Ethnobotanical Leaflets 13: 1509-21, �2009.
Traditional Medicinal and Economic Uses �of �Gymnosperms �of �Dir Kohistan Valleys, NWFP, Pakistan
Gul Jan1, Mir Ajab Khan1 and Farzana Jan2
Area Covered/ Acres
Pure deodar forests
Mixed fir and spruce forests
Mixed deodar, kail, fir and spruce forests
Shrub oak forests
(Sources: District Census Report, Dir Kohistan 1999).
natural phenomenon of Fir colonizing in the cooler aspects and Blue Pine in
warmer reaches may be distinctly noticed in some parts of Malkandi, Nuri and
����������� Deodar �Cedrus deodara� locally called as �Diar� in lower and �Paludar� in the upper part of the valley is found rarely pure in Kamalban, Malkandi, Nuri, Naran and Battal forests at an altitude from 1520 to 2430 metres, mostly on warmer aspects. Common broad-leaved associates are Aesculus indica, Populus spp; Acer spp; Prunus spp.� and Quercus spp. �The shrub layer varies considerably, being thin under a close canopy of Deodar, but well developed under an open canopy. Common shrubs are Parrotia spp; Viburnum spp; Lonicera spp; Berberis spp; Sorbaria spp. �and Cotoneaster spp.� The ground flora consists of Viola, Fragaria, Dicanthum, Anemone spp. �and ferns.
��������� Climbers like Clematis and
Ethnobotany is a very broad discipline and it includes all sorts of human-plants interactions. It is the study of how people of a particular culture and region make use of indigenous plants. However, there are other definitions also. The most widely accepted and used is "the use of plants in primitive societies". Richard Evans Schultes, one of the modern fathers of ethnobotany defined ethnobotany as "the study of human evaluation and manipulation of plant materials, substances, and phenomenon, including relevant concepts, in primitive or unlettered societies."
Methods and Material
Four families of gymnosperms
with 11 species were collected from
Family Pinaceae is the largest family and are very widely distributed throughout the valley. The genera Abies, Cedrus, Picea and Pinus are representing this family. Pinus with two species i.e., Pinus wallichiana, Pinus roxburghii. The remaining three genera are represented with a single species each, namely Abies pindrow, Picea smithiana and Cedrus deodara. Ephedra intermedia and Ephedra geradiana representing Ephedraceae. Taxus wallichiana representing Taxaceae.
Abies pindrow, Picea smithiana and Cedrus deodara occur naturally and are found at high altitudes. All members of family are very important from economic, cultural, social and ecological point of views for the area. Family Ephedraceae has two species Ephedra intermedia and Ephedra geradiana are found at high altitude and are medicinally important.
Family Taxaceae has a single genus Taxus with a single species called Taxus wallichiana. The ethnobotanical importance are given below:
Vernacular Names: ��Graveyard
Distribution:� ����������� Cultivated in plains and lower hills.
Occurrence:�� ����������� Plain and lower hills up to 1200 meters, Common in graveyards.
�Medicinal and Economic Uses: The fruit and wood are anthelmintic and astringent. The wood is used in carpentry and for furniture making. Planted as ornamental tree.
Botanical name:�������� Juniperus communis L.
Vernacular Name:��� Gojar (Pushto), Common Juniper (English), Abhal (Urdu), Bhentri (Hindko),�� Bantha (Kohistani), Pama, Petthri (Punjabi).
Distribution: ����������� Common and gregarious, Kurram,
Chitral, Swat, Astor, Gilgit, Baltistan, Dras,
Part used: ����� ����������� Whole plant
Medicinal and Economic Uses: Infusion of berries is diuretic. Berries, wood and oil reported to be used in folk remedies for cancer, indurations, polyps, swellings, tumors and warts. Reported to be carminative, stimulant in dysmenorrhoea, skin diseases, kidney diseases, deobstruent, diaphoretic, digestive, stimulant in dysmenorrhoea, skin diseases, and kidney diseases. Also used in alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages. Generally wood and leaf burnt as incense. The fruit and oil are diuretic, carminative, stimulant, and is used in dropsy, gonorrhea, gleets, leucorrhoea and some cutaneous diseases. The berries are given in scanty urine, cough and pectoral affections. Locally, powder of berries is rubbed on rheumatic and painful swellings. They are also used for the preservation of meat and the preparation of Juniper brandies. Juniper berries are roasted ground and are used as substitute of coffee. Ash of the bark is applied in certain skin affections. The berries are also recommended in infantile tuberculosis and diabetes.
