Journal of Botany

Journal of Botany / 2013 / Article

Research Article | Open Access

Volume 2013 |Article ID 248943 | 14 pages | https://doi.org/10.1155/2013/248943

Ethnobotany and Ethnomedicinal Uses, Chromosomal Status and Natural Propagation of Some Plants of Lahaul-Spiti and Adjoining Hills

Academic Editor: Philip J. White
Received18 Jul 2013
Accepted22 Sep 2013
Published13 Nov 2013

Abstract

The present study documented the ethnobotanical and medicinal uses of plants from an ecologically fragile cold desert area of Lahaul-Spiti (Himachal Pradesh, India). Local people use plants for curing the stomach troubles, pain reliever, cough, gastric disorders, and aphrodisiac and other household purposes. In addition, chromosome numbers, male meiosis, and natural propagation were also investigated in these ethnobotanically used plants. Present investigations also form the basis for exploitation of intraspecific chromosomal variation/new cytotypes recorded in some of the presently studied species to detect biochemical diversity in the medicinally important plants. For documentation of ethnobotanical information, personal observations and interviews were conducted with medicine men, hakims, farmers, shepherds, local healers, and old aged people. This study identified 40 plant species under 33 genera belonging to 17 families which have been used locally for curing various diseases and other purposes. All the chromosome counts are new to the study area. On worldwide basis, meiotic chromosome counts of and in Rosularia alpestris and Corydalis govaniana, respectively, are the first ever reports. The present study indicates that the people of the area possess good knowledge about the different uses of plants in the area. It has been noticed that due to the lack of interest among younger generations in the preservation of invaluable ethnic knowledge, there is every possible chance of losing such a rich heritage of knowledge. It is very urgent to conserve such invaluable ethnic knowledge before it gets lost.

1. Introduction

Present study was conducted in Lahaul-Spiti, a cold and desolate alpine region in northwest Himalayas which is known for its seclusion, Buddhist culture, hostile climate, and unexplored, formidable, and breathtaking scenic beauty of the high snow clad mountains. It is a part of the Indian cold deserts which is situated between 31°44′57′′ and 32°59′57′′N latitudes and between 76°29′46′′ and 78°41′34′′E longitudes. Climatic conditions are typical of dry temperate and alpine zones. The vegetation which is mainly composed of perennial herbs and prostrate shrubs survives extreme variation in temperature including months buried under several feet of snow. Using plants for different purposes and in curing and healing is as old as man himself [1]. It was very well known to primitive people that plants contain beneficial and medicinal properties which they used in some form or the other. Even in the ancient time, people classified plants on the basis of their medicinal uses. No comprehensive attempt has been made so far to gather ethnobotanical information and to assess the cytological diversity and natural propagation of the plants growing in the higher altitude and cold desert regions of Lahaul-Spiti. Presently an attempt has been made to collect information on the ethnobotanical uses and to examine the cytomorphological diversity and natural propagation in the species of Lahaul-Spiti and adjoining high hills.

1.1. Topography and Vegetation

The topography of the area is entirely different from the adjoining regions of northwest Indian Himalayas. The cold desert plants of Lahaul-Spiti show a wide range of habitat diversity which includes alpine pastures and slopes, moist shady and exposed places, forests and forest undergrowth, water courses, scree slopes, rock crevices, rocks/boulders, roadsides, riverbeds, and sandy areas (Figures 1(a)1(d)). The Lahaul-Spiti which is the largest district of Himachal Pradesh with an area of ca.13835 km2 consists of two regions (Lahaul Valley and Spiti Valley) which are different in many aspects. One such aspect is the vegetation which is quite different. The Lahaul Valley is on the greener side compared to the barren Spiti region where climate is much drier. Since the district possesses a great range of elevation, ranging from 2400 to 6500 m, the vegetation is diverse, unique, and plentiful. It comprises dry temperate to high alpine type except for some parts of Pattan Valley (Lahaul) adjoining the Pangi area of Chamba district, where it is of dry temperate to moist temperate type (Figure 1(c)).

