Want to learn about a beneficial plant with a complex name, Potentilla Fulgens, from Meghalaya, a state in the Northeast of India? Want to know where and how it grows and about its many health benefits?
Are you wondering who we are and how do we know about this special plant?
Team Zizira is from Meghalaya. We are a small team, all locals.
Our stories are based on what we gather through our personal experiences; from farmers in our network; our chats with local experts; and published research papers. Our vision is to pioneer the development of natural products from Meghalaya, proving the underutilized potential of the region in a way that sparks a movement that helps the farmers improve their livelihood.
North-east India is one of the 25 global biodiversity hotspots, making it one of the richest warehouses of medicinal and aromatic plants in the world with more than 6,500 species of medicinal plants. Meghalaya alone has 800 species of medicinal plants which are used in traditional medicines. Our region is blessed with natural plant treasures and we are not new to the usage of the locally grown herbs and wild plants for healing purposes.
Bunches of Lyniangbru, as it is called in Khasi, are sold all through the year, along with fruits and vegetables, in the wholesale market of Shillong. It is that popular. Many locals eat it along with kwai (betel leaf with nut) and it is used for a number of home remedies too, especially oral health. It is a little-known outside the Northeast.
Here is a short introduction to it.
Name: Potentilla Fulgens, lyniangbru (Khasi).
Family: Rosaceae – related to roses and strawberries
Region: It grows well in temperate climates, at a high elevation of around 1800 to 4500 metres. It thrives in Meghalaya.
It starts producing leaves by May and flowers by June-July. Starts to fruit by August and eventually the leaves dry by September and are ready for harvest. Most of it grows in the wild and given its medicinal properties it unfortunately gets exploited.
As you can see from the image below, potentilla fulgens has palmate leaves (like a mini palm leaf). Each leaf has a number of leaflets. The leaves have a silvery color on the lower surface. The flowers are yellow in color and around half an inch in diameter. The plant has thick roots. It can be propagated both from the seeds and the roots.
Chewing arecanut along with Potentilla fulgens has been an integral part of Meghalaya’s culture and perhaps our ancestors had discovered its benefits even back then.
It has been in use for a long time in traditional medicines by the Khasi and Jaintia tribes of Meghalaya. Moving up north, even in Chinese traditional medicine, Potentilla fulgens extracts have been used for treating diarrhea, hepatitis and rheumatism. Research done on the Herbal remedies among the Khasi traditional healers at the North Eastern Hill University (NEHU), Shillong suggests that the roots of Potentilla fulgens are effective against high blood pressure.
Another study done on the anti-tumor activities of plants from Meghalaya at NEHU concludes that the root extract possesses significant anti-diarrheal properties and is safe to use as a homemade remedy.
The whole plant parts are very effective in cases of gum and mouth diseases such as pyorrhoea (bleeding gums), caries and toothaches.
Some societies use the twigs as toothbrushes.
To learn more about it we met with Dr. Don Syiem. Professor and Head of Department, Biochemistry in North Eastern Hill University, who has been doing extensive research on this plant’s effect in controlling diabetes. He shared details of the scientific studies and also told us a personal bit of information.
“My grandmother would always chew bits of Potentilla fulgens with kwai or areca nut, this used to make me wonder if there is any reason behind this chewing habit,” said Dr. D. Syiem
Indeed, there are reasons – Potentilla fulgens is said to promote oral health, control blood sugar and BP levels, among others.
A Zizira team member had this to say:
“I always see my Mother-in-law chew bits of Potentilla fulgens with arecanut. On asking why this herb - I got a reply straightaway. She said that it helps control blood sugar levels and gives a healthy mouth and teeth”, said Badshai Hujon, a Zizira team member.
Commercial demand for this herb is a major cause of concern as Potentilla fulgens are over-harvested from the wild which poses a threat to this indigenous medicinal herb.
Zizira looks to unleash the potential of this medicinal herb and share the researches done that vouch for the authenticity of the traditional knowledge on this local herbs.
The climate and elevations in our region are suited for Potentilla Fulgens and other such medicinal herbs. If these are cultivated by the farmers here, it could be a source of better returns for them.
Join us as we explore the unique bounty of this region. Have you ever come across this herb? Do you have a question? Reach out to us.