Ethnobotanical Leaflets 12: 1227-30. 2008.
Ethnomedicinal Orchids of Uttarakhand,
Jeewan Singh Jalal1,2, Pankaj Kumar3 and Y.P.S. Pangtey4
1The Corbett Foundation, P.O.
Dhikuli, Ramnagar, Nainital-244715,
3Habitat Ecology Department,
Wildlife Institute of
4Department of Botany,
2Corresponding author’s email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Orchids have been used in the traditional system of medicine since time immemorial. The present communication is an account of 12 species of orchids which are used in traditional medicine in Uttarakhand. The work aims at presentation of this knowledge which would be valuable for the herbal drug industry and may lead to identification of new applications or resources. Given in this paper are the scientific names of the plants, local names and the parts of the plant used in medicinal preparations.
Keywords: Orchids, Ethnomedicine,
Orchids are among the most highly prized ornamental plants. Aside
from their ornamental value, orchids are also known for their medicinal usage
especially in the traditional systems of medicine. It is believed that the
Chinese were the first to cultivate and describe orchids, and they were
almost certainly the first to describe orchids for medicinal uses (Bulpitt, 2005). As early as 200 BC the Chinese
pharmacopoeia -“the Sang Nung Pen Tsao Ching”, mentions Dendrobium as a source of tonic, astringent,
analgesic, anti-inflammatory substances (Singh et al. 2007). Reinikka reports a Chinese legend that Shênnung described Bletilla
striata and a Dendrobium
species in his Materia Medica of the 28th century BC. The ancient Greeks
were the first to
take note of these strange plants. One of the earliest
nomenclatures used by Theophrastus (372—286 BC) for orchids was the “Orchis” a generic name, which stands for “the testicles”
in greek (Theophrastus 1644). These testicle-like
things are basically the pair of underground tubers of many European
terrestrial orchids. In his Enquiry into Plants, Theophrastus reported
that the orchids had medicinal properties. As the Greeks believed in the Doctrine
of Signatures such
plants were considered good for human vitality. Later, the name was adopted
by Disocorides (1st century AD) in
his Materia Medica
where descriptions of two orchids were given along with several species
of medicinal plants. In the Indian Vedic scriptures there is a mention of the
plants under the name Vanda. The word
“Banda” is also used by the pro-dravidian
aborigines for epiphytes in the Chotanagpur Plateau
of India. The same name has been adapted as a generic name in one of the most
beautiful groups of orchids. Many orchids play a significant role in
traditional systems of medicine because they are rich in alkaloids, flavonoids, glycosides and phytochemical
Uttarakhand lies between 28° 53’ 24” to 31° 27’ 50” N
latitudes and 77° 34’ 27”to 81° 02’ 22” E longitudes. The state is surrounded
Material and Methods
The present ethnobotanical study was a part of AICOPTAX (All India coordinated research project on orchids) project, sponsored by Ministry of Environment and Forests, as a
part of which, the state of Uttarakhand was surveyed from 2002-2006 in different areas in different seasons. A simple questionnaire was prepared to collect information. During our survey we interviewed the local people and local vadya of the study area to know about the medicinal uses of orchids. The orchid specimens were also collected. For each species encountered, field notes were taken along with the voucher specimen, which was processed for preparation of herbarium sheets following standard techniques (Jain and Rao, 1977).
Results and Discussion
This state in the
Being a store house of several medicinal plants, Uttarakhand has been projected as ‘Herbal state’ of
Being an important group of plants of high exotic as well as aesthetic value, orchids need immediate protection as their populations are dwindling. Many of known brand have started using the substitute for the original ayurvedic plants one such example is that of Eulophia dabia, which is so rare now a days that it has been substituted by Satyrium nepalense. Therefore, more knowledge is needed regarding the spread of orchids to determine better the localities to be protected in the future. The latest studies of orchids have shown that the exploration of wild orchid species is needed in order to give additional data in the future.
The authors are thankful to the Director, Wildlife Institute of
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Table 1. List of medicinal orchids and their local uses.