An Ethnobotanical Study of Medicinal Plants Used by Ethnic People in Gingee Hills, Villupuram District, Tamilnadu, India

M. Thamacin Arulappan*1, S. John Britto1, K. Ruckmani2 and R. Mohan Kumar2

1Rapinat Herbarium, St. Joseph’s College, Bharathidasan University, Tiruchirappalli, Tamilnadu, India

2Department of Pharmaceutical Technology, Anna University, BIT campus, Tiruchirappalli, Tamilnadu, India

*Corresponding Author:
M. Thamacin Arulappan
Rapinat Herbarium, St. Joseph’s College
Bharathidasan University, Tiruchirappalli
Tamilnadu, India
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This study was carried out in five geographically isolated hillocks of the Gingee hills, Villupuram district, Tamil Nadu, India, in a region inhabited by farmers and tribal groups called the Kuravas and Irulas. The authors found that a total of 163 plant species belonging to 138 genera and 62 families were used by the natives of the study area for the treatment of such ailments as diabetes, rheumatism, jaundice, fever, cold, cough, bone fracture and snake bite. The full results of this study are organized in table form and include the species botanical name, parts used, method of administration, dosage, and the local or vernacular names of the species. This present study analyzed the data collected from the study area by applying the quantitative ethnobotanical devices such as, use-value (UV), factor informant consensus (Fic) and fidelity level (Fl%).


Hillocks, Gingee hills, Ethnobotanical devices.


Gingee is a heritage town bounded by hills. The town falls under the geographical coordinates of 12°.15’N and 79°.25’E., above the Mean Sea Level of 30.45m. The town comprises of a number of small and large hills with rocky outcrops are found here and there. Gingee Forest Range consists of seven Reserve Forests and one Reserve Plains. They are: Gangavaram Reserve Forest (2681.87 ha), Thandavasamudram Reserve Forest (318.49 ha), Poolanjimalai Reserve Forest (236.94 ha), Pakkamalai (2263.81 ha), Siruvadi (1360.16 ha), Muttakadu (1289.72 ha), Padipallam (1457.28 ha) and Karai Reserve Plains (686.75 ha). All these Reserve Forests are located in the south west direction from Gingee towns. There are lots of isolated hillocks present and they are the offshoot of Eastern Ghats. There are 26 villages situated around these Reserve Forest areas. The town has hot, dry climate almost throughout the year. The maximum temperature and the minimum temperature of the town are 36 to 30 C respectively. The town receives rain mainly during the months of October, November through the North East monsoon. On an average the town receives 700mm of rainfall.

Currently the Government of India, realizing the value of the country’s vast range of medicinal plants, has embarked on a mission of documenting the traditional knowledge about plants and herbs. The World Health Organization has also recognized the importance of traditional medicine and has created strategies, guidelines and standards for botanical medicines. Over the past decade, there has been a resurgence of interest in the investigation of natural materials as a source of potential drugs. This current research endeavor strives to document the indigenous knowledge on the invaluable therapeutic properties. The data presented here were mostly from personal interviews using a standard questionnaire. The detailed information includes medicinal uses as well as dosage and mode of administration. Besides, the data collected from such interviews are also analyzed using qualitative ethnobotanical techniques to ascertain the importance given to each medicinal plant species in the study area.


Frequent field trips were undertaken in order to survey the inhabitants of our study area (hillocks of Gingee hills of Eastern Ghats, Villupuram District, Tamilnadu) and to make collections of native medicinal plants. Information regarding medicinal plants was obtained in meetings with farmers who practiced indigenous medicine. An attempt was also made to survey the Kuravas and Irulas who also practiced indigenous medicine. In many cases, it was first necessary to gain a good rapport with these people in order to win over their confidence. The informants together with Irulas and Kuravas consisted of 74 % of male and 26 % of female. Out of 128 informants, 54 were Irulas and Kuravas and the remaining were farmers and herbal practitioners. According to the age, most of the informants were about 40-60 years old and the other interviewees were 20-40 years followed by 60-80 years respectively. According to the socio-demographic status, the literacy rate among the local inhabitants is comparatively higher than that of the Irulas and Kuravas. However, these two tribes are already in the mainstream in many aspects. Women informants in general showed much enthusiasm in the present research. The gathered data was crosschecked for reliability and accuracy by interacting with different groups of the farmers from different habitats to confirm the use, mode of administration and dosage differences of the herbal materials, if any. The collected materials were carefully brought to the laboratory for identification. Herbarium sheets for all the collected plant specimens were prepared (RHT No. from 65205 to 65596) and deposited in the Rapinat Herbarium, Tiruchirappalli (RHT), St. Joseph’s College, Tiruchirappalli, Tamil Nadu, India. Plants in Table 1 are arranged alphabetically in order of their botanical names, followed by the family and a brief note on the plant parts used, use of ethnobotanical devices and their chemical properties.

Table 1. Ethnomedicinal Plant Species used for curing different ailments along with their use value and chemical properties and other findings

