“My seeds are small and scarlet red with a black spot at one tip”, “My small shiny seeds have been used as a unit of weight by Indian goldsmiths in olden days” are all tips for children to identify those all-time favourite ‘kunnikkuru’ in the ‘Student’s Handbook on Medicinal and Food Plants’ brought out by Jawaharlal Nehru Tropical Botanic Garden and Research Institute (JNTBGRI).
The book, authored by S Rajasekharan, P G Latha, N Mohanan, Mathew Dan, Vinodkumar T G Nair, M Navas and C S Vimalkumar, is sure to hold any child’s attention with clues such as “My leaves resemble an open umbrella”, “I am a memory enhancer” and “My Sanskrit name is Mandookaparni” for what is known as ‘Kudangal’ in Malayalam and Indian pennywort in English.
Beautifully illustrated with excellent photographs, the book details the medicinal properties, chemical constituents, scientific studies, pharmacological findings, food value and tips for further reading on each of the 25 selected plants.
“We hope that this attractive book would lead children to design novel, effective and simple strategies for conservation of medicinal and food plants,” said TBGRI director P G Latha.
The book is one among the first fruits of a research study on traditional knowledge by Jawaharlal Nehru Tropical Botanic Garden and Research Institute (JNTBGRI), funded by the Union Department of AYUSH and operated jointly by the Kerala State Council for Science, Technology and Environment (KSCSTE) and JNTBGRI.
The project is titled ‘Systematic Documentation of Traditional Knowledge related to Plants used for Food, AYUSH and Indigenous Medicine.’
“Traditional Knowledge is more than a simple compilation of facts drawn from local environments. It is a complex and sophisticated system of knowledge growing from centuries of wisdom and experience. The wisdom derived is an advantage when planning for sustainability,” said S Rajasekharan, principal investigator of the project.
The other books that were published recently and released by Chief Minister Oommen Chandy on August 13 are the ‘Journal of Traditional and Folk Practices’ and a series on ‘Traditional Knowledge.’ The journal is aimed at protecting traditional knowledge and encouraging more scientific studies in diverse fields, including Intellectual Property Rights.
In addition to the books, two documentary films titled ‘New Frontiers in Ancient Wisdom’ (English) and ‘Arivinte Kanivukal Thedi’ (Malayalam) were also released by the Chief Minister. TBGRI director P G Latha and S Rajasekharan, principal investigator of the project, were present at the function.