Economic Botany

, Volume 58, Issue 4, pp 626–638 | Cite as

Dietary use of wild plant resources in the Sikkim Himalaya, India

  • Manju SundriyalEmail author
  • R. C. Sundriyal
  • E. Sharma


The edible wild plants are greatly valued throughout the Himalayan region and serve as an important source of food for indigenous communities. This paper describes the botanical richness, elevational distribution and dietary use of the edible wild plant resources from the Sikkim Himalaya (Eastern Himalaya), many with promising potential. A total of 190 wild plant species have been screened from the Sikkim Himalaya, this derived from 143 genera and 78 families and accounting for nearly 15% of total edible wild plants resources of India. Of the total, 65% were edible for their fruits, 22% for leaves/shoots, 7% for flowers and 3% for roots/ rhizomes. Nearly 91 wild edible species were recorded from low-hills, 70 from mid-hills and 28 species from high-hill areas. Within Sikkim state, the North and East districts represent maximum diversity of edible wild plants due to the wilderness and inaccessibility to most of the habitats. An average rural family annually consumes nearly 8 types of edible wild plants, and a few species provide over five meals in a season. Selected plants also form a source of earning to a few families that sell them in local markets. It is suggested that the high diversity of edible plants needs to be conserved for future use. Some species may be grown in traditional agroforestry systems and on marginal lands of otherwise low agricultural value. Such measures may help protect wild plant resources in their natural habitats.

Key words

Dietary uses species richness Sikkim Himalaya traditional food dishes wild edible plants 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Literature Cited

