Ethnobotanical Leaflets 13: 1069-1087, 2009.
Ethnobotanical Studies from Amaravathy Range of Indira Gandhi Wildlife Sanctuary, Western Ghats, Coimbatore District, Southern India
V.S. Ramachandran1 , Shijo Joseph2 and R. Aruna3
1PG & Research Department of Botany, Kongunadu Arts and Science College, Coimbatore 641 029 and Department of Botany Bharathiar University Coimbatore. 641 046. E-mail: [email protected]
2Forestry & Ecology Division, National Remote sensing Agency Depart of space, Hyderabad 500 037 and School of Environmental Sciences, Mahatma Gandhi University, Kottayam
3Department of Botany, Madras Christian College, Tambaram,
Chennai - 600 059 and Salim Ali Centre for Orinthology and Natural
History, Anaikatty, Coimbatore- 641 108
Issued Sept. 01, 2009
The ethnobotanical studies were carried out in the Amaravathy Range of India Gandhi Wildlife Sanctuary, Anamalais, the Western. Ghats, Tamilnadu during June 2005 May 2006. Puliyars and Muthuvars are the two dominant tribes who inhabit the dense jungles of this range; they have a fair knowledge on the indigenous flora. Due to intensive and extensive explorations have resulted in the collection of information on ninety four plant species; out of which, 73 are wild and the rest are cultivated; within the wild plants 24 are used as edible fruits; 12 species as a leafy vegetable; 23 species are having medicinal value and 18 species utilized for miscellaneous uses and the same is provided.
Keywords: Amaravathy Range, Western Ghats, Ethnobotanical Survey, Tamil Nadu.
Ethnobotany is the study of direct interrelationship between human beings and plants. Ethnobotanists can play very useful roles in rescuing this disappearing knowledge and returning it to local communities. In this way local ethno botanical knowledge can be conserved as part of living cultural ecological systems, helping to maintain a sense of pride in local cultural knowledge and practice and reinforcing links between communities and the environment, all of which may be thought of as essential steps in the promotion of conservation (Martin 1995). The Western Ghats is considered as one of the hotspot of the world (Myers et al 2000) and harbors about 4500 plant species (Nair and Daniel 1996.) Anamalais is an off shoot of the Western Ghats and it runs from the West to East. There are five types indigenous communities like Puliyars, Muthuvars, Malasars, Malaimalasars and Kadars live in the dense jungles. They have a fair knowledge on the utilization and conservation of these natural resources since they exchange the knowledge from one generation to another. The ethnobotanical studies related to Puliyars and Muthuvars are rather scanty.
The Anamalai Hills possesses a rich diversity of wild plants which are use as food by differed groups of tribal communities like Kadars, Malasars, Malaimalasars, Muthuvars and Puliyars. Due to the habitat degradation and fragmentation of these forests, have resulted in the depletion of natural resources on which these tribes used to depend on their livelihood options; it has become increasingly difficult for them to live in their traditional way. In addition, the impact of tourism and urbanization has encroached in and around tribal settlements has changed their lifestyle. Therefore, it is realized that there is an urgent need to arrest the erosion of their knowledge at the earliest, since our country is a signatories on the convention on biological diversity and also to protect our indigenous knowledge. In the recent years, there has been growing interest world over to explore, search and collect plants which could have economical viability in near future. The purpose of the present paper is to record some less known ethno botanical informations of wild plants which are used by the Muthuvas and Pulayas from Amaravathy Range, Coimbatore District, Tamil Nadu were carried out during the study period.
