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Research Article

Wild Medicinal Plants of Cholistan Area of Pakistan

M. Saleem Shafi, M. Yasin Ashraf and G. Sarwar
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This communication reports the findings of survey of medicinal plants found in barren Cholistan area of Pakistan. Information is presented about 71 species belonging to 23 families which are common and widespread in the different wild and barren lands together with information on the use by local inhabitants and professional workers.

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  How to cite this article:

M. Saleem Shafi, M. Yasin Ashraf and G. Sarwar, 2001. Wild Medicinal Plants of Cholistan Area of Pakistan. Pakistan Journal of Biological Sciences, 4: 112-116.

DOI: 10.3923/pjbs.2001.112.116



The majority of the population of Asian countries, especially those living in villages, use indigenous plants to cure the different diseases. Systematic scientific investigations, particularly during the current century, required because of search for potentially new medicines and economic plants and the need for conservation and utilization of plants resources (Rajput et al. 1991; Rahman, 1983). Ayensu (1979) and Rajput et al. (1991) reported 443 and 44 species of plants respectively having medicinal values, occur in various arid regions and semi arid regions of the world. Similarly Farooq (1990) listed 185 medicinal plants species used by ten leading Dawakhanas in Pakistan. It is estimated that they together consume about 63 thousand Kg of plant material annually.

In Cholistan desert, there are plants which are commonly used by the local people for the treatment of various diseases. The Cholistan desert of Pakistan, often attract public attention due to drought and primitive vegetation.

The wild vascular flora of the Cholistan desert of Pakistan includes many species, of which many are definitely of some medicinal importance. While data yet complete to present an adequate overview of all the flowering species found in the Cholistan desert area, Ashraf et al. (2000) had given some information on the medicinal plants of Cholistan. This information has been based on traditional usage by the inhabitants of the region and evidence gathered by professional workers.

The species surveyed and described in this paper are common and widespread in the Cholistan desert and are acclaimed to be efficacious in various ailments. This paper offers suggestion for recovery and synthesis of new compounds from these plants, that could be helpful to provide better medical care and generate new venues for research by Pharmaceutical industries.

Materials and Methods

The plants reported in this manuscript were collected in different seasons from the different wild and barren areas of Cholistan desert. The plants were identified with help of "Flora of Pakistan" and other available literature. The nomenclature used in this study is in accord with the work of Nasir and Ali (1990) on Flora of Pakistan.

Local name of the plants have been recorded from the local people, or derived from the published work (Ashraf et al. 2000; Chaudhari and Chuttar, 1966; Bhandhari, 1978; Ayensu, 1979; Tewari, 1979; Ali, 1983; Baquar, 1989; Farooq, 1990). The information on medicinal uses of these plants and on the methods of their use were also gleaned from the local inhabitant and the literature.

Description of plants and their medicinal uses
Family:                    Acanthaceae
Botanical Name:     Blepharis sindica Linn.
Local Name:           Asad
The plant is boiled in goat milk and is taken as a tonic for general weakness. It is given to the cattle for greater milk production.

Family:                    Acanthaceae
Botanical Name:     Barleria prionites Linn.
Local Name:           Karunta
Leaves, stem, root, used to treat catarrhal affections, boils, toothache, paste of leaves used in hot poultices, also used in steam baths to cure stiffness of limbs, sciatica and enlargement of the scrotum.

Family:                    Amaranthaceae
Botanical Name:     Achyranthus aspera Linn.
Local Name:           Puth Kanda
Plant extract in boiled water is taken against pneumonia. It is also used for the removal of kidney stone.

Family:              Amaranthaceae
Botanical:          Aerua janvanica (Burn,f.)
Local Name:     BioKalan
The inflorescence and seeds are said to be prophylactic against rheumally excessive menstruation. It is also used as a cure for dysentery.

Family:                    Amaranthaceae
Botanical Name:     Amaranthus trilocular Linn.
Local Name:           Lal Beg, Lal Sag.
It is used against stomach pain in children and to control abnormally excessive menstruation. It is also used as a cure for dysentery.

Family:              Apocynaceae
Botanical:          Wrightia tinctoria R. Br,
Local Name:      Svtakutaja
Bark, seeds, stem, used as tonic and aphrodisiac.

Family:                    Asclepiadaceae
Botanical Name:     Calatropis procera (Ait) Ait
Local Name:           Ak
The milky juice is used as a cure for cough. The young fresh leaves are used as bandage for rheumatic joint. The dried bark and leaves are used for smoking in water pipes (Fluka) for asthma and cough. The milky latex contain calotropin, uscharin, calotxin and calactin.

