure 4.2.20 Piper nigrum Linn.
4.2.21 Pterocarpus marsupium Roxb.
Family: Papilionaceae; Eng. Indian Kino tree; Hindi- Bijasal, bija
Description: A moderate-size to large deciduous tree, up to 30 meter high and a girth of
2.5 meter with a straight clean bole. It is found commonly in hilly regions throughout the
Deccan Peninsula, and extending to Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and
Orissa.
Ethnobotanical importance: Parts of the Indian Kino (heart wood, leaves, and flowers)
has long been used for their medicinal properties in Ayurveda. The heart wood is used as
an astringent and in the treatment of inflammation and diabetes. It is good for
elephantiasis, leucoderma, diarrhoea, dysentery, rectalgia, cough and greyness of hair.
Kino finds application in tannin, dyeing and printing and is of potential use for the paper
industry.
4.2.22 Rauvolfia serpentina Benth.
Family: Apocynaceae; Eng. Serepentine; Hindi- Sarpagandha
Description: A large, climbing or twinning shrub, found in the tropical Himalayas and
plains near the foot of the hills from Sirhind and Moradabad to Sikkim. It occurs also in
Assam (up to 4,000m) and in south India Peninsula along the ghats to Travancore and
Kerala. The genus is distributed in the tropical countries.
Ethnobotanical importance: The plant has been used from ancient times. In ancient
literature like Ayurveda, Charak samhita, the medicinal properties of the plants has been
mentioned. The plant has been in use in India since long time (4000 years) for the
treatment of insanity. The roots of the plant is valued as an antidote for snake bite and
stings of insects, also as a febrifuge, and as a remedy for dysentery and other painful
affections of the intestinal canal. Now a days, the plant is using by pharmaceutical
industries in a large scale for its role in hypertension, neuropsychiatric and other
pharmacodynamics. The drug is also reported to be useful in certain gynaecological
problems such as menstrual, moliminia, frigidity and women complaining of menopausal
syndrome.
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Preservation of genetic diversity
Figure 4.2.21 Pterocarpus marsupium Roxb.
Benth.
Figure 4.2.22 Rauvolfia serpentina
4.5.23 Ricinus communis Linn.
Family: Euphorbiaceae; Eng. Castorbean, Castor oil plant; Hindi- Arand
Description: It is a large shrub or tree. Although castor is probably indigenous to the
southeastern Mediterranean region and Eastern Africa, today it is widespread throughout
tropical regions. In India, it is chiefly cultivated in Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Mysore
and Orissa.
Ethnobotanical importance: The use of castor seed oil in India has been documented
since 2000 B.C. for use in lamps and in local medicine as a laxative, purgative, and
cathartic in Unani, Ayurvedic and other ethnomedical systems. Castor seed and its oil
have also been used in China for centuries, mainly prescribed in local medicine for
internal use or use in dressings.The oil has undecylenic acid, a powerful chemical for
dermal fungus.The oil is known to have been used as an instrument of coercion by the
43
Preservation of genetic diversity
Fascist militia (Camicie Nere) under the regime of Italian dictator Benito Mussolini.
Dissidents and regime opponents were forced to ingest the oil in large amounts,
triggering severe diarrhoea and dehydration, which could ultimately cause death.
Figure 4.2.23 Ricinus communis Linn.
Check Your Progress 3
Notes: A) Write your answer in the space given below.
B) Compare your answer with those given at the end of the unit.
i)
Name two major narcotic plants.
ii) Write the major cultivation areas of Papaver somniferum in India.
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4.2.24 Santalum album Linn.
Family: Santalaceae; Eng. White sandal wood; Hindi- Safed chandan
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Preservation of genetic diversity
Description: A small, evergreen tree, is a native of highlands of South India and the
Malayan Archipelago. In India, more than 90% lies in Karnataka and Tamil Nadu. Other
states the sandal tree are distributed include Andhra Pradesh, Kerala, Maharashtra,
Madhya Pradesh, Orissa, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Manipur.
Ethnobotanical importance: It is a sacred plant of India. The wood of chandan is
largely employed in the religious ceremony of India. The wood is bitter, cooling, dry,
antipyretic, and aphrodisiac. It is useful in diseases of the heart, burning sensation, cold,
bronchitis, vaginal discharge and small pox. The wood is a tonic to heart and brain. Paste
is useful in inflammation and headache. It has antiseptic properties and can be applied to
skin. Local people commonly apply the wood ground up with water into a paste to local
inflammations to the temples in fevers and skin diseases to allay heat.
Figure 4.2.24 Santalum album Linn.
4.2.25 Terminalia arjuna Roxb.
Family: Combretaceae; Eng. Arjun tree; Hindi- Arjuna
Description: A large deciduous tree, commonly found in Madhya Pradesh, Bihar and
Western Peninsula. It is also found throughout the Sub-Himalayan tracts.
Ethnobotanical importance: The bark is astringent, aphrodisiac, heart tonic, antidysenteric, urinary astringent and expectorant. It is used in treating dysentery, diabetes,
