Open Access

An ethnobotanical survey of medicinal plants used in the East Sepik province of Papua New Guinea

  • Michael Koch1,
  • Dickson Andrew Kehop2,
  • Boniface Kinminja2,
  • Malcolm Sabak2,
  • Graham Wavimbukie2,
  • Katherine M. Barrows3,
  • Teatulohi K. Matainaho2,
  • Louis R. Barrows3Email author and
  • Prem P. Rai2
Journal of Ethnobiology and Ethnomedicine201511:79

https://doi.org/10.1186/s13002-015-0065-8

Received: 2 June 2015

Accepted: 24 October 2015

Published: 14 November 2015

Abstract

Background

Rapid modernization in the East Sepik (ES) Province of Papua New Guinea (PNG) is resulting in a decrease in individuals knowledgeable in medicinal plant use. Here we report a synthesis and comparison of traditional medicinal plant use from four ethnically distinct locations in the ES Province and furthermore compare them to two other previous reports of traditional plant use from different provinces of PNG.

Methods

This manuscript is based on an annotated combination of four Traditional Medicines (TM) survey reports generated by University of Papua New Guinea (UPNG) trainees. The surveys utilized a questionnaire titled “Information sheet on traditional herbal preparations and medicinal plants of PNG”, administered in the context of the TM survey project which is supported by WHO, US NIH and PNG governmental health care initiatives and funding. Regional and transregional comparison of medicinal plant utilization was facilitated by using existing plant databases: the UPNG TM Database and the PNG Plant Database (PNG Plants) using Bayesian statistical analysis.

Results

Medicinal plant use between four distinct dialect study areas in the ES Province of PNG showed that only a small fraction of plants had shared use in each area, however usually utilizing different plant parts, being prepared differently and to treat different medical conditions. Several instances of previously unreported medicinal plants could be located. Medicinally under- and over-utilized plants were found both in the regional reports and in a transregional analysis, thus showing that these medicinal utilization frequencies differ between provinces.

Conclusions

Documentation of consistent plant use argues for efficacy and is particularly important since established and effective herbal medicinal interventions are sorely needed in the rural areas of PNG, and unfortunately clinical validation for the same is often lacking. Despite the existence of a large corpus of medical annotation of plants for PNG, previously unknown medical uses of plants can be uncovered. Furthermore, comparisons of medicinal plant utilization is possible if databases are reformatted for consistencies that allow comparisons. A concerted effort in building easily comparable databases could dramatically facilitate ethnopharmacological analysis of the existing plant diversity.

Keywords

Papua New GuineaEast SepikMedicinal plantsBougainvilleEastern highlandsQuantitative ethnopharmacology

Background

Papua New Guinea (PNG) is a largely rural country characterized by at least 800 ethnic traditions dispersed over 462,840 km2 [1, 2]. Most of the population resides in small villages, situated in diverse environs that range from montane rainforest to lowland river deltas and small tropical islands. Settled 49,000–44,000 years ago (Ivane Valley in the PNG Highlands) [3], PNG is blessed with extraordinary biological diversity and a rich but fragmented cultural tapestry of customs, art, spiritual beliefs and medicinal knowledge.

The East Sepik Province is situated in the northwest of the country bordered by the West Sepik Province (West), Madang Province (East), the Bismark Sea (North) and Enga Province (South). East Sepik (43,426 km2) is characterized by mountainous terrain to the south and west and the costal floodplain of the Sepik river, which flows west to east through the province [4]. The approximately 350,000 inhabitants have to rely on 37 health centers for provisioning health care and heavily supplement western medicines with traditional medicines (TM) [4, 5]. The 10 % mortality rate for children under 5 years reflects the difficulty of providing adequate health care in the East Sepik Province. In an effort to supplement health care with effective traditional medicins the University of Papua New Guinea (UPNG), endorsed by the PNG government, struck a collaboration with the WHO to develop reliable traditional medicines (TM) and safe practices (outlined in the 2001–2010 PNG National Health Plan [6]). Part of this project includes traditional medicine surveys performed by UPNG students working in their kinship (“wantok”) communities. The data are then recorded in a proprietary database maintained at UPNG [7]. This database serves as central repository for PNG traditional medicine practices, preserving cultural traditions from many diverse communities.

Methods

The TM surveys are performed by UPNG students who are instructed on plant identification, preservation, herbal medicine use, and trained on how to administer the survey instrument entitled “Information sheet on traditional herbal preparations and medicinal plants of Papua New Guinea.” The survey questionnaire is the basis for semi-structured face-to-face interviews with healers, herbalists, birth attendants, and bone setters. Field vouchers of medicinal plants (twigs with leaves, fruits, flowers, nuts, etc.) are harvested under guidance of the healer and dried and compressed in newspapers. Photographs, descriptions and the pressed plant samples are assigned a voucher number and deposited with the UPNG Herbarium for later identification and reference [8].

The data concerning plant use are written up under supervision into student authored reports and the plant information is entered into the UPNG Traditional Medicines Database, which contains the combined data from reports generated by a decade’s work in this endeavor. It is the student reports that provide the base information for this current report.

Four student reports from the East Sepik Province representing four distinct language dialect communities have been compiled here: “Traditional Medicinal Plants and Practices in the Waskuk Hills Area of Ambunti District in East Sepik (2005)” by Dickson Andrew Kehop; “Traditional Medicine Practices in Niungweko and Kunjingini (MUL) Area of Wosera-Gawi District in East Sepik (2006)” by Boniface Kinminja; “Enthnobotanical Survey of Traditional Medicine in East Yangoru, East Sepik Province, Papua New Guinea” (2004) by Graham Wavimbukie; and “Traditional Medicinal Plants and Practices in Kairiru Island East Sepik Province Papua New Guinea (2004) by Malcolm Sabak The first three reports (DK, BK and GW, respectively) are inland above the Sepik floodplain at elevations ranging from 150 to 300 m. The report from Kairiru Island is referred to as MS. The specific village communities interviewed included: Bangus and Mariawai villages (DK), Niungweko and Mul (Kunjingini 1) villages (BK); Marambanja, Saina, Ambukanja, Parina, Jawia, Mandien, Bukiendoun, Sausenduon, Hangrerak and Kiarivu villages (GW) and Rumlal, Shagur and Bou villages (MS).

A compilation of references for medicinal plants described from Papua New Guinea is currently in progress (50 references) in our lab. These references were used to determine if plants collected in the current East Sepik survey work have been previously reported for medicinal use. Comparison of this East Sepik medicinal plant report to our previous reports from Bougainville [8] and the Eastern Highlands [9] was accomplished after editing the previous two reports to match the current format, including codes for conditions treated.

Overall flora distribution data for PNG was obtained for the provinces of East Sepik, Eastern Highlands, and the autonomous region of Bougainville from the PNG Plants Database [10]. The data was imported into Microsoft Excel™, formatted and edited as necessary, then processed with standard Unix (Linux) utilities to produce a formatted list containing the plant family, genus and species (if known). Duplicated instances of plants in the list were removed. The family names were split off, sorted and processed using a Python script on a Raspberry Pi Model B (http://www.raspberrypi.org) to quantify the number of instances of each plant family cited in the list. In general, when multiple names for the same species were found, we attempted to match plant family names to the PNG Plant Database versions to allow for quantitative comparison. Statistical analysis was carried out exactly as previously described by Weckerle et al. [11] using the “beta.inv” function provided in Microsoft Excel™ to calculate the 95 % inferior and superior credible intervals for the data. Comparison of the currently reported East Sepik medical plants to the Traditional Medicines Plant Database maintained at UPNG was carried out similarly. Discrepancies in plant family names were resolved as described above, the family names were adapted to the family names in the UPNG Traditional Medicines Database; resulting in a slightly different number of plant families for the traditional plant uses reported.

Plant families which are considered overused have an inferior credible interval that lies above the superior credible interval for the regional total data. Plant families that are considerend underused have a superior credible interval below the inferior credible interval of the regional total data set distribution.

Results and discussion

East Sepik reports

The combined student reports contained 299 entries (including unidentified plants (n = 6)) from the East Sepik province of PNG. The reports collated 205 plants, of which 139 were identified to species and 66 to genus, from a total of 71 families. Three reports were from areas of estimated 150 m to 300 m elevation (DK, BK and GW voucher numbers), DK from Waskuk Hills in the center of Sepik province, and BK and GW from elevated areas of the province north of the Sepik river plain and southwest of the capital Wewak. One report (MS voucher numbers) came from an island (Kairiru Island) situated close to the coast of East Sepik. The combined dataset is presented in Table 1 for all four areas of the East Sepik province under consideration.
Table 1

Plants reported as medicinally used in 4 study areas in East Sepik Province

Voucher

Plant IDReferences

Family

Local Name

Ailment

AilmentCode

PartCode

PrepCode

RouteCode

MS 02/04

Abelmoschus manihot (L.) Medik [3239]

Malvaceae

Wasniat

Uterine contraction

REP

L

D

O

GW 05/04

Acalypha grandis Benth [33, 40]

Euphorbiaceae

Unknown

Antidote to poisoning (Chemical or acid)

POIS

L

S

O

DK 16/05

Acalypha sp. [7, 3335, 3949]

Euphorbiaceae

Mikirme

Malaria

MAL

L

D

O

GW 88/04

Acalypha sp. [7, 3335, 3949]

Euphorbiaceae

Winghongong

Cough, shortness of breath

RESP

Sap

S

O

BK 057/06

Acalypha wilkesiana Müll. Arg [42, 44, 45, 4749]

Euphorbiaceae

Polembieri

Cough, shortness of Breath

RESP

L

D

O

DK 38/05

Ageratum conyzoides (L.) L [8]

Asteraceae

Mungrimb

Sore

SKIN

L

R

T

GW 56/04

Aglaia sp. [33, 50, 51]

Meliaceae

Waniembri

Fevers, malaria

FEV/MAL

L

B

I

GW 09/04

Albizia procera (Roxb.) Benth [34]

Fabaceae

He’re

Malaria, pneumonia, asthma

MAL/RESP

B

S

I & O

BK 058/06

Albizia saman (Jacq.) Merr [34, 52]

Mimosaceae

Yundimi

Induce sleep

PSYCH

L

D

T

DK 08/05

Allophylus cobbe (L.) Raeusch [8, 42, 51, 53]

Sapindaceae

Haim

Scabies

SKIN

B

C

O

GW 50/04

Allophylus cobbe (L.) Raeusch [8, 42, 51, 53]

Sapindaceae

Wah

Skin pox, cough

SKIN/RESP

L

D

T | O

DK 37/05

Alocasia cucullata (Lour.) G. Don

Araceae

Waken

Boil

SKIN

Root

R

T

MS 07/04

Alocasia sp. [8, 3335, 43, 50, 51]

Araceae

Waiyat

Abortion

REP

L

S

O

GW 27/04

Alphitonia incana (Roxb.) Teijsm. & Binn. ex Kurz [3335, 43, 54]

Rhamnaceae

Hushu

Scabies

SKIN

B

S

T

GW 24/04

Alpinia sp. [8, 9, 33, 34, 42, 43, 5557]

Zingiberaceae

Wambelekie

Cancer (mouth), hypertension

CANC/CV

R

D

O

MS 03/04

Alpinia sp. [8, 9, 33, 34, 42, 43, 5557]

Zingiberaceae

Kasai

Cough

RESP

yShoot

S

O

MS 41/04

Alpinia sp. [8, 9, 33, 34, 42, 43, 5557]

Zingiberaceae

Sinup

Fever, headache, body ache

FEV/HEAD/PAIN/SWELL

yShoot

S

O

MS 68/04

Alpinia sp. [8, 9, 33, 34, 42, 43, 5557]

Zingiberaceae

Kasai

Antidepressant

PSYCH

L & yShoot

S

O

BK 022/06

Alstonia scholaris (L.) R.Br [79, 34, 39, 40, 42, 43, 4649, 5153, 5764]

Apocynaceae

Kam-bh

Malaria, diarrhoea, asthma, sores

MAL/GAST/RESP/SKIN

L |Sap | Sap

D | D | S

O

DK 25/05

Alstonia scholaris (L.) R.Br [79, 34, 39, 40, 42, 43, 4649, 5153, 5764]

Apocynaceae

Chimb

Scabies

SKIN

B

C

O

GW 16/04

Alstonia scholaris (L.) R.Br [79, 34, 39, 40, 42, 43, 4649, 5153, 5764]

