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The wild plants used as traditional medicines by indigenous people of Manokwari, West Papua

  • Universitas Papua

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Lense O. 2012. The wild plants used as traditional medicines by indigenous people of Manokwari, West Papua. Biodiversitas 13: 98-106. The aims of the research were to identify the main plant species which are used as traditional medicines by native people in Manokwari District, West Papua Province and also to describe the method of preparation and uses of some of the medicinal plants. This research was conducted in seven sub-regencies, ie. Manokwari, Ransiki, Kebar, Wasior, Mimyambouw, Merdey and Anggi-Sururey sub-District. Information recorded including methods of diagnosis and treatment of diseases, tribal name of a plant they used for treating disease (s), part of the plant used, preparation and mode of application, and whether the plant is used alone or in combination with other plants. Results indicate that the indigenous people in Manokwari District have been using at least 99 plant species (93 genera and 59 families) as sources of medicines. Most of these traditional medicinal plants are commonly gathered from the local tropical rainforest communities. At least 40 kind of sickness and injuries such as malaria, fever, and wounds can be treated by using traditional medicinal plants from Manokwari District. Reserach also found that all parts of plants used, but leaf extracts are the most common part of the plant used for treating medical condition.
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ISSN: 1412-033X
Volume 13, Number 2, April 2012 E-ISSN: 2085-4722
Pages: 98-106 DOI: 10.13057/biodiv/d130208
The wild plants used as traditional medicines by indigenous people of
Manokwari, West Papua
Faculty of Forestry, State University of Papua, Jl. Gunung Salju, Amban, Manokwari 98314, West Papua, Indonesia. Tel. +62-986-211065, Fax. +62-
986-211065, email:
Manuscript received: 12 December 2010. Revision accepted: 24 April 2012.
Lense O. 2012. The wild plants used as traditional medicines by indigenous people of Manokwari, West Papua. Biodiversitas 13: 98-
106. The aims of the research were to identify the main plant species which are used as traditional medicines by native people in
Manokwari District, West Papua Province and also to describe the method of preparation and uses of some of the medicinal plants. This
research was conducted in seven sub-districts, ie. Manokwari, Ransiki, Kebar, Wasior, Mimyambouw, Merdey and Anggi-Sururey sub-
District. Information recorded including methods of diagnosis and treatment of diseases, tribal name of a plant they used for treating
disease (s), part of the plant used, preparation and mode of application, and whether the plant is used alone or in combination with other
plants. Results indicate that the indigenous people in Manokwari District have been using at least 99 plant species (93 genera and 59
families) as sources of medicines. Most of these traditional medicinal plants are commonly gathered from the local tropical rainforest
communities. At least 40 kinds of sickness and injuries such as malaria, fever, and wounds can be treated by using traditional medicinal
plants from Manokwari District. Research also found that all parts of plants used, but leaf extracts are the most common part of the plant
used for treating medical condition.
Key words: wild plants, traditional medicines, indigenous people, Manokwari.
As modern worldviews and lifestyles reach rural
indigenous communities through technology and personal
contact, centuries-old traditional cultures are changing.
Change takes place daily, nothing remains the same. Every
day the world is becoming smaller due to the development
of travel and communication technologies, and hardly a
group of peoples on the planet remain untouched by forces
of “progress.” However, through this process a great store
of knowledge held by native peoples is threatened with
extinction. Historically, modern societies have regarded
indigenous people and traditions as less progressive and, as
a result, many groups of indigenous peoples, especially
their younger generations, are encouraged to devalue their
native culture and to adopt new lifestyles and technologies.
The knowledge of traditional medicinal plants,
accumulated over centuries, may disappear in only a couple
of generations if the current pace of cultural change
continues to occur amongst the tribes in Manokwari
District. Preliminary field visits (interviews) have indicated
that transferring the traditional knowledge of the use of
plant-based preparations in the primary health care of these
people is under threat. There were a small number of young
people (3 younger than 45) who have inherited a traditional
knowledge of medicinal plants from their old generation in
each village visited. The process of transferring traditional
knowledge appears to be the main factor leading to the
decline of knowledge of traditional medicine. There is no
formal school or traditional institution involved in passing
on this knowledge. Transferring knowledge only happens
amongst family groups when they are engaged in other
activities. At that time, many young people are not
interested in following their parents, and the number of
people who have a good knowledge of traditional
medicinal plants is declining. It is possible that in next
couple of decades, the knowledge of medicinal plant within
these ethnic groups may disappear completely.
The aims of this research were to identify the plant
species that are used as traditional medicines by the native
people of Manokwari District, West Papua, and to describe
their methods of preparation and use of the medicinal
plants. The study represents the first step to documenting
significant aspects of the local medicinal plant knowledge
before it disappears.
The location of this project was in Manokwari District
in the province of Papua, Indonesia. This research was held
in seven sub-districts, i.e. Manokwari, Ransiki, Kebar,
Wasior, Mimyambouw, Merdey and Anggi-Sururey sub-
The plants were collected for botanical identification
from several location/villages (Mandopy, Merdey, Sururey,
Jandurau, Dembek, Siwi, Wasior, Tandia, Minyambouw,
Indabri, and Inambuari) and each plant allotted a TMHM
LENSE The wild medicinal plants of Manokwari, West Papua
(Traditional Medicine Herbarium Manokwariense). Plant
specimens were labelled based on the date, locality,
altitude, latitude, tribal name, collector, and collection
number. In addition, as plants are located and identified
their use and method of preparation were documented and
photographs were taken. The herbarium specimens were
identified with the assistance of Marthen Jitmau and lodged
in the Herbarium Manokwariense (MAN), Manokwari,
West Papua, Indonesia, and were preserved for reference
voucher at the Traditional Medicine Research Unit.
