Underutilized, yet potential medicinal plants of Western Ghats
Plants have been used as a source for medicine since a long time. India is endowed with a variety of natural resources. All along the western coast, the Western Ghats are sprawling and the entire region is known for its biodiversity, richness and endemism of different species. The number of plants having confirmed therapeutic properties or yielding clinically useful chemical compounds thus lays around 700 species. Among many flowering plants, more than thousand plants are endemic to Western Ghats and 483 are listed as threatened by human activities (Vijaya, 2005). The nux vomica (Strychnos nuxvomica), black myrobalan (Terminalia chebula), crab's eye (Abrus precatorius), jivanti (Leptadenia reticulata), prickly chaff (Achyranthes aspera), ghanera (Nothapodytes nimmoniana) and Indian birthwort (Aristolochia indica) are few important underutilized plants from Western Ghats having potential medicinal properties. Local healers of the Western Ghats area use nux vomica seeds, black myrobalan fruits and jivanti stem extracts to treat cardio-vascular diseases. The flowers of prickly chaff, leaves of crab's eye, stem of jivanthi and ghanera fruits were used to cure cancer and its related problems. Nux vomica seed, black myrobalan fruits and jivanthi stem extracts are also used to cure hypertension, to control diabetes, obesity and its related problems. Although, many plants of Westerns Ghats have prime medicinal value, we have not been able to utilize these plants as they are not easily accessible. To overcome these problems, there is a need to conserve these plants in situ and ex situ in addition to standardizing propagation techniques, cultural practices and developing superior quality plants through crop improvement. Further, there is a need to create awareness among farmers about cultivation of these crops and marketing facilities will help in exploiting medicinal properties of these crops in curing various ailments of humans in addition to improving socio-economic status of the growers.
Mallikarjuna Gowda, A.P., Ranjini, T.N., Peethambar, S.K. and Praneeth, Y.S. (2019). Underutilized, yet potential medicinal plants of Western Ghats. Acta Hortic. 1241, 15-22
bio-diversity, western ghats, lanad race, medicinal plants