  1. Allen, R. P., andC. P. Allen. 1990. How many plants feed world? Conservation Biology4:365–374.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Arora, R. K., andA. Pandey. 1996. Wild edible plants of India: Conservation and use. Indian Council of Agricultural Research. National Bureau of Plant Genetic Resources, New Delhi.Google Scholar
  3. Atal, C. K., B. M. Sharma, and A. K. Bhutia. 1980. Search of emergency food through wild flora of Jammu and Kashmir State, Sunderban area-I. Indian Journal of Forestry10:211–219.Google Scholar
  4. Badhwar, R. L., andR. R. Fernandes. 1964. Edible wild plants of Himalaya. Government Publication, Delhi.Google Scholar
  5. Bhujel, R. B., K. K. Tamang, and G. S. Yonzone. 1985. Edible wild plants of Darjeeling district. Journal of Bengal Natural History Society (New Series) 3(l):76–83.Google Scholar
  6. Dhyani, P. P., and M. P. Khali. 1993. Fruit yield and economics of jelly and jam production from fruits of some promisingFicus (fig) tree crops. Ecology of Food and Nutrition 30:169–178.Google Scholar
  7. Doughty, J. 1979. Dangers of reducing the range of food choices in developing countries. Ecology of Food and Nutrition8:275–283.Google Scholar
  8. Gangwar, A. K., and P. S. Ramakrishnan. 1990. Ethnobotanical notes on some tribes of Arunachal Pradesh. Northeastern India. Economic Botany 44(l):94–105.Google Scholar
  9. Gaur, R. D. 1977. Wild edible fruits of Garhwal Hills. The Himalaya 1:66–70.Google Scholar
  10. IUCN. 1989. Plant genetic resources: Their conservation in situ for human use. IUCN-UNESCO/ FAO.Google Scholar
  11. Jain, S. K. 1989. Methods and approaches in ethnobotany. Society of Ethnobotany, Lucknow, India.Google Scholar
  12. — 1990. Contribution to ethnobotany of India. Scientific Publishers, Jodhpur, India.Google Scholar
  13. Martin, Gary J. 1995. Ethnobotany: A methods manual. Chapman and Hall, London.Google Scholar
  14. Neog, M., and N. K. Mohan. 1994. Minor and lessknown fruits of Assam. Indian Horticulture. July-September, 1994.Google Scholar
  15. Ogle, B. A. 1990. Dietary use of wild plant resources in rural Swaziland. Proceeding of the Twelfth Plenary Meeting of Aetfat, Symposium VIII. Mitt. Inst. Allg. Bot. Hamburg Band 23b S. 895–910.Google Scholar
  16. Pei Shengji. 1995. Sustainable livelihood for mountain communities: Tradition and transition natural resources management. International preparatory seminar workshop to develop projects on resource management and sustainable livelihood for traditional societies in south and central Asia, (I. A. Khan, ed.) 10-14 September, University of Agriculture, Faisalabad, Pakistan.Google Scholar
  17. Phillips, Oliver. 1993. The potential for harvesting fruits in tropical rainforests: New data from Amazonian Peru. Biodiversity and Conservation 2:18–38.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Rai, S. C., and R. C. Sundriyal. 1997. Tourism and biodiversity conservation: The Sikkim Himalaya. Ambio 26(4):235–242.Google Scholar
  19. Raju, D. C. S., and B. Krishna. 1990. Less known edible plants of Sikkim. Pages 83–86 in R. P. Porkayastha, ed., Economic plants and microbes. Today and Tomorrow’s Printers and Publishers, New Delhi, India.Google Scholar
  20. Sharpe, B. 1987. Report on the Nutritional Anthropology Investigations. IRDP Serenge. Mpilea. Chinsali, Isoka, Kings College, London.Google Scholar
  21. Sims, L. S., and B. B. Peterkin. 1987. Contributions of fruits and vegetables to human nutrition. Pages 9–17 in B. Quebedeaux and F. Bliss, eds. Horticulture and human health, Englewood Cliffs, Prentice-Hall, New Jersey.Google Scholar
  22. Singh, H. B., and R. K. Arora. 1978. Wild edible plants of India. ICAR, New Delhi.Google Scholar
  23. Singh, P., and A. S. Chauhan. 1998. An overview of the plant diversity in Sikkim state. Pages 219–232 in S. C. Rai, R. C. Sundriyal, and E. Sharma, eds., Sikkim: Perspectives for planning and development. Sikkim Science Society, Bishan Singh Mahendra Pal Singh Pvt. Ltd., Dehradun, India.Google Scholar
  24. Singh, V. 1995. Lesser known wild edibles of Sikkim Himalaya. Journal of Economic and Taxonomic Botany 19:385–390.Google Scholar
  25. Sundriyal, Manju. 1999. Distribution, propagation and nutritive value of some wild edible plants in the Sikkim Himalaya. D.Phil, (unpublished) submitted to H.N.B. Garhwal University, Srinagar, Garhwal, U.P., India.Google Scholar
  26. and R. C. Sundriyal. 2000. Potential of wild edible plants in the Sikkim Himalaya: Conservation concerns. Journal of Non-timber Forest Produce 7(3/4):253–262.Google Scholar
  27. — 2001a. Wild edible plants of the Sikkim Himalaya: Nutritive values of selected species. Economic Botany 55(3):377–390.Google Scholar
  28. — 2001b. Seed germination and response of stem-cuttings to hormonal treatment in six wild edible fruit species of Sikkim Himalaya. Indian Forester 127(6):695–706.Google Scholar
  29. — 2004. Wild edible plants of the Sikkim Himalaya: Marketing, value addition and implications for management. Economic Botany 58(2):300–315.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. R. C. Sundriyal E. Sharma, and A. N. Purohit. 1998. Wild edibles and other useful plants of the Sikkim Himalaya, India. Oecologia Montana 7:43–54.Google Scholar
  31. Sundriyal, R. C., and E. Sharma. 1996. Anthropogenic pressure on tree structure and biomass in the temperate forest of Mamlay watershed in Sikkim. Forest Ecology and Management 81:113–134.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. S. C. Rai, E. Sharma, and Y. K. Rai. 1994a. Hill agroforestry systems in south Sikkim, India. Agroforestry Systems 26:215–235.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. E. Sharma, L. K. Rai, and S. C. Rai. 1994b. Tree structure, regeneration and woody biomass removal in a subtropical forest of Mamlay watershed in the Sikkim Himalaya. Vegetatio 113:53–63.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Tamang, J. P., P. K. Sarkar, and Clifford W. Hesseltine. 1988. Traditional fermented foods and beverages of Derjeeling and Sikkim: A review. Journal of Science of Food and Agriculture44:375–385.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Tanaka, T. 1976. Cyclopedia of Edible Plants of the World. Keigaku Publishing Co., Tokyo, Japan.Google Scholar
  36. Uphof, J. C. Jh. 1968. Dictionary of economic plants. Hafner Service Agency, New York.Google Scholar
  37. Wealth of India.1970–88. Wealth of India: Raw materials, Vol. 1-12. Council of Scientific and Industrial Research, Delhi (reprinted).Google Scholar
  38. World Bank. 1992. Development and the environment, World Development Report. Oxford University Press 1992.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The New York Botanical Garden Press 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.G.B. Pant Institute of Himalayan Environment and DevelopmentNorth East UnitArunachal Pradesh

Personalised recommendations