Several aspects of the medicinal plants were recorded
including methods of diagnosis and treatment of medical
conditions; tribal name of a plant used for treating the
conditions; part of the plant used; preparation and mode of
application; whether the plant is used alone or in
combination with other plants.
Interviews were conducted in order to record relevant
ethnobotanical data. These interviews were conducted, as
recommended by Chhabra and Mahunnah (1994). In each
village two older persons whose empirical knowledge was
respected by everyone in the area, and two traditional
healers who prescribed local herbs were interviewed.
Interview data were recorded in an ethnobotanical
notebook (Martin 1995).
Plants used for traditional medicine
In the Manokwari District, 99 plant species were
documented as traditional medicinal plants. They are
widely distributed among 94 genera and 59 families, ten of
which are members of the Araceae family, widespread in
the rainforests of the District. This indicates the diversity of
traditional medicinal plants in Manokwari District. Except
for cultivated species such as Cocos nucifera L., Carica
papaya L. and Musa x paradisiaca L., traditional medicinal
plants were most commonly gathered from the local
vegetation communities.
Figure 1. Plant families most commonly used for traditional
medicine by Indigenous people from Manokwari District.
Plants used to treat more than 40 different medical
conditions were grouped into several categories according
to use by indigenous people: gastrointestinal disorders,
dermatological conditions, illnesses associated with pain
and/or fever, respiratory illnesses, women’s medicines,
plants used to counteract bites by venomous animals, eye
remedies, wounds and burns, and other uses (Ankli et al.
The category with the largest number of species was
that used to treat illnesses associated with pain and/or
fever, and the next largest group consisted of plants used to
treat gastrointestinal disorders, whereas only one species
was documented as being used to counteract venomous
animal bites. The cause of some of the sickness and injuries
were attributed to ‘supernatural powers’. Even minor
accidents to such as cuts and body pains were sometimes
attributed by tribal people such outside influences.
The number of medicinal plants found in the present
study was higher than that found in previous studies in
West Papua, and other regions of eastern Indonesia: the
Dani people in the Baliem Valley in Jayawijaya District
used 30 plant species to treat a number of local diseases
(Purwanto and Waluyo 1992), and the Tangma people in
Kurima Sub-District used 26 medicinal plants in their daily
health care (Alhamid and Sumarliani 1996). Roemantyo
and Wiriadinata (1991) reported that indigenous people in
Kupang, West Timor, recognize and use 37 species as
medicinal plants. However, the number of species found in
the present study is less than the 164 traditional medicinal
plants used by indigenous people in Tanimbar-Kai Island,
south-east Maluku, Indonesia (Purwanto and Waluyo
Unpublished data from local health authorities suggest
that illnesses associated with pain and/or fever (frequently
malaria, ear pain, and headaches) and gastrointestinal
disorders (diarrhea, dysentery, and stomach-aches) are the
major health problems in Manokwari District. Infected
wounds, inflammatory skin diseases, and chronic and
infectious eye diseases are also common. Although bites
from poisonous snakes are feared, only a few cases have
been recorded.
The numbers of traditional medicinal plant species,
which are used simultaneously to treat a medical condition
appears to depend on the nature of the condition. Tribal
people will use several medicinal plant species to treat a
particular illness if they consider the illness to be
dangerous. The people of the present study used at least ten
plant species to treat malaria, since malaria is one of the
primary medical conditions that often result in death.
However, to cure influenza the people often use one only
medicinal plant species.
The people at all the study sites believed that there are
several reasons why someone suffers from certain illnesses.
These medical conditions include diarrhea, dysentery,
influenza, and malaria, all known to be caused by
microorganisms. For these conditions, a combination of
modern medicines and traditional medicinal plants are very
popular choices. The local people also believe that certain
ailments may be caused by a person or a group entering an
area which does not belong to the group. The symptoms of
13 (2): 98-106, April 2012
this illness are stomach-pains, swollen navel, diarrhea, pale
appearance, and a feeling of general debility. They believe
that these conditions are related to the “supernatural” and
can be healed using traditional medicinal plants only.
Native people in Manokwari District, especially people
from the Big Arfak tribe (Sough, Hatam, Meyah, and Moile
sub-tribes), also believe that their members may suffer
from certain medical conditions due to a curse from an
ancestor. The main symptoms of this illness are swollen
parts of the body such as the eyebrows, eyelids, and
stomach, and they believe that both hands and legs shrink
and may not be able to move easily. Medical conditions,
caused by “suanggi” (a member of the group who is able to
kill another member using magic; tribal communities
consider this magical) are though to be incapable being
healed by either modern or traditional medicines. The
major symptoms of this sickness are darkening of the entire
body of the affected person and immobility of hands, legs,
and fingers. Based on the field interviews, the only way to
treat conditions caused by both an ancestor curse and
“suanggi” is by applying traditional medicinal plants.
However, this medicine cannot cure the illness completely,
as the person who suffers from the illness will die at the
later stage. During the present study, no information has
been recorded regarding the species of medicinal plants
which may be used to treat medical conditions caused by
both curses from ancestors or “suanggi”.
