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|
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.|
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)|
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).
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|
Annual yellow sweetclover is harvested from the wild as a local source of food medicines
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.|
Kakamachi – black nightshade – Wonder Berry
Contraceptive for men
|Cadmium (Cd) Hyper accumulator.
Remediation of heavy metal contaminated soils.
Used for phytostabilization of lead (Pb) and copper (Cu) contaminated soils.
Used traditionally for various diseases having phytotoxic ability.
|Relieve itches, ulcers, cuts, swellings and rheumatism.
Possesses cytotoxic and antifungal activities
The common knotweed, is harvested from the wild for local use as a food and medicine.
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.|
Perennial plants from the sunflower family with a host of medicinal benefits.
Diuretic (dysuria, spasm of bladder), Hepatoprotective, Nephroprotective. diaphoretic (combined with quinine, is used against malaria).
|Helpful in phytoremediation.
Most suitable metal tolerant plant species
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.|
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.|
Windmill grass or finger grass effective for various diseases
Used externally for skin disorders. Diabetes,
Diarrhea and Fever
|Used in phytoremediation for petroleum and heavy metal contaminated sites.|
Asthmaweed Erigeron bonariensis (L.) is locally called “gulava” or “mrich booti”
|Traditionally used in urine problems.||Radiactive waste remediation (Uranium)
|Biosynthesis of silver nanoparticles|
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
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|
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|
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
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|
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’.