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Chapter: 11 th 12th std standard Bio Botany plant tree Biology Higher secondary school College Notes

Commonly available medicinal plants and microbes

1. Acalypha indica 2. Aegle marmelos 3. Cissus quadrangularis 4. Mimosa pudica 5. Solanum nigrum



1.        Acalypha indica


It belongs to Euphorbiaceae. The vernacular name of A. indica in tamil is kuppaimeni, poonamayakki and its trade name is Indian Acalypha.


It is a common herb growing upto 75 cm tall with ovate leaves. Flowers are green, unisexual found in catkin inflorescence.


The paste obtained from the leaves of this plant is applied to burns. The juice extracted from the leaves, mixed with lime and applied on skin to cure diseases caused by ringworms. Fresh juice of leaves mixed with oil and salt is used for Rheumatoid arthritis and to cure scabies. Powdered leaves are used to cure bedsores and infected wounds. The active medicinal compounds like Acalyphine and Triacetoneamine are extracted from this plant. They contain cyanogenic glucoside and alkaloids.


2.        Aegle marmelos


It belongs to Rutaceae. The vernacular name of A. marmelos in tamil, is vilvam. It's trade name is baer fruit. It is an aromatic tree growing 6 to 7.5 metres tall with long branches. Bark is grey with peeling type. Leaves are trifoliate or pentafoliate. Leaflets are ovate. Flowers are sweet scented with greenish white in colour and are borne on axillary panicles. Marmelosin, coumarin and triterpenoids are responsible for medicinal activity.


The unripe fruit is used to treat problems of stomach indigestion. It kills intestinal parasites. It is used also to cure chronic diarrhoea and dysentery. It is used as a tonic for the betterment of heart and brain.


3.        Cissus quadrangularis


It belongs to Vitaceae. The vernacular name of C. quadrangularis in tamil is as pirandai and its trade name is 'Hadjor' - bone joiner. It is a common shrub with tendrils. Its stem is angular, winged and contracted at nodes. Leaves are simple, ovate or kidney shaped and thick leathery. Coiled tendrils are found opposite to the leaves. Steroids like prescene and tetracyclic triterpenoids are the active chemicals present in this plant.


The paste obtained from the powdered stem and root of this plant is used in bone fractures. Whole plant is useful to treat asthma and stomach troubles. Stem is useful in the treatment of piles and its juice is used to treat bleeding of nose.


4.        Mimosa pudica


It belongs to Mimosaceae. The vernacular name of M. pudica in tamil is 'Thottal chinungi or Thottal surungi'. Its common english name is Touch-Me-Not plant. It is a small herb with prickles which are erect or curved. Leaflets are arranged in two rows containing 15 to 20 pairs. Leaves are sensitive to touch. Flowers are pink and found in axillary heads.


A decoction of the root obtained from this plant is used to relieve asthma and diarrhoea. This plant is also useful for curing piles, minor skin wounds and whooping cough. Mimosine, an alkaloid is extracted from this plant.


5.        Solanum nigrum


It belongs to Solanaceae. The vernacular name of S. nigrum in tamil is manithakkali or manathakkali. Its trade name is black night shade. It is an annual, erect, much branched and unarmed herb growing upto one metre tall. Leaves are ovate without hairs. Flowers white borne on extra axillary cymes. Fruits are globose and black coloured berry.


The extract of this herb is effective in the treatment of liver disorders like cirrhosis of liver. This plant also cures fever, dysentery and promotes urination. Active medicinal compounds like solanin and saponin are extracted from this plant.


Microbes in medicine


Microbes like bacteria and fungi produce antibiotics. The substance produced by a living organism, which inhibits the growth and metabolic activities of pathogenic organisms (mostly bacteria) without affecting the metabolism of host is called an antibiotic. Penicillin, streptomycin, aureomycin and chloromycetin are some of the examples for antibiotics.


Penicillin is a well known antibiotic obtained from the blue green mold called Penicillium notatum. When it is grown in culture medium, the mycelium excretes an antibiotic substance called penicillin. The crude penicillin is recovered, purified and dehydrated. It is effective against gram-positive bacteria like Pneumonia bacteria. Streptomycin is obtained from the filamentous bacterium, Streptomyces griseus, an actinomycetes. It cures urinary infections, tuberculosis, meningitis and pneumonia. Aureomycin is obtained from actinomycetes, Streptomyces aureofaciens. It is used as a medicine in the osteomyelitis, whooping cough and eye infections. Chloromycetin is obtained from the actinomycete, Streptomyces venezuelae. It kills bacillus form of bacteria and cures typhoid fever. Aspergillus fumigatus produces antibiotic which is used against typhoid and dysentery. Other group of microorganism like bacteria is also known to produce many antibiotics. Bacillus subtilis produces 60 different antibiotics. Bacitracin is an antibiotic obtained from Bacillus licheniformis and it is used to treat syphilis. It is useful in the control of sugar for persons suffering from diabetes. Through genetic manipulation, and introduction of human gene for insulin production, the bacterium E. coli is articulated to produce human insulin called 'humulin'.


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