PHARMACOGNOSTIC, PHYTOCHEMICAL AND BIOLOGICAL ACTIVITY STUDIES OF ‘FICUS RELIGIOSA'
MICROSCOPICALLY FICUS RELIGIOSA CONSIST OF FOLLOWING CHARACTERS :-
1. STARCH GRAINS
2. CALCIUM OXALATE CRYSTALS
3. OIL GLOBULES
5. CORK CELLS
6. PHLOEM FIBRES
7. VASCULAR BUNDLES
8. PARENCHYMATOUS CELLS
9. BISERIATE MEDULLARY RAYS.
1.6 BOTANICAL DESCRIPTION
Ficus religiosa is an evergreen or deciduous tree, 20 m tall and 1.5-2 m dbh, irregularly-shaped, with wide-spreading branches and without aerial roots from the branches. The trunk is regularly shaped, often with low buttresses. Bark is grey with brownish specks, smooth, exfoliating in irregular rounded flakes. Leaves alternate, spirally arranged and broadly ovate, glossy, coriaceous (leathery), dark green leaves, 10-18 by 7.5-10 cm, with unusual tail-like tips, pink when young, stipulate, base-cordate. Petioles is slender and 7.5- 10 cm long. Galls on leaves. Flowers axillary sessile, unisexual. Figs in pairs, rounded, flat-topped green, to 1.5 cm across, axillary, sessile, smooth, ripening to purple with red dots, basal bracts 3 and broad. The specific epithet ‘religiosa’ alludes to the religious significance attached to this tree. The prince Siddhartha is said to have sat and meditated under this tree and there found enlightment from which time he became a Buddha.The tree is therefore sacred to Buddhists and is planted beside temples.
1.7 BIOLOGY & ECOLOGY
Cultivation: F. religiosa is widely planted in the tropics (Bailey and Bailey 1976). The tree is very long lived and one tree near Bombay is reported to be over 3,000 years old (Neal 1965). F. religiosa are mostly planted near Buddhist temples. They are steeped in legends associated with Buddha and are also sacred to Vishnu who is also said to have been born beneath a bo tree. Hindus associate the bo tree with fertility in women. It is also cultivated as an ornamental, for medicinal uses, such as toothaches, and in the making of shellac.
Invasiveness: This species reported to be able to set viable seeds in two places, Israel and Florida. In Israel, the pollinator wasp successfully invaded and established allowing the tree to begin to spread. In Florida, sporadic seeding events have been documented; though have not persisted, perhaps due to an unsuccessful colonization of the associated pollinator wasp or an intrusion from a pollinator wasp of the native Ficus aurea (Nadel et al. 1992).
Pollination: The fruit (syconium or fig) and reproduction systems of species in the genus Ficus are unique. Each species of Ficus has an associated species of agaonid wasp (Hymenoptera: Chalcoidea: Agaonidae). Ficus species can only be pollinated by their associated agaonid wasps and in turn, the wasps can only lay eggs within their associated Ficus fruit. The pollinator wasp for F. religiosa is Blastophaga quadraticeps.
Propagation: In places where the pollinator wasp is not present, trees are propagated from cuttings.
Dispersal: In Hawai'i, plants are spread mainly through horticulture trade. Various birds observed foraging and roosting in Ficus spp. trees on Maui that could be potential dispersal agents of F. religiosa seeds should they become viable include mynah birds (Acridotheres tristis tristis), blue faced doves (Geopelia striata), lace necked doves (Streptopelia chinensis), Japanese white-eye (Zosterops japonicus), Northern cardinals (Cardinalis cardinalis), and house sparrows
(Passer domesticus), though there are probably more. Other animals, such as bats, pigs, rodents, parrots, and monkeys may be capable of spreading fruit.
Pests and Diseases: Nadel et al. (1992) report several pests including various ants which were seen carrying off pollinator wasps from Ficus fruits, Hymenoptera and mites that may be parasites of the pollinator wasps, and staphylinids which were seen entering Ficus fruits and eating the pollinator wasps.
2. IMPORTANCE OF FICUS RELIGIOSA
Peepal tree is of great medicinal value. Its leaves serve as a wonderful laxative as well as tonic for the body. It is especially useful for patients suffering from Jaundice. It helps to control the excessive amount of urine released during jaundice. The leaves of Peepal are highly effective in treating heart disorders. It helps to control the palpitation of heart and thereby combat the cardiac weakness. Ayurveda makes an extensive use of the leaves of peepal due to the numerous benefits it provides.
For constipation problem, there can be no better remedy than the consumption of leaves of Peepal. Dry the Peepal leaves in sun and powder them. Add a solution of jaggery and anise to it. Mix it with waterand consume it. This concoction will ensure proper bowel movement. The Indian basil peepal works wonders in treating dysentery. Prepare a mixture of grinded coriander leaves, peepal leaves and sugar and chew it slowly
Pipal leaves are of great use in getting rid of mumps. All one needs to do to avail the benefits of peepal plant is smear the leaves of Peepal with ghee and then warm it on low flame. After that, bandage it over the swollen inflamed part of the body. It is surely going to provide the patient with a great relief. Even for boils, this remedy will prove to be quite effective. In case of formation of pus, bandaging the leaves of Peepal will ensure that the growth subsides. But, it will give beneficial results only if the problem is in its preliminary stage
Alternative and Complementary Medicinal Uses:
The barks of F. religiosa is an important ingredient in many Ayurvedic formulations, such as
Nyagrodhadi churna and
Figure-1.1 Pharmacological activities of Ficus religiosa
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