Thursday, 22 April, 2021 12:12:57 PM


| Herb Garden | Medical Plants | Tongkat Ali |

Agarwood tea grown in Tawau district received the thumbs-up from a China importer because it is grown organically and free of chemicals. China need at least 10,000 packets daily at local market demand.

Shanghai Lenian E-Commerce Co. Ltd General Manager, Jiao Chang Qi, who has been importing the material from Balung Eco-Resort for its health products since November 2011 acknowledged the high quality of the agarwood tea leaves here. He said this while leading 18 distributors of his company's products to visit Balung Eco-Resort, Teck Guan Cocoa Plantation and Pulau Bum-Bum, Semporna in 2012. The visit was to see for themselves the products and high quality crops here.

"We want to open up a networking opportunity and bilateral trade relationship between China and Malaysia, especially in supplying herbs for health products in China," Shanghai Lenian E-Commerce Co. Ltd General Manager, Jiao Chang Qi


Shanghai also importing Java tea planted in Tawau. The demand for Balung Java tea in China was high and recently supply was insufficient to meet the demand for 65,000 boxes of the product.



By Julius Kulip, Sining Unchi Ph.D. and George Majawat

Forestry Research Centre Sabah
Forestry Department Sabah
P.O.Box 1407
90715 Sandakan, Sabah, Malaysia.


Eighty seven medicinal plants species in 50 families and 84 genera are documented. These plants are represented by 3 families of Pteridophytes (6%), 6 families of Monocotyledons (12%) and 41 families of Dicotyledons (82%). The medicinal values of 45 species (53%) have not been previously reported from other parts of Sabah. The preparation, utilization and Kadazandusunic names of Tatana group along with the scientific names and their role in local culture for healthcare are discussed.


Kuala Penyu district (5 30N 115 30E and 5 34 15"N - 115 34 15"E) is one of the 20 districts and 9 sub-districts under the administration of the Rural and Entrepreneurial Development Ministry of Sabah. This district comprises different types of forest zones. It harbors a very rich and unique flora including many species of medicinal plants, which may be a source for gainful exploitation of natural resources. The area occupies 453 km square and is inhibited by Kadazandusun of the Tatana group, Bisaya, Kedayan as well as Bruneis. The topography is flatland, located at coastal area with some undulating terrain and the altitude varies from 10 - 100 m.a.s.l. with tropical climate, its mean maximum and minimum temperatures are 31.3 o C and 25.2 o C, respectively. The average annual rainfall is 2,174.4 ml (Department of Statistic, 1998). There is one government district hospital located at the town centre. The road around this district is fairly good and accessible but some areas inaccessible during heavy rain.

Ethnobotanically, the area remains unexplored and no comprehensive account of local tradition is available, except documentation by Ahmad and Raji (1991), Guntavid (1992) and Kulip (1996) in other districts in Sabah.. It was also interesting to know that the Kadazandusun of Tatana people is the largest group occupying this area and have been using local traditional medicines for quite a long time and extensively compared to other groups. In view of this, a survey of the medicinal properties of plants used by the Kadazandusun of the Tatana group was initiated.


An ethnobotanical survey of Kuala Penyu district was conducted during the month of August 1998 for about two weeks. Survey methods followed the Inventory of Herbal drugs in Nepal (Manandhar, 1995). Tatana people from the Kadazandusun tribe involving 8 herbalists from 7 villages of different parts of the district were personally interviewed. Each interviewee was brought to the nearby forest and garden to collect plant. Interviews were conducted for periods varying from two hours to two days. Herbalists were given more time during the interview. The medicinal property of each species was recorded. Medical symptoms and illness followed the Wordsworth Medical Companion (Pescar and Nelson, 1996). The people interviewed were active and cooperative. Their age averaged between 45 - 75 years.


The plants which are best known and most highly regarded in local medicines are enumerated in alphabetical order of botanical name, family (in parentheses), Tatana name, collection number of Forestry Department Sabah herbarium (SAN) and, finally the usage of the plant parts in various treatments.

Plants that can be identified on the spot were collected and identified by the authors by comparing the identified herbarium specimens preserved in the herbarium of the Forestry Department Sabah. The herbarium is located at the Forest Research Centre Sabah, Sepilok, Sandakan, where the present specimens have been deposited. Plants that were identified scientifically on the spot were noted but not collected.



Eighty-seven species of herbal medicines in 50 families and 84 genera have been recorded in the course of the study. These plants represent 3 families of Pteridophytes (6 %), 6 families of Monocotyledons (12 %) and 42 families of Dicotyledons (82 %). Leguminosae and Euphorbiaceae families are the most used plant in Tatana medicinal plants followed by Rubiaceae, Verbenaceae, Gramineae, Meliaceae, Myrtaceae, Connaraceae and Moraceae (Table 1). These shows that Euphorbiaceae and Leguminosae are most likely have many active compounds that are useful for medicines. Only 37 species recorded as exotic species compared to 51 indigenous species (Table 2). The medicinal value of 45 species (53 %) (Table 3) have not been previously reported from other parts of Sabah when compared to previously reports by Ahmad and Raji (1991), Guntavid (1992) and Kulip (1996). From this study, it was found that plants are used to treat mostly for body pains (fatigue), headache, fevers, cut and wounds and post-partum (Table 4).

Other than herbalists in the district, the adults are knowledgeable about the uses of plants where they exchange information with other villagers (the Kedayan and Bajau people) living in the district. The feedback from the villagers also showed that not all of the medicinal plants are used nowadays. But some medicinal plants which are used to treat newly delivered mother for post-partum treatment are still being used until today, for example Dalbergia parvifolia or Usap Kuliou and Bauhenia semidifida Roxb. var. semibifida or Daup-daup. The bark of Peltophorum pterocarpum or Cugah which grows near seashores ar e peeled off by villagers to treat skin diseases. Most of the populace preferred to take modern medicine first, and if the illness is still persist, they will use traditional medicinal plants for cure. Local treatment in Kuala Penyu seems to be a family affair where a fee ( or locally known as pikodou ) is given to native healers such as a white chicken and a bowl, or given upon the wish of the patient.

The idea of having many plants for a single treatment of ailment, (i.e. in the case of treatment for body pains, headache, fevers, post-partum and cuts and wounds) is firstly, if a patient does not get relief from one remedy (plant) during a specified period of time, generally another remedy is tried, and, secondly if the plant can not be found on specified time, another plant is taken as a substitute.


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