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Saturday, August 18

Endangered medicinal herb Nardostachys Jatamansi is gradually vanishing from Uttarakhand

Despite a ban on its mass collection, the fate of Jatamansi (Nardostachys Jatamansi), an endangered medicinal herb, is still doomed in the Indian parts of Himalaya due to illegal collection and marketing. According to the scientists at the High Altitude Plant Physiology Research Centre (HAPPRC), the population of Jatamansi is shrinking in the in the Indian state of Uttarakhand due to illegal collection and severe human interference.

Jatamansi Flower
According to a research correspondence published by a HAPPRC research team in the Current Science Journal, the plant is widely used in at least 26 Ayurvedic preparations. Moreover, its rhizome has aromatic qualities which have made it a favorite target of perfume industry.Though government has implemented a ban on mass collection and marketing of this plant, it has turned ineffective, says the experts.

“In Uttarakhand, roots or rhizomes of the plants are illegally collected by people residing in the nearby areas for its aromatic and medicinal property. They then sell it to the agents of perfumery industries”, says Vijay K. Purohit S.S.O. at HAPPRC  and was part of the research team. “At present, the ban is not so much effective”, says he.

The plant has got religious importance too due to its aromatic quality. “The dry rhizomes of the plants are offered to the lord in religious shrines as "dhoop” (aromatic smoke offered to a god as part of worship), says Purohit. However, the religious importance also has not helped the conservation of the plant, say the experts.
Apart from the illegal collection, over grazing in the nature habitat, excessive forest clearance, wild fires has also contributed to the fall in the population of Jatamansi. “Only a few pockets of the plant are remaining in the state”, says the correspondence.

Falling regeneration rates of Jatamansi

According to the research correspondence, the absence of viable seeds, erratic seed production, unfavorable micro-sites, over grazing and increased incidence of forest fires have brought down the regeneration rate of the plant in Uttarakhand.

Jatamansi tissue culture at HAPPRC
Though HAPPRC has tried biotechnology methods to generate large number of Jatamansi seeds, they turned out to be unsuccessful. So they are now focusing on generation of large number of Jatamansi seeds through traditional methods and tissue culture.

“HAPPRC is doing sustainable collection of seeds and rhizomes of plants for development of large scale propagation methods through conventional as well as tissue culture”, says Purohit. According to him, HAPPRC is also organizing awareness programmes on the conservation status of Jatamansi to help promote the plantation and cultivation of the plant. National Medicinal Plants Board (NMPB) and Government of India are financially supporting the project.  

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