F. arnottiana belonging to family Moraceae is commonly known as the Indian rock fig and has also other common names like Paras pipal in Hindi, as Crown (Ceylon) in English, as Kallal in Malyali, as Pipli in Marathi, as Kallaravi in Telugu and as Parisah and Plaksha in Sanskrit. It is widely distributed in India. It has synonyms like F. aegrophylla, F. caulobotrya, F. populeaster, F. populifolia, Urostigma arnottianum, Urostigma caulobotryum, Urostigma cordifolium and Urostigma courtallense. Indian Rock Fig is a tree which is commonly mistaken for Peepal (Ficus religiosa). Leaves are typical peepal like, but with wavy margins. One of the common ways of recognizing F. arrnottiana from F. religiosa is to examine the colour of the leaf-stalk and the veins which are bright Pink to red in colour. The Leaf tips of F. religiosa are tapering, acuminate and long as against the leaf tips of F. arnottiana which are pointed and acuminate but not long.
The tree grows abundantly throughout India, mostly in the rocky hills up to an elevation of about 1350 m. It is also wide spread in Sri Lanka (Warrier PK et al., 1994; Kirtikar KR et al., 1990). Paras pipal is a glabrous tree or shrub without aerial roots, reaching up to 20 m in height; leaves subcoriaceous 5-15 cm., broadly ovate, alternate, narrowed upwards to the shortly caudate-acuminate apex, with entire margins, base usually cordate; bark pale, smooth; petioles 5-15 cm; lamina simple approximately heart shaped with broadly ovate base and shortly caudate-acuminate apex; fruit achenes (Warrier PK et al., 1994; Kirtikar KR et al., 1990).
F.arnottiana Miq. grows wild in the forests of Dehradun district of Uttarakhand mainly on rocks. Natural regeneration is done by seed. It grows on rocks, chiefly on dry rocks, inside shoals, sometimes grows on tress as an epiphyte wild.
Bark and leaf extract of this plant is being used in the traditional medicine as astringent, aphrodisiac, demulcent, depurative and emollient. It is also useful against inflammation, diarrhoea, diabetes, burning sensation, leprosy, scabies, wounds and skin diseases (Pushparay, P et al., 2000). Hypoglycemic and antioxidant effect of an isolated compound (Ficanone) from F. arnottiana bark has been reported recently (Mazumder, P.M et al., 2008).
The fruit of the plant contain ?- sitosterol, gluacol acetate, glucose and friedelin (Chopra RN et al., 1996). Various phytochemical are present in bark extracts like Sterols, alkaloids, carbohydrates, tannins and phenols (Mazumder, P.M et al., 2008). Leaves of the plant are used for controlling fertility. The bark of F. arnottiana Miq. is used as astringent, demulcent and emollient, it is also used in , wounds and inflammation, diabetes, diarrhoea, burning sensation, pruritis, leprosy, scabies, as ulcer protective and in vaginopathy, (Kirtikar et al., 1988). The root of the plant is used as astringent (Bakshi et al., 2001).
Gregory M et al., 2009 conducted a study on leaf methanolic extract of F. arnottiana leaf and reported about significant anti-ulcer activity in animal models. They showed muco-protective activity and gastric anti secretary when compared with that of reference drug omeprazole. The extract was found non-toxic even at relatively high concentrations. Preliminary phytochemical screening of extract identified the presence of important secondary metabolites like flavonoids and tannins. The anti-ulcer activity found was probably due to the presence of flavanoids.
Kher MN et al., 2011 performed a study on F. arnottiana for investigations including qualitative and quantitative microscopic evaluation of the leaf material for establishment of its quality parameters along with evaluation of physicochemical and phytochemical activities. Main characters of the transverse section of leaf showed presence of bi-layered palisade, cystoliths, pericyclic fibers and perimedullary phloem. Phytochemical analysis showed the presence of many important phytoconstituents like alkaloids, cardiac glycosides, saponins, flavonoids, phenolics, carbohydrates, sterols and triterpenoids.
Farswan M et al, 2008 have reported the hypoglycemic effect to F. arnottiana Miq. Bark extract on Streptozotocin induced diabetes in rats (Mazumder PM et al., 2009). Mamta farswan et al, have reported the Hypoglycemic and Antioxidant activity of an isolated compound from Ficus arnottiana Miq (Mazumder PM et al., 2008) Gregory et al, (2009) have reported the antiulcer activity of Ficus arnottiana Miq. leaf extract. In spite of being one of the well-known medicinal plant used in Indian traditional medicine, there has been very little scientific data available pertaining to the pharmacological properties of Ficus arnottiana Miq.
Rajsekhar S et al., 2011 performed a study on F. arnottiana leaf extract for analgesic activity. The methanolic extract of leaves was used in animal model. It was found that extract at all doses significantly inhibited acetic acid induced writhing and also prolonged reaction latency to pain thermally induced in mice by hot plate. The phytochemical investigation showed the presence of sterols, phenols, alkaloids, carbohydrates and tannins. The extract also exhibit analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties.
Jaliwala YA et al., 2011 conducted a study as pharmacognostic and preliminary phytochemical screening of F. arnottiana miq., bark of the tree was extracted with petroleum ether, chloroform, ethanol and water. Phytochemical screening of extracts showed presence of carbohydrate in pet ether and chloroform while absence in ethanol and aqueous extract. Fats and oils were found in chloroform extract but absent in other extract. Steroids, glycosides, saponins and alkaloids were present strongly in ethanol extract and chloroform extract while marginally in aqueous extract.
