Agricultural Science Digest

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Agricultural Science Digest, volume 43 issue 1 (february 2023) : 57-62

Floristic Diversity and Ethnobotanical Studies of Nandha Gopalasamy Hill Temple Sacred Grove of Western Ghats, Pollachi Taluk, Coimbatore

A.M. Ananda Kumar1,*, D. Rathika1, R. Rakkimuthu1, P. Sathishkumar1
1PG and Research Department of Botany, Nallamuthu Gounder Mahalingam College, Pollachi, Coimbatore-642 001, Tamil Nadu, India.
Cite article:- Kumar Ananda A.M., Rathika D., Rakkimuthu R., Sathishkumar P. (2023). Floristic Diversity and Ethnobotanical Studies of Nandha Gopalasamy Hill Temple Sacred Grove of Western Ghats, Pollachi Taluk, Coimbatore . Agricultural Science Digest. 43(1): 57-62. doi: 10.18805/ag.D-5475.
Background: The sacred groves are considered to be ecologically most important area as they are rich in plant diversity. It is considered to be repository of many important medicinal plantspecies including endangered and endemic and many valuable plant species. An ethanobotanical survey was carried out to assess the floristic diversity and it medicinal properties used by the indigenous peoples and local people. The floristic study conducted to understand the status of vegetation an it is important step towards conservation.

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.
Indian subcontinent isaland of rich in biodiversity and cultural heritage with important world biodiversity hotspots. The animal and plant diversity are plays a crucial role in day to day life of humans like religious, spiritual and traditional practices among Indian populations. The civilization is considered to be one of the oldest among the other world civilization which depends upon the plants. The Indian subcontinent has rich number of groves which being considered as sacred based on the traditional and cultural beliefs. The sacred groves are the areas which is conserved by local people and believed to be a treasure house of medicinal, rare and endemic plants, as the centers of seed dispersal (Whittaker 1965). Due to many credits on the diversity and richness these areas are considered as ‘mini biosphere reserves’ (Gadgil and Vartak, 1974). India has the highest concentration of sacred forests in the world with 1,00,000 to 1,50,000 sacred forests around the country (Malhotra et al., 2007). These areas are considered as converging areas of biodiversity and spirituality for the purpose of conservation.

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.
Study area

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).

Fig 1: Study area map of India.

Fig 2: Tamil Nadu map.

Fig 3: Nandhagopalasamy sacred grove from Eagle Eye View.

The present study was carried out in the sacred grove Nandhagopalasamy temple (Fig 5) of Pollachitaluk, Coimbatore district. The grove is considered to be rich in diversity various plant species. A total of 53 species belongs to 28 families have been recorded and tabulated. Out of which 7 species belongs tofamily Fabaceae followed by 6 families belongs to Malvaceae were with most number of species (Table 3). The sacred grove Nandhagopalsamy hills was recorded 53 species along with 17 trees,12 Shrubs, 20 herbs and 2 climbers (Table 2). As per distribution 31.37 percentage trees and 41.17 per cent of herbs has been recorded (Table 1, Fig 4). Some of the important medicinal plants like Ficus retusa, Erythroxylon monogynum, Acalypha fruticosa were also seen.

Table 1: Showing list of plant species found in study area Nandhagopalsamy sacred grove with their families, habit and parts used for medicine.

Fig 4: Graphical representation habit-wise distribution of plants found in Nandhagopalasamy sacred grove.

Fig 5: A view of Nandhagopalasamy sacred grove.

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).

Fig 6: Showing some important plants of Nandhagopalasamy sacred grove.

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.
The study clearly showed that Nandhagopalasamy hill  temple of Pollachi Taluk located in Southern Western Ghats rich in floristic diversity including many herbs, shrubs and tree components. The present survey showed that 53 plant species with medicinally important and few key stone species. The study also reveals the medicinal plants used by the indigenous and local people and also anthropological pressures on wild plants. Floristic inventory and diversity status help us understand the species composition and diversity status of forests. The area should be taken care as much as possible to conserve the plant diversity and ultimately the forest. The present documentation work will be very useful to conserve traditional knowledge. The present work will be a good resource to those who pursue the research on biological science and the study gains its importance towards declaring such areas as Community conserved areas under Biodiversity act.

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