ETHNOBOTANICAL STUDIES ON MEDICINAL PLANT: CHITRAK From: Santosh Sharma and Ashwani Kumar, Department of Botany University of Rajasthan, Jaipur, 302004 - India [] Introduction Chitrak (Plumbago zeylanica L. - Plumbaginaceae) has traditionally been used by rural and tribal people in traditional system of medicine,and also in Ayurveda. It is a perennial shrub with rambling branches (Chopra, 1933). Leaves ovate with bisexual flowers. The root is light yellow, when dry, internal colour is brown, fracture short,taste acrid and biting. Beacause of its stimulatory property, it is used by different tribes in various ways as stimulant. Case studies The tribe Lodhas which inhabit in larger part of Rajasthan use a piece of root (about 3 cm long) for causing abortion upto 3 to 4 months of pregnancy (placing of root in genital organ for more than three hrs creates abscess). They apply root bark paste with decoction of long peppers 3:2 ratio in venereal diseases. They apply root bark paste after warming for treatment of Leucoderma and give root decoction with cow milk 1:1 ratio for treatment of fever. The tribe Mundas boil root in mustard oil and apply that oil for treatment of rheumatism and massage paste of stem bark in mustard oil for treatment of paralysis (Salomi-Topno et al, 1998). Santals tribe give root paste with stem bark paste of Dant-rang (Eretia laevis) (3:2) to women as abortifacient (Joshi, 1993). They apply stem bark as cure for piles and prescribe stem bark decoction with paste of black peppers and common salt (5:3:2) as appetizer. Oraons tribe use root to cauterize snake bite wound and give orally root paste to patients and believe that is patient passes stool, he or she is safe (Jain,1991). Folk women of different parts of Assam use root pieces for permanent sterlizition. It shows antifertility effects. The tongas and shangaans use the root as a leprosy remedy. The powered material is taken internally and applied locally. Other ethnic communities give root decoction with cow milk 1:5 against body ache. Different tribes apply root juice for creating blisters on body for soliciting sympathy. They use root decoction as antiscabies. In Japan and Phillipines root is used for causing abortion. In Tanzania root with other plant parts is used on tumors. In West Africa and Ghana root is used as vesican. The plant is used as vulnery in new Calidonia. In the gold coast, the roots are used as an enema to cure piles. Chitrak has been used by the tribal and non tribal rural folks for the treatment of different kinds of ailments of their domestic animals having stomach troubles (Sikawar, 1994). A cold infusion is used in influenza and black water fever and juice is used as a tatoo dyes in Africa. In west Africa, the root is traditinally mixed with okra (Hibiscus esculentus ) to treat leprosy. In Nepal a decoction of the root is used to treat baldness. This plant also has important role in Ayurvedic medicinal system of India. The root and root bark and bitter, hot, dry stomachic, carminative, astringent to the bowels, anthelmintic, alterative to cure intestinal troubles, dysentary, leucoderma, inflamation, piles, bronchitis, vata and kapha, itching, diseases of the liver, consumption, ascites, "tridosha" good in anemia (Ayurveda) (Kirtikar and Basu, 1981). The root has bitter taste bechic laxative, expectorant. stomachic, tonic abortifacient, alexipharmic, good appetizer, useful in laryngitis, rheumatism, diseases of the spleen, leucoderma, ring worm, scabies. The leaves are caustic, vesicant, aphrodisiac, good for scabies(Yunani) (Sharma, 1996). A ticture of the root bark has been employed as an antiperiodic . It acts as powerful sudarific. During the present investigations, it was found that different medicinal system, tribal and non tribal are utilizing this plant to cure different ailments in various ways. Like the other various aspects, ethnobotany offer vast scope for medicinal reserach in modern values. The plant species which are common in tribal and indigenous system of medicine with thier local names , distribution provide scientific evaluation and wider applications. References Chopra, R. N. 1933. Indigenous drugs of India. Academic publishers. New Delhi. Dwarkan, P. Algesaboopathi, C. 1998. Ethnoveterinary studies on Kolli hills of Tamil Nadu Flora and Fauna. Jhansi. Jain, S.K. 1991. Dictionary of Indian medicine and ethnobotany. Deep publication, New Delhi. Joshi, P. 1993 Ethnobotany of the tribal communities of Kumaon. India. Ph.D. thesis. Kumaon University Nainital. Kirtikar, K. and B.D. Basu. B. D. 1981. Indian medicinal plants. Taj offset press, New Delhi. Sharma, P.V. 1996. Classical uses of medicinal plants. Chauk hamba Vishwa Bharti, Varanasi. Sikawar, R. L. S. 1994. Ethnoveterinary plant medicine in Morena district of MP. Lucknow, India