Indian Journal Of Traditional Knowledge
Vol. 9(1), January 2010, pp. 26-37

Traditional knowledge of Nyishi (Daffla) tribe of Arunachal Pradesh


RC Srivastava & Nyishi Community

Botanical Survey of India, Itanagar 791 111, Arunacha Pradesh

E-mail : rcs_bsi @

Received 6 February 2007; revised 12 November 2008

Arunachal Pradesh, falling under Eastern Himalayan region, which is one of the global mega-diversity centre, is a botanical paradise with ca 4,485 species of angiosperms; 44 taxa of gymnosperms; ca 350 species of bryophytes; over 550 species pteridophytes; over 300 species of algae (only 52 species published so far) and over 5,350 species of fungi (including ca 350 species of lichens) and is the home of 110 ethnic communities (tribes) most of which are still forest dwellers and so diverse that they can not understand each others language. Hindi is gradually becoming popular among the persons, who are near townships. The paper throws light on the plants used by Nyishi (Daffla) including Hill Miri tribes in their day to day life.

Keywords:      Ethnobotany, Daffla, Nyishi, Hill-Miri tribe, Arunachal Pradesh, Medicinal plants

IPC Int. Cl.8: A61K36/00, A61P1/02, A61P1/06, A61P1/10, A61P9/00, A61P9/12 A61P9/14, A61P11/00, A61P11/06, A61P17/00, A61P19/00, A61P27/00, A61P27/02, A61P29/00, A61P31/00, A61P31/12, A61P39/02


Arunachal Pradesh spread over an area of 83,743 sq km has a very rich biodiversity due to variations in altitude from 150-6,500m and climatic conditions. The original inhabitants of Arunachal Pradesh are tribal people (Scheduled tribes), belonging to 26 major tribes and 110 sub-tribes. These people have their own culture, tradition and system of treatment of ailments with a practical and applied aspect of knowledge acquired through close observation of nature. They are the store house of indigenous knowledge, which is yet to be tapped. Only sporadic publications have been brought out on ethnobotanical knowledge of some tribes of Arunachal Pradesh. But, proper and thorough study is yet to be made. People of Arunachal Pradesh still completely depend upon forest plants. They use many plants in their day to day life. Bamboos, canes, Toko–patta (Livistona jenkinsiana) are heavily used by rural as well as urban people. Wild vegetables are preferred over the traditional vegetables. Most of the food is taken in boiled form. Nyishi (earlier known as Daffla) tribe is a major tribe of Arunachal Pradesh. Hill–Miri is a sub-tribe. They are proud of their culture and traditions. Many areas inhabited by these people are still virgin. They believe in ghosts as protectors of their forests. Polygamy and Lephia (wherein the unwilling brides legs are tied with a special type of wooden lock fixed with long nails), are still prevalent. But there is no demand of any dowry from boy’s side; rather the brides are purchased at quite early age by giving Mithuns and traditional ornaments (which are highly valued in tribal community only). Elderly Nyishi people posses tremendous knowledge about the various
uses of plants around their inhabitation (Figs 1-3).

During the study, an attempt has been made to document the traditional knowledge of these people about various uses of plants in their day to day life. A scrutiny of the literature and the field surveys has revealed the information about 214 species which are enumerated. The text includes Latin names (accepted names in bold letters and synonyms or basionyms in italics) followed by the name of the family (in brackets) and the vernacular names in italics.



Abelmoschus moschatus Medic (Malvaceae), Tachusenghme

Uses: Raw fibre obtained from the fruits is used for weaving.


Abroma augusta (L.) L.f. (Sterculiaceae), Yokhung

Uses: Root juice is taken orally to increase appetite. Stem bark decoction is given twice a day for 7 days in dysentery and vomiting.


Abrus precatorius L. (Fabaceae), Raho

Uses: Leaf and root decoction is taken as abortifacient.

Adhatoda zeylanica Medik. (Acanthaceae)

Uses: Leaf and root decoction is used for speedy remedy of cough and cold and other bronchial troubles.


Ageratum conyzoides L. (Asteraceae), Pasho; Pasu-payou

Uses: Leaves are used on swollen parts to relieve pain. Plant juice is applied twice daily in red eye (conjunctivitis). Leaf juice is applied on cuts and wound to check bleeding and early healing. Plant is pounded and made into pills of the size of pea; one pill thrice a day is administered to cure blood dysentery.


Agrimonia pilosa var. nepalensis (D.Don) G.Murata, (Rosaceae), Taniom

Uses: Fruit juice is used as gum; leaves, bitter in taste, are eaten after boiling.


Ajuga macrosperma Wall. ex Benth., (Lamiaceae), Namdunghor (Hill-Miri)

Uses: Whole plant is taken as vegetable.


Allium hookeri Thw. (Liliaceae), Lahun

Uses: A pounded bulb mixed with oil is applied on throat and chest to cure cough and cold; also on wounds for healing. Ash of bulb with oil is applied to cure rash or eruption of skin and other skin diseases.


Alocasia fornicata Schott. (Araceae), Kanjok

Uses: Fruits are used as fish poison; powder of seeds with seeds of Alpinia allughas and Datura metel when taken causes madness.


Alsotonia scholaris R.Br. (Apocyanaceae), Taisan

Uses: One teaspoonful of white latex with equal quantity of water is given after delivery for recovery of health. Two to three drops of this latex is applied on skin eruption and abscesses up to 3 days for complete cure. Leaf juice is applied thrice daily in headache. In stomach trouble and to control blood pressure, dried bark and water (1:4) are given for 3-7 days.


Amaranthus gracilis Desf. (Amaranthaceae), Tai.

Uses: Leaves and fruits are eaten as vegetable.

Andrographis paniculata Nees (Acanthaceae),Chirata

Uses: Stem-juice is given in dysentery and for deworming.


Angiospteris evecta (G.Forst.)Hoffm (Marattiaceae), Nabay, Bom

Uses: Dilute aqueous extract of Caudex / rhizome is given in dysentery/ diarrhoea; rhizomes are eaten as food.

