Traditional Plant Knowledge in a Remote Mountain Community

Jenn Hoskins
20th May, 2024

Traditional Plant Knowledge in a Remote Mountain Community

Image Source: Natural Science News, 2024

Key Findings

  • In the high-altitude terrain of Lotkuh, northwestern Pakistan, researchers documented 150 plant species used by locals for various purposes
  • Medicinal use was the most reported category, followed by animal feed, veterinary applications, human consumption, and toxicity
  • The study found strong agreement among locals on plant uses, highlighting a robust shared knowledge base crucial for preserving indigenous knowledge
In the high-altitude terrain of Lotkuh, nestled within the eastern Hindu Kush region of northwestern Pakistan, a unique ethnobotanical study was conducted by the University of Peshawar[1]. The research aimed to document the indigenous knowledge of plant utilization in this geographically isolated region, which is known for its rich cultural and botanical diversity. The study captures the intricate relationship between the inhabitants and the indigenous plants, highlighting their uses in nutritional, medicinal, cultural, and ritual contexts. The research involved engaging 120 local respondents through semi-structured questionnaires, inventory interviews, and participatory workshops. The collected data were then classified into nine distinct use categories, and quantitative indices were calculated to analyze the findings. The study identified a total of 150 plant species spanning 59 different families, with notable species such as Astragalus oihorensis, Astragalus owirensis, Cicer nuristanicum, Geranium parmiricum, and Rochelia chitralensis being documented for their distinctive applications. Medicinal use was the most reported category, with 600 reports, followed by animal feed (500 reports), veterinary applications (450 reports), human consumption (425 reports), and toxicity (104 reports). The high informant consensus, ranging between 0.8 and 0.9, indicated strong agreement among the respondents, particularly in the human food and animal feed categories. Platanus orientalis and Juglans regia were the most cited species, each with a Relative Frequency of Citation (RFC) of 0.91. Additionally, the Family Importance Value (FIV) of Juglandaceae and Platanaceae, each with an FIV of 0.91, and Capparidaceae with an FIV of 0.83, underscored the significant role these families play in the local ethnobotanical landscape. This study builds upon earlier ethnobotanical research in various regions. For instance, a study in Mastung, Balochistan, documented 102 plant species used for medicinal purposes, highlighting the importance of preserving traditional knowledge in the face of gradual loss among the younger generation[2]. Similarly, research in the Ishkoman and Yasin valleys of Gilgit-Baltistan recorded 40 wild food botanical and mycological taxa, emphasizing the potential of biocultural heritage in ensuring food security and promoting sustainable ecotourism[3]. The findings from Lotkuh align with these studies, reinforcing the critical need to document and preserve indigenous knowledge. The methods employed in the Lotkuh study, including semi-structured questionnaires and participatory workshops, are consistent with approaches used in other ethnobotanical research. For example, a study in the Nelliyampathy hills of Kerala, India, used similar methods to document 85 medicinal plants and their applications, demonstrating the effectiveness of these techniques in capturing valuable ethnobotanical data[4]. The documentation of 150 plant species in Lotkuh, many of which have unique uses previously undocumented in Pakistani literature, contributes significantly to the field of ethnobotany. The high informant consensus values indicate a robust and shared knowledge base among the local population, which is crucial for the preservation and potential application of this knowledge in modern contexts. In conclusion, the study conducted by the University of Peshawar in the Lotkuh region highlights the rich ethnobotanical heritage of the area and underscores the importance of preserving this knowledge. By documenting the diverse uses of indigenous plants, the research not only contributes to the scientific understanding of ethnobotany but also provides a foundation for future studies and potential applications in medicine, nutrition, and sustainable development.

EnvironmentSustainabilityPlant Science


Main Study

1) The ethnobotanical heritage of Lotkuh, a high-altitude tribal haven of Chitral, the Eastern Hindu Kush, Pakistan.

Published 19th May, 2024

Related Studies

2) Ethnobotany of medicinal plants in district Mastung of Balochistan province-Pakistan.

3) Shared but Threatened: The Heritage of Wild Food Plant Gathering among Different Linguistic and Religious Groups in the Ishkoman and Yasin Valleys, North Pakistan.

4) Quantitative ethnomedicinal study of plants used in the Nelliyampathy hills of Kerala, India.

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