Economic Botany

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

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

Article

Abstract

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 

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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

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