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Some Sacred Plants of Andaman and Nicobar Islands, India

Fouziya Saleem, R. B. Yadav and Lal Ji Singh

  • Page No:  081 - 087
  • Published online: 28 Feb 2022
  • DOI: HTTPS://DOI.ORG/10.23910/2/2022.0442

  • Abstract
  •  fouziyasaleem93@gmail.com

The present paper describes the sacred plants and their medicinal uses in Andaman and Nicobar Islands based on intense surveys. A total of 42 sacred plant species are found in close vicinity of people of these Islands and somehow linked with God and goddess and are used in variety of ceremonies throughout the year by the various Communities.

Keywords :   Biodiversity, conservation, traditional beliefs, tribes, worship practices

  • Introduction

    The Andaman and Nicobar Islands are rich and unique phytogeographical region in India with higher number of endemism (Singh et al., 2014; 2020 a, b, 2021a, b; Singh and Misra; 2020; Singh; 2021). It is divided in to two groups of Islands, Andaman and Nicobar. The Nicobar groups of Islands are separated from Andaman group by 10° channels. The Andaman groups of Islands are inhabited by Negroit stock tribes viz. Great Andamanese, Onges, Sentinelese and Jarawa. The population of Great Andamanese and Onges are dwindling and they have been rehabilitated on the strait Island and Little Andaman Islands respectively. Sentinelese occupying the North Sentinel Island is still hostile. The Jarawa inhabit the Jarawa reserve located along the western parts of the South and Middle Andamans. The Nicobar groups of Islands are inhabited by the Mongoloid stock tribe’s viz. Nicobarese and Shompens. The former is now in the mainstream while the latter represent another dwindling tribe. The Ranchi and Karens are the tribal communities of mainland India and Myanmar, respectively. They were brought here for timber extraction work during the British period. They inhabit the remote areas of Andaman Islands and have vast knowledge of plants along with traditional uses. Although tribals people of these islands are partially or completely depend on forest resources. The documentation of plants with their traditional uses in these Islands has been done time to time by various workers (Bhargava, 1981; 1983; Chakraborty and Rao, 1988; Lakara et al., 2012; Singh and Murugan, 2014; Ranjan et al., 2014; Mishra et al., 2016; Singh et al., 2016; Saleem et al., 2019). Other than tribes, rural people have a close relationship with nature and are also fully dependent upon forests for food, fruits, fodder, and for their healthcare (Singh et al., 2016). This traditional worship practices and traditional beliefs show the symbiotic relation of human beings and nature and will act as conserving tool for biodiversity.

  • Materials and Methods

    The present study is based on surveys that are carried out during the year 2016-2019 to find out traditionally worshipping plants which are used in various religious activities. The information regarding traditionally worshipping plants was collected through consulting the local people through interviews, discussions and own observations during worship by local peoples. Many areas were visited to interact with people and gathered information on sacred plants. The plant species were collected and identified with the help of Herbarium sheets deposited in PBL and data were arranged alphabetically with botanical names followed by Family, local names, and sacred significance and Medicinal uses of plants.

  • Results and Discussion

    The authors found that numbers of plants have associated with sacred beliefs and religious importance in the Islands and are of great medicinal values. This study revealed about 42 plants species are belonging to 42 genera and 29 families (Table 1). The dominant families of sacred interest are Fabaceae and Apocynaceae (4), Poaceae (3), Arecaceae, Malvaceae, Moraceae, Solanaceae, Rutaceae and Oleaceae (2) and remaining families contributed one species.

  • Conclusion

    Peoples of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands are associated with traditional worship practices which indicate that plants are always associated with human beings and hence used in various religious activities and traditional medicine practices. The religious aspects of plants of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands are not much explored. Therefore, it is need of the hour to conserve the traditional knowledge and also to pass on this to our present and future generations effectively. The religious customs protect the forests where deities reside which can be preserved as sacred grooves.

  • Acknowledgement

    The authors are thankful to Dr. A. A. Mao, Director, Botanical Survey of India, Kolkata for his constant support. The authors express their deep sense of gratitude to the local people, villagers, and temple Archakas of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands of India for their help to find out the local name, sacred value and medicinal importance of plants and also for facilitating the help sharing their time and knowledge for the documentation of Ethnobotanical studies of sacred plants.


  • Bhargava, N., 1981. Plants folk life and folklore in Andaman and Nicobar Islands. In: Glimpses of Indian Ethnobotany (ed. Jain S.K.) Oxford & IBH Publication, New Delhi 329−344.

    Bhargava, N.,1983. Ethnobotanical Studies of the tribes of Andaman and Nicobar Islands, India. Economic Botany37(1), 110−119.

