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Floristic Diversity and Ethnobotanical Studies of Nandha Gopalasamy Hill Temple Sacred Grove of Western Ghats, Pollachi Taluk, Coimbatore
First Online 10-12-2021|
Methods: The study was carried out for about one yearby frequent field visit and inperson interview with indigenous peoples to know the medicinal properties of the species.
Result: The study showed presence of 54 medicinal plants out of which 22 are herbs, 12 shrubs, 2 climbers and 17 are tree habits. All the plants are found to be highly medicinal in treating many diseases. The survey reveals the conservation importance of the sacred grove to safe guard the ecosystem for sustainable development.
These groves are one of the most valuable, but primitive practices of nature conservation in human civilization (Swamy et al., 2003). Ecologically, thesacred groves playan important role in restoring ground water levels, water flow and sedimentation.
For the present study, an important sacred grove called Nandhagopalaswamy hill temple was selected, located in thefoot hills of Western Ghats, Pollachi Taluk, Coimbatore. The study includes floristic composition and medicinal properties were also documented. The importance of floristic survey and documentation is the first step towards conservation. So the present survey has been carried out to perform many conservation practices in the study area.
MATERIALS AND METHODS
The study area Nandhagopalaswamy hills located in the southern part of Western Ghats of Pollachi, Coimbatore district which is rich in plant diversity including herbs, shrubs and trees. The geographical location of the study area is Lat: 10.504944 and Long: 77.01296. The area was considered to be sacred grove for very long years. The temple is situated in a small hillock of Western Ghats surrounded by dry deciduous forest. The area receives very good rainfall during south west monsoon. The grove was covered by many seasonal and perennial streamstoo. It is located about 480 msl approximately and worshipped by the local peopleandtribals. The grove is covered by rich medicinal plants including many herbs, shrubs and tall trees.
The sacred groveof the present study Nandhagopalasamy temple of Southern Western Ghats was spreaded over around 4 acres on the hilly area. The grove was also visited by many peoples and this makes the grove experience many disturbances.
The present study was carried out through regular field visit during the year 2018-2019 to explore the floristic composition, medicinal uses of plantsanddocumented from the study sacred groves. The survey was carried out among the indigenous people in the study area respective Nandhagopalasamy sacred grove (Fig 1-3). The informations gathered by direct interview with the tribals were recorded. A fewimportant plants were processed and herbarium was prepared using standard procedure. The collected plants were identified and authenticated using standard methods Hughes and Chandran, 1998. Photographs of plant specimens and herbarium were also prepared for some speciemensand identified using Floras (Gamble and Fischer, 1915).
RESULTS AND DISCUSSION
Based on the medicinal properties and information collected from the indigenous tribal people out of 53 speceis 18 were administered externally and 35 herbs were administered internally. The study included survey on medicinal plants in all the sacred groves (Fig 6). The medicinal property is also categorized into two major parts. Some of the plants are given internally and some are given externally to treatment diseases. The similar study was conducted previously on sacred groves to assess the medicinal plant resources and centers of key stone species like Ficus for conservation of plant species through various methods (Whittaker, 1965; Jeeva et al., 2005; Jeeva et al., 2007).
The works of Hemrom and Yadav, 2015 it is agreed withthe present study that the preliminary survey on sacred groves insists importance on cultural and social criteria of a community. It is also found that unique vegetation and found components dedicated to local deities. The study on sacred grove vegetation indicates the pre-existence of climax vegetation in the area (Gadgil and Vartak 1974). The present survey also showed that herbs are more dominant followed trees and shrubs respectively. The floristic distribution of sacred grove was not similar throughout the study area. There are manyvariability in the formswere also noted due to diverse climatic and light intensity received by the vegetation. The view very much accepted by previous workers Sukumaran et al., (2018) and Drude, (1980). They emphasized the dependency of life forms due to climate, adaptation of plant to the environment and even the primary and micro climate. The works of Meher Homji 1974 justified that present study as plant life forms are related to the environment conditions the biological spectrum denotes the existing environment in a ecosystem. It is also found that the most dominated family is Malvaceae followed by other families are also reported. The present survey clearly depicts that grove is most important due to its floristic diversity andalso plants with rich medicinal properties. It is also necessary to reduce the anthropological pressures to conserve the flora of the sacred grove. The conservation measures may be implemented in the form of in situ and ex situ conservation. The present documentation work will be very useful to conserve traditional knowledge Patwardhan, 2021. Carefully designed ecotourism initiatives (centered on sacred groves), where culturally appropriate and traditional health care systems integrated along with careful commercialization of traditional food systems can form a viable example of incentive based conservation approach.
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