Ethnobotanical Leaflets 13: 1205- 15, 2009.



Medicinal Value of the Asteraceae of Dir Kohistan Valley, NWFP, Pakistan


Gul Jan1, Mir Ajab Khan1 and Farzana Jan2


1Department of Plant Sciences Quaid-i-Azam University, Islamabad

2Department of Micro Biology Quaid-i-Azam University, Islamabad

Address for correspondence:


Issued Oct. 01, 2009



The present study deals with the local uses of 25 species belonging to 21 genera of the family Asteraceae. Dir Kohistan valley has diverse habitats for the growth of various medicinal plants. The local medicinal uses include painkiller, diuretic, febrifuges, carminative, anthelmintic, anti-inflammatory, aphrodisiac, cardio tonic, tonic, stomachache, dyspepsia, jaundice, leprosy, cough, asthma, ulcers, vomiting etc. People have strong faith in herbal medication by ethnomedicinal plants and women are leading men in applying the recipe for medication by these plants. Some of useful species are under serious threat due to unsustainable activities. Hence, a proper documentation of useful plants with their present status and local traditional knowledge as well as practices is urgently needed. Effort should also be initiated to implement appropriate conservation measures for preservation and sustainable uses of these useful species.


Key Words: Medicinal Value, Asteraceae, Dir Kohistan Valleys, NWFP, Pakistan.



            Kohistan, the place of mountains, was called “Yaghistan” the land of rebels during the British rule. It is a name applied to all hilly areas, such as Swat Kohistan, Dir Kohistan and Indus Kohistan. Literally the word means "the place of mountains" (Hamayun, 2005). The Kohistan under focus in this paper is generally called "Dir Kohistan." The Dir Kohistan Valley covers 140,351 acres of the coniferous forests situated between latitude 350- 9΄ to 350-47΄ and longitude 710-52΄ to 720-22΄ in the northern position of the watershed of Panjkora river.


Ethnobotany in Pakistan

             Ethnobotany includes all sorts of relationships between people and plants. The definition of ethnobotany can be sum up in four words i.e. People, Plants, Interactions, and Uses.  The term ethnobotany was for the first time used by John Harshberger in 1896. In the last 100 years, the science of ethnobotany has progressed and the trend is shifting from mere documentation process to a more practical one which emphasize on conservation and sustainable use of plant resources.

Ethnobotanical work in Pakistan is in its infancy. Only a few projects have been launched for documentation as well as sustainable use of plant resources despite of the fact that Pakistan presents very rich and diverse flora due to her diverse climatic, soil conditions and multiple ecological regions. Pakistan has four phytogeographical regions, the uniregionals, consisting of Irano-Turanian (46%), Sino-Himalayan (10%), Saharo-Sindian (9.5%), and Indian element (4.5%).  The country has about 6,000 species of wild plants of which about 400 to 600 are considered to be medicinally important (Khan, 1991).

The northern areas of Pakistan with unique biodiversity due to the presence of Himalayas, Karakorums and Hindu-Kush mountain ranges are under tremendous pressure from locals because of illicit cutting of valuable plants, poor collection and storage methods of medicinal plants, smuggling of timber wood, over grazing, corrupt forest officials, illiterate population with no sense or lust for conservation and above all passive and non practical policies of Government as well as NGO,s  working in the area (Sher, 1998).



            Research work was carried out during July 2007 - August 2008 in the area of Dir Kohistan (N.W.F.P). Field work was carried out in order to investigate the existing ethnobotanical practices. During these trips different plant species of the family Asteraceae were collected, dried, documented and were identified both by comparing them with herbarium specimen and with the help of flora of Pakistan (Riedl, 1991; Choudhary et al., 2000). The field work includes interviews, observations and guided field walks/transects walks. Medicinal usage data were collected from local people and practioner medical experts (hakims) that practice medicine regularly. About 100 informants were interviewed in this regard.




Botanical name                      Achillea millefolium L.

