Previous PageTable Of ContentsNext Page



Kamalappa Ramakrishnappa

Biotechnology Centre Bangalore, India

[email protected]


Regional Office for Europe

Sustainable Development Department Group

Rainer Krell


Biodiversity encompasses all biological entities occurring as an interacting system in a habitat or ecosystem and plants constitute a very important segment of such biological systems. Biodiversity of plants collectively known as “plant genetic resources” is a key component of any agricultural production system, indeed, of any ecosystem, without which natural evolutionary adjustment of the system to the changing environmental and biotic conditions would be impossible. Plant biodiversity is an irreplaceable resource, providing raw materials for introduction, domestication as well as improvement programmes in agriculture and forestry. Conservation and use of genetic diversity for sustainable ecosystem or agro-ecosystem should be continuous to meet food, clothing, shelter and health requirements of India's growing population.

Indian biodiversity

India is a treasure chest of biodiversity which hosts a large variety of plants and has been identified as one of the eight important “Vavilorian” centres of origin and crop diversity. Although its total land area is only 2.4 percent of the total geographical area of the world, the country accounts for eight percent of the total global biodiversity with an estimated 49000 species of plants of which 4900 are endemic (Kumar and Asija, 2000). The ecosystems of the Himalayas, the Khasi and Mizo hills of northeastern India, the Vindhya and Satpura ranges of northern peninsular India, and the Western Ghats contain nearly 90 percent of the country's higher plant species and are therefore of special importance to traditional medicine. Although, a good proportion of species of Medicinal Plants (MP) do occur throughout the country, peninsular Indian forests and the Western Ghats are highly significant with respect to varietal richness (Parrota, 2001).

Peninsular India extending downwards from Gujarath, Madhya Pradesh and Southern Bihar was once dominated by a continuum of tropical forests, namely: thorn forests, dry deciduous forests, moist deciduous forests, dry evergreen forests, wet evergreen forests and semi-evergreen forests. The complexity with respect to soils, topography and climate has created an exceptional variety of bio-mass and specialized habitats within this region. The ecosystems of southern peninsular India including the southern Western Ghats contain more than 6000 species of higher plants including an estimated 2000 endemic species. Of these, 2500 species representing over 1000 genera and 250 families have been used in Indian systems of medicine (Jain, 1991).

Medicinal plants

Medicinal plants which constitute a segment of the flora provide raw material for use in all the indigenous systems of medicine in India namely Ayurveda, Unani, Siddha and Tibetan Medicine. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 80 percent of the population in developing countries relies on traditional medicine, mostly in the form of plant drugs for their health care needs. Additionally, modern medicines contain plant derivatives to the extent of about 25 percent.

On account of the fact that the derivatives of medicinal plants are non-narcotic having no side-effects, the demand for these plants is on the increase in both developing and developed countries. There are estimated to be around 25000 effective plant based formulations available in Indian medicine. Over 1.5 million practitioners of the Indian system of medicine in the oral and codified streams use medicinal plants in preventive, promotional and curative applications. It is estimated that there are over 7800 medicinal drug manufacturing units in India, which consume about 2000 tonnes of herbs annually (Singh, 2001). According to Exim Bank, the international market for medicinal plant-related trade is to the tune of US$ 60 billion having a growth rate of seven percent per annum. The annual export of medicinal plants from India is valued at Rs. 1200 million.


Currently more than 75 percent of the herbal requirement is met through wild collections. While the demand for medicinal plants is increasing, their survival in their natural habitat is under growing threat. Species like Rauvolfia serpentina, Terminalia chebula, Sapindus laurifolius, Jatropha curcas are becoming uncommon in the Western Ghat forests (Anonymous, 2001). Collection of herbs from the wild by destructive harvesting followed by unscientific handling have resulted in poor quality products.


The vegetation map of India indicating study sites


Cultivation of medicinal plants in a grower's field is a recent phenomenon. Industry prefers raw material from cultivated sources because of authentication, reliability and continuity. Nonavailability of quality planting material coupled with poor development and extension support in the cultivation and processing and also unorganized markets are the major constraints coming in the way of commercialization of cultivation. Therefore, concentrated efforts are required, both in collection and cultivation of medicinal plants, in order to ensure sustainability of the industry.

To elicit the impact of cultivation and gathering on the biodiversity of medicinal plants, two case studies, one at Maradavally Forest Range in the semievergreen forest of Western Ghats and the other at Devarayanadurga state forest in the dry deciduous forest of Deccan Plateau were conducted.



Much information was elicited from the members of “Saravathy Valayabhivrudhi Sanga” of Maradavally who were involved in group discussions and field visits. The profile of the area is as follows:


Semi-evergreen forest landscape of Maradavally forest range

The village is in the catchment of River Saravathy, which has been dammed for the Linganamakki Reservoir. Plantation crops dominate the agricultural land area of 76 ha. The village has a forest area of 232888 ha which is rich in natural resources and a high hill towards the north from which the backwaters of Linganamakki Reservoir, Sagar town and Kodachadri hill range are visible as shown in Figure 2.




25 km from Sagar Town, Shimoga District in Western Ghats

Geographical Area

38.6 sq. km




600-700 m MSL

Rock type


Soil types

Red sandy & lateritic

Rain fall

250-300 cm

Forest area

23.2 sq. km

Forest type

Semi-evergreen (intermediate between evergreen & moist deciduous)

Principal Observations

These are:

Socio-economic conditions

The village has a population of 310 adults and 166 children with 64 being under the age of six. The overall literacy of the village is 60 percent and female literacy is low. The major traditional community groups own agricultural lands and plantations. Carpenters and agricultural labourers belong to backward communities and are often landless.

