Traditional wisdom of conserving biodiversity through sacred groves: Ethnobotanical treasure in Garhwal Himalayas
The present study was conducted to record the ethnomedicinal plants and their uses in sacred groves of Rudraprayag district in Garhwal Himalaya, Uttarakhand. Field surveys were conducted to identify sacred groves and information was collected from local folks using structured questionnaires. Three sacred groves, namely 1) Banjyani, 2) Jakh devta, and 3) Satoli were identified in the region. The survey revealed 31 medicinal plant species representing 26 families and 29 genera. These plant species belong to diverse families and most dominant families in the groves were Lamiaceae, Moraceae, Ranunculaceae and Rosaceae. The medicinal plants used for different ailment in the sacred groves were dominated by herbs, followed by shrubs and trees. To treat different ailments, leaves were used in maximum number of ailments (33.33%), followed by bark (16.67%), root (12.50%), fruit (12.50%), whole plant (10.42%), flowers (6.25%), rhizome (4.17%) and bulb (2.09%). In identified sacred groves plants were used for different medicinal purposes i.e., cough, diarrhea, leprosy, leucorrhoea, jaundice, bronchitis, digestive issues and to improve appetite. The study confirms the dependence of local people on sacred groves for their health care. However, presence of threatened plants highlights the importance of sustainable utilization of medicinal plant resources available in the groves.
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