    Chakraborty, T., Vasudeva Rao, M.K., 1988. Ethnobotanical Studies of the Shompen of Great Nicobar Island. Journal of Economic and Taxonomic Botany 12, 43−54.

    Lakara, G.S., Singh, L.J.,  Kamble, M.Y., Murugan, C., 2012. Andaman Va Nicobar Dweep Samooh Ki Kuchcha Upyogi Vanspatiya. Vanspati Vani21,  35−40.

    Mishra, S., Ekka, G.A., Ranjan, V., Singh, L.J., 2016. Role of DEGCA, BSI garden in conservation of medicinal plant diversity of Andaman and Nicobar Islands, India In: Chourasia, H.K. (Ed.), Conservation of Medicinal Plants Conventional and Modern Approaches. Omega Publications, New Delhi, 95-108.

    Ranjan, V., Singh, L.J., Kumar, B., Singh, S.C., 2014. Medicinal Trees of Andaman and Nicobar Islands. In: Nat. Conf. On Islands Biodiversity, U P State Biodiversity Board, Lucknow 99-104.

    Saleem, F., Jha, S.K.,  Mishra, S., Singh, L.J., 2019.An Ethnobotanical survey of plants used by ranchi community for skin diseases in South Andaman District of Andaman and Nicobar Islands. In: Das, A.K. Gupta, A., Gupta, S., Singha, H. (Eds). Recent Research in Ethnobiology & Biodiversity Conservation in India. Assam University, Silchar, 24−35.

    Singh, L.J., Murugan, C., 2014. Seed plant species diversity and conservation in Dhanikhari Experimental Garden-cum-Arboretum in Andaman and Nicobar Islands, India.–  In: Nehra, S., Gothwal, R.K., Ghosh, P., (Eds.), Biodiversity in India: Assessment, Scope and Conservation. 253−280. Germany:-Lambert Academic Publishing, Heinrich-Bocking-Str. Saarbruken.

    Singh, L.J., Murugan, C., Singh, P., 2014. Plant genetic diversity of endemic species in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands – In: Nat. Conf. On Islands Biodiversity, U. P. State Biodiversity Board, Lucknow, 49−57.

    Singh, L.J.,Ekka, G.A, Mishra, S., 2016.  Ethnobotanical uses of Plants in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, India In: Chourasia, H.K., Roy, A.K. (Eds.), Conservation, Cultivation, Disease and Therapeutic Importance of Medicinal and Aromatic Plants) Today and Tomorrow’s, Printers and Publishers, New Delhi. 165−179.

    Singh, L.J., 2021. Septemeranthus (Loranthaceae), a new monotypic genus from the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, India and its relationship with allied genera. Feddes Repertorium 132(3), 193−203

    Singh, L.J.,  Misra, D.R.,2020:  Reappraisal of the genus Cycas L. (Cycadaceae) in Andaman and Nicobar Islands, India. – Indian Journal of Forestry 43(1),46-57.

    Singh, L.J., Ekka, G.A., Sanjay Mishra, S., Vivek, C.P., Shankar, V.S. Naik, M.C., Saleem, F., 2020a: Habitat status of Musa paramjitiana L.J. Singh (Musaceae): a critically endangered, endemic species in Andaman and Nicobar Islands, India. – Pleione14(1), 121−127.

    Singh, L.J., Dwivedi, M.D., Kasana, S., Naik, M.C.,  Ekka, G.A., Pandey, A.K., 2020b. Molecular systematics of the genus Musa L. (Zingiberales: Musaceae) in Andaman and Nicobar Islands. Biologia  https://doi.org/10.2478/s11756-020-00552-5.

    Singh, L.J., Ekka, G.A., Vivek, C.P., Misra, D.R., 2021a. Gymnosperms of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands: An Overview. In: Singh, L.J., Ranjan, V. (Eds.), New vistas in Indian flora. Dehra Dun, India, 1, 265−278.

    Singh, L.J.,Ranjan, V., Sinha, B.K., Mishra, S., Purohit, C.S., Vivek C.P., Naik, M.C., Ekka, G.A., 2021b. An Overview of Phytodiversity of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, India. In: Singh L.J., Ranjan V. (eds.), New vistas in Indian flora, Dehra Dun, India, 1, 383−402.


Saleem F, Yadav RB, Singh LJ. Some Sacred Plants of Andaman and Nicobar Islands, India IJEP [Internet]. 28Feb.2022[cited 8Feb.2022];9(1):081-087. Available from: http://www.pphouse.org/ijep-article-details.php?art=316

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