GEOGRAPHICAL DISTRIBUTION AND CONSERVATION OF A RARE MEDICINAL PLANT MUNRONIA PINNATA (WALL.) THEOB. (MELIACEAE) IN SRI LANKA

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Sri Lanka were explored in 6 provinces, 7 districts, 68 Divisional Secretariat Divisions (DSD) and 395 Grama Niladari (GN) areas. Fifty three GN areas were identified as M. pinnata abundant areas. In 217 GN areas, the plant is found in small scale
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  Bangladesh J. Plant Taxon. 18 (1): 39-49, 2011 (June)  © 2011 Bangladesh Association of Plant Taxonomists GEOGRAPHICAL DISTRIBUTION AND CONSERVATION OF A RARE MEDICINAL PLANT  MUNRONIA PINNATA  (WALL.) THEOB.   (MELIACEAE) IN SRI LANKA R.M. D HARMADASA 1* , P.L. H ETTIARACHCHI 2 AND   G.A.S P REMAKUMARA 1    Herbal Technology Section, Industrial Technology Institute, 363, Bauddhaloka Mawatha, Colombo 7, Sri Lanka Key words:    Munronia pinnata; Systematic survey; Meliaceae; Conservation; Cultivation; Medicinal plants. Abstract In the present study, distribution and abundance of  Munronia pinnata  (Wall.) Theob. in Sri Lanka were explored in 6 provinces, 7 districts, 68 Divisional Secretariat Divisions (DSD) and 395 Grama Niladari (GN) areas. Fifty three GN areas were identified as  M.  pinnata  abundant areas. In 217 GN areas, the plant is found in small scale and in 65 GN areas it was rarely found.  M. pinnata  was not found in 8 DSDs. Ten new localities were found and three of them were in the wet zone. The highest diversity was found in Monaragala and Matale districts. Populations well adopted for a range of climatic conditions were observed in Madulla, Nilgala, Warakapola, Ritigala and Haldumulla. Monaragala, Wellawaya, Mathurata, Meemure and Kithulpe were identified as unique populations for conservation. Monaragala, Badulla and Matale appear to be the most suitable districts for commercial cultivation of  M. pinnata . This is the first record of an extensive systematic survey on the distribution of  M. pinnata  in Sri Lanka. Introduction The Genus  Munronia Wight. (Meliaceae), comprising 13-15 species, is naturally distributed in southern China, Vietnam, Myanmar, Java, Sri Lanka, India, Indonesia and the Philippines (Qi et al ., 2003). Out of these, five species of  Munronia  are restricted to tropical Asia, and subtropical China, up to 1800 m and in Sri Lanka up to 700 m from the mean sea level (Dassanayake et al.,  1995; Peng and Bartholomew, 2008).  Munronia  pinnata  (Wall.) Theob. is a rare medicinal plant species (Dassanayake et al. , 1995). According to the literature available, plants of  M. pinnata  with an array of variable phenotypic characters (3, 5, 7, 9 and 11 leaflets types) exist in various locations in Sri Lanka (Jayaweera, 1982; Dassanayake et al. , 1995). According to Hooker (1874),  M.  pinnata  was an abundant and widely distributed plant in Sri Lanka in early days. In Chinese and Sri Lankan traditional medicine,  Munronia  has been used since historic times for many ailments such as tuberculosis, cough, stomach-ache, sores, malaria, recurrent fever, dysentery and purification of blood (Jayaweera, 1982; Qi et al ., 2003). Moreover, there are over 32 written recipes including ‘Sudarshana Churna’, ‘Chandraprabha watee’   and ‘Denimba debatu adee kashaya’ in Sri Lankan Ayurvedic *Corresponding author. Email: dharma@iti.lk 1 Herbal Technology Section, Industrial Technology Institute, 363, Bauddhaloka Mawatha, Colombo 7, Sri Lanka.  40  DHARMADASA et al.   Pharmacopeia, in which the entire plant of  M. pinnata  is used as the major ingredient of preparations used for above ailments (Anonymous, 1979). On the other hand  M. pinnata is one of the most expensive plant materials (US$ 50-110/kg) used in traditional systems of medicine in Sri Lanka. Further almost all raw material requirements are obtaining from natural habitats due to lack of systematic cultivations, lack of information on cultivation and processing and lack of sufficient planting materials to establish commercial cultivation in Sri Lanka as well as elsewhere. Therefore, there is a tremendous pressure on this rare plant which might lead to extinction due to over exploitation. Recording of existing populations in different locations with their abundance, identifying potential areas and morphotypes for cultivation, recognizing population/s for conservation and sustainable use of this valuable medicinal plant in traditional and Ayurveda medicine seem to be timely important