As landless labourers are principally deployed by contractors for collection of MP, there is relatively low awareness of the role of biodiversity conservation.

Medicinal plant wealth

The villagers have listed 147 species of medicinal plants in Maradavally State Forest. Of these, 14 are listed as endangered. The medicinal plant wealth includes tall trees, shrubs and climbers. The important medicinal trees, shrubs and climbers and their usage as listed by the members of the Saravathi Valayabhivrudhi Sanga are given in Tables 1, 2, and 3 respectively.


Dry deciduos forest landscape of Devrayanadurga



The main source of local information accrued from field visits and discussions with the members of the Local Traditional Herbal Practitioners Association. The profile of the study area is as follows:




14 Km from Tumkur, Deccan plateau

Geographical area

61.5 sq. km




1266 m MSL

Rock type

Metamorphic, Presence of granite

Soil types

Sandy and red


80-85 cm

Forest Area

42.27 sq. km

Forest type

Dry deciduous & thorny

Principal Observations

These are:

Socio-economic consitions

Little is known about the village population in this area. Population density is relatively low and it is possible that literacy rates are lower too. Very little data is available in terms of socio-economic conditions.

Medicinal plant wealth

Of the total of 307 species of plants reported from Devarayanadurga forest, 167 plants (54 percent) are found to have medicinal importance and are used locally by the people (Bhat, 2000). Herbs, shrubs and climbers constitute the major category of medicinal plants, with more than 60 percent coming under this group. The rest are trees with varying growth habits. The majority of medicinal plants of this habitat are higher flowering plants with wide medicinal properties. Herbs are abundant in the foothills while climbers, shrubs and middle -size trees are in the lower range valley.



Habit-wise distribution of medicinal Plants in Maradavally and Devarayanadurga forests


Maradavally is a relatively high rainfall area with a generally more protected environment. It also enjoys lower development pressures and lower population pressure. Both areas suffer from a decreasing biodiversity, with generally low levels of awareness of and activism against biodiversity depletion and its consequences, although both have small community groups which seek to ameliorate the situation. These groups collaborated in this study.

The primary differences between the two areas is in the context of the beneficiaries of the collection process. In Maradavally, this benefit, small as it is, accrues to landless labourers. In Devrayanadurga, the local community is not benefited in any apparent way.

In both places, the primary beneficiaries are small contractors who either act as middlemen to large manufacturers or are manufacturers themselves. These groups are possibly conscious of the effect of their actions but tend to be tightly knit and generally inaccessible organizations motivated by profit without being adequately sensitive to the long- term impact of their actions, in their totality. Creating awareness in this segment about the need for efficient rather than destructive harvesting would be an essential first step.

It appears that providing opportunities to produce MPs through cultivation is not necessarily a complete solution. In Maradavally, the MPs resulting from the cultivation process initiated by the Forest Department are sold by auction. However, at least one forest contractor obtains more than 40 product types from the cultivated area although only five products are auctioned by the Forest Department.

Better management of the collection process would require a concerted effort to map the depletion and its effects and awaken local communities to the consequences of such loss. Much of this would be facilitated by the existence of an infrastructure for education and for basic services in the areas themselves so that the young and the fit can be encouraged to develop, study and work within their own communities rather than choose to migrate to urban centres. The quantification of biodiversity benefits and of the effects of their decrease would constitute appropriate first aid. Groups (NGOs) such as those which assisted in these case studies could assist in this effort.

Finally, the development of cultivation as a source for MP would potentially have the effect of ameliorating some of the current habitat destruction and, at the same time, serve to create awareness of the role of MPs in the community. This also requires the development of alternative marketing mechanisms, so that a higher percentage of profits would flow to members of the local community and thus encourage small landowners to become MP suppliers. There is a need for a coherent, transparent and equitable process of generation, processing, marketing and revenue sharing.


The medicinal plant wealth of both Maradavally State and Devrayanadurga forests is declining constantly over the years. Of the 147 species of medicinal plants reported from Maradavally range forest, fourteen species are listed as endangered of which Catuneregam spinnosa is at the verge of extinction. The other endangered species are: Garcinia cambogea, Acacia pinnata, Ficus benghalensis, Zanthoxzyllum rhesta, Hemidesmus indicus, Terminalia chebula, Wrightia zeylanica, Cinnamomum verum, Bombax ceiba, Sapindus laurifolius, Alangium salvifolium and Calophyllum inophyllum.

In Devarayanadurga forest, out of 307 species reported, Abrus precatorius, Adenanthera paronina, Aegle marmelos, Caesalpinia bonducella, Cardiospermum halicacabum, Corallocarpus epigaeus, Gloriosa superba, Andrographis paniculata have become uncommon and Jatropha curcas is endangered.

Causal factors

The major factors threatening the species and genetic diversity of medicinal plants in Maradavally and Devarayanadurga are similar to those operating elsewhere in India. Many factors both natural and man-made have been responsible for limiting the distribution of medicinal plant species and are causing them to become rare or even extinct.

Environmental factors


In the forest areas the annual rainfall has decreased to the extent of 40 percent in Maradavally forest and 50 percent in Devarayanadurga forest resulting in the death of many herbaceous species during the summer months.


Deforestation to an extent of 10 percent in Maradavally and 25-30 percent in Devarayanadurga forests has been reported over the last two decades. The spread of agriculture, logging, firewood collection, heavy grazing, etc. are the main reasons for reduction in area under valuable forest.

