Ancient Science of Life

: 2011  |  Volume : 30  |  Issue : 4  |  Page : 104--109

Medico - botanical study of Yercaud hills in the eastern Ghats of Tamil Nadu, India

M Parthipan, V Aravindhan, A Rajendran 
 Department of Botany, School of life Sciences, Bharathiar University, Coimbatore - 641046, India

Correspondence Address:
A Rajendran
Department of Botany, School of life Sciences, Bharathiar University, Coimbatore - 641046


The study reports medicinal plant survey was conceded in Yercaud hills ranges of Eastern Ghats, Tamil Nadu, India. The study primarily based on field surveys conducted throughout the hills, where dwellers provided information on plant species used as medicine, plant parts used to prepare the remedies and ailments to which the remedies were prescribed. The study resulted about 48- plant species belonging to 45- genera and 29- families of medicinal plants related to folk medicine used by the local people. Among them the most common plants viz., Asparagus racemosus Willd., Cissus quadrangularis L., Gymnema sylvestre R. Br., Hemidesmus indicus (L.) R. Br., Justisia adhatoda L., Ocimum sanctum L., Phyllanthes amarus Schum. & Thonn., Piper nigrum L., Solanum nigrum L., Tinospora cordifolia (Thunb.) Miers, Tridax procumbens L. and Zingiber officinale Roscoe which are used in their daily life to cure various ailments.

How to cite this article:
Parthipan M, Aravindhan V, Rajendran A. Medico - botanical study of Yercaud hills in the eastern Ghats of Tamil Nadu, India.Ancient Sci Life 2011;30:104-109

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Parthipan M, Aravindhan V, Rajendran A. Medico - botanical study of Yercaud hills in the eastern Ghats of Tamil Nadu, India. Ancient Sci Life [serial online] 2011 [cited 2022 Jun 25 ];30:104-109
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India is endowed with about 49,000- plant species (Hajra and Mudgal, 1999) which distributed in different bio-geographical and agro-climatic conditions associated tribal and folk knowledge systems (Kshirsagar, 2000). Out of these, 8,000- species are known to be medicine (Tiwari, 2000). Indian System of Medicine (ISM) uses around 2, 500-plant species belonging to more than 1000- genera (Arrora, 1972). India has a long history in traditional health practices in local health tradition and home remedies and is especially aimed in uplifting the health profile of women and children (Rajith et al., 2010).

Caniago & Siebert (1998) stated that many rural people throughout the world rely on medicinal plants because of their effectiveness, lack of modern healthcare alternatives and cultural preferences. Moreover, considering the side effects and other complications by modern medicine, people are moving towards plant based drugs day by day around the world (Bruce & Meeus, 2000). Ethno-medico-botanical study acts as a bridge between botany and tribal knowledge regarding medicinal properties of plants. The plant based traditional knowledge has become a recognized tool in search for new sources of drugs and nutraceuticals (Sharma & Majumdar, 2003).

Ethnic studies conducted by ethno-botanists have been published earlier (Jain, 1991; Maheswari, 2003). The tribals belonging to the minor communities are socially, economically and among the least advanced. But they harbour a lot of knowledge on medicinal plants (Udayan et al., 2006). This diversified system of traditional practices prevails among the rural communities since time immemorial. These studies assume great importance in enhancing our traditional skills and technology about the plant grows and used for native or tribal communities for their sustenance. The current deforestation trends, which threaten the existence of medicinally important plants makes it inevitable that this informations be made available and encourage preservation of their culture, traditional knowledge, conservation and sustainable utilization of the plant wealth occurring in the study area.

Ethnobotanical studies in the Eastern Ghats of Tamil Nadu have been carried out earlier by several researchers (Reddy et al., 1997; Ravikumar and Vijaya Sankar, 2003; Udayan et al., 2006; Muralidhara Rao and Pullaiah, 2007; Kottaimuthu, 2008; Arunachalam et al., 2009; Kadavul and Dixit, 2009; Amutha and Prabakaran, 2010; Franxis Xavier et al., 2011). A perusal of the available literature reveals that information on the comprehensive survey, documentation and enumeration of wild medicinal plants by the indigenous people in the Yercaud hills of Eastern Ghats is meager and there is no such comprehensive study on this region particularly for hills as whole. Hence, in the present study, an attempt was made to survey and document the wild medicinal plant species in the study area. This is the pioneer to attempt an exhaustive analysis of the therapeutic values of such medicinal plants, which are probably drawing the attention of pharmacologists for further critical and scientific validation.

