Indian Journal Of Traditional Knowledge
Vol. 7(4), October 2008, pp. 594-597)

Ethnobotanical observations on Bamboos among Adi tribes in Arunachal Pradesh


Tika Prasad Sharmaš* & SK Borthakur˛

šState Medicinal Plant Board, Forest Department, Deorali 737102, PO Tadong, Gangtok, East Sikkim;
˛Department of Botany, Gauhati University, Guwahati 781014, Assam

Received 21 August 2006; revised 15 June 2007

Arunachal Pradesh is inhabited by 25 major tribes and 110 sub-tribes with a rich blend of indigenous culture and traditions. The paper provides information gathered on ethnobotanical uses of bamboos among the Adi tribes of Arunachal Pradesh.

Keywords:   Ethnobotany, Arunachal Pradesh, Adi tribes, Bamboos, Ethnomedicine

IPC Int. Cl.8: A61K36/00, A01F25/00, A01G, B27, G10D


Arunachal Pradesh is situated on the extreme Northeastern tip of the India in the Trans-Himalayan region, between the latitude of 26028´ and 29033´ N and longitude 91031´and 97030´ E, covering an area of 83,743 sq km. Out of this 68,757 sq km is under the forest cover recognized as one of the biodiversity hot spot areas in the world. The 25 major tribes and 110 sub-tribes, of Arunachal Pradesh inhabit the 16 districts of state and their social life, cultural and religion activities are so closely related with their forest environment that tribal life is incomplete without its surrounding environment. Among these tribes, Adi tribes are prominent tribes of Arunachal Pradesh with number of sub-tribes such as Padams, Minyongs, Gallongs, Boris, Bokars, Ramos, Philibos, Shimongs and Milangs. They mostly inhabit the district of East, West and Upper Siang, part of Subansiri and Dibang valley (Fig. 1). They have their own culture traditions, religious rites, food habits and medicinal system of treatment. Bamboos are deep rooted in their culture and traditions, in varied and multifarious forms as it is used in every imaginable purpose such as food, medicine, fuel, shelters, hunting, handicrafts, etc. So bamboo plays an important role in their daily life. During last century, there is revival of interest in these studies and contributions have been made1-4. So far exclusive information on ethnobotanical uses of bamboos of the state is lacking. The paper has been first in the series on ethnobotanical uses of bamboo of Arunachal Pradesh.



The ethnobotanical information on bamboos among the Adi tribes of the state was acquired during taxonomic survey for bamboos of Arunachal Pradesh during the period of 2002-2006. The help has been taken from local interpreters for consulting village elders who have knowledge on the ethnobotanical uses of bamboos. Voucher specimens were also collected in the field and their identification is done with the help of literature and by consulting herbarium of State Forest Research Institute, Itanagar, Arunachal Pradesh and Central National Herbarium, Howrah (CAL).


Results and discussion

Bamboos, belonging to the subfamily Bambusiodae of family Poaceae with 75 genera and 1250 species in the world5. India is one of the leading countries with vast bamboo cover represented by 23 genera and 128 species of which Arunachal Pradesh contributes 15 genera and 50 species6. Bamboos are distributed almost throughout the state in different altitudinal zones and each species has its specific utility and Adi tribes can be utilized as per their need and requirement. The ethnobotanical information on bamboos among the Adi tribes is presented with botanical name, local name, and utility (Tables 1-4). Apart  from  the  pile  huts (Fig. 2),  bamboos are  used  in 

making different kinds of baskets, households utensils, fishing and hunting traps, grain storage bins, musical instruments, etc. which are most important items in their daily life (Fig. 3). The indigenous products of bamboo made by Adi tribes of Arunachal Pradesh are presented (Table 2). Indigenous technical ingenuity of Adi tribes is revealed in the preparation of bamboo shoot dishes (Fig. 4). The most commonly used species for the preparation of dishes is Dendrocalamus hamiltanii, locally known as Eni and widely distributed throughout the state. Traditional dishes prepared from fresh and fermented edible bamboo shoots are listed (Table 3). Apart from the other uses, some species of bamboos (Table 4) are used for the treatment of different diseases by the Adi tribes of Arunachal Pradesh, who have indigenous knowledge of medicinal plants.






Table 1−Uses of bamboos

Plant name

Local name



Bambusa pallida Munro


Construction of houses, making walls, roofing, agricultural implements, house hold articles, etc.