leucorrhea, anaemia, heart ailments, fatigue, bronchitis, tumours, asthma, serosis of liver,
45
Preservation of genetic diversity
internal and external haemorrhages, inflammation and hypertension. The decoction is
used for cleaning sores and ulcers.
4.2.26 Terminalia bellerica Roxb.
Family: Combretaceae; Eng. Belleric myrobalan; Hindi-Bahera
Description: A tall tree often buttresse, up to 20m tall. It is native to India and Malaya. It
is commonly found at Baheda of Chhindwara district, Madhya Pradesh. It occurs on
different parts of India except dry regions of western India.
Ethnobotanical importance: The plant is a good source of gum, resembling gum
Arabic. Mixed with honey it is used in treating ophthalmic problems. Dried fruits are a
good astringent. It is also used in dry prolonged coughs, dropsy, diarrhoea and leprosy.
The fruit powder is also used as a tonic and laxative.
Figure 4.2.25 Terminalia arjuna Roxb.
Roxb.
Figure 4.2.26 Terminalia bellerica
4.2.27 Terminalia chebula Retz.
Family: Combretaceae; Eng. Chebulic myrobalan, yellow myrobalan; Hindi- Harad
Description: A medium sized deciduous tree. It is native to tropical Asia. In India, it is
found in North India from Kumaun to West Bengal. It is more commonly found in
Chhindwara district of Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu and above the ghats in
Kanara in South India.
Ethnobotanical importance: The fruit is astringent and laxative. It is used as a gargle in
the inflammation of mucous membrane of mouth. The fruit decoction is used in bleeding
and ulceration of gums. The fruit is roasted and taken orally three times a day for one
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Preservation of genetic diversity
week in cough. The fruit is also used externally to treat chronic ulcer, wounds and scalds.
It is also used in dying and tannin.
4.2.28 Withania somnifera Dunal.
Family: Solanaceae; Eng. Withania, Indian ginseng, Winter cherry; Hindi- Ashwagandha
Description: The wild plants are generally erect branching shrub up to 1 meter in height.
The cultivated plants are morphologically distinct from wild plants. The plant is
cultivated throughout drier parts of India.
Ethnobotanical importance: It is official Indian Pharmacopoeia. It is popularly known
as Indian Ginseng. It is a tonic, abortifacient, astringent, deobstruent, nervine, aphrodisiac
and sedative. It gives vitality and vigour and helps in building greater endurance. It has
been used in diseases such as rheumatism, leprosy and arthritis. All parts of the plant are
used in herbal medicine. In Ayurveda, the fresh roots are sometimes boiled in milk, prior
to drying, in order to leach out undesirable constituents. The berries are used as a
substitute for rennet, to coagulate milk in cheese making. Ashwagandha in Sanskrit
means "horse's smell", probably originating from the odour of its root which resembles
that of sweaty horse. The species name somnifera means "sleep-bearing" in Latin,
indicating it was considered a sedative, but it has been also used for sexual vitality and as
an adaptogen. Some herbalists refer to ashwagandha as Indian ginseng, since it is used in
Ayurvedic medicine in a way similar to that ginseng is used in traditional Chinese
medicine. The product called "ashwagandha oil" is a combination of ashwagandha with
almond oil and rose water designed to be used as a facial toner, therefore should not be
consumed.
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Preservation of genetic diversity
Figure 4.2.27 Teriminalia chebula Retz.
Figure 4.2.28 Withania somnifera Dunal.
4.2.29 Zingiber officinale Rosc.
Family: zingiberaceae; Eng. Ginger; Hindi- Adark
Description: This is a perennial herb; the root stock is horizontal, tuberous and aromatic.
It is native to South East Asia. In India, it is now cultivated in Kerala, Uttar Pradesh,
West Bengal, Maharashtra, Himachal Pradesh and Andhra Pradesh.
Ethnobotanical importance: It is clinically proved as prophylactic of nausea and
vomiting associated with motion, sickness, sea sickness and pregnancy. It is also known
for its gastrointestinal benefits and as an anti inflammatory and carminative. The rhizome
is used as a stimulant, carminative and flavouring agent. It is given in dyspepsia and
flatulent colic. It makes a valuable drug for disorders of the digestive system,
rheumatism, piles, pulmonary and catarrhal diseases, dropsy, febrile diseases, neuralgia,
etc. The fresh juice of rhizome, mixed with honey is a remedy for cough and asthma.
Figure 4.2.29 Zingiber officinale Rosc.
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Preservation of genetic diversity
Check Your Progress 4
Notes: A) Write your answer in the space given below.
B) Compare your answer with those given at the end of the unit.
i) Write the name of any four plants which have got sacred value in Indian culture.
ii) Which plant is known as the Indian Ginseng?
iii) Write the ethnobotanical importance of the following plants:
a) Indian Kino
b) Rauvolfia serpentina
c) Withania somnifera
d) Terminalia chebula
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4.3 LET US SUM UP
After going through this unit, you would have achieved the objectives stated earlier in
this Unit. Let us recall what we have discussed so far.