Botanical name Family W C Part used Uses # Inf UV IR RHT NO Phytocompounds
Acacia eburnea (L.f.) Willd. Mimosoideae w leaf Dysentery (6) 1 6 3.6 0.3 RHT 65242 Alkaloids, nicotine
Acalypha ciliata Forssk. Euphorbiaceae w leaf Scabies (28) 1 28 17 0.07 RHT 65226 Kaempflerol, acalyphamide
Acalypha fruticosa Forssk. Euphorbiaceae w leaf Removal of pus from penis (3) 1 3 1.8 0.6 RHT 65354 Kaempflerol, acalyphamide
Acalypha indica L Euphorbiaceae w leaf Stomach-ache (46), cold (35), scorpion bite (4) 3 85 52 0.04 RHT 65209 Kaempflerol, acalyphamide
Achyranthes aspera L. Amaranthaceae w Leaf, root Worm infection (5), scorpion bite (20), cold (34), boils (15) 4 74 45 0.06 RHT 65213 Ecdysterone, oleanolic acid
Actiniopteris radiata (SW.) Link Pteridaceae w laminae Abortificent (3) 1 3 1.8 0.6 RHT 65245 Rutin
Albizia lebbeck (L.) Benth. Mimosaceae w w. plant Constipation (2), asthma, cough (15), night blindness (1) 4 18 11 0.27 RHT 65293 Flavonoids, oleanolic acid, albigenic acid
Albizia odoratissima (L.f.) Benth. Mimosoideae w Root Body itching (14) 1 14 8.5 0.14 RHT 65298 Flavonoids, oleanolic acid, albigenic acid
Allmania nodiflora (L.) R.Br. EX Wight Amaranthaceae w Leaf Common cold (8) 1 8 4.9 0.25 RHT 65590 -
Ammannia baccifera L. Lythraceace w Leaf Rheumatism, joint pain (12) 2 12 7.3 0.04 RHT 65570 Lawsone
Andrographis echioides Nees. Acanthaceae w Leaf Snake bite (2) 1 2 1.2 1 RHT 65251 Flavones, echiodinin, echioidin
Anisomeles malabarica R.Br. EX Sims Labiateae w Leaf Gastric (6), scorpion bite (12), snake bite (8), fever (1) 4 27 17 0.18 RHT 65215 Beta-sitosterol. Letulinic acid, ovatodiolide
Anisomeles indica (L.) O. Kuntze Labiateae w Leaf, root Antidote (12), swellings (3), fever (5), veterinary (1) 4 21 12 0.23 RHT 65329 Beta-sitosterol. Letulinic acid, ovatodiolide
Atalantia racemosa Wight & Arn. Rutaceae w Leaf, fruit Rheumatism, paralysis (3), fodder (8) 3 11 6.7 0.19 RTH 65292 Alkaloids, atalaphylline
Barleria prionitis L. Acanthaceae w Leaf Wounds (48) 1 48 29 0.04 RHT 65345 Iridoid, barlerin
Bauhinia racemosa Lam. Caesalpiniaceae c w.plant Skin disease (3), diarrhea (7), bleeding (2) 3 12 7.3 0.33 RHT 65290 Octacosane, beta-amyrin, beta-sitosterol
Bauhinia tomentosa L. Caesalpiniaceae c Leaf Appetizer (70) 1 70 43 0.02 RHT 65253 Octacosane, beta-amyrin, beta-sitosterol
Benkara malabarica (Lam.) Tirv. Rubiaceae w Whole plant Diarrhea (9), dysentery (20), boils (6) 3 35 21 0.11 RHT 65241 Scopoletin
Bergia capensis L. Elantinaceae w Leaf Intestinal worms (2) 1 2 1.2 1 RHT 65344 Elatine, procyanidin,
Bryonia laciniosa Linn Cucurbitaceae w Leaf Sneezing (4) 1 4 2.4 0.5 RHT 65368 Bryonin
Bulbophyllum kaitense Reichon b.f. Orchidaceae w Root Anticancer (7) 1 7 4.2 0.28 RHT 65240 n-Hexadecanoic acid, a- bisabolol
Cadaba fruticosa (L.) Druce Capparaceae w Leaf Bone settings (15), veterinary(3) 2 18 11 0.16 RHT 65250 Alkaloids, L-stachydrine, quercetin, isoorientin
Calotropis procera Br. Asclepiadaceae w Leaf, flower Snake bite (20) 1 20 12 0.1 RHT 65271 Cardenolide, proceragenin, beta- amyrin
Cymbidium aloifolium SW. Orchidaceae w Whole plant Bone settings (7), scabies (5) 2 12 7.3 0.25 RHT 65244 Dihydrophenanthrene, phenanthraquinone
Canavalia virosa (Roxb.) Wight & Arn. Papilionoideae w seed Snake bite (32) 1 32 19 0.16 RHT 65573 Proteins, amino acids
Cansjera rheedi J.F. Gmelin Opiliaceae w Whole plant Spasmodic (2) 1 2 1.2 1 RHT 65317 Quercetin 3-0-beta rutinoside
Canthium dicoccum (Gaertn.) Teijsm. & Binn. Var. dicoccum Rubiaceae w Root bark Dysentery (7) 1 7 4.2 0.28 RHT 65577 Mannitol, alkaloids
Canthium parviflorum Lam Rubiaceae w Leaf Rheumatism (11), body pains (8) 2 13 7.9 0.23 RHT 65278 Mannitol, alkaloids
Caralluma attenuata Wight. Asclepiadaceae c Leaf Diabetes (9) 1 9 5.5 0.22 RHT 65225 n-hexadecanoic acid, oleic acid
Caralluma umbellata Asclepiadaceae c Stem Stomach Disorders (22), 2 27 16 0.11 RHT 3ß-hydroxy-pregn-5-ene
Haw.Syn.Pl.       stomach pain (5)         65285  
Cardiospermum halicacabum L. Var. microcarpum (Kunth) Blume Sapindaceae w Leaf Joint pains (3), dandruff (2), darkening of hair (1) 3 6 3.6 0.66 RHT 65255 Beta-sitosterol, D- glucoside, oxalic acid
Carissa carandas L. Mant. Apocynaceae w Root Anticancer (3), tooth-ache (5) 2 8 4.9 0.37 RHT 65582 Ascorbic acid
Carissa spinarum L. Apocynaceae c Fruit Appetizer (6) 1 6 3.6 0.33 RHT 65581 Ascorbic acid
Senna auriculata (L.) Roxb. Caesalpiniaceae w flowers Urinary disorders (9) 1 9 5.5 0.06 RHT 65382 Acetylcholine, aloe- emodin
Cassia fistula L. Caesalpiniaceae w Stem, leaf Chest pain (2), fever (10), skin diseases (20) 2 32 19 0.12 RHT 65234 Resin, sennoides A
Catungaregam torulosa (Dennst.) Tirv. (Randia brandisii Gamble) Rubiaceae w Fruit Suicidal (2) 1 2 1.2 1 RHT 65314 Delta-tocopherol
Coccinia grandis (L.) Voigt. Cucurbitaceae c Stem Veterinary (2) 1 2 1.2 1 RHT 65205 Polyprenol, ß-carotene
Ceratopteris thalictroides (l.) Brongn Pteridaceae w Leaf Dysentery (7) 1 7 4.2 0.28 RHT 65233 Callose, lipid
Chloroxylon swietenia DC. Rutaceae c Leaf Good health (10) 1 10 6.1 0.2 RHT 65551 Α-pinene, limonene, geijerene, germacrene
Cissampelos pareira L. Menispermacea e w Leaf Tooth-ache (4), inflammation (2), mosquito repellent (3) 3 9 5.5 0.44 RHT 65227 Tritepene, flavonoids, glycosides
Cissus vitiginea L. Vitaceae w Root Snake bite (12), chest pain (2) 2 14 8.5 0.33 RHT 65307 Tannins, proteins, steroids
