Medicinal Plants in Meghalaya


Medicinal PlantBecause of the problem of Safety with modern system of medicine, there is increasing global interest in traditional and herbal medicines. According to W H O's (World Health Organisation) report, over 80% of world population relies on traditional medicines, largely plant based, for their primary health care needs. Glimpses of growing Medicinal Plant Sector internationally may be had from the following facts:

Approximately 10 million floral spp.

Approximately 2 million scientifically named

5-15% properly studied

World Health Organisation: 21000 spp. used in 21 countries

Year 2002

  • Global market - US $ 62billion
  • U.S. and western countries - 75%
  • China - 3.0%
  • India - 0.3%

W H O: average annual growth rate of export of medicinal plants between 96-97 to 2000-2001 was 8.9% and it is increasing

65-85% of world's population still relies on herbal medicines to meet its health needs

India, one among 12 Bio-diverse countries of the world, is abode of 45000 floral species, out of which 15000 are those of Medicinal Plants. Approx. 85% to 90% of these come from the wild. Department of I.S.M. and H., Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, Government of India, has identified 1500 medicinal plants of which 500 are commonly used in the preparation of herbal drugs. 150 species have been categorized as endangered. Following are the some of important national attributes that may help in taking advantage of increasing global demand of this sector and also to encourage traditional systems of medicine by the use of Medicinal Plants on sustainable basis:

  • One among 12 mega- biodiverse countries
  • 16 agro climatic zones
  • 2 hotspots: Western- Ghats and North-East
  • 2.5% of total world's area and 8% of recorded global floral spp.
  • 45000 plant spp.-15000 spp. of medicinal plants (Charak samhita and Susruta samhita)
  • 9000 spp. are used in traditional system
  • Indian System of Medicine& Homeopathy (I.S.M. and H.), Min. of Health & Family Welfare, Government of India:
  • 1500 spp. of medicinal plants identified
  • 500 spp. Commonly used in the preparations of herbal drugs
  • 150 spp. Endangered
  • 90% drugs used in I.S.M. and H. is plant based
  • 60-70% population use medicinal plants for primary health care needs
  • 90% medicinal plants used come from the wild
  • India is one of leading exporter after China & U.S.A.
  • U.S.A., Hong Kong & Germany are major markets

Medicinal Plants Resource in Meghalaya

Medicinal Plants in MeghalayaAs per the report of State Level Planning Committee, Meghalaya the State of Meghalaya has 850 species of Medicinal Plants, 377 of which are used by 70% to 80% of the State's population for primary health care needs. Species like Nepenthes khasiana and Piper peepuloides endemic to Meghalaya are globally threatened as per I.U.C.N. Red Data Book. There are approximately 136 practitioners of Local Health Traditions and 15 private clinics of Indian system of Medicines. However, none of these are registered under relevant acts and rules. According to Central Institute of Medicinal and Aromatic Plants, Bangalore, 74 of such medicinal and aromatic plants are of tremendous potential to cater to peoples various need plant based medicines. Moreover, there exist 79 rich repositories of medicinal and aromatic plants in form of hitherto fully unexplored SACRED GROVES. Some of the important medicinal and aromatic plants found in Meghalaya are shown as below:

1 Acorus calamus 21 Litsea cubeba
2 Aristolochia tagala 22 Lycopodium clavatum
3 Artemisia nilagirica 23 Paedaria foetida
4 Cinnamomun bejolghota 24 Passiflora edults
5 Cinnamomun tomala 25 Piper longum
6 Clerodendrum colebraookianum 26 Piper nigrum
7 Clerodendrum serratum 27 Rubia cordifolia
8 Costus speciosus 28 Solanum ferox
9 Curcuma longa 29 Solanum myriacanthum/solanum khasianum
10 Dillenia pentagyma 30 Solanum nigrum
11 Dioscorea alata 31 Solanum toryum
12 Fagopyrum dibotrys 32 Swertia charayita
13 Gloriosa superba 33 Terminalta billirica
14 Gynacardia odorata 34 Terminalia chebula
15 Hedychuim coronarium 35 Viburnum foetidum
16 Hedychium spicatum 36 Zanthoxylum armatum
17 Hedytis scandens 37 zanthoxylumalatum
18 Hibiscus rosa simensis 38 Withania somnifera(Linn.)Dunal
19 Holarrhena antidysenterica 39 Plantago ovata Forsk
20 Hauttuynia cordata 40 Taxus baccata/Taxus wallichiana

