IILM College of Engineering and Technology

Unlocking the value of hitherto unvoiced ‘Weeds’, Generating mass awareness – Addressing pollution concerns

On the occasion of World Environment Day – June 5th

“A Weed is a Weed, because we are told, it’s a weed;
but it is also a plant, a flower, a thing of beauty” – ekp

Weeds cropping up unceremoniously every now and then around us, incumbent various beneficial properties including medicinal, serve as Pollutant – Bio-Indicator’, ‘Bio-Accumulator’ and Phyto-Remediator. Hitherto unheard of by most of us, weeds support the environment selflessly by absorbing and thereby lowering the levels of various pollutants.
Various such local weeds have been located purposely by IILM’s Research and Innovation wing with proactive student involvement. These weeds have got identified by appreciable support from plant biodiversity conservation expert – Dr. Ansari (Scientist-E Botanical Survey of India) BGIR, Greater Noida.
Various medicinal and environmentally beneficial properties of these weeds are thoroughly looked upon, for generating needful awareness and adoption in real life. The list tabulated below imparts some of such important features of weeds:

S.N. Weed Medicinal value Environmental impact Other utilizations
1 Cenchrus ciliaris
Buffel grass (Cenchrus ciliaris L.) is a valuable tropical grass
Leprosy, Scabies (infestation by the itch mite Sarcoptes scabiei), Skin diseases
Fever, Dysentery (intestinal infection that causes severe diarrhea with blood)
Bioaccumulator of Cd > Ni > Cu > Zn > Fe > Cr as per the given order. The most drought tolerant of the commonly sown grasses.
2 Oxalis corniculata
The creeping wood sorrel, also called procumbent yellow sorrel or sleeping beauty. Oxalis – acid or sour referring to the sharp taste of the plant. corniculata – small horn
Anthelmintic (treat infections with parasitic worms), Antiphlogistic (reduces inflammation or fever), Astringent (reduces bleeding from minor abrasions or as a cosmetic), Depurative (purifying and detoxifying), Diuretic (promotes urine production). Act as bio-indicators lowest Air pollution tolerance index values (APTI 6.42)
3 Amaranthus viridis
जंगली चौलाई, when grown on nitrogen-rich soils-concentrate nitrates in the leaves.
Blood purifier. Febrifugal (mitigating or removing fever). Lead hyperaccumulator (Pb) with high heavy metal translocation index.
Oil Spill Phytoremediation (removal, degradation, or containment of contaminants using plants).
4 Nicotiana plumbaginifolia
Tex-Mex tobacco – rich in polymethoxyflavones that possess significant analgesic and anxiolytic activities.
Anti-spasmodic (used as relaxant)
Discutient (disperses a tumor or lesion).
Used as an eyewash.
Ozone, SO2 and UV-B stress leads to Catalase mRNA modulation serving as a pollution bioindicator Ash rich in soda – used to make soap
5 Melilotus indicus
Annual yellow sweetclover is harvested from the wild as a local source of food medicines
Cancer-fighting agent.
Reduces inflammations due to arthritis.
Helps to relax the nervous system.
Selenium accumulator. Root growth and Pollen as a bioindicator of the effects of soil and atmospheric pollution.
Used as a phytoremediation for treatment of soils contaminated with dioxins.
Used as an insect repellent.
6 Solanum  nigrum
Kakamachi  – black nightshade – Wonder Berry
Anti-tumorigenic, antioxidant,
Anti-cancer
Contraceptive for men
Cadmium (Cd) Hyper accumulator.
Remediation of heavy metal contaminated soils.
Used for phytostabilization of lead (Pb) and copper (Cu) contaminated soils.
7 Launaea nudicaulis
Used traditionally for various diseases having phytotoxic ability.
Relieve itches, ulcers, cuts, swellings and rheumatism.
Possesses cytotoxic and antifungal activities
Insecticidal.
Corrosion Inhibitor
8 Polygonum plebeium
The common knotweed, is harvested from the wild for local use as a food and medicine.
Pneumonia,
Bowel complaints.
Curing skin diseases (Eczema)