The study also indicated that there were some
similarities and differences amongst the tribes in using
medicinal plants in their daily health care. Some species
used as traditional medicines were used to treat similar
medical conditions throughout the region. Alstonia
scholaris, widely distributed throughout Manokwari
District, has been used by the native people in Siwi and
Dembek village (Ransiki), Jandurau village (Kebar),
Tandia village (Wasior), and Mandopi village in
Manokwari sub-District to treat malaria and fever. Field
observations indicated that Laportea interrupta, Alstonia
scholaris, Pipturus repandus, Costus speciosus, and
Cordyline fruticosa occurred at all of the study sites.
Particular species of traditional medicinal plants were
found in two or more study sites to treat different medical
conditions. For example Cordyline fruticosa was used by
the community in Ransiki sub-District to treat dysentery,
whereas in Mimyambouw sub-District the species was used
to treat menstruation problems. There were also some
similarities in medicine preparation and in the ways to
apply the potions. It may be that frequent visits of the
members of particular tribes, including the older person or
traditional healers, to meet their extended families or to
attend the traditional ceremonies may be one possible
factor that produced these similarities.
Plants used for pain and/ or fever
Forty species were documented for illnesses associated
with pain and/or fever in which fever and malaria were the
frequent conditions (Table 1). In general, traditional
medicines were prepared as decoctions or infusions, or
sometimes applied or rubbed on to the part of the body
affected. For example, in treating fever, a potion may be
prepared as an infusion to be drunk and the solid parts
applied to the forehead.
Malaria and fever are the most frequently treated
medical conditions. This group includes diseases associated
with chest pain, headaches, muscular pain, and influenza.
Of the 40 species recorded to treat pain and/or fever, 21
species were used by the people in the District specifically
to treat malaria (Table 1). Alstonia scholaris and Pipturus
repandus were the most common plants used in four
different sub-districts to treat fever. Cerbera manghas,
Casuarina equisetifolia,Flagellaria indica,Freycinetia
sp., Lansium domesticum,Loranthus sp., Senna alata, and
Solanum sp. were used in only one sub-District. However,
these species are widely distributed and seen in all four
areas. Nevertheless, each tribe in the region has their own
traditional plants to treat local medical conditions. Nettles,
Laportea interrupta (L.) Chew. are widely recognized by
almost all communities in the region as a medicinal plant to
combat muscular pains and fatigue. The method of use was
to rub the fresh, hairy leaves on the skin to produce a very
hot and itchy feeling.
Several species found in the present study to treat pain
and fever are also used by traditional communities around
the world to treat similar medical conditions. People in
Aceh (Erdelen et al.1999) and East Lombok, Indonesia
(Hadi and Bremner 2001), Malaysia (Salleh 1997), and
Karnataka Province, India (Shankar et al. 1999) use the
species Alstonia scholaris to combat malaria and fever.
Carica papaya L. (leaves, stem, roots, and flowers) is used
to treat malaria in West Lombok, Indonesia (Hadi and
Bremer 2001). The leaves of Bidens pilosa L. are made into
a decoction and then used as a gargle in Dominican
Republic and Papua New Guinea (Morobe Province) for
treating toothaches (Taylor 1998; Woodley 1991). The
Fijians use this plant as a traditional medicine but for
different diseases: the young shoots are used as an internal
remedy for influenza, and the leaves are used to treat
infective hepatitis (Cambie and Ash 1994).
Some species recorded to treat pain and fever are also
known to contain phytochemical compounds. Some of
these compounds have been tested in order to establish
their efficacy in treating particular medical conditions.
Bidens pilosa has been the subject of recent clinical studies
which have supported many of its uses in herbal medicine
(Taylor 1998). As early as 1979, scientists demonstrated
that specific chemicals found in this species were
phototoxic to bacteria and fungi (Wat et al. 1979; Arnason
et al. 1980). Subsequently, Swiss scientists isolated several
known phytochemical compounds with anti-microbial and
anti-inflammatory properties which led them to believe that
the presence of these compounds may rationalize the use of
this plant in traditional medicine in the treatment of
wounds, against inflammation and against bacterial
infection of the gastrointestinal tracts (Geissberger and
Sequin 1991). In the same year, scientists in Egypt
documented the antimicrobial activity of Bidens pilosa L.
(Sarg et al. 1991), and another research group reported that
the species has anti-inflammatory properties (Chih et al.
1995). New bioactive phytochemicals were also discovered
LENSE The wild medicinal plants of Manokwari, West Papua
Table 1. Manokwari traditional medicinal plants used for illnesses associated with pain and/or fever.
Plant name
Medical conditions
Alpinia purpurata (Vieill.) K.Chum.
Alstonia scholaris R.Br.
Fever, malaria
Bidens pilosa L
Blumea saxatilis Zoll. & Mor.
Cold, influenza
Carica papaya L.
Casuarina equisetifolia L.
Cerbera manghas L.
Cinnamomum culilawan Blume
Coelogyne asperata Lindl.
Toothaches and muscular pains
Chest pain
Costus speciosus Sm.
Cyathea contaminans L.
Ear pain
Cyrtosperma sp.
Chest pain
Diplazium esculentum (Retz.) Sw.
Dysoxylum arborescens Miq.
Fever and Malaria
Dryopteris filix-max (L.) Scott.
Ficus sp1.
Ficus sp2.
Flagellaria indica L.
Freycinetia sp.
Homalomena aromaticum (Roxb.) Schott.
Muscular pain
Kalanchoe pinnata Pers.
Lansium domesticum Jack.
Laportea interrupta (L.) Chew.
Muscular pain
Loranthus sp.
Macaranga mappa Muell. Arg.
Fever in babies
Chest pain
Macaranga tanarius Muell. Arg.
Mucuna novo-guineensis Scheff.