Clausena dentata (Willd.) Roemer C. willdenowii Wight & Arn Rutaceae w Leaf, bark Veterinary (3) 1 3 1.8 0.66 RHT 65596 Benzene, 1,2,3- trimethoxy 5 propenyl
Cleistanthus collinus (Roxb.) Benth. & Hook. Euphorbiaceae w Stem, leaf Antiseptic (2), veterinary (1), suicidal (80) 3 83 50 0.04 RHT 65565 4-0-methylmannose, thirophene, myo-inositol
Clerodendrum phlomoides L.F Verbenaceae w Leaf, root Lactation (1), leucorrhoea, diarrhea (2), measles (1) 4 4 2.4 1.25 RHT 65339 Colebrin, iridiod diglucoside, lucumin
Clitoria ternatea L. Papilionoideae c Root, seed Diuretic, purgative (2) 2 2 1.2 1.5 RHT 65333 Nucleoprotein
Coccinia grandis (L.) Voigt. Cucurbitaceae w Fruit Cooling effect (9) 1 9 5.5 0.22 RHT 65311 Lupeol, cucurbitacin B
Cocculus hirsutus (L.) Diels Menispermacea e w Leaf, root Rheumatism (56), piles (2), semen production (6) 3 64 39 0.06 RHT 65222 Cyclopeptide, coclaurine, ginnol, magnoflorine
Cochlospermum religiosum (L.) Alston Cochlospermac eae w Leaf Cough (25) 1 25 15 0.28 RHT 65295 Tannins, polyphenols, crystals, starch
Coldenia procumbens L. Boraginaceae w Leaf Veterinary (8) 1 8 4.9 0.28 RHT 65272 Alkaloids, proteins
Combretum ovlifolium Roxb. Combretaceae w Bark, root Insect bite (7) 1 7 4.2 0.28 RHT 65299 Apigenin, genkwanin, rhamnocitrin
Crataeva adansonii DC. ssp. odora (Buch-Ham) M. Jacobs Capparaceae c Stem Joint pains, body pains (36) 2 36 22 0.05 RHT 65210 Lupeol
Crataeva magna (Lour.) DC. Capparaceae w Leaf Piles (2) 1 2 1.2 1 RHT 65388 Ceryl alcohol, lupeol
Crotalaria verrucosa L. Papilionoideae w Leaf,ro ot Rheumatism, body pains (20) 2 20 12 0.15 RHT 65287 Crotaverrine, crotalaburnine
Cryptolepis buchanani Roemer & Schultes Asclepiadaceae w Root, stem,le af Bone fracture (3) 1 3 1.8 0.66 RHT 65558 Sarverogenin, cryptosin, buchanin
Cyperus pangorei Rottb. Cyperaceae w Stem, rhizom e Urinary infection (3), beautifying hair (2) 2 5 3.0 0.6 RHT 65297 Lignin
Cyphostemma setosum (Roxb.) Alston Vitaceae w Tuber Veterinary (6) 1 6 3.6 0.33 RHT 65218 Alkaloids, tannins
Dalbergia lanceolaria L.F. Papilionoideae w Leaf, Skin diseases (35), rheumatism (20) 2 55 33 0.05 RHT 65545 Lanceolarin, isoflavone
Dendrophthoe falcata (L.f.) Ettingsh. (Variantz) Loranthaceae w Leaf Abortificent (20), arrests white discharge in women (6) 2 26 15 0.11 RHT 65571 Gallic, ellagic, chebulinic acid, narcotic
Dioscorea pentaphylla L. Dioscoreaceae w Tuber Immunity, good health (70) 2 70 42 0.04 RHT 65219 Carbohydrates, albuminoids
Dioscorea oppositifolia L. Dioscoreaceae w Tuber, tuber Wounds, body ache (9), painful urination (4) 3 13 7.9 0.30 RHT 65216 Carbohydrates, albuminoids
Diospyros montana Roxb. Ebenaceae w Bark, Fever (3), delirium, sole 3 5 3.0 0.8 RHT Hentriacontane, ursolic
      leaf, fruit cracks (2)         65315 acid, diospyrin
Diospyros ferrea (Willd.) Bakh. Var. buxifolia (Rottb.) Bark. Ebenaceae w Fruit, leaf Famine food (1), snake bite (30) 2 31 19 0.09 RHT 65236 Quinines, napthaquinones, lupine triterpenes
Diospyros melanoxylon Roxb. Ebenaceae w flower Scabies (45) 1 45 27 0.04 RHT 65305 steroids, tannins, flavonoids,
Diospyros peregrina Sensu Gurke. Ebenaceae w Fruit, leaf Sore throat (6), tumor (22) 2 28 17 0.10 RHT 65367 Beta-sitosterol, betulin, oleanolic acid
Dipteracanthus patulus (Jacq.) Nees Acanthaceae w Leaf Scabies, wounds (50) 2 50 30 0.06 RHT 65563 Steroids, tannins
Elephantopus scaber L. Compositeae w Leaf, root, fruit Abortificient (30), menstrual disorders (3), tooth-ache (3), diarrhea (2), veterinary (1) 5 39 23 0.15 RHT 65220 Germacranolide dilactones, molephantin, molephantinin, lupeol
Elytraria acaulis (L.f.) Lindau Acanthaceae w Leaf, root Fever (6), tumor (4), anscesseses (1) 3 11 6.7 0.36 RHT 65592 Alkaloids, flavonoids, steroids, tannins
Enicostemma axillare (Lam.) A. Raynal ssp. axillare Gentianaceae w Whole plant Snake bite (2), rheumatism (1), semen discharge(6),insect bite(1) 4 10 6.1 0.5 RHT 65221 Apigenin, genkwanin, isovitexin, swertisin,
Enicostemma hyssopifolium L. Gentinaceae w W. plant Snake bite (60) 1 60 36 0.03 RHT 65555 Apigenin, genkwanin
Erythrina variegata L. Perkeriaceae w Leaf Wheezing, asthma (25) 2 25 15 0.5 RHT 65386 Saponins, flavonoids,
Erythroxylum monogynum Roxb. Erythroxylaceae w Bark Stomachic (6), dyspepsia, fever (3) 3 9 5.5 0.44 RHT 65547 Dipterpenes, monogynol
Eucalyptus globulus Labill Olacaceae c Leaf Mucus in chest, cough (5) 3 5 3.0 0.8 RHT 65380 Euglobals, phloroglucin
Euphorbia heyreana Sprengel ssp. heyreana Euphorbiaceae w Leaf Warts (2) 1 2 1.2 1 RHT 65340 Triterpenoids, euphol, euphorbol hexacosonate
Ficus tinctoria Forst. F. ssp.parasitica (Willd.) Corner Moraceae w Unripe fruits Constipation (3) 1 3 1.8 0.66 RHT 65574 -
Garuga pinnata Roxb. Burseraceae w Leaf Good health (20) 1 20 12 0.1 RHT 65289 Sterols, sitosterols, stigmasterol
Gloriosa superba L. Liliaceae w W. plant Insecticides (9), human suicidal (20) 2 29 17 0.15 RHT 65249 Colchicines, gloriosine
Glyptopentalum lawsonii Gamble Celastraceae w Leaf Insect bite (5) 1 5 3.0 0.4 RHT 65303 -
Gmelina arborea Roxb. Verbenaceae w Leaf, bark Anticancer (2) 1 2 1.2 1 RHT 65214 Lignans, arborone
Gomphrena decumbens L. Amaranthaceae w W. plant Veterinary (5) 1 5 5.0 0.4 RHT 65308 Betacyanins, steroids
Gossypium barbadense L. Malvaceae w Leaf Menstruation (2) 1 2 1.2 1 RHT 65336 Gossypol