issues. These data will certainly provide information needed to establish cultivations for sustainable use of  M. pinnata in Sri Lanka. Information available on the distribution is very old and the most recent record is also more than 20 years old while some evidence are more than 100 years old (Dassanayake et al.,  1995). Therefore, attempts were made to investigate the present distribution and the abundance of  M. pinnata  in different localities in physically accessible areas of the country. Materials and Methods  Island wide survey on the distribution: For administrative purposes, the country is divided into nine provinces and 26 districts. Each district has 3-7 Divisional Secretariat Divisions (DSD) and each DSD has many Gramaniladari divisions (GN). The GN division is the smallest administrative division in Sri Lanka. The present study was carried out during 2004-2007. The systematic survey comprises four stages as collecting information from available literature, collecting data from GN divisions using a questionnaire, visiting areas of the country where  M. pinnata  is available (guided by available literature) and gathering information by personnel communication with traditional practitioners of ayurveda. Collecting information from available literature:   A literature survey was carried out on the distribution of  M. pinnata  in Sri Lanka. Information was collected from literatures and databases, herbarium specimens deposited at Royal Botanical Garden Peradeniya, Sri Lanka and personal communication with personnel involved in traditional medical practices. Collecting data from GN divisions:  A systematic survey was carried out covering all DSDs of the country. A questionnaire for this survey was prepared and evaluated by trying out with 4-5 persons before giving the questionnaire to Gramaniladaris. The questionnaire was distributed among traditional ayurvedic doctors, cultivators and collectors of medicinal plants in each of the GN divisions through the government  DISTRIBUTION AND CONSERVATION OF  MUNRONIA PINNATA   41   administrative officer (“Gramaniladari”) of the area. Completed questioners were collected through the same way and information was compiled. Field visits:   Field surveys were carried out by visiting various places, which were selected based on available literature and information collected through the questionnaire survey in different ecological regions of the country. Selected areas for field visits are given in Map 1. Distribution of  M. pinnata as found in the present study was compared with data available in the literature (Appendix B) to mark populations for conservation as well as for places for cultivation. Collection and maintenance of different populations:  Out of the 16 locations listed in Table 3, plants from 13 locations were collected for the present study. Ten to twenty plants were collected from each location depending on the availability of plants. When there were only a few plants in a particular location, neighboring areas were searched for more plants without disturbing the existing population. Plants collected were brought to Industrial Technology Institute, Sri Lanka and potted in plastic or clay pots filled with a mixture of topsoil 1: compost 2: sand 1. Each sample was labeled using the respective notation and was maintained in the greenhouse for 5 years. Close observations were made during that period on the survival, growth performance, flowering and fruiting of each morphotype under normal day light and temperature 27 o C ± 2. Collection of ecological data: The altitude, latitude and longitude of each population were measured using Global Positioning System (ETrex Vista Garmin Model). Soil samples were collected from each location using a soil auger to measure the soil pH. The agro-ecological region and rainfall data were adopted from Panabokke and Kannangara (1996).  Determination of the stomatal index:   Stomatal index was calculated as described by Trease and Evance   (2002) with slight modifications. End leaflet pieces of each population (5 × 5 mm) other than from extreme margin and midrib were warmed up in saturated chloral hydrate solution until they become transparent. Subsequently these were strained with 1% safranin in 50% ethanol and were made into temporary mounts using glycerin. Slides were examined under compound light microscope fitted with an eye piece micrometer. Counts were made of the number of epidermal cells and of stomata (two guard cells and ostiole being considered as a single unit) within the square grid. Successive adjacent fields were examined until about 400 cells have been counted. The stomatal index value for each population was calculated using standard formula given by Trease and Evance (2002). Stomatal index = Where S = the number of stomata in a given area of leaf, E= the number of epidermal cells (including trichomes) in the same area of leaf. S × 100 E + S    42  DHARMADASA et al.    