Ecological features and traditional knowledge of Roscoea alpina Royle a medicinal plant in Himalaya
Roscoea alpina Royle (Zingiberaceae) commonly known as Kakoli is a perennial medicinal herb endemic to the Himalayas. It is used in vitality strengthening Ayurveda groups i.e., Astavarga and Jeevaniyagana and in preparation of Ayurvedic formulations e.g., Chyavanprasha and Divya Pidantak Tail. Considering its medicinal uses, high demand and overexploitation, natural habitats were surveyed in subalpine and alpine regions of Garhwal Himalayas for population estimation and to identify elite germplasm. R. alpina frequency was recorded more than 60 % in Tungnath, Dayara, Valley of Flowers and Kedarnath populations. However, plant density and area occupied were low compared to other species of subalpine and alpine region. For threat category assessment, IUCN Red List Categories and criteria were used and conservation status was assigned, based on site to site and for entire Garhwal region of the Western Himalaya. R. alpina, based on extent of occurrence was categorized as Vulnerable and based on number of mature individuals as Endangered for the Garhwal Himalaya. Further, habitat destruction and degradation were the major threats for population reduction in the wild. Morphological variation revealed plants from Tungnath and Kedarnath may be used for future propagation and domestication efforts.
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