2. Materials and Methods

2.1. Information Collection, Fixation of Material for Cytological Studies, Identification of Plants, and Male Meiotic Chromosome Counts

As the valley remains cut off from other parts of country for more than six months due to heavy snow fall, observations on ethnobotanical information and natural propagation and collection of material for cytological studies were made between June and October in the years 2006–2009. During the intensive cytomorphological and ethnobotanical surveys, 40 plant species used by the local people of Lahaul-Spiti had been collected from different localities (Figure 2). For documentation of ethnobotanical information, personal observations and interviews were conducted with medicine men, hakims, farmers, shepherds, local healers, and old aged people. Plant identification was done by consulting the Flora of Lahaul-Spiti [2], the Flora of Kullu district [3], and Flora of Chamba district [4]. Besides, the plant accessions were also compared to the samples lying in the Herbaria of the Department of Botany, Punjabi University, Patiala (PUN), Botanical Survey of India (BSI), and Forest Research Institute (FRI) at Dehra Dun. Voucher specimens of the cytologically worked-out specimens were deposited in the Herbarium, Department of Botany, Punjabi University, Patiala (PUN). For male meiotic studies, floral buds of suitable sizes from the wild plants were fixed in Carnoy’s fixative (mixture of ethanol, chloroform, and glacial acetic acid in volume ratio of 6 : 3 : 1) for 24 h and preserved in 70% ethanol in a refrigerator until analysed. For chromosome counts and detailed meiotic behavior in pollen mother cells (PMCs) at early prophase-I, metaphase-I (MI), anaphase-I/II (AI/II), telophases-I/II (TI/II), and sporad stage developing anthers were squashed in 1% acetocarmine. Pollen fertility was estimated through stainability tests by smearing mature anthers from different flowers in glycerol-acetocarmine mixture (1 : 1) and aniline blue dye (1%). Best plates of chromosome counts, meiotic abnormalities, sporads, and pollen grains were photographed from the temporary mounts with digital imaging system of Nikon Eclipse 80i microscope and Leica QWin. Field photographs of plants and landscape were taken with Nikon Coolpix L3 camera.

3. Results

3.1. Ethnobotany

In the present investigation, 40 plant species under 33 genera belonging to 17 families have been reported to be used for ethnobotanical and medicinal purposes. Data given in Table 1 includes the name of the family to which a particular species belongs, their meiotic chromosome number, ploidy level, vernacular name, locality and its altitude, voucher specimen number, habit and habitat, natural regeneration, flowering and fruiting period, plant part used, and ethnobotanical uses (Figures 3(a)3(g)). Out of the 40 species, the maximum number of species belongs to Ranunculaceae and Leguminosae with 7 species each and 4 species to Apiaceae and Rosaceae each. The most common plant parts used in different preparations are the roots and leaves. Other plant parts used as herbal medicine are whole plant, seeds, fruits, flowers, and rhizomes. Based on the information gathered from different sources, the local people used a good number of plant species for curing the stomach troubles, pain reliever, cough, gastric disorders, and aphrodisiac; as fodder and fuel; to obtain different dyes; and in religious ceremonies and as offerings to deities (Figures 4(a)4(d)).


Family/species (vernacular name)/meiotic chromosome number “ ”/ploidy levelLocality and altitude in meters (m)Voucher specimen number (PUN)Habit and habitatNatural regenerationFlowering and fruiting periodPlant part usedEthnobotanical and ethnomedicinal uses