Chest pain, malaria
Malaria, fever
Octomeles sumatrana Miq.
Palmeria sp.
Pentaphalangium pachycarpum A.C. Smith
Back pains
Joint pain
Philodendron sp.
Pimelodendron amboinicum Hassk.
Rheumatic and joint pains
Pipturus repandus (Bl). Wedd.
Pisonia sp.
Platycerium sp.
Malaria, fever
Ricinus communis L.
Scindapsus hederaceus Schott.
Senna alata L.
Colds of babies
Smilax sp.
Solanum sp.
Table 2. Manokwari traditional medicinal plants used for gastrointestinal disorders.
Plant name
Medical conditions
Plant parts used
Acorus calamus L.
Adenanthera microsperma Teisjsm.&Binn.
Aquilaria malacensis Lam.
Artocarpus altilis (Park.) Fosb.
Canarium sp.
Liver problems
Sap, bark
Canna indica L.
Cinnamomum culilawan Blume
Cocculus carolinus (L.) DC.
Water from stem
Commelina diffusa Burm. F.
Cordyline fruticosa A. Cheval.
Costus speciosus Sm.
Stomach-aches, food poisoning
Crinum asiaticum L.
Homalanthus nutans Guill.
Homalonema aromaticum (Roxb.) Schott.
Horsfieldia sp.
Stomach complaint
Intsia palembanica L.
Morinda citrifolia L.
Mucuna nova-guineensis Scheff.
Piper sp.
Pipturus repandus (Bl). Wedd.
Planchonella sp.
Polygonum sp3.
Pothos scandens L.
Pterocarpus indicus Willd.
Senna alata L.
Wollastonia biflora DC.
Leaves and flowers
13 (2): 98-106, April 2012
in 1996 which indicated that B. pilosa was effective against
normal and transformed human cell lines (Alvarez et al.
1996). The plant extract was shown to possess
prostaglandin-synthesis inhibitory activity, a process linked
to headaches and inflammatory diseases (Jager et al. 1996).
Subsequently, a research group in Taiwan documented its
hepatoprotective (liver protecting) activity, and showed
that the species can protect liver injuries from various
hepatotoxins, and suggested that it has the potential as a
broad-spectrum anti-hepatic agent (Chin et al. 1996). In
addition, Rabe and Staden (1997) reported that the species
showed antibacterial activity against gram-positive
Plants used for gastrointestinal disorders
Twenty-six species from the Manokwari District were
documented for treating gastrointestinal disorders (Table
2). Majority of the species of traditional medicinal plants
recorded in this group were used to treat stomach-aches
and dysentery; other illnesses treated included diarrhea,
liver diseases and poisoning. Unpublished data from the
Manokwari District community health centre show that
stomach-aches and dysentery are important medical
conditions throughout the region and they have caused
many deaths amongst these communities. The “way of
life”, the officer said, was the primary reason. Treatments
consist mostly of circular massages of the medicinal plants
around the navel as well as drinking a decoction or infusion
made from various plant parts.
Some species used to cure these medical conditions
were used by more than one tribe. Homalanthus nutans was
widely used by the sub-tribes in four different sub- districts
(Ransiki, Anggi-Sururey, Wasior, and Kebar) to treat
stomach-aches. The shrubs are easy to access, growing
mostly in secondary forest and previously cultivated area
surroundings the villages. The tribes also used similar
methods of preparation as a decoction or cold infusion,
followed by rubbing the prepared plants on the affected
Some of the species found under this section have also
been reported as treatments for similar medical conditions
in different parts of the world. Artocarpus altilis is
recognized in Java and other Indonesian areas, (root bark,
sap, and sometimes stem-bark), Samoa and Tonga (roots),
and in Papua New Guinea (latex) to treat diarrhea and
dysentery (Perry 1980; Dittmar 1998). Another study also
reported that a decoction of leaves and rhizomes of
Cordyline fruticosa is used to cure diarrhea and dysentery
in Central Lombok (Puyung), Indonesia (Hadi and Bremner
2001), and Samoa (Dittmar 1998). In Malaysia, Acorus
calamus (Jerangau) is used to cure fevers, dysentery, and to
improve the appetite (Salleh 1997). A decoction of bark of
Artocarpus altilis and the leaves and bark of Morinda
citrifolia were also used in the Philippines and Tonga to
treat stomach-aches (Perry 1980; Singh 1984). A
phytochemical study of the latex of Artocarpus altilis has
shown that it contains cardenolides (Qujano and Arango
1979; Wong 1976) and cerotic acid (Perry 1980), but no
pharmacological information relating to indigenous uses is
Plants used for dermatological conditions
In this group, eight plant species from the Manokwari
District have been reported to be used to treat a variety of
dermatological conditions such as scabies and abscesses
(Table 3). Treatments mostly consist of preparing a
decoction or cold diffusion and applying it to the affected
skin. Bark and roots were the most common parts of the
plant used. To treat measles, the roots of Imperata
cylindrica and Metroxylon rumphii were boiled, filtered,
cooled, and the solution is swallowed twice per day until
the patient is healed.
The native people in Wasior, Kebar, and Merdey have
used the bark of the stem of Ficus sp. and Leea aculeata as
well as the leaves of Polygonum sp. to treat abscesses.
