Traditional healers in Sarawak, Malaysia, use plants such as Picria fel-terrae, Linariantha bicolor and Lansium domesticum to treat gastrointestinal infections. This study aimed to test whether their nematocidal activities could be confirmed in vitro using highly standardised Caenorhabditis elegans models. We applied eight different ethanol solubilised plant extracts and two commercial anthelmintic drugs to larval and adult stages of C. elegans in vitro. Seven C. elegans strains were evaluated, one wild type and six strains with GFP-tagged stress response pathways to help characterise and compare the pathways affected by plant extracts. Our in vitro screen confirmed that both of the commercial anthelmintic drugs and five of the eight traditionally used plant extracts had significant nematocidal activity against both larval and adult C. elegans. The most effective extracts were from P. fel-terrae. The plant extracts triggered different stress response pathways from the commercial anthelmintic drugs. This study showed that using traditional knowledge of plant medicinal properties in combination with a C. elegans in vitro screen provided a rapid and economical test with a high hit rate compared with the random screening of plants for nematocidal activities. The use of transgenic C. elegans strains may allow this approach to be refined further to investigate the mode of action of active extracts.