Apiaceae 
(1) Angelica glauca Edgew.
  (Choru, Chora) 
(2x)
Dhancho, 3,030 m51529 PUNTall perennial herb; shady moist placesSeeds, rootstockJuly–SeptemberWhole plant, rootsStomach troubles and stimulant
Spices and condiments
Bronchitis
(2) Bupleurum falcatum L.
(2x)
Bharmour, 2,130 m 51524 PUNPerennial herb; dry slopesSeeds, rootstockJune–SeptemberRootsLiver troubles
(3)  Chaerophyllum aromaticum L.
(2x)
Koksar, 3,140 m51546 PUNHerb; moist slopesSeeds, rootstockJune–SeptemberRootsPlant eaten raw or used as pot herb
Along with mint is used as flavouring agent
(4) Heracleum lanatum Michx.(Raswal)
(2x)
Trilokinath, 3,020 m 51542 PUN Perennial herb; along water courses and amongst stones and open slopes Seeds, rootstock June–September Leaves, tender shoots, and fruits Check the excessive menses and bleeding, abdominal pain and gastric disorders
Fodder
Aphrodisiac
Balsaminaceae  
(5) Impatiens sulcata Wall.
(Don)
(2x)
Sissu, 3,170 m51627 PUNAnnual herb; along streamsSeedsJune–AugustWhole plantPaste made by mixing it with lichens and Rumex sp. is used as nail polish
(6) I. brachycentra Royle
(2x)
Jhalama, 3,070 m51632 PUNAnnual herb; glacial streams and moist shady placesSeedsJuly–AugustLeavesRed dye obtained is used as nail paint
Biebersteiniaceae 
(7) Biebersteinia odora Steph. ex Fish. (Figure 3(a))
(2x)
Baralacha Pass,
5,030 m
51587 PUNPerennial herb; alpine meadows and dry rocky and scree slopes Seeds, rootstocks July–OctoberRootstocksAntiseptic and blood purifier
Brassicaceae 
(8) Lepidium latifolium L.
(Tharag-Thokpa)
(2x)
Bahu, 2,830 m51618 PUNPerennial herb; open slopes and around cultivated fieldsSeeds, rootstocksJuly–SeptemberAerial partsRheumatic pain
Caryophyllaceae  
(9) Cerastium cerastoides (L.)
Britt.
(2x)
Batal, 3,960 m51479 PUNPerennial herb; moist slopes and meadowsSeeds, stolonJune–SeptemberWhole plantDecoction for cough
(10) Silene vulgaris (Moench) Garcke
(Ghandoli)
(2x)
Udaipur, 2,740 m51713 PUNPerennial herb; grassy slopes and meadowsSeeds, rootstocksJune–SeptemberFresh young leaves and twigsVegetable
Crassulaceae 
(11) Rosularia alpestris (Kar
& Kir) Boriss.
(Pyau Chakti)
(2x)
Kukumsheri, 2800 m51163 PUNPerennial herb; rock crevices and dry sandy slopesSeed, offsetsJune–SeptemberWhole plantJuice—considered good for health
Datiscaceae
(12) Datisca cannabina L.
(2x)
Jahlama, 3,070 m49418 PUNPerennial robust herb; dry sandy slopesSeeds, rootstocksJuly–SeptemberRootsYellow dye
Fumariaceae
(13)  Corydalis govaniana Wall.
(2x)
Gauri Kund, 3,930 m51673 PUNPerennial herb; rock crevices and glacial morainesSeeds, rootstocksJuly–SeptemberWhole plantLeprosy and rheumatism
Geraniaceae 
(14) Geranium pratense L.
(Porlo, Likatur)
(4x)
Lossar, 3,900 m51573 PUNPerennial herb; moist placesSeeds, rootstocksJuly–SeptemberWhole plant,
roots
flowers
Cough, jaundice, and gastric disorders
Poultice to bruises. Black dye obtained by boiling roots along with Naktsur (sulfurous raw mineral)
Offered to deities
(15) G. wallichianum D. Don
ex Sweet
   2x)
Rohtang Pass, 3,980 m 51190 PUN Perennial herb; moist slopes Seeds, rootstocks July–September Whole plant Stomachaches, cough, cold, and throat infections
Leguminosae 
(16)  Astragalus bicuspis Fischer
(2x)
Gondhla, 3,160 m51179 PUNUnder shrub: open, dry, and sandy slopesSeeds, rootstocksJuly–AugustWhole plantSoil binder
(17) A. himalayanus Klotzsch
(Kayabachhutup)
(2x)
Zingzingbar, 4,350 m51288 PUNHerb; meadows, dry slopes, and around cultivated areasSeeds July–SeptemberSeeds, flowersStrangury
(18) A. rhizanthus Royle ex
Benth. (Figure 6(a)) 
(Zomoshing)
(2x)
Chandartal Lake, 4,300 m51276 PUNPerennial herb; dry slopes, riverbeds, and among stonesSeeds, rootstockJune–SeptemberRootsFodder
(19)  Cicer microphyllum Benth. (Figure 3(b))
(Nayarcha, Chiri)
(2x)
Chandartal Lake, 4,300 m51219 PUNPerennial herb; sandy and dry slopesSeeds, rootstocksJune–SeptemberAerial parts, seedsTreatment of sore mouth in cattle
“Khur” disease of sheep and goats
Dry as well as fresh leaves are used as vegetable or eaten raw
(20) Indigofera gerardiana Wall. ex Baker
(6x)
Tindi, 2,600 m51312 PUNShrub: shady and sometimes also on open moist sloesSeeds, new sprouts, and suckers begin from dormant buds on stems, rootstocksMay–AugustLeaves and young shootsFodder and fuel
(21) Medicago falcata L.
(Kathoama)
(2x)
Keylong, 3,340 m51328 PUNPerennial herb; moist shady placesSeedsJuly–SeptemberAerial partsUsed as a good fodder