Siltation of water bodies:

In Maradavally forests, four tanks have silted up to 30 percent of their capacity and in Devarayanadurga forest, siltation is up to 40 percent. Siltation of water bodies in both the forests has resulted in the reduction of water-holding capacity leading to depletion of underground water (Figure 5).


A silted water body in Devarayanadurga state forest

Lack of pollinators:

Honey bee colonies have declined in numbers to the extent of 60 percent in Maradavally and 90 percent in Devarayanadurga forests. Loss of pollinators has resulted in reduced seed set and dispersal of seeds.

Developmental influences


The Maradavally forest is the catchment of Linganamakki Dam, the main reservoir of Karnataka for irrigation and power generation. Submersion of nearly 10 sq. km of forest area during monsoons has resulted in loss of valuable medicinal plant species.


Expansion of roads of about 14 kms in Devarayanadurga and installation of power lines in Maradavally forests have caused extensive damage to forests and medicinal plants.

Agriculture and forestry methods


There has been a progressive increase in monoculture plantations of economically important indigenous as well as exotic species in both Maradavally and Devarayanadurga forests. Nearly 5-10 percent in Maradavally and 10-15 percent in Devarayanadurga forests have been planted with Eucalyptus and Acacia species. Monoculture plantation totally affects the organic productivity and reduces the natural stability and complexity resulting in loss of medicinal plants (Figure 7).


Destruction of forest due to installation of power lines in Maradavally forest


Monoculture of Eucalyptus leads to destruction of biodiversity


Encroachment is a common feature in Devrayanadurga forest


Encroachments over forest lands in Devarayanadurga forests have assumed alarming levels. Apart from felling of trees and clearing vegetation, the cultivation practices followed on high slopy lands have caused soil erosion and decline of medicinal plant wealth. Encroachment is minimal in Maradavally forest (Figure 8).


Gathering of medicinal plants from both the forests of Maradavally and Devarayanadurga is rampant. About 20-25 collectors engaged by a licensed contractor, gather nearly 40 types of medicinal plant products from the forests of Maradavally between November and April, whereas the forest record shows only five types. The approximate quantity of material collected every year would be 20-25 tonnes. In Devarayanadurga forests, collection of medicinal plants by outsiders was severe a few years ago. Every year about 5-10 tonnes of material were gathered by outsiders. The collection was by unorganized forest collectors, who in turn sold the product to a contractor at the price fixed by the latter. But now, due to the awareness created by the members of the “Local Traditional Medicinal Practitioners' Association”, illegal gathering is controlled to a certain extent.


Destructive harvesting

It is reported that more than 800 species of plants are being used currently by the industries for large-scale production of herbal products of which less than 20 species are cultivated commercially, that is, more than 95 percent of the medicinal plants used by the Indian industry are collected from the wild (Anonymous, 2001). Mr. Ramesh, head of “Banajalaya”, a voluntary organization in Kodluthota in the Maradavally State Forest, established to educate the local people on various aspects of forestry management, reveals that more than 70 percent of the collections from the wild involve destructive harvesting of roots, bark, wood, stems and whole plants (Figure 9). This poses a serious threat to the genetic stock and to the diversity of medicinal plants.


Medicinal plants break-up by parts used

Lack of awareness

Medicinal plants are gathered from the wild by collectors through the tribals, forest dwellers and other local people. The collected material is passed on to the traders in towns and cities. Each one of the major traders has one or more traditional drug manufacturers and private pharmacies as their customers purchasing raw plant material. Generally, as the price paid to the gatherers is very low, the gatherers often mine the plants excessively to generate more income. Greed to earn more, coupled with the ignorance of the collector about plant biology and selective harvesting leads to the whole plant being destroyed. For example, the indiscriminate removal of bark from Diospyros montana in the forests near Kodluthota village in Maradavally SF has resulted in the death of several trees.

Inefficiency of handling

The collected materials are mostly dumped with the traders, who with their limited knowledge sort out the saleable ingredients in a crude manner, resulting in contamination with other materials leading to poor quality. Many of the medicinal plants are sensitive to climatic conditions, requiring proper drying and storage under specific temperatures and humidity. This aspect is largely neglected by the collectors, growers and traders leading to deterioration and rejection of the produce particularly for the international market. For example: the forest collectors gather 10-15 tonnes of Sapindus laurifolius fruits every year in Maradavally SF between October and December. The limited sunshine during these months results in improperly dried fruits, leading to inferior quality and rejection, and as a consequence a loss of income and wasted resources.


Indiscriminate removal of bark resulted in the death of a valuable tree

Lack of traceability and certification

In an unorganized collection system the collector who gathers the material from the wild will have no idea about its destination or usage. Similarly, the companies which receive the material also will have no knowledge of its source of origin. There is an example of a company in Bangalore which receives several tonnes of raw materials of Cassia fistula, Acacia pinnata, Emblica officinalis, Coleus forskohlli, Piper longum, etc., through their contractors every month. These products are either gathered from the wild or cultivated. No documents are maintained either by the contractors or the company about the source of the material, methods of handling and cultivation practices. For instance, many farmers use copper fungicides indiscriminately against bacterial wilt in cultivation of Coleus forskohlli. This is not known to the company. The complexity of collection is such that it would be very difficult to adopt any strategy of certification on the basis of sources of origin or product quality. Social certification and management certification of the medicinal plant products collected from the wild are also complex and demand a variety of conditions which require additional knowledge and resources and create extra costs.

