Global Advanced Research Journal of Medicinal Plants (GARJMP)
July 2013 Vol. 2(1), pp. 012-021
Copyright © 2013 Global Advanced Research Journals

 

Full Length Research Paper

Unabated loss of medicinal plant diversity in Himalaya: a serious socio-economic concern and urgency to salvage whatever is left

Rubaya Sultan1*, Manzoor Ahmad Wani1 and Irshad A. Nawchoo2

1Department of Botany, S.P College, Srinagar
2Department of Botany, University of Kashmir, Srinagar, J and K, India

*Corresponding Author’s E-mail: rubayasultan@yahoo.in

Accepted 08 Feburary, 2013

Abstract

Aconitum heterophyllum, A. chasmanthum, Atropa accuminata, A. beladdona, Arnebia benthamii, Gentian kurroo, Inula racemosa, I. royleana, Picrorhiza kurrooa, Podophyllum hexandrum, Rheum emodi and Saussurea costus are few of the most important medicinal herbs of north western Himalayan region including Kashmir. These herbs are endemic to the region and confined to alpine-sub alpine habitats (2150m-4000m Amsl) which register near arctic severity for some part of the year. Ecologically these niches are unique and highly specialized. Any alterations are bound to affect the very survival of these herbs. Unfortunately, numerous anthropogenic influences have altered most of these habitats which has caused irreparable damage to this invaluable germplasm leading to the ecological and socio-economic consequences of immediate concern. Whatever is left now is faced with onslaught of indiscriminate exploitation for economic gains. These species reproduce both by vegetative as well as sexual means. The flowers are hermaphrodite. The sex tracks being temporarily isolated, the herbs outbreed and set copious quantities of seed. The sexual potential however, does not match the actual requirement for regeneration which would have otherwise ensured sustained supply of the drug to the industry. The reproductive fidelity of these herbs is lowered due to the existence of certain intrinsic constraints which include pollinator dependence in most cases for sexual success (pollinators may not be available under harsh environments), slow seed germination and seedling mortality etc. Limited recruitment on one hand and age old practice of ruthless drug extraction on the other have created a wide gap between plant regeneration and utility which is ever widening and has led to loss of many natural populations in the region. We have scrutinized these herbs for their reproductive strategies and seedling behaviour in order to plan large scale multiplication and conservation under ex situ conditions. Using various textural classes of soil with varied permutations and combinations of inorganic and organic fertilizers and irrigation regimes, the development of suitable agro-technique is under way to develop a cost effective technology for transfer to Private sector and conservation of these herbs into cash crops

Keywords: Unabated Loss, Medicinal Plant, socio-economic, Himalaya

 

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