Ethnobotanical Values of Dioscorea Species Available in Eastern Ghats, India

Sabeela Beevi Ummalyma1,2, Rajkumari Supriya Devi1,2, Jayanta Kumar Patra3* , Sanjeet Kumar1,2*

1 Ambika Prasad Research Foundation, Regional Centre, Imphal, India
2 Institute of Bioresources and Sustainable Development,  A national institute under Department of Biotechnology Govt. of India, India
3 Research Institute of Biotechnology & Medical Converged Science,, Dongguk University, Korea, Republic of

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Ummalyma SB, Devi RS, Patra JK, Kumar S. Ethnobotanical Values of Dioscorea Species Available in Eastern Ghats, India. Basic Appl Pharm Pharmacol. 2018 June;1(1):103.


Genus Dioscorea comes under the family of Dioscoreaceae. The tribal and rural communities of the world used the species of Dioscorea as a source of potent ethanobotanical medicines. An investigation was made for the documentation of common traditional systems for curing diseases and disorders using available Dioscorea species of Eastern Ghats (EG), India. The most common species of EG are D. bulbifera, D. hispida, D. glabra, D. pantaphylla, D. alata, D. spinosa, D. wallichii, D. hamiltonii, D. bellophylla, etc. Among them, five species (D. bulbifera, D. alata, D. pantaphylla D. puber and D. hispida) were selected for the documentation of ethno-botanical values. Results showed that the selected species are used to cure skin infections and birth control.


Eastern Ghats; Dioscorea sp; Ethanomedicinal; Antibacterial; Birth control; Antioxidant


Forest and its biodiversity are highlighting the importance of existence of all life forms [1,2]. The richer the diversity of life, the greater is the opportunities for biological discoveries [3]. The food, shelter and clothes are the basic needs of man, met by the forest resources [4]. The forest of Odisha is comes under major part of Eastern Ghats. The state enjoys unique geographical variations such as high and low altitudes, coastal areas, mangroves and plains. Major portion of the South East Odisha is occupied by Eastern Ghats. There are limited records and no specific details are available on food and medicinal importance of wild Dioscorea species available from this regions. However, an attempt was made to document the ethnobotanical values of Dioscorea species from aforementioned areas. The results discussed here are based on the field work conducted in Eastern Ghats with tribal and rural communities during the survey conducted from 2011 to 2016. The methodology used for the ethno botanical study was done as per the standard techniques of exploration and germplasm collection protocol (Hawkes 1980), qualitative and quantitative ethnobiological approaches in the field, elicitation methods, data collection, interviews, and further authentication was done as per earlier reports [5,6]. Figure 1 shows the panoramic view of Eastern Ghats, India.

                            Figure 1: Panoramic view of Eastern Ghats, India

Studies showed that Ban Aalu (Local name of Dioscorea in Eastern Ghats) with antioxidant and nutritive content not only enrich the diet of the local rural and tribal people but also make them healthy due to its ethno-botanical values. Tubers of Dioscorea species are used in different formulations for curing various diseases [7,8]. For birth controlling effect, the plant dried tuber chips are eaten in an empty stomach in last day of menstrual cycle to next 15 days. For abdominal pain, skin and other bacterial infections, matured tubers of D. pentaphylla are used in a macerated form. In order to get recovery from problem associated with constipation, tubers of the plants kept overnight under running water and consumed as a chips. The paste made from Dioscorea species is applied externally up to 6 to 8 days to cure wounds whereas D. puber used asmacerated with water and Karanja oil (Pongamia pinnata) and final paste is applied twice a day to get recovery from wounds and other skin infections. Dried Dioscorea tubers are chopped in water overnight and boiled with rhizome of Curcuma officinalis and the water is taken during delivery to reduce labour pain.These kinds of application of Dioscorea species are documented and reported earlier researchers as well [9- 11]. Several tropical tuber species are exploited for the preparation of tonics, expectorants, carminatives and stimulants (Mishra et al., 2008). Indigenous knowledge on wild tubers is an integral part of the traditional and socio-cultural lives of the people in Eastern Ghats, India (Figure 2). They have developed a range of processing methods in accordance to their demands. However this indigenous knowledge is vanishing day by day due to migratory habit from rural to urban cities and modern life style in search of better livelihood. A good combination of indigenous knowledge is essential to document and promote the utilization of such bioresources available in this particular state. In this context, in present investigation, authors found some unique and not reported ethno-botanical claims of Dioscorea species of Eastern Ghats. Table 1 representing the ethnobotanial values of selected Dioscorea species from these regions. The ethno-botanical survey revealed that utilization of tuber and other vegetative parts of selected Dioscorea from Eastern Ghats which is unique among the tribal and rural communities and used as single and multiple formulation as medicine (Figures 3 and 4). D. alata is used as food, D. pentaphyllla used as medicine and the tubers are used against wide range of diseases.

Figure 2: Collection of ethno-botanical values of Dioscorea species from tribal communities.
Parts used
Collection sites
D. bulbifera
Paste of the tubers are applied externally to cure the lesions of skin infections
Similipal Biosphere Reserve, Eastern Ghats, India
D. hispida 
Tuber and tender leaves
For birth control
Keonjhar forest division, Eastern Ghats, India
D. puber
Raw tubers are eaten to get instant energy
Jashipur, Eastern Ghats, India
D. pantaphylla
Tuber paste is applied to get rid of skin itchingT
Badampahar Forest Range, Eastern Ghats, India
D. alata
Bulbils, tuber and tender leaves
Whole parts are used as vegetable and cooling agent 
Satkosia Tiger Reserve, Eastern Ghats, India

                                                                      Table 1: Ethnobotanical values of selected