Family:                   Asclepiadaceae
Botanical Name:     Sarcostemma viminale (Linn.) R. Br.
Local Name:          Soma

The roots called satar is ground and applied to snake bite and an infusion of it is taken as a remedy against mad dog bite. The stem is used to extirpate white ants.

Family:                   Asclepiadaceae
Botanical Name:     Sarcostemma acidum (Roxb)
Local Name:          Soma, Khir khimp
stem, root, whole plant, alternative cooling agent. Voigt.

Family:                   Ateraceae
Botanical Name:     Pulicaria crispa Benth.
Local Name:          Bul
The bruised leaves are applied to the head to relieve headache.

Family:                   Ateraceae
Botanical Name:     Dicoma tomentosa Cass
Local Name:          Vajrdanti
Root, plant, used as a febrifuge, for putrescent wounds and roots used as toothbrush.

Family:                   Boraginaceae
Botanical Name:     Heliotropium eichwaldi Steud.
Local Name:          Uthchara
The leaves rolled up and put into the ear are said to cure earache.

Family:                   Boraginaceae
Botanical Name:     Heliotropium strigosum Wild.
Local NameKali Bui
Plant, used as a laxative and for pain in limbs, sore eyes, foils, ulcers and wounds.

Family:                   Burseraceae
Botanical Name:     Commiphora wightii (Arm)
Local Name:          Guggle, Gugal, Bhandari.

Root is the source of a very important drug known as "gugal" or ldian Bellium, a gum-resin that exudes from the branches. It largely used as an incense, in medicine and perfumery. It is also used to adulterate myrrh. The gum is used medicinally. It so forms one of the ingredients of incense. It is used as a tooth brush and is said to strengthen the gums and as a cure, for indigestion, urinary discharges, urinary concretions, mcoderma, tumors, inflammations, tubercular glands in the neck, tridosha. It has also been reported useful in ascites, asthma, troubles of the chest and for bad discharge from ears. The gum is demulcent, aperient, carminative and especially useful in nervous disease, scrofulous affectious, urinary, disorders and skin diseases. It is also said to regulate mansturation.

Family:                   Burseraceae
Botanical Name:     Boswellia serrate Roxb. ex
Local Name:          Shallaki
Plant, gum, diaphoretic, diuretic, for rheumatism, Colebr. virous disorders and skin diseases.

Family:                   Cactaceae
Botanical Name:     Opuntia elation Mill.
Local Name:          Vidara, Thuar.
Plant, leaves, plant are antibiotic and used for whooping) cough, as a purgative and for ophthalmia.

Family:                   Caesalpiniaceae
Botanical Name:     Cassia senna Linn.
Local Name:          Senna-i-mkki
It is an effective laxative drug used commonly as medicine by the local druggists. Dried leaves are valuable having cathartic properties and are used in biliousness, gout, rheumatism, skin diseases and against intestinal worms. The roots and the leaves are also used in rheumatic pain, the pods are cathartic.

Family:                   Cappataceae
Botanical Name:     Capparis decidua (Forsk.) Edgew.
Local Name:          Karira
Leaves, bark, fruit and root used for boils, swellings, cough, asthma, cardiac troubles, rheumatism and as diaphoretic.

Family:                   Capridaceae
Botanical Name:     Capparis decidua (Forssk.)Edgow
Local NameKirrar or Kiral
Carminative and aphrodisiac tonic are prepared from its bark. It improves the appetite and is good for the treatment of rheumatism, lumbago, cough and asthma. The young shoots are very efficacious in relieving toothache, when chewed. The fruit is edible and have anti-diahoric property. It is said that juice of the stem is good for the growth of hairs on the bald head; moreover it has anti-dandruff effect.

Family:                   Capridaceae
Botanical Name:     Cleome brachycarpa Vahl ex. DC.
Local Name:          Ponwar, Kasturi
The leaves of the plant are very bitter in taste; it is considered good for skin disease caused by mites, marked by itching, rheumatism and inflammations. Leaves are said to be beneficial in leucoderma (Unani). Plant is considered as a useful medicine for persons suffering from heat, it is also used to cure worms in camel's nose.

Family:                   Capridaceae
Botanical Name:     Gyandropsis gynnandra Linn. (Brig.)
Local Name:          Hurhuria, Karalia.
The roots are said to cure stomachache, good in ascites, tumors, ulcers, pain, spleen enlargement and bilious fevers. The leaves are applied externally to boils to prevent the formation of pus. In Indo-China the plant is used as an anti-scorbutic. The green leaves applied to the skin and said to be useful against blister. Leaves are also used against rheumatism. The seeds are also given for stomach.

