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International Journal of
eISSN: 2381-1803

Complementary & Alternative Medicine

Research Article Volume 11 Issue 5

Medicinal plant resources in Skuru watershed of Karakoram wildlife sanctuary and their uses in traditional medicines system of Ladakh, India

Stanzin Namtak, Ramesh C Sharma

Department of Environmental Sciences, H.N.B. Garhwal University (A Central University), India

Correspondence: Stanzin Namtak, Department of Environmental Sciences, H.N.B. Garhwal University (A Central University), Srinagar-Garhwal, 246174, Uttarakhand, India

Received: June 10, 2018 | Published: October 16, 2018

Citation: Namtak S, Sharma RC. Medicinal plant resources in Skuru watershed of Karakoram wildlife sanctuary and their uses in traditional medicines system of Ladakh, India. Int J Complement Alt Med. 2018;11(5):294-302 DOI: 10.15406/ijcam.2018.11.00415

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Background: The objectives of the present study were to document the medicinal plant resources of Skuru watershed in Karakoram Wildlife Sanctuary and their uses in traditional medicines system (Amchi) of Ladakh. Amchi system of medicines is a complementary medicines system in Ladakh. The medicinal plants were collected in the summer season of 2015 and 2016. These medicinal plants were identified at H.N.B. Garhwal University Herbarium and from some published literature. During these surveys, 73 plant species belonging to 31 families were recorded. It was also found that maximum plant species were being in use for ailments related to digestive system, followed by musculoskeletal, respiratory system, skin, cardiovascular system and blood, and nervous system. Among the plant parts used, leaves were in maximum use for herbal medicines preparations followed by whole plants, flowers, shoot, roots, stem, seeds, fruits, bulbs, bark, rhizomes and tuber.

Keywords: amchi, leh ladakh, medicinal plants, traditional knowledge


India is considered as one of the leading countries in the world regarding the wealth of traditional knowledge systems for the use of plant species. The country is blessed with the rich and diverse heritage of traditional medicinal systems like Ayurveda, Siddha, Unani and Sowa-Rigpa. Sowa-Rigpa is also known as Tibetan medicine system in Western countries. It is one of the oldest/ancient surviving and thoroughly documented medical traditions/wisdom of the world. It has been widely practiced in Himalayan regions of India, Tibet, Bhutan, Mongolia, Nepal, some parts of China, and few parts of Soviet Union. In India, this traditional medicines system is practiced in the Ladakh region of Jammu and Kashmir, Lahoul and Spiti (Himachal Pradesh), Sikkim, Darjeeling (West Bengal) and Arunachal Pradesh.1 In Ladakh, Sowa-Rigpa is also known as Amchi medicine system. Most of the population in Ladakh is Buddhist and they depend on the Amchi system of medicine, which has been in vogue for a long time and widely in practice. It offers fascinating knowledge of the ancient medicinal system.2 Medicinal plants of this region can open opportunities for economic growth in the rising global market. It has been understood further, medicinal plants of the trans-Himalaya, offer the favorable position in having considerably more prominent potential outcomes of giving novel bio-molecules in perspective of the natural pressure.3 These medicinal plant resources offer alternative remedies along with great opportunities for the generation of employment, income and foreign exchange for developing nations.4

Ladakh is situated in the extreme altitude of the Trans-Himalayan region of India, which lies between latitude 31°44ʹ57ʹʹ–32°59ʹ57ʹʹN and longitude 76°46ʹ29ʹʹ–78°41ʹ34ʹʹE and covers an area of more than 65,000km2.5 Ladakh is comprised of two districts, namely Leh and Kargil in the Jammu and Kashmir state of India. More than, 1,180 vascular plant taxa were recorded by Klimeš and Dickoré6 through systematic floristic survey in these regions;6 this number is considerably higher than those reported by Kachroo et al.,7 611 species and 880 species by Kachroo8 in previously published volumes of flora of the area.7,8 The vegetation of Ladakh is in the range of 2,700m to 6,000m a.s.l. altitude and comes under alpine to high alpine zone. Physiographically, Ladakh can be divided into five valleys - Leh, Nubra, Changthang, Zanskar and Suru. Ethno-floral studies for traditional medicines in Ladakh have been carried out by many authors like Gurmet,1 Buth and Navchoo,2 Angmo et al.,9 Angmo et al.,10 Abrol Chopra,11 Stewart,12 Namgyal and Phuntsog,13 Singh et al.,14 Kala,15‒17 Ballabh and Chaurasia,18‒20 Kumar et al.,21 Rinchen and Pant.22 However, very few researchers like Kumar et al.,23 and Pal et al.,24 have focused on Ethno-floral studies with special reference to Nubra valley.23,24