Artimisia indica Willd. (Asteraceae).Tapin

Uses: People eat boiled leaves to get relief from asthma; aromatic smell of plant clears the nose blockade, when inhaled. Bath with diluted leaf juice gives relief in itching and skin allergy. A fresh leaf juice is dropped in eyes to cure redness of eye but is painful. Leaf paste is applied on back, or leaf spread over bed, gives relief in back pain. Fomentation by leaves gives relief in headache.


Artimisia nilagirica Pampan. (Asteraceae), Tapingrami

Uses: Plants are fed to cattle.


Artemisia parviflora Buch. Ham. ex Roxb. (Asteraceae): Taping roming

Uses: Old people carry bunch of leaves on their back for 4-6 hrs per day to get relief in back-pain.


Arundina bambusifolia Lindl. (Orchidaceae), Longbom

Uses: Plant is used for decoration during festivals.


Aspidopterys indica (Roxb.) Hochr. (Malpighiaceae), Tasa

Uses: Entire plant decoction is boiled till the extract becomes thicker into a gum; the gum thus formed is used for catching birds.


Athyrium lanceum (Kunze) T.Moore (Athyriaceae), Akalama

Uses: Tender shoots (cooked) are eaten as vegetable.


Balanophora dioica R.Br. (Balanophoracae) Nyishi: Poyou

Uses: Juice from fleshy rootstock yields gum, locally called as potacapting- nene is used for catching birds.


Baliospermum montanum Muell. -Arg. (Euphorbiaceae),Piriya

Uses: Leaves are cooked and eaten as vegetable.


Begonia roxburghii A.DC. (Begoniaceae), Baya, Babarai

Uses: Roots, petioles and leaves are used in cold/ fever/ malaria; pounded leaves are applied in itching; leaves and fresh whole plant are eaten.


Begonia obversa C.B.Clarke, (Begoniaceae), Baya, Babarai

Uses: Nyishi people use roots, petioles and leaves in cold/ fever/ malaria; apply pounded leaves in itching; leaves are eaten.


Begonia palmata D.Don (Begoniaceae), Bayia

Uses: Chutney is prepared from stem paste; also effective in cough/ cold. Stem is used as vegetable.

Berberis wallichiana DC. (Berberidaceae)-Madrak

Uses: Root bark paste is applied on swollen parts of body to get relief from body pain. Spines are used for tattooing on chin and forehead. A mixture of rice starch and soot is applied on the wound; rich starch pierces the skin and soot gives the colour; tattoo locally called te, is traditional custom.


Bidens tripartita Boj. (Asteraceae), Nikampusi

Uses: Leaves are eaten (raw or boiled).


Blechnum orientale L. (Blechnaceae), Lichalana

Uses: Pounded leaves and rhizome are applied on cuts and wounds for clotting blood and quick healing.


Brassiopsis glomerulata Kuntze(Araliaceae),Tago

Uses: Boiled fruits (5-6) are eaten in cough. Dry fruits pounded and mixed with water is applied on skin eruptions and abscesses. Fruits are eaten as chatni.


Brassaiopsis speciosa Decne & Planch. (Araliaceae), Tago

Uses: Tender leaves are made in to a paste/ chutney. Leaves, though bitter in taste are taken with rice to cure diarrhoea, stomachache and throat pain. Leaves are also treated over the flame and then used to foment the injured/ swollen parts 2 to 3 times a day to relieve pain.


Boehmeria platyphylla D.Don, (Urticaceae), Tatam tatnam (Fig. 8)

Uses: Ripe fruits are eaten by birds.


Calamus floribundas Griff. (Arecaceae), Taneso

Uses: Fruits are eaten. Stem is used for making basket, locally called Nara and hat called as beopa.


Callicarpa arborea Miq. ex C.B.Clarke (Verbenaceae), Tato,Yalu, Yahorin

Uses: Tender branches are used as toothbrush for relief in toothache. Paste of leaf or bark is applied on scorpion sting. Bark is used for skin diseases and as a substitute for Areca catechu by old people.


Canarium strictum Roxb. (Burseraceae), Singlu

Uses: Bark juice is used against insect bite. Bark and resin of plants are burnt in and outside house for prevention of diseases like chickenpox.


Carex cruciata Nees ex Wight, (Cyperaceae), Basar, Sodomplapa

Uses: Pounded seeds are applied on wounds; tender stem is eaten.


Carex filicina Boeck. ex C.B.Clarke, (Cyperaceae), Bahik

Uses: Raw seeds are eaten.

Carica papaya L. (Caricaceae), Omita

Uses: Flowers (3-4) are boiled and taken twice a day to improve hearing capacity. Boiled raw fruits with salt are eaten to increase lactation.


Carlemania griffithii Benth., ( Rubiaceae), Hamka

Uses: Plant decoction is given thrice a day in cough.


Casearia vareca Roxb. (Flacourtiaceae), Dafla-Nelochang

Uses: Fruit paste is taken in intestinal parasites. Fruit juice is dropped during earache.


Centella asiatica Urban (Apiaceae)

Uses: Plants are eaten with salt and chilly as vegetable; said to be blood purifier and remedy for gastric; 10-15 leaves taken thrice daily cure abdominal pain and relief in constipation; fresh leaves and stem are taken to increase digestive power and promote appetite by Nyishi people.


Cissus quadrangularis L. (Vitaceae) Saru (Dafla)

Uses: Powder of leaves and young shoots, mixed with water is taken in menstrual disorders. Stem juice is dropped during earache.


Clerodendrum colebrookianum Walp. (Verbenaceae), Ongin, Oen, Tapin (Fig. 4)

Uses: Tender leaves are taken as vegetable; leaf decoction (3-4 teaspoonful) twice daily is considered effective in reducing blood pressure.


Clerodendrum japonicum (Jacq.) K.N.Gandhi (Verbenaceae), Poto-O

Uses: Leaves (cooked) are eaten as vegetable.


