Medicinal plant diversity in the flora of Leepa Valley, Muzaffarabad (AJK), Pakistan
Plants are inevitable and indispensable in the life of mankind. They are a major source of nutrition and medicament in the world. In this regard, the Leepa valley (LV), Muzaffarabad Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) was identified as the case study. The main objectives of this research were to explore and document the medicinal plant diversity (MPD) in the area. In this study, irrespective of gender, age, demography and literacy, 42 informants were approached and information was documented by using rapid rural appraisal (RRA) method comprising of open-ended and closed-ended interviews. Visual appraisal approach (VAA) was also performed as complimentary tool to support the data. In the study, some quantitative analysis tools: informant consensus factor (ICF), fidelity level (FL), priority ranking (PR) and data matrix ranking (DMR) were employed to find reliability and validity of methods used and informations obtained. This exploratory study revealed a profile of 36 medicinal plants (MPs) of 22 families with their botanic name, local name, family, plant part used, mode of medicament preparation, ethnomedicinal recipes and commercial importance. Family Pinaceae (4 spp.) was the first in the family index ranking followed by Lamiaceae (3 spp.). In health problems, snake bite and sting were the most prevailing (ICF: 0.94) and, hyperglycemia and hypertension were least encountered (ICF: 0.06) in the LV. Ajuga bracteosa (FL: 100%) and Berberis lycium (FL: 93%) were predominantly used in folklore therapies and FL analysis is good indicator for further pharmaceutical research taxa. Abies pindrow, Pinus wallichiana and Taxus wallichiana were found to be multifarious in use. Illicit export, incessant agriculture expansion and wooden house construction were determined as the major threats for MPD in the area. The pharmaceutical potential of MPD in drug discovery and development is discussed, and recommendations for sustainable use of MPs and their in situ and ex situ conservation is suggested for the socio-economic uplift of local communities.
Key words: Leepa valley, medicinal plant diversity, ethnomedicines, data matrix ranking, informant consensus factor, Azad Kashmir.