Treatment is mainly by drinking a decoction or cold
infusion of the potion followed by application of prepared
plants whereas to cure ringworm, these communities
applied the crushed bark and leaves directly to affected
Some of the species found under this category have
been using as medicinal plants worldwide. In West
Lombok, Indonesia, Cocos nucifera (leaves, stem, and
roots) is used for fever and dysentery (Hadi and Bremner
2001). People in the Marshall Islands used the leaf sheath
of this species to support broken limbs (Spennemann
2000). Elsewhere in Indonesia, the roots of Imperata
cylindrica are used to treat blood pressure, fever, coughs,
and hepatitis (Erdelen et al. 1999). In Sri Lanka, a
decoction of rhizomes is used to relieve the retention of
urine and passing of blood in the urine (Jayaweera 1999).
Table 3. Manokwari traditional medicinal plants used to treat dermatological conditions.
Plant name
Medical conditions
Plant parts used
Cocos nucifera L.
Milk from young coconut
Ficus sp1.
Bark, shoot
Imperata cylindrica L.
Leea aculeata Blume
Lithocarpus brassii Soepadmo
Metroxylon rumphii Mart.
Polygonum sp1.
Polygonum sp2.
LENSE The wild medicinal plants of Manokwari, West Papua
Table 4. Manokwari traditional medicinal plants used for respiratory illnesses.
Plant name
Medical conditions
Plant parts used
Alstonia scholaris R.Br.
Endospermum moluccanum Becc.
Euodia sp.
Horsfieldia sp.
Coughs, asthma
Bark, roots
Table 5. Manokwari traditional medicinal plants used as women’s medicines.
Plant name
Medical conditions
Plant parts used
Ageratum conyzoides L.
Eases birth, decoction after delivering a baby
Biophytum petersianum Klotzsch
Whole plant
Centella asiatica L.
Problems of menstruation
Colocasia sp.
Cordyline fruticosa A. Cheval.
Problems of menstruation
Cyathea contaminans L.
Problems of menstruation
Musa x paradisiaca L.
Easy birth
Nauclea orientalis L.
Easy birth
Physalis angulata L.
Prevent pain during menstruation
Ricinus communis L.
Decoction before delivering a baby
Plants used for respiratory illnesses
Four species of Manokwari medicinal plants were
locally used for coughs, bronchitis, and asthma (Table 4).
Bark from the stem was usually prepared as a decoction
and infusion to treat these medical conditions in Merdey,
Ransiki, Kebar, and Manokwari sub-districts. Results
indicated that species Alstonia scholaris was used widely in
different tribes in Ransiki, Kebar, Wasior, and Manokwari
to combat coughs and asthma.
The number of species recorded to treat these medical
conditions was lower than the number of species found to
treat diseases in any other category. This may be because
respiratory illnesses are not considered as primary medical
conditions in the Manokwari District. Some of the species
have been reported to be used for similar medical
conditions in different countries. For example, the bark of
Alstonia scholaris was used to treat diseases from malaria
and epilepsy to skin conditions and asthma (Shankar et al.
1999); also, in Malaysia, the species is used for cases of
fevers and coughs (Salleh 1997).
Plants used as women’s medicines
Plants used during delivery and menstruation problem
are the most prominent group in this category (Table 5).
Treatments for these medical conditions were mostly
prepared as decoctions and were sometimes followed by
applying or rubbing the prepared plants on to the stomach,
so the mother would not feel pain during the delivery of a
The indigenous people in Mimyambouw sub-District
used at least six species of traditional medicinal plants to
treat childbirth and menstruation problems. The bark and
leaves were the most preferred plant parts. However, for
species Biophytum petersianum, the whole plant was used
as fertility medicine. Based on the personal interviews of
the present study, the indigenous people of Kebar sub-
District believed that a decoction of this species can
increase the fertility of a couple, but clinical investigations
are needed in order to support such a view. The species
also has been traded locally. Sometimes people from
outside the tribe buy a couple of kilograms of the whole
plant ofBiophytum petersianum as a fertility-enhancing drug.
There have been no previous reports of the species
listed in Table 6 being used for medical conditions
associated with women elsewhere in Indonesia, but some
of them are used in other countries. The species Ageratum
conyzoides L. is used in most African countries as a
contraceptive, whereas in Trinidad, the species was used as
an abortifacient (Durodola 1977). A similar use was
reported for the species Physalis angulata, in Papua New
Guinea (Kurtachi, Northern Bougainville) where the seeds
of this species are used as a contraceptive in women
(Cambie and Brewis 1997). People in Central America and
Jamaica have used a tea prepared from the whole plant of
Physalis angulata to prevent an abortion after a fall during
pregnancy (Cambie and Brewis 1997).
Plants used for eye conditions
In this group, six species have been documented as
being used to treat eye complaints including inflammation,
irritation, and infection of the surface of the eye (Table 6).
Treatments generally consist of dropping the potions into
the eye. Table 7 shows that native people in Wasior sub-
District used several plant species to treat these medical
conditions, whereas people in Kebar used one species only
to treat similar complaints.
Often drops are prepared by extracting liquids from the
squashed leaves and/or stems of the plants and they are
applied topically. When people in the Wasior sub-District
use Calophyllum inophyllum to treat eye problems, the
leaves are first soaked in a bucket of water for about 30-45
minutes prior to washing the eyes with the extracted water
for approximately 1-2 minutes; the eyes are opened and
closed several times during this process. Leaves were the
preferred plant part used to treat eye ailments, possibly
because leaves are easier to prepare as drops.
13 (2): 98-106, April 2012
Table 6. Manokwari traditional medicinal plants used for eye complaints
Plant name
Medical conditions
Plant parts used
Ageratum conyzoides L.
Irritated eyes
Calamus spp.
Inflamed eyes
Stem liquid
Calophyllum inophyllum L.
Cordyline fruticosa A. Cheval.