The Amaravathy Range of Indira Gandhi Wild life Sanctuary was selected for the present study; it is located at 10-12 5-11 7 latitude and 77 77-58.2E longitude and range from 550 msl to 875 msl (Fig. 1). Based on the vegetation type, the study area consists of (i) Dry deciduous (ii) Moist deciduous and (iii) riparian forests. Even though five types of tribes inhabit the Anamalais, but Puliyars and Muthuvars were found in Amaravathy Range; within the range, there is a one settlement for Muthuvars at Manampally; whereas Puliyars live in the settlements like Thalinzhi, Kodanthur and Moongilpallam. These Puliyars cultivate rice and muthuvars raise different type of vegetables in their own fields. Apart from agricultural work, they also engage in sylvicultural work assigned by the forest department personnel as and when required.
Ethno botanical surveys were conducted during July 2005 May 2006 in the Amaravathy Range forests of Indira Gandhi Wildlife Sanctuary. In order to collect the ethno botanical studies, PRA technique and key informant interviews were the methods followed. PRA technique was used to collect general information about the Puliyars and Muthuvars. The specimens have been identified by using relevant flora (Gamble, & Fischer, 1915-1935) Voucher specimens were deposited at the herbarium of the Department of Botany, Kongunadu Arts and Science College, Coimbatore.
Leaves: Various types of leaves are collected from different seasons, cooked and eaten along with boiled rice; out of 12 types of leaves reported (Table I) in the present study, the usages of Celosia polygonoides, Lycopersicon esculentum, and Capsicum annum are reported for the first time; however a comparison was made with such studies carried out in North Karnataka (Rajasab & Isaq 2004), Orissa (Sinha and Lakra 2004) and Arunachal Pradesh (Kar 2004), has revealed that the specious like Portulaca oleracea, Colocacia esculenta, Oxalis corniculata and Solanum nigrum were commonly used for all the four regions.
Fruits: There is a large number of wild edible fruits yielding plants; however in the present investigation only 24 species reported (Table II); Among these, Dolichos trilobus, Canavalia gladiata, are cooked and eaten as vegetable, while others are eaten raw; out of which ten plants like Canthium dicoccum, Clausena dentata , Cordia monoica , Ficus benghalensis, Ficus microcarpa, Ficus racemosa, Miliusa tomentosa, Pachygone ovata, Passiflora foetida, Syzygium cumini are popular among the two tribes and eaten frequently in different seasons. A few fruits like Phyllanthus emblica, P. indofischeri are pickled; surplus fruits of these few fruits are also sun dried and preserved for off-season. The edible nature of fruits like Cochlospermum religiosum and Oxalis corniculata are reported for the first time.
Medicinal Plants: Puliyars and Muthuvars could able to collect and identify about 23 medicinal plants (table III). They use different plants for curing various ailments like wound healing, cold, heaviness of head, diarrhoea, snake-bite, jaundice, to reduce body heat etc. A comparison was made with adjoining study area in Kerala (Nair, & Jayakumar, 2003) and found that the species like Boerhavia diffusa, Calotropis gigantean, Chloroxylon swietenia, Phyllanthus amarus and Tridax procumbens were used by both these communities. The medicinal uses Strychnos potatorum, Triumfetta pilosa, Spilanthes calva and Rivea hypocrateriformis are seems to be new.
Miscellaneous uses: Out of 18 species are enumerated which are used for house construction (Anamirta cocculus, Argyreia pilosa, Bauhinia malabarica, Cassia fistula, Cymbopogon flexuosus), fish poisoning(Ceriscoides turgida, Diospyros Montana, Benkara malabarica, Randia dumetorum ), hairdo for tribal women folk (Chrysanthemum anethifolium, Crossandra infunduliformis, Psilanthus wightianus )and other such cases like tooth brush (Pongamia pinnata)and brooms ( Sida acuta) etc are listed(table IV). It is interesting to know that the plant latex of Strebulus asper and Wrightia tinctoria are commonly used for curd making.
