The Wild Edible Plants of Paddar Valley, Jammu division, Jammu and Kashmir, India
Background: The present study has been designed to document the wild edible plants used by the local populace of the Paddar Valley, district Kishtwar, Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir, India.
Methods: A total of 50 informants between the age group of 18-74 years were interviewed. Semi-structured questionnaires, participatory observations, and interviews were conducted to extract information. The present study's objectives were clearly defined to the participants, and Prior Informed Consent (PIC) was taken from all the participants as per guidelines set forth by the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD).
Results: A total of 42 wild edible plant species (40 Angiosperms, 1 Pteridophyte, and 1 Gymnosperm) belonging to 38 genera and 26 families were consumed by the indigenous people of Paddar valley. The maximum wild edible plants consumed in the region belonged to the family Rosaceae (7 species), followed by Polygonaceae (4 species), Compositae (3 species), and Apiaceae (3 species). Fruits and leaves were the most commonly used plant parts. The highest numbers of wild species were used as a vegetable (19 species), followed by raw fruits (15 species), chutney (11 species), beverage (6 species), seeds (4 species), edible seed oil (3 species), spices (2 species), and so on. Wild vegetables were mostly consumed in cooked form, whereas wild fruits were exclusively eaten in raw form. The highest and lowest cultural importance index values were recorded for Taraxacum campylodes G.E. Haglund and Rubus niveus Thunb, while Vitis vinifera L., Elaeagnus umbellata Thunb. and Viburnum grandiflorum Wall. ex DC. were the most preferred fruit species.
Conclusions: The study revealed that the traditional consumption of wild plants as food is still viable in Paddar valley and plays a vital role in fulfilling the residents' nutritional requirements, especially during winters. The information revealed in this study can be considered as a baseline for conservation and sustainable utilization of the valley's wild edible plants, as well as contributing to the preservation of cultural and genetic diversity. Further studies are required to assess the nutritional, agricultural, and economic potential of the reported plant species for the upliftment of the socio-economic conditions of the people of this biodiversity-rich region.
Keywords: Jammu and Kashmir, Paddar valley, Traditional knowledge, Wild edibles
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