B. tulda Rox.


Construction of houses and preparation of agriculture implement, weaving materials, different types of baskets, mats, household articles, musical instruments, etc.

Chimonobambusa callosa (Munro) Nakai


Construction of huts and making mats. Young shoot is edible.

Dendrocalamus hamiltonaii Nees et Arn.ex Munro


Construction of houses, baskets mats, container for water, etc.

D. sikkimensis Gamble


Container for water or milk, construction of houses hold articles, etc.

Phyllostachys mannii Gamble


Walking sticks, used in pooja, fodder, fencing, etc.

Schizostachyum arunachalensis Naithani


Making different types of basket, mats, house hold articles, fishing implement, etc.

S. fuchsianum (Gamble) Majumdar


Making baskets, fishing implements, catching small animals, making arrows, etc.

S. helferi (Munro) Majumdar


Making basket, fishing implement, fodder, etc.

S. pergracile (Munro) Majumdar


Construction of houses, rural huts, making mat, basket and agricultural implement.

S. polymorphum (Munro) Majumdar


Making basket, crafts, household articles, fodder, etc.

S. seshagiriana Majumdar


Rope making, household articles and fodder, etc.



Table 2−Indigenous uses of implements

Local name



Ambing dusing

For paddy container


For storing salt or apong


For drying cereals, rice grains


Used as a mug for drinking apong


For storing water


As a container for tobacco


For storing and carrying food grains


For storing fermented rice from, which apong is prepared


For storing small house hold things


For catching fish in the pond or stream


For carrying paddy from the field, fire wood, etc.


For storing paddy, maize, rice, etc.

Tapu Taba

It is a musical instrument which is generally used during rituals only


It is used as a torch during night by burning it atone end


It is a musical instrument. On blowing it produces different sound


For catching rats and mice


For storing vegetable

Table 3−Traditional bamboo shoot dishes

Name of dishes

Method of preparation




Young shoots of Dendrocalamus hamiltonii is ground and dried.

As chutney or flavoring agent in dal.


Bamboo shoots are put into basket and covered with leaves; stones are put into basket to make it airtight. The basket is kept inside bamboo forest for 2-3 days. After fermentation, EUP is made by drying and grinding.

As flavoring agent in vegetable.


Juice drained from fermented bamboo shoots stored for about 50-60 days.

As flavoring agent in vegetable.


Shoots boiled and cut into pieces

As vegetable.


Table 4- Medicinal uses of bamboos

Name of species



Bambusa tulda

Used in tetanus

Dendrocalamus giganteus

For production of steroid drugs.

D. strictus

Leaf decoction is used as abortifacient; siliceous matter is used as tonic and astringent.

Schizostachyum capitatum

Leaf infusion is used as anthel­mintic to cure stomach pain.




The centuries of tradition have given the incredible skill to create magic from the bamboos, a wide variety of eye catching indigenous handicrafts, medicinal system of treatment, cultural and other different tradition are found among the tribal people of Arunachal Pradesh, so they are the real storehouse of traditional knowledge. But so far ethnobotanical studies have been carried out only a few tribes, immense cultural diversity is still under explored, in the state. So, there is urgent need to document vast knowledge of ethnobotanical information available with tribal people. This indigenous knowledge can be suitably used for developing the rural economy of the state and this rich heritage of art and craft is sure to add colour to the cultural heritage of the country.



1         Bhuyan LR, Ethanobotany its scope in Arunachal Pradesh, Arunachal Forest News, 17 (1 & 2) (1999) 8-12.

2         Burkill JH, Records of the Botanical Survey of India. The Botany of Abor Expedition, 10 (1) (Government Printing Press, Calcutta), 1924.

3         Chandra V, Medicinal Plants used by the tribes of Arunachal Pradesh, A Preliminary study, J Econ Tax Bot, 15 (2) (1989) 391-395.

4         Pal GD, Observation on ethnobotany of tribal of Subansiri, Arunachal Pradesh, Bull Bot Surv India, 26 (1994) 26-37.

5         Soderstrom TR & Ellis RP, The position of bamboo genera and allies in a system of grass classification, Grass systematic and evolution (Smithsoni Press, Washington), 1978, 225-233.

6         Seethalaksmi K & Kumar M, Bamboos of India: A compendium (Kerala Forest Research Institute, Kerala), 1998.