Inflamed eyes
Irritated eyes
Dischidia sp.
Ficus sp2.
Irritated eyes
Eye infection
Table 7. Manokwari traditional medicinal plants species used to treat wounds and burns.
Plant name
Medical conditions
Plant parts used
Ageratum conyzoides L.
Artocarpus altilis (Park.) Fosb.
Cyathea contaminans L.
Sap, bark
Juvenile stem
Cyperus rotundus L.
Diplazium esculentum (Retz.) Sw.
Bambusa vulgaris Schrad.
Outer bark
Melastoma malabathricum L.
Merremia peltata Merr.
Leaves, twigs
Mucuna novo-guineensis Scheff.
Old wounds
Paspalum conjugatum L.
Pometia pinnata Forst.
Burns and wounds
Juvenile bark
Axonopus compressus (SW.) P.
Spathoglottis papuana F.M. & Bailey
Table 8. Manokwari traditional medicinal plants used for other medical conditions
Plant name
Medical conditions
Plant parts used
Amomum sp.
Sexually transmitted diseases in men
Artocarpus altilis (Park.) Fosb.
Canarium sp.
Drimys beccariana L.S. Gibbs.
Ficus benjamina L.
Bone fracture
Gnetum gnemon L.
Litsea sp.
Palaquium sp.
Sexually transmitted diseases in men
Pimelodendron amboinicum Hassk.
Sexually transmitted diseases in men
Leaves, bark
Pipturus repandus (Bl). Wedd.
Platycerium sp.
Pometia pinnata Forst.
Epipremnum pinnatum (L.) Engl.
Hepatitis, sexually transmitted diseases in men
Schismatoglottis calyptrata Zoll. & Mor.
Bone fracture
Selaginella Palisot de Beauvois
Spathodea campanulata Beauv.
Broken legs
Stem juices
Similar traditional uses of some species recorded in this
group have also been reported in different countries. In
Samoa, the leaves of Cordyline fruticosa was used to cure
eye inflammation (Dittmar 1998), and in Tonga, leaves
were used for eye complaints, eye infections, as well as
toothache, gum infections, and gum abscesses (Weiner
1971). The leaves of this species contain thymidine and the
flowers contain chelidonic acid (Wong 1976).
Plants used for wounds and burns
Extracts from 13 species of Manokwari medicinal
plants (Table 7) were used to treat wounds and burns. Cuts
and wounds may be bathed with potions of certain
medicinal plants made simply by crushing the leaves, stem,
or bulbs of specific plants, or by heating those parts before
crushing and applying the juices. Sap of the stem of
Artocarpus altilis may also be applied. Excessive bleeding
may be stopped by applying the outer bark of Bambusa
vulgaris or the juices of Ageratum conyzoides.
Burns may be treated by applying crushed stems of
Cyathea contaminans and masticated juvenile bark of
Pometia pinnata. The potion of the Cyathea contaminans
was prepared by crushing the juvenile part of the stem to a
gel and applying directly on burns. P. pinnata is commonly
used throughout the Manokwari District.
Furthermore, the medicinal plants recorded in this
group also have been reported to be used to treat similar
medical conditions worldwide. Ageratum conyzoides is
used in Java, Indonesia, to cure similar ailments. In
Malaysia and the Philippines it is used to treat cuts, boils,
and wounds, and is thought to have anti-tetanus properties
(Salleh 1997). In Central Africa, Cameroon and Congo,
and elsewhere in Africa (Durodola 1977), A. conyzoides is
used to cure pneumonia, but the most common use is to
heal wounds and burns. The species is reputed to be a quick
and effective cure for burns and is recommended by the
Brazilian Drugs Central as an antirheumatic (Ming 1999).
Pharmacological investigations by Ming (1999) have
LENSE The wild medicinal plants of Manokwari, West Papua
confirmed that Ageratum conyzoides has an effective
analgesic action in rats when an aqueous extract of leaves
(100 to 400 mg/kg) is used. Trials in Kenya, using aqueous
extracts of the whole plant, have demonstrated muscle-
relaxing activities, confirming its popular use as an
antipasmotic (Achola et al. 1994). Similar results were
obtained in experiments conducted by State University of
Campinas and Paraiba Federal University, Brazil. In
clinical trials on patients with arthritis who were given an
aqueous extract of the whole A. conyzoides plant, 66% of
patients reported a decrease in pain and inflammation and
24% reported increased mobility; no side effects were
apparent after a week of treatment (Ming 1999). In Samoa
and Hawaii, the twigs and fruits of Artocarpus altilis are
used as a cure for wounds (Dittmar 1998), whereas the
people in Langkawi, Malaysia used the juvenile stem of
Cyathea contaminans L. (Salleh 1997;Woodley 1991).
Other uses (OTH)
The 16 species in this group have diverse applications.
Medical treatment ranges from treating sexual diseases of
men, lethargy, hepatitis, and bone fractures (Table 8). Of
these, only a few species stand out as being of some
importance. Medical conditions related to sexually
transmitted diseases in men are the most common
conditions treated. Preparations of medicinal plants are
applied to affected areas. Table 8 indicates that many of the
species listed can produce exudates (latex or sap) that are
applied directly, whereas the bark of Artocarpus altilis,
Litsea sp., Palaquium sp., and Pimelodendron amboinicum
was crushed and then applied. There is no supporting
information regarding the efficacy of these species in
treating similar conditions in different regions. Hence,
further phytochemical studies, as well as clinical
investigations, are needed in order to prove their efficacy.