Ethnobotany deals with the direct relationship of plants with human being. The term
‘ethnobotany’ is manifold and it covers a broad range of scientific fields from
different directions. Ethnobotanical studies include a complete knowledge on plant or
plant species that has been explored by different human cultures, communities in their
own way and thus provide an idea to exploit and to conserve the plant or plant species
for further investigation.

Allium cepa, A. sativum, Aloe vera, etc., are complete food plant and has long been
used by various human cultures in various ways. These plants not only have food
values but also have diverse medicinal properties. Eugenia aromatica, Piper nigrum
and Zingiber officinale are some condiments that have placed their value in
international trade market.
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Preservation of genetic diversity

Azadirachta indica the ‘divine tree’ is popularly known for its multipurpose uses
from medicinal value to its biopesticidal nature. Now a day, a large number of agro
companies are making biopesticides from this divine tree.

Since time immemorial, a number of plants have been used in ophthalmology such
as, Atropa belladonna, Butea monosperma, Terminalia bellerica, Emblica officinalis,
etc.

The use of plants in cosmetics is increasing day by day. Aloe vera, Atropa
belladonna, Lawsonia innermis, Mentha arvensis, Ocimum sanctum, Santalum
album, etc., are some of the plants which have got historical cosmetic importance and
still are in use by big cosmetic companies.

Papaver somnifera, Cannabis sativa, Riccinus communis are some important
narcotic plants and have been used for their stimulant properties since long time by
different societies. It is worth mentioning here that high doses of these plants may be
poisonous for human being as well as for animals.

Mitha zahar (aconite) and sarpagandha has long been used as an antidote for
poisoning.

The drugs obtained from the plants to treat certain gynaecological problems have
been reported to be useful and safe. Santalum album, Terminalia arjuna, Rauvolfia
serpentina, Aloe vera, Lawsonia innermis are some examples of the plants which
have been proved beneficial in treating gynaecological problems.

Azadirachta indica, Butea monosperma, Emblica officinalis, Eugenia zambolana,
Ocimum sanctum, Santalum album, etc., are some sacred plants which have been
worshiped for God and Godesses in Indian culture and in other culture also. All these
plants have been blessed with different medicinal properties and by virtue of these;
they have maintained their separate place in modern system of medicine.

Thus, history is evidence of the fact that many valuable drugs of our modern
medicine have been discovered by knowing that a particular plant was used by the
ancient folk healers in one or more of the ancient culture of the world for the
treatment of some kind of ailments.
4.4 CHECK YOUR PROGRESS: THE KEY
1.
i) The scientific names are
a) Aconitum napellus
b) Butea monosperma
c) Aloe vera
d) Atropa belladonna
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Preservation of genetic diversity
e) Azadirachta indica
f) Allium sativum
ii) In Italian Bella Donna stands for Beautiful lady.
2. i) The three dye yielding plants are
 Butea monosperma
 Lawsonia innermis
 Aloe vera
ii) Jatropha curcas was used as contraceptive in South Sudan.
iii) Ocimum sanctum is used for the treatment of bronchitis, bronchial asthma, malaria,
diarrhoea, dysentery, skin diseases, arthritis, painful eye diseases, chronic fever,
insect bite etc.
3. i) Two major narcotic plants are
 Papaver somniferum
 Cannabis sativa
ii) The major cultivation areas of Papaver somniferum are Uttar Pradesh, East Punjab,
Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh.
4. i) The sacred plants are Lawsonia innermis, Azadirachta indica, Ocimum sanctum,
Butea monosperma.
ii) Withania somnifera is known as the Indian Ginseng.
iii) a) Indian Kino is useful in the treatment of elephantiasis, leucoderma, diarrhoea,
dysentery, rectalgia, cough and greyness of hair.
b) Rauvolfia serpentina is antidote for snake bite and stings of insects, also as a
febrifuge, and as a remedy for dysentery and other painful affections of the
intestinal canal.
c) Withania somnifera (ashwagandha) is useful in the treatment of rheumatism,
leprosy and arthritis. It is also used as sedative and for sexual vitality.
Ashwagandha oil is used in making facial toner.
d) The fruit of Terminalia chebula is astringent and laxative. It is also useful in
chronic ulcer, wounds and scalds.
4.4 ASSIGNMENT OR ACTIVITIES

Visit the nearby fields and nursery and collect information about ethnobotanical
uses of the plants.
4.5 REFERENCES
Klein R. M. 1979. Green World: An introduction to plants and people. Harper and Row.
Pandey B. P. 1978. Economic Botany. S. Chand Publication.
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Preservation of genetic diversity
Dastur J. F. 1951. Medicinal Plants of India and Pakistan. D.B. Tarapirevala Sons and
Co. Ltd.
Singh V. and Jain A. P. 2003. Ethnobotany and medicinal plants of India and Nepal.
Scientific Publishers.
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