Medicinal plants in South India

Axis 3. of the Ecology Department /

In India about 7300 plant species are used in traditional health care systems such as Ayurveda, Siddha, Unani and folk healing practices. The booming of traditional medicine industry results in an increasing demand on medicinal plant products. 90% of the medicinal plants come from natural habitats. The declining availability of such plants and the fading of local traditional knowledge make the sustainable management of natural habitats a crucial environmental issue in South India, concerning biodiversity conservation and welfare of local communities.

In order to address these issues, this programme links up ecology and social sciences departments at IFP (programme “MeSH – Medicine Environment Societies Health (South Asia)“).

  • Documentation of medicinal plants will be collected and organised in a database to understand their ecosystem, distribution and harvesting.
  • Social sciences investigations will examine those environmentally related aspects as they pertain to the notion of space and to the local social and political dynamics.
  • Spatial, social and political dynamics will be comprehended through the analysis of collection and marketing of medicinal plants, with a particular emphasis on the relationships between actors.
  • This study on medicinal plants in South India is of interest for researchers and stakeholders to improve the conservation and forest management strategies.
Materials and Methods:

Surveys for building a regional database on medicinal plants, their uses and procurement will be conducted in three Southern Indian states (Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu).

Data on the diversity, abundance and distribution of medicinal plant species in various forest types will be gathered using the existing floristic and ecological database of FIP and additional field missions. Iconographic data on traits of species and parts used in different healing methods will be incorporated into the database.

In the initial phase, the analysis of medicinal plants’ collection and marketing will be carried out in the landscape unit identified by FIP in Kerala (programme “Landscape Analysis of Biodiversity in the Western Ghats“). Data on spatial, social, economical, historical and political aspects of the medicinal plant procurement and marketing will be integrated to a Geographical Information System.

  • Mr. S. Aravajy, Botanist, Ecology Department
  • Miss Lucie Dejouhanet, PhD Student, Geographer
  • Mr. S. Ramalingam, Research Assistant, Ecology Department


– Funding Agency(ies): IFP