Cnicus griffithii Hook.f. (Asteraceae), Tailobeo

Uses: Flowers are eaten.


Coix lachryma-jobi L. (Poaceae), Tatang

Uses: Grains are used for preparing necklaces, used by girls.


Coelogyne punctulata Lindl. (Orchidaceae), Tikhit

Uses: Dried pseudobulbs are crushed and made into powder. The powder is then applied to burn injury; burning pain is relieved immediately and wound is healed up.


Colocasia affinis Schott. (Araceae), Maksar, Jangli Kachu

Uses: One or two spathe(s) and inflorescence taken twice to cure cough, fever and tuberculosis. Juice of leaves and petioles are applied on itching.


Coniogramma fraxinea (D.Don) Fee ex Diels, (Hemionitidaceae)

Uses: Warm leaves are tied upon burn injuries.


Coptis teeta Wall. (Ranunculaceae), Rinko

Uses: Rhizomes with water are eaten as tonic; also taken in fever, headache and gastric.


Corylus avellkna L. (Vetulaceae): Taying

Uses: Nyishi people take decoction of plant in dysentery.


Costus speciosus (Koenig.) Smith (Zingiberaceae), Myonpobap)

Uses: Rhizome & part of stem is eaten raw in snakebite; paste of rhizome and stem is applied at the place of snake-bite/ insect bite. Warm stem juice is applied on burning wounds twice daily.


Crepis japonica Benth. (Asteraceae), Rupjup (Hill-Miri)

Uses: Entire plant is cooked as vegetable. Fresh leaves are eaten.


Cyanodon dactylonPers. (Poaceae), Meedira Tasha

Uses: Paste or powder of plant is taken with water for regular menstruation and in headache.


Cyathea spinulosa Wall. ex Hook. (Cyatheaceae), Tachi- tani

Uses: Stems after removing bark are fed to cattle. Plants are use in rituals of Nyishi community.


Coniogramma falcata (D.Don) Salom (Hemionitidaceae), (Akalama)

Uses: Boiled tender shoot is eaten as vegetable.


Debregeasia longifolia Wedd. (Urticaceae), Tatamtanam

Uses: Tender leaves are boiled and taken; fruits are eaten by birds.


Dendrobium hookerianum Lindl. (Orchidaceae), Tachee ill-Miri)

Uses: Yellow dye is obtained from flowers. Flowers are made into paste and mixed with sufficient water; yarn or cloth is dipped in this mixture and kept for sometimes.


Dendrocalamus hamiltonii Nees & Arn. ex Munro (Poaceae), Bijuli

Uses: A kind of umbrella is made from scape.


Dendrocnide sinuata (Blume) Chew (Urticaceae), Podret, Pudrangta

Uses: Warm root paste is applied on swollen muscles, injury and itching. Its leaves with those of Stephania glabra (2:1) are boiled and 1-2 teaspoonful decoction is taken in fever and malaria.


Dicranopteris linearis (N.) Burm.(Gleicheniaceae), Tapiu

Uses: Inner core of stem after removing bark are fastened on chest and belly for protection against arrow.


Dillenia indica Blanco (Dilleniaceae),Jampa, Tenga

Uses: Fruit ash is given in stomachache by Nyishi community. Fresh fruits are eaten with salt by Apatani people in stomachache. Fruits are eaten and made into pickles also.


Dioscorea bellophylla Haines (Dioscoreaceae), Yazeng

Uses: Tubers with hot water are given in fever, malaria, headache and dysentery.


Dioscorea hamiltonii Hook.f. (Dioscoreaceae), Serelake

Uses: Bulbils and tubers are cooked and taken as food; also eaten by wild boar.


Discorea bulbifera L. (Dioscoreaceae)

Uses: Tubers with those of Stephania glabra are used in dysentery. Pounded tubers are rubbed on spots with burning sensation.


Diplazium esculentum (Koenig ex Retz) Sw., (Athyriaceae), Hokapadma

Uses: Young fronds are eaten as vegetable (cooked).


Dipteris wallichii (R.Br. ex Grev.)T.Moore (Dripteidaceae), Tapano

Uses: Fronds are hanged on bamboo stick in paddy field to keep away birds.

Drymaria cordata Willd. ex R.& S., (Caryophyllaceae), Kaja Hao (Hill Miri) Ropsik-Romnik, Kadokaro Sojang mariang (Nyishi)

Uses: Leaf juice is applied to skin diseases. Paste of whole plant mixed with bile of goat; boar or fish is applied on ringworm. Vapour of stem and leaf juice gives relief in sinus.


Dryopteris sparsa (Ham. ex D.Don) O.Ktze, (Dryopteridaceae), Kaja Habo (Hill Miri)

Uses: Tender shoots are edible; entire plants are used in religious ceremony.


Elastotema sessile Forst. (Urticaceae) Nyishi: Atomung

Uses: Whole plant is considered as frog poison.


Elatostema platyphylla Wedd. (Urticaceae), Huj

Uses: Fresh root juice is used in vomiting.


Emblica officinalis Gaertn. (Euphorbiaceae), Amlaki ghoss

Uses: Fruits are edible and used as appetizer and freshness of mouth by both the tribes.

Engelhardtia spicata Blume (Juglandaceae), Hill-Miri: Ripekam

Uses: Paste of pounded roots is used as fish-poison.


Entada purseatha DC. (Fabaceae)

Uses: Seed paste with mustard oil is used in bone fracture.


Eryngium foetidum Forsk. (Apiaceae), Dhaniya Pat

Uses: Paste of stem and leaves is applied on forehead in headache. Seed powder is used in madness. Leaves are used to make chutney with leaves of Centella asiatica.


Eurya acuminata DC. (incl.var euprista) (Ternstroemiaceae), Turku

Uses: Leaves are mixed with Rubia manjith plant and boiled; decoction thus obtained is used as permanent dye.