Family:                   Celastraceae
Botanical Name:     Maytenus senegaIensis (Lihn.) Exell
Local Name:          Hekel, Malkagni.
The roots and bark is used locally to treat dysentery. An oil extract from the seed is known as Oleum Nigrum or Black Oil having some medicinal values. Leaves ashes mixed with Ghee form an ointment used to heel sore.

Family:                   Chenopodiaceae
Botanical Name:     Haloxylon recurvum (Moq.) Gunge ex Boiss. Local Name:          Khar
Plant, used to treat intestinal ulcers.

Family:                   Convoluvulaceae
Botanical Name:     Cressa cretica Linn
Local Name:          Rudanti, Bokari
Leaves, root, seeds, used as tonic, aphrodisiac, expectorant and antibilious medication.

Family:                   Cucurbitaceae
Botanical Name:     Citrullus colocynthis (Linn.)
Local Name:          Mahendra varuni
Seeds, roots, used as a purgative and for ascites, Schrad. jaundice and rheumatism.

Family:                   Elatinaceae
Botanical Name:     Bergia suffruticosa (Delile)
Local Name:          Rohwan Fenzl.
It is used in cleaning teeth and applied to broken bones. The leaves rubbed down in water were used as a poultice for sores.

Family:                   Euphorbiaceae
Botanical Name:     Euphorbia caducifolia
Local NameThor,   Haines
Young branches, smoke from burning of young twigs inhaled to cure asthma.

Family:                   Euphorbiaceae
Botanical Name:     Euphorbia neriifolia Linn.
Local Name:          Danda Thor
The milky juice is used as a cure for cough and is applied to the skin as cure for blister.

Family:                   Euphorbiaceae
Botanical Name:     Phyllanthus nirurii Linn.
Local Name:          Bhui amla
The roots pounded and mixed with commiphora nukui is given to camels suffering from indigestion.

Family:                   Euphorbiaceae
Botanical Name:     Ricinus communis Linn.
Local Name:          Arand, Arandi
The seeds are counter irradiant; used in the scorpion sting and as fish poison. The seed oil (Caster oil) is used as a purgative. Leaves are applied as poultice to boils and relieve pain from joints. The seeds is used as contraceptive (for family planning).

Family:                   Fabaceae (Leguminosae)
Botanical Name:     Acacia nilotica Linn.
Local Name:          Kikar, Babul
Young leaves are applied to sore eyes in children and also used against the asthma.

Family:                   Fabaceae (Leguminosae)
Botanical Name:     Acacia senegal (Linn.) Wind.
Local Name:          Svetakhadira, Khair.
Plant gum, used as a demulcent and emulsifying agent to treat skin inflammations.

Family:                   Fabaceae (Leguminosae)
Botanical Name:     Butea monosperma (Lamk.) Taub.
Local Name:          Palasha
Plant, flowers, seeds, used as an astringent and anthelmintic, for checking roundworms and tapeworms.

Family:                   Fabaceae (Leguminosael
Botanical Name:     Crotalaria burhia Buch-Ham
Local Name:          Shimio
Branches, leaves, used as a coolant.

Family:                   Fabaceae (Leguminosae)
Botanical Name:     Crotalaria medicagenia Lamk
Local Name:          Gugario
whole plant, used as a tonic.

Family:                   Fabaceae (Leguminosae)
Botanical Name:     Dichrostachys cinerea (Linn)
Local Name:          Viravriksha
Root, stem, used as an astringent and to treat rheumatism and eye diseases.

Family:                   Fabaceae (Leguminosae)
Botanical Name:     Mimosa rubicaulis Lamk.
Local Name:          Shiah-kanta
Leaves, roots, plant, used to treat piles and applied to burns, root ash powder used to check vomiting.

Family:                   Fabaceae (Leguminosae)
Botanical Name:     Mimosa hamata Willd.
Local Name:          Arati, Arkar.
It is use as a tonic for weakness.

Family:                   Fabaceae (Leguminosae)
Botanical Name:     Prosopis cineraria (Linn.)
Local Name:          Sharni, Khejri, Jand, Kandi.
Flowers, fruits, bark, branches, used to treat rheumatism and by women during pregnancy as a safeguard against miscarriage.

Family:                   Fabaceae (Leguminosae)
Botanical Name:     Prosopis glandulosa Torr.
Local Name:          Devi
The paste prepared by grinding of leaf and fruits is applied to relieve the pains of broken bones. This paste is also use for sores caused by nails, prickles or other sharp objects.