Cuts and wounds
(22) Trigonella emodi Benth.
(Kuchona, Buksup)
(2x)
Sundrasi, 3,370 m51160 PUNHerb; moist places, riverbeds, and around cultivated fieldsSeedsJune–AugustYoung leaves, shoots, and flowersVegetable
Plant considered being poisonous
if fed before flowering
Insect repellent
Dried plants as perfume and fresh flowers worn as garland
Malvaceae
  (23) Malva neglecta Wall.
(2x)
Keylong, 3,340 m51696 PUNPerennial herb; moist places and roadsidesSeeds, rootstocksJune–SeptemberWhole plantDecoction for malaria
Dried plants for kidney and bladder disorders
(24) M. verticillata L.
(Mikanchi)
(polyploid)
Kaza, 3,800 m51492 PUNPerennial herb; moist placesSeeds, rootstocksJune–SeptemberSeedsKidney and bladder disorders
Onagraceae 
(25)  Epilobium angustifolium L.
(Dharshak)
(4x)
Miyar, 3,000 m51665 PUNPerennial herb; moist places, amidst stones, and bouldersSeeds, rootstocksJuly–SeptemberRootsCrushed roots used as a detergent
(26)  E. latifolium ssp.
Speciosum (Decne.) Raven
(4x)
Batal, 3,960 m51654 PUNPerennial herb; dry slopes and on rocksSeeds, rootstocksJuly–SeptemberFlowers Ornamental
Papaveraceae 
(27)  Meconopsis aculeata Royle (Figure 3(c))
(Chharbongcha Chharmen)
(4x)
Gauri Kund, 3,930 m49361 PUNHerb; among boulders in alpine rocky areasSeedsJune–SeptemberAerial parts rootsSwelling of legs after long distance walking
Narcotic and poisonous
Podophyllaceae 
(28)  Podophyllum hexandrum Royle (Figure 3(d))
(Omo-Shey)
(2x)
Gulaba 3,400 m51708 PUNPerennial herb; moist slopesSeeds, rootstocksJuly–SeptemberRoots, fruitsPurgative
Tuberculosis and cough
Ranunculaceae 
(29)  Aconitum heterophyllum Wall. ex Royle (Figure 3(e))
(Boa)
(2x)
Manimahesh Lake, 4,300 m51398 PUNHerb; subalpine and alpine grassy meadows and moist slopesSeedsJune–SeptemberRootsDiarrhoea, coughs, astringent, and aphrodisiac
(30)  A. violaceum Jacq. Ex
Stapf.
(Yangtso)
(2x)
Manimahesh Lake, 4,300 m51402 PUNSmall herb; alpine Himalayan regionsSeeds, rootstocksJune–SeptemberRootsCough, high fever stomach problems, snake and scorpion bites, contagious infections, and intestine inflammation
(31) Aquilegia fragrans Benth.
(Lande, Kumuk)
Chhatru, 3,360 m51377 PUNPerennial herb; moist slopesSeeds, rootstocksJuly–SeptemberFlowersHair follicle infection
(32) Caltha palustris L.
(4x) (Figure 3(f))
Trilokinath, 3,020 m51333 PUNPerennial herb; marshy areas along water streams and glacial morainesSeeds, rootstocksJune–SeptemberLeaves
Roots
To keep maggots out of cattle wounds. To clean the hands
Gonorrhoea
(33) Delphinium denudatum Wall. ex Hook. f. & Thomson
(2x)
Dibri, 2,300 m51384 PUNPerennial herb; margins of Cedrus and Pine forest, dry scrubby slopes Seeds, rootstocksJuly–SeptemberRootsToothache
(34)  Ranunculus hirtellus Royle
(2x), 16 (4x)
Keylong, 3,340 m51374 PUNPerennial herb; moist places and alpine meadowsSeeds, rootstocksJune–SeptemberWhole plantCounter irritant
Swelling in testes
(35) Thalictrum foetidum L.
(6x)
Trilokinath, 3,020 m51335 PUNPerennial herb; dry slopes, among stones and bouldersSeeds, rootstocksJune–SeptemberFlowersReligious ceremonies
Rosaceae  
(36) Cotoneaster microphyllus Wall. ex Lindl.
(Rogthali)
(2x)
Kothi, 2,400 m49218 PUNTrailing evergreen shrub on rocky slopes, rocky mountain areas, thickets, and river valleys Seeds, new shoots from dormant bud on old stemJune–SeptemberWhole plant, fruitsEaten raw
Walking sticks and baskets
Used for fuel
(37)  Potentilla atrosanguinea Lodd. var. argyrophylla (Wall. ex Lehm.) Griers. & Long 
(6x), 42 (12x)
Kilingsarai, 4,500 m51101 PUNPerennial herb; alpine meadows and glacial morainesSeeds, rootstockJune–OctoberRootsToothache and gingivitis
(38)  Rosa webbiana Wall. ex
Royle (Figures 3(g), 4(a), and 4(b))
(Shaybala)
(2x)
Kaza, 3,800 m51450 PUNDeciduous prickly shrub; open sandy and rocky slopesSeeds, rootstocksJune–SeptemberFruits, stems, and flowersEaten
Used as biofence
Brooms made—used to remove stones and debris from roads
Used as fuel
Offered in gompas, stomach ache
(39) Spiraea canescens D. Don
(2x)
Kothi, 2,400 m51421 PUNShrub: dry slopesSeeds, rootstocksJune–SeptemberSlender branchesRim of baskets
Saxifragaceae  
(40) Bergenia stracheyi Engl.
(Figures 6(b), 6(c), and 6(d))
(Shilpada)
(2x)
Gramphoo, 3,160 m51682 PUNPerennial herb; moist rocky slopes, among bouldersSeeds, rootstocksMay–SeptemberLeaves, rootstocks, and rootsUsed as fuel wood
Diuretic