Transparency and accountability

In the absence of any regulatory mechanism, trade in medicinal plants is very secretive. Stakeholders like collectors, contractors, traders, wholesale dealers and companies involved in collection and processing of medicinal plants do not understand nor trust each other. Similarly in the absence of a proper management system, neither the collector nor the contractor who extracts medicinal plant products from the wild will have any responsibility of replenishing the natural resources through re-planting. For this purpose, the role of local non-political voluntary organizations becomes significant and allows them to participate in collection and maintenance of natural resources. In Maradavally SF, a forest contractor residing in Sagar town collects minor forestry products including medicinal plants through local agents. The contractor obtains a collection contract through bidding in annual auctions for minor forestry products by the Forest Department. The Forest Department, on record, auctions only five minor products, whereas the contractor collects more than 40 types from the forest.


Different landforms which exist in an ecosystem support different and specific vegetation. Ecosystem diversity is difficult to measure since the boundaries of the communities, which constitute the various sub-ecosystems, are elusive. Forests perform important ecological functions such as maintaining delicate ecological and hydro- biological balances, conserving soil, controlling floods, drought and pollution. Forests also provide habitats for innumerable plants, animals and micro-organisms. Agro-ecosystems tend to become poorer with more intensive cultivation, but could be a valuable local genetic resource with proper management.

Ecosystem impact

There are examples where the depletion of a few species within a forest has caused a deleterious impact on the whole eco- and agro-ecosystems. Aloe vera and Asparagus racemosus species, in addition to their medicinal properties, are also good soil binders. Removal of these plants for their underground parts has caused large-scale soil erosion in Maradavally forests.

Bombax ceiba commonly known as “Mahamara” in Maradavally forest area, has been the main shelter tree for honey bee colonies. Over-exploitation of the species for its latex, has resulted in reduction of honey bee populations which are the main pollinating agents in forests as well as in cultivated fields.

Agro-ecosystem impact

Paddy growers of Maradavally village have been using Hasiosiphon eriocephalus as a green manure crop which was once available in plenty in the forest area. This species, in addition to its nutritional value, also possesses the insecticidal properties believed to protect rice fields from the attack of insects and pests. Large-scale exploitation of the species by the pesticide manufacturing companies during the last few years has deprived local people of its use.


Asparagus is also a good soil binder


Biodiversity is inextricably woven into the social fabric of the local people besides providing the sources of livelihood for them. Different kinds of plants form essential requirements of ceremonies and festivals. Loss of biodiversity would lead to fragmentation of the society and the, decline of social and religious practices. The people depending on forest resources for their livelihood will have to find alternative ways of living, resulting in rural poverty, occupational hazards and sometimes migration to industrial areas.

Primary health care

Several traditional herbal practitioners living in rural areas have been serving local people by giving medicines collected from the surrounding forests. This is a family tradition for many practitioners and is traditionally rendered gratis. For example, Narayanamurthy, a traditional medicinal practitioner and an honorary member of “Saravathy Valayabhivrudhi Sanga” in Maradavally forest range provides herbal medicines to a large population of patients every week. Similarly, hundreds of local villagers receive medicine from Mr. Thirumalaiah, a folk-medicine practitioner in Urudugere Village. A majority of the patients who receive herbal medicine from these practitioners are poor villagers who have no financial resources to go to towns and cities for their health care. Moreover, villagers tend to have a strong belief in traditional herbal medicine, and trust in local practitioners. Depletion of medicinal plants in the natural habitat, is liable to destroy this facility and could lead to socio-economic problems. Urban dwellers who lean towards this system of medicine in the hope of a better cure will also be affected.

Cultural impact

There is a very interesting relationship between biodiversity and cultural diversity in the area of medicinal plants. This relationship is being lost because of the loss of cultural diversity associated with the natural habitat and the various pressures that generally operate on biodiversity.

Medicinal plants have the potential to make the rural people self-reliant in primary health care. In Maradavally village, every family knows the uses of at least five medicinal plants for their immediate health care. More than 50 percent of the families have the knowledge of more than 25 species and their availability in surrounding areas. The depletion of certain species of plants has eliminated certain cultural traditions of the community, for e.g. the leaves of Cariota urens were invariably used to decorate the marriage pendals and the juice of Garcinia cambogia was a sacred drink in all religious and ceremonial gatherings in the village. Presently both these traditions are no longer found because of the unavailability of these species in the surrounding areas.

Growth of urban demand

As urban demand in India begins to lean towards traditional herbal medicines, possibly partly due to the preference for herbal cosmetic products and the increase in prices of allopathic drugs following World Trade Organization reforms, there is a concomitant need for planned development in the source regions for MP. The current void in this area allows middlemen to manipulate providers by offering high prices in the initial stages to the extent of generating excess supply which allows them to drastically lower prices subsequently. The prime casualties are forest reserves and the low-income providers themselves.

Distribution of benefits

The communities that inhabit the regions of supply are minor beneficiaries of the process of collection as the two case studies show. The primary role of the development of an appropriate system for collection, cultivation, management and marketing should be to direct the principal revenues to the primary producers. In so empowering communities in source regions, a vested interest combined with awareness may possibly be the surest mechanism for biodiversity preservation.


Medicinal plants are valuable natural resources. Unplanned development and over-exploitation of medicinal plants from unmanaged the natural resources have not only resulted in shortage of various herbs, but the extinction of several species in nature. In order to meet the growing demand for the plants, it becomes important to conserve the plant species either by way of domestication and cultivation or by other ex situ and in situ conservation measures for their sustainable use. Emphasis on cultivation of the wild forms, rather than collecting from the wild would also ensure botanical identity, genetic improvement, quality and continuity in supply. Such cultivation may have to be initiated under well defined conditions showing, for example micro-climates similar to the niche requirements of the various species.