Ficus elastica Roxb. (Moraceae), Sangri (Hill- Miri)

Uses: Fruits are eaten by birds; crushed fruits are thrown into brooks or streamlets to stupefy fish and make them float up, helping an easy catch.


Ficus fistulosa Reinw. Ex Blume (Moraceae), Longee

Uses: Plants are used as firewood.


Ficus saemocarpa Miq. (Moraceae), Talasi

Uses: Latex is applied on warts and pimples.


Galeola falconeri Hook. f. (Orchidaceae)

Uses: Seeds collected by the bees to prepare beehive.

Garcinia pedunculata Roxb. (Clusiaceae), Mibia

Uses: Fruits are edible but sour in taste. One fruit boiled in ½ litre of water is given to drink twice daily in dysentery and cough.


Gnaphalium purpureum L. (Asteraceae) Tecep

Uses: Plants are eaten after boiling.


Globba multiflora Baker, (Zingiberaceae) Belah

Uses: Rhizomes are crushed and applied on injury or rubbed daily at bed time in body pain and swollen muscles.


Gynocardia odorata R.Br. (Flacourtiaceae), Tak

Uses: Pounded fruits mixed with water are used for extraction of teeth. Fruits are prohibited to be eaten. Fruits pounded and mixed with water are used as poison for killing insects, worms and fishes.


Hydrocotyle javanica Thunb. (Apiaceae), Barung

Uses: Whole plant is eaten raw against stomachache; also given raw after delivery. H. rotundifolia is also used for the same.

Hydrocotyle podantha Molk. (Apiaceae),

Uses: Whole plant is eaten raw against stomachache; also given raw after delivery.


Hedychium gardnerianum Ker-Gawl. (Zingiberaceae), Oyoulangoom

Uses: Flowers are used in festivals for decoration.


Hedyotis scandens Roxb. (Rubiaceae), Hylibi, Reekhing

Uses: Pieces of stem (crushed or pounded) are heated and applied against toothache. Stem juice is applied as eye drop against conjunctivitis and also used in cleaning of dust and gum from eyes. Twigs or stem pieces (12-15 cm long) slowly heated over flame are used as toothbrush.


Hibiscus rosa-sinensis L. (Malvaceae), Dafla: Bat

Uses: Flowers mixed with leaves of Michelia champaca (1:2), pounded together and is applied with water for washing of hairs to remove hair dust and dandruff; also used as hair tonic; flower-paste is taken in fever.


Houttuynia cordata Thunb.(Saururaceae) Honya, Hongyea

Uses: Whole plant as condiment or improving appetite; 3-4 fresh plants are eaten twice daily in case of jaundice; 5-10 plants are kept inside the banana leaf and roasted; the roasted plants are taken twice daily to stop dysentery. Stem and leaves are used as vegetable; considered effective for providing good sleep and freshness of mind. Plants are also used as condiment and sold in bundles (10-15 plants in one bundle); leaves are eaten raw as chutney.


Impatiens latiflora Hook.f. & Thoms. (Balsaminaceae), Riong

Uses: Whole plant mixed with Torenia diffusa in equal proportion, pounded and taken with water for recovery of fever/ intermittent fever and against headache.


Impatiens racemosa D.Don (Balsaminaceae), Yemchee

Uses: Coked leaves are served as vegetable.


Impatiens scabrida DC. (Balasaminaceae), Hill-Miri: Namcho

Uses: Entire plant is boiled and taken as vegetable; tender leaves are most preferable.


Impatiens tripetala Roxb. (Balsaminaceae), Leangm

Uses: Three to four plants are eaten either raw or boiled thrice daily after meal to promote appetite.

Indofevillea khasiana Chatterjee (Cucurbitaceae), Yazang pipe

Uses: Pounded or powdered roots and stems is taken with hot water twice daily against fever, headache, malaria and dysentery.


Ixora acuminata Boerl. (Rubiaceae), Dokmain

Uses: Fresh leaves (3-4 at a time) are eaten (raw/ boiled) thrice daily as a remedy for headache and cooling of forehead.


Leea compactiflora Kurz (Leeaceae), Nyishi: Neelan

Uses: Flowers and berries pounded are tightly tied with the help of a cloth against snakebite and other insects.


Lindera neesiana Kurz (Lauraceae), Kuchu

Uses: Fruits are eaten by birds.


Litsea cubeba (Lour.) Pers. (Lauraceae), Earking, Jayar (Fig. 7)

Uses: Pounded fruits and leaves mixed with water is taken orally (2-4 tea spoonful twice daily) in blood dysentery, stomach trouble and fever. Leaf paste is also applied on forehead in headache. Fresh fruits are edible and used as spice; fruits and seeds are used as condiment. Seeds are also chewed in case of thread worm infection.


Litsea salicifolia Hook.f. (Lauraceae), Tanyik Sangne, Hara, Taor

Uses: Bark pounded and mixed with water is applied on bone fracture and tightly tied with a piece of cloth to set right the bone; bark paste is also administered twice daily against boils and abscesses; ripe fruits which are tasty and pungent are eaten.


Lobelia affinis Mirb. (Campanulaceae) Hill- Miri: Nimante

Uses: Leaves are cooked and taken as vegetable.


Luffa cylindrica M.Roem. (Cucurbitaceae), Hey

Uses: Leaves are used as vegetable.

Macaranga denticulata (Bl.) Muell.- Arg. (Euphorbiaceae), Hara

Uses: Leaves are used during religious and marriage ceremonies; leaf juice is applied on wounds.


Maesa chisia D.Don (Myrsinaceae), Ohansomchangum

Uses: Hard wood is used for making spades to dig out Dioscorea tubers.


Maesa macrophylla C.B.Clarke (Myrsinaceae), Tak Sangne

Uses: 5-6 berries are eaten fresh thrice daily in case of any fever including malarial Fever.


Maesa montana A.DC. (Myrsinaceae) Nyishi: Surana

Uses: Leaf paste mixed with oil is rubbed against body pain.


