Gossamer gifts

By Keya Acharya
Published: Friday 15 December 1995

Harish Gaonkar, a Danish International" Development Agency march scientist, has recently come up with unportant observations on P famall diversity of butterfly-ecol Vilm haillia. His research shows that ps, is mat a single butterfly 'host W Mw plant on which it feeds) a Is am used for medicinal pur w Two tribes of the genus Troides Ow most beautiful and most diverse of all Indian butterflies - have been chosen as an illustration of this relationship.

Aristollochia bracteolata (Hindi: Kiramar) is used against snake-bite Like all other Aristolochiae. It is also a "MV- cathartic, anthelmintic, slillop and is used to cure joint as. M cmished leaves are used on ON sores. Butterflies nesting on i Sillow am Troides minos, P hector I P aristoilochia (all in Western Ghats). Of the related species of Thottea, Thottea siliquosa is presently fairly common in the Cottigaon sanctuary in Goa. Roots and leaves are used as febrifuge and poultice and its juice is used to cure sores from leech bites. It hosts the Pach liopta pandiyana butterflies.

Aristolochia plants contain several secondary chemicals (Feeny, 1991), oils and alkaloids known to be toxic. So, butterflies nesting on them may be toxic to their vertebrate predators. This is yet to be researched upon.

These studies would enable social forestry planners to know which Aristolochiae species to plant as undershrubs (as opposed to imported fast-growing species and to monoculture), besides determining protection and cultivation of various medicinal plants and most importantly, the protection of butterfly habitats.

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