Apocynaceae

Hembe

Fever, malaria, cough, diarrhoea

FEV/MAL/RESP/GAST

Sap

S

O

MS 04/04

Alstonia scholaris (L.) R.Br [79, 34, 39, 40, 42, 43, 4649, 5153, 5764]

Apocynaceae

Kaisabok

Fever, headache

FEV/HEAD

B

D

O

BK 034/06

Amomum aculeatum Roxb [39, 42, 53, 58, 65]

Zingiberaceae

Takkwa hamba

Asthma, scabies

RESP/SKIN

Stem

C

O & T

DK 19/05

Amomum aculeatum Roxb [39, 42, 53, 58, 65]

Zingiberaceae

Guinj Nikir

Fever

FEV

Whole

V

I

DK 53/05

Angiopteris evecta (G. Forst.) Hoffm [8, 56]

Marattiaceae

Yarchapa

Shortness of breath

RESP

Shoot & Root

S

O

MS 01/04

Archidendron sp. [8, 66]

Fabaceae

Niar

Diarrhoea, asthma, fever, headache

HEAD/FEV/GAST

B

D

O

DK 02/05

Areca catechu L [8, 34, 37, 39, 42, 43, 51, 67, 68]

Arecaceae

Maimb

Abdominal ache, whitespots

GAST/SKIN

Shoot | Nut

R | R

T | O

MS 10/04

Aristolochia sp. [8, 9, 34, 43, 48, 56, 59, 61, 63]

Aristolochiaceae

Mutamuth

Epigastric pain

GAST

L

R

T

MS 73/04

Aristolochia sp. [8, 9, 34, 43, 48, 56, 59, 61, 63]

Aristolochiaceae

War sapiau

Blocked nose, flu, cough

RESP

L

R

I

MS 23/04

Artocarpus altilis (Parkinson ex F.A. Zorn) Fosberg [8, 34, 43, 50, 61]

Moraceae

Kaikning

Hemorrhage

WOUND

Sap

R

O

GW 79/04

Asclepias sp.

Apocynaceae

Huaraloho

Enlarged spleen

ORG

Root

S

O

DK 21/05

Asplenium nidus L [8, 53]

Aspleniaceae

Yimangir

Infant back ache

CHILD

L

R

T

BK 039/06

Averrhoa carambola L.

Oxalidaceae

Macosembi

Aasthma, sore,fresh cut

RESP/SKIN/WOUND

Fruit

R | R

O | T

DK 01/05

Averrhoa carambola L.

Oxalidaceae

Waskapui

Cough

RESP

Fruit

D

O

MS 27/04

Barringtonia asiatica (L.) Kurz [38, 39, 42, 46, 51, 59, 64]

Lecythidaceae

Wut

Antipsychotic

PSYCH

B

D

O

GW 40/04

Bidens pilosa L. [7, 9, 32, 3436, 39, 42, 43, 50, 57, 60]

Asteraceae

Miniesihaik

Eye infections, bleeding

INF/WOUND

Root

S

T

DK 11/05

Bixa orellana L [7, 35, 42, 43, 50, 53]

Bixaceae

Noksinu

Grille

SKIN

Seed

S

T

MS 53/04

Breynia sp. [7, 33, 34, 39, 42, 43, 50, 53, 58, 68, 69]

Phyllanthaceae

Smallak

Sore gums

DENT

yShoot

S

T

MS 61/04

Breynia sp. [7, 33, 34, 39, 42, 43, 50, 53, 58, 68, 69]

Phyllanthaceae

Murpopau

Fever, joint pain, headache (severe)

FEV/PAIN/HEAD

B

S

O

GW 21/04

Bryophyllum pinnatum (Lam.) Oken [7, 42, 51, 67]

Crassulaceae

Golip

Strong cough

RESP

L

D

O

MS 21/04

Bryophyllum pinnatum (Lam.) Oken [7, 42, 51, 67]

Crassulaceae

Mitultul

Ulcer

SKIN

L

H

T

BK 006/06

Calamus sp. [8, 33, 35, 43, 53, 57]

Arecaceae

Bal

Fever, headache, malaria, cough, malnutrition

FEV/HEAD/MAL/NUT

Sap

S

O

BK 051/06

Calamus sp. [8, 33, 35, 43, 53, 70]

Arecaceae

Gwalkipi

Dehydration

NUT

Sap

S

O

GW 92/04

Calamus sp. [8, 33, 35, 43, 53, 64]

Arecaceae

Peli

General cleansing

MAINT

Sap

S

O

MS 38/04

Calamus sp. [8, 33, 35, 43, 53, 64]

Arecaceae

War huk

Asthma

RESP

Sap

S

O

MS 85/04

Callicarpa longifolia Lam [34, 51]

Verbenaceae

Yeaik

Sore in baby’s mouth

CHILD

B

MS

T

MS 20/04

Calophyllum inophyllum L. [34, 39, 42, 43, 61, 67]

Guttiferae

Sabour

Toothache

DENT

B

D

O

MS 32/04

Calotropis gigantea (L.) (L.) Dryand [51]

Apocynaceae

Sasus

Fever, headache

FEV/HEAD

L

V

I

DK 56/05

Campnosperma brevipetiolatum Volkens [71]

Anacardiaceae

Gwart

Ulcer

SKIN

Sap

S

T

BK 010/06

Campnosperma sp.

Anacardiaceae

Biakuar

Sores, scabies, fresh cut, wound, hair and skin (as oil), removal of spear in skin

WOUND/SKIN

B

S

T

MS 39/04

Canarium sp. [34, 42, 43, 50, 57, 70]

Burseraceae

Klakul

Emetic

GAST

B

S

O

MS 64/04

Canarium sp. [34, 42, 43, 50, 57, 70]

Burseraceae

Yamuok

Ulcer

SKIN

Sap

S

T

DK 15/05

Capsicum annuum L.

Solanaceae

Seraimbsik

Malaria

MAL

Fruit & Seed

C

O

DK 34/05

Carica papaya L [42, 43, 46, 47, 59, 64, 68]

Caricaceae

Pous

Malaria

MAL

Root

D

O

DK 26/05

Caryota mitis Lour.

Arecaceae

Tosh

Shortness of Breath

RESP

Succus

S

O

MS 69/04

Caryota rumphiana Mart. [39, 53]

Arecaceae

Yamoun

Toothache

DENT

yShoot

M

O

BK 028/06

Cascabela thevetia (L.) Lippold [51]

Apocynaceae

Lai

Sores

SKIN

L & Seed

S

T

BK 044/06

Cassia alata L [7, 8, 34, 37, 38, 42, 46, 49, 52, 59, 61, 63, 67, 69]

Fabaceae

Yundilipgi

Grille and white spot

SKIN

L

R

T

DK 43/05

Cassia alata L [7, 8, 34, 37, 38, 42, 46, 49, 52, 59, 61, 63, 67, 69]

Fabaceae

Apkuaiamboi

Grille

SKIN

L

H | R

T

GW 01/04

Cassia alata L [7, 8, 34, 37, 38, 42, 46, 49, 52, 59, 61, 63, 67, 69]

Fabaceae

Kenjimbi

Fungal infections, tinea, (white spot, grille

INF/SKIN

L

H | R

T

MS 74/04

Cassia alata L [7, 8, 34, 37, 38, 42, 46, 49, 52, 59, 61, 63, 67, 69]

Fabaceae

Piaktie

Ggrille

SKIN

L

H

T

GW 71/04

Cassia sp.

Fabaceae

Pipi

Female infertility

REP

Root

D

O

MS 28/04

Casuarina equisetifolia L [33, 34, 3840, 42, 43, 46, 58, 72]

Casuarinaceae

Kaiklee

Scabies, skin pox, small sores

SKIN

B

D

T

MS 19/04

Cenchrus sp.

Gramineae

Warawara

Cough

RESP

Stem

M

O

GW 94/04

Cenchrus sp.

Gramineae

Mitate

Enlarged spleen

ORG

L

D

O

GW 12/04

Cerbera floribunda K. Schum [51]

Apocynaceae

Yaung

Malaria, pneumonia

MAL/RESP

B

D

O

DK 20/05

Cheilocostus speciosus (J. König) C. Specht [8, 34, 42, 47, 56]

Costaceae

Yangir

Shortness of Breath

RESP

Succus

S

O

BK 008/06

Christia sp.

Fabaceae

Banjip

Diarrhoea, scabies, sores on the head like scabies

GAST/SKIN

L

D | R

O | T

MS 50/04

Chrysopogon aciculatus (Retz). Trin

Poaceae

Knarbru

Swollen bodies, legs, arms

SWELL

Whole

D

T

DK 54/05

Cinnamonum sp.

Lauraceae

Metamboi

Headache

HEAD

B

MS

T

GW 59/04

Cissus sp. [33, 34, 43, 53, 59, 62]

Vitaceae

Lenghasa

Stomach ache, diarrhoea

GAST

Sap

S

O

BK 049/06

Clematis sp. [8, 33, 34, 37, 39, 42, 43, 51, 53, 59, 6567, 69]

Ranunculaceae

Gwawingga

Nasal congestion, running nose

RESP

L

V

I

GW 87/04

Clerodendrum sp. [8, 37, 38, 62]

Labiatae

Hambaihile

Snake bite

BITE

Sap

S

O

GW 91/04

Clitoria ternatea L.

Fabaceae

Pohuk

Determine female sex for baby, infertility

REP

Fruit

C

O

MS 78/04

Cocos nucifera L [7, 8, 34, 3739, 43, 56, 59, 61, 67, 68]

Arecaceae

Niumour

Bleeding from cuts

WOUND

Fruit

H

T

BK 047/06

Codiaeum variegatum (L.) Rumph. ex A. Juss [8, 34, 35, 39, 42, 43, 48, 56, 58, 61, 62, 66, 73]

Euphorbiaceae

Diripmi

Ulcer

SKIN

Sap

S

T

MS 37/04

Codiaeum variegatum (L.) Rumph. ex A. Juss [8, 34, 35, 39, 42, 43, 48, 56, 58, 61, 62, 66, 73]

Euphorbiaceae

Waeke

Ssores around the mouth area

SKIN

Succus

S

T

DK 12/05

Cordyline fruticosa (L.) A. Chev [37, 38, 45, 56, 5961]

Asparagaceae

Awa

Grille

SKIN

B & Stem

R

T

GW 86/04

Cordyline fruticosa (L.) A. Chev [37, 38, 45, 56, 5961]

Asparagaceae

Haua

Fresh cuts, sores

WOUND/SKIN

L

H

T

MS 67/04

Cordyline fruticosa (L.) A. Chev [37, 38, 45, 56, 5961]

Asparagaceae

Shir

Fever, headache, general body pain

FEV/HEAD/PAIN

L & yShoot

S

O

BK 053/06

Crinum asiaticum L [7, 8, 34, 39, 42, 49, 51, 56, 61, 62, 67, 74]

Amaryllidaceae

Yawal

Swollen leg, limbs, muscles

SWELL

L

H

T

GW 39/04

Crinum asiaticum L [7, 8, 34, 39, 42, 49, 51, 56, 61, 62, 67, 74]

Amaryllidaceae

Youri

General cleansing, swollen breast

GAST/SWELL

Sap & L

S | HR

O | T

MS 29/04

Crinum asiaticum L [7, 8, 34, 39, 42, 49, 51, 56, 61, 62, 67, 74]

Amaryllidaceae

Milakiap

Scabies, rectal prolapse

SKIN/GAST

Stem

S

O | T

MS 54/04

Crinum asiaticum var. asiaticum [34, 54, 61]

Amaryllidaceae

Kalava

Anemia

BLOOD

L

D

O

GW 75/04

Cryptocarya sp. [8, 3335, 43, 50, 53, 55, 65]

Lauraceae

Misipi (misi-ph)

Cough, clear thinking

RESP/PSYCH

B

D

O

BK 035/06

Cryptocarya sp. [8, 3335, 43, 50, 53, 55, 65]

Lauraceae

Kovi

Malaria and stomach ache

MAL/GAST

B

R

O

BK 029/06

Curcuma longa L [34, 42, 45]

Zingiberaceae

Laki

Poison by black magic

MAGIC

Root

R

O

GW 35/04

Curcuma sp. [34, 35, 40, 4245, 62]