Data analysis:  The range of each variable/character was sub-divided and ranked, and then a numerical value was given to each level (Table 1). Using these numerical values, a data table (Table 2) for cluster analysis was prepared. Cluster analysis was done by using SPSS Version 10. Clusters were generated following Unweighted Pair Group Method with Arithmetic Means (UPGMA), which is an agglomerative clustering method. Table 1. Parameters used in numerical analysis and ranking of their data (the ranks are given in parenthesis). Parameter Ranks given 1.   Elevation (Ev) < 100 m (1), 100 – 499 m (2), 500-1000 m (3), >1000 m (4) 2.   Soil pH (pH) 5 -5.9 (1), 6 – 6.9 (2), >7 (3) 3.   Agro-ecological region (AER) IM (1), IL (2), WL (3), DL (4) 4.   Rainfall (RF) <45 (1), 45-60 (2), > 60 (3) 5.   Soil type (ST) RB/RBE (1), RYP (2) 6. Stomatal index (SI) 5.5 -6.4 (1), 6.5 -7.4 (2), 7.5 or more (3) IM = Mid country intermediate zone; IL= Low country intermediate zone; WL= Low country wet zone; DL= Low country dry zone; RB/ RBE= Reddish brown/ Reddish brown earth; RYP Red yellow podzolic soils.  Table 2. Data matrix for analysis of ecological data (Ranking and notations are as in Table 1 and Table 3 respectively). . Character populations Elevation soil pH value AER Rainfall Soil type Stomatal index Madulla 2 1 1 2 1 2 Monaragala 2 1 1 2 1 1 Nilgala 2 1 2 2 1 2 Warakapola 2 3 3 3 2 2 Ritigala 2 1 4 1 1 2 Kithulpe 3 3 2 2 2 1 Haldummulla 3 2 1 2 1 1 Wellawaya 2 2 2 2 1 3 Pallewela 1 2 3 3 2 2 Kuliyapitiya 1 1 3 2 2 1 Naula 2 1 1 1 1 2 Mathurata 4 2 3 2 2 1 Meemure 2 1 2 1 1 3 Results and Discussion Island wide survey carried out using   a   questionnaire revealed that out of the 68 DSDs considered,  M. pinnata  could be naturally found in only 38 DSD divisions in Sri Lanka.  M. pinnata  was abundant in 395 GN divisions. In 217 GN Divisions it was found in small scale and in 65 it was found very rarely. The 38 DSDs are shown in Appendix A and list of places where  M. pinnata  had been recorded in literature as cited in the Handbook of Flora of Ceylon (Dassanayake et al.,  1995) is shown in Appendix B. Results of the present study on distribution and abundance of  M. pinnata is presented in  DISTRIBUTION AND CONSERVATION OF  MUNRONIA PINNATA   43   Table 3. Different populations collected from different locations are shown in Plate 1. Areas recorded in the present study together with those recorded in literature are presented in Map 1. Presence/absence of flowering and fruiting of 13 populations are presented in Table 4. Table 3. Distribution and abundance of  M. pinnata  (Based on the present study) Location District Province Leaflet no. Abundance* 1. Haldummulla (HM) Badulla Uva 3 A 2. Kalundewa** Matale Central 3/5 A 3. Kithulpe (KP) Nuwaraeliya Central 3 B 4. Koslanda Badulla Uva 3 B 5. Kuliyapitiya (KPT)** Kurunegala NW 5 B 6. Madulla (MD)** Monaragala Uva 3 A 7. Mathurata (MR) Nuwaraeliya Central 3 B 8. Meemure (MM)** Matale Central 5/7 A 9. Naula (NU)** Matale Central 5 A 10. Nilgala (NG)** Monaragala Uva 3 A 11. Pallegama** Matale Central 3 B 12. Pallewela (PW)** Gampaha Western 3 A 13. Ritigala (RG) Anuradhapura NC 5 A 14. Srivijayapura (MG)** Monaragala Uva 9/11 B 15. Warakapola (WP)** Gampaha Western 3 B 16. Wellawaya (WW) Monaragala Uva 7 A *Abundance was estimated visually with relevant to the size of the populations A- abundant, B - only a very few plants available; **New localities found in the present study; NC- North central, NW- North western Table 4. Flowering and fruiting performance of 13 morphotypes of  Munronia pinnata  under greenhouse conditions (Temp. 27 ±2 o C, Normal day length) Performance Populations Flowering Fruiting Haldummulla Normal Normal Kithulpe Rare No fruiting Kuliyapitiya Medium Medium Madulla Normal Normal Monaragala Rare Very rare Meemure Rare Very rare Mathurata Rare No fruiting Nilgala Normal Normal Naula Normal Normal Pallewela Normal Normal Ritigala Normal Normal Warakapola Normal Normal Wellawaya Rare No fruiting
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