Survey of Phytochemical Diversity of Secondary Metabolism in Selected Wild Medicinal Plants M. Maridass



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Ethnobotanical Leaflets 14: 616-25, 2010.

 

Survey of Phytochemical Diversity of Secondary Metabolism in Selected 

Wild Medicinal Plants 

M. Maridass 

 

Animal Health Research Unit, St.Xavier

’s College (Autonomous),

Palayamkottai-627856, South India

Email:orchideyadass@yahoo.com

 

Issued: May 01, 2010



 

Abstract

A phytochemical screening of alkaloids, triterpenes saponins and tannin was carried out the selected medicinal 

plant parts of leaf, barks, rhizome and fruit samples from 63 plant species representing 26 genera and 25 families. 

The positive results of phytochemical diversity of bioactive constituents were alkaloids (58.73%), 

terpenoids (92.06%), flavonoids (90.48%), saponins (50.79) and tannins (31.74%) present in total of sixty three 

plant species. 



Keywords: Plants, phytochemical;

 

Tirunelveli Hills; alkaloids; flavonoids.



 

Introduction

Natural products once served humankind as the source of all drugs, and higher plants provided most of 

these therapeutic agents. Today, natural products (and their derivatives and analogs) still represent over 50% of 

all drugs in clinical use, with higher plant-derived natural products representing ca. 25% of the total [1]. The 

World Health Organization estimates that 80% of the people in developing countries of the world rely on 

traditional medicine for their primary health care, and about 85% of traditional medicine involves the use of 

plant extracts. This means that about 3.5 to 4 billion people in the world rely on plants as sources of drugs [2]. 

More than 80 % of the world

’s populations depend on traditional plant-derived medicines for their health needs.  

The use of plants for medicinal purposes represents the largest use of biodiversity in the world. Many more species 

of plants are used as medicines, for example, than are used for food. Focusing on medicinal plants, therefore, has 

the potential for involving people more widely in conservation issues.

Conservative estimates suggest that there are more than 250,000 species of higher plants existing on this planet, 

and only a very small percentage of plants have been exhaustively studied for their potential value as a source of 

drugs. Obviously natural products will continue to be extremely important as sources of medicinal agents. 

Discovery of new drugs from plants requires the screening of many thousands of plant extracts, and thus 

requires continued access to the vast plant biodiversity of the Earth, much of which is located in tropical rain 

forests. Tropical forests cover only 7% of Earth surface, but they are thought to contain at least one half of all 

plant species. In these forests, deforestation is proceeding at a rate of 20 million ha/year, resulting in the loss of 

species at rates estimated to be 100 to 1000 times greater than background extinction. Therefore, the main 

objectives of this study to identify in the phytochemicals constituents of wild plants collection from the 

Tirunelveli hills of Southern Western Ghat region, Tirunelveli District, South India.



 

Materials and Methods

Collection of plant materials

Plant samples were collected from Tirunelveli hills, Southern Western Ghats region, Tirunelveli District, South 

India (Fig.1) and during the periods from 1997-2007.  50gms of dried powdered materials (Plant name and plants 

parts listed in table -1) were separately extracted with 50% ethanol at room temperature. Extracts of each plant 

were stored in the refrigerator at 4°C prior to use of phytochemical analysis.  The presence of all alkaloids 

was determined the Culvenor and Fitzgerald methods [3]. For steroids or triterpenes, the Liebermann-Burchard 

test was used [4], the froth test for saponins [5] and extract react with lead acetate solution to form white 

precipitate test for tannin [6]. 

 

Results and Discussion

The result of phytochemical screening of sixty-two plants giving positive or negative tested for alkaloids, 

terpenoids, flovanoids, saponin and tannin are listed in Table -1. 

Alkaloids: Sixty- three plants represent 25 families and 26 genera; 58.73% of the plants tested positively for 

alkaloids. Presence of active chemicals of alkaloids in the aqueous phase was detected by the formation of a 

precipitate on addition of Mayer

’s reagent (K

2

HgI


4

).  Alkaloid isolated from A. scholaris was reported 

previous workers [7-8]. Hadi and Bremner, [9] reported 49 families and 80 genera, and this is an indication of 

alkaloid reported in the variety of Lombok medicinal plants. Of these plants, twenty-three species (23%) 

contained alkaloids. In a survey of plants of Tasmania, Australia, which focused mainly on endemic species in 

this cool temperate environment [10], 15% of the plant species gave positive alkaloid tests. However, in a 

similar alkaloid survey in Queensland, Australia, with many tropical and sub-tropical species, 20% of species 

were positive [11].