Zingiberaceae

Hivinguambe

Fever, headache

FEV/HEAD

Shoot

B

I

GW 38/04

Curcuma sp. [34, 35, 40, 4245, 62]

Zingiberaceae

Lekienga

Broken bones, curds/boils

BONE/SKIN

L | Root

D

O

MS 84/04

Cycas circinalis L [34, 35, 38, 42, 43, 46, 47, 51, 73]

Cycadaceae

Malcoku/Malok

Sores

SKIN

Seed

R

T

BK 002/06

Cycas rumphii Miq [64]

Cycadaceae

Malehohong

Sores

SKIN

Seed

R

T

GW 90/04

Cycas sp. [34, 38, 39, 42, 43, 46, 47, 51, 63, 72, 73]

Cycadaceae

Rarier

Ulcers

SKIN

Seed

R

T

DK 06/05

Cymbopogon citratus (DC) Stapf [42, 56, 66]

Gramineae

Suimin

Fever

FEV

Whole

V

T

GW 53/04

Cymbopogon citratus (DC) Stapf [42, 56, 66]

Gramineae

Yamawi

Malaria

MAL

L

V

I

MS 70/04

Davallia sp. [8, 34]

Davalliaceae

Klakol

Headache, fever

HEAD/FEV

Sap

C

O

DK 35/05

Dendrocnide cordata (Warb. ex H.J.P. Winkl.) Chew [51]

Urticaceae

Chumbia

Body aches

PAIN

L

R

T

MS 33/04

Dendrocnide latifolia (Gaudich.) Chew [64]

Urticaceae

Shalat (green)

General body pain

PAIN

L

R

T

GW 101/04

Desmodium sp. [7, 9, 3335, 37, 43, 48, 60, 66, 68, 70, 72, 75, 76]

Fabaceae

Ninji

Contraceptive

REP

Root

S

O

MS 81/04

Dillenia sp. [39, 50, 58, 60, 65, 77]

Dilleniaceae

Kol

Fever, headache, cough

FEV/HEAD/RESP

L

S

O

DK 59/05

Dioscorea bulbifera L [33, 42]

Dioscoreaceae

Remsik

Contraceptive

REP

Seed

S

O

GW 63/04

Dioscorea sp. [7, 8, 33, 35, 38, 42, 43, 46, 54, 59, 72, 73]

Dioscoreaceae

Harehare

Headache, migraine

HEAD

L

HR

T

BK 013/06

Donax canniformis (G. Forst.) K. Schum [8]

Marantaceae

Gani

Ear ache

PAIN

yL

R

T

DK 23/05

Donax canniformis (G. Forst.) K. Schum [8]

Marantaceae

Guarimb

Ear infection

INF

L

R

T

GW 78/04

Dracaena angustifolia (Medik.) Roxb [42, 58]

Asparagaceae

Hembesaihe

Fever, headache, stomach complaints

FEV/HEAD/GAST

Root

S

O

GW 25/04

Dysoxylum sp. [33, 34, 39, 41, 51, 59, 63]

Meliaceae

Sengiwama

Sores, ulcers

SKIN

B

R

T

GW 68/04

Dysoxylum sp. [33, 34, 39, 41, 51, 59, 63]

Meliaceae

Huambuka

Malaria, cough

MAL/RESP

L

D

O

GW 100/04

Elaeocarpus sphaericus Schum [39, 53]

Elaeocarpaceae

Nangila

Malaria, cough, pneumonia, shortness of breath

MAL/RESP

B

D

O

MS 25/04

Elaeocarpus sphaericus Schum [39, 53]

Elaeocarpaceae

Kaiboun

Asthma

RESP

B

S

O

BK 043/06

Elatostema sp [8, 3335, 3941, 43, 53, 65, 66, 69]

Urticaceae

Kaskas-bhirs

Scabies

SKIN

Whole

D

T

MS 59/04

Elatostema sp [8, 3335, 3941, 43, 53, 65, 66, 69]

Urticaceae

Moin kukuri

Fever, headache, joint pain, fertility

FEV/HEAD/PAIN/REP

Whole

M

O

GW 28/04

Endospermum formicarium Becc [7, 34, 39, 43, 62, 67]

Euphorbiaceae

Bundua

Fever, asthma

FEV/RESP

B

S

O

DK 40/05

Endospermum labios Schodde [7, 34, 39, 43, 62, 67]

Euphorbiaceae

Paruang

Scabies

SKIN

Seed & Flower

C

O

MS 89/04

Endospermum medullosum L.S.Sm.

Euphorbiaceae

Kakar

Fever, body pain, unconscious

FEV/PAIN/PSYCH

L

B

I

GW 47/04

Epipremnum pinnatum (L.) Engl [7, 8, 34, 39, 42, 67]

Araceae

Kumbui-bhi

Fever

FEV

B

S

O

BK 009/06

Epipremnum sp. [7, 8, 34, 39, 42, 43, 66, 67]

Araceae

Kunga

Dysentery (excreting of blood), vomiting of blood

GAST

Root

M | C

O

MS 12/04

Epipremnum sp. [7, 8, 34, 39, 42, 43, 66, 67]

Araceae

Klakial

Headache, swollen bodies, fever, cold

HEAD/SWELL/FEV/RESP

Sap

S

O

GW 18/04

Erythrina merrilliana Krukoff

Fabaceae

Kwai

Diarrhoea, shortness of breath,cough

GAST/RESP

L & B

D

O

MS 42/04

Erythrina merrilliana Krukoff

Fabaceae

Pear

Contraceptive

REP

B

B

O

MS 52/04

Euodia hortensis J.R. Forst. & G. Forst. [8, 34, 42, 43, 53, 56, 57, 63]

Rutaceae

Ghin

Unconsciousness

PSYCH

L

V

I

MS 66/04

Euodia sp. [8, 33, 34, 40, 42, 43, 53, 56, 57, 62, 63]

Rutaceae

Muth

Fertility,emetic

REP/GAST

B

S

O

BK 025/06

Euphorbia heterophylla L [51]

Euphorbiaceae

Wilai

For treating diarrhoea

GAST

Sap

S

O

BK 023/06

Euphorbia hirta L [9, 34, 39, 46, 50, 51, 56, 57, 67]

Euphorbiaceae

Unknown

Sore

SKIN

L

S

T

GW 17/04

Euphorbia hirta L [9, 34, 39, 46, 50, 51, 56, 57, 67]

Euphorbiaceae

Seplein Nai

Shortness of breath, asthma, pneumonia

RESP

Whole

D

O

DK 03/05

Euphorbia plumerioides Teijsm. ex Hassk. [33, 34, 36, 43, 51, 53, 60, 69]

Euphorbiaceae

Miambi/Pombi

Poisoning

POIS

Sap

S

O

MS 47/04

Euphorbia sp. [9, 3436, 4144, 50, 53, 54, 5759, 67, 74, 78]

Euphorbiaceae

Sungwia

Emetic

GAST

Sap

S

O

GW 44/04

Euphorbia sp. [9, 3436, 4144, 50, 53, 54, 5759, 67, 74, 78]

Euphorbiaceae

Wale

Emetic

GAST

Sap

S

O

GW 80/04

Euphorbia sp. [9, 3436, 4144, 50, 53, 54, 5759, 67, 74, 78]

Euphorbiaceae

Tuth

Emetic

GAST

Sap

S

O

MS 79/04

Euphorbia tithymaloides (L.) [51, 56]

Euphorbiaceae

Mual nias

Epigastric pain

GAST

Sap

S

O

BK 046/06

Ficus adenosperma Miq [8, 3335, 53]

Moraceae

Belloki

Cut

WOUND

yL

S

T

DK 41/05

Ficus pungens Reinw. ex Blume [9, 33, 34, 42, 43, 53, 59, 60, 63]

Moraceae

Kuar

Shortness of breath

RESP

Succus

S

O

MS 40/04

Ficus septica Burm.f. [34, 3740, 42, 43, 48, 49, 51, 5759, 61, 62, 66, 67, 78]

Moraceae

Poipuk

Diarrhoea

GAST

Sap & yShoot

S

O

DK 58/05

Ficus sp. [79, 3340, 4245, 4749, 5159, 6163, 6669, 74, 75, 77, 78]

Moraceae

Tuohepolehe

Malnutrition

NUT

Sap

C

O

GW 58/04

Ficus sp. [79, 3340, 4245, 4749, 5159, 6163, 6669, 74, 75, 77, 78]

Moraceae

Manjemieri

Nutrient supplement for babies

NUT

Sap

S

O

GW 74/04

Ficus sp. [79, 3340, 4245, 4749, 5159, 6163, 6669, 74, 75, 77, 78]

Moraceae

Wavihasa/Horikieng

Broken bones

BONE

Root

M

T

GW 89/04

Ficus sp. [79, 3340, 4245, 4749, 5159, 6163, 6669, 74, 75, 77, 78]

Moraceae

Chiplapul

Abortion

REP

B

R

T

MS 17/04

Ficus sp. [79, 3340, 4245, 4749, 5159, 6163, 6669, 74, 75, 77, 78]

Moraceae

Bukabok

Fracture

BONE

B

R

T

MS 31/04

Ficus sp. [79, 3340, 4245, 4749, 5159, 6163, 6669, 74, 75, 77, 78]

Moraceae

Moul koni

Ulcer

SKIN

Sap

S

T

MS 88/04

Ficus sp. [79, 3340, 4245, 4749, 5159, 6163, 6669, 74, 75, 77, 78]

Moraceae

Aiyau

Toothache

DENT

yRoot

M

O

MS 75/04

Ficus wassa Roxb [33, 34, 39, 40, 42, 47, 68, 75]

Moraceae

Kikquai

Contraceptive

REP

Root

M

O

BK 060/06

Gnetum gnemon L [8, 34]

Gnetaceae

Yit

Removal of wood or stick in skin

WOUND

yL

S

T

DK 14/05

Gnetum gnemon L [8, 34]

Gnetaceae

Mogsa

Removal of nails/ splints lodged in the body

WOUND

Sap

S

T

MS 18/04

Gnetum gnemon L [8, 34]

Gnetaceae

Popoyiri

Eye disease

OCC

Sap

S

T

GW 45/04

Gnetum gnemonoides Brongn.

Gnetaceae

Biek

Fever, headache (malaria)

FEV/MAL

B

D

O

MS 14/04

Graptophyllum sp. [79, 33, 35, 36, 39, 41, 66, 67]

Acanthaceae

Inta’niat

Fever, headache, joint pain, cold

FEV/HEAD/ PAIN/RESP

L

D

O & I & T

GW 11/04

Gymnostoma papuanum (S. Moore) L.A.S. Johnson [33, 35, 43]

Casuarinaceae

Mania

Shortness of breath, asthma

RESP

B

D

O

GW 70/04

Hemigraphis reptans (G. Forst.) T. Anderson ex Hemsl.

Acanthaceae

Mijika

Centipede bite

BITE

Whole

HR

T

BK 018/06

Hibiscus rosa-sinensis L [37, 56, 59]

Malvaceae

Mawe

Sore eye

OCC

Flower

R

T

DK 13/05

Hibiscus rosa-sinensis L [37, 56, 59]

Malvaceae

Kupawaruk

Menstrual cramps

REP

L

S

O

MS 05/04

Homalanthus sp. [7, 8, 3336, 42, 50, 51, 58]

Euphorbiaceae

War moap

Scabies

SKIN

Stem

D

T

DK 42/05

Homalium foetidum (Roxb.) Benth [8]

Salicaceae

Mes

Knee ache

PAIN

B

MAG

P_to_Plant

GW 83/04

Hydriastele costata F.M. Bailey

Arecaceae

Yawah

Shortness of breath

RESP

Stem

S

O

DK 33/05

Intsia bijuga (Colebr.) Kuntze

Fabaceae

Wun

Boil

SKIN

Stem

C

T

GW 08/04

Intsia bijuga (Colebr.) Kuntze

Fabaceae

Hwapo

Fractured bones

BONE

B

HR

T

MS 46/04

Intsia bijuga (Colebr.) Kuntze

Fabaceae

Tou’r

Severe back pain

PAIN

B

D

O & T

GW 52/04

Ipomea sp. [35, 36, 39, 43, 49, 61]

Convolvulaceae

Firac

Distended stomach, pigbel

GAST

L

C

O

BK 020/06

Ipomoea pes-caprae (L.) R. Br [59]

Convolvulaceae

Waimabhu

Running nose, cough, asthma

RESP

Stem

S

?

