On the present status of distribution and threats of high value medicinal plants in the higher altitude forests of the Indian eastern Himalaya

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P. R. Gajurel
Kh. Ronald
R. Buragohain
P. Rethy
B. Singh
S. Potsangbam


The eastern Himalaya region is a rich repository of medicinal plants.  Excessive collection and unsustainable harvesting of medicinal plants from the wild are leading to a depletion of populations and threatening species in the region.  A study was conducted to explore the diversity, distribution and population status of selected medicinal plants species in the higher altitudes of Arunachal Pradesh, India through extensive field surveys and consultations with the local communities.  Out of about 75 medicinal plants recorded, 41 rare and commercially important medicinal plants were observed in the sub-temperate to alpine forest within an altitudinal range of 1500–4500 m.  Taxonomically these species fall under 25 families of higher plants, of which 31 are dicots, seven are monocots and three gymnosperms.  Many threatened species like Taxus wallichiana, Coptis teeta, Panax pseudoginseng, Panax sikkimensis were recorded in specific localities.  The western part of the state exhibits maximum species diversity.  Out of the various threats observed, improper harvesting, habitat loss and trade are found to be more destructive to the population.  Intensive efforts from both in situ and ex situ conservation practices are necessary for sustainable management and conservation of these species.


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Author Biographies

P. R. Gajurel, Forest Systematic and Ethnobiology Laboratory, Department of Forestry, North Eastern Regional Institute of Science & Technology, Nirjuli, Arunachal Pradesh 791109, India

Dr. Padma Raj Gajurel is an Associate Professor. He is a field botanist by profession and engaged in research works on taxonomy and diversity of higher plant groups, ethnobotany and conservation of medicinal plants. He has been extensively working on the taxonomy of Piper species.


Kh. Ronald, Forest Systematic and Ethnobiology Laboratory, Department of Forestry, North Eastern Regional Institute of Science & Technology, Nirjuli, Arunachal Pradesh 791109, India

Khumukcham Ronald is a PhD scholar. His research interest focuses on forest ecology and mapping and conservation of biodiversity, especially endangered plant species. 


R. Buragohain, Forest Systematic and Ethnobiology Laboratory, Department of Forestry, North Eastern Regional Institute of Science & Technology, Nirjuli, Arunachal Pradesh 791109, India

Rubul Buragohain did his doctoral research on diversity of Moraceae family in Arunachal Pradesh under Dr. P.R Gajurel. Also work in the NEC funded research project on medicinal plant and extensively surveyed the state.


P. Rethy, Forest Systematic and Ethnobiology Laboratory, Department of Forestry, North Eastern Regional Institute of Science & Technology, Nirjuli, Arunachal Pradesh 791109, India

 Prof. P. Rethy is a Professor in the Department of Forestry, NERIST. She has a long research experience in flora of the state. Her field of research interest is systematic and ethnobotany.


B. Singh, Forest Systematic and Ethnobiology Laboratory, Department of Forestry, North Eastern Regional Institute of Science & Technology, Nirjuli, Arunachal Pradesh 791109, India

Prof. Binay Singh is a Professor in the Department of Forestry, NERIST. He is a horticulturist by profession and has taken up many research including diversity of citrus and other ediblefruits in Arunachal Pradesh. 


S. Potsangbam, Forest Systematic and Ethnobiology Laboratory, Department of Forestry, North Eastern Regional Institute of Science & Technology, Nirjuli, Arunachal Pradesh 791109, India

Shivakanta Potsangbam is a PhD scholar. His research interest focus on NTFPs, analysis of market potential and value addition of NTFPs.



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