Bioaccumulation of metals
Indicative of reduced monsoonal precipitation
Eaten as a vegetable. since found to contain appreciable amount of Fe, Zn, Cu, Mn, V and Co.
9 Vernonia cinerea
Perennial plants from the sunflower family with a host of medicinal benefits.
Anti-inflammatory,
Diuretic (dysuria, spasm of bladder), Hepatoprotective, Nephroprotective. diaphoretic (combined with quinine, is used against malaria).
Anti- leucorrhoea.
Helpful in phytoremediation.
Most suitable metal tolerant plant species
10 Coronopus didymus
The lesser swine-cress, is a species in the cabbage and mustard family Brassicaceae
Antiscorbutic, Antiasthmatic Antidepressant, Antihemorrhoids Bronchitis Cholesterol, radioprotective ability Capability to tolerate and accumulate cadmium (Cd) for phytoremediation.
11 Calotropis procera
आक Rubber Bush, a milkweed tree.
Used for digestive disorders,
Against parasitic infections including elephantiasis and worms.
A biosorption of heavy metal ions. Used as bioindicator and phytoremediator. Host plant, nectar flower for monarchs & caterpillars.
12 Chloris barbata
Windmill grass or finger grass effective for various diseases
Treats rheumatism
Used externally for skin disorders. Diabetes,
Diarrhea and Fever
Used in phytoremediation for petroleum and heavy metal contaminated sites.
13 Erigeron bonariensis
Asthmaweed Erigeron bonariensis (L.) is locally called “gulava” or “mrich booti”
Traditionally used in urine problems. Radiactive waste remediation (Uranium)
Phytocatalysis.
Biosynthesis of silver nanoparticles
14 Malva coromandelica
Clustermallow, Cheeseweed, curly-leaved mallow.
Used in a tea to soothe bronchitis, emphysema, sore throat, and cough. skin care products
Treatment of gallstones, kidney stones, kidney inflammation, headaches, and toothaches
15 Datura metel
Commonly known as devil’s trumpet, thorn apple and metel
Relieve arthritis such as rheumatism & gout. Treats asthma and bronchitis.
Antiasthmatic, antispasmodic, hypnotic and narcotic
Absorbs heavy metals leading to bioremediation through higher
phytoremediation potential for Copper, Lead, Nikel, Cadmium, and Chromium.
Repellent against larva and mosquito
16 Sonchus asper
Prickly Sow-Thistle is a creeping rooted annual
Effective antimicrobials in skin ailments particularly boil and wounds. Cadmium and lead hyperaccumulator Preparation of nanoparticles drugs
17 Veronica anagallis-aquatica
Common names water speedwell, blue water-speedwell
Appetizer and diuretic.
Used in the treatment of scurvy, impurity of the blood.
Applied externally as a poultice on burns, ulcers, whitlows
Phytoremediation of cadmium polluted water.
Biomonitor for PAH Contamination
18 Emilia sonchifolia
Lilac tassel flower or cupid’s shaving brush
Treatment of dysentery.
Eye inflammations, night blindness, cuts and wounds and sore ears. Astringent, depurative, diuretic, expectorant.
Heavy metal Cadmium and Lead hyperaccumulator
19 Phyla nodiflora
The frog fruit, sawtooth fogfruit, or turkey tangle
Anodyne, Antibacterial, Astringent, Carminative, Deobstruent, Diuretic, Emmenagogue, Emollient, Febrifuge, Parasiticide and Refrigerant. smooth muscle relaxant and cardiac-modulator Used to control water and wind erosion. Important nectar plant for honeybees

Regulated utilization of the locally available weeds, which have been ignorantly overlooked till now, provides us with a large scale cost effective environmental remediation tool, for addressing the steadily growing multipronged urban pollution (air, soil and water) issues.

 

Blog by: Dr. Sudhir Sahdev, Ph.D. Prof. & Head – Research and Innovation, IILM CET, Greater Noida.

Prof. Sahdev is an ardent follower & promoter of environmental sustainability practices in letter & spirit! He, along with requisite support from the faculty and administration, is implementing ILLM Engineering’s Vision’2020 for developing it as an ‘Ecologically Balanced – Green Campus’.

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