MS 26/04

Ipomoea pes-caprae (L.) R. Br [59]

Convolvulaceae

Kairo

Fever, headache, joint pain, swelling of the body

FEV/HEAD/PAIN/SWELL

L

S

O

BK 021/06

Kalanchoe pinnata (Lam.) Pers [34, 39, 46, 51, 67]

Crassulaceae

Kulukir

knee pain/ache, back ache/pain, swollen legs, boils

PAIN/ SWELL /SKIN

L

H

T

DK 04/05

Kalanchoe pinnata (Lam.) Pers [34, 39, 46, 51, 67]

Crassulaceae

Asamambia

Insect bite

BITE

L

H

T

BK 015/06

Laportea decumana Wedd. [9, 32, 3437, 39, 4245, 49, 51, 53, 59, 63, 65, 66, 69, 71, 72, 7477]

Urticaceae

Salat

Muscle ache, knee pain, ankle sprain

PAIN

L

R

T

DK 32/05

Laportea interrupta (L.) Chew [34, 39, 51, 67, 73]

Urticaceae

Shalat (red)

Fresh cuts,wounds

WOUND

yL

H

T

BK 027/06

Leucosyke capitellata Wedd [8, 9]

Urticaceae

Elan

Sores and cuts

SKIN/WOUND

B

R

T

GW 22/04

Litsea sp. [8, 9, 33, 43, 69]

Lauraceae

Erikombi

Cough, malaria

RESP/MAL

L

D

O

GW 23/04

Litsea sp. [8, 9, 33, 43, 69]

Lauraceae

Neimie

Malaria, fevers, coughs

MAL/FEV/RESP

L or B

D

O

GW 06/04

Macaranga clavata Warb.

Euphorbiaceae

Lambie

Skin infections, scabies

SKIN

B

S

T

MS 11/04

Macaranga darbyshirei Airy Shaw

Euphorbiaceae

Walmieng

Anti-venom

POIS

B

M

O

GW 46/04

Maclura cochinchinensis (Lour.) Corner [39]

Moraceae

Lomowi

Cough, stomach complaints

RESP/GAST

Stem

S

O

GW 93/04

Mangifera indica L [8, 34, 51, 56]

Anacardiaceae

Huarambie/Wamahang

Snake bite

BITE

B

D | H

O & T

DK 51/05

Manihot esculenta Crantz [34, 35, 51]

Euphorbiaceae

Gumbyow

Fresh cut,wounds

WOUND

Root

R

T

MS 16/04

Marattia sp. [7, 33, 34, 36, 43, 54, 69]

Marattiaceae

Rireo

Fever, headache, swollen bodies etc.

FEV/HEAD/SWELL/OTHER

yShoot

S

O

BK 011/06

Melanolepis multiglandulosa (Reinw. ex Blume) Rchb. & Zoll [34]

Euphorbiaceae

Wamakhir

Snake bites

BITE

B

M

O

DK 36/05

Melanolepis multiglandulosa (Reinw. ex Blume) Rchb. & Zoll [34]

Euphorbiaceae

Waru

Snake bite

BITE

B

M

O

GW 02/04

Melanolepis multiglandulosa (Reinw. ex Blume) Rchb. & Zoll [34]

Euphorbiaceae

Warimaing

Snake and centipede bites, antivenom

BITE/POIS

B

M

O

MS 36/04

Melastoma sp. [79, 33, 34, 43, 47, 54]

Melastomataceae

Mutamuth

Blocked nose, flu, cough

RESP

L

V

I

DK 05/05

Melicope triphylla (Lam.) Merr [34, 40, 42, 43, 62]

Rutaceae

Kupun

Abortion

REP

L

D

O

BK 001/06

Merremia peltata (L.) Merr [8, 34, 42, 43, 56, 59, 67]

Convolvulaceae

Aukut

Boil, sore or ulcer, fresh cut

SKIN/WOUND

Sap | L

S | H

T

DK 28/05

Merremia peltata (L.) Merr [8, 34, 42, 43, 56, 59, 67]

Convolvulaceae

Bangpuk

Fresh cuts, /wounds

WOUND

Sap

S

T

GW 62/04

Merremia peltata (L.) Merr [8, 34, 42, 43, 56, 59, 67]

Convolvulaceae

Nangumareng

Determine male sex of baby

REP

L

D

O

GW 43/04

Merremia sp. [8, 34, 42, 43, 56, 59, 67]

Convolvulaceae

Wararamang

Fever, malaria

FEV/MAL

Stem

S

O

DK 30/05

Metroxylon sagu Rottb [42]

Arecaceae

Nouk

Burns

BURN

Stem

R

T

GW 96/04

Mikania sp.

Asteraceae

Lihasuanga

Skin infections, scabies, sores

SKIN

Sap

S

T

BK 059/06

Mimosa pudica L [8, 34]

Fabaceae

Bambu kiya

Induce sleep

PSYCH

Whole

D

T

DK 52/05

Mimosa pudica L [8, 34]

Fabaceae

Haihiksa

Infant colic

CHILD

Whole

D

T

MS 77/04

Mimosa pudica L [8, 34]

Fabaceae

Miatmiat

Induced sleep

PSYCH

Whole

D

T

GW 20/04

Mitracarpus sp.

Rubiaceae

Waramang

Eye infections, color defects

OCC

Whole

B

I

BK 038/06

Morinda citrifolia L [7, 8, 34, 37, 38, 42, 43, 48, 49, 5659, 61, 68, 70, 73, 78]

Rubiaceae

Simbiya

Knee ache, cough

PAIN/RESP

yL | Fruit

D | R or H

O & T

MS 71/04

Morinda citrifolia L [7, 8, 34, 37, 38, 42, 43, 48, 49, 5659, 61, 68, 70, 73, 78]

Rubiaceae

Knuel

General body pain, boils, inflammation

PAIN/SKIN/SWELL

L

R

T

GW 64/04

Mucuna novo-guineensis Scheff. [8]

Fabaceae

Kilemiesik

Shortness of breath

RESP

Root

S

O

MS 37/04

Mucuna sp. [8, 9, 34, 43, 47, 50, 52, 56, 63]

Fabaceae

Ombo

Anemia

BLOOD

Sap

S

O

GW 51/04

Mucuna sp. [8, 9, 34, 43, 47, 50, 52, 56, 63]

Fabaceae

Wamayihara

Tooth ache, loose tooth

DENT

Stem

M

O

GW 66/04

Mucuna sp. [8, 9, 34, 43, 47, 50, 52, 56, 63]

Fabaceae

Ponambile

Anemia

BLOOD

B

S

O

GW 84/04

Mucuna sp. [8, 9, 34, 43, 47, 50, 52, 56, 63]

Fabaceae

Manvil

Arthritis joint pain, back ache

PAIN

B

S

T

BK 003/06

Murraya paniculata (L.) Jack [8, 73]

Rutaceae

Sika

Ccough

RESP

L

D

O

DK 24/05

Musa acuminata Colla [34, 37, 47, 57]

Musaceae

Yup

Sore lip

PAIN

Fruit

C

T

MS 44/04

Musa sp. [8, 9, 3234, 37, 42, 43, 47, 52, 54, 56, 57, 59, 61, 63, 67, 71, 72]

Musaceae

Wur karasau

Wound

WOUND

Sap

S

T

BK 055/06

Nauclea orientalis (L.) L [34, 55, 63]

Rubiaceae

Runggool

Asthma,shortness of breath

RESP

B

S

O

DK 44/05

Nauclea orientalis (L.) L [34, 55, 63]

Rubiaceae

Kuva

Snake bite

BITE

B

S

O

GW 10/04

Neonauclea purpurea (Roxb.) Merr [39]

Rubiaceae

Kripa

Fever, headache (malaria), pneumonia, asthma

FEV/MAL/RESP

B

B

I & O

BK 061/06

Neonauclea sp.

Rubiaceae

Gipma

Poisonous snake bite

BITE

B

M

O

DK 48/05

Nephrolepis hirsutula (G. Forst.) C. Presl [8]

Lomariopsidaceae

Tamanguia

Uncontrollable urine

URINE

L

C

O

GW 36/04

Nephrolepis sp. [7, 8, 33, 34, 43]

Lomariopsidaceae

Walendau

Headache, fever (malaria)

HEAD/MAL

Shoot & Root

S

O

MS 48/04

Nicotiana sp. [3336, 42, 43, 47, 52, 59, 63, 66, 71, 72, 76, 77]

Solanaceae

Kennings

Anticoagulant

BLOOD

yL

H

T

BK 024/06

Nicotiana tabacum (L.) [33, 35, 36, 42, 43, 52, 59, 63, 76, 77]

Solanaceae

Saukien

Sores

SKIN

L

S

T

BK 036/06

Not Identified

Not Identified

Ukapuk

Scabies, malaria

SKIN/MAL

Sap

S

T | O

DK 47/05

Not identified

Not identified

Kupnenj

Shortness of breath

RESP

Succus

S

O

DK 60/05

Not identified

Fabaceae

Wulamian

Malnutrition

NUT

Whole

H

O

MS 80/04

Not identified

Orchidaceae

Kraufung

Skin disease (grille)

SKIN

L

H

T

DK 57/05

Not identified

Not identified

Sarimbiya

Cough

RESP

L

-

O

MS 22/04

Not identified

Not identified

Asakurkunja

Scabies

SKIN

Stem & Root

D

T

MS 08/04

Ocimum basilicum L [32, 34, 38, 39, 42, 43, 46, 48, 65, 67, 73]

Labiate

Ruk

General body weakness, fever, headache, etc.

FEV/MAL/HEAD

Whole

B

I

BK 004/06

Octomeles sumatrana Miq [43]

Datiscaceae

Wani

Asthma, back ache, malnourished/pigbel

RESP/PAIN/NUT/GAST

B | B | Sap

S

O | O | O

GW 48/04

Octomeles sumatrana Miq [43]

Datiscaceae

Waine

Fever

FEV

B

S

O

MS 30/04

Pandanus dubius Spreng.

Pandanaceae

Viak

Asthma

RESP

yShoot

S

O

GW 98/04

Pangium edule Reinw [34, 42, 43, 50, 51, 53]

Achariaceae

Imahek

Enlarged spleen

ORG

Fruit

R

O

MS 35/04

Pangium edule Reinw [34, 42, 43, 50, 51, 53]

Achariaceae

Sis

Lice killer

INSECTICIDE

L

S

T

GW 65/04

Papuechites sp. [34, 43]

Apocynaceae

Pari

Enlarged spleen

ORG

Fruit

S

O

GW 29/04

Parsonia sp. [57, 59]

Apocynaceae

Tielimbika

Fresh cuts, sores

SKIN/WOUND

L

H

T

BK 032/06

Passiflora foetida L [8, 42, 51, 56]

Passifloraceae

Bombo

Asthma, white spot

RESP/SKIN

Flower & L | Seed

D | R

O & T

DK 46/05

Passiflora foetida L [8, 42, 51, 56]

Passifloraceae

Apsarapuk

Whitespots

SKIN

L

R

T

GW 19/04

Passiflora foetida L [8, 42, 51, 56]

Passifloraceae

Apduanpuk

Strong cough

RESP

Shoot & L

S

O

MS 09/04

Passiflora foetida L [8, 42, 51, 56]

Passifloraceae

Maparou

Skin disease

SKIN

 

R

T

DK 55/05

Passiflora sp. [8, 42, 51, 56]

Passifloraceae

War yasokk

Scabies

SKIN

Sap

H

T

BK 017/06

Peperomia pellucida (L.) Kunth [7]

Piperaceae

Koikoiwara

Pimple

SKIN

L

R

T

GW 81/04

Peperomia pellucida (L.) Kunth [7]

Piperaceae

Lerek

Fever, headache, (malaria)

FEV/MAL

Whole

D

O

MS 58/04

Peperomia pellucida (L.) Kunth [7]

Piperaceae

Kinkanak

Antidepressant

PSYCH

L

D

T

BK 014/06

Phrynium sp. [45]

Marantaceae

Ripa kwalingu

Scabies

SKIN

Succus

S

T

MS 55/04

Phyllanthus amarus Schumach. & Thonn [34, 43, 49, 52, 63]

Phyllanthaceae

Kambaningi

Fever, headache, swollen bodies

FEV/HEAD/SWELL

Root

S

O

GW 54/04

Phyllanthus niruri L [7, 9, 34, 42, 43, 46, 57, 59, 73]

Phyllanthaceae

Hipanchinchi

Menorrhagia

REP

Whole

D

O

MS 60/04

Phyllanthus niruri L [7, 9, 34, 42, 43, 46, 57, 59, 73]

Phyllanthaceae

Shuk miau

Fever

FEV

Whole

D

T

GW 14/04

Phyllanthus sp. [7, 9, 3335, 39, 42, 43, 46, 49, 52, 57, 59, 63, 67, 73]

Phyllanthaceae

Kai veai

Tooth infections, toothache

DENT

Root

M

T

GW 61/04

Pimelodendron amboinicum Hassk [34, 39]

Euphorbiaceae

Sombik

Enlarged spleen

ORG

Sap

S

O

MS 15/04

Pimelodendron amboinicum Hassk [34, 39]

Euphorbiaceae

Kunial

Swollen stomach

GAST

B

D

T

BK 062/06

Piper betle L [3739, 42, 61, 67, 68]

Piperaceae

Kwashe gungga

Sores,boils

SKIN

L

H

T

DK 22/05

Piper betle L [3739, 42, 61, 67, 68]

Piperaceae

Kosh

Abdominal ache

GAST

Seed

MS

T

GW 49/04

Piper betle L [3739, 42, 61, 67, 68]

Piperaceae

Guspui

Tuberculosis, centipede bite

BITE/INF

L | Fruit

H

O | T

DK 27/05

Piper mestonii F.M. Bailey.

