Phyto-cultural diversity of the Shigar valley (Central Karakorum) Baltistan, Northern Pakistan

Zaheer Abbas, Jan Alam, Said Muhammad, Rainer W Bussmann, Shujaul Mulk Khan, Manzoor Hussain


Background: An ethnobotanical field study was conducted in 17 villages of the Shigar valley (Central Karakorum Ranges), northern Pakistan to explore the phyto-cultural diversity related to non-ethnomedicinal uses.

Methods: Eighty-four (84) interviews were conducted in seventeen villages, yielding 52 plant taxa species of 25 families and 46 genera.

Results: The family Asteraceae was dominant followed by Lamiaceae, Rosaceae and Tamaricaceae. The lower temperate zone was used most, with 27 (51%) species while 18 (48%) and 7 (13%) species belonged to the sub alpine and alpine zone respectively. Herbs were used most frequently with 27 (51%) species, followed by shrubs (21, 40%), trees (4, 07%) and shrub lets (2, 2.85%). These plants were collected from six types of habitats: viz., moist slopes (17), dry rocky slopes (14), mesic slopes (8), valley waste lands (7) riverbanks (5) and dry sandy plains (1). We also observed particularly interesting usages of the plants in the community of Baltis. The plant uses were grouped in three main categories on the basis of their utilization: viz. food and beverages (4 uses), handicraft and dyeing (9 uses), and rituals (6 uses).

Conclusions: The ample utilization of plants demands effective strategies for sustainable management and conservation. Creeping urbanization and population emphasize the preservation and retention of the bio-cultural diversity in the Shigar valley which is crucial for the biodiversity development at national and international levels.

Key words: cultural diversity, conservation, ethnobotany, wild plants, Baltistan

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