Grewia flavescens A.L. Juss. Tiliaceae w Flowers Deity worship (7) 1 7 4.2 0.28 RHT 65559 Phytol, lupeol
Grewia tiliaefolia M.Vahl Tiliaceae w W. plant Bone fracture (2) 1 2 1.2 1 RHT 65359 Triterpenoids
Helicteres isora L. Sterculiaceae w Fruit, root Snake bite (11), nursing mothers (7) 2 18 11 0.16 RHT 65237 Malatyamine, cucurbitacin B
Hemionitis arifolia (Burm.) T.moore Hemionitidacea e w Fronds Snake bites (3), colic diseases(1) 2 4 2.4 0.75 RHT 65246 Flavonoids, phenols, sterols
Hildegardia populifolia (Roxb.) Schott & Endl. Sterculia populifolia Roxb. Malvaceae w Seed Country liquor (1) 1 1 0.6 2 RHT 65231 Saponins, tannins
Hiptage benghalensis (L.) Kurz H. madablota Gaertner Malpighiaceae w Leaf Skin diseases, insecticidal, scabies (25) 3 25 15 0.16 RHT 65572 Octacosanol, alpha- amyrin, hiptagin
Holoptelea integrifolia (Roxb.) Planchon Ulmaceae w Leaf Insecticide (5) 1 5 5.0 0.4 RHT 65247 Holoptelin-A, B, friedelin, epi-friedelinol
Ichnocarpus frutescens R.Br. Apocynaceae w Whole plant Scabies (7), fertility (3), insect bite (3) 3 13 7.9 0.30 RHT 65206 n-butyl sorboside, kaemferol
Indigofera linnaei Ali Papilionoideae w Stem, root Hair growth (8) 1 8 4.9 0.25 RHT 65248 Indigoferin, enneaphyllin
Indigofera tinctoria L. Papilionoideae w Leaf Lactation (6) 1 6 3.6 0.33 RHT 65549 Indicine, apigenin, kaemferol
Ipomoea staphylina Roemer & Schultes. Convolvulaceae w Leaf, stem Fodder (3) 1 3 1.8 0.66 RHT 65588 Hydrocyanic acid
Ipomoea sepiaria J. Koenig ex Convolvulaceae w W. Snake bite (22), swellings (2) 2 24 12 0.12 RHT Hydrocyanic acid
Roxb.     plant           65332  
Ixora finlaysoniana Wallich ex Don. Rubiaceae c W. plant Ornamental (70) 1 70 42 0.02 RHT 65374 Gallic acid, ß-sitostreol
Ixora notoniana Wall. Ex.Don Rubiaceae c Flowers Anti-tumor (3) 1 3 1.8 0.66 RHT 65318 Gallic acid, ß-sitostreol
Jasminum trichotomum Heyne. Ex. Roth. Oleaceae w Whole plant Anti-tumor, skin diseases, itches, joint pains (6) 4 6 3.6 1.66 RHT 65591 Benzyl acetate, benzyl benzoate, phytol, jasmine
Jatropha grandulifera Roxb. Euphorbiaceae w Leaf Lactation (3), boils (70) 2 73 44 0.04 RHT 65228 jatropholone, fraxetin
Lepisanthes tetraphylla (Vahl.) Radlk. Sapindaceae c W. plant Good health (14) 1 14 8.5 0.14 RHT 65296 Saponins
Limonia acidissima L. Rutaceae w Leaf, fruit Edible, appetizer (90) 2 90 55 0.03 RHT 65276 Geraniol, α, ß-pinene, 1,8-cineole, linool
Lippia javanica (Burm.F.) Sprengel Verbenaceae w Whole plant Asthma (4) 1 4 2.4 0.28 RHT 65274 Citral, neral, geranial, diterpenes, lippone
Maba neilgherrensis Wight Ebenaceae w leaf Liver diseases (7) 1 7 4.2 0.25 RHT 65369 Benzaminic acid, 3- aminobenzoic
Madhuca longifolia (L.) Koen. Sapotaceae c flower Food (6), snake bite (2) 2 8 4.9 0.37 RHT 65343 α,ß-amyrin acetate,sitosterol
Marsdenia brunoniana Wight & Arn. Asclepiadaceae w leaf Evil spirits expellant (7) 1 7 4.2 0.28 RHT 65212 Tenacissosides A to E
Maytenus emarginata (Willd.) Ding Hou Celastraceae w Leaf, root Tooth-ache (3), gastro troubles (2) 2 5 5.0 0.6 RHT 65229 -
Melochia corchorifolia L. Sterculiaceae w Leaf Anti-ulcers (7), snake bite (12) 2 19 11 0.6 RHT 65595 Friedelin, beta-sitosterol
Merremia tridentata (L.) Hallier. f. Convolvulaceae w Leaf Joint pains, rheumatism (20) 2 20 12 0.15 RHT 65335 Flavonoids, diometin
Microlepia speluncae (L.) Moore Dennstaedtiace ae w Root Tuberculosis (2) 1 2 1.2 1 RHT 65252 -
Molineria trichocarpa (Wight) Balakr. Hypoxidaceae w W. plant Iron production in body (2) 1 2 1.2 1 RHT 65224 -
Mollugo cerviana Ser. var. Aizoaceae w Leaf Inflammation (45) 1 45 27 0.04 RHT Orientin, vitexin
spathulifolia Fenzal (Molluginaceae)               65309  
Morinda umbellata L. Rubiaceae w Leaf Diarrhea, dysentery (30) 2 30 18 0.1 RHT 65357 Rubichoric acid, anthraquinones
Mussaenda hirsutissima (Hook.f.) Hutchinson ex Gamble Rubiaceae w Leaf, flower Anti-ulcers (7) 1 7 4.2 0.28 RHT 65560 Anthocyanins, hyperin, quercetin, rutin, ferulic
Nerium oleander (L.) N. odorum Sol. Apocynaceae w Leaf, fruit Human suicidal (98) 1 98 60 0.02 RHT 65556 Oleandrin, gentiobiosyl oleandrin, odoroside
Nicandra physalodes (L.) Gaertner. Solanaceae w Flower Human suicidal (30) 1 30 18 0.04 RHT 65337 Nicandrenone, withanolide
Ochna obtusata DC. var. gamblei (Brandis) Kanis Ochnaceae w root Asthma, TB (40), menstrual disorders (4) 3 44 26 0.05 RHT 65322 Isoflavones, oleanolic acid
Ocimum canum Sims. Lamiaceae w W. plant Fever (70), insect repellent (7) 2 77 47 0.03 RHT 65331 Methylheptenone, camphor
Olax imbricata Roxb. O. wightiana Wallich ex Wight & Arn Olacaceae w Bark Anemia (2), diabetes (5) 2 7 4.2 0.42 RHT 65379 -
Oldenlandia umbellata L. Rubiaceae w Leaf Removal of phlegm (1) 1 1 1.2 2 RHT 65254 Anthraquione
Ormocarpum sennoides DC. Papilionoideae w Leaf Bone setting (98) 1 98 60 0.02 RHT 65365 Menthol, eduesmol, myrtenol, elemol, hotrienol
Oxystelma esculentum (L.f.) R.Br. ex Schuletes. Asclepiadaceae w Whole plant Ulcer, sores, scabies (20) 3 20 12 0.2 RHT 65338 Cardenolide tetraglycoside, oxyline
Passiflora foetida L. Passifloraceae w Leaf, fruit Boils (60) 1 60 36 0.03 RHT 65341 Apigenin, luteolin
Pavetta indica L. Rubiaceae w Leaf Boils (15) 1 15 9.2 0.13 RHT 65349 d- mannitol
Pavetta tomentosa Roxb. ex Smith Rubiaceae w Leaf Boils (23) 1 23 14 0.08 RHT 65217 d- mannitol
Pedalium murex L. Pedaliaceae w Whole plant Tympanic(2), delivery of child (2), leucorrhoea (6) 3 10 6 0.4 RHT 65334 Flavonoids pedalitin, diometin, dinatin