Family:                   Flacourtiaceae
Botanical Name:     Flacourtia sepiaria Roxb.
Local Name:          Pracinamaloka
Root, bark, leaves, used for snake bite and as a liniment for gout and rheumatism.

Family:                   Flacourtiaceae
Botanical Name:     Securinega leucopyrus (Willd) Muell
Local Name:          Svetakamboja
Leaves, whole plant, used to destroy worms in sores and as fish poison.

Family:                   Gentianaceae
Botanical Name:     Enicostemma hyssopifolium (Willd) Verdoorn
Local Name:          Nandho, Chirayata
The plant is crushed and applied locally against snake bite. It has some medicinal value.

Family:                   Labiatae
Botanical Name:     Ocimum sanctum Linn.
Local Name:          Tulsi
The seeds are taken with milk as a tonic and decoction of them with Potash in water is used as cooling drink in fever. A bunch of plant hug in the corner of a room to attract the mosquitoes. The juice of the leaves is applied on Catarrhal affection in children; juice of the leaves is also used for the treatment of ring worms in kids.

Family:                   Lamiaceae (Labiatae)
Botanical Name:     Leucas cephalotus (Roth.) Sprang
Local Name:          Gono
whole plant, used to treat fever and pain in joints.

Family:                   Lamiaceae (Labiatae)
Botanical Name:     Leucas utricaefalia Vahl.
Local Name:          Paniharai
Whole plant, used to treat colds, fever and gartrointestinal troubles.

Family:                   Menispermaceae
Botanical Name:     Anamitra cocculus Linn.
Local Name:          Kakamari
Whole plant, fruit, used for the treatment of inflamed surfaces and as fish poison, fruit used as an antidote for poisoning, occurrence of picrotoxin reported.

Family:                   Menispermaceae
Botanical Name:     Cocculus pendulus (J.RA G. Forst) Dials.
Local Name:          Llarbillar
The juice of the leaves mixed with water has the property of coagulating into green jelley like substance which is taken orally with sugar as a tonic. The roots and leaves are used in rheumatic pains. Leaves have the property of preventing the milk from becoming sour and it also thickens the milk.

Family:                   Molluginaceae
Botanical Name:     Mollugo nudicaulis Lamk.
Local Name:          Rangatio khar
Leaves, whole plant, applied to boils to draw out pus and used for whooping cough and athrepy.

Family:                   Papaveraceae
Botanical Name:     Argernone mexicana Linn.
Local Name:          Peela Ohatoora Sial kanta
The juice is used in eyes infection and a rheumatic pains. The juice of the plants is used in dropsy, jaundice, skin disease and snake bites.

Family:                   Papilonaceae
Botanical Name:     Alhaji camelorum Fisch
Local Name:          Athariyum, Farakiyan, Javasa. Kas, Kashandero, Usturkhar.
It is good for the removal of excess fat and is used to cure the brain afflictions, Leprosy, skin disease and bronchitis. It allays thrust, improves appetite and is useful epistaxis. Arail from the leaves is used for rheumatism. The flowers are good for piles. The plant is aperient cholagogue, expectorant diuretic, fattening and aphrodisiac. It purifies the blood, stop vomiting and small pox eruptions. The plant is smoked with black Dhatora, tobacco and ajwain seeds as a remedy for asthma. A decoction of the roots is made and used externally for swellings.

Family:                   Pedaliaceae
Botanical Name:     Pedalium murex Linn.
Local Name:          Wilayati gokhru, Bara gokhru, Farid buti.
It has the property of thickening water, leaves and branches, when briskly stirred in cold water yield a thick mucilage similar to the white of raw egg. The fruit is said to be antiseptic, aphrodisiac and diuretic.

Family:                   Poaceae (Gramineae)
Botanical Name:     Chionachne koenigii (Sprang) Thw.
Local Name:          Kanda.
Whole plant, toxic, emetic, used to treat diseases of the blood, biliousness and hemorrhagic diathesis.

Family:                   Poaceae (Gramineae)
Botanical Name:     Cymbopogan jwarancusa (Jones) Schutt,
Local Name:          Lamajjaka.
Root, whole plant, used to purify blood, as a tonic and to treat cough and rheumatism.

Family:                   Poaceae (Gramineae)
Botanical Name:     Desmostachya bipinnata (Linn.) Stapf.
Local Name:          Darbha.
Plant used to treat dysentery and menorrhagia and as a stimulant.