Cultivation initiatives on private land

Cultivation of many medicinal plants on private land is required both to conserve the species and to ensure the supply of quality raw material to the industry. Conservation of medicinal plant species on private land by resource-rich individuals has been successful. For example, Dr. Hanume Gowda, an Ayurvedic Herbal practitioner in Tumkur District, has developed “Sanjeevani Vana”, a two-hectare medicinal plant conservation park in the foothills of degraded Suvarnagiri, 20 km from Devarayanadurga Forest. Since 1999, 3000 plants belonging to about 550 varieties of herbs, shrubs and trees collected from different agro-climatic regions of the country have been introduced in this garden. Many of these species are rare and endangered. The entire park is raised and maintained using the organic agriculture system and without using any fertilizers or pesticides. Today this park serves not only as the source for raw materials for his hospital but also as the study centre for thousands of students, scientists and herbalists of this region. He is a resource rich individual with adequate knowledge of plants and their uses. This concept may well be replicated for conservation of medicinal plant biodiversity on private land.

Cultivation of medicinal plants for the production of raw materials for industries can be taken up as an alternative land use system or mixed cropping system on existing farm and forestry lands. However, the major constraints encountered by those who want to do this are non-availability of quality planting material of genuine varieties, lack of extension support in the cultivation and processing and an organized market. The cost of production for cultivated crops is usually high as compared to the cost of material collected from the wild. As a result, cultivation of MPs has not been an attractive proposition to the farmers. Moreover, since no systematic distribution and marketing network exists, the growers have to depend largely on the middlemen, who deprive the farmers of their legitimate share of revenue.


View of a medicinal plant conservation park on private land

Conservation efforts in forest lands

Concerted efforts have been made during the last few years in conservation of medicinal plants in their native ecosystems. This type of conservation growing in Western Ghat regions was involved in the development of the Shimoga conservatory right from the beginning. The discontinuity of committed and trained personnel of the Forestry Department, and non-involvement of local people in the management of the conservatory at ‘Devarayanadurga Forest Range significantly constrained the project.

The general aim is to protect certain habitats with the desired plant populations. To fulfill this objective, the Forestry Department, based on its Joint Forest Management Principles, has developed medicinal plant conservatories in different agro-climatic zones of Karnataka by involving local communities in the protection and management of forests and in benefit-sharing. Since the local people are the custodians of both the medicinal plant knowledge and the resources, their participation in the conservation of medicinal plants is essential for long-term cooperation and sustainability. This model has worked well in certain places. Failure at a few sites is due to discontinuity of committed and trained personnel of the government and lack of co-ordination between government personnel and the members of the Joint Forest Management Committee. For example, the medicinal plant conservatory park established in Shimoga has been successful largely due to continuation of department personnel and the active participation of local people, and Mr. Venkatagiri, a social worker who has a thorough knowledge of medicinal plants.


Medicinal plants have an immense potential for the domestic and export market in India in general and Karnataka in particular. The soil and climatic conditions in Karnataka are highly suitable for cultivation of medicinal plants. The forests of Western Ghats and the deciduous forests of the Deccan plateau are rich in medicinal plant biodiversity, suitable for managed collection. A SWOT analysis to examine the suitability of the region for collection and cultivation of medicinal plants revealed the following:






One strategy to address the issues raised by the SWOT analysis is a coherent set of policies for maintaining or increasing biodiversity and farmers’ prosperity through the systemic development of Small and Medium business Enterprises (SME's) which would be owned by farmers and assisted by professionals to access the national and international markets with high-quality products. To assure high quality, transparent control and certification procedures and infratructures have to be developed and implemented. The development of organic production systems is one such avenue that not only would produce environmental benefits, but could also generate value-added income. The latter requires the establishment of adequate infrastructure for training, production, processing, certification and marketing.

It would appear from the initiatives of the Forestry Department described above five that creating opportunities for cultivation of MPs is not enough. Similarly, the collection process may lead to non-beneficial or damaging consequences for many parts members of the local community and for biodiversity. Hence, there is a need for a coherent, transparent and equitable process from cultivators/collectors to marketing.This process has to be scalable so that benefits are not confined to a limited geographical area only.

In this context, the Horticulture Department is currently considering a plan centred on the provision of Medicinal, Aromatic and Dye Plants (MADP) to national and international markets. A brief description of this initiative is cited below.

A coherent plan

Title: Organic Production of Under-utilized Medicinal, Aromatic and Natural Dye Plants (MADP) for Sustainable Rural Livelihoods.

Principal characteristics

This plan will evolve a paradigm based on fair trade practices and participatory synergy in research, education, communications, production practices and international marketing. Central to all this is the principle of organic practices for the generation of MADP products. The participation of local institutions will be used to create the reality of organic MADP production. Local legislation will be adapted to suit the requirement to facilitate certification, labelling and traceability. The bottom-line outcome is that there will be a significant net contribution to income generation and food security through crop diversification, to improved farming and resource management practices which will be transferrable also to other crops, and to improved quality of natural resources such as water and soils, as well as to species’ conservation and management. As this plan intends to take care of the livelihood of those already engaged in the collection process, it will build the production component into an agro-forestry model so that the place of collection will be made also the place of production. The knowledge and experience of local individuals will add to the process of production.

