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 Table of Contents  
ORIGINAL ARTICLE
Year : 2023  |  Volume : 8  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 26-37

Medico-ethnobotanical exploration of Almora forest division, Uttarakhand, India—Need for the conservation of medicinal plants


1 Department of Ayurveda, Central Council for Research in Ayurvedic Sciences, Ministry of Ayush, Government of India, Janak Puri, New Delhi, India
2 Department of Botany, Regional Ayurveda Research Institute, Ranikhet, Uttarakhand, India
3 Department of Ayurveda, Central Ayurveda Research Institute, Patiala, Punjab, India
4 Department of Botany, Central Ayurveda Research Institute, Kolkata, West Bengal, India

Date of Submission03-Jul-2022
Date of Acceptance17-Oct-2022
Date of Web Publication30-Dec-2022

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Amit Kumar Rai
Central Council for Research in Ayurvedic Sciences, Ministry of Ayush, Government of India, 61-65, Institutional Area, Opposite D-Block, Janak Puri, New Delhi 110058
India
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None


DOI: 10.4103/jdras.jdras_105_22

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  Abstract 

BACKGROUND: Medico-ethnobotanical exploration is an important part of drug research, which provides information on the distribution, availability, and natural habitat of medicinal plants. The collection of specimens and photographs during the survey tours acts as the reference materials for the description and characterization of raw drugs and their botanical source to avoid adulteration and substitution. The present study aimed to explore the potential of the medicinal plants of the Almora forest division and their present status in the natural habitat. METHODS: Medico-ethnobotanical exploration was carried out in the Almora forest division of Kumaun Himalayan region in Uttarakhand, India, from July 2018 to February 2019. Almora, Someshwar, Mohan, and Jaurasi ranges of the Almora forest division were explored in different seasons during these surveys. During exploration, herbarium specimens and photographs of medicinal plants, preferably flowering or fruiting twigs, were collected with locality and GPS data. Plants were identified and also referred to the herbarium of the Regional Ayurveda Research Institute, Ranikhet, Uttarakhand, and the published literature. RESULTS: During these surveys, 204 medicinal plant species were documented with their local name and locality(s) with GPS location showing their distribution. Among the 204 identified medicinal plant species of this region, six species are found under the endangered and threatened category. CONCLUSIONS: There is an urgent need for the conservation of medicinal plants and their natural habitat for their perpetual existence. Further, medicinal plants having commercial potential should be cultivated by local inhabitants for their socioeconomic development.

Keywords: Conservation, exploration, medicinal plants, medico-ethnobotany, MPCDAs, Uttarakhand


How to cite this article:
Rawat MS, Rai AK, Arya D, Kumar S, Mahajon B, Rath C, Tripathi AK, Mangal AK, Srikanth N. Medico-ethnobotanical exploration of Almora forest division, Uttarakhand, India—Need for the conservation of medicinal plants. J Drug Res Ayurvedic Sci 2023;8:26-37

How to cite this URL:
Rawat MS, Rai AK, Arya D, Kumar S, Mahajon B, Rath C, Tripathi AK, Mangal AK, Srikanth N. Medico-ethnobotanical exploration of Almora forest division, Uttarakhand, India—Need for the conservation of medicinal plants. J Drug Res Ayurvedic Sci [serial online] 2023 [cited 2023 Jan 28];8:26-37. Available from: http://www.jdrasccras.com/text.asp?2023/8/1/26/366287




  Introduction Top


Uttarakhand is one of the hilly states of India situated in the northwestern part of the Indian Himalaya and considered as the “Herbal State.” This region is endowed with medicinal and aromatic plants of tropical, subtropical, temperate, subalpine, and alpine categories. In the Himalayan region, people are still bound to depend on the natural medicinal plants and folk healers/Vaidya for the treatment of various disease conditions. The present study was conducted in different ranges of the Almora forest division of Uttarakhand to explore the potential of medicinal plants of the region and their present status in the natural habitat.

Almora forest division is on the southern edge of Kumaun hills in the Himalayan range in Uttarakhand and is located between 29°30′.08″N and 29°58′.48″ N latitude and 79°04′.18″E and 79°47′30″E longitude. It is surrounded by Kedarnath forest division on the northern side, Bageshwar forest division on the northeastern side, Binsar Wildlife Park and Jageshwar range of Civil Soyam on the eastern side, Nainital on the southern side, Ramnagar and Kalagarh Tiger Reserve forest division on the southwestern side, Kalagarh Tiger Reserve forest division and Garhwal forest division on the western side, and Garhwal forest division on the northwestern side [Figure 1]. It covers an area of 61082.0345 hectares with elevation ranges from 463 m to 2769 metres above sea level.[1] It enjoys varying climate and soil conditions in its different parts from Tarai to the temperate with a variety of flora.
Figure 1: Map of Almora forest division

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The climate of the division is extremely varied, because of the variation in the altitude and topography. The valleys are hotter during summer and cold during winter, whereas in hilly areas, summer is pleasant and snowfall occurs during winter above 1600 m. The temperature of the region ranges between 38°C and −5°C. Rainy season starts from mid June and ends in mid September. It has an average rainfall of 960.6 mm.[1] The vegetation is dominated by pine forests, followed by oak and rhododendron forests, etc.