Botanical name:�������� Juniperus excelsa M.B.
�Vernacular Name:�� Pencil Cedar (English), Chalai (Hindko), Apurs, Abasht (Baluchi), Luir, Shurgu (Punjabi), Padam (Kashmiri).
Distribution:� ����������� Common,
forming open forests,
Part used: ������ ����������� Whole plant
Medicinal and Economic Uses: Used in stomach cramps, asthma. The chief importance of wood lies in its suitability for pencil making. Twigs are burnt as incense and berries used similarly as that of Juniperus communis. The wood is hard and fragrant, used locally as fuel wood, for beam making and for making pencil. Fruit diuretic, carminative, stimulant, used in dropsy, gonorrhoea, gleets, leucorrhoea and some cutaneous diseases. Properties of the fruit are the same as of Juniperus communis.
Botanical name: ������� Thuja orientalis L.
Vernacular Names:�� Thuja (English), More Pankh (Urdu, Punjabi, Hindko).
Distribution:��� Native to
Part used: ����� ����������� Whole plant
Medicinal and Economic Uses: Planted as an ornamental tree. The fruit and wood are anthelmintic and astringent. Pollen grain may cause hayfever.
Botanical name: ������� Ephedra gerardiana Wall.
�Vernacular Names: Asmani botai� (Pushtoo), Asmania (Urdu, Hindko), Chewa (Urdu), Ehewa, Budshur, Dundula, Kuchan (Punjabi), Chepat, Thayon, Cheldymb (Kashmiri).
Distribution:� ����������� Urak Valley, South Wazirastan, Razmak, Chitral, Swat, Kalam, Gilgit, Baltistan, Ladak, Kashmir, Upper Kaghan Valley, 1600 to 4550 meters.
Parts used:���� ����������� Whole Plant
Medicinal and Economic Uses: The leaves used in treatment of bronchitis, asthma, and relieving bronchial spasm. Decoction of stem and roots used as remedy for rheumatism and syphilis. Fruit edible. The rhizome and dry plants used as fuel by the inhabitant. Juice of berry is given in affection of respiratory passage. Used as alterative, diuretic, stomachic, tonic, anti-asthmatic, effective in the management of bronchospasm.
Botanical name: ������� Abies pindrow Royle.
Vernacular Names: ��Achar (Pushtoo), Himalayan silver fir (English), Paludar, Rewar (Hindko).
Distribution: ������������ Dir, Swat, Astor, Hazara, Murree
Hills, often planted, only wild at Biran Gali near Dunga Gali, Kashmir and
Parts used:���������������� Bark, leaves trunk, and cones.
Medicinal and Economic Uses: Decoction of the dried leaves is useful in case of cough, phthisis, asthma, chronic bronchitis and catarrh of the bladder and other pulmonary affections. Juice of the fresh leaves is administered in fever of infants during dentition and also in affections of the chest. The dose being 5-10 drops in water or mother�s milk. Powder of leaves is given with juice of Adhatoda vasica and honey in cough, asthma and haemoptysis. Grown as ornamental tree. Wood is used for construction purpose i.e. doors, windows, houses, furniture and as fuel wood.
Botanical name: ������� Cedrus deodara (Roxb.ex Lamb) G. Don.����������������
Vernacular Names: Diyar (Pushtoo), Cedar (English), Deodar (Urdu),
Diar (Hindko), Paludar (
Distribution:� Chitral, Swat, Astor, Hazara, Murree Hills,
often planted, only wild at Biran Gali near Dunga Gali, Kashmir and
Parts Used: �������������� Wood and bark
Medicinal and Economic Uses: The wood is carminative, diaphoretic, useful in pulmonary and urinary disorders, rheumatism, piles and stone in kidney. Bark is astringent, useful in fever, diarrhoea and dysentery. Wood of this tree is of an excellent quality and used for construction and furniture purposes.
Botanical name: ������� Picea smithiana (Wall) Bois.�
�Vernacular Names:� Rawn (Pushtoo), Spruce, Himalayan Spruce (English), Kachhal (Hindko).
Distribution:� ����������� The Himalayan spruce is found in the Kurram, Dir, Chitral, Swat, Gilgit eastwards, Kaghan. Rare in the Murree hills. A few at Nathia Gali and the northern slope on Mokshpuri. Common in Kashmir 2000 to 3300 metres.
Parts Used:��� ����������� Whole tree
Medicinal and Economic Uses: Valuable timber wood, used for house building, making furniture, making bridges and beams. Cones are used as ornamental. The plant is also exported to other parts of the country.