The establishment of viable economic enterprises is essential for the long-term success of the project. Key partnerships will be formed to build the necessary economic, management, quality control and marketing know-how to operate successfully at national and international levels. This will be effected through small and medium enterprises which will be technically fully supported by hand-holding arrangements with appropriate participating institutions.


The project is expected to bring direct benefits to the pilot communities through developing capacities, strengthening self-help groups and stabilizing or improving the natural resource base for the collection and cultivation of MADPs and by improving water, soil and health conditions through elimination of exposure to agro-chemicals. Through lower input needs, resulting in lower credit needs, lower financial risks and dependence on lenders, income and credit access of small- to medium-size farmers and processors will improve resulting in employment opportunities for women and young people, the latter particularly through value-added products. This is expected to increase production and income stability and therefore also food security for the whole community.

A principal characteristic of this project is the consistent application of an integrated system approach to all layers of the project commencing with the ecosystem and typical farming system approach of organic production methods, extending to the mutual control/certification/ traceability system, while building self-supporting community systems through Farmer Field Schools and the participation of appropriate NGOs for developing transparent multi-owner trade entities.

Key programme activities


The structural changes proposed in collection and cultivation of medicinal plants are to be directed mainly towards achieving the demands of sustainable utilization of natural resources, production of quality produce to industry and for providing social justice to the growers. In the process of making a difference, some of the beneficial intermediate mechanisms that will be realized, are:


These will include:


The case studies highlight the need and some of the means for preserving the rich biodiversity of the region while also underlining the relationship between biodiversity, economic sustenance and preservation of cultural traditions and environmental resources. Medicinal plants have a specific role in serving the needs of indigenous medicine, of the pharmaceutical industry, and in providing genetic resources for future propogation and cultivation in- and outside their natural habitat.

The case studies also show that modern development has impacted on the biodiversity of MPs in varied and complex ways, and illustrate examples where urban demands exploit rural poverty and illiteracy. This leads to immediate deterioration of the rural environment and a delayed but relentless impoverishment of national biodiversity and cultural assets. It is therefore essential that collection and cultivation of MPs be viewed in a holistic way to achieve long-term success in protection of species and in providing socio-economic benefits to society, locally and nationally.

Analysis and hindsight perception show that a reversal of this trend can be archivied through managing the demand for medicinal plants within an equitable, farmer-centred system of assured quality products produced under an organic or similar, well certified regime. The outcome of such an approach can be expected to correct past mistakes and generate a relatively stable but flexible mechanism for enhancing prosperity and socio-economic development for rural populations, as well as for preserving biodiversity of MPs and their ecosystem companions, while also ensuring the livelihoods of existing collectors and cultivators.


Anonymous 1996. Karnataka at a glance. Bureau of Economics and Statistics. Technical report, Government of Karnataka, Bangalore.

Anonymous, 2001. The key role of forestry sector in conserving India’s medicinal plants. Technical report, Foundation for Revitalization of Local Health Traditions, Bangalore.

Bhat, H.R., 2000. Medicinal plants of Devarayanadurga Forests. Deputy Conservator of Forests, Government of Karnataka.

Jain, S.K., 1991. Dictionary of Indian Folk Medicine and Ethnobotany. Deep Publication, New Delhi.

Kumar, V. and Asija, 2000. Biodiversity Conservation in: Biodiversity-Principles and Conservation. Agrobiosis (India), Jodhpur.

Parrota, J.A., 2001. Healing Plants of Peninsular India. CABI, New York.

Singh, H.P., 2001. National perspective on development of medicinal and aromatic plants. Technical report, Agri Watch.


A list of important medicinal trees and their uses in Maradavally Forest







Alexandrian laurel (Sura honne)

Calophyllum inophullum


Juice, ulcers, inflammation, internal hemorrhage, purgative, sore eyes


Torchwood tree (Arishina gurige)

Cochlospermum religiosum


Stomachic, sedative gonorrhea, syphilis, asthma


Spanish chesy (Bakula, Ranjalu)

Mimusops elengi

Fruit pulp and Seeds

Chronic dysentery, purgative, chronic constipation


Garcinia (Uppage)

Garcinia cambogia


Antiseptic, rheumatism


Grewia (Dhadasalu/ Bhootale)

Grewia tyliaefolia


Dysentery, diarrhea cowitch


Wild Jack (Hebbalsu)

Artocarpus hisutus

Leaves & Juice

Inflammatory swellings


Cinnamom Cinnamomum (Nishini/Dalchini)

Cinnamomum verum


Stimulant, expectorant, carminative, gastric irritations, nausea


Alangium (Ankole)

Alangium salvifolium

Root bark

Antipyretic, diaphoretic, purgative, emetic,snake bites, diarrhea, worms, syphilis, skin diseases


Indian Trumphet Flower (Anangi)

Orexyllum indicum

All the parts

Dashamoola, astringent, carminative, diuretic, aphrodisiac, fevers, cough, respiratory disorders


Emetic nut (Aramadalu)

Catunaregam spinnosa


Nausea, expectorant, diaphoretic, hysteria


Black Myrobolan Tree (Alale)

Terminalia chebula


Laxative, carminative, digestion, expectorant, antihelmentic, alternative purpose, healing of wounds, ulcers, swellings, diabetes, anemia, cardiac disorders.


Arjun tree (Matti)

Terminalia arjuna


Alexiteric, styptic, antidysentric, cardiac diseases, blood diseases, fever, fractures, obesity, skin diseases


Bellaric Myrobolan (Thare)

Terminalia bellarica


Laxative, antihelmentic, bronchitis, sore throat, asthma, opthalmia.


