Economic Importance Of Pteridophytes

Project and Seminar Material for Biology

Economic Importance Of Pteridophytes


Pteridophytes, including ferns and fern-allies, are the earliest of all the land plants which originated during the Silurian period and went on to become the dominant vegetation of earth’s surface during the Carboniferous period. They became the first ever group of plants on earth’s surface showing the presence of well-developed vascular system, thereby, playing an important link in the evolution from cryptogams (algae and bryophytes) to phanerogams (gymnosperms and angiosperms). Though they have largely been replaced by seed plants in the course of evolution, they continue to form an important part of vegetation today and can be found distributed in a wide range of habitats in the moist tropical and temperate forests in the world.

The pteridophytes being moisture and shade loving plants congregate at places where humid and damp conditions prevail. Pteridophytes have been used by different tribal communities and folklore as a source of food, fibre, craft, decoration material and medicine. Being a group of lower plants and their restricted distribution, pteridophytes remain unattended and their useful aspects are largely ignored. This present study mainly focuses on the Economic importance of Pteridophytes. Their use in medicine for treatment of external injuries and wounds, use in ornamention, biofertilizers, food, phyto-remediation.

Table Of Contents

Preliminary Page(s)

  • Title
  • Declaration
  • Approval
  • Dedication
  • Acknowledgement
  • Abstract
  • Table of Content

Chapter One

1.0 Introduction

Chapter Two

2.0 Pteridophytes

  • 2.2. Classification of Pteridophytes
  • 2.3. General Characteristics of Pteridophytes
  • 2.4. Occurrence and Distribution of Pteridophytes
  • 2.5. Pteridophytes Life Cycle
  • 2.6. Phytochemistry of Pteridophytes
  • 2.5.1. Alkaloid
  • 2.5.2. Phenols and Phenolic Glycosides
  • Tannins
  • Flavonoids
  • Terpenoids and Steroids

Chapter Three

3.0. Economic Importance of Pteridophytes

  • 3.1. Pteridophytes Used as Medicine
  • 3.2. Pteridophytes Used as Veterinary
  • 3.3. Suitability of Pteridophytes as Food Sources
  • 3.4. Pteridophytes Used as Ornamentation
  • 3.5. Pteridophytes as Building Materials
  • 3.6. Pteridophytes in Toxicology
  • 3.7. Pteridophytes used for Controlling Insect Pests-
  • 3.8. Use of Pteridophytes as Fertilisers
  • 3.9. Pteridophytes used in Phyto-Remediation-
  • 3.10 Pteridophytes in Pharmacology

Chapter Four

4.0. Conclusion and Recommendations

  • 4.1. Conclusion
  • 4.2. Recommendations
  • References

Chapter One

1.0 Introduction

1.1 Background Of The Study

Man has been using plants as a source of food, medicines and many other necessities of life since ancient times. Even to this day the primitive tribal societies that exist depend on the plant life in their surroundings. Though there were investigations of the edible economic values of the higher plants, especially the pteridophytes and angiosperms have been unfortunately ignored. Pteridophytes existing today represent ancient plant species which appeared about 300 million years ago in the late Devonian period (Fernandez et al., 2011).Pteridophytes including ferns and fern-allies are non-flowering, vascular and sporebearing plants. They form a conspicuous element of the earth’s vegetation and are important from evolutionary point of view as they show the evolution of vascular system and reflect the emergence of seed habit in an the plants. About 250 million years ago, they formed the dominant part of earth’s vegetation. But in present day flora, they have been largely replaced by the seed bearing plants. They grow luxuriantly in moist tropical and temperate forests and their occurrence in different eco-geographically threatened regions from sea level to the highest mountains are of much interest (Dixit, 2000).

The ferns and fern allies do not form a monophyletic group (Smith, et al. 2006) and pteridophyta as a taxonomic group is now regarded as made up of two classes, Lycopodiophyta (fern allies) and Pteridophyta (true ferns) ( Smith et al. 2006; WCMC, 1992). The Lycopodiophyta is represented by only five relict genera (Isoetes, Lycopodium, Phylloglossum, Selaginella and Stilites) (WCMC,1992).The Pteridophyta are much more diverse than the Lycopodiophyta, showing great range of form and cosmopolitan in distribution ( WCMC, 1992) Lycopodiophyta and Pteridophyta is a small group of about 12000 species (WCMC, 1992; Chapman, 2009), with some species gathered in the wild for food and medicine, and others cultivated as food and ornamental plants. The ferns are thought by most people to be quite useless members of the plant kingdom. The deleterious effects of rapid fern growth are well publicized, but their useful aspects are largely ignored. Ferns are distributed in all climate zones of the planet, but have a greater diversity in the tropics (Smith et al., 2006; Strasburger et al., 2003). Ferns show various economic values towards food, fodder indicators, biofertilizers and insect repellents (Ghosh et al., 2004). Ferns are used as medicines to cure diseases in various countries. In China alone, 401 kinds of pteridophytic medicines have been used for various ailments (Luo 1998).