Mastersia assamica Benth. (Fabaceae), Rading, Rem

Uses: Stem juice is applied on cuts, wounds and other injuries for immediate healing; bark is used for making ropes. Its fibre is also used to make thread for fishing net.


Melastoma malabathricum L. (Melastomataceae), Nyishi: Di-sengn, Dai-Hitae (Fig. 9)

Uses: Fruits are edible; stem is used as toothbrush; fruits cause shining of teeth; fruits are offered to God for better yield of paddy.


Melia azedarach L.(Meliacxeae), Nyishi: Tapa Tale

Uses: Fresh bark pounded is applied twice daily against burning sensation till complete relief by both the tribes. About 3-6 leaves boiled in one bucket of water is taken during bath in case of itching (both the tribes).


Melothria heterophylla (Lour.) Cogn. (Cucurbitaceae), Yazang-pipe

Uses: Pounded tubers (5-10 gm) are taken with one glass of hot water (very bitter in taste) against fever, malarial fever and headache; juice from fleshy roots is rubbed on itching skin till complete relief; fruit are edible; children are fond of these fruits.

Metathelpteris gracilescens (Bl.) Ching (Thelypteridaceae), Radak, Nipiati

Uses: Frond juice is applied during itching; fronds are also useful in cuts for immediate healing. The pinnae are warmed above fire and tied with the help of a cloth to relieve body ache. Fronds are also used in small quantity in preparation of local drink (Apung) by ethnic groups; fronds are kept over flame to make hot for fomentation twice or thrice a day for two days to relieve body pain.


Mikania micrantha H.B.K. (Asteraceae), Tare

Uses: Leaf juice is used for healing of wounds, also applied on cuts to stop bleeding. Leaves are warmed above fire and kept on the eyes repeatedly (4-5) times to cure any type of eye trouble; plants are used as a remedy for snake bite and scorpion sting. Leaves are used in itches and as poultice on wounds.


Miliusa globosa (DC.) G.Panigr.& S.C.Mishra, (Annonaceae), Tasenaung (Dafla)

Uses: Fresh leaves crushed and inhaled in headache.

Millettia pachycarpa Benth. (Fabaceae), Hapuling

Uses: Roots are used as fish poison.


Mitracarpum verticillatum Vatake (Rubiaceae), Hill-Miri: Talu

Uses: Young shoots and leaves are boiled and taken as vegetable.


Molineria recurvata Herb. (Amaryllidaceae), Doik

Uses: Fresh root juice is applied on cuts and wounds for early healing. Fruits are also eaten.


Momordica dioica Roxb. ex Willd. (Cucubitaceae) Keychasshi

Uses: Fruits are used as vegetable.


Morinda angustifolia Roth, (Rubiaceae), Yacha

Uses: One or two leaves warmed over fire are tied with a piece of cloth against body pain by Nyishi tribe. Root juice is taken for the remedy of cough.


Morus indica L. (Moraceae), Latek (Hill-Miri)

Uses: Fruits are edible.


Musa sapientum L. (Musaceae), Kol

Uses: Fruits and stem are taken as food. Fruits are eaten by pig; entire plants are used in all festivals; juice of stem and leaves crushed and applied over swollen feet and skin disorders.


Musave lutina H.Wendl.&Drude, (Musaceae), Kol

Uses: Juice extracted from the stem is used in dysentery.

Nephrolepis auriculata (L.) Trimen, N. cordifolia sensu auct. non (L.) C. Presl. (1836). (Nephrolepidaceae), Tapion

Uses: Stipes are used to make trap for catching birds in the paddy fields.


Oenanthe javanica DC. (Apiaceae), Barn

Uses: Whole plant is eaten raw or cooked as vegetable.


Oreocnide integrifolia (Gaud.)Miq., Villebruneainte­grifolia Gaud. (Urticaceae), Boree

Uses: Bark is used as rope; also used as a substitute of cotton thread for preparing fishing net.


Osbeckia nutans Wall. ex C.B.Clarke (Melastomataceae), Dai

Uses: Ripe fruits are edible.


Osbeckia stellata Buch.Ham. ex D.Don (Melastomataceae), Nyishi: Didasa (Fig. 6)

Uses: Fruits are eaten.


Otochilus porrecta Lindl. (Orchidaceae), Nyishi: Awaon

Uses: Pseudo-bulbs and leaves pounded together is applied twice daily on burn injuries.


Oxalis corniculata L. (Oxalidaceae), Sajang hobo (Nyishi); Phagiyup (Hill-Miri)

Uses: Nyishi people apply plant juice on cuts and injuries to stop bleeding; juice of leaves is used as eye drops for removal of dust from eyes or against redness of eyes; fruits are edible, sour, entire plant is eaten raw by Hill Miris.


Oxyspora paniculata (D.Don) DC. (Melastomataceae), Dasa

Uses: Stem is used as tooth brush (datoon), fruits are eaten for shining of teeth, flowers are offered to deites to get better yield of paddy; stem after removing bark is eaten.


Paederia foetida L., (Rubiaceae), Tapinrimin

Uses: Plants are cooked as vegetable; very effective in gastric trouble. For storage, small tablets are made from powdered leaves, mixed with water and dried in sun and stored in bottle. The tablet is often used in gastric trouble. Fruits ground and mixed with water is applied against skin emitting bad odour particularly bad odour of armpit, abscesses and allergy. Boiled leaves and twigs are used as vegetable and said to be effective for cleaning of stomach and also against stomach swelling and diarrhoea.

Perilla ocimoides L., Perilla frutescens Britton, (Lamiaceae), Tanam

Uses: Seeds are edible but harmful if taken more; develops cough. Oil from the seeds is applied on forehead against headache and fever; paste of seeds is used to enhance the taste of curry-soup. It is used as a substitute of mustard oil or spices.


Phlogacanthus curviflorus Nees, (Acanthaceae), Pilamola

Uses: Pounded flowers are used as condiment. About ½ tea spoonful is taken with meal twice daily as a remedy of colic pain and also as purgative.