Cultivated plants: It is observed that a total number of 21 species belonging to 21 genera under 19 families are cultivated (table V) by the muthuvars and puliyars in different parts of Anamalai Hills, Coimbatore district. Generally, selection of plants depends upon the daily requirements. Many of these species have multiples uses. The tribal individuals show a tendency towards cultivating mostly edible fruits and vegetables. Other categories like plants yielding spices, beverages, construction material, basketry materials, medicines etc they collect from adjoining forest areas. Their kitchen gardens not only provide their daily requirements but also play a significant role in the economy of these two communities.
Results and Discussion
The indigenous communities possess a thorough knowledge on the usage of wild plants used by the in their day to-days life. Out of 94 plants studied, further they were classified on basis of utility point of view; the same is discussed under leafy vegetables, edible fruits, medicinal plants and plants used for miscellaneous purposes. Under leafy vegetables 12 plants were listed, out of which Celosia polygonoides, Solanum americanum, Lycopersicum esculentum and Capsicum annum probably form additional reports. Similarly, even though they use a number of fruit yielding plants, the fruit like Ficus benghalensis, F. microcarpa, Miliusa tomentosa, Pachygone ovata, Cochlospemum religiosum, Secamone emetica will form as an additional list of edible fruits from the wild and are popular among the tribal children of these two communities. The tribes depend up on the plants for curing various diseases since they live dense jungles. They use different parts of plants and have their own traditional way of health care involving the use of locally available plant resources; out of 23 plants they use, Strychnos potatorum, Triumfetta pilosa, Spilanthes calva, and Rivea hypocrateriformis for various diseases happens to form an additional ethno medicinal use from this district. These tribes use as many as 17 species for various miscellaneous uses like house construction, fish poisoning, live fence, tooth brush, broom and hairdos of women folk; out of these plants, the species like Bauhinia malabarica, Streblus asper, Wrightia tinctoria, Psilanthus wightii, Anamirta cocculus were probably form additional information.
The present study on ethnobotanical knowledge of Puliyars and Muthuvars would help in greater dissemination of this knowledge for long term conservation of a sustainable livelihood for the tribes. It is concluded that biodiversity plays important role in functioning of the village ecosystem; hence there is an urgent need to study on the conservation of biodiversity in and around the tribal settlements would help in sustainable development giving more emphasis to the indigenous within the people .It is advocated that the nutritional analysis of these potential species may be tested for their food quality. If it is suited it may form a new food sources; by this approach it is possible to convert the indigenous knowledge into a new product. By way of patenting and it will help the tribal communities by way of benefit sharing and sustainable utilization these wild plants.
In the present investigation it was observed that wild edible plants are valued as supplement diet. These wild edible plants can help to over come the deficiency of nutritional constituents especially in forest areas and to build up immunity power remaining healthy.
Table I. List of Leafy Vegetables.
Table II. List of Edible Fruits.
Table III. List of Medicinal Plants.
Table IV. Plants used for miscellaneous purposes.
Table V. List of Cultivated Plants.
Abbreviations Used: P- Puliyars, M- Muthuvars, H- Herbs, S- Shrubs, T- Trees, Cl- Climber, TW- Twiner, W- Wild, and C- Cultivated, Per. Con- Personal Consumption.
While scrutinizing the existing literature, it was found that the diversity of wild edible plants in different regions of India. For example, the wild edible plants documented in East India (Kar 2004, Sinha and Lakra 2004) are entirely different when compared to South India. Even in South India (Nair & Jayakumar 2003, Rajasab & Isaq 2004), the diversity of wild edible plant plants for Karnataka (Rajasab & Isaq 2004) is different from that of Tamil Nadu. Therefore, it is vital to document the folk knowledge on wild edible plant in different region for their optimum utilization and conservation which will be beneficial to the mankind.
The authors wish to thank the authorities of the Tamilnadu Forest Department for giving necessary permission and help in the field. Shijo Joseph is grateful to the Director National Remote Sensing Centre, Hyderabad, Dr. P.S.Roy, Deputy Director and M.S.R. Murthy, Head, Forestry and Ecology Division for providing facilities and guidance for carrying out the research project in the study area.
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