Piperaceae

Hrunga

Fresh cuts, wounds

WOUND

L

S

T

GW 97/04

Piper sp. [8, 9, 33, 34, 3739, 42, 43, 53, 55, 57, 58, 60, 61, 65, 67, 68, 70, 74]

Piperaceae

Walehru

Memory enhancing, clear thinking

PSYCH

Root

M

O

MS 56/04

Piper sp. [8, 9, 33, 34, 3739, 42, 43, 53, 55, 57, 58, 60, 61, 65, 67, 68, 70, 74]

Piperaceae

Kunek

Anesthetic

PAIN

Root

S

O

DK 31/05

Piscidia grandifolia (Donn. Sm.) I.M. Johnst. [8]

Fabaceae

Yinapuk

Strong headache

HEAD

Stem

R

T

GW 32/04

Pisonia longirostris Teijsm. & Binn [56]

Nyctaginaceae

Kumie/Weworo

Tropical ulcers, peptic ulcers

SKIN/GAST

B

S

T | O

DK 45/05

Planchonia papuana R. Knuth

Lecythidaceae

Ningia

Scabies

SKIN

B

C

O

MS 57/04

Plectranthus amboinicus (Lour.) Spreng [60, 74]

Labiatae

Wasirika

Skin disease (grille)

SKIN

L

S

T

GW 13/04

Plectranthus hereroensis Engl.

Labiatae

Sumoun

Stomach ulcers, placenta sores

GAST/REP

L

D

O

GW 15/04

Plectranthus hereroensis Engl.

Labiatae

Krau sumin

Scabies, itchy skin

SKIN

L

S

T

BK 031/06

Plectranthus parviflorus Willd.

Labiatae

Humbiang

Sores

SKIN

L

S

T

MS 49/04

Plectranthus scutellarioides (L.) R.Br [8, 9, 33, 42, 43, 56, 58, 74]

Labiatae

Humbiang

Ulcer, fresh cut

SKIN/WOUND

L

S

T

MS 87/04

Plectranthus scutellarioides(L.) R.BR [8, 9, 33, 42, 43, 56, 58, 74]

Labiatae

Trakain

Skin disease (grille)

SKIN

L

R

T

GW 30/04

Pongamia pinnata (L.) Pierre [40, 42, 43, 52, 56, 59, 63]

Fabaceae

Lai

Skin infections, scabies

SKIN

Root

S

T

GW 41/04

Pouteria sp.

Sapotaceae

Pokware

Scabies, grille

SKIN

Sap

S

T

BK 052/06

Premna serratifolia L. [39, 42, 61]

Lamiaceae

Kunggwia

Emetic

GAST

Seed

R

O

GW 42/04

Premna sp.[8, 34, 39, 42, 43, 53, 56, 63]

Lamiaceae

Ningrik

Ear ache

PAIN

B

S

T

MS 06/04

Premna sp.[8, 34, 39, 42, 43, 53, 56, 63]

Lamiaceae

Wurweik

Malaria

MAL

L & B

D

O

BK 050/06

Psidium guajava L [39, 40, 56, 61]

Myrtaceae

Yambu

Cough, itchy throat

RESP

Fruit

R

O

DK 17/05

Psidium guajava L [39, 40, 56, 61]

Myrtaceae

Yambosik

Diarrhoea

GAST

L

D

O

DK 49/05

Psychotria sp. [7, 9, 3335, 37, 38, 43, 59]

Rubiaceae

Sisikupa

Boil

SKIN

L

S

T

GW 07/04

Psychotria sp. [7, 9, 3335, 37, 38, 43, 59]

Rubiaceae

Konumbo

Enlarged spleen

ORG

Sap

S

O

BK 040/06

Pterocarpus indicus Willd. [7, 8, 34, 37, 38, 40, 42, 43, 47, 48, 56, 57, 59, 61, 67, 68]

Fabaceae

Markulu

Anemia

BLOOD

Sap

S

O

GW 03/04

Pterocarpus indicus Willd. [7, 8, 34, 37, 38, 40, 42, 43, 47, 48, 56, 57, 59, 61, 67, 68]

Fabaceae

Moroho

Diarrhoea, stomach ache, anemia

GAST/BLOOD

L & B

D | D

O

DK 18/05

Riedelia corallina (K. Schum.) Valeton

Zingiberaceae

Moukuaikuai

Menstrual cramps

REP

Root

D

O

MS 63/04

Scaevola sericea Vahl [39]

Goodeniaceae

Knanas

Cough

RESP

yL

S

O

MS 83/04

Schismatoglottis calyptrata (Roxb.) Zoll. & Moritzi

Araceae

Maghau

Sore

SKIN

L

H

T

GW 55/04

Semecarpus sp. [8, 50, 51]

Anacardiaceae

Huaho

Itchy skin (pruritis)

SKIN

B

D

T

MS 76/04

Sida rhombifolia L [7, 8, 34, 37, 40, 42, 43, 50, 51, 54, 57, 59, 60, 73]

Malvaceae

Shasar

Contraceptive

REP

Root

M

O

GW 99/04

Smilax sp.

Smilacaceae

Kilembole

Generalcleansing

MAINT

Root & Stem

S

O

GW 26/04

Solanum torvum Sw [8, 34, 42, 48, 68]

Solanaceae

Warandangu/Waramande

Joint pains,arthritis

PAIN

Root

D

O

GW 33/04

Spathiphyllum sp.

Araceae

Hwembung

Strong cough, fever

RESP/FEV

Root

S

O

GW 95/04

Sphaerostephanos sp. [7, 8, 33, 42, 53]

Thelypteridaceae

Ningi

Malaria

MAL

Root

D

O

MS 24/04

Sphaerostephanos unitus (L.) Holttum [33, 53]

Thelypteridaceae

Kipokip

Sores, ulcers

SKIN

L

S

T

DK 50/05

Spondias dulcis Parkinson [43]

Anacardiaceae

Nungwi

Scabies

SKIN

B

C

O

GW 67/04

Spondias dulcis Parkinson [43]

Anacardiaceae

Akanang

Sores, scabies

SKIN

Shoot

S

O

GW 37/04

Stephania japonica var. discolor (Blume) Forman [51]

Menispermaceae

Poponga

Malaria

MAL

Root

S

O

GW 31/04

Stephania sp. [34, 37, 38, 43, 47, 48, 51]

Menispermaceae

Yuamareng/Kenduek

Fever, headache (malaria), asthma, cough

FEV/MAL/RESP

Sap

S

O

GW 04/04

Sterculia shillinglawii F. Muell.

Malvaceae

Huasiva or Chosembi

Enlarged spleen, pigbel

ORG/GAST

L | Sap

D | S

O

DK 09/05

Syzygium malaccense (L.) Merr. & L.M. Perry [7, 8, 34, 39, 42, 47, 56, 67]

Myrtaceae

Gwangolik

Fever

FEV

L

D

T

DK 10/05

Syzygium malaccense (L.) Merr. & L.M. Perry [7, 8, 34, 39, 42, 47, 56, 67]

Myrtaceae

Turukirmba

Fever

FEV

L

D

T

MS 43/04

Syzygium malaccense (L.) Merr. & L.M. Perry [7, 8, 34, 39, 42, 47, 56, 67]

Myrtaceae

Duokuma

Epigastric pain

GAST

L

H

T

BK 048/06

Syzygium sp. [8, 9, 33, 43, 45]

Myrtaceae

Kaviak

Cough with itchy throat

RESP

yL

D

O

BK 054/06

Tabernaemontana pandacaqui Lam [34, 38, 46]

Apocynaceae

Karaban

Grille

SKIN

Fruit

S

T

GW 76/04

Tabernaemontana sp.

Apocynaceae

Raviapari

Determine baby girl

REP

Root

M

O

GW 82/04

Tinospora arfakiana Becc.

Menispermaceae

Saihuna

Cough, grille

RESP/SKIN

L

D | S

O | T

MS 65/04

Tinospora sp.

Menispermaceae

Tifoniak kuriri

Asthma, cough

RESP

L

S

O

GW 57/04

Tylophora sp.

Asclepiadaceae

Yousa

Recovery from illness

NUT

Root

D

O

BK 005/06

Uncaria lanosa var. appendiculata (Benth.) Ridsdale

Rubiaceae

Marangi

Fever, headache, malaria, cough, malnutrition

MAL/FEV/NUT/HEAD/RESP

Sap

S

O

MS 82/04

Uncaria lanosa var. appendiculata (Benth.) Ridsdale

Rubiaceae

Mewow

Severe fever, chronic diarrhoea with blood, loss of weight.

FEV/GAST

Sap

S

O

DK 29/05

Uncaria orientalis Guillaumin

Rubiaceae

Marange

Shortness of breath

RESP

Sap

S

O

GW 85/04

Uncaria sp. [8, 9, 33, 35, 39]

Rubiaceae

Trakiau kakoin

Headache, migraine

HEAD

Sap

S

O

GW 72/04

Ursi sp.

Fabaceae

Swamareng

Determine baby boy

REP

Root

S

O

GW 77/04

Urticastrum decumanum (Roxb.) Kuntze [9, 32, 3437, 39, 4245, 49, 51, 53, 59, 63, 65, 66,69, 71, 72, 7477]

Urticaceae

Purkumb

B body, muscle, joint pains, pneumonia

PAIN/RESP

L

R

O | T

MS 62/04

Urticastrum decumanum (Roxb.) Kuntze [9, 32, 3437, 39, 4245, 49, 51, 53, 59, 63, 65, 66 69, 71, 72, 7477]

Urticaceae

Chipia

Abortion

REP

L

D

O

BK 012/06

Vanilla sp. [65]

Orchidaceae

Dunauru banguwi

Prevent miscarriage

REP

Sap

S

O

MS 13/04

Villebrunea sp.

