Ethnobotanical Leaflets 14: 420-26, 2010.




Flora of Sacred Groves at Sriharikota Island, Andhra Pradesh, India


R. Bharath Kumar


Department of Biotechnology, Vignans Engineering College, Vadlamudi, Guntur 522213

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Issued: April 01, 2010





Sriharikota is botanically interesting place in Andhra Pradesh by virtue of being an island in Nellore District harbouring a rich vegetation and a popular place also because of establishment of Rocket Launching Station. The anecdote behind the same Sriharikota is that there are half a million of Siva Lingams present in the island. The legend derived its strength from the words arc (half) and cotti (crore), Sri being a qualifying term. However, the fact is that there are a good number of dilapidated temples around which note- worthy vegetation, worth a critical study. It is said that a number of idols also were found during excavation operations while construction programme of SHAR establishment was carried out. One such idol is presently installed at newly constructed temple in the area. Hence a study of flora of sacred groves is undertaken. A good number of medicinal plants are recorded around the sacred groves. However 18 plants only of high importance are reported here, such as Albizzia amara, Lannea coromandelica, Loesneriella obtusifolia, Strychnos nux-vomica and Strychnos potatorum etc.



Tribal People generally live in isolated hamlets in forests on the hilly ranges. To offer prayers they established certain idols under semi permanent or temporary temples, around such prayer centres dense forest components having good medicinal value and other uses are present. Very often they also grow some more plants of ornamental value and /or of medicinal value. Further they take extra care to protect their flora of these prayer centres such places are known as Sacred groves very often even civic people also construct temples either on hilly areas or along the sea coast. It is customary that around all such temples a good number of plants are grown along with the natural flora already available there. They have been considered as sacred, it is usually a self imposed taboo on indiscriminate distruction of the flora by tribals. It is well known fact that most of our popular pilgrim centres are on hilly areas amidst deep forests. Natural floristic components of endemic and rare species are usually found around such sacred groves in addition to the plants of certain good medicinal value. Thus the sacred groves serve as eco-bio-conservation centres. Therefore in the present context of high degradation of natural forests, an intensive study of sacred groves is very much needed. It is with this view flora of sacred groves at Sriharikota Island is taken up (maps as well as illustrations of the people of Sriharikota are published in Ethnobotanical Leaflets 12: 896-911, 2008; and EBL 14: 95-107, 2010).



Sriharikota Island geomatically is located at 80 0 .21 E and 130 .22 to 140 N. It is a spindle shaped land mass sandwiched between Bay of Bengal on the Eat and Pulicat lake on the West. It is 18 km east of Sullurupet, the nearest railway Station connecting Chennai Kolkata trunk line. Chennai is 98 km away from Sriharikota.



The anecdote behind the name Sriharikota is that there area half a million of Shiva Lingams present in the island. The legend derived its strength from the words arc (Half) and cotti (Crore), sri being a qualifying term. However the fact is that there are a good number of dilapidated temples around which noteworthy vegetation, worth a critical study. It is said that a number of idols also were found during excavation operations while construction programme for SHAR establishment was carried out. One such idol is presently installed at newly constructed temple in the area.

Sriharikota Island a few families of aboriginal tribe Yanadies are living in interior of the island forests. Quite a few dilapidated temples are a few idols half buried in the sand in the vicinity of tribal hamlets.


Field Study

A few tours were planned so as study the flora of sacred groves. Based on our preliminary studies on the flora sacred groves in the island 18 species of tribal medicinal value presented here (Table 1)


Enumeration of Plants of Sacred Groves species

The list of plants enumerated below is given in the alphabetical order along with family, local names and tribal medicinal use. For each species earlier recorded medicinal uses also are furnished.

Table 1. Flora of Sacred Grove at Sriharikota Island - A.P.


S.No. Plant Name, Island Use(s) Elsewhere

Loc. Name & Family

1 2 3 4


1. Acacia caesia Root- Paste applied for Flowers used bySantal

Ln: Korinda wounds and knife cuts. women in deranged courses.



2. Aegle marmelos Root-decoction taken orally Pulp of ripe fruit cooling,

Ln: Maredu/Bilva (Dose:1-2 oz.) twice a day to laxative fruit astringent,

(Rutaceae) give relief from (High B.P.) digestion.

High Blood Pressue.


3. Albizia amara Leaf- decoction taken orally Seeds astringent given in piles,

Ln: Chikireni for cooling. Leaf and stem bark diarrhoea and gonorrhea. Flowers

(Mimosaceae) powder applied on head, taken externally applied to inflammations

oil bath to give relief from boils and ulcers. Leaves useful in

body pains, removes dandruff. Opthalmia.



4. Azadirachta indica Seed- Paste applied on itches, Berries-purgative emollient

Ln: Vepa Scabies and boils of skin. Anthelmentic. Leaves as poultice

(Meliaceae) applied to boils.


5. Cissus quadrangularis Stem- chutney acts as vermicidal Leaves and young shoots alterative

Ln: Nalleru removes White worms in stomach. Stomachic used in powder form in

(Vitaceae) digestive troubles.

Juice of stem used in irregular

menstruation and scurvy.



6. Cissus vitigenia Root- crushed and warmed applied Leaf mildly heated and applied on

Ln: Adavigummidi on Itches and Swellings of hands wounds of cattle.



7. Coccinia grandis Tuberous Root- well ground and Root paste applied on forehead

Ln: Donda juice (Milk) warmed with Foeniculum to relief head ache.

(Cucurbitaceae) vulgare and it is applied for curing Leaves are mashed in water and

rheumatic pains. bandaged over filarial swellings.


8. Ficus benghalensis Latex- applied to give relief from Infusion of bark-tonic, astringent,

Ln: Marri joint pains and muscular pains. used in dysentery, diabetes.



9. Ficus microcarpa Fruits- ground well with pepper Root bark and leaves boiled in

Ln: Kalizuvi and applied on wounds and Itches. oil application for wounds and
(Moraceae) burises.


10. Glycosmis pentaphylla Root-paste as antidote for snake Root pounded and mixed with

Ln: Gonji bite. Sugar given in low fever.

(Rutaceae) Wood used in snake bite.


11. Gmelina asiatica Fruit- paste as antidote. Root-demulcent, alterative, used

Ln: Gummalangi/ Root paste on head for cooling. for rheumatism, gonorrhea.




12. Grewia rhamnifolia Fruit-juice taken orally in case of ----

Ln: Tegali stomach ache and digestion problems.


13. Lannea coromandelica Leaf- juice taken orally to give relief Bark- astringent, used as a lotion

Ln: Gumphini ulcers. in impetigenous eruptions and

(Anacardiaceae) Stem bark-paste applied to give relief ulcers. from body pains. Leaves boiled and applied for tooth

Wood used to make cots, agri- ache

implements, and used to

avoid evil spirits.


14. Loesenerialla obtusifolia Wiry Branches as binding fibre -----

Ln: Mediteega tying to make tough roofs.




15. Morinda pubecens Stem Bark- patse applied to give relief Root used internally as an

Ln: Peddapapidi/ from body pains. astringent.

Toguru Wood used to make cots and agri-

(Rubiaceae) implements.


16. Seurinega leucopyrus Root-paste mixed with Mollugo Leaves made into paste with

Ln: Tellapurugudu pentaphylla root + Glycosmis tobacco used to destroy worms

(Euphorbiaceae) pentaphylla root + Boerhavia in sores.

diffusa root powder decoction is

given to pregnant ladies as a

medicine (for 3 days).


17. Strychnos nux-vomica Seed- paste applied in fevers and Root bark ground up into a

Ln: Musthi dysentery. Fine paste with lime juice and

(Loganiaceae) Root- paste applied as antidote for made into pills which are said to

snake bite. be effectual in cholera.

Leaves applied as poultice, to

sloughing wounds and ulcers.

Seeds with aromatics given in




18. Strychnos potatorum Seed paste applied for snake bite. Seeds used as a local application

Ln: Chilla Seeds- used to clear turbid water. in eye diseases, diabetes and in

(Loganiaceae) (as Water purifier) gonorrhea.






The author is thankful to the Director, SHAR Centre, Sriharikota for providing facilities and encouragement, at Laboratory and in the field respectively. Author is thankful to Dr. V. Veerraju, Head, C&LD. Division, SHAR Centre for his keen interest and consistant support to conduct the field work smoothly. The author is thankful to the Chairman, DOS-ISRO, Bangalore for Financial assistance to conduct the project. He is also grateful to the Principal, Visvodaya Government College, Venkatagiri



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Department of Botany, S.V. University, Tirupati. March. 15-17, 1999.