3.2. Chromosomal Status

In addition to the gathering of ethnobotanical information, chromosome number and details of male meiosis have also been investigated in all the species. Of the 40 cytologically studied species, 30 (75%) exist at diploid level with basic chromosome number ranging between (Biebersteinia odora Steph. ex Fish., ) and 18 (Cerastium cerastoides (L.) Britt., ), while nine (22.5%) of them were found to be at polyploid level (4x, 6x, 12x). One species, Ranunculus hirtellus Royle ( ), existed at both diploid and tetraploid levels based on . All the chromosome counts are new to the study area. On worldwide basis, meiotic chromosome counts of (Figure 5(a)) and (Figure 5(b)) in Rosularia alpestris (Kar and Kir) Boriss. and Corydalis govaniana Wall., respectively, are the first ever chromosomes counts. While in some other species new cytotypes have been added to the already existing diploid (Thalictrum foetidum L.,  new, (Figure 5(c)), previous, ; Geranium pratense L., new (Figure 5(d)), previous ) or polyploid cytotypes (Malva verticillata L., new,   , previous, ). New/additional intraspecific cytotypes for India have also been established in Indigofera gerardiana Wall. ex Baker ( , 6x), Epilobium angustifolium L. ( , 4x), Cerastium cerastoides (L.) Britt. ( , 2x), Geranium wallichianum D. Don ex Sweet ( , 2x, Figure 5(e)), and Impatiens sulcata Wall. (Don) ( , 2x, Figure 5(f)). Present study also recorded additional intraspecific diploid/polyploid cytotypes from India in Ranunculus hirtellus Royle ( , 2x; , 4x) and Potentilla atrosanguinea Lodd.var. argyrophylla (Wall. ex Lehm.) Griers. and Long ( , 6x; , 12x). As many as eight species, namely, Angelica glauca Edgew. ( ), Astragalus bicuspis Fischer ( ), Biebersteinia odora Steph. ex Fish.( , Figure 5(g)), Bergenia stracheyi Engl.( ), Chaerophyllum aromaticum L. ( ), Datisca cannabina L. ( ), Rosa webbiana Wall. ex Royle ( ), and Trigonella emodi Benth. ( ) have been counted chromosomally for the first time from India.