There is no information available on the public domain regarding the medicinal plants from Skuru watershed till date. This watershed has rich medicinal plants resources. The pressure of tourism activities is already high on the fragile ecosystem of Ladakh, but this study area is still not affected considerably. The Rakuru village can only be reached by nearly 18km trek. Tourists were not allowed to visit beyond Hunder village (20km from the nearest survey site) till recently due to security reasons, as these villages are close to the border of Pakistan. The area is now open for trekking, but very few trekkers cross the area. In near future, the number of trekkers in this area likely to increase, as the tourist influx in Leh district is increasing considerably year by year. So, before any drastic transformation takes place in the area, documentation of the medicinal plant's resources of Skuru watershed is very important. Therefore, the present research was carried out to document the medicinal plant's resources in the area and their uses for different ailments in traditional Amchi system of medicines. 

Materials and methods

The study area

The Nubra valley lies between the two mountain ranges- Ladakh and Karakoram on the South and North respectively. The valley located between 34°15ʹ45ʺ to 35°31ʹ00ʺ N and 76°55ʹ to 78°05ʹE co-ordinates.23 The valley is broad and well vegetated with groves of seabuckthorn (Hippophae rhamnoides) then the other valleys of Ladakh. It is a thorny shrub, used by the villagers at a large scale for fuel and fencing their agriculture fields, to protect their crops from the domestic, stray and wild animals. The altitude ranges are approximately between 2,700 to 6,000m above m.s.l. The climatic condition of the region is a cold arid type, precipitation is erratic and scanty (<80mm per annum) and temperature reaches lower than 0°C to as high as 38°C.25 

The Skuru watershed is a part of the Shayok river basin (Figure 1). The elevation is in the range of 2981-6061m a.s.l. The medicinal plants were collected from three sites Skuru village (3,115m above m.s.l.; 34o40ʹ21ʺN and 77o17ʹ40ʺE), Rakuru village (4,000m above m.s.l.; 34°35ʹ10ʺN and 77°15ʹ13ʺE) and high altitude pasture land (Phu) (5,000m above m.s.l.; 34o32ʹ27N and 77°13ʹ23ʺE ). The elevations and coordinates were recorded during the field visits. Skuru village is the lowest point in the watershed situated on the bank of the river Shayok. A stream from the eastern side of village flows from south-north direction. There is an open area grazing land covered scantly with shrubs in western side. The vegetation on the banks of the stream and river are covered with shrub and bush species like Hippophae rhamnoides, Myricaria elegans, Tamarix gallica, Rosa webbiana, Phragmites spp., Clematis tibetana and Berberis ulcina. The commonly cultivated crops, vegetables, timber plants, fruit trees and fodder plants of the village include Triticum vulgare, Hordeum vulgare, Pisum sativum, Brassica nigra, Raphanus sativus, Brassica rapa, Brassica oleracea, Allium cepa, Allium sativum, Solanum tuberosum, Daucus carota, Cucurbita spp. Spinacia spp. Lycopersicon esculentum, trees Populus nigra, P. balsamifera, P. Euphratica P. alba, Salix alba, S. tetrasperma, S. Daphnoides, Prunus armeniaca, Pyrus communis, Juglan regia, Prunus persica, Elaeagnus angustifolius, Medicago sativa and M. falcate. Rakuru village, situated at a higher altitude than Skuru, grows few cultivated crops of cereals, pulses, vegetables and stunted tree species like Hordeum vulgare, Pisum sativum, Raphanus sativus, Brassica rapa, Daucus carota, Salix divergence and S. alba. The high altitude pastures land, which is only used in the summer season by villagers for grazing livestock (dZo, dZomo, cow, yak, donkey, goat and sheep). The area is covered with important medicinal plant resources. The pasture is used for grazing by the people of three villages Skuru, Rakuru and Terchey.

Figure 1 Map of the study area with altitudinal gradient.

Data collection

Information regarding the landscape, natural habitat and medicinal plants resources were collected from intensive field observations during the period of two years (2015;16). The plants were photographed and collected in the months of June-July for identification. Identification of the medicinal plants was done at H.N.B. Garhwal University Herbarium and also with the help of published literature especially by Klimeš and Dickoré,6 Kachroo et al.,7 Stewart,26 Chaurasia et al.27 The uses of medicinal plants were reviewed from the published literature on Amchi medicine system