A Short Review on Gynocardia odorata R. Br: A Potent Medicinal Plant of Assam

A Short Review on Gynocardia odorata R. Br: A Potent Medicinal Plant of Assam

Dipjyoti Kalita (Department of Botany, Gauhati University, India) and Nilakshee Devi (Department of Botany, Gauhati University, India)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-1226-5.ch008
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Gynocardia odorata R. Br (Achariaceae) is an important medicinal plant. It is indigenous to Indian subcontinent and grows extensively in the tropical forests of Western Ghats and Hilly regions of North Eastern India. The plant has long been used in the traditional system of medicine to treat various cutaneous and subcutaneous diseases. The chapter deals with the different scientific studies and reports available in different aspects of this plant in the areas like morpho-taxonomy, ethnobotany, phytochemistry, and pharmacognosy.
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Commonly known as Chaulmoogra, Gynocardia odorata Robert Brown is one of the most important tree plants under Flacourtiaceae (currently Achariaceae) (Lemke, 1988; Santos, 2007). The generic name Gynocardia comes from the ancient Greek words Gyne means female or woman and Kardia means heart (directly referring to ovary), indicating the heart shaped ovary (Quattrocchi, 1999; Patil, 2007). In this context, the meaning of the genus is more or less heart shaped ovary or heart shaped fruit. The tree is commonly known under different names in different parts of the world e.g. ma dan guo or ta feng tzu in Chinese (Quattrochi, 1999), Tulkung in Lepcha, Gandare, Koliori, Bandray or Gantay in Nepali. In India, this tree is known in a variety of names in different dialects, such as Salmogra, Lemtem or Bonsha in Assamese, Gaab, Deshi Gaub or Chaulmogra in Bengali, Chhalmogra in Hindi, Surantaeil in Kannada, Dieng-sohliang or Dieng sohphailing in Khasi, Sai-thei in Mizo, Alasakapaha, Kushthapa, Sagarodbhuta or Tuvaraka in Sanskrit etc.

William Roxburgh (1815) mentioned Gynocardia odorata, under the name Chaulmoogra odorata in a catalogue of plants in the East India Company’s botanical garden in Calcutta where he misidentified the plant G. odorata with Hydnocarpus kurzii which was the actual source of Chaulmoogra oil (Parascandola, 2003). The species G. odorata was first described by Robert Brown (1820) in the third volume of William Roxburgh’s Plants of the Coast of Coromandel. Later on, Roxburgh (1832) again described C. odorata under order Dioecia Polyandria in the 3rd volume of his Flora Indica. Even Nathaniel Wallich (1831-32) also described the genus Gynocardia by its synonym as Chaulmugra odorata from India in the List of Indian Woods. Colonel Drury (1864) in his 1st volume of Handbook of The Indian Flora recorded the genus Hydnocarpous with its three species but he reported G. odorata as a synonym of H. odorata. According to Kabir (1965), G. odorata is endemic to Sikkim and Assam. Although the species is not assessed by IUCN yet it is Vulnerable with a limited range of distribution (Ahmedullah & Nayar, 1986), whereas Choudhury et al., (2005) reported that G. odorata falls under Endangered category.

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