Ethnobotanical Leaflets 13: 1047-50 ,� 2009.
articulata Lindl., An
Orchid Used in Bone Jointing in Kumaun Region, Western
Jeewan Singh Jalal*, Lalit M. Tewari* and
Botany, D.S.B.Campus, Kumaun
August 01, 2009
Lindl., known locally as �Harjojan� or bone jointer, is distributed
commonly in moist ravines and river valleys up to 1600 m in the Kumaun Himalaya. It is an epiphytic or
lithophytic plant. The whole plant is used in traditional medicine.
Key words: Pholidata articulate, Harjojan, Kumaun Himalaya, traditional medicine. �
��������� Orchids are considered
by most people to be the most fascinating amongst all the flowering plants. They are members of the family Orchidaceae, one of the largest
families of flowering plants (Atwood, 1986). Orchids are not
only known for their beauty, but also for their medicinal value, which is why
ethnic communities use it regularly in their traditional system of medicine. There are several orchid species that are valued as
febrifuge to treat malaria, in removal of tapeworms and other intestinal
parasites etc. They are also used either in the form of ointment or poultice
for treatment of skin diseases such as boils, pimple, rashes, eruptions and
skin lesions. Its roots, seeds, leaves, flowers and stems are used in various
ways for their curative powers. Perhaps Chinese were the first to
cultivate and describe these wonderful orchids and they were almost certainly
the first to describe the orchids for their medicinal use. Reinikka (1995)
reports a Chinese legend that Shen-nung described Bletilla striata and a
Dendrobium species in his Materia Medica of the 28th century B.C. Shen-nung�s
herbal �cures� may have been published many times, but certainly the most
remembered are the publications in 1600 in the Pun-tsae, a pharmacopoeia
(Kong et al, 2003 and Guthrie, 1945). Confucius (551�479 BC) called the
orchid (lan in Chinese) the �King of Fragrant Plants�, and Chinese literature
indicated that they stood for many things: �retirement, friendship,
perfection, numerous progeny, all things feminine, noble and elegant� and
some of these themes echoed in Europe too.
In Europe, the Greeks referred to testicles
as orchis, and Theophrastus (372�286 BC)�
named the orchids from that word, as the underground tubers of many
European terrestrial orchids resemble a pair of testicles. In his Enquiry
into Plants, he reported that the orchids had medicinal properties.
In India the
medicinal properties of orchids have been used
since Vedic period. Ashtawarga� � a group of 8 drugs in the Ayurvedic system,
which are used for preparation of tonics, such as �Chyavanprash�, consists of
4 orchid species. Around 40 other species are being used in indigenous
systems of medicine. 12 species of orchids are used in traditional
medicine in Uttarakhand (Jalal et al. 2008).
The genus Pholidota
is represented by 46 species in the world (Govaerts, 2003) distributed from
tropics and subtropics to South West Pacific. In India,
Pholidota has 9 species recorded
from Western Ghats, North-Eastern Himalaya and Western
Himalaya. In Kumaun region two species of this genus occurs
(Deva & H.B.Naithani, 1986; Pangtey et al. 1991). Pholidata articulata Lindl. locally known as �Harjojan�
or bone jointer is� distributed
commonly in moist ravines and river valleys up to 1600 m in the Kumaon region. It is an epiphytic or
lithophytic plant (Fig. 1). The pseudobulbs are 5-10 cm length; new ones
arising near the apex of the old, jointed, branching and furrowed. Leaves are
usually two, tapering to each end, many-nerved, membranous, narrowly oblong,
sessile or shortly petiolate. Flowers are brownish-pink.
����������� Kumaun Himalaya
occupies in the central sector of Indian Himalaya and lies between 28�44'-
30� 49' N Latitudes and 78� 45�- 81� and 01' E Longitudes. It lies at the
eastern end of the Western Himalaya. The
area includes six districts viz., Almora, Nainital, Pithoragarh, Champawat,
Bageshwar and Udham Singh Nagar.
An ethnobotanical survey
was undertaken between the years 2006 and 2008. Local people were interviewed
to get information about this species. A total of 60 people were interviewed
through questionnaires to collect information on the informant�s name, sex,
age, village, vernacular name and uses. Also the local �Vaidyas� were
interviewed to get the correct information as well as for the purpose of
A. Habitat of Pholidata articulata.��������������������� B. Close-up of
Fig. 1. Flowering details and habitat of Pholidata
����� ����The whole plant is used in traditional
medicine. The plant is ground into a paste and mixed with the paste of soaked
rice. When it has been mixed well, the juice of raw organic turmeric is
added. Later on, little warm water is added, blended well and applied to the
part where the bone has fractured. The area is bandaged with a piece of
cotton cloth. There are others who also prefer to use it as a gum because the
pseudobulbs contain thick gum-like substance.
Ancient systems of medicine, which include folk remedies, herbal drugs
etc. have been a part of every civilization and society. These systems
believe in naturally uprooting the cause of the ailment and hence have
negligable side effects. These exceptional ways of treatment are passed down through
generations with certain amount of additions and subtractions so as to suit
the flavour of the social evolution. This particular rural region is no
exception but unlike other civilizations, which have been preyed upon by the
�quick to cure by suppression� allopathic system of pills and injections,
these people have remained loyal to their medical culture. Sometimes when we
explore the botanical assets of such remote rural areas, we are lucky to find
these therapeutic treasures that act beyond our expectation. The present
investigation has successfully thrown light on the therapeutic use of Pholidata
articulate as a bone
jointer. Further studies are in the pipeline to understand the
chemical composition of this species while nobody knows how many other species
wait in anonymity to be recognized as the forgotten vintage miracle cures.
are grateful to the Department Science and Technology, Government of India
for financial support to carry out this work.
Reinikka M.A. (1995). A history of the Orchid. Portland, Timber Press,
Kong J-M, Goh N-K, Chia L-S, Chia T-F. Recent
advances in traditional plant drugs and�
Orchids. Acta Pharmacol Sin 2003; 24:7�21.
S. and H.� B. Naithani. 1986. The
Orchid Flora of North West Himalaya.
��������������� Media Associate, New Delhi.
Govaerts, R. 2003. World Checklist of
Monocotyledons Database in ACCESS: 1-71827. The�
Board of Trustees of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.
Jalal, J.S, P. Kumar and
Y.P.S.Pangtey (2008). Ethnomedicinal
Orchids of Uttarakhand,�
Himalaya. Ethnobotanical Leaflets 12: 1227-30.