Utilization and Management - Current Status

Medicinal and Aromatic plants As mentioned above 85% to 90% of Medicinal and Aromatic plants come from the wild, that is, forests. The forests of the state are largely under the control of Autonomous District Councils (A.D.C.). These forests are subjected to very little or no scientific management. In the government controlled reserved and protected forests, which constitutes about 4.56% of the total geographical area. Medicinal and Aromatic Plants occur in these forests as herbs, shrubs and trees.

Medicinal PlantsMedicinal Plants are generally collected in an unorganized and unscientific manner and used in the state mostly in herbal formulations. Capabilities in the form of 'Good Cultivation and Collection Practices', 'Good Manufacturing and Marketing Practices' etc. are absent in the State. In view of fast growing demand for the medicinal plants for the use in Pharmaceuticals, Neutraceuticals, Cosmatologicals, Dietary Supplements etc. both at National as well as International level, implementation of the projects and the schemes meant for cultivation, collection, R&D, awareness, commercial supply of the medicinal plants for generation of income and employment while ensuring conservation of endemic and threatened species through the sustainable use is the urgent need of the hour. Following species of Medicinal Plants have commercial potentials at all levels:

Highly demanded top 20 medicinal plants traded in India
Serial Number Trade Name Botanical Name Part used
1 Atis Acanitum heteorphyllum, Wall. ex Royle Tuberous roots
2 Meetha Telia/ Bachnag Aconitum violoceum (Jacq.) Stapf Tuberous roots
3 Safed Musali Chlorophytum arundinaceum Baker Tubers
4 Guggul Commiphora wightii (Arn.) Bhandari Resin
5 Nanura/ Mishmibitter Coptis teeta Wall Roots
6 Salam Panja/Salep Dactylorrhiza hattagirea (D.Don) Soo Tubers
7 Vidanga/Baibaranga Embelia ribes Burm f. Fruits
8 Nagkesarc Mesua nagasssrum (Burm f.) Kostern Dry stamens
9 Rampatri/Bombay Mace Myristica malabarica Lam Aril & Mace
10 Jatamansi Nardostachys jatamansi D.C. Rhizomes & Roots
11 Gaozagan Onosma bractearum Wall Flowers
12 Kutki Pycrorrhiza kurooa Royle ex Benth Roots & Rhizomes
13 Kakra-Singi Pistacia integerrina Stewart ex Brandis Galls
14 Sarpagandha Rauvolfia serpentina Benth. ex Kurz Roots
15 Manjishta Rubia cordifolia Linn Roots
16 Chandana/Sandalwood Santalum album Linn Heartwood
17 Chobchini Gulabi Smilax glabra Roxb Roots
18 Chiraiyita Swertia chirayita Karst. Whole Plant
19 Taggar/Mushkbala Valeriana Hardwickia Wall Rhizomes & Roots
20 Banafsha Viola pilosa Blume Flowers

*8 species found in Meghalaya

Need For Government Intervention

Medicinal Plants' Sector offers immense potential for economic activity by providing income-generating opportunities to a very large section of the rural population of the state through the conservation & sustainable use of the natural resources. Success stories of Medicinal Plants based economic enterprise of China and other South-East Asian countries are well known. Northeast India, including Meghalaya has better growing conditions harbors rich natural plant species. There are other factor endowments like the traditional skill of people in use of Medicinal Plants, available labour, huge internal and export market and a good transport network.