 

Terpenoids: Liebermann Burchard reaction positive reactions were obtained from 58 samples (92.06%). 

Negative results were obtained such as Bauhinia purpurea, Bauhinia malabarica, Alstonia macrophylla, 



Alstonia scholaris and Alstonia scholaris.

Flavonoids: A total of 57 species (90.48%) gave positive reactions of flavonoids was determined using 1% 

aluminum chloride solution in methanol concentrated HCl, magnesium turnins, and potassium hydroxide 

solution. Negative results were obtained such as Curculigo orchioides, Dioscorea pentaphylla, Dioscorea 

alata, Memecylon umbellatum, Pavetta indica and Psychotria beddomei.

Saponin: A total of 32 species (50.79%) gave positive reactions for saponins. Very strong reactions were observed 

in fruit samples belonging to Dioscorea pentaphylla, Dioscorea alata, Diospyros malabarica, Diospyros 



melanoxylon, Terminalia arjuna, Terminalia bellerica, Terminalia catappa, Terminalia chebula, 

Terminalia crenulata, Terminalia paniculataand Terminalia travancorensis.

Tannin: A limited number of plant species (31.74%) gave in positive results for tannins.

 

Table 1: Survey of Phytochemical diversity of secondary metabolism of wild plants.

 

SL.No


 

Plants


 

Family


Parts

 

Alkaloids



 

 

Triterpenes



 

 

Flavonids



 

Saponin


Tannin

1.

        



 

Alstonia macrophylla

 

Apocynaceae

 

leaf


+

-

+

-

-

2.

        


 

Alstonia scholaris

 

Apocynaceae

 

leaf


+

-

+

-

-

3.

        



 

Alstonia venenata

 

Apocynaceae

 

leaf


+

-

+

-

-

4.

        



 

Asparagus racemosus

 

Liliaceae

 

root


+

+

+

+

+

5.

        



 

Bauhinia malabarica

 

Fabaceae


 

bark


+

-

+

-

+

6.

        



 

Bauhinia purpurea

 

Fabaceae


 

bark


+

-

+

+

-

7.

        



 

Begonia malabarica

Begoniaceae

Leaf

 

+



+

+

+

+

8.

        



 

Begonia cordifolia

Begoniaceae

leaf

+

+

+

+

+

 

9.

        



 

Begonia fallax

Begoniaceae

leaf

+

+

+

+

+

 

10.


     

 

Bridelia crenulata



 

Euphorbiaceae

 

fruits


+

+

+

+

+

11.


     

 

Capparis spinosa



 

Capparaceae

 

leaf


+

+

+

+

-

12.


     

 

Cinnamomum 



camphora

 

Lauraceae

 

leaf


-

+

+

-

-

13.


     

 

Cinnamomum 



hemungianum

 

Lauraceae

 

leaf


-

+

+

-

-

14.


     

 

Cinnamomum 



filipedicellatum

 

Lauraceae

 

leaf


-

+

+

-

-

15.


     

 

Cinnamomum 



keralaense

 

Lauraceae

 

leaf


-

+

+

-

-

16.


     

 

Cinnamomum 



malabatrum

 

Lauraceae

 

leaf


-

+

+

-

+

17.


     

 

Cinnamomum 



perrottetti

 

Lauraceae

 

leaf


-

+

+

-

 

18.


     

 

Cinnamomum 



riparium

 

Lauraceae

 

leaf


-

+

+

+

-

19.


     

 

Cinnamomum 



sulphuratum

 

Lauraceae

 

leaf


-

+

+

+

-

20.


     

 

Cinnamomum 



travancoricum

 

Lauraceae

 

leaf


-

+

+

+

-

21.


     

 

Cinnamomum 



walaiwarense

 

Lauraceae

 

leaf


-

+

+

+

-

22.


     

 

Cinnamomum wightii



 

Lauraceae

 

leaf


-

+

+

-

+

23.


     

 

Citrus sinensis



 

Rutaceae


 

leaf


-

+

+

+

-

24.

     


 

Curculigo orchioides

 

Liliaceae



 

 hizome

+

+

-

+

-

25.


     

 

Dioscorea pentaphylla



 

Dioscoriaceae

 

tuber


+

+

-

+

-

26.


     

 

Dioscorea alata



 

Dioscoriaceae

 

tuber


+

+

-

+

+

27.


     

 

Diospyros malabarica



 

Ebenaceae

 

fruits


+

+

+

+

+

28.


     

 

Diospyros 



melanoxylon

 

Ebenaceae

 

fruits


+

+

+

+

+

29.


     

 

Elacocarpus venustus



 

Elaeocarpaceae

 

leaf


-

+

+

-

 

30.