The species Drimys beccariana (akuai) has become a
very popular medicinal plant in Mimyambouw area and
surroundings. The stem-bark of this species is normally
used by the indigenous people, especially the Hatam tribe,
as a tonic. In general, the bark is chewed or some it can be
prepared as a decoction to drink to strengthen people and to
provide energy for long distance travel, such as visiting
family in different villages or visiting the capital city of
Manokwari District. Crushed bark of Ficus benjamina is
used for broken bones as a hard gypsum-like plaster
Parts of plants used and preparation
The indigenous people in Manokwari District have been
shown to use almost all the parts of medicinal plants for
treating a wide range of sickness, accidents, and injuries.
Leaves and leaf extracts are the most common parts of the
plant used by traditional healers and all the materials are
collected from the rainforest (Figure 2). In most cases plant
preparation is minimal: crushing fresh material and
applying directly to the affected part of the body; or
brewing a tea or infusion for drinking. For example, for
treating coughs and malaria, the bark of Alstonia scholaris
is scraped, boiled, cooled, filtered, and then drunk. A small
amount of cold or hot water is usually added to the
concoction, especially to make liquid medicine more
palatable. Some traditional medicines are applied directly
to the patient without initial preparation. For example, to
cure wounds and sexually transmitted diseases in men, the
latex of Artocarpus altilis is applied to the wounds or
genital organs.
Figure 2. Plant parts are commonly used for traditional medicine
by indigenous people from Manokwari District.
Although each traditional plant has its own dosage and
frequency of use, most indigenous people in Manokwari
District will continue to use the traditional medicines twice
a day until the patient is totally healed. They do not
recognize contra-indications during the healing process,
except where the plants are used to heal particular diseases,
which are related to the “supernatural”.
Local preservation of plant knowledge
Recently, with greater movement of young people away
from the villages, a significant decrease in the plant
knowledge of the younger generations has been noticed in
many parts of the region. While one of the original
intentions of this study was to determine the extent to
which a similar trend is occurring in the Manokwari
District area, this was difficult to assess because of the
relatively small number of permanent residents less than 60
years of age. However, it was found that when members of
the younger generation returned to visit their villages,
many spent time with their parents and older relatives
asking about plants, animals, and cultural traditions.
Knowledge of the medicinal uses of plants is an
individually developed skill that is regarded as a person's
particular interests or gift. Certain individuals are
recognized as special authorities on healing, and are
consulted on a regular basis for remedies for serious and/or
persistent illnesses. It appears that most sick people first
attempt to cure themselves, and if unsuccessful, they will
then visit a traditional healer. If the healer's remedies also
fail, only then will the person seek the help of a distant
medical doctor. In most cases, when the indigenous people
of the Manokwari District felt malaise or have aches, they
called upon the services of a traditional healer.
13 (2): 98-106, April 2012
Quite often returning villagers who have established
permanent residences elsewhere also turned to the
traditional healers for natural herbal remedies. Many
villagers expressed strong distrust and/or disbelief in
“[western] medical knowledge,” and only when desperate
would they visit the area doctor in another village or travel
to a city hospital. Many people simply refused to consult
doctors at all. The main factors contributing to such
attitudes seem to be the equating of pills of undetermined
origin and content with potent poisons, and to abhorrence
for invasive surgical procedures. Such beliefs have arisen
from failed medical treatment of close relatives who have
suffered a chronic or serious disease or have died.
Undoubtedly, the frequency of such failed treatments may
be due to the fact that most diseases were in advanced
stages before patients subjected themselves to treatment.
Cost is another factor, and traditional healers were readily
accessible, whereas medical treatment often involved great
financial expense and arduous travel.
The indigenous people in Manokwari have been using
at least 99 plant species as sources of medicines; the plats
are widely distributed among 93 genera and 59 families.
Most of these traditional plants are commonly gathered
from the local rainforest communities. The plants have
been used by the native people to treat medical conditions
grouped into several categories namely gastrointestinal
disorders, dermatological conditions, illnesses associated
with pain and/or fever, respiratory illnesses, women’s
medicines, plants used to counteract bites by venomous
animal, wounds, burn, and eye remedies, and other uses.
The indigenous people in Manokwari have used almost
part of the plants for treating several medical conditions,
but leaf extract are the most common part used by
traditional healers. Plant parts are prepared either by
crushing down or apply fresh material and by direct
application to the affected part of the body or brewing a tea
of infusion for drinking.
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... Physalis angulata L is well-known under the common name of cut leaf ground cherry. This species is distributed throughout the archipelago in Indonesia [1][2][3][4][5][6][7][8][9][10] giving the potential biological genetic resources of this species the chance to be developed. Although the general spread over the archipelago there is no known common name in Indonesia. ...
... Cultivation status of cut leaf ground cherry or ciplukan is still considered as a wild species [1,2] and is seeing as a weed [12][13][14] that interferes with the growth of cultivated plants. Nevertheless, the community uses as a raw material for traditional medicine [4,15]. Empirically these plants have beneficial compounds for humans that are related to healing cancer [16][17][18], diabètes [19], inflammation [20], and malnutrition [21]. ...