Urticaceae

Wurarian

Very high fever, headache, swollen bodies

FEV/HEAD/SWELL

Sap

S

O

MS 86/04

Virola surinamensis (Rol. ex Rottb.) Warb [33]

Myristicaceae

Sukuai

Sore in the baby’s mouth

CHILD

L

MS

T

GW 73/04

Wedelia biflora (L.) DC. [34, 38, 39, 42, 43, 46, 48, 52, 56, 57, 59, 62, 63, 67, 68, 70]

Asteraceae

Bambawhoo

Cough, diarrhoea, women’s bleeding disorders

RESP/GAST/REP

L

D

O

BK 019/06

Wedelia sp.[34, 38, 39, 42, 43, 46, 48, 52, 56, 57, 59, 62, 63, 67, 68, 70]

Asteraceae

Pava

Running nose, cough,asthma

RESP

L

V

I

MS 72/04

Wedelia sp.[34, 38, 39, 42, 43, 46, 48, 52, 56, 57, 59, 62, 63, 67, 68, 70]

Asteraceae

Kiskiash

Toothache

DENT

yShoot

M

O

BK 030/06

Zingiber officinale Roscoe [8, 9, 34, 36, 39, 42, 53, 56, 60, 63, 6567, 71, 73, 77]

Zingiberaceae

Kambei laki

Ssnake bites

BITE

L

R

O & T

DK 07/05

Zingiber officinale Roscoe [8, 9, 34, 36, 39, 42, 53, 56, 60, 63, 6567, 71, 73, 77]

Zingiberaceae

Nikirkuasa

Malaria

MAL

Whole

D

T

DK 39/05

Zingiber officinale Roscoe [8, 9, 34, 36, 39, 42, 53, 56, 60, 63, 6567, 71, 73, 77]

Zingiberaceae

Huaukuasa

Malaria

MAL

Whole

D

O

MS 45/04

Zingiber officinale Roscoe [8, 9, 34, 36, 39, 42, 53, 56, 60, 63, 6567, 71, 73, 77]

Zingiberaceae

Leai

Epigastric pain, vomiting, diarrhoea

GAST

Root

MS

O & T

Ailment treated (Ailmentcode) as follows: BITE = insect or snake bite; BLOOD = hematological issues including coagulation; BONE = bone related injury or disease; BURN = burns; CANC = cancer; CHILD = childhood disease; CV = Cardiovascular; DENT = dental disease; FEV = fever; GAST = gasteroenterological disease; HEAD = headache; INF = infection; INSECTICIDE = delousing; MAGIC = disease of unidentified etiology (‘magical poisoning’); MAINT = health promotion, including failure to thrive; MAL = Malaria; NUT = nutritional supplement; OCC = ocular diseases; ORG = diseases thought to affect one particular organ; OTHER = unclear disease syndrome; PAIN = physical pain; POIS = envenomation or poisoning; sometimes this includes transnatural causation; PSYCH = psychiatric diseases or syndromes; REP = reproductive diseases including childbirth related issues; RESP = respiratory diseases; SKIN = dermal related diseases; often includes infectious disease; SWELL = swelling of whole body or part of the body; URINE = urinary conditions; WOUND = wound related diseases or syndromes

Route of Administration codes (RouteCode) as follows: O = oral; T = topical; I = inhalation; P_to_Plant = patient to plant transfer of blood

Mode of preparation codes (PrepCode) as follows: B = burned (smoke generation), C = cooked; D=decoction, H = heated, HR = heated then rubbed, M = masticated, MAG = magical, MS = masticated then spit on affected area(s), R = raw; S = succus (crushed), V = vapor

Plant part utilized codes (PartCode) as follows: R = Rhizome, L = Leaf, yL = young leaf, B = Bark, yShoot = young shoot

Shared and unique plants

We found a number of plants were reported as used in common amongst these areas. Many plants had many overlaps in use, preparation, and disease (Table 1). However, among the plants identified to species level, only four species were reported in every survey: Alstonia scholaris (L.) R.Br., Cassia alata L., Passiflora foetida L., and Zingiber officianale Roscoe. The number of plants unique to one or another of the four reports was surprisingly large in comparison to the previous reports [8, 9]. A total of 80 genera, of which 29 are identified to genus level and 51 to species level (see Table 2), were not shared between any of the four study areas.
Table 2

Plants not shared between the four study areas in East Sepik Province

BK

DK

GW

MS

Albizia saman (Jacq.) Merr. (BK 058/06)

Ageratum conyzoides (L.) L. (DK 38/05)

Albizia procera (Roxb.) Benth. (GW 09/04)

Abelmoschus manihot (L.) Medik. (MS 02/04)

Cascabela thevetia (L.) Lippold (BK 028/06)

Angiopteris evecta (G. Forst.) Hoffm. (DK 53/05)

Bidens pilosa L. (GW 40/04)

Artocarpus altilis (Parkinson ex F.A. Zorn) Fosberg (MS 23/04)

Murraya paniculata (BK 003/06)

Areca catechu L. (DK 02/05)

Cerbera floribunda K. Schum. (GW 12/04)

Barringtonia asiatica (L.) Kurz (MS 27/04)

Premna serratifolia L. (BK 052/06)

Asplenium nidus L. (DK 21/05)

Clitoria terneata L. (GW 91/04)

Callicarpa longifolia Lam. (MS 85/04)

Tabernaemontana pandacaqui Lam (BK 054/06)

Bixa orellana L. (DK 11/05)

Gymnostoma papuana (S. Moore) L.A.S. Johnson (GW 11/04)

Calophyllum inophyllum L. (MS 20/04)

 

Capsicum annuum L. (DK 15/05)

Hemigraphis reptans (G. Forst.) T. Anders. ex Hemsl. (GW 70/04)

Calotropis gigantea (L.) Dryand (MS 32/04)

 

Carica papaya L. (DK 34/05)

Hydriastele costata F.M. Bailey (GW 83/04)

Caryota rumphiana Mart. (MS 69/04)

 

Caryota mitis Lour. (DK 26/05)

Maclura cochinchinensis (Lour.) Corner (GW 46/04)

Casuarina equisetifolia L. (MS 28/04)

 

Cheilocostus speciosus (J. König) C. Specht (DK 20/05)

Mangifera indica L. (GW 93/04)

Chrysopogon aciculatus (Retz). Trin (MS 50/04)

 

Dendrocnide cordata (Warb. ex H.J.P. Winkl.) Chew (DK 35/05)

Neonauclea purpurea (Roxb.) Merr. (GW 10/04)

Cocos nucifera L. (MS 78/04)

 

Homalium foetidum (Roxb.) Benth. (DK 42/05)

Pisonia longirostris Teijsm. & Binn. (GW 32/04)

Dendrocnide latifolia (Gaudich.) Chew (MS 33/04)

 

Manihot esculenta Crantz (DK 51/05)

Solanum torvum Sw. (GW 26/04

Euphorbia tithymaloides (L.) (MS 79/04)

 

Metroxylon sagu Rottb. (DK 30/05)

Sterculia shillinglawii F. Muell. (GW 04/04)

Ocimum basilicum L. (MS 08/04)

 

Piscidia grandifolia (Donn. Sm.) I.M. Johnst. (DK 31/05)

 

Pandanus dubius Spreng. (MS 30/04)

 

Planchonia papuana R. Knuth (DK 45/05)

 

Scaevola sericea Vahl (MS 63/04)

 

Riedelia corallina (K. Schum.) Valeton (DK 18/05)

 

Schismatoglottis calyptrata (Roxb.) Zoll. & Moritzi (MS 83/04)

   

Sida rhombifolia L. (MS 76/04)

Identified to Genus only (Voucher)

 Christia sp. (BK 008/06)

Cinnamonum sp. (DK 54/05)

Aglaia sp. (GW 56/04)

Archidendron sp. (MS 01/04)

 Clematis sp. (BK 049/06)

 

Asclepias sp. (GW 79/04)

Davallia sp. (MS 70/04)

 Neonauclea sp. (BK 061/06)

 

Cissus sp. (GW 59/04)

Dillenia sp. (MS 81/04)

 Phrynium sp. (BK 014/06)

 

Clerodendrum sp. (GW 87/04)

Graptophyllum sp. (MS 14/04)

 Vanilla sp. (BK 012/06)

 

Desmodium sp. (GW 101/04)

Homalanthus sp. (MS 05/04)

  

Mitracarpus sp. (GW 20/04)

Marattia sp. (MS 16/04)

  

Papuechites sp. (GW 65/04)

Melastoma sp. (MS 36/04)

  

Parsonia sp. (GW 29/04)

Villebrunea sp. (MS 13/04)

  

Pouteria sp. (GW 41/04)

 
  

Semecarpus sp. (GW 55/04)

 
  

Smilax sp. (GW 99/04)

 
  

Spathiphyllum sp. (GW 33/04)

 
  

Tabernaemontana sp. (GW 76/04)

 
  

Tylophora sp. (GW 57/04)

 
  

Ursi sp. (GW 72/04)

 

Plant parts utilization, preparation, administration and diseases treated

In general the areas studied were similar in the relative utilization of plant parts (Fig. 1) with leaves predominating followed by bark and sap as next most common (with the exception of GW where roots were more commonly utilized than sap). The MS sample set reported a large number of young shoots/young roots stipulated for use in comparison to the other reports, where “young” was not specifically stipulated. The DK and GW reports only cited use of shoots. Only DK reported the medicinal use of nuts.
Fig. 1

Traditional plant usage pattern by plant part utilized across four study areas in East Sepik province in percentile of total for each study area; y = young

The method of preparation (Fig. 2) shows a similar pattern amongst the reports: use of succus (expressed juice) was most commonly reported, followed by decoction and direct application of the raw plant material. Usually direct application meant placing the material on a wound or skin ailment after minimal handling. Similarly all reports contain inhalation of smoke or vapor, heat treatment and cooking prior to utilization. DK reported a much higher frequency of cooking the material than the other areas. Boiling as a method of preparation was only mentioned in the MS and GW reports, while mastication (chewing) was reported in all except MS. Typically heating implies later consumption or preparation of steam for inhalation, however, in the GW report heating is a method to prepare the plant material prior to topical application (labelled HR—Heated-Rubbed). Another mode of preparation was mastication and spitting on the affected area. This was relatively common in the MS report and mentioned in the DK report, but not noted in the the other two areas. Only from the DK report is the reverse utilization of the plants reported, where in one instance Homalium foetidum (Roxb.) Benth. was utilized in a reverse-from-expected manner. In this case, the blood of the patient was placed under the bark of the tree with the expected result being a lessening of knee pain and strengthening of bones as the tree grew. This clearly implies a spiritual/magical connection of plant and patient.
Fig. 2

Method of preparation of plants for traditional medicines across four study areas in East Sepik province in percentile of total for each study area; MS = masticated then spit on affected area(s), R = raw; S = succus (crushed)

The routes of administration for plant based medicines reported by DK, BK and MS were about evenly divided between oral or topical routes (Fig. 3). The exception was the administration practices reported by GW where oral consumption outpaced topical application (3:2 ratio). Inhalation was reported only once for the DK and BK areas, and more frequently in the BW and MS areas. The lone outlier for route of administration was from the DK report in which patient material (blood) was transferred to the plant (as described above).
Fig 3

Mode of administration of plant based traditional medcines across four study areas in East Sepik province in percentile of of total for each study area; P_to_Plant = patient to plant transfer of blood

Ailments treated (Fig. 4) with plant based medicines were categorized into 28 groups, sorted according to the target site, in order to to minimize possibly uncertain medical judgements or clinical misdiagnoses. Many described symptoms can likely accurately be ascribed to their appropriate causative diseases, but in the absence of independent clinical confirmation the decision was made to present the data in as unbiased a way as possible. Therefore, the category of “SKIN” contains both infections (e.g., “Grille”) and ectoparasitism (e.g., scabies); the category “REP” contains all sort of reproductive conditions, e.g., impotence, abortion, menstrual syndromes, contraception and fertility, etc. The exception to this method of categorization is malaria, which is generally well recognized throughout the Sepik. Overall, skin conditions were most frequently treated (73 instances), with respiratory conditions (60 instances), fever (39 instances), gastrointestinal conditions (36 instances) and malaria (29 instances) rounding out the top five conditions. The top five conditions in the respective reports were: for MS (fever—19, skin—18, headache—16, respiratory and gastrointestinal—12 reports each); BK (skin—22, respiratory—15, gastrointestinal conditions—7 wounds—6, and pain −5 instances): DK (skin—16, respiratory—8, malaria and wounds—5 instances each, and fever—4 instances): GW (respiratory—25, skin and malaria—17 each, gastrointestinal conditions and fever—14 instances each). The relative frequencies of ailments/conditions are presented in Fig. 4. Outlier conditions, those reported once and not reported in the other areas were urinary conditions (incontinence, URINE; and delousing, INSECTICIDE) from the MS report; use for burn conditions (BURN), magical poisoning (MAGIC) and child health improvement (CHILD) from the DK area; and cancer (CANC) and cardiovascular condition (CV) from the GW area.
Fig. 4

Coded ailments treated with plant based traditional medicines across four study areas in East Sepik province in percentile of of total for each study area; BITE = insect or snake bite; BLOOD = hematological issues including coagulation; BONE = bone related injury or disease; CANC = cancer; CV = Cardiovascular; CHILD = childhood disease; DENT = dental disease; FEV = fever; GAST = gasteroenterological disease; HEAD = headache; INF = infection; MAGIC = disease of unidentified etiology; MAINT = health promotion, including failure to thrive; MAL = Malaria; NUT = nutritional supplement; OCC = ocular diseases; ORG = diseases thought to affect one particular organ; POIS = envenomation or poisoning; sometimes this includes transnatural causation; PSYCH = psychiatric diseases or syndromes; REP = reproductive diseases including childbirth related issues; RESP = respiratory diseases; SKIN = dermal related diseases; often includes infectious disease; SWELL = swelling of whole body or part of the body; WOUND = wound related diseases or syndromes

Most common families of plants used by healers interviewed

By far the most common genus was Ficus (11), followed by Euphorbia (7), Piper (6), Plectranthus (6), Cassia (5), Passiflora (5), and 4 instances each of: Acalypha, Alpinia, Alstonia, Calamus, Crinum, Gnetum, Laportea, Merremia, Mucuna, Phyllanthus, Syzygium, Uncaria, and Zingiber.