3.3. Abnormal Cytological Events during Male Meiosis and Pollen Fertility

Besides new chromosome reports and additional cytotypes, in some of the species meiosis was abnormal and was characterized by the presence of multivalents and/or univalents, impaired synapsis, cytomixis, and its associated meiotic aberrations such as laggards and bridges, chromatin stickiness, pycnotic chromatin, irregular distribution of chromosomes, and micronuclei at telophases/sporads consequently leading to abnormal microsporogenesis and variable amount of pollen sterility (Figures 5(h)–5(p)).

Among the abnormal taxa, 12x cytotype of P. atrosanguinea Lodd.var. argyrophylla (Wall. ex Lehm.) Griers. and Long is an imbalanced polyploid. Owing to the presence of high chromosome number ( ), it depicted a typically irregular meiotic behaviour (presence of multivalents and/or univalents, laggards, and irregular distribution of chromosomes), abnormal microsporogenesis, and pollen sterility (14–46%) which is the characteristic feature in such kind of imbalanced polyploids. Cytomixis which involves the interpollen mother cell transfer of chromatin material through narrow and broad cytomictic channels is existent in Astragalus bicuspis Fischer ( ), A. himalayanus Klotzsch ( ), A. rhizanthus Royle ex Benth. ( ), Caltha palustris L. ( ), Geranium pratense L. ( ), Meconopsis aculeata Royle ( ), P. atrisanguinea Lodd. var. argyrophylla (Wall. ex Lehm.) Griers. and Long ( , 42), Trigonella emodi Benth. ( ), Rosularia alpestris (Kar and Kir) Boriss. ( ), Silene vulgaris (Moench) Garcke ( ), Thalictrum foetidum L. ( ), and Ranunculus hirtellus Royle ( , 16). Impaired synapsis owing to the lack of pairing of homologous chromosomes in Rosularia alpestris (Kar and Kir) Boriss. resulted in the presence of all chromosomes as univalents during early prophase stages of meiosis-I and consequently abnormal microsporogenesis and pollen sterility (28%). Besides, in Bergenia stracheyi Engl. high pollen sterility (22%) was recorded without the occurrence of any meiotic irregularity which might be attributed to irregularities in postmeiotic events during pollen development.

3.4. Natural Propagation

Natural propagation observations made on all the 40 species revealed that majority of the species are perennial and propagate through asexual (vegetative propagation) means such as rootstocks, offsets, root suckers, and stolons (Figures 6(a)6(d)).

4. Discussion

A steady stream of papers over the years have recognized the fact that the reproductive stage in the life cycle of plants is highly sensitive to different abiotic stresses [58] especially the low temperature conditions [916]. It has been observed that when plants of this area are about to enter the flowering stage, the temperature is very low (sub-zero to 15°C) which seems to disrupt the meiotic process by causing various meiotic abnormalities and consequently reduced viability of gametes. Ultimately these events hinder natural propagation of plants through sexual means.

Natural propagation observations revealed that majority of the species are perennial and propagate through asexual means such as rootstocks, offsets, root suckers, and stolons. Thus, it is assumed that in order to survive the harsh environmental conditions and gametic sterility caused by irregular meiotic events, the plants of the area have adopted alternate mechanism of reproduction through vegetative means. Vegetative means of propagation are important for species like Meconopsis aculeata Royle, Potentilla atrosanguinea Lodd. var. argyrophylla (Wall. ex Lehm.) Griers. and Long, Bergenia stracheyi Engl., Rosularia alpestris (Kar and Kir) Boriss., and so forth, where high pollen grain sterility have been observed. Occurrence of sterility on female side in the species may pose serious problem for species existence, especially, which are rare and engendered and are overexploited for medicinal purposes. Problem becomes more serious in species like Bergenia stracheyi, Engl. and Rosularia alpestris (Kar and Kir) Boriss. which propagate through vegetative means, and perennating parts are directly collected from the wild sources. Till now these species have not been included in any of the local cultivation programme.