Pentatropis capensis (L.F.) Asclepiadaceae w W. Emetic, purgative (4) 2 4 2.4 0.75 RHT triterpenes, squalene,
Bullock P. mirophylla (Roth) Wight.     plant           65553 taraxasterol
Phyla nodiflora (L.) E. Greene Verbenaceae w W. plant Common cold (50) 1 50 30 0.04 RHT 65557 Nodiflorins A, B, lipiflorins
Phyllanthus emblica L. Emblica officinalis Gaerter Euphorbiaceae w Root Heart diseases (2) 1 2 1.2 1 RHT 65544 Phyllanthol, beta-amyrin
Phyllanthus reticulatus Poiret. Euphorbiaceae w Fruit, bark Rheumatism (7), dysentery (2), purgative (1) 3 10 6 0.4 RHT 65372 Lupeol acetate, stigmasterol,
Plumbago zeylanica L. Plumbaginacea e w Root Abortifient (34), diarrhea (2), eczema, leprosy (3), piles (2), psoriasis (1), jaundice (2) 7 44 26 0.8 RHT 65207 Naphthoquinone, plumbagin
Pongamia pinnata (L.) Pierre P. glabra Papilionoideae w Leaf,fru it Insect repellent (2) 1 2 1.2 1 RHT 65342 Beta-sitosteryl acetate,sterol
Polyalthia cerasoides (Roxb.) Annonaceae w Leaf Fungal diseases (2) 1 2 1.2 1 RHT 65327 Clerodance dipterpenes
Premna tomentosa Willd. Verbenaceae w Leaf Joint pain (7), appetizer (3), giddiness (2) 3 12 7.3 0.33 RHT 65373 Apigenin, limonene
Pseudarthria viscida (L.) Wight & Arn. Papilionoideae w Root, leaf Asthma (3), dysentery (3), bone setting (5) 3 11 6.7 0.36 RHT 65238 Leucopelargonidin
Pyrostegia venusta (Ker Gawh) Miers Bignoniaceae w W. plant Ornamental (45) 1 45 27 0.04 RHT 65546 Saponins, alkaloids, tannins
Radermachera xylocarpa (Roxb.) Schum. Bignoniaceae w Resin Scabies (70) 1 70 42 0.02 RHT 65211 Dinatin, oleanolic acid, stigmasterol, redermachol
Rauvolfia tetraphylla L. Apocynaceae w Root Nervous disorders (2) 1 2 1.2 1 RHT 65235 Rauwolscine
Sansevieria roxburghiana Schultes & Schultes f. Agavaceae w Rhizom e Cough, cold (65) 2 65 39 0.5 RHT 65243 Aconitic acid, sansevierine
Sapindus emarginata M. Vahl. Sapindaceae w Fruit, pulp Emetic (3), migraine (2), epilepsy (1) 3 6 3.6 0.66 RHT 65325 Triterpenoids glycosides, sapindosides
Sarcostemma intermedium Decne. Asclepiadaceae w Whole plant Veterinary (9) 1 9 5.5 0.22 RHT 65569 Malic acid, succinic acid, surcosa, lupeol
Schefflera stellata (Gaertner) Araliaceae c W. Ornamental (11) 1 11 6.7 0.18 RHT Saponins, flavonoids
Harms     plant           65269  
Scutia myrtina (Burm. f.) Kurz Rhamnaceae w Leaf Nervous disorders (1) 1 1 1.2 2 RHT 65208 Anthraquinones, aloesaponarin
Sebastiania chamalea (L.) Muell. Arg. Euphorbiaceae w W. plant Diarrhea (30) 1 30 18 0.06 RHT 65304 Gallic acid, brevifolin, rutin
Sphaeranthus indicus L. Asteraceae c leaf Fever (80) 1 80 49 0.02 RHT 65330 Methyl chavicol, α ionone
Strychnos minor L. Loganiaceae w Fruit Human suicidal (90) 1 90 55 0.02 RHT 65288 Indole alkaloids, strychnine
Strychnos nux-vomica L. Loganiaceae w Seeds Rheumatism (3), heart problems (1), human suicidal (70) 3 74 45 0.05 RHT 65273 Indole alkaloids, strychnine, novacine
Strychnos potatorum L. Loganiaceae w fruits Dysentery (3) 1 3 1.8 0.66 RHT 65390 strychnine, novacine
Sterculia foetida L. Sterculiaceae w S. bark Rheumatism (50) 1 50 30 0.04 RHT 65270 Scutellarein, luteolin
Sterculia urens Roxb. Sterculiaceae w Resins Throat infections (6) 1 6 3.6 0.33 RHT 65319 Quercetin, kaempferol
Stictocardia tillifolia (Desr.) Hallier f. Convolvulaceae w W. plant Etheogenic (4) 1 4 2.4 0.5 RHT 65566 Alkaloids, sterols
Swietenia mahgani L. Meliaceae w Leaf Making bedi (5) 1 5 5.0 0.5 RHT 65306 Mahoganin, cyclomahogenol
Synadenium grantii Hook.F. Euphorbiaceae w Leaf Human suicidal (20) 1 20 12 0.1 RHT 65320 Tannins, terpenes
Tarenna asiatica (L.) Kuntze Rubiaceae w Leaf, fruit Skin diseases, boils (70) 2 70 42 0.04 RHT 65593 Corymbosin, flavones, D- mannitol
Terminalia arjuna (Roxb.) Wight & Arn. Comprataceae w Stem Leucorrhoea (2) 1 2 1.2 1 RHT 65576 Arjunolic acid, terminic acid, arjunetin, arjunosides
Tiliacora acuminata (Lam.) Miers Menispermacea e w Root Snake bite (4) 1 4 2.4 0.5 RHT 65554 Tiliacorine, tiliarine, tiliacorinine, tiliacine
Toddalia asiatica (L.) Lam. Var. gracilis Gamble Rutaceae w Leaf Good health (5) 1 5 5.0 0.4 RHT 65223 Toddanol, toddanone, toddasin, pimpinellin
Trewia polycarpa Bth. & Hk.f. Euphorbiaceae w Leaf Swellings, wounds, cuts (25) 3 25 15 0.16 RHT Pyridine alkaloids,
                  65302 nudiflorine
Trianthema triquetra Rottler ex Willd. Var. triquetra Aizoaceae w Leaf Bone settings (2) 1 2 1.2 1 RHT 65575 Linoleic, linolenic, oleic, palmitic, stearic acid
Trichodesma indicum (L.) R.Br. Boranginaceae w Leaf, root Joint pains (3), stomach-ache (3) 2 6 3.6 0.5 RHT 65548 Linoleic, linolenic, oleic, palmitic, stearic acid
Ventilago madraspatana Gaertner. Rhamnaceae w W. plant Scabies (80) 1 80 49 0.02 RHT 65353 Anthraquinones, ventinones, A,B physcion
Vitex peduncularis Wallich ex Schover. Verbenaceae w Leaf Fever (65) 1 65 39 0.03 RHT 65326 Iridoid glycosides, isomeric casticin, luteolin
Waltheria indica L. Sterculiaceae w W. plant Hemorrhages (2), fecundity (3) 2 5 5.0 0.8 RHT 65568 Pelargonidin, cyanidin
Wrightia tinctoria R.Br. Apocynaceae w Leaf, bark Eczema, psoriasis, skin diseases, flatulence (20) 4 20 12 0.25 RHT 65239 Cycloartanes, cycloartenone, α,ß- amyrin
Zehneria scabra (L.F.) Sond. Cucurbitaceae w tuber Snake bite (3), diabetes (90) 2 93 57 0.03 RHT 65356 α-citral, borneol, hotrienol, linayl acetate

