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Journal of Mountain Science

, Volume 6, Issue 1, pp 66–77 | Cite as

Habitat range of two alpine medicinal plants in a trans-Himalayan dry valley, Central Nepal

  • Bharat Babu ShresthaEmail author
  • Pramod Kumar Jha
Article

Abstract

Understanding of the habitat range of threatened Himalayan medicinal plants which are declining in their abundance due to high anthropogenic disturbances is essential for developing conservation strategies and agrotechnologies for cultivation. In this communication, we have discussed the habitat range of two alpine medicinal plants, Aconitum naviculare (Brühl) Stapf and Neopicrorhiza scrophulariiflora (Pennel) Hong in a trans-Himalayan dry valley of central Nepal, Manang district. They are the most prioritized medicinal plants of the study area in terms of ethnomedicinal uses. A. naviculare occurs on warm and dry south facing slopes between 4090∼4650 m asl along with sclerophyllous and thorny alpine scrubs, while N. scrophulariiflora is exclusively found on cool and moist north facing slope between 4000 and 4400 m asl where adequate water is available from snow melt to create a suitable habitat for this wetland dependent species. The soil in rooting zone of the two plants differs significantly in organic carbon (OC), organic matter (OM), total nitrogen (N) and carbon to nitrogen (C/N) ratio. Due to cool and moist condition of N. scrophulariiflora habitat, accumulation of soil OC is higher, but soil N content is lower probably due to slow release from litter, higher leaching loss and greater retention in perennial live biomass of the plant. The C/N ratio of soil is more suitable in A. navuculare habitat than that of N scrophulariiflora for N supply. Warm and sunny site with N rich soil can be suitable for cultivation of A. naviculare, while moist and cool site with organic soil for N. scrophulariiflora. The populations of both the plants are fragmented and small. Due to collection by human and trampling damage by livestock, the population of A. naviculare was found absent in open areas in five of the six sampling sites and it was confined only within the bushes of alpine scrubs. For N. scrophulariiflora, high probability of complete receding of small glaciers may be a new threat in future to its habitat. The information about habitat conditions, together with the information from other areas, can be useful to identify potential habitats and plan for cultivation or domestication of the two medicinal plants.

Key words

Aconitum naviculare Neopicrorhiza scrophulariiflora habitat degradation nitrogen organic carbon radiation Manang Nepal 

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Copyright information

© Science Press, Institute of Mountain Hazards and Environment, CAS and Springer-Verlag GmbH 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Central Department of BotanyTribhuvan UniversityKathmanduNepal

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