To date numerous valuable herbal drugs have been discovered by following the knowledge of ancient folk healers [17]. The medicinal plants used to cure various diseases by the traditional healers are gradually becoming extinct. The two factors which have been identified as major threats to the floristic diversity are the overexploitation and habitat [1821]. Majority of the plants (Aconitum heterophyllum Wall. ex Royle, Angelica glauca Edgew., Biebersteinia odora Steph. ex Fish., Bergenia stracheyi Engl., Delphinium denudatum Wall. ex Hook. f. and Thomson, Indigofera gerardiana Wall. ex Baker, Meconopsis aculeata Royle, Podophyllum hexandrum Royle, and Spiraea canescens D. Don) which have been studied presently are restricted to specific pockets with very low population density and belong to rare, critically endangered, endangered, vulnerable, threatened, and newly threatened category because of the fragile ecological conditions of this Himalayan region [2022]. Some of the other factors which can also lead to the extinction of the local valuable herbs include agricultural expansion, heavy grazing, road building, increasing entry of tourists, and transport vehicles. So to study and examine different aspects of survival of the plants of the area in their natural habitats will be of colossal significance. Thus it becomes very urgent to collect information about the plants growing in such ecologically fragile region before it gets too late to respond. Immediate steps must be taken up on priority basis to preserve the ethnic knowledge and the plants of the region. The gradual exposure of younger generations to western civilization and limited employment opportunities are two important threats that may lead to serious losses of traditional knowledge, and it will not be surprising that after a decade or so nobody will be able to tell about the plants that were once used traditionally for ethnobotanical and medicinal purposes. In view of the above points it is suggested that an institute dealing with the conservation of plants and their traditional uses must be set up in the region. The benefits arising from ethnic knowledge must be shared among the local people and employment must be provided to local youth. Present investigations also form the basis for exploitation of intraspecific chromosomal variation/new cytotypes recorded in some of the presently studied species to detect biochemical diversity in these medicinally important plants.

Acknowledgments

The authors are thankful to the local people and medicine men for their help and cooperation during field study. The authors wish to thank the University Grants Commission, New Delhi, India, for providing financial assistance under DRS SAP I and II, ASIST programme, and Dr. D. S. Kothari Post-Doctoral Fellowship Award Letter no. F.4-2/2006(BSR)/13-427/2011(BSR) to Puneet Kumar. Thanks are also due to the Head of Department of Botany, Punjabi University, Patiala, India, for necessary laboratory and internet facilities. The authors declare that there is no conflict of interests regarding the publication of this paper.