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We conducted a bibliographic review of palm use in New Guinea to quantify palm-utilisation patterns across the region's habitats, countries, and indigenous groups, and to identify the most useful species. We reviewed 187 bibliographic references and 140 herbarium specimens, spanning the years 1885-2018. We found 1178 use-reports and 894 palm-uses for 119 palm species. Lowland tropical rainforest is the best-studied habitat, and Indonesian New Guinea and Papua New Guinea have each received similar research effort. Most palms are used for Utensils and tools, Construction and Human food, and the stem, leaf and fruit are the most utilised palm parts. Only 5% of New Guinea's indigenous groups have been studied, and <10 use-reports are recorded for most of the indigenous groups studied. Important species included Actinorhytis calapparia H.Wendl. & Drude, Adonidia maturbongsii W.J.Baker & Heatubun, Areca catechu L., Areca macrocalyx Zipp. ex Blume, and Metroxylon sagu Rottb. Overall, our study highlights the importance of palms for fulfilling subsistence needs in New Guinea, indicates that palm ethnobotany is neglected in the world's most bioculturally diverse island, and gives directions for future research.
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The synonyms of A. conyzoides include A. album Stend; A. caeruleum Hort. ex. Poir. ; A. coeruleum Desf. ; A. cordifolium Roxb. ; A. hirsutum Lam. ; A. humile Salisb. ; A. latifolium Car. ; A. maritimum H. B. K. ; A. mexicanum Sims. ; A. obtusifolium Lam. ; A. odoratum Vilm. and Cacalia mentrasto Vell. (Jaccoud 1961). In Brazil, A. conyzoides has the following vernacular names: catinga de bode, catinga de barr?o, erva de s?o jo?o, maria preta, mentrasto, erva de s?o jos茅, pic?o roxo, erva de santa-l煤cia, camar谩-opela, agerato, camar谩 apeba, camar谩 iap贸, camar谩 jap锚, erva de santa maria, macela de s?o jo?o, macela francesa, matru?o(Jaccoud 1961; Oliveira et al. 1993). Ageratum ranges from Southeastern North America to Central America, but the center of origin is in Central America and the Caribbean. Most taxa are found in Mexico, Central America, the Caribbean, and Florida. Ageratum conyzoides now is found in several countries in tropical and sub-tropical regions, includ-ing Brazil ( Baker 1965; Lorenzi 1982; Correa 1984; Cruz 1985). Johnson (1971), classifies two subspecies, latifolium and conyzoides. Subspecies latifolium is found in all the Americas and subsp. conyzoides has a pantropical distribution. The basic chromosome number is 2n = 20 but natural tetraploids are found. A. conyzoides subsp. latifolium is diploid and A. conyzoides subsp. conyzoides is tetraploid. Ageratum conyzoides is an erect, herbaceous annual, 30 to 80 cm tall; stems are covered with fine white hairs, leaves are opposite, pubescent with long petioles and include glandular trichomes. The inflorescence contain 30 to 50 pink flowers arranged as a corymb and are self-incompatible (Jhansi and Ramanujam 1987; Kaul and Neelangini 1989; Ramanujam and Kalpana 1992; Kleinschimidt 1993). The fruit is an achene with an aristate pappus and is easily dispersed by wind. In some countries the species is considered a weed, and control is often difficult (Lorenzi 1982; Scheffer 1990; Kalia and Singh 1993; Lam et al. 1993, Paradkar et al. 1993; Waterhouse 1993; Kshatriya et al. 1994). Seeds are positively photoblastic, and viability is often lost within 12 months (Marlks and Nwachuku 1986; Ladeira et al. 1987). The optimum germination temperature ranges from 20 to 25掳C (Sauerborn and Koch 1988). The species has great morphological variation, and appears highly adaptable to different ecological conditions.
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There is an urgent need to obtain information on the relative importance of a taxon used medicinally as compared to others within the same culture. This was achieved through a documentation of the current indigenous medical uses of 320 species in three Yucatec Maya communities during 18 months of fieldwork. The 1549 individual reports documented were divided into nine groups, which classify indigenous uses. The frequency of usage of the individual plants reported was employed in the analysis of the ethnobotanical importance of the respective taxa. Species cited more frequently in a group of indigenous uses are regarded to be of greater ethnobotanical importance than those cited only by a few informants. In order to obtain information on possible biological, pharmacological and toxicological effects of some particularly important species, the scientific literature on these taxa was evaluated systematically. The study is the basis for phytochemical and pharmacological evaluations of the traditional uses.
Crude extract of A. conyzoides is traditionally used as antispasmodic. The muscle relaxant activity of root and aerial part extracts on rabbit isolated ileum supports this traditional use. The extracts show also a cardiodepressant activily on isolated heart.
Local medical practices in this Pacific archipelago are reviewed, the folk taxonomy and medicinal uses of 71 plants are discussed, and the medicinal applications of each species in some other regions of the Pacific are enumerated. Included are the plant parts used, Tongan names, the illnesses, and the preparations of the remedies.
This paper provides a brief account of 31 plants associated with herbal remedies among the Hayas, a tribe of Kagera region, Tanzania. Reports from informants were obtained during field studies in June 1987. For each species are given the botanical name, vernacular name, collection number, locality, habit, dis-tribution and medical uses. The data are compared with information from literature for medical uses, and listed isolated constituents and pharmacological effects. The Hayas have had a rich herbal folklore, but this is fading due to increasing acculturation and depletion of plant cover. une tribe de Kagera, une région du Tanzania. Rapports obtenuées des informateurs pendant les etudiés dans le champ au mois dejuin 1987. Pour chaque espèce se présent nom de botanique, nom de vernaculaire, nombre de rassemblement, localité, I’habitude, reépartition et medicales usage. Les données sont comparée avec les informations obtenuées de littéraire pour medicales usage et rapport sur isolé constituants et les effets de pharmacologie. Les Hayas a eu une riche folklore herbal, mais ce disparaitre de plus en plus de acculturation et du epuisement de converture des plantes.