Data analysis

Quantitative techniques had been used in the ethnobotanical studies to compare the uses and the cultural importance of different plant taxa. These analyses are of great scientific interest as they reflect cultural value systems, and they may also aid in the conservation of biodiversity [1]. The data collected through interview of the informants was analyzed using three different quantitative tools namely use value (UV), factor informant consensus (Fic) and fidelity level (Fl %). The relative importance (RI) was calculated employing the use-value [2] which is a quantitative measure for the relative importance of species known locally.

Use value (UV)

Ever since the publication of the Use-Value index proposed by Phillips and Gentry [3,4] (modified from Prance [5]), similar approaches had been widely used by many different authors [6-12]. The technique of Use- Value, which is based on the number of uses and the number of people that cite a given plant, has been widely used within the ethnobotanical community to indicate the species that are considered most important by a given population [8,12]. It is one of the most common approaches which had been to associate the Use-Value with questions of conservation, based on the idea that the most important species would suffer the greatest harvesting pressure [6].

UV = ΣU/n

Where U is the number of usereports cited by each informant for a given species and n refers to the total number of informants. Use values are high when there are many use-reports for a plant, implying that the plant is important, and approach zero (0) when there are few reports related to its use. The use value, however, does not distinguish whether a plant is used for single or multiple purposes.