Babu A et al., 2017 performed a study as phytochemical analysis of F. arnottiana (Miq.) leaf extract using GC-MS analysis. The leaves were investigated for GC-MS (Gas Chromatography- Mass Spectroscopy) analysis in an attempt to identify the chemical composition present in chloroform and ethanol extract. In study, twelve bioactive compounds were observed in chloroform while sixteen bioactive compounds were observed in ethanolic leaf extract.
The genus Ficus is exceptionally large pantropical genus with over 700 species (Berg CC., 1989) of freestanding trees, hemi-epiphytes and shrubs primarily occurring in subtropical and tropical regions world-wide and belongs to the family Moraceae. It is retained as a single large genus because it is well defined by its unique reproductive system, involving Syconia fig- and specialized pollinator wasps (Novotny et al., 2002).
Plants of Ficus species are used extensively in various parts of the world against a wide range of ailments. The synergistic action of its metabolite production is most probably responsible for the beneficial effects of the plant. Ficus is a large genus of trees or shrubs, often climbers with milky juice, widely distributed throughout the tropics of both hemispheres, but particularly abundant in South-east Asia and Polynesia. About 65 species of Ficus occurs in India. The genus is remarkable for the large variation in the habitat of its species. It contains some of giants of the vegetable kingdom such as Banyan tree, Pipal tree and Indian rubbers and also small wiry climbers like F. pumila and F. scandens Roxbs. Traditionally, various parts of the Ficus species are used for medicinal purpose (Bakshi et al., 2001).
The genus is remarkable for the large variation in the habits of its species (Herre et al., 2008). Many species are cultivated for shade and ornament in gardens. Some species are serves as good source of latex rubber. The fig is a very nourishing food and is used as industrial product. It is very energizing, rich in vitamin, mineral elements, water and fats. In India, the most important among them are; F. bengalensis, F. carica and F. elastica.
More than 50% of the fodder trees in and around the agricultural lands and homestead of rural areas are Ficus species. The common Ficus species in cultivation which are also used for fodder are F. hispida (Kharsu), F. semicordata (Khaniyu), F. neriifolia (Dudhilo), F. lacor (Kavro). Ficus benghalensis, F. benjamina, F. reliogosa, F. lacoor F. nerifolius, F. glaberrima are common host plants for orchids (Subedi and Paudyal 2001). Some orchid species are restricted to the tree trunks and branches of F. glaberrima. F. religiosa (Peepal), F. benghalensis (Bar), F. benjamina (Sami), F. racemosa (Dumri) etc. possess high religious value for both Hindus and Buddhists and are deemed sacred (Subedi et al., 1998, Shrestha TB., 1999).
F. religiosa is not uprooted; it grows on shrines and buildings, because it represents the Hindu God Lord Vishnu, the God of sustenance. It is widely worshipped as Bodhi tree under which Lord Buddha attained enlightenment (Majupuria and Joshi 1989). For antiquity and veneration the peepal is unrivalled throughout the world. No other tree is claimed to have such long life’s part of one in Ceylon, said to have been planted in the year 288 B.C., still lives and flourishes (Cowen 1970). Over 300 species of fodder trees are found in Nepal and more than 50% of these are Ficus species are being cultivated in and around farmlands. (Kunwar RM., 2002).
Mahalingam G et al., 2008 performed a study on F. bengalensis aqueous bark extracts in animal model. The administration of extract decreased the blood glucose levels significantly in diabetic fasted, fed and glucose loaded rats. The hypoglycaemic activity was reported equivalent to that of standard drug tolbutamide. The metabolic enzymes of glucose and levels of liver, kidney lipid peroxidation including hydroperoxides and malondialdehyde along with serum electrolytes were also found significantly decreased in diabetic rats when compared to control rats. The study indicated the hypoglycaemic, antiperoxidative and ameliorative potential of F. bengalensis bark aqueous extract on streptozotocin induced diabetic rats.
Sachan NK et al., 2009 performed a study on alcoholic and aqueous extract of bark of F. racemosa in animal model. In study, it was observed that the fasting blood glucose level of normal rats was decreased by 22.3% with alcoholic extract and by 20.6% with aqueous extract. The alloxan induced diabetic rats showed decrease of 62.5% with alcoholic extract and 50% with aqueous extract. This study showed that the ethanolic extract of F. racemosa is having potential of being used for antidiabetic activity in herbal treatment.
Oumar A et al., 2012 conducted a study on methanolic extract of stem-bark of F. sycomorus in rats. This study showed that the methanolic extract is very less toxic even at a high dose of 5000 mg/kg/bw. The LD50 was calculated as 30% of the highest dose which is 1500 mg/kg. The dose of 250 mg/kg (bw) of extract brought the blood glucose level in diabetic rats almost to the normal as compared to diabetic control. Further the phytochemical analysis of the extract revealed the presence of flavonoids, saponins, alkaloids, reducing sugars and glycosides, etc. This study establishes that methanolic extract of stem-bark of F. sycomorous had a significant hypoglycaemic activity.
Mishra JN et al., 2013 conducted a study on leaves and bark extract of F. bengalensis in animal model. They observed that administration of bark extract significantly decreased the diabetic blood sugar level as compared to diabetic control group and both the doses of bark extracts worked similarly as standard drug, glibenclamide while leaves had no effect on blood glucose level.
Ghosh R et al., 2004 conducted a study on Aqueous suspension of water soluble portion of alcoholic extracts of F. hispida on animal model. The results of the present study showed significantly decreased fasting blood glucose levels by extract both in the normal and alloxan induced diabetic rats as compared to controls.