Botanical name: ������� Pinus roxburgii Sargent. ������ �����������������������������������
Vernacular Names: � Nakhtar (Pushtoo), Long leaved pine (English), Chir (Hindko, Urdu, Punjabi).������
Distribution:� ����������� The Himalayan spruce is found in the Kurram, Dir, Chitral, Swat, Gilgit eastwards, Kaghan. Rare in the Murree hills. A few at Nathia Gali and the northern slope on Mokshpuri. 600 to 1500 metres, often growing in pure stands.
Parts Used:��� ����������� Wood and resin
Medicinal and Economic Uses: Timber wood, fuelwood and furniture. Its resin is locally known, as "Jaula" is a stimulant and used for ulcer, snakebites, scorpion stings and skins dies. It is a blood purifier. Resin is stimulant.
Botanical name: ������� Pinus wallichiana �A.B.Jackson.������ �����������
Vernacular Names:�� Nakhtar (Pushtoo), Blue pine (English), Biar, Kail (Hindko).
Distribution:� ����������� The Blue Pine is abundant from Chitral eastward from 1800 to 3500 metres. It often begins at the upper limit of Chir Pine and like it. Murree Hills, Kaghan, Swat, Dir, Chitral, Azad Kashmir.
Parts Used:��� ����������� Wood
Local Uses: ��������������� Wood is used for preparation of body of trucks. Its wood is also used for construction purposes, i.e. doors, windows, etc. It is used for furniture and fuel purposes.
Botanical name:�������� Taxus wallichiana Zucc.
Vernacular Names:�� Bonya (Pushtoo), Yew (English), Birmi (Hindko, Punjabi).
Distribution: ������������ Usually
in mixed forest. Kurram, Chitral, Swat, Dir, Astor, Hazara, Murree Hills,
Parts used:���� ����������� Wood and leaves
Medicinal and Economic Uses: Wood traditionally used for cabinet and furniture making. Tea of leaves is useful in high fever and asthma. Leaves are used in bronchitis, hiccough and asthma, for indigestion, epilepsy and as aphrodisiac. Leaves and fruit are sedative and antiseptic.
The present Ethnobotanical study provides information on the ethnobotanical uses of the 11 gymnosperms belonging to four families. These plants are also used by the local herbal healers and hakims as traditional medicines. Chopra (1992) described and classified gymnosperms into five orders (including ancient gymnosperms). He also highlighted on the importance of gymnosperms in nature and in human life. Lal et al., (1994) described fifty plant species (including Taxus baccata which is used against colds) used as ethnomedicines by Gaddis (migratory shepherds of western Himachal Pradesh) for treating cattle as well as humans. Most of the species were used for treating arthritis, rheumatism and stomach disorders. Most of the plant species are reported to be quite effective remedies for different diseases such as fever, diarrhea, diabetes, jaundice, backache, stomachache, ulcers, cold and even cancer. The gymnosperms are a major source of timber, fuel wood and fodder. Wood and other forest products are also sold to earn money, because the community is totally dependent on the forests for their needs. The forests are under heavy pressure of grazing, fuel wood collection, medicinal plants collection and ecotourism. Some trees like Cedrus deodara, Abies pindrow, Picea smithiana and Taxus wallichiana are at the verge of extinction in the area. They all are extensively used as fuel and timber. Pinus roxburghii and P. wallichiana are still abundantly growing in the area.
Due to this indiscriminate cutting, not only the forest area is declining but valuable indigenous species are in danger and if this trend continues, the ultimate result would be the extinction of these species from the area. For relieving pressure on fuel wood species, following recommendations are suggested.
� Natural gas should introduce in the area as an alternate fuel source. If presently not feasible for Government, liquid petroleum gas (L.P.G.) cylinders can serve the purpose. However, the prices should be kept in reach of locals.
� Introduction of fuel efficient stoves will also helpful in reducing pressure on forests for fuel wood requirements.
� ���The people of the area are ignorant about the importance of biodiversity and conservation status of the area. They also show poor selection of fuel wood species. As a result valuable indigenous flora is used as fuel wood species. Awareness programs at grass root level should be introduces in the area to solve the problem.
� The study area has a wast area. A-forestation projects should be launched on cultivated waste lands. These projects will not only help conserve that the local flora to improve the socio-economic conditions of the area.
It is also suggested
that replacement of old tree with new young plants will be vital. As most of
the world forests had been destroyed due to the fact that old trees were not
replaced by the young ones. As the old trees provide the site for most of the
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