Family:                   Rhamnaceae
Botanical Name:     Zizyphus nummufaria (Burm.f)Wt.
Local Name:          Badari.
Leaves, fruits, roots, used for curing scabies, boils, bilious affections, old wounds and ulcers.

Family:                   Rubiaceae
Botanical Name:     Morinda citrifolia Linn.
Local Name:          Ashyuka.
Root, leaves, fruits, stimulant, used for fever, epilepsy, rheumatism, diseases of the liver and spleen, dysentery and leukorrhea.

Family:                   Salvadoraceae
Botanical Name:     Salvadara oleoides Decne.
Local Name:          Pilu,
Fruits, leaves, seeds, used as a purgative aphrodisiac and for treating rheumatism.

Family:                   Salvadoraceae
Botanical Name:     Salvadora persica Linn.
Local Name:          Brihatpilu, Khabar Pilu.
Leaves, bark, fruits, used to treat asthma, cough, rheumatism and as a stimulant and tonic.

Family:                   Simaroubaceae
Botanical Name:     Ailanthus excelsa Roxb.
Local Name:          Mahanimba.
Bark, used as febrifuge and tonic for chronic bronchitis, diarrhea and dysentery, ailantic acid present, decoction of leaves used in menstrual disorders.

Family:                   Simaroubaceae
Botanical Name:     Balanites aegyptiaca (Linn.)
Local Name:          Ingudi, Hingot.
Seeds, bark, whole plant, used to treat cough and colic and as antihelmintic and purgative, juice used as fish poison, whole plant used for snake bite, plant ash used for dermatosis, urinary diseases and for rejuvenation, a source of diosgenin.

Family:                   Solanaceae
Botanical Name:     Lycium deppressum Stocks
Local Name:          Chirchita, Ganger.
The leaves pounded and mixed with ghee are applied to abscesses. The bark of the wood is pounded and the powder is blown into the nostrils of horses for treating bronchitis. The berries are aphrodisiac.

Family:                   Solanaceae
Botanical Name:     Solanum albicaule ex Dunal.
Local Name:          Kotschly Katyia.
The water in which crushed plant has been boiled is taken against the ulcers.

Family:                   Solanaceae
Botanical Name:     Solanum surattense Burm.
Local Name:          Kateli, Bhatkatiya, Kundiari, Momoli Mokri.
The plant parts are of medicinal importance, roots, being used variously as an expectorant, juice of berries is useful in sore throat and leaves are applied to relieve local pain.

Family:                   Tamariceae
Botanical Name:     Tamarix troupii Hole.
Local Name:          Jahuro.
Bark, branches, fruits, used to treat dysentery and as a laxative and expectorant.

Family:                   Tiliaceae
Botanical Name:     Corchorus depressus Linn.
Local Name:          Bah Phali, Bahu phali, Babuna.
The plant is deemed to help in removing tumors and pains and cures piles. The plant has tonic properties, It is given as a cooling medicine in fevers. The seeds in decoction with milk and sugar are given as a tonic. This plant is sold by the herbalists and Ayurvedic doctors, under the name of Munderi. The leaves are used as an emollient and cooling agent. Mucilage is used for the treatment of the gonorrhea and a decoction of them is efficacious in skin eruptions.

Family:                   Tiliaceae
Botanical Name:     Grewia tenax (Forsk.) Fiori.
Local Name:          Gangan.
Wood, stem. used to treat cough and pain in sides.

Family:                   Verbenaceae
Botanical Name:     Clerodendrum phlomidis Linn.f.
Local Name:          Vataghni.
Root, leaves, whole plant, source of a bitter tonic used for neglected syphilitic complaints.

Family:                   Verbenaceae
Botanical Name:     Vitex negundo Linn.
Local Name:          Nirgud, Nirgundi.
Its leaves are sometimes used for curing inflammatory swellings of joints and headache. An infusion of the seed is used for the rheumatism of the joint. The leaves are used as tonic and cure for intestinal worms.

Family:                   Verbenaceae
Botanical Name:     Clerodendrom phlomidis Linn.
Local Name:          Irni, Arni,
The root is given as a demulcent in gonorrhea. It helps in curing stomach troubles and swelling in cattles. The leaves are applied locally against guinea worm.

Family:                   Zygophyllaceae.
Botanical Name:     Tribulus terrestris Linn.
Local Name:          Gokhru, Tirkundi.
The plant is used as a diuretic, tonic. The plant is used in painful micturition, urinary disorder cough and heart diseases and stimulant for sexual activity. The aqueous decoction of the whole plant is used in preparation of a medicine, useful in male impotency and in promoting the formation of motile sperms.


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