Research Article: Descriptive study of plant resources in the context of the ethnomedicinal relevance of indigenous flora: A case study from Toli Peer National Park, Azad Jammu and Kashmir, Pakistan

Date Published: February 13, 2017

Publisher: Public Library of Science

Author(s): Muhammad Shoaib Amjad, Mirza faisal Qaeem, Israr Ahmad, Sami Ullah Khan, Sunbal Khalil Chaudhari, Nafeesa Zahid Malik, Humaira Shaheen, Arshad Mehmood Khan, Ulrich Melcher.

http://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0171896

Abstract

This paper presents the first quantitative ethnobotanical study of the flora in Toli Peer National Park of Azad Jammu and Kashmir, Pakistan. Being a remote area, there is a strong dependence by local people on ethnobotanical practices. Thus, we attempted to record the folk uses of the native plants of the area with a view to acknowledging and documenting the ethnobotanical knowledge. The aims of the study were to compile an inventory of the medicinal plants in the study area and to record the methods by which herbal drugs were prepared and administered.

Information on the therapeutic properties of medicinal plants was collected from 64 local inhabitants and herbalists using open ended and semi-structured questionnaires over the period Aug 2013-Jul 2014. The data were recorded into a synoptic table comprising an ethnobotanical inventory of plants, the parts used, therapeutic indications and modes of application or administration. Different ethnobotanical indices i.e. relative frequencies of citation (RFC), relative importance (RI), use value (UV) and informant consensus factor (Fic), were calculated for each of the recorded medicinal plants. In addition, a correlation analysis was performed using SPSS ver. 16 to check the level of association between use value and relative frequency of citation.

A total of 121 species of medicinal plants belonging to 57 families and 98 genera were recorded. The study area was dominated by herbaceous species (48%) with leaves (41%) as the most exploited plant part. The Lamiaceae and Rosaceae (9% each) were the dominant families in the study area. Among different methods of preparation, the most frequently used method was decoction (26 species) of different plant parts followed by use as juice and powder (24 species each), paste (22 species), chewing (16 species), extract (11 species), infusion (10 species) and poultice (8 species). The maximum Informant consensus factor (Fic) value was for gastro-intestinal, parasitic and hepatobiliary complaints (0.90). Berberis lycium Ajuga bracteosa, Prunella vulgaris, Adiantum capillus-veneris, Desmodium polycarpum, Pinus roxburgii, Albizia lebbeck, Cedrella serrata, Rosa brunonii, Punica granatum, Jasminum mesnyi and Zanthoxylum armatum were the most valuable plants with the highest UV, RFC and relative importance values. The Pearson correlation coefficient between UV and RFC (0.881) reflects a significant positive correlation between the use value and relative frequency of citation. The coefficient of determination indicated that 77% of the variability in UV could be explained in terms of RFC.

Systematic documentation of the medicinal plants in the Toli Peer National Park shows that the area is rich in plants with ethnomedicinal value and that the inhabitants of the area have significant knowledge about the use of such plants with herbal drugs commonly used to cure infirmities. The results of this study indicate that carrying out subsequent pharmacological and phytochemical investigations in this part of Pakistan could lead to new drug discoveries.

Partial Text

Ethnobotany describes the complete relationship between people and plants and explores both the traditional botanical knowledge of local people and how they exploit plants for a variety of purposes [1–2]. Ethnobotanical studies emphasize the dynamic relationships between botanical diversity and social and cultural systems [3–4] and ethnobotanists are increasingly focusing on the application of different quantitative and statistical approaches to understand and accumulate knowledge on valuable plants in certain communities [5].

This paper reviews 121 species which are identified as being exploited by local people for their recognized importance in indigenous health care in the Toli Peer National Park. The most common plants in the study area with an ethnomedicinal value are Berberis lycium, Ajuga bracteosa, Prunella vulgaris, Adiantum capillus-veneris, Desmodium polycarpum, Pinus roxburgii, Albizia lebbeck, Cedrella serrata, Rosa brunonii, Punica granatum, Jasminum mesnyi and Zanthoxylum armatum, all of which have high UV, RFC and relative importance values. The Pearson correlation coefficient between UV and RFC is 0.881, with a p value <1, which reflects a significant positive correlation between the use value and relative frequency of citation. The coefficient of determination value is 0.77 which means that 77% of the variability in the UV can be explained in terms of the RFC. The wild plant diversity in this remote National Park provides an effective and cheap source of health care for the local people. The plants employed in their indigenous herbal preparations could have great potential and should be subject to pharmacological screening, chemical analysis for bioactive ingredients and potential formulation as standard drug preparations to cure a range of ailments. The flora of the National Park is currently threatened by overgrazing, deforestation, and soil erosion which are the main causes of reduction of medicinal and other plants in the area. It is therefore essential to have a conservation strategy for the flora of the National Park, with special emphasis on species that are valued as medicinal plants.   Source: http://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0171896