References

  1. I. Hedberg, “Research on medicinal and poisonous plants of tropics,” in Past, Present and Future in MedicInal and Poisonous Plants of the Tropics, A. J. M. Leewenerg, Ed., pp. 9–15, International Book Distributors, Dehra Dun, India, 1987. View at: Google Scholar
  2. B. S. Aswal and B. N. Mehrotra, Flora of Lahaul-Spiti (A Cold Desert in North West Himalaya), Bishen Singh Mahendra Pal Singh, Dehra Dun, India, 1994.
  3. D. S. Dhaliwal and M. Sharma, Flora of Kullu District (Himachal Pradesh), Bishen Singh Mahendra Pal Singh, Dehra Dun, India, 1999.
  4. H. Singh and M. Sharma, Flora of Chamba District (Himachal Pradesh), Bishen Singh Mahendra Pal Singh, Dehra Dun, India, 2006.
  5. J. T. Baker, L. H. Allen, and K. J. Boote, “Temperature effects on rice at elevated CO2 concentration,” Journal of Experimental Botany, vol. 43, no. 7, pp. 959–964, 1992. View at: Publisher Site | Google Scholar
  6. V. A. Fuzinatto, M. S. Pagliarini, and C. B. Valle, “Evaluation of microsporogenesis in an interspecific Brachiaria hybrid (Poaceae) collected in distinct years,” Genetics and Molecular Research, vol. 7, no. 2, pp. 424–432, 2008. View at: Google Scholar
  7. M. Rezaei, A. Arzani, and B. E. Sayed-Tabatabaei, “Meiotic behaviour of tetraploid wheats (Triticum turgidum L.) and their synthetic hexaploid wheat derivates influenced by meiotic restitution and heat stress,” Journal of Genetics, vol. 89, no. 4, pp. 401–407, 2010. View at: Publisher Site | Google Scholar
  8. S. Sato, M. Kamiyama, T. Iwata, N. Makita, H. Furukawa, and H. Ikeda, “Moderate increase of mean daily temperature adversely affects fruit set of Lycopersicon esculentum by disrupting specific physiological processes in male reproductive development,” Annals of Botany, vol. 97, no. 5, pp. 731–738, 2006. View at: Publisher Site | Google Scholar
  9. F. Bretagnolle and J. D. Thompson, “Tansley Review No. 78. Gametes with the somatic chromosome number: mechanisms of their formation and role in the evolution of autopolyploid plants,” New Phytologist, vol. 129, no. 1, pp. 1–22, 1995. View at: Google Scholar
  10. A. Hedhly, “Sensitivity of flowering plant gametophytes to temperature fluctuations,” Environmental and Experimental Botany, vol. 74, no. 1, pp. 9–16, 2011. View at: Publisher Site | Google Scholar
  11. P. Kumar and V. K. Singhal, “Chromosome number, male meiosis and pollen fertility in selected angiosperms of the cold deserts of Lahaul-Spiti and adjoining areas (Himachal Pradesh, India),” Plant Systematics and Evolution, vol. 297, no. 3-4, pp. 271–297, 2011. View at: Publisher Site | Google Scholar
  12. A. S. Mason, M. N. Nelson, G. Yan, and W. A. Cowling, “Production of viable male unreduced gametes in Brassica interspecific hybrids is genotype specific and stimulated by cold temperatures,” BMC Plant Biology, vol. 11, article 103, 2011. View at: Publisher Site | Google Scholar
  13. J. Ramsey and D. W. Schemske, “Pathways, mechanisms, and rates of polyploid formation in flowering plants,” Annual Review of Ecology and Systematics, vol. 29, pp. 467–501, 1998. View at: Publisher Site | Google Scholar
  14. V. K. Singhal and P. Kumar, “Variable sized pollen grains due to impaired male meiosis in the cold desert plants of Northwest Himalayas (India),” in Pollen: Structure, Types and Effects, B. J. Kaiser, Ed., pp. 101–126, Nova Science, New York, NY, USA, 2010. View at: Google Scholar
  15. V. K. Singhal, P. K. Rana, and P. Kumar, “Syncytes during male meiosis resulting in 2n pollen grain formation in Lindelofia longiflora var. falconeri,” Journal of Systematics and Evolution, vol. 49, no. 5, pp. 406–410, 2011. View at: Publisher Site | Google Scholar
  16. M. te Beest, J. J. Le Roux, D. M. Richardson et al., “The more the better? The role of polyploidy in facilitating plant invasions,” Annals of Botany, vol. 109, pp. 19–45, 2012. View at: Publisher Site | Google Scholar
  17. N. Ekka and V. K. Dixit, “Ethno-pharmacognostical studies of medicinal plants of Jashpur district, Chattisgarh,” International Journal of Green Pharmacy, vol. 1, pp. 2–4, 2007. View at: Google Scholar
  18. C. P. Kala, “Status and conservation of rare and endangered medicinal plants in the Indian trans-Himalaya,” Biological Conservation, vol. 93, pp. 371–379, 1999. View at: Google Scholar
  19. C. P. Kala and N. Manjrekar, “Ethno-medicobotany of Indian trans-Himalaya: a case study from Spiti,” Journal Economic and Taxonomic Botany, vol. 23, pp. 177–183, 1999. View at: Google Scholar
  20. M. S. Rana and S. S. Samant, “Threat categorisation and conservation prioritisation of floristic diversity in the Indian Himalayan region: a state of art approach from Manali Wildlife Sanctuary,” Journal for Nature Conservation, vol. 18, no. 3, pp. 159–168, 2010. View at: Publisher Site | Google Scholar
  21. S. S. Samant, U. Dhar, and R. S. Rawal, “Biodiversity status of a protected area in West Himalaya: askot wildlife sanctuary,” International Journal of Sustainable Development and World Ecology, vol. 5, no. 3, pp. 194–203, 1998. View at: Google Scholar
  22. T. K. Ved and V. Tandon, CAMP Report: Conservation Assessment and Management Plan, Workshop held at Kullu district in Himachal Pradesh, FRLHT, Bangalore, India, 1998.

Copyright © 2013 Puneet Kumar and Vijay Kumar Singhal. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

1969 Views | 927 Downloads | 4 Citations
 PDF  Download Citation  Citation
 Download other formatsMore
 Order printed copiesOrder