 Study Area

Yercaud is one of the cutest hills stations in the Servarayan range of hills (11˚48ٰ N & 78˚11ٰ E) of Eastern Ghats in Salem district of Tamil Nadu at an altitude of 1515 m above mean sea level. The average rainfall of the area is 1500 - 2000 mm. The maximum temperature ranges between 25˚C and 30˚C and minimum between 13˚C and 16˚C. The average annual rainfall is around 1750 mm. the soil is deep and non-calcareous. The topmost hill area is characterized by clay loamy soil whereas the bottom of the valley is distinguished by alluvial and clay loam soil. The forest types range from evergreen to moist deciduous (Champion & Seth, 1968). On the Western side of the hills, contrast sholas still exist, though a great portion of the plateau is cleared (Udayan et al., 2006). The total extend of Yercaud taluk (sub-district) is 382.67 km 2 including reserve forest and the hill tribes are unique in that they have been isolated geographically and culturally from the caste in the groups in the plains for a long time.


In order to assess the consumption of indigenous medicinal plants, the present survey was carried out during the year 2010, in Yercaud hills of Salem district in Tamil Nadu, India. The questionnaires were desired to identify the indigenous knowledge of plant based remedies from local people by words of mouth and also by personal observation. The information on medicinal uses of the indigenous plants have been described after gathering it from local people, experienced and rural folk, traditional herbal medicine practitioners and the also the information collected from the available literature. A total of 98 inhabitants were interviewed. Randomly people were selected of which 65 men and 33 women of age 30 and above were contacted in their local language (Tamil). In addition, direct plant observation and identification was done with the help of local healers known as Vaidhyar.

Information on medicinal plants, vernacular name (Tamil), plant part used and mode of administration for curing ailments has been recorded. During the survey, plants have been collected in their flowering and fruiting stages as far as possible from the natural habitat and standard ethnobotanical methodology was followed to collect data on medico-botanical aspects (Jain, 1991). The plant specimens were collected, dried and identified with the help of the floras (Gamble and Fischer, 1915 - 1936; Matthew, 1983) and preserved by using standard methods (Jain & Rao, 1976) for herbarium purpose. Further, their identities were confirmed by referring authentic specimens in the Madras Herbarium (MH) at Botanical Survey of India, Southern Circle, Coimbatore. The voucher specimens were deposited in the Herbarium of Department of Botany, Bharathiar University, Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu.

 Results and Discussion

The present medico-botanical survey documented medicinal uses of 48- plant species representing 45- genera and 29- families. The collected data contains the list of plants of different families with their medicinal uses, vernacular name, plant part used and their mode of administration which are listed in alphabetical order [Table 1]. The representing plants are mostly used to cure skin diseases, jaundice, cough, wounds, urinary problems and an antidote for snake bite. These medicinally important plants are observed in Euphorbiaceae (5 species), Fabaceae, Amaranthaceae, Lamiaceae, Asclepiadaceae and Menispermaceae (3 species each) [Figure 1].{Figure 1}{Table 1}

Leaves are the most widely (42%) used plant part of the reported medicinal plants, followed by roots (16%), fruit (11%) and bark (77%) [Figure 2]. A majority of remedies are prepared in the form of extract/ juice followed by paste, powder form, decoction and from freshly collected plant parts. For few remedies, medicines are prepared after drying and the administration includes inhalation, oral administration and paste/applying.{Figure 2}

Most of the ailments such as skin diseases, snake bites and wounds can be cured by external application and internal consumption of the preparations were also involved in the treatment of diseases like stomachache, diarrhoea and urinary problems. The local people of the Yercaud hills prescribed the medicinally important plants either as single or as in combination with other plants to cure suffering of the people from illness. An interesting observation was that some of the documented medicinal plants such as Acalypha indica L., Gymnema sylvestre R. Br., Leucas aspera (Willd.) Link, Mimosa pudica L. and Solanum nigrum L. were found to be practiced as important medicinal plants in Yercaud hills for the treatment of diseases like snake bite, diabetes, headache, dysentery and stomach ulcer and the same uses has been reported by Udayan et al., (2006).

It is observed from the study that, most of the rural people in this area cultivate some of the common medicinal plants in their home gardens either for medicinal use or for use as vegetables [Table 2], which play a significant role among them and indicated that, the study area has a wide spectrum of medicinal plants to treat various human ailments. {Table 2}


The study concluded that, the information gathered from the local people may be useful to other researchers in the field of pharmacology. The study also points out a model for studying the relationship between plants and people within the contexts of a traditional medical system. Thus, the purpose of standardizing traditional remedies is essential to ensure therapeutic efficacy where the value of ethnomedicinal information in modern pharmacology lies in the development of new drugs. It may be some significance that this study generated a broad spectrum of information concerning the use of medicinal plants by local people.[23]


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