Relative importance (RI)

The technique of Relative Importance (RI) [13] was developed primarily for measuring the usefulness of medicinal plants. The RI value is derived from the number of indications (of pharmacological properties) for that species and from the number ailments that it is used to treat. As such, the importance of a species increases if it is used to treat more infirmities. As this technique was conceived, it would be possible to calculate the Relative Importance of a medicinal plant based only on secondary sources (journal publication, for example). Although the Relative Importance technique is much less used than the Use- Value, we chose to examine it here due its usefulness of calculation. Both techniques consider the number of uses attributed to a given taxon in determining its importance [6,2] but they differ in that only the Use-Value technique includes the number of people that cite information for a given taxon (i.e. it is directly based on informant consensus).

Factor informant consensus (Fic)

Phillips [2] in ethnobotanical techniques, pointed out that procedures based on “informant consensus” tend be more objective as they are designed to eliminate investigator bias in attributing relative importance to a given plant. To test homogeneity of knowledge about the medicinal plants, the factor informant consensus (Fic) was used. The Fic was calculated as:


Where, nur refers to the number of the use-reports for a particular use category and nt refers to the number of taxa used for a particular use category by all informants. Fic values are low (near 0) if plants are chosen randomly or if there is no exchange of information about their use among informants and approach one (1) when there is a well-defined selection criterion in the community and/or if information is exchanged between informants.

Fidelity level (Fl %)

Because many plant species may be used in the same category, it is interesting to determine the most preferred species used in the treatment of particular ailment which can be done with the fidelity level (Fl %) [14]. The fidelity level is calculated as:


Where Np is the number of usereports cited for a given species for a particular ailment and N is the total number of use-reports cited for any given species. High Fl value (near 100%) is obtained for plants which almost all use reports refer to the same way of using it, whereas low Fl value is obtained for plants that are used for many different purposes.


The local population of Gingee hills had a good knowledge of ethnomedicinal plants as they were using 163 plants from 62 families to cure 39 ailments of humans and animals. Older informants were more knowledgeable on ethnomedicinal plant species than younger informants. The knowledge on indigenous medicinal plant use was declining among the younger generation which may be attributed to access to higher education in the community and the lack of interest among the younger generation to inherit and use ethnomedicinal knowledge. Irulas and Kuravas in this region too had considerably sound knowledge of ethnomedicinal plants. Dayby- day their knowledge of medicinal plants and uses also found declining which may be attributed to their inward integration with other rural people. (See table 1.)


In this study, a total of 163 species belonging to 138 genera and 62 families are documented (Table1). Out of these, 154 species (94 %) were dicots and 7 species (4%) were monocots and 2 species (1%) were Pteridophytes. Majority of the taxa were growing in wild (141 species), 13 species were purely cultivated and 10 species existed in both wild and cultivated forms. In terms of number of species used, Rubiaceae (12) appeared to be the most dominant family followed by Euphorbiaceae (11), Papilionoideae (9), Asclepiadaceae (8), Apocynaceae, Verbenaceae and Acanthaceae have 6 each. The next is Rutaceae, Ebenaceae and Sterculiaceae have 5 each followed by Caesalpiniaceae and Cucurbitaceae have 4 each. Genus Diospyros has 4 species and while Strychnos and Acalypha have 3 species. The plant parts used for medicinal preparation were leaf, stem, stem bark, sap, flower, seed, fruit and underground parts. There were instances of whole plant being used also. The most frequently used plant parts were leaves from 99 species (60%), root from 43 species (26%), fruits and seeds from 32 species (20%), stem and stem bark from 24 species (15%) and flowers from 10 species (6%).

Qualitative techniques such as Factor Informant Consensus (Fic), Use-Value (UV), Relative Importance (RI) and Fidelity Level (Fl) have been employed to analyze the usefulness of the ethno species and also to eliminate any bias in attributing relative importance to a given plant. On the basis of use-value (UV), the most important medicinal species of the present study area were: Nerium oleander (UV=60), Ormocarpum sennoides (UV=60), Zehneria scabra (UV=57), Limonia acidissima (UV=55), Strychnos minor (UV=55), Acalypha indica (UV=52), Cleistanthus collinus (UV=50), Sphaeranthus indicus (UV=49), Ventilago madraspatana (UV=49), Ocimum canum (UV=47), Achyranthes aspera (UV=45), Dioscorea pentaphylla (UV=42), Ixora finlaysoniana (UV=42), Radermachera xylocarpa (UV=42), Cocculus hirsutus (UV=39), Enicostemma hyssopifolium (UV=36) and Dalbergia lanceolaria (UV=33).

On the basis of factor informant consensus (Fic), as many as 39 ailments were observed to be cured by 163 plant species in the study area. These ailments were classified into categories according to Heinrich [15]. The maximum species were used to cure various dermal diseases (22 species) followed by rheumatism (22 species), gastric troubles (17 species), antidote for poisonous bites (15 species), cuts and wounds (14 species), gynecological problems (13 species), joint pains (12 species), veterinary purposes (12 species), dysentery (12 species), boils (11 species) and cough and cold (11 species). Fidelity level (Fl) values in this study varied from 0.61 % to 60.12%. For the better accuracy, species mentioned by less than five informants were not considered in the final analysis. Some of them include: Ormocarpum sennoides (Fl= 60%), Nerium oleander (60%), Zehneria scabra (55%), Strychnos roxburghiana (55%), Limonia acidissima (55%), Acalypha indica (52%), Cleistanthus collinus (52%), Sphaeranthus indicus (49%), Ventilago madraspatana (49%), Ocimum canum (47%), Strychnos nux-vomica (45%), Achyranthes aspera (45%), Jatropha glandulifera (44%), Bauhinia tomentosa (42%), Dioscorea pentaphylla (42%), Ixora finlaysoniana (42%), Radermachera xylocarpa (42%) and Tarenna asiatica (42%).

In an ethnomedicinal plant, various parts namely root, stem, leaves, fruit, flower, bark, seed etc. are used in one way or other. Often the same plant is used for several preparations by using different plant parts. It is inferred from the interviews that not all parts contain the same quality of ingredient that is beneficial for the preparation of the medicine. Discovering that part which has high content of component is very vital for preparation and administration of medicine to cure any disease and for its efficacy. The underground parts (root, root bark, rhizome, bulb, tubers) of about 20 species are used for treating various diseases. This is a factor to be considered since distribution of the above species in the wild would become vulnerable and threatened in the course of time. Though the inhabitants of Gingee hills are aware of the effects of destructive collection, yet they need to be motivated regarding sustainable use of the above species.