Local name                              Jarai

Habit                                        Perennial herb

Parts used                                Whole plant

Local uses                                The plants contain a volatile oil, which is a stimulant tonic and astringent, and stops intestinal bleeding. The whole plant is used as a diuretic, a stimulant, for piles, cold and to stop perspiration. Also used as fodder.

Flowering season                    July-Sept.   


Botanical name                      Anaphalis triplinerus (Spreng.) Hand, Mazz.

Habit                                       Herb

Parts used                                Fresh leaves

Local uses                               The fresh leaves are bruised and applied to the wound as a plaster.


Botanical name                      Artemisia trichophylla Wall.ex DC.

Local name                              Jaukay.

Habit                                       Herb.

Parts used                                Leaves and shoots.

Local uses                               It is used as respiratory stimulant, anathematic and purgative us used as a cure for earache and used for burning. Shoots are used in making brooms for sweeping lawns and ropes of houses and for construction of roofs.

Flowering season                    July-September


Botanical name                      Artemisia maritime L.

Local name                              Tarkha

Habit                                       Herb

Parts used                                Leaves

Local uses                               Anthelminthic. Also useful for curing skin diseases. Shoot is used as fodder. Brooms are constructed for sweeping dirt from lawns.

Flowering season                    July-September


Botanical name                      Artemisia scoparia L.

Local name                              Jawkay, Kamasla tarkha

Habit                                       Herb

Parts used                                Flowering head

Local uses                               Used as anathematic, used as medicine against malarial fever. Also used to make brooms.

Flowering season                    July-September


Botanical name                      Artemisia absinthium L.

Habit                                       Herb

Parts used                                Whole plant

Local uses                               It is an aromatic tonic. It was formerly found as a high reputation in debility of the digestive organs. The powdered herb in small amount mixed in soup, will serve to relieve bilious melancholia and will help to disserve the yellow hove of jaundice from skin. 

Flowering season                    July-September


Botanical name                      Bidens pilosa L.

Habit                                       Shrub

Parts used                                Whole plant                

Local uses                               Young shots are used for treatment of rheumatism. The young leaves are used for abdominal pain. Flower is remedy for diarrhea and infusion of the leaf and root is remedy for colic.


Botanical name                      Calendula officinalis L.

Local name                              Ziar gulae

Habit                                       A cultivated ornamental herb

Parts used                                Flower and leaves

Local uses                               Flowers and shoots are used to treat wounds.

Flowering season                    March-July


Botanical name                      Cichorium intybus L.

Local name                              Hun    

Habit                                       Herb

Parts use                                  Whole plant

Local uses                               The roots are used for Jaundice. Leaves are used as a "Saag" against Typhoid .It also increases bile secretion and is used to promote digestion.

Flowering season                    July-Sept.


Botanical name                      Conyza canadensis (L) Cronquist.

Local name                              Malooch

Habit                                       Herb

Parts used                                Vegetative parts

Local uses                               Fresh fodder, stimulant, homeostatic, diuretic, used in diarrhea and dysentery.

Flowering season                    July-Sept.


Botanical name                      Chrysanthemum leucanthemum L.

Local Name                             Chitti phulari

Habit                                       herb

Part used                                 Flowers

Local uses                               Flowers are used for digestive problems.

Flowering season                    August-September


Botanical name                      Dipsacus fullonum L.

Habit                                       Herb

Parts used                                Leaves

Local uses                               The water held by the leaves is used to cool inflammation of the eyes.

Flowering season                    June-August. 


Botanical name                      Echinops cornigerus L.

Habit                                       herb

Part used                                 Aerial parts.

Local uses                               Aerial parts are dried and crushed to obtain powder, which is commonly used for fever of domestic animals

Flowering season                    September-October


Botanical name                      Gnaphallium officinale L.

Family                                     Asteraceae

Habit                                       Herb

Parts used                                Leaves

Local uses                               Leaves are used as an astringent. 


Botanical name                      Inula royleana Clark.