  Materials and Methods Top


Four medico-ethnobotanical surveys (MEBS) were conducted in Almora, Someshwar, Mohan, and Jaurasi forest ranges of the Almora forest division and its adjoining areas in different seasons. The survey team comprised one botanist, one Ayurvedic physician, and a field staff.

During the first survey, the areas of the Almora forest range, viz., Shimtola, Basoli, Gananath, Jangarkhan, Amkholi, Kangarchina, Kafarkhan, Latwalgaon, Kosi, Chitai, Dhaulchhina, Deenapani, Doba, Shitlakhet, Shyahi Devi, and Dhamas, were explored from July 23 to July 30, 2018. In the second survey, the areas of Someshwar forest range, viz., Someshwar, Kausani, Aeridhau, Pinnath, Pandukholi, Lodh, Gagas, and Rudradhari, were surveyed from October 11 to October 17, 2018. During the survey of the Mohan forest range, Kumeria, Ghugutidhar, Kijari, Bakule, Simtaya, Charidhar, Panuadhyokhan, Ghati, Pathoria, Jumeria, Chandkichod, Tolyun, Kathkinao, and Bhatrojkhan areas were explored from January 19 to January 25, 2019. In the survey of the Jaurasi forest range, Pasoli, Jaikhal, Buranspani, Bhanglwari, Kathpatiya, Gular, Dotiyal, Manila, Malekuda, Bajkhet (Shyalde), Jhimar, Mulekhal, Dudhlia, Songaon, and Khadaktiya areas were surveyed from February 22 to February 28, 2019.

Field survey and data collection

During these surveys, standard field and herbarium methods were followed.[2] Herbarium specimens preferably flowering/fruiting twigs were collected along with photographs of medicinal plants. The local name, locality, and GPS data were also recorded as per the methodology suggested by the CCRAS, Ministry of Ayush, Government of India.[3] The plant specimens collected during the field surveys were identified with the help of regional floras, by matching with the specimens available at the herbarium of Regional Ayurveda Research Institute (RARI), Ranikhet, Uttarakhand and also with the published literature by the taxonomists.[4],[5],[6] The voucher specimens and herbaria of the collected species were preserved in the herbarium of the RARI, Ranikhet, Uttarakhand.

Further, the details of local traditional healers in the survey area were collected from the range officers, village head, villagers, and indigenous people. Open-ended interviews of the folk healers were conducted to collect the data in a semi-structured questionnaire format. All interviews were conducted after taking informed consent from the informants.


  Results Top


During these four surveys, a total of 204 species of medicinal plants were recorded from the survey areas. The details of these plant species were further systematically compiled incorporating botanical name (in alphabetical sequence), family (in parenthesis), Sanskrit name (if available), local name, habit, and locality with GPS location [Table 1], [Figure 2].
Table 1: Details of the medicinal plant species collected during the surveys

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Figure 2: Few important medicinal plant species collected during the surveys: (A) Acorus calamus L., (B) Berberis aristata Roxb., (C) Bergenia ciliata (Haworth) Sternb., (D) Gloriosa superba L., (E) Malaxis acuminata D. Don., (F) Oroxylum indicum (L.) Vent., (G) Rauvolfia serpentina (L.) Benth. ex. Kurz., (H) Satyrium nepalensis L., (I) Valeriana jatamansi Jones., (J) Coleus forskohlii (Willd.) Briq., (K) Potentilla fulgens DC., (L) Bryonopsis laciniosa L

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  Discussion Top


In this MEBS study, 83 families and 204 species of medicinal plants were documented. The families of medicinal plants recorded during the MEBS include Asteraceae (20 species); Lamiaceae (13 species); Fabaceae (nine species); Rosaceae and Rutaceae (eight species each); Euphorbiaceae, Orchidaceae, and Solanaceae (six species each); Apocynaceae and Menispermaceae (five species each); Acanthaceae, Malvaceae, and Ranunculaceae (four species each); Amaranthaceae, Combretaceae, Ericaceae, Oleaceae, Polygonaceae, Rubiaceae, Sapindaceae, and Verbenaceae (three species each); and Adiantaceae, Anacardiaceae, Apiaceae, Araceae, Asparagaceae, Berberidaceae, Bignoniaceae, Boraginaceae, Fabaceae-Caesalpiniaceae, Cucurbitaceae, Lythraceae, Meliaceae, Moraceae, Nyctaginaceae, Pinaceae, Polypodiaceae, Smilacaceae, Urticaceae, Violaceae, and Zingiberaceae (two species each), Actinidiadeae, Agariceae, Asclepiadaceae, Balsaminaceae, Betulacaeae, Cannabinaceae, Capparidaceae, Caprifoliaceae, Caryophyllaceae, Celastraceae, Colchicaceae, Cornaceae, Cupressaeceae, Cuscutaceae, Dioscoreaceae, Equisetaceae, Fagaceae, Juglandaceae, Lauraceae, Linaceae, Lindsaeaceae, Lobeliaceae, Loranthaceae, Melastomaceae, Myricaceae, Myrsinaceae, Myrtaceae, Oxalidaceae, Papaveraceae, Parmeliaceae, Phyllanthaceae, Phytolaccaceae, Plantaginaceae, Plumbaginaceae, Punicaceae, Saxifragaceae, Scrophulariaceae, Symploceae, Thymelaceae, Ulmaceae, Valerianaceae, Vitaceae (one species each). The documented medicinal plants belong to herbs (44%), small and large trees (25%), shrubs and under shrubs (20%), climber (8%), epiphyte, and mushroom (2%) [Figure 3]. Among the 204 identified medicinal plant species of this region, six species were found under the endangered and threatened category.[7] Their status as per the Foundation for Revitalisation of Local Health Traditions (FRLHT) is shown in [Table 2].
Figure 3: Habit of the medicinal plant species explored during the surveys