In the present study, it is observed that from plants belonging to 62 families and 163 species, 16 medicinally important plants are used by Irulas and Kuravas to cure various diseases such as respiratory, urinary and alimentary diseases followed by scabies and bone fracture. Over all, the knowledge of these tribal people in ethnomedicine is much less as compared to the local inhabitants. However, ailments for respiratory, urinary, alimentary, dermal and bone fracture remain the most important information shared by them which are continued to be quiet relevant to the present day situation. On the basis of use-value (UV), the most important medicinal species used by Irulas and Kuravas in the study site were Andrographis echioides, Cassia auriculata, Phyllanthus reticulatus, Sapindus emarginatus, Ormocarpum sennoides and Zehneria scabra are used for such ailments. Among the list of diseases, the herbalists and local inhabitants use medicinal plants particularly those pertaining to dermal disorder or skin diseases, Rheumatic ailments are very significant since 44 species in total are used against these ailments followed by gastric disorder or stomach ailments (17), arthritis (13) and gynecological problems (13) in menstruating women. About 12 species are documented for the veterinary purposes.

From this account it is clear that the local inhabitants and Kuravas and Irulas of Gingee hills possess the ability to discern the character of various plants and their beneficial properties. It is interesting to note that such a way of life, particularly with respect to health care practices, has hardly undergone any change even to the present day. Similar ethnobotanical uses of the species have been reported in some other parts of India (see other findings in Table 1). Apart from the current findings, ethnobotanical surveys conducted so far in Gingee hills were sought for the accuracy of the studies. Muralidharan and Narasimhan [16] reported the medicinal plants of Gingee hills such as Achyranthes aspera (leaf) and Phyla nodiflora (leaf) used for piles. They also listed the following plants used for dysentery such as Cadaba fruticosa (leaf), Cardiospermum halicacabum (leaf), Cassia tora (leaf), Diospyros montana (bark), Ficus benghalensis (bark), Morinda pubescens (leaf) Phyllanthus reticulatus (leaf, Toddalia asiatica (leaf); Scutia myrtina (leaf) and Pergularia daemia (root) for stomach-ache and Ocimum tenuiflorum (leaf) for indigestion.

Sankaranarayanan [17] reported the medicinal plants of Villupuram district such as Atalantia monophylla (leaf) for rheumatoid pain, joint pain and glandular swelling, Achyranthes aspera (shoot and leaf) for dog bite and other poisonous bites, and leaf for tuberculosis, Barleria prionitis (leaf, bark and root), leaf for cataract and fever, bark for cough and leaf for toothache, boils and glandular swellings, Cissampelos pareira (root) for wound healing, antidote, fistula, skin disorders, indigestion, stomach pain, diarrhea and dysentery, Cadaba fruticosa (leaf) for general weakness and energetic during dysentery and diarrohea, Enicostemma littorale (leaf) for rheumatism, abdominal ulcers, hernia, itches, swellings and insect bites, Helicteres isora (root, fruit) root for cuts and wounds, fruit for ear diseases, Ixora coccinea (flowers) for dysentery, leucorrhoea, bronchitis and scabies, Indigofera aspalathoides (root) for chronic eczema, acute tumour, psoriasis, toothache and abscess, Phyllanthus niruri (leaf) for digestive, simulative, carminative and aphrodisiac, Trichodesma indicum (whole plant) for emollient and diuretic, root for dysentery, cough, cold, fever and joint pain. Jagatheeswari [18] reported medicinal plants of Villupuram such as Acalypha indica (leaf) for itching, skin disorders, Achyranthus aspera (leaf) for joint pain, toothache, Cassia auriculata (leaf) for muscle pain, body pain and gastric problems, Calotropis gigantea (leaf, root) for cattle, root for leprosy and leucoderma, Erythrina indica (leaf) for cold and cough, Eucalyptus globulus (leaf) for cough and cold, Figus religiosa (leaf) for body pain, Morinda oleifera (whole plant) for rheumatism, body strengthening, and sexual hormones, Nerium oleander (stem bark) for ear pain, Ocimum sanctum (leaf) for cough, dizziness, headache and Phyllanthus amarus (leaf) for jaundice.

Some of the medicinal properties of the plant species mentioned in the present work have already been scientifically validated on the basis of pharmacological assays. Reddy [19] showed the use of Acalypha ciliata (leaf) for wound healing; Gopalakrishnan [20] showed experimentally that the leaf of Acalypha fruiticosa for curing wounds and skin diseases; Gobalakrishnan [21] showed the use of Allmania nodiflora (leaf) for cold; Anisomeles malabarica (leaf) for fever [22]; Anisomeles indica (leaf, root) for swellings [23]; Atalantia racemosa (leaf, fruit) for rheumatic pain [17]; Bryonia laciniosa (leaf) for inflammations [23]; Bulbophyllum kaitense (root) for anticancer [24]; Cadaba fruticosa (leaf) for rheumatic related problems [25]; Cymbidium aloifolium (whole plant) for bone settings [26]; Canthium dicoccum (root bark) for joint pains [27]; Caralluma umbellata (stem) for stomach disorders [28]; Carissa carandas (root, stem, fruit) for hepatoprotection [29]; Cleistanthus phlomoides (stem, leaf) as poison [30]. Khare [31] mentioned the use of Dendrophthoe falcata (leaf) for menstrual disorder; Diospyros montana (bark, leaf, fruit) for skin diseases [32,33]; Diospyros peregrine (fruit, leaf) for tumour [31].


It is evident from this study that the medicinal plants still play a vital role in the primary healthcare of indigenous people in the study area. The information we gathered from the inhabitants of Gingee hills may be useful to other researchers in the fields of ethnobotany, taxonomy and pharmacology. Hopefully, this study offers a model for studying the relationship between plants and people within the contexts of a traditional medical system. The purpose of standardizing traditional remedies is obviously to ensure therapeutical efficacy; whereas the value of ethnomedicinal information in modern pharmacology lies in the development of new drugs. Lastly, this study has generated a broad spectrum of information concerning the use of medicinal plants by indigenous tribal groups.


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