Allium hookeri, Thw. Enum. A lesser known terrestrial perennial herb used as food and its ethnobotanical relevance in manipur
Manipur, one of the north-eastern states of India, is rich in plant diversity and the natives of Manipur have ethnobotanical and traditional knowledge of plants. The rich traditional knowledge of plants is the outcome of a number of hit and trial selections of plants from the wilderness, for consumption and traditional healing of various ailments. In spite of the risk of selection, the diverse food plants provide the required nutrient supplements; as a result deficiency or malnutrition related diseases were uncommon with the Manipuris. Almost all the world renowned sportspersons of Manipur come from poor families who depend on the traditional and indigenous food plants. Many of the plants act as important nutraceuticals, possessing the medicinal properties. Today, due to over exploitation and under production of indigenous food plants, the lifestyles of the people are changed and they prefer ‘junk foods’. Subsequently, the health of the people is deteriorating as the indigenous/traditional food plants are neglected at large. The plant is used as spice/condiment in dry or in fresh form in every household in almost all the traditional dishes. It acts as a good supplementary food, providing food security at the household level and help at the time of food crisis. The cultivation of this wild plant (now cultivated to a limited extent) not only generates income for the growers but also helps in the conservation of the plants and their germplasm. In spite of the immense use, Allium hookeri cultivation and its preservation has been decreased due to lack of research-based information of the plant, and due to the concept that wild/traditional plants are poor in nutrition and meant only for the poor. Moreover, agriculturalists and farmers take interest in the cultivation of only the high yielding few cash crops and vegetables. From the result of biochemical analyses, the field survey report and the information from literature, it is known that the plant is fit for consumption and has ethnobotanical relevance. The result of the survey in the urban markets and the rural vendors shows that Allium hookeri, Thw. Enum. is of high socio-economical relevance.