     

 

Elaeocarpus munroii



 

Elaeocarpaceae

 

leaf


-

+

+

-

-

31.


     

 

Elaeocarpus serratus



 

Elaeocarpaceae

 

leaf


-

+

+

-

-

32.


     

 

Eugenia discifera



 

Myrtaceae

 

leaf


-

+

+

-

-

33.


     

 

Eugenia floccosa



 

Myrtaceae

 

leaf


+

+

+

-

-

34.


     

 

Garcinia gummi-gutta



 

Clusiaceae

 

leaf


-

+

+

-

-

35.


     

 

Garcinia travancorica



 

Clusiaceae

 

leaf


-

+

+

-

-

36.


     

 

Lantana camara



 

Verbenaceae

 

leaf


-

+

+

+

-

37.


     

 

Lantana indica



 

Verbenaceae

 

leaf


-

+

+

+

-

38.


     

 

Litsea beddomei



 

Lauraceae

 

leaf


-

+

+

+

-

39.


     

 

Litsea wightiana



 

Lauraceae

 

leaf


-

+

+

-

-

40.


     

 

Melia dubia



 

Meliaceae

 

leaf


+

+

+

+

-

41.


     

 

Memecylon 



malabaricum

 

Melastomataceae

 

leaf


+

+

+

-

-

42.


     

 

Memecylon 



umbellatum

 

Melastomataceae

 

leaf


+

+

-

-

-

43.


     

 

Michelia nilagirica



 

Magnoliaceae

 

leaf


+

+

+

-

+

44.


     

 

Michelia champaca



 

Magnoliaceae

 

leaf


+

+

+

+

+

45.


     

 

Pavetta indica



 

Rubiaceae

 

leaf


+

+

-

-

+

46.


     

 

Piper nigrum



 

Piperaceae

 

leaf


+

+

+

+

-

47.


     

 

Psidium guajava



 

Myrtaceae

 

fruits


+

+

+

-

-

48.


     

 

Psychotria beddomei



 

Rubiaceae

 

leaf


+

+

-

-

-

49.

     


 

Solanum violaceum

 

Solanaceae

 

leaf


+

+

+

+

-

50.


     

 

Syzygium aromaticum



 

Myrtaceae

 

leaf


-

+

+

-

-

51.


     

 

Syzygium 



calophyllifolium

 

Myrtaceae

 

leaf


-

+

+

-

-

52.


     

 

Syzygium densiflorum



 

Myrtaceae

 

leaf


-

+

+

-

-

53.


     

 

Syzygium mundagam



 

Myrtaceae

 

leaf


-

+

+

-

-

54.


     

 

Terminalia alata



 

Combretaceae

 

fruit


+

+

+

+

+

55.


     

 

Terminalia arjuna



 

Combretaceae

 

fruit


+

+

+

+

+

56.


     

 

Terminalia bellerica



 

Combretaceae

 

fruit


+

+

+

+

-

57.


     

 

Terminalia catappa



 

Combretaceae

 

fruit


+

+

+

+

+

58.


     

 

Terminalia chebula



 

Combretaceae

 

fruit


+

+

+

+

-

59.


     

 

Terminalia crenulata



 

Combretaceae

 

fruit


+

+

+

+

+

60.


     

 

Terminalia paniculata



 

Combretaceae

 

fruit


+

+

+

+

+

61.


     

 

Terminalia 



travancorensis

 

Combretaceae

 

fruit


+

+

+

+

+

62.


     

 

Vitex altissima



 

Verbenaceae

 

leaf


+

+

+

-

-

63.


     

 

Vitex negundo



 

Verbenaceae

 

leaf


+

+

+

-

-

 

 

 

 

 

Discussion

Earlier studies on phytochemical screened for their chemical contents such as alkaloids, triterpenoids and 

saponins found to be 205 plant species [12]. Ahmad and Mat-Salleh (1988) had reported some screening on 148 

plant samples[13]. Phytochemical screenings were also carried out on plants collected from Tawau Hills Park [14], 

and SayapKinabalu Park [15]. The last phytochemical screening reported was for alkaloid contents of plants 

from Gunung Danum area [16].

 

The present study was carried out the phytochemical analysis of 63 medicinal 



plant collected from the Tirunelveli hills, South India. 

 

Conclusion

In conclusion, results of phytochemicals were strong color indicated for active compounds present in Tirunelveli 

hills of Western Ghats region, South India. Moreover, there is a need to conduct isolation and 

identification phytochemicals from plant species of Western Ghats. 

 


Acknowledgment

The author would like to acknowledge SERC-DST,New Delhi, for financial support.



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