Biodiversity / Plants
Medicinal healing plants present both blessing and a dilemma for the Park’s floral biodiversity. The blessing comes in the form of abundance and diversity of beautiful flowers, especially during the rainy season, when the alpine meadows are awash with color. The dilemma is that many of the herbs and shrubs of the forests and meadows are much prized for their medicinal properties. In the past, they were collected in small quantities for local use and have always been a source of traditional health care practice. Now modern pharmacology with better communications and the demand for natural medicines have made the collection of medicinal plants a lucrative trade.
Significant markets exist in India and the West for GHNP’s medicinal plants. This trade has attracted many outside business interests, providing an incentive for harvesting by locals on an unsustainable scale. At present, the Park management is attempting to develop alternatives to harvesting that will provide local people with equivalent income without damaging the magnificent ecology of the area and delicate ecosystems where medicinal plants are collected.
Common herbaceous genera of the alpine zone also include many introduced into gardens in the West: Primula, Leontopodium, Corydalis, Pleurospermum, Saussurea, and Senecio. Bergenia stracheyi and Sedum spp. dominate the desert habitats between 3,600 and 4,200 m. Rocky outcrops and ridges are interspersed with grazing meadows, used by domestic sheep and wild bharal alike. These areas are dominated by a luxuriant growth of various species of Anemone, Thalictrum, Corydalis, and Arenaria. However, in places, past heavy grazing by domestic animals has led to the spread of weed species (through animal droppings), such as docks, nettles, and Impatiens. It will take time for these areas to restore.
Common Plant Names
|Local Name||Scientific Name|
|Dhoop/ Guggal dhoop||Jurinea macrocephala|
|Atees, Patish||Aconitum heterophyllum|
|Mushakbala, Nihanu||Valeriana jatamansii|
|Ban Kakri||Podophyllum hexandrum|
|Rakhal, Birmi, Thuna||Taxus wallichiana|
Threatened Medicinal Plants
At a December 2010 CAMP (Conservation Assessment and Management Prioritisation) workshop held at Shimla under the latest IUCN guidelines to assess the threat status of medicinal plants in the Himachal Pradesh, the GHNP now provides a home to 34 of the 47 medicinal plants as threatened for the State (Critically endangered/CR =5; Endangered/EN = 17; VU = 12). In addition, two species of medicinal plants, (Meconopsis aculeata and Saussurea gossipiphora) are also assessed as CR in Shimla Camp Workshop (May, 2003) are also found in the Park. Table 4 is a list of those Threatened medicinal plants.