Matchstick tree (Maddale)

Alstonia scholaris


Anti choleric, vulnerary properties, ailments to relieve sprains, bruises and dislocated joints


Kokam butler tree (Murugana/Dhupada mara)

Garcinia indica


Anthelmentic, cardiotonic, piles,dysentery, tumors, heart ailments


Silk cotton tree (Bhuruga)

Bombax Ceiba

Flowers, Leaves, Fruits

Astringent, cooling, relieves swellings, skin troubles. expectorant, stimulant, diuretic, ulcer of kidneys.


Indian laburnum (Golden shower/kakke)

Cassia fistula

Dried Pods, pulp Bark

Laxative, antiviral, purgative, disorders of liver and biliousness


Indian Sago Palm (Bhagini)

Caryota urens


Hemicrania, fatigue, laxative.


Fruit Root Bark Oil

Zanthoxyllum rhesta

Fruit Root Bark Oil

Astringent, stomachic, dyspepsia, rheumatism, diarrhea purgative, of kidneys.


Indian Ell Jungle (Thapasi)

Holoptelea integrifolia

Bark leaves

Edema, diabetes, leprosy, skin diseases,intestinal disorders, piles.


A list of important medicinal shrubs and their uses in Maradavally Forest







Indian Gooseberry (Nelli)

Phyllanthus embelica


Acidic, acrid, astringent diuretic, laxative,rich in vitamin'c', leprosy, piles, anemia, triphala


Wild Jasmine (Kare)

Canthium parvifolium

Leaves, Fruit

Astringent against cough and indigestion,anti-spasmodic


Solid Bamboo (Bidiru)

Dendrocalamus strictus

Siliceous matter near joints, Juice

Cooling, astringent, healing of cuts, eardrops


Embelia (Vayuvilanga)

Embelia ribes

Fruit, Seeds

Vermicide, antispasmodic, carminative, anthelmenthic, stomachic, skin diseases, oedema, rheumatism


Camel's Foot Climber (Parige)

Banhinia Vahlii

Seeds Leaves

Aphrodisiac, demulcent, mucilageneous


Elephant Apple (Ganagalu)

Delania indica


Tonic, mild laxative, abdominal pains, fever, cough mixture


Christ's Thorn (Kavali)

Carrissa Carandus

Roots, Leaves, Fruits

Stomachic, antihelmentic, cardiotonic activity.remittent fevers,antiscorbutic, pickles and beverages


Queen of Flowers (Holedasavala)

Laegestroemia speciosa

Leaves, Roots, Bark

Purgative, deobstruent, diuretic astringent, stimulant febrifuge


White Emetic Nut (Bikke)

Gardenia resinifera

Leaf, buds, Young shoots

Cumbi gum-antispasmodic, expectorant, diaphoretic, carminative, antihelmentic.relieves constipation, pain, treats worms



Clerodendrum serrata


Respiratory diseases, antispasmodic, carminative, expectorant, epilepsy, intermittent fevers, asthma, dropsy, mental


This table identifies important medicinal climbers and their uses in Maradavally Forest








Tinospora cordifolia

Mature stem

Tonic and stomachic, fever, jaundice, burning sensations, diabetes, piles, skin ailments,respiratory disorders, neural diseases, urinary diseases


Chariot tree (Hotta balli)

Desmodium latifolium


Infant's digestion, diarrhea, cardiotonic, fever, dysentery


Purple Convolvuluso (Kalluballi)

Argyreia cuneata





Evolvulus alcinoides

Whole plant

Alterative, antiflogistic, brain tonic, nervous debility, memory loss, fever, diarrhea and indigestion


Indian liqourice (Gulagangiballi)

Abrus precatorius

Roots, Leaves, Seeds

Cough, catarrhal affections, gonohorrea, jaundice, haemoglobnuric bile, peptic ulcers


Australian cow (Madhunashini)

Gymnema sylvestre

Whole Plant

Antiperiodic, diuretic, stomachic, headache, diabetes, leprosy, pruritis, polyurea


Indian birthwort (Eshwariballi)

Aristolochia indica

Dried roots, Leaves

Snakebite, gastric stimulant dyspepsia, nausea, bowel troubles



Asperagus racemosus


Dysentery, tumors, inflammation, blood diseases, biliousness, rheumatism, neural disease, kidney & liver disorders


Emetic Swallow Wort (Adumuttadaballi)

Tylophora indica


Expectorant, chronic bronchitis, whooping cough, stimulant, antirheumatic, alterative, jaundice


Black Oil plant (Jyothiskmathi)

Celastrus paniculatus


Emetic, diaphoretic, nervous and febrifugal for memory loss, cures sores, ulcers, rheumatism and gout


Indian Sarasaparilla (Sogadeberu)

Hemidesmus indicus

Dried Roots

Alterative, demulcent diaphoretic, diuretic, and blood purifier, bowel complaints, elephantiasis


List of important herbs and their medicinal uses of Devarayanadurga Range Forest







Yellow thistle (Daturi)

Argemone mexicana

Milky juice of plant, Side shoots

Diuretic, hypnotic, anodyne, malarial fevers, jaundice, leprosy, skin diseases, laxative, emetic, demulcent


Hogweed (Balavadike)

Boerhaavia diffusa

Whole plant

Stomachic, laxative, diuretic, emetic, edema, anemia, heart diseases, kidney stones, rheumatism


Balloom vine (Agni Balli)

Cardiospermum halicacabum

Roots, Leaves, Seeds

Rheumatism, nervous diseases, piles, bronchitis, snake bite



Ceropegia tuberosa


Tonic, increasing digestive power


Velvet leaf (Padvali)

Cissampelos pereria

Root, Bark, Leaves

Fever, diarrhea, dysentery, dropsy, nepheritis



Daemia extensa

Leaves, Roots, Root Bark.

