This study represents first comprehensive ethnobotanical survey in Palas valley, Pakistan and is also an attempt to sum up the preexisting ethnobotanical information. A total of 139 ethnobotanically important plant species are being reported from the study area belonging to a total of 72 plant families. The most important families in this regard were Rosaceae (20 species), Asteraceae (9 species), Lamiaceae and Polygonaceae (5 species each). Herbs (59 species) were found to be the most used life forms followed by trees (40 species), shrubs (36 species) and Climbers (4 species) in descending order. Most frequently utilized portions of plants include Fruit (43 species), Wood (30 species), Root (24 species), Leaves (21 species), Whole Plant (16 species), Branch (15 species), Bark (8), Seed (8 species) and Flower (5 species).
Most of the plants are utilized as medicine for humans (68 species). Only 3 species could be recorded for their use as veterinary medicine (although there may be many more). There were more than 68 plant species, which are utilized as food. The cultivated crop plants were, however, not included in the list. Fruit species included 38 plants and there were 29 plants that were important as food other than fruits. Most of these were found to be utilized as potherbs. A limited storage of the food plants was also noticed. There were 29 fuel species, 2 torchwood species, 28 fodder species and 10 timber species. Agricultural tools and handles were found to be made from 13 different species. Those employed for hedges, fencing and thatching included 7 species. Five species were used as spices, three for tea and 28 species were recorded for miscellaneous i.e., other than those mentioned above. Currently there are 10 major species that are brought to market for sale these include Bunium persicum, Diospyros lotus, Juglans regia, Morchella esculenta, Podophyllum emodi, Saussurea costus, Valeriana sp., Viola sp. Vernonia anthelmentica, and Ziziphus oxyphylla.
Market plants especially Valeriana jatamansi, Saussurea costus, Paeonia emodi and Podophyllum emodi are under severe pressure due to ethnobotanical collections. High summer pastures are the focus area for collection of most of the plant species and additionally intense grazing has posed a serious threat to these areas.
Awareness program in the area about the importance of the indigenous flora, sustainable plants collection and conservation of important medicinal plants would be desirable. The local community should be actively involved in conservation practices. Rotational grazing and reducing the number of livestock will help reduce pressure on pastures. Cultivation of medicinal plants and other plants of economic importance will create new openings for the uplift of poor locals and will also reduce pressures on wild population. A long-term ethnobotanical programme that may address the issues will be a great demand in future.
Saqib, Z. and Sultan, A.
"Ethnobotany of Palas Valley, Pakistan,"
1, Article 11.
Available at: http://opensiuc.lib.siu.edu/ebl/vol2004/iss1/11