Lesser known medicinal plant species of East Sepik

Those plants identified to the species level and not found in the Bougainville and Eastern Highlands reports were matched against our medicinal plants of PNG reference database, consisting of historical reports largely by Holdsworth and associates. The following plants were not described in the literature which the database encompasses: Averrhoa carambola L. (BK 039/06 & DK 01/05), Campnosperma brevipetiolatum Volkens Volkens. (DK 56/05), Capsicum annuum L. (DK 15/05), Caryota mitis Lour. (DK 26/05), Cascabela thevetia (L.) Lippold (BK 028/06), Chrysopogon aciculatus (Retz). Trin (MS 50/04), Clitoria ternatea L. (GW 91/04), Curcuma longa L. (BK 029/06), Cycas rumphii Miq. (BK 002/06), Endospermum labios Schodde (DK 40/05), Endospermum formicarium Becc. (GW 28/04), Endospermum medullosum L.S.Sm. (MS 89/04), Erythrina merrilliana Krukoff (GW 18/04 & MS 42/04), Hydriastele costata F.M. Bailey (GW 83/04), Intsia bijuga (Colebr.) Kuntze (DK 33/05 & GW 08/04 & MS 46/04), Millettia pinnata (L.) Panigrahi (GW 30/04), Planchonia papuana R. Knuth (DK 45/05), Riedelia corallina (K. Schum.) (DK 18/05), Schismatoglottis calyptrata (Roxb.) Zoll. & Moritzi (MS 83/04), Sterculia shillinglawii F. Muell. (GW 04/04), and Tinospora arfakiana Becc. (GW 82/04).

Capsicum annuum L. and Curcuma longa L. are commonly grown in many gardens across PNG, yet it was surprising to note the paucity of medicinal uses previously reported for PNG. Ipomoea pes-caprae (L.) R. Br. (BK 020/06 & MS 26/04) also did not appear to be part of the older literature, however, it was recently found to be used in the New Britain Province where the leaves are rubbed onto the skin affected by jelly fish stings [12]. The sap is used in the BK area for respiratory ailments, and the succus from the leaves is reported by MS to be used in Kairiru for fever/pain via oral consumption.

Comparing East Sepik with Eastern highlands and Bougainville provinces

The combined dataset of the East Sepik, Eastern Highlands and Bougainville reports encompasses 276 plant genera, of which only 22 were reported in common from our other published data sets; Bougainville 112 genera, Eastern highlands 121, and East Sepik 154 genera (see Fig. 5). The frequency of shared genera is given in Table 3. The plant genera with the highest common use citations (> = 10) are Ficus sp. 29, Alpinia sp. 16, Piper sp. 15, Syzygium sp. 12 and Alstonia sp.11. The predominance of Ficus sp. is not surprising since Ficus represents a very large genus in PNG [13].
Fig. 5

Venn diagram showing the total number (n) and overlap of plant genera utilized medicinally between Bougainville, East Sepik, and Eastern Highlands provinces

Table 3

Plant Genera in common utilized in Bougainville, Eastern Highlands and East Sepik Provinces

Genus

Bougainville

Eastern Highlands

East Sepik

Total

Ageratum

2

1

1

4

Alpinia

7

5

4

16

Alstonia

4

3

4

11

Aristolochia

1

1

2

4

Barringtonia

2

1

1

4

Ficus

11

7

11

29

Graptophyllum

1

1

1

3

Hemigraphis

1

2

1

4

Leucosyke

1

1

1

3

Litsea

1

1

2

4

Melastoma

1

2

1

4

Mucuna

3

1

5

9

Musa

2

1

2

5

Piper

4

5

6

15

Plectranthus

2

1

6

9

Psidium

2

1

2

5

Sida

1

1

1

3

Smilax

1

3

1

5

Syzygium

4

4

4

12

Uncaria

2

1

2

5

Zingiber

1

2

4

7

Regional utilization of plants

Comparison of plants used medicinally in our published data sets to a general list of plants from the same regions allowed for an analysis of utilization preferences. Medicinally over- and under-represented plant families are given in Table 4, while medical plant utilization is given in Table 5. Comparison shows that the number of plant families significantly underutilized, when compared against the regional flora, breaks down as follows: in East Sepik (ES) province Poaceae are underutilized, while in the Eastern Highlands (EH) and Bougainville (BV) Orchidaceae are underutilized.
Table 4

Overrepresented and underespresented plants for each province when compared to the regional plant diversity as recorded in the PNG Plant Database

East Sepik (ES Reports vs PNG PlantDB (ES total flora)

 

# in PNG PlantDB

# in ES Medical Plants Reports

Inferior Credible Interval

Superior Credible Interval

Difference to interval (margin)

Total

2258

207

0.080

0.104

-

Overrepresented Families

 Araceae

13

7

0.289

0.770

0.184

 Zingiberaceae

14

6

0.213

0.677

0.108

 Marantaceae

3

2

0.194

0.932

0.090

 Solanaceae

9

4

0.187

0.738

0.083

 Euphorbiaceae

83

22

0.182

0.369

0.078

 Convolvulaceae

13

5

0.177

0.649

0.072

 Datiscaceae

1

1

0.158

0.987

0.054

 Fabaceae

82

19

0.154

0.334

0.050

 Gnetaceae

4

2

0.147

0.853

0.042

 Davalliaceae

8

3

0.137

0.701

0.033

 Lamiaceae

42

10

0.135

0.386

0.031

 Anacardiaceae

18

5

0.126

0.512

0.021

 Asteraceae

19

5

0.119

0.491

0.015

 Menispermaceae

15

4

0.110

0.524

0.006

 Piperaceae

15

4

0.110

0.524

0.006

Underrepresented Families

 Poaceae

106

3

0.010

0.080

0.028

Eastern Highlands (EH) vs PNG PlantDB (EH Total Flora)

 

# in PNG PlantDB

# in EH Medical Plants Reports

Inferior Credible Interval

Superior Credible Interval

Difference to interval (margin)

Total

3549

156

0.038

0.051

-

Overrepresented Families

 Ebenaceae

2

2

0.292

0.992

0.241

 Winteraceae

2

2

0.292

0.992

0.241

 Acanthaceae

12

5

0.192

0.684

0.141

 Hypoxidaceae

1

1

0.158

0.987

0.107

 Smilacaceae

7

3

0.157

0.755

0.106

 Plantaginaceae

5

2

0.118

0.777

0.067

 Lamiaceae

21

5

0.107

0.454

0.056

 Araliaceae

17

4

0.097

0.476

0.046

 Commelinaceae

2

1

0.094

0.906

0.043

 Elaeagnaceae

2

1

0.094

0.906

0.043

 Actinidiaceae

14

3

0.078

0.481

0.027

 Asteraceae

103

13

0.076

0.204

0.024

 Bignoniaceae

3

1

0.068

0.806

0.016

 Casuarinaceae

3

1

0.068

0.806

0.016

 Lecythidaceae

3

1

0.068

0.806

0.016

 Symplocaceae

3

1

0.068

0.806

0.016

 Onagraceae

9

2

0.067

0.556

0.016

 Theaceae

9

2

0.067

0.556

0.016

 Begoniaceae

10

2

0.060

0.518

0.009

 Balsaminaceae

4

1

0.053

0.716

0.002

 Caprifoliaceae

4

1

0.053

0.716

0.002

 Icacinaceae

4

1

0.053

0.716

0.002

 Oxalidaceae

4

1

0.053

0.716

0.002

 Selaginellaceae

4

1

0.053

0.716

0.002

 Usneaceae

4

1

0.053

0.716

0.002

Underrepresented Families

 Orchidaceae

191

1

0.001

0.029

−0.009

Bougainville (BV) Reports vs PNG PlantDB (BV Total Flora)

 

# in PNG PlantDB

# in BV Medical Plants Reports

Inferior Credible Interval

Superior Credible Interval

Difference to interval (margin)

Total

1524

154

0.087

0.117

-

Overrepresented Families

 Verbenaceae

3

3

0.398

0.994

0.280

 Musaceae

2

2

0.292

0.992

0.175

 Zingiberaceae

19

9

0.272

0.685

0.155

 Gnetaceae

3

2

0.194

0.932

0.077

 Arecaceae

19

7

0.191

0.592

0.074

 Marattiaceae

6

3

0.184

0.816

0.067

 Caricaceae

1

1

0.158

0.987

0.041

Xanthorrhoeaceae

1

1

0.158

0.987

0.041

 Leeaceae

4

2

0.147

0.853

0.029

 Fabaceae

53

12

0.135

0.356

0.018

 Thelypteridaceae

9

3

0.122

0.652

0.004

 Malvaceae

30

7

0.119

0.411

0.001

Underrepresented Families

 Orchidaceae

74

1

0.003

0.072

−0.015

BS Bougainville, EH Eastern Highlands, ES East Sepik, PNG PlantDB Papaua New Guinea Plant Database [10]

Table 5

Overrepresented and underespresented plants for each province when compared to the regional plant diversity as recorded in the UPNG Traditional Medicines Database

East Sepik (ES Reports vs UPNG TradMed DB

 

# in UPNG TradMed DB

# in ES Medical Plants Reports

Inferior Credible Interval

Superior Credible Interval

Difference to interval (margin)

Total

1176

203

0.152

0.195

-

Overrepresented Families

 Convolvulaceae

6

5

0.421

0.963

0.226

 Arecaceae

10

7

0.390

0.891

0.195

 Marantaceae

2

2

0.292

0.992

0.097

 Apocynaceae

25

9

0.202

0.557

0.007

Underrepresented Families

 Verbenaceae

22

0

0.001

0.148

−0.004

Eastern Highlands (EH) vs UPNG TradMed DB

 

# in UPNG TradMed DB

# in EH Medical Plants Reports

Inferior Credible Interval

Superior Credible Interval

Difference to interval (margin)

Total

1176

147

0.107

0.145

-

Overrepresented Families

 Monimiaceae

2

2

0.292

0.992

0.147

 Plantaginaceae

2

2

0.292

0.992

0.147

 Winteraceae

2

2

0.292

0.992

0.147

Melastomataceae

7

4

0.245

0.843

0.100

 Asparagaceae

5

3

0.223

0.882

0.078

 Smilacaceae

5

3

0.223

0.882

0.078

 Onagraceae

3

2

0.194

0.932

0.049

 Pittosporaceae

3

2

0.194

0.932

0.049

 Asteraceae

47

13

0.170

0.418

0.024

 Phyllanthaceae

1

1

0.158

0.987

0.013

Caryophyllaceae

1

1

0.158

0.987

0.013

 Chloranthoceae

1

1

0.158

0.987

0.013

 Elaegnaceae

1

1

0.158

0.987

0.013

 Oleaceae

1

1

0.158

0.987

0.013

 Polygalaceae

1

1

0.158

0.987

0.013

 Tiliaceae

1

1

0.158

0.987

0.013

 Proteaceae

4

2

0.147

0.853

0.001

Underrepresented Families

 Euphorbiaceae

88

3

0.012

0.095

−0.012

Bougainville (BV) Reports vs UPNG TradMedDB

 

# in UPNG TradMed DB

# in BV Medical Plants Reports

Inferior Credible Interval

Superior Credible Interval

Difference to interval (margin)

Total

1177

146

0.106

0.144

meh

Overrepresented Families

 Arecaceae

10

7

0.390

0.891

0.246

 Leeaceae

2

2

0.292

0.992

0.148

 Rhizophoraceae

2

2

0.292

0.992

0.148

Thelypteridaceae

5

3

0.223

0.882

0.079

 Zingiberaceae

23

9

0.221

0.594

0.077

 Malvaceae

17

7

0.215

0.643

0.071

 Salicaceae

1

1

0.158

0.987

0.014

 Pteridaceae

1

1

0.158

0.987

0.014

Scrophulariaceae

1

1

0.158

0.987

0.014

 Marattiaceae

7

3

0.157

0.755

0.013

 Moraceae

38

10

0.150

0.421

0.006

 Gnetaceae

4

2

0.147

0.853

0.003

Underrepresented Families

 None found

     

BS Bougainville, EH Eastern Highlands, ES East Sepik, UPNG TradMedDB University of Papaua New Guinea Traditional Medicines Database [9, 25]

The number of plants overutilized varies (ES: n = 15; EH: n = 25 and BV: n = 12) but is relatively stable as percentage of plants found in the regional database at 0.66, 0.7 and 0.78 % for ES, EH and BV, respectively. East Sepik shares overutilization of Fabaceae, Gnetaceae and Zingiberaceae with Bougainville and overutilization of Asteraceae and Lamiaceae with Eastern Highlands, while Eastern Highlands and Bougainville share no overutilized plant families.

