Wild edibles and other useful plants from the Sikkim Himalaya, India
AbstractThe present paper discusses various wild plants of potential use with a main emphasis on wild edible plants of the Sikkim Himalaya. Of the total 175 wild plants used for food, 64% were edible as fruits/seeds, 18% leafy vegetables and 10% flowers and flower buds. Other plants were used as medicines, fermented food and beverages, dyes, oil, and for household goods. Occurrence and distribution of some important taxa are presented. Lepchas, Bhutias, Nepalese and Limboos are main ethnic groups of Sikkim Himalayas which have their peculiar food habits and lifestyles, however, all these groups equally use various wild plants for different purposes. Spondias axillaris, Machilus edulis, Baccaurea sapida, Eriolobus indica, Elaeocarpus sikkimensis, Bassia butyracea and a variety of medicinal plants (Aconitum heterophyllum, Nardostychys jatamansi, Picrorhiza scrophulariflora, Podophyllum hexandrum, Heracleum wallichii, Swertia chirata) are exploited on commercial scale and thus threatened their regeneration in the natural habitats. The need for ex situ (popularising them in agroforestry systems) and in situ (in natural habitats) conservation of these plants in the light of recent exploitation is emphasised.
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