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Table 2: Endangered and threatened medicinal plants collected during the surveys

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During this exploration of the Almora forest division, it was observed that medicinal plants are depleting to a great extent because of the forest fire, overexploitation, overdominance of pine forest, and a lack of the conservation measures. As per the observation of the National Medicinal Plants Board, Ministry of Ayush, Government of India, there is an urgent need for the conservation and domestication of endangered and threatened medicinal plant species.[8] In addition, initiatives such as the promotion of Medicinal Plants Conservation and Development Areas (MPCDAs) in different state forest divisions of India should be encouraged.[9] The survey team visited one such MPCDA at Mohan, Almora, Uttarakhand, India, developed by the state forest department in collaboration with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). The Almora forest division has a good potential for the development of more such MPCDAs in the suitable forest areas.


  Conclusions Top


The result of this exploration highlighted the herbal potential of the Almora forest division, Uttarakhand, India. However, it is needed to create awareness among the local people regarding conservation and cultivation of medicinal plants. Further, the medicinal plants having significant commercial potential should be cultivated through the local inhabitants for their socioeconomic development.

Acknowledgments

The authors are thankful to Prof. (Vd.) K. S. Dhiman, former Director General, CCRAS, Ministry of Ayush, Government of India, for his valuable guidance and support during the work. The authors are also thankful to Divisional Forest Officer, Almora, and range officers of Almora, Someshwar, Mohan, and Jaurasi forest ranges for their co-operation and support.

Financial support and sponsorship

This study was supported by Central Council for Research in Ayurvedic Sciences (CCRAS), Ministry of Ayush, Government of India.

Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.





 
  References Top

1.
Anonymous. Almora Forest Division Management Plan (2006–07 to 2015–16). Parts 1 & 2. Nainital: Almora Forest Division, Uttarakhand; 2007.  Back to cited text no. 1
    
2.
Jain SK, Rao RR A Handbook of Field and Herbarium Methods. New Delhi: Today and Tomorrow; 1977.  Back to cited text no. 2
    
3.
Srikanth N, Maheshwar T, Singh S Methodical documentation of local health traditions and folklore claims: Scope relevance and suggested format. J Drug Res Ayurvedic Sci 2017;2:149-55.  Back to cited text no. 3
    
4.
Hooker JD The Flora of British India. Vol. 1–7. Oxford, London: Reeve & Co. Ltd.; 1872-97.  Back to cited text no. 4
    
5.
Gaur RD Flora of the District Garhwal, North West Himalaya (with Ethnobotanical Notes). Srinagar, Garhwal: Transmedia Publication; 1999.  Back to cited text no. 5
    
6.
Joshi GC, Tiwari LM, Pandey NC, Upreti BM Flora of Ranikhet, West Himalaya. 1st ed. New Delhi: Indu Book Services; 2018.  Back to cited text no. 6
    
7.
Ved DK, Sureshchandra ST, Barve V, Srinivas V, Sangeetha S, Ravikumar K, et al. editors. FRLHT′s ENVIS Centre on Medicinal Plants, Bengaluru; 2016. Available from: envis.frlht.org/ frlhtenvis.nic.in. [Last accessed on Sep 01, 2022].  Back to cited text no. 7
    
8.
Negi M, Tyagi K, Rawat MS, Ulkhair S Studies on conservation and domestication of endangered and threatened medicinal plant species in India—A review. Indian J Agric Sci 2015;85:314-20 .  Back to cited text no. 8
    
9.
Biswas S, Rawat MS, Tantray AF, Sharma S Medicinal Plants Conservation and Development Areas (MPCDAs)—An initiative towards conservation of medicinal plants. Med Plants—Int J Phytomed Relat Ind 2017;9:143-9.  Back to cited text no. 9
    


    Figures

  [Figure 1], [Figure 2], [Figure 3]
 
 
    Tables

  [Table 1], [Table 2]



 

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