Phlogacanthus tubiflorus Nees (Acanthaceae)

Uses: Red flowers mixed with fish curry is considered good for relieving cough. Flowers are edible.


Physalis angulata L. (Solanaceae), Phuligach

Uses: Seeds and fruits are eaten raw in gastric trouble.


Pilea bracteosa Wedd. (Urticaceae), Gongi

Uses: Leaves are used as vegetable (fresh or cooked).


Pilea glaberrima Blume, (Urticaceae), Gugeo

Uses: Leaves are used as vegetable.


Pinus wallichiana A.B.Kackson, (Pinaceae), Pusasan

Uses: Resin collected from live plants by piercing the stem is applied in cracks of heels usually during winter at bed time for one week.


Piper brachystachyum C.DC. (Piperaceae)

Uses: Seeds are used with honey bee for curing cough.


Piper pedicellosum Wall. (Piperaceae) Radhk

Uses: Leaves are used for giving hot fomentation for sprains. After application, the affected portion is wrapped by the same leaves. Leaves are aromatic.


Piper trioicum Roxb. (Piperaceae) Ridik

Uses: Leaves warmed above fire either covered locally or tied over with a piece of cloth against bodyache, which mainly occurs due to tiredness.


Plantago major L. (Plantaginaceae), Nido marto

Uses: Leaves along with the leaves of Pasu payou are crushed and made into pills of the size of pea; one pill thrice a day is given to cure blood dysentery; boiled leaves are eaten.

Plumbago zeylanica L. (Plumbaginaceae)

Uses: Root is said to increase digestion; promote appetite and useful in dyspepsia, piles and skin diseases.


Polygonum nepalense Meissn. P. alatum (Polygonaceae), Yarung

Uses: Fresh leaves are eaten, but sour in taste.


Poygonum chinensis var. ovalifolia Meissn. (Polygonaceae), Tuthiku

Uses: Ripe fruits are eaten, sweet in taste.


Polygonum minus Huds. (Polygonaceae), Paretam

Uses: Plants are used as fish poison. Whole plant paste is mixed with the water in streams for stupefying fish.


Polygonum molle D.Don, (Polygonaceae), Bonkung

Uses: Tender stem is eaten raw. Ripe fruits are sweet and edible; also eaten by birds.


Polygonum perfoliatum L. (Polygonaceae), Posikung

Uses: Leaves are used in preparing chutney.


Polygonum runcinatum D.Don (Polygonaceae), Ruri

Uses: Tender shoots are eaten as chutney.


Polygonum virginiana L. (Polygonaceae), Pekammajam

Uses: Tender shoots are eaten (raw/cooked).

Portulaca oleracea L. (Portulaceae), Pali echi

Uses: Stem and leaves are used as vegetable to promote appetite by both the tribes. Pounded stem, leaves and flowers is applied against skin allergy, rashes etc. by Nyishi tribe.


Pothos cathcartii Schott (Araceae), Anoti

Uses: Leaves warmed above fire and bandaged over in dislocation of bones.


Pothos scandens L. (Araceae), Ridik

Uses: Boiled stems and leaves are used as vegetables for clear motion and in constipation.


Pouzolzia hirta Hassk. (Urticaceae), Hosskhoyik

Uses: Stem and leaves are used as vegetable.


Prunus persica (L.) Batsch. (Rosaceae), Makan, Makum

Uses: Young leaves is pounded and mixed with water; about ½ teaspoon is given twice daily after meal against dysentery; leaves warmed over fire is rubbed against insect bite and pain in eyes. Young leaves pounded is applied on wounds for killing of wound worms. This is more popularly used in case of animals wound such as cow, mithun etc.; fruits are edible.

Pseudocyclosorus tylodes (Kunze) Ching, Thelypteris tylodes (Kunze) Ching, Aspidium tylodes Kunze (Thelypteridaceae), Akalama

Uses: Powder of dried fronds mixed with pounded rice and water is kept for at least for two days for fermentation to prepare local liquor, Apong.


Psidium guajava (Myrtaceae), Madhuri

Uses: Leaves pounded, boiled in water and added with 3-4 drops of mustard oil and little quantity of salt is filtered. About 2-4 teaspoonful of the extract is taken twice daily to cure dysentery; fruits are edible.


Psychotria denticulata Wall. (Rubiaceae), Nyishi: Reeme

Uses: Crushed leaves are applied on cuts caused by iron and wound for immediate healing and relief.


Pterospermum acerifolium Willd. (Sterculiaceae), Dafla: Tanguru Changne

Uses: Paste of floral calyx is applied as plaster during swelling in the body.


Pueraria hirsute Kurz (Fabaceae)

Uses: Seeds are boiled and kept in closed vessel for about seven days and then allowed to decompose. A drink is prepared from it and taken with rice.

Pueraria peduncularis R. Grah Nyishi: Fikpiring

Uses: Fruits are edible and taken either fresh or boiled.


Rhaphidophora glauca Schott (Araceae), Nyishi: Chulu

Uses: According to folk belief, the fruits of this plant are eaten by devil.


Rhus javanica L. (Anacardiaceae), Nyishi: Tamo

Uses: People avoid burning the plant as they are afraid of the sound produced by it.


Rhynchotechum calycinum C.B.Clarke (Gesneriaceae), Joako

Uses: Leaves are cooked as vegetable and also used in funeral ceremony.


Ricinus communis L. (Euphorbiaceae), Rockrom

Uses: Oil obtained from seeds is massaged in joints pain; local application of young twigs in vagina causes abortion; leaf fomentation is given in muscular pain.


Rubia manjith Roxb. ex Flehm. (Rubiaceae), Tamin

Uses: Plants are used as a dye; stem is cut into pieces and boiled in water; extract thus obtained is used to dye the yarn (red); roots are also used as red dyes for colouring of clothes and articles; 1-2 tea spoonful of powdered roots mixed with water is given to drink against cold & cough; often roots are chewed for the same purpose. Powder is also applied on forehead in case of headache.