Sarker et al. (2011) reported the medicinal uses of 30 pteridophytes of Tamil Nadu. They were used to treat various ailments viz., wound healing, body sickness, diarrhoea, skin problems, body pain, knee problem, cough, cold, fever, asthma, kidney problem, tonic, chronic disorders, several aches, hair growth, stomach problems, ulcer, sore throat, leprosy, ophthalmic, typhoid, urinary bladder and rheumatism. Khare and Kumar (2007) studied ethnobotany of five pteridophytes viz., Adiantum philippense, Diplazium esculentum, Helminthostachys zeylanica, Lygodium flexuosum and Ophiglossum reticulatum used by the Tharu tribe of Dudhwa National Park, Lakhimpur-Kheri (U.P). The information collected by Singh et al. (2001) reported that 14 common Pteridophytes were used by the local people of Manipur in various forms. Kirn and Kapathi (2001), observed ethnomedical uses of 19 pteridophytes of Jammu and Kashmir.

The previous work indicate that the medicinal plants specially the flowering plants are given the more importance in these contents, non-flowering plants particularly fern and fern allies are ignored by scientists. According to Pieroni (2001), evaluation of plant species used in different cultural contexts is necessary in order to infer cultural components related to food acceptance and phytochemical constituents that influence the popularity of edible plants. Plant resources have gained prominence in sub-Saharan Africa as a natural asset through which communities derive food, enabling particularly poor families to achieve self-sufficiency. Documentation of use patterns of pteridophytes across sub-Saharan Africa is of relevance in understanding the importance of this ancient plant group to livelihood strategies of different ethnic groups. This is particularly important for this ancient evolutionary lineage which could potentially become extinct if harvested non-sustainably.

1.2 Statement of the problem

Humans have been dependent upon the plants as an important source of medicine since ancient times. Even today, many tribal communities and rural populations are dependent heavily upon the natural resources obtained from the surrounding forest regions for treatment of various ailments and diseases. The Indian traditional medicine is based on different systems such as Ayurveda, Siddha and Unani used by various tribal communities (Gadgil, 1996). Though, lot of studies focusing on the medicinal properties of plants, especially on angiosperms, are available, unfortunately limited amount of studies have been done to explore the medicinal potentialities of the pteridophytes.

The medicinal qualities of ferns are mentioned as early as 300 B.C. by the Greek philosopher Theophrastus (Corne, 1924a) and by his Indian contemporaries Sushrut and Charak. The medicinal uses of some ferns and pteridophytes of India have also been described in some of the recent studies (Caius, 1935; Nair, 1959). The best of the compendium on medicinal uses of 61 different ferns and fern-allies of Western Ghats has been prepared by Benjamin and Manickam, 2007. In Nigeria due to limited health care services, high cost, inaccessibility of allopathic medicines coupled with poverty, majority of the people rely on traditional uses of medicinal plants. About 700 plant species are used as medicinal and aromatic plants (Pei, 1992). Therefore the need to carryout a study on the importance of pteridophytes.

1.3 Objectives of the study

The main objective of this study is to establish the economic importance of pteridophytes. Specifically, the study tends to;

  1. Examine the medicinal importance of pteridophytes.
  2. Examine the economical importance of pteridophytes.

1.4 Significance of the study

The economic importance of pteridophyes is well known. Theophrastus (327-287 BC) and Discovered (50 AD) had referred the medicinal attributes of certain ferns. Mention has been made by Sushruta and Charak regarding the medicinal uses of Marsilea minuta L. and Adiantum capillus-veneris L. in their Samhitas (Singh, 1999) which reveal their importance since ancient time. The ferns had an important role in folk fore. These plants have been successfully used in the Ayurvedic, Unani, Homeopathic and other systems of medicines as well as in the human history.

Pteridophytes, also known as ‘vascular cryptogams’ and ‘ferns and fern allies’, comprise about 12000 species of vascular plants that do not produce flowers or seeds, reproducing instead via the production of spores.

Pteridophytes occur in most terrestrial habitats on earth and are also present in some aquatic communities. They are an important part of the ground vegetation in many forest communities and, with about one-third of the species growing on the trunks and branches of trees, they are also an important component of many epiphytic plant communities. Some species are very beneficial to humans, but the group also contains some of the most important weed species in the world.

Chapter Four

4.0. Conclusion And Recommendations

4.1. Conclusion

This brief summary has shown the diversity of important uses to which humans have put ferns and lycophytes. pteridophytes, ‘ferns and fern-allies’ as they are called are of great Economic value. In addition to this, quite a number of them are used as medicine, food, shelter and ornamental. These are highly prized as foliage ornamentals due to their beauty and grace whether indoors or outdoors. Many of these use categories originated in traditional societies such as construction of houses, craft, making of weapons and other uses are typical of contemporary societies such as large scale commercialization of ornamental plants and for drug prospecting. This much more intensive use of pteridophytes in modern societies has led to the destruction of the habitats where they grow. Therefore, the exploitation of the ferns and fern allies for their economic utility including ornamental use must be done.

4.2. Recommendations

  1. Documentation on the economic importance of pteridophytes is needed to reveal the importance of this plant group to the public and the associated indigenous knowledge about them; so that this knowledge can be preserved and utilized species used to combat dietary deficiencies as well as improve food security.
  2. It is also important that field botanists should avoid ruthless collection of rare species and make sure that they leave the bulk of plants to continue to grow and reproduce in the world.
  3. People in the research environment has no formal education but they are able to distinguish the different members of the fern and fern-allies family, and tend to develop indigenous knowledge from the practiced of their ancestors, these indigenous knowledge even not yet verified develop awareness on the economic value of pteridophytes among the participants. This could only mean that, if there is only formal education then they will be more knowledgeable about the scientific facts of pteridophytes.
  4. If these guidelines can be followed strictly and if we can maintain our biodiversity, further studies on pteridophytes can bring many more species that are of economic importance to light.

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