When the UPNG Traditional Medicines Database was used to assess utilization, the underrepresented plant families were the Verbenaceae in East Sepik and the Euphorbiaceae in the Eastern Highlands. No plant family met the p = 0.05 criterion in Bougainville, however, Euphorbiaceae was the top ranked underutilized plant family (data not shown). The number of overutilized plants is varied (ES: n = 4; EH: n = 17; BV: n = 12). Among the overused plant families East Sepik shared the Arecaceae with Bougainville. Several plant families reappear in this analysis, e.g., the Asteraceae and Winteraceae from the Eastern Highlands province and the Gnetaceae and Zingiberaceae in Bougainville. The statistical requirements of the comparison method resulted in some plant families appearing in the overutilization category represent a single report from the region for that plant family. This could not be avoided since the East Sepik reports are included in the UPNG Traditional Medicines Database total. As the PNG Medicinal Plant Database database grows in the future the stringency of the analysis will improve.

Traditional inspection of the information gathered yielded information about plants not widely used, poorly annotated or used for different ailments than those in locales where use of the plant is more common. Plants without annotation in the recent PNG Medicinal Plant Literature include:

Alocasia cucullata (Lour.) G. Don surprisingly did not yield any crossrefernces in the PNG database, even when using synonyms. It is used in Chinese medicine for snakebite, abscesses, rheumatism, and arthritis [14] and has recently been identified as containing anticancer compounds [15, 16].

Averrhoa carambola L. (starfruit) fruit is used for cuts and asthma in PNG, and also widely used throughout the world for a variety of ailments, seemingly only in India as antihemmoraghic [17].

Caryota mitis Lour. has no further medicinal annotation for use in PNG, but is used several Asian countries for a variety of ailments, e.g., against hemorrhoids, male sexual dysfunction, and rheumathoid arthritis in Bangladesh [17].

Chrysopogon aciculatus (Retz). Trin is used in the East Sepik for swelling. The plant is used in Ayurveda as a diuretic [17, 18].

Clitoria ternatea L.is used for infertility in PNG and similarly in Ayurveda, where fresh root juice in fresh goat milk is used for pregnancy [18], however, the plant is used for a dizzying array of conditions and ascribed activities [17].

Endospermum medullosum L.S.Sm. has been described previously as used against rheumatism [18], perhaps similar to the use against general body pain in the East Sepik.

Used as a contraceptive in the East Sepik, Erythrina merrilliana Krukoff reveals a dearth of information regarding medicinal uses. The plant is however known to produce toxic alkaloids [19].

Gnetum gnemonoides Brongn. yielded very little information as to medicinal use, but has been described to contain a variety of stilbenes [20].

Hemigraphis reptans (G. Forst.) T. Anderson ex Hemsl. is used in the East Sepik as the whole plant to treat centipede bite. The root is expressed into water to facilitate birth (speeding up delivery) on Vanuatu [21].

No medicinal use annotation was found for Hydriastele costata F.M. Bailey and therefore it may present one of the plants which is used very rarely for that purpose.

Intsia bijuga (Colebr.) Kuntze has annotations as a detoxicant and against diarrhea, toothache, adenopathy and swelling [22].

Macaranga clavata Warb. is used in East Sepik for skin infections, but has no recent mention in the literature for medicinal use. No scientific background information was located, hence this particular plant may be understudied. The same is also true for Macaranga darbyshirei Airy Shaw, used in the East Sepik as an antivenom, but not elsewhere mentioned for medicinal purposes.

Pandanus dubius Spreng. was not found to have any properly referenced medicinal annotations, but appears to have a fairly recent research record including discovery of two novel alkaloids, dubiusamines-A and dubiusamines-B [23].

Piper mestonii F.M. Bailey leaves used for fresh cuts and wounds do not seem to be described elsewhere. No biochemical investigation could be located in the Dictionary of Natural Products [24].

Planchonia papuana R. Knuth appears to be not used medicinally elsewhere. It is a timber tree and perhaps as such has not attracted attention; however, in an antiviral screen in our lab fractions from P. papuana exhibited anti-HIV activity [25].

Plectranthus parviflorus Willd., along with Plectranthus blumei (Benth). Launert, and Plectranthus myrianthus Briq. belong to a genus prominent for production of essentials oils [26] and with multiple annotations for antimicrobial activity, but do not seem to be described elsewhere in the PNG plant literature. The utilization of these plants for sores, ulcers and fresh cuts appear to be in line with the activities of chemicals found in Plectranthrus species [27].

Riedelia corallina (K. Schum.) Valeton, in the Zingiber family, is used for menstrual cramps, but seems to be otherwise undescribed for medicinal uses elsewhere.

The leaves of Schismatoglottis calyptrata (Roxb.) Zoll. & Moritzi are used in East Sepik to treat skin sores. No other mention was found in the PNG literature. The stems of Schismatoglottis calyptrata (Roxb.) Zoll. & Moritzi are however used in Chinese medicine for treatment of lumbago and arthralgia [18].

Sterculia shillinglawii F. Muell. has no previous annotation for PNG, but is known to be used in the Solomon island as a tonic and to reduce fever [18].

Tinospora arfakiana Becc. likewise lacks further medicinal descriptions from PNG and does not seem to have been studied from any other area, making it a potentially understudied plant.

Uncaria lanosa var. appendiculata (Benth.) Ridsdale was mentioned twice in the reports and in both instances to treat fever, but also gastrointestinal diseases, malaria, and malnutrition. No other mention for ethnomedical use could be located from PNG or other locales. However, a recent publication hints at a potential anti-depressant effect of ethanolic extracts of Uncaria lanosa var. appendiculata (Benth.) Ridsdale [28].

Uncaria orientalis Guillaumin, used to treat shortness of breath in the East Sepik, lacks pharmacological annotation, but has been investigated extensively biochemically [29, 30].

Conclusions

This report shows that in the East Sepik province of PNG the patterns of plant usage for medicinal indications is highly varied. This is true even though many of the same plants are used in ethnologically distinct regions. There is a tendancy for widely used plants to be used for multiple diseases, often with differing preparation of the parts utilized and differing modes of administration. One such example is Alstonia scholaris (L.) R.Br. which shares only the route of administration between all areas. Regardless, plants not previously documented as being used medicinally can still be uncovered, e.g., Cascabela thevetia (L.) Lippold, a plant known to contain highly toxic cardiac glycosides [31] and Dendrocnide cordata (Warb. ex H.J.P. Winkl.) Chew cannot be found as being used medicinally, however, toxicity from leaves, which are used in East Sepik, has been documented [18].

Comparison of plant utilization across study areas can likewise uncover plants which share use. A good example is the genus Alpinia, for which gasteroenterological, respiratory and reproductive use are cited for Bougainville. In the Eastern Highlands it is used for gasteroenterological and respiratory conditions. In the East Sepik it is also usedfor respiratory conditions. Alpinia is in the ginger family, widely used culinarily and medicinally around the world, with traditional medicinal uses for several of the described symptoms.

Likewise, dissemination of knowledge of useful phytomedicinal practices amongst areas that share key flora may aid health practices in those areas. In any case, further studies and phytochemical analyses need to be completed before addition of plants to the pharmacopeia for PNG (a goal of the National Policy for Traditional Medicne in PNG). The UPNG Traditional Medicines Database, while still being populated with data, can already be utilized to show correlations and extract lead information for targeting certain plants for further study. Further enhancements and perhaps adaptation of other data sources (e.g., the PNG Plant Database with up-to-date plant nomenclature) would drive statistical discovery of medicinally neglected plant genera. It is shown here that transregional comparisons are possible, but require careful recoding of previous reports and standardization of database entries and terminology.

Analysis of frequency of use of plant families in the medical tradition points to certain biases. This can ultimately be useful in targeting plants for biochemical investigation. However, if the desired outcome of the ethnobotany endeavor is to highlight useful plants for the pharmacopeia, then finer grained data is needed in order to dissect the wealth of information gathered, (e.g. precise geographic location including environmental conditions, etc.). Annotation with biochemical information, conservation status, toxicity data would yield utility for a more diverse set of scientists. To this end the diverse efforts of PNG botany, ethnobotany, ethnopharmacology and plant conservation need to collaborate more rigorously to define useful interfaces for each other’s data needs. Nevertheless, we have been able to successfully show that medicinal plant use in terms of families utilized in the East Sepik resembles Bougainville provinces more than it does the Eastern Highlands. Future work with larger data sets will address whether such similarities are due to similarities of available flora or other causes.

Notes

Declarations

Acknowledgements

The reports compiled in this manuscript were “The Traditional Medicinal Plants and Practices in the Waskuk Hills Area of Ambunti District in the East Sepik Province”by Dickson Andrew Kehop (2005), “Ethnobotanical Survey of Traditional Medicine in the East Yangoru, East Sepik Province, Papua New Guinea” by Graham Wavimbukie (2004), “Traditional Medicine Practices in Niungweko: I and Kunjingini (Mul) Areas of the Wosera-Gawi District in East Sepik” by Boniface Kinminja (2006) and “Traditional Medicinal Plants and Practices in Kairiru Island East Sepik Province Papua New Guinea” by Malcom Sabak (2004) Many locally recognized helears contributed to this work: Isaac Hames, Lamech Mesung, Joshua Matambopi, Lillian Nenipa, Evelyn John, Rebecca Waikola, Zippora Gamba and John Wekuai (DK), Ms. Yakupa, Stanley Wingewi, Chris Tapukata, Doughlas Yandu, Adam Knokrakundi, Bill Saun, Ambrose Ganjal, Mr. Yakop and Mr. Paliak (BK), Simon Parimie, Lawrence Parimie, Arnold Sauseha, Freddy Kavi, Nancy Kavi, Camillus Waranaka, Columba Waranaka, Wally Nangusimbie, Andrew Hipanare, Alphonsa Humunda, Paul Hahiva, Jacob Kwale John Pavuhau, Agnes Niniehau and John Nimiehau (GW), Wow B. Woyeng, Wow J. Samiek, Wow P. Wilbarau, Wow Wapsi, Wow Kaisem, Brata Rammy N., Wow Sareo, Wow Takswau, Mr. and Mrs Tambuna August, Wow Temos, Ms. Vero T. and Ms. Sumin K (MS).

We also acknowledge UPNG and FRI Herbarium staff for assistance in identification of medicinal plant vouchers. This work was funded by US NIH support through the Fogarty International Center, ICBG 5UO1T006671, and the Wheeler Foundation through Wells Fargo, UT. Dr. Rai, Dr. Matainaho and students had additional support from by the National Department of Health, Papua New Guinea and the University of Papua New Guinea.

Open AccessThis article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver (http://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/zero/1.0/) applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated.

Authors’ Affiliations

(1)
Center for Biopharmaceutical Research, De La Salle Health Sciences Institute
(2)
School of Medicine and Health Sciences, University of Papua New Guinea
(3)
Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology, University of Utah

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