Realization of potential and need for development of Medicinal Plants sector in the northeastern states has been emphasized in different forums since quite some time. There are schemes and programmes of central as well as state governments towards this objective, which somehow, have been of limited applicability only and could not create an environment for the desired level of urgency of conservation and sustainable economic activity to take off. Enormous advantage from this Sector can be derived, if the State Government takes timely and proper initiatives. Following projects/ schemes may, therefore, be immediately taken-up by the Forest & Environment Department.


Development of Medicinal Plants resource in the state for environmental benefits and to harness economic potential of the resource in a sustainable manner for socio-economic upliftment of the people of the State.

Activities and Programmes to be implemented

A broad outline of the activities and programmes to be implemented is as follows: The executive staff of the Department would implement activities of policy, planning, coordination and promotional nature. Specialized activities would be implemented through the ground level functionaries of the department:

Assessment and Periodic Monitoring of the Resource:

  • Assessment of growing stock
  • Mapping of Medicinal Plants forests including Sacred Groves
  • Monitoring changes in the status of the resource base
  • Create and maintain a database on the resource
  • Establishment of Herbal Gardens

Development of Resource:

  • Sustainable Management of Medicinal Plants forests
    • Silvicultural practice based on working scheme
  • Enhancement of productivity
    • Adoption of modern nursery practices
    • Introduction of suitable exotic species
    • Clonal multiplication
  • Creation of Medicinal Plants Plantations
  • In-situ and Ex- situ conservation of endemic and threatened species
  • The Forest Department will raise plantations
  • Institutions like J.F.M. committees, N G Os, Durbars will be encouraged to create Medicinal Plants plantations and then to set up small scale enterprises. The Forest Department, based on the grants received from the above resources may provide funding support for such activity.

Utilization and Economic Enterprise

  • Development of cottage and small scale industries
  • Promotion of medium to large scale industries
  • Market Information Support
  • Developing marketing infrastructure
  • Export promotion

Extension and Training

  • Organize training for processing of raw material and use of machines
  • Training for plantation and its management
  • Setting up of demonstration centers
  • Awareness programmes


  • At a later stage, provision for levying a cess on the Medicinal Plants based trade may be made for generating revenue for the Forest Department

Financial Implication

The Forest Department will endeavor to secure funds from the institutions like N.E.C., Doner, MoEF, National Medicinal Plants Board, Government of India, etc. for the activities like training and extension programmes, establishment of demonstration centers, Technology Development & Market Information System etc.

Meghalaya State Medicinal Plants Boards

In order to develop the potential sector of medicinal plants, National Medicinal Plants Board has been constituted under Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India. At the state level, State Medicinal Plant Board is envisaged to develop this sector by ensuring the implementation of projects on medicinal plants as per operational guidelines of National Medicinal Plants Board, Chief Executive Officer of which is a Forest Officer. Meghalaya State Medicinal Plants Board with Chief Secretary, Government of Meghalaya as Chairman and Chief Conservator of Forests(T) as Chief Executive Officer and Principal Secretaries & Commissioner and Secretaries of Health & Family Welfare, Finance, Planning, Forests & Environment departments, Principal Chief Conservator of Forests etc. as Governors came into existence vide Gazette Notification No. FOR.50/2002/282 dated: 16.03.2006 as a Society. It has been registered as a Society on 23.05.2006 with Administrative Office at Office of the PCCF, Meghalaya, Sylvan House, Lower Lachumiere, Shillong-793001. The Chief activity of the Meghalaya State Medicinal Plants Board is to promote the development of medicinal plants in general with special reference to thirty two species, which have been identified by the National Medicinal Plants Board as per Operational Guidelines of National Medicinal Plants Board, Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, Government of India. These guidelines may be accessed at website Following are the contact addresses for M.S.M.P.B.:

Shri C. Budnah, I.F.S.
Chief Executive Officer and Chief Conservator of Forests (T)
Office of The P.C.C.F., Meghalaya Forest,
Sylvan House, Shillong-793001
Phone: (o) 0364-2226403

Shri A. K. Srivastava, I.F.S.
Conservator of Forests i/c Medicinal Plants,
Office of The P.C.C.F., Meghalaya Forest,
Sylvan House, Shillong-793001
Phone: (o) 0364-2227311