Anthelmenthic, asthma, snake bite, rheumatic swelling


Figi Yam (Kadukumbala)

Diascoria pentaphylla


Swellings, rheumatism



Emilia sonchifolia

Whole plant

Sudorific, to relieve cuts and wounds, sore eyes, sore ears, headache


Indian Sarasaparilla (Sogadeberu)

Hemidesmus indicus

Dried roots, Root bark, Juice

Diuretic, demulcent, alterative, dyspepsia, loss of appetite, skin diseases, rheumatism, leucorrhea


Phyllanthus (Kiru nelli)

Phyllanthus amaras

Whole plant

Astringent, doobstruent, stomachic, carminative, febrifugal, antiseptic, jaundice, gastro intestinal, ailments


List of important shrubs and their medicinal uses of Devarayanadurga Range Forest







Indian Jamaica (Gulaganji)

Abrus precatorius

Root, Seeds, Leaves

Antiphlogistic, aphrodisiac, antiopthalmic, painful swellings and paralysis


King of Bitters (Kalmegh)

Andrographis paniculata

Whole plant

Tonic, syphilitic, ulcers, intermittent fevers, stomachic, antipyretic, antihelmentic, properties


(Indian birthwort) Eshwariballi

Aristolochia indica

Root, Stem, Leaves

Antidote to snake-bite and poisonous insects, leprosy, dropsy, bowel complaints


Cambiresin (Bikke)

Gardenia gummifera

Exudes of fruits

Fever, flatulence, dyspepsia, nervous disorders, toothache, ulcers, roundworm infections


East Indian Screw tree (Bhootha karalu)

Helicteres isora

Fruits, Root, Bark, Juice, Seeds

Intestinal problems like colic, flatulence diarrhea, dysentery, diabetes, snakebite


Ceylon leadwort (Chithramoola)

Plumbago zeylanica


Leprosy, skin diseases, scabies, ulcers, piles, leucoderrma, intermittent fevers


List of important climbers and their medicinal uses of Devarayanadurga Range Forest







Molucca Bean (Gajjuga)

Caesalpinia bonducella

Seeds, Root, Bark, Leaves

Intermittent, fevers, asthma, gumboils, hydrocele, swellings, leprosy and rheumatism, antiperiodic, antispasmodic, bitter tonic and antihelminthic properties



Ceropegia tuberosa


Increases digestive power, used as tonic


Velvet leaf (Paduvali)

Cessampelos periria


Fever, diarrhea, dysentery, dropsy, nepheritis


List of important trees and their medicinal uses of Devarayanadurga Range Forest







Haldu (Aarishinatega)

Adina cordifolia

Stem bark

Febrifuge, antiseptic properties, malarial fever, stomach disorders


Bael fruit (Bilpathre)

Aegle marmelos

Fruit, Root Bark, Leaves, Flowers

Constipation, chronic, dysentery, dyspepsia inflammation, vomiting, gonorrhea


(Tree of heaven) (Hiremara/ Doddabevu)

Ailanthus exelsa

Bark, Leaves

Bronchitis, asthma, dyspepsia


East Indian Walnut (Doddabage)

Albizzia lebbeck

Root, Leaves, Bark

Snake-bite, scorpion sting, skin diseases, leucoderma, asthma, blood diseases


Button tree (Bejjalu/ Dindiga)

Anogeissus latifolia

Gum Bark

Astringent, scorpion sting, snake-bites, chronic disrrohea, leprosy, anemia, piles, polyuria


Indian laburnum (Kakke)

Cassia fistula

Pulp, Root Bark,Flowers, Pods, Leaves

Laxative, Gout, Rheumatism, snake-bite, fever, heart diseases, purgative febrifuge, ring worm


Indian Gooseberry (Amla/ Bettadanelli)

Embelica officinalis

Fruits, Leaves, Roots, Bark, Flowers

Hemorrhage, diarrhea, dysentery, stomach ache, vermifuge, painful respiration


Wood apple (Bheladahannu)

Ferronia elephantum

Fruit, Gum, Leaves, Bark, Pulp

Sore throat, hiccups, dyspepsia, diarrhea, dysentery


White teak (Shivani/ Bachanigemara)

Gmelinia arborea

Root, Bark, Fruit, Leaves

Demulcent, stomachic, laxative, snakebites, scorpion stings, gonorrhea fever, indigestion, headache



Kirganelia reticulata


Skin diseases, rashes, diuretic, diseases of blood, syphilitic source



Morinda tomentosa

Root, Leaves, Fruits

Astringent, cathartic, diarrhea, dysentery wounds and ulcers, spongy gums


Soapnut tree Antvala

Sapindus laurifoliusSapindus laurifolius

Fruits, Seeds, Leaves

Purgative, colic, snake-bite, gout diarrhea, cholera, epilepsy


Belleric myrobolan Thare

Terminalia bellarica


Astringent, tonic, laxative, cough, eye diseases, scorpion sting, sore throat, piles, fever, diarrhea


Sweet indrajao (Aate/Beppale)

Wrightia tinctoria

Leaves, Bark, Seeds, Fruit

Astringent, stomachic, tonic, febrifuge, stomach pain, bowel complaints, fever

Previous PageTop Of PageNext Page