Rubus alceifolius Poir (Rosaceae),

Uses: Young stem twigs are chewed to cure cough by Nyishi people; fruits are also edible.


Rubus assamensis Focke (Rosaceae), Fikteging

Uses: Fruits are edible.


Rubus insignis Hook.f. (Rosaceae), Chechenimri

Uses: Leaves are eaten with bark of Callicarpa arborea var. ovalifolia as a substitute of Piper betel; it turns lips red. Ripe fruits are eaten, sweet in taste.


Rubus niveus Thunb. (Rosaceae), Kiblupum (Hill-Miri)

Uses: Fruits are edible but sour.


Rubus paniculata Smith (Rosaceae), Chechenimri

Uses: Leaves are eaten by children as substitute for pepper betel. Ripe fruits are eaten, sweet in taste.


Sambucus javanica Blume, (Caprifoliaceae), Nyishi: Tago

Uses: Fruits are eaten by birds.

Saurauia armata Kurz (Saurauiaceae), Poprar

Uses: Ripe fruits are edible, sweet crushed young twigs and leaves are applied on cuts and wounds to stop bleeding and for healing.


Saurauia punduana Wall. (Saurauiaceae), Hinchi (Hill-Miri)

Uses: Fruits are edible when ripe, sweet.


Saurauia roxburghii Wall. (Saurauiaceae), Ekeeprin

Uses: Leaves are used for preparing country liquour. Bamboo basket wrapped with leaves is boiled with water and kept within the pot for few days. Leaves promote quick fermentation. Ripe fruits are eaten.


Schefflera venulosa Harms. (Araliaceae), Nyishi: Paleh

Uses: Warm leaves are applied to get relief from pain by the Nyishi people.


Scoparia dulcis L. (Scrophulariaceae)

Uses: Nyishi people for the treatment of jaundice prepare a paste of the plant mixed with 2 gm of Curcuma longa rhizome with water and take it twice daily; it controls diabetes also.


Scurrula parasitica L. (Loranthaceae), Nyishi: Tacha

Uses: Fruits are eaten by birds.

Sesamum indicum L. (Pedaliaceae), Nyishi: Tanam

Uses: Seeds ground and mixed with vegetable is taken as food.


Setaria italica Beau. (Poaceae), Nyishi: Tayak

Uses: Seeds are used for preparing country liquour.


Setaria pallide-fusca Stapf. & C.E.Hubbard, (Poaceae) Nyishi: Taya

Uses: Grains are used for preparing the local drink, Auong.


Silene heterophylla Freyn., (Caryophyllaceae), Jajrar (Hill–Miri )

Uses: Fruits are sweet and edible.


Solanum indicum L. (Solanaceae), Beako

Uses: Fruits are taken as food after fry, bitter in taste.


Solanum kurzii Brace ex Prain (Solanaceae), Byakhe

Uses: Decoction of powdered dried fruits in water reduced to ¼ of the initial volume is taken twice a day up to one week for complete relief from worm infestation. Fresh fruits (4-5) are used for the same purpose and also for the treatment of stomach pain.


Solanum myriacanthum Dun, (Solanaceae), Byako, Thitbyako

Uses: One to three teaspoonful of root decoction is administered twice daily for the treatment of malarial fever. Dried seeds pounded and mixed with water and mustered oil is kept on heated stone; liberating smoke is inhaled through mouth for removal of teeth worms.


Solanum nigrum L. (Solanaceae), Hora

Uses: Stem and leaves used as vegetable are considered as digestive and liver tonic; also useful for clear motion by Apatani, Nyishi, and Idu tribe men. Berries are eaten raw; leaves are eaten raw or cooked.


Solanum torvum Swartz. (Solanaceae), Byakta

Uses: Fruit juice is applied in skin disorders. Seeds are burnt and the smoke or fumes are inhaled through mouth for killing teeth worms and also against toothache by Nyishi tribes. Fruits are used as chatani; also eaten raw. This is used as the substitute of S. anguivii and S. kurzii; fruits are cooked as vegetable.


Solanum verbascifolium L. (Solanaceae), Totnom (Hill-Miri)

Uses: Leaves are used for ripening banana. Green banana is wrapped with the leaves and kept for four to five days.

Solanum viarum Roxb. (Solanaceae), Siatobeale

Uses: Plant is used as cattle fodder.


Sonerila maculate Roxb. (Melastomataceae), Jakmalo

Uses: Leaves are cooked and taken as vegetable.


Spilanthes paniculata Wall. (Asteraceae), Byadhi

Uses: Nyishi people eat leaves and flowers as remedy for cough. Stem twigs with leaves mixed with golmirch (Piper nigrum) is used as a condiment to kill intestinal worms. Flowers made into paste is applied or chewed in case of toothache by both the tribes. Flowers are chewed to cure toothache.


Stauranthera grandifolia Benth. (Scrophulariaceae), Beeh

Uses: Stem powder is used in rheumatic pain; bark of the plant is used in joints pain.


Stephania glandulifera Miers (Capparaceae), Teplar, Rabaka

Uses: Small fresh piece corms 10-20 gm or its powder is given thrice daily with water after child birth for relief from delivery pain. It is also given in case of abdominal pain and internal injuries. A few pieces of corm with 3-4 leaves of the plant mixed with 3-4 leaves of Dendrocnide sinulata Pudrangta (N.) is boiled with water. The decoction is given 2-3 teaspoonfuls twice daily for the treatment of fever, malarial fever and also said to be a good cooling agent. Boiled leaves are eaten for the treatment of dysentery.


Sterculia hamiltonii (Kuntze) Adelb. (Sterculiaceae), Takampalam

Uses: Ripe fruits are eaten as a substitute for groundnuts.


Stereopermum suaveolens DC. (Bignoniaceae), Damium

Uses: Leaves after warming are used in fomentation, 2-3 times a day to relieve sprain, etc.


Streptolirion volubile Edgew. (Commelinaceae), Tadaro, (Hill–Miri)

Uses: Whole plant is cooked and served as vegetable; palatable.


Styrax polysperma C.B.Clarke, (Styraceae), Tugu (Hill-Miri)

Uses: Fruit decoction is used as dye; ripe fruits are blue; fruits are eaten by birds.


Tacca integrifolia Ker. Gawl. (Taccaceae),Kanjok

Uses: Rhizome paste is applied in wounds and also applied in cracks of heels for healing. Berries pounded and mixed with water is taken 2 to 3 teaspoonful twice daily in dysentery. It is also said to be effective in stomach disorder and stomach pain; decoction of leaves along with normal salt is prescribed orally two teaspoonfuls twice a day for 2-3 days to the patient suffering from blood dysentery and acute diarrhoea. Overdose acts as poison; taste it bitter. Stem cut into pieces is made into bundles, wrapped with leaves and roasted in fire; juice thus extracted, is used to poison arrow heads.


Terminalia bellerica Roxb. (Combretaceae), Nyishi: Bahid

Uses: Fruits are eaten raw in constipation and also act as an appetizer.


Terminalia chebula Retz. (Combretaceae)

Uses: Fruits (1-2) chewed 2-3 times daily for the treatment of cough. Fruits are considered stomachic.


Terminalia citrina Roxb. ex Flem.,(Combretaceae), Hilika

Uses: Fruits (1-2) are chewed twice daily for the treatment of cough; bark is taken orally against colic.


Thelypteris glandulifera (Kunze) Ching (Thelypteri­daceae), Nipiati

Uses: Bark of the stipe is used as thread for killing rats.


Themeda villosa A. Camus (Poaceae), Pkabar

Uses: Plants are used for thatching houses.


Tinospora cordifolia (Willd.) Hook.f. & Thoms. (Menispermaceae), Nyam rak

Uses: About 1 cm long stem is pounded and given with water twice daily in empty stomach to get relief from gastric, dysentery and fever. Stem juice is considered aphrodisiac; also applied against swollen muscles.


Toddalia aculeata Pers (Rutaceae), Tiktaksen

Uses: Fruits are fragrant and edible.


Torenia asiatica L. (Scrophulariaceae). Hankay

Uses: Fresh leaves or its powder is eaten by Nyishi tribe with meal as a remedy for stomach troubles, gastric and to enhance clear motion and appetite.


Torenia diffusa D.Don, (Scrophulariaceae). Ocheng

Uses: Paste of equal proportion of whole plant and Impatiens latiflora (Riong- Nyishi) is used as condiment in curry. It is very effective if taken orally thrice daily as a remedy for fever, intermittent fever and headache. Plant juice is also applied over forehead to get relief from headache.


Trichosanthes tricuspidata Lour. (Cucurbitaceae), Rikay

Uses: Roots and stems are pounded, and taken with hot water twice daily for the treatment of dysentery by Nyishi tribe. Stem is kept for a long period after drying. The small pieces mixed with other vegetables are eaten as a remedy of stomach trouble. It is also used as appetizer if 10 -15 gm of almost dried stem is taken with hot water at bed time. Root of Thunbergia coccinea is also in use as substitute.


Trigonospora ciliata (Wall. ex Benth.) Holttum (Thelypteridaceae), Akalami

Uses: Tender shoots are cooked as vegetable.


Urena lobata L. (Malvaceae) Borival, Sitoyorik
(Fig. 7)

Uses: Roots (2-3 gm) are powdered and taken with rice water or plain water thrice daily for the treatment of hyperacidity and dysentery; stem and branches are used as tooth brush.


Vernonia cinerea Less. (Asteraceae)

Uses: It is used in the preparation of Tapyo, which is known as Apatani black salt.

Viburnum coriaceum Blume, (Caprifoliaceae) Nagam

Uses: Fruits are eaten by birds.


Viburnum foetidumWall. (Caprifoliaceae)

Uses: Fruit juice is used as dye by Nyishi people.


Viola betonicifolia Sm. (Violaceae), Tadro (Hill-Miri)

Uses: Cooked leaves are eaten as vegetable.


Zanthoxylum armatum DC. (Rutaceae), Honyum

Uses: Decoction of dry fruits is used in stomach disorders (1-2 teaspoonfuls twice daily).


Zanthoxylum hamiltonianum Wall. (Rutaceae), Honyor

Uses: Tender leaves are used as condiment and also as a remedy for constipation and cold.



In this context, it may be mentioned that a well planned and time bound strategy has to be adopted for proper documentation of the inherited ethnic knowledge of not only the Daffla/ Nyishi tribe but all 110 ethnic communities of Arunachal Pradesh, by involving the State Government and local people. The approach has to be very sincere and scientific in real sense of the term. This job has to be taken up on priority basis in view of the fact that the ghost of the western civilization is moving very fast even to the remote corners of the state and it is not surprising that after a decade, there may not be a single person to tell us about their ethnic knowledge. In view of the above facts, it is felt that it is the prime need of the time to establish a full-fledged multidisciplinary Institute of Ethnobiology, which will monitor all such ethnobiological researches and take care that such reports should be taken up seriously and ensure that further work (isolation of active principles, clinical tests, etc.) should be done and the ethnic communities get their legitimate dues for sharing their ethnic knowledge (which is their intellectual property) with the scientists.



Author is grateful to the Director, Botanical Survey of India, Kolkata, for facilities.



1         Bhuyan LR, Ethnobotany: its scope in Arunachal Pradesh, Arunachal Forest News, 17(1999) 8-12.

2         Bisht NS & Murtem G, Ethnomycology of some local tribes of Arunachal Pradesh, Arunachal Forest News, 17(1999) 13-16.

3         Thomas S, Haridasan K & Barthakur SK, Ethnobotanical observations on ratten palms among the Adi and Nyishing tribes of Arunachal Pradesh, Ethnobotany, 10 (1998) 22-26.