We have an electronic database on the medicinal botanicals used in the Indian health traditions, which is perhaps the most comprehensive database on the medicinal plants of India. It links the botanical names of more than 6,500 medicinal plant species with over 2,00,000 vernacular names in 30 different Indian languages along with tags of different Indian medical systems like Ayurveda, Siddha, Unani and Folk linked to each botanical entity. The entire data incorporated in this database has detailed published references.
The database captures data relating to the geographical distribution and also incorporates Eco-geographic distribution maps for species of conservation concern developed on GIS platform. These maps depicting the specific locations of occurrence of the species along with layers of ecological parameters like altitude, rainfall, vegetation type etc. present the correlation of natural occurrences with the ecological conditions thus guiding informed action for conservation and resource augmentation. More than 20000 images of specific medicinal plant entities have also been incorporated and properly linked to the respective botanical entities.
It also incorporates data relating to the propagation methods and pharmacology wherever available for the botanical entity. This database has been designed and built up over last 20 years and it is still growing.
The Ayurveda database captures the Ayurvedic pharmacology of around 2000 medicinal plant species and incorporates interpreted “Shlokas” from the classical literature of Ayurveda spanning a period extending over 1500 BC to 1900 AD. The Ayurvedic pharmacology has a very different set of parameters as compared to the modern chemistry and biology and incorporates parameters like Rasa, Virya, Vipaka, Dosha-Karma, Dhatu-karma etc. which refer to the in vivo properties of the botanicals at the level of tissues, anabolic, metabolic and neurological functions, disease management and pharmacy. This database also incorporates detailed referencing of the classical texts.
We have pioneered the innovative idea of establishing a network of Medicinal Plants Conservation Areas (MPCAs) across different states of the country to promote insitu conservation of wild medicinal plant resources. This effort over the last 20 years, in collaboration with the State Forest Departments and Ministry of Environment, Forests & Climate Change of Govt. of India, has resulted in establishment of 108 insitu conservation sites across 12 states of the country so far. This is one of the most innovative programme for promoting insitu conservation of medicinal plants across the tropical world. The precise location of each of these 108 MPCAs, averaging around 200 hectares and harbouring wild breeding populations of medicinal plants of conservation concern, has been mapped and detailed floristic surveys have been carried out to inventorize the presence and populations of medicinal plant species. This network of MPCAs is functioning as a catalyst for promoting informed conservation action as well as resource augmentation of critical medicinal plant resources of India.
Establishment of a National repository of Indian medicinal plants has been another unique and innovative initiative. It is the only medicinal plants herbarium in the country engaged in field collection, identification and systematic curation of dried plant specimens with more than 40,000 such specimens, representing, more than 3000 species, available for studies and reference. This herbarium has been designed as a bio-cultural herbarium to provide information on vernacular and botanical names of different medicinal plant species, alongside the details of specific locations and their collection. Almost all the native medicinal plants currently in trade represented in our collection. A raw drug repository cataloging and curating more than 3700 samples of traded botanical drugs is an additional feature of our collection.