Family                                     Asteraceae

Habit                                       Herb

Parts used                                Whole plant

Local uses                                Aromatic tonic used as diaphoretic, diuretic and expectorant.


Botanical name                      Lactuca serriola L.

Local name                              Zangali salad

Habit                                       A common herb

Parts used                                Whole plants

Local uses                               The herb is used as cooling, sedative, diaphoretic, diuretic, antiseptic and expectorant.

Flowering season                    April-June



Botanical name                      Lacuta virosa L.

Habit                                       Herb

Local name                              Kahu

Parts used                                Flowering parts

Local uses                               Laxative, antispasmodic and diuretic. It is also used as a remedy in palpitation of the heart and fever.

Flowering season                    April-June       


Botanical name                      Onopordeum acanthium L.

Local name                              Ghna botay.

Habit                                       A thorny herb

Parts used                                Leaves and roots

Local uses                               The leaves and roots are taken in drink to help the cramp in the neck. The leaves and roots are of healing quality. Antispasmodic. 

Flowering season                    July-Oct.     


Botanical name                      Saussurea heteromala (D.Don) Hand.

Family                                     Asteraceae

Local name                              Kali Zira

Parts used                                Seeds and roots

Local uses                               The seeds are carminative in nature and also used as a cure for horse bite. Roots is used as tonic and useful in liver diseases, kidney and chest complaints.

Flowering season                    July-September


Botanical name:                     Saussurea costus (Falc.) Lipsch.

Family:                                    Asteraceae

Local name:                             Minyal, Kuth

Habit:                                      Herb

Part Used:                               Root

Local uses                               Used to treat pains especially arthritis. 


Botanical name                      Senecio chrysanthemoides DC.

Family                                     Asteraceae

Local name                              Kalay di Jar

Habit                                       Herb

Part used                                 Rhizome

Local uses                               Rhizome is used against asthma and respiratory problems.


Botanical name                      Senecio chrysanthemoides DC.

Local name                              Ghopga

Habit                                       Herb

Parts used                                Flowers and leaves

Local uses                               Flowers are ornamental and poisonous. Leaves are used for emollient purpose. 


Botanical name                      Sonchus asper L.

Family                                     Asteraceae      

Local name                              Shawda pai

Habit                                       Herb

Parts used                                Young shoots and flowers

Local uses                               Its decoction is used as a tonic, diuretic and for jaundice. Also used for curing constipation and as fodder.

Flowering season                    March- September


Botanical name                      Taraxacum officinale Weber.

Local name                              Ziar Gulae

Habit                                       Herb

Parts used                                Flower, root and leaves

Local uses                               Its decoction is used as a tonic, diuretic and for jaundice. Also used for curing constipation. It is used against tumors.  It is purgative, mild laxative, used as remedy for kidney and liver diseases. It is also helping in the flow of bile. It is also ornamental plant

Flowering season                    Feb.-April


Botanical name                      Xanthium strumarium L.

Local name                              Geskay

Habit                                       Shrub

Parts used                                Leaves

Local uses                               Leaves are applied for curing skin diseases. Leaf is also locally used for curing malarial fever. 

Flowering season                    March-September



     The present study provides information on the indigenous uses of 25 important ethnobotanically important plants belonging to Asteraceae family. The important objective of this study was to record the indigenous uses of these plants used by the local women for various purposes. The ethnobotanically important plants are a source of income and cure for the local women. Local people are using the plants for various purposes i.e., medication, food, cosmetics, and fodder for the cattle. They have faith on these plants. The ratio of the women using allopathic medicines is negligible because they are directly dependent on plants for medication and other basic needs. The ethnobotanically important and other beneficial plants are quite useful for the basic health and hygiene of the local women. Local people are directly dependent on these plants for cure of different diseases, food, skin care, cosmetics and fodder for the cattle. These plants are a source of interaction between the people and the natural resources of the area. It is very important that the precious ethnobotanical knowledge about these plants should be transferred to the younger generations. The data may be valuable in the future for pharmacological studies.



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