Medicinal Plants

Patrick Mathis

My topic for the Gunung LEUSER Project is making mounts of the medicinal plants found living in the rain forest. The plants I collected are medicinal plants that can cure diseases and wounds. The dates which I collected these plants were April fourteenth through sixteenth, 1997. We also had another trip last year from November fourth through sixth. The last trip we did we walked through the jungle finding projects to do.

During this first trip I met Ety Ningsih. After I met Ety I became more interested in plants than before. The setting in which I collected my plants was in the secondary growth of the rain forest.

Medicinal plants have their own unique features. Some medicinal plants can cure diseases such as malaria and colds and some can cure wounds or skin diseases. We need to first collect the plants from the forest. In collecting plants you have to make sure you've got the stem and the leaves. It's good to have three or four leaves with the stem. Sometimes you need the fruit and the flower of the plant you've collected. Then, once you've collected the specimen you need to identify it. After I've collected all the medicinal plants, I mount them on a piece of paper that is pressed by cardboard which goes between each plant mount. In the plant mount you need to show the stem, the leaves, the flower, and the fruit. The flower and the fruit is to help identify the plant I found. Also you need the leaves to identify the plant. The way to mount the plant is to spread out the leaves all over the mounting paper. When you put your leaves on it is very important to make sure the leaves are spread out. Some leaves can be right side up and some don't have to be.

Finally, you put weight on top of the stack of mounted plants and wait. Then, you've got a stack of the mounted plants you collected.

I found ten different types of medicinal plants. Some of the plants we were able to identify by the scientific Latin name, while other plants we can only identify with the local name. Here are the names of the plants I collected in the rain forest: Zingiberaceae, Labiatae, Graminae, Labitiae are the Latin names to some of the plants we found. Tampu gajah, Tiga urat, Sampun, and Bulung siraprap are local Indonesian names. We found four different plants. I found most of these plants in the secondary growth of the forest. Others I collected in openings out of the forest. It was not easy to find at least seven plants in the rain forest. It wasn't easy to identify plants in the rain forest because there are plants in the rain forest you can get mixed up with another plant. Also you have to know the area where the medicinal plants are commonly found. For example, some plants are found in the middle of the rain forest and some are found on the edge of the rainforest. It is confusing and you can forget where the area is to find the plant that you are looking for. It took me two to three hours to find seven plants.

These are the ways to use the medicinal plants I found. Zingiberacae is the Latin word for a plant used for colds. The way to use this plant is to boil the whole plant, then drink the water. This plant is found in openings out of the jungle. Graminea is a plant used for tape worms that are in your stomach. The way to use this plant is to boil the plant, then drink the liquid. This plant is found in the jungle. Labiatea is another plant in the rain forest. This plant can cure any fresh wound on your body. The way to use it is to grind it, then put it on your wound. You have to grind it up then put it on the wound.

The plant that really shocks me is the plant that can cure malaria. The plant that cures malaria is called the Legume. The legume does create a dry fruit that is a bean. Many legumes can be found in the rain forest. The plants that can cure diseases such as malaria are found on one specific type of plant in the rainforest. First, clean the plant, then boil it, then drink the water.

"Bulung siraprap" is the Indonesian name for a plant that cures colds. The way to use it is to clean the plant, chop it up, put it in hot water, then drink the water. "Sampun" is a plant to put on a fresh wound. First, grind the leaves, then put it on the wound. "Tiga urat" is a tropical plant that keeps the mosquitoes away. What you do is chop up the plant, then grind the stem until it's a powder. Next, mix the powder with casava flour, and finally dry the mixture in the sun. "Tampu gajah" is a plant that isn't really a medicinal plant. Elephants eat the outer bark of this plant. Legume leaf is a plant used for skin disease. You boil the plant then drink it.

Most of these plants are found in the wet section of the rain forest. These plants feel wet when touched. Some of these plants don't need as much sunlight as some other plants that live outside of the rain forest. Tiga Urat and the Taludagang are in the family of grasses, and they can stand long periods of dryness in the soil. Some plants that are in the rain forest can't stand long periods of dryness. Most of these plants can cure common diseases such as malaria and colds.

Mounting plants isn't really hard unless you have a plant that curls up. Then it's hard to spread the plant out properly. The grass types of plants are hard to mount because after a while they get curled. The same happens with large leaves. When these large leaves dry up, they start to curl. Sometimes the plants dry out and it starts to crunch into little pieces. This normally happens to the larger leaves that are high in the trees.

In this project I've learned many techniques in identifying plants, mounting the plants, collecting the plants, and labelling the plants I found. Maybe in the future my techniques might be used by other students or botanists. Medicinal plants have a scientific value because sometimes they have a bark or leaf that can cure a sickness or disease. My project on medicinal plants might help someone find a plant that can cure sicknesses.

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