Wild Edible Vegetables of Lesser Himalayas: Ethnobotanical and Nutraceutical Aspects, Volume 1
Inter-generational variation of folk wild food plant knowledge recorded in the study area. The offseason availability of WFPs through drying and storage are valuable practices as they provide food stability and therefore food security throughout the year [ 64 ]. The present results follow the general rule that the more versatile a plant, the more widespread its usefulness [ 65 ].
The medicinal importance of WFPs given their role in the prevention of illnesses has been explained in detail by [ 3 , 15 ]. The manifold uses of these plants demonstrate their local importance for subsistence and as cultural heritage [ 66 , 67 ]. The species with marketable potential, such as the species Pinus gerardiana, Caralluma tuberculate, and Ziziphus jujube Fig. The unavailability of these species was generally due to the unsuitable edaphic and climatic conditions Lactuca dissecta , Notholirion thomsonianum , Pistacia khinjuk , although over-exploitation for marketing purposes was also responsible Caralluma tuberculata.
Sustainable use of such economically important species, however, could make a valuable contribution to the income of indigenous communities [ 68 , 69 ]. Additionally, it is believed that food botanical studies are vital for the conservation of cultural history, local identity and tradition dishes of a region [ 27 ]. The importance of traditional ecological knowledge in the conservation of biodiversity has been recognized by the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity that calls for the recognition and protection of traditional knowledge [ 70 ].
The wild species of Allium, Punica granatum, Cicer nuristanicum and Ficus palmata collected from the present study area may be quite useful for genetic cross-over with their domesticated sister species in order to not only improve crop yields, nutrient levels, disease resistance, and the ability to withstand adverse climate change, but also broaden the genetic diversity of present crops to fulfill the requirements of the 21st Century [ 10 , 11 , 71 ]. For fruits and vegetables the peak months are July, October and June, in that order.
Overall, the majority of the species are available during the summer, i. The same phenomenon has been reported by Campbe [ 72 ], who explained that people need supplementary foods during periods of food shortages. The same details are mentioned by Karaan et al. Multiple methods of data collection were used as explained above for understanding the characteristics of WFPs. Detailed interviews demonstrate that Pinus gerardiana is the most important species in the area; however its FC value does not convey its actual importance.
Similarly, Punica granatum was appreciated as a quite important fruit in detailed interviews but its FC value does not represent this. Punica granatum is regarded less as a wild plant and more as a cultivated one, which causes it to be less cited. Conversely, Notholirion thomsonianum was recorded with a high FC value 0. On the other hand, the interviews suggested that wild tea species have no importance in the area but its separate freelisting made it a category that highly influenced their FC values.
Despite the importance of different quantitative tools, semi-structured, detailed interviews are the best way of exploring the actual importance of ethnobotanical species [ 65 ]. This study investigated foothill and mountain villages that were separated on the basis of altitude, flora, rainfall, diversity and density of vegetation. A large proportion of informants do not migrate to the mountains, and as a result they remain unaware of the edible flora of these areas. Previous studies have mentioned that convenience and experience make the immediate vicinity a favorable collection site [ 55 ].
Moreover, the use of wild plants is primarily based on the utilization of species belonging to the closest ecological environments [ 75 , 76 ]. Two possible factors may account for the high FC values: the selection of the best species among the diverse flora in the mountains and more dependence on natural food entities due to the inaccessibility of markets.
Furthermore, there was a prevailing local belief that the mountains have more spiritual potential than the foothills which may influence local inhabitants to give more preference to mountainous species. Weckerle et al. The average FC values of the newly reported WFP species were significantly lower than the overall FC, which indicates that they are not very important in the area.
Several studies reported the use of these species for different purposes in other areas, including the medicinal use of Salvia moorcroftiana [ 77 , 78 , , ] and Notholirion thomsonianum [ ]. This may probably be due to specific cultural knowledge of each community, a phenomena that has been reported in other studies [ 45 , 75 ]. Some species such as Viscum cruciatum , Cicer nuristanicum and Berberis calliobotrys may not have been reported in other areas due to their restricted occurrence in the country [ ].
Moreover, they represented a broad range of WFPs including wild fruits Berberis calliobotrys, Cotoneaster pruinosus , wild culinary vegetables Notholirion thomsonianum , Cynoglossum lanceolatum , wild salad greens Cirsium arvense , Salvia moorcroftiana , wild tea species Limonium cabulicum , Spiraea canescens , and wild relatives of cash crops Cicer nuristanicum , Allium sp. This information may broaden the existing wild food spectra and might provide insight into food diversification.
In the context of the recent rapid decline in traditional knowledge across the globe [ — ], exploration of new WFPs is quite encouraging. The knowledge of such species, although persistent, is declining. Exposure to wider ecological zones, the surrounding vegetation and age of the inhabitant were all factors influencing the extent of traditional knowledge of WFPs. In addition to food value, the supplementary qualities of WFPs such as medicinal potential, cultural uses, marketing and storage make them more important in the local culture but also predispose them to extensive exploitation.
There is a large potential for the harvesting, domestication and marketing of WFPs in the area, and if done properly, they could be a source of cash income for locals. The wild relatives of the domesticated food species could help increase genetic diversity for crop improvement and yield, thus addressing the present demand of human food security. The ongoing process of domestication of wild species in the area is of the utmost importance not only for the interests of local communities but also for global food diversification. The authors are thankful to the local informants for sharing their traditional knowledge on the food uses of wild plants.
Competing interests. KA designed and carried out the entire study: he conducted the fieldwork, as well as the data analysis and he wrote the first draft of the manuscript; AP contributed to the rationale of the data analysis, paper structure, and the discussion. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.
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National Center for Biotechnology Information , U. Journal List J Ethnobiol Ethnomed v. J Ethnobiol Ethnomed. Published online Apr 8. Khalid Ahmad and Andrea Pieroni. Author information Article notes Copyright and License information Disclaimer. Khalid Ahmad, Email: moc. Corresponding author. Received Feb 11; Accepted Apr 3. This article has been cited by other articles in PMC. Abstract Background Indigenous communities of the Thakht-e-Sulamian hills reside in the North-West tribal belt of Pakistan, where disadvantaged socio-economic frames, lack of agricultural land and food insecurity represent crucial problems to their survival.
Methods Ethnobotanical data were collected during — Results A total of fifty-one WFP species belonging to twenty-eight families were documented.
Conclusion WFPs still play an important role in the food and culture of the study area and the folk knowledge attached to them is remarkable in the region, although declining among the younger generations. Background A large variety of wild plants are used as food in diverse communities around the globe.
The specific aims of this study were: to document folk knowledge regarding WFPs in the study area; to determine how this knowledge is distributed between locations at lower and higher elevations and among generations in the study area; to compare the collected data with the overall Pakistani ethnobotanical literature, in order to possibly identify novel wild food plant records.
Methods Study area and ethnic background The Sulaiman mountain range is a geologically important area which forms a border between the Iranian Plateau and the Asian subcontinent. Open in a separate window. Field methods Ethnobotanical field work was conducted for a period of two years during — Sample An informant from nearly every 3 rd house was included in the sample interview with minor variations. Table 1 Social characteristics of the sample and study sites. Table 2 Geographic characteristics of the study sites. Village name Elevation m. Number of households Soil, area, population, and vegetation PayorMela 36 The village has stony soil and thin vegetation within the immediate surroundings, but there is a reserved forest and a very fertile valley in the vicinity; population and area of the village are moderate in size.
LandiKutherzai 55 The village contains fertile loamy soil that can support dense and diverse vegetation; it has a large population and a small area that make the surroundings of the village nearly barren; there are no reserve forests nearby. Zindawar 21 The village contains various types of soil and a diverse flora. It has a small population and a large area; the vegetation is dense and comparatively undisturbed; it also exhibits floral elements of higher altitudes mountains. JattyGhbaz 45 The village contains stony soil; the village population is moderately sized but the area is large; the vegetation is relatively dense.
Kurachai 25 The village has mostly stony soil, which cannot support herbaceous flora; it has a restricted area and a modest population; the vegetation is under anthropogenic pressure. Khuney 16 It exhibits various types of soils and a diverse flora; the village has a large area and a small population; the density and diversity of the surrounding vegetation is moderate. Goraban 26 The village contains fertile loamy soil; it has a small area and a modest population; the village is located in a type of valley, which shows diverse vegetations.
Ghoshker 37 The village contains mostly stony soil, which cannot support herbaceous flora. It has a moderate area but a large population; the surrounding vegetation is not dense and is under anthropogenic pressure. Pongah 40 The village possesses various types of soils which supports a diverse flora; it has a modest area but a large population; the surrounding vegetation is moderately dense and diverse. Land Nishpona 22 The village contains loamy soil and a diverse and dense flora; it has a small population and a large area; the surrounding vegetation is dense and undisturbed.
Collection and identification of plant specimens Plant specimens were collected in triplicate according to standard botanical and ethnobotanical protocols [ 37 ]. Data analysis Freelisting data were analyzed through descriptive statistics to determine more salient species and informant consensus, using Excel spreadsheets. Table 3 Folk uses of wild food plants recorded in the study area.