Ethnobotanical Leaflets 12: 254-260. 2008.
Medicinal Plants in Tropical Evergreen Forest of Pachakumachi Hill, Cumbum Valley, Western Ghats, India
Jegan, G., Kamalraj, P. and Muthuchelian, K.
Centre for Biodiversity and Forest studies, School of Energy Sciences, Madurai Kamaraj University, Madurai – 625 021, Tamil Nadu, India
Issued 24 May 2008
Western Ghats is a treasure of medicinal plants. In this survey, two previously unreported endemic medicinal plants were identified from the study area.
Keyword: Medicinal plants, Western Ghats, endemic plants.
There has been struggle between man and sickness since time immemorial. Man has acquired methods of treating sickness as rendered by his bio- cultural environment. In every society, whether technologically primitive or not, there exists some sort of curative methods for health. It is difficult to separate the magico- religious practices associated with the administration of such prescriptions. The World Health Organization (WHO) has listed 20,000 medicinal plants globally; India’s contribution is 15- 20 %. According to the WHO estimation, about 80% of the population in the developing countries depends directly on plants for its medicines (Gupta, 1995, Singh, 2000). In India, about 2000 drugs used are of plant origin. In the last few decades over- exploitation of forest resources has led to species loss. As a result, 20- 25% of existing plant species in India has become endangered. Medicinal plants are now under great pressure due to their excessive collection or exploitation. The degree of threat to natural populations of medicinal plants has increased because more than 90% of medicinal plant raw material for herbal industries in India and also for export is drawn from natural habitat.
Plants are useful for man in many ways. They are the source of food, fodder, fruits, manure and medicine. Modern man depends on the advanced medical systems such as allopathy and homeopathy for healthcare. But ayurveda played major role in India and now it is in the path of revival and global acceptance.
MATERIALS AND METHODS
Our study site is situated in the Pachakumachi hill (9° 35’ to 9° 45’ N latitude and 77º 15’ to 77º 27’E longitude) of Western Ghats, South India. The Pachakumachi hill is surrounded by Palani Hills in the North, Sethur and Sivagiri hills in the South, Cardamom hills and Kerala state in the West, the Varushanadu hills in the Northeast and Thekkadi hills in the Southwest. Vaigai and Surliyaru are the main rivers originating from Pachakumachi hill. Study area is showed in fig 1. Climatological data of the study site are collected from Pachakumachi estate Climatological station. Pachakumachi hill receives 2726 mm rainfall annually. June is recorded as the hottest month with maximum temperature of 31°C and January is the coldest month with the minimum temperature of 17° C. Humidity is high (95%) during the months of June, July and August; and low humidity is noted only in the month of March (85%). In the 10,000 Acres of total area of Pachakumachi hill, 2,000 acres are under the cultivation of cash crops such as cardamom, coffee and tea. These plantations are intermingled with the patches of Evergreen forests. The altitude of the hill ranges from 600 m to 2,000 m. The vegetation ranges from scrub jungles in the foothill to evergreen and sholas at hill tops. Our study site is situated at an altitude of 1,700 m. Our study site is defined as the tropical evergreen forest. Our study period was from May 2006 to March 2007. The phytosociological studies were carried out in 1 ha permanent plot which was divided into one hundred 10x 10 m2 subplots. Then, 5x 5 m2 and 1x 1m2 sub plots were laid within each 10x 10 m2 for medicinal shrubs and herbs respectively. The diversity indices were calculated using the software BIODIVERSITY PRO BETA VERSION (Mc Aleece, 1997).
RESULTS AND DISCUSSION
All in all, 16 medicinal plants were identified in our study area. Shannon and Simpson indices of the medicinal plants are 2.03 and 0.02 respectively. Among 16, 2 species are endemic.
To improve the status of the medicinal plants in Pachakumachi Hill, the local people must become aware of the problem.
Figure 1. Map showing the study area.
Figure 2: Evergreen Forest of Study Area (Pachakumachi Hill).
Figure 3: Tea plantation in study area.
Table1. Medicinal plants in Pachakumachi Hill and their uses.
Gupta,R. and Chadha, K. L., Medicinal and aromatic plants in India. In Advances in Horticulture, Medicinal and Aromatic Plants (eds Chadha, K.L., and Gupta, R.), Malhotra Publishing House, New Delhi, 1995,1-44.
McAleece, N. 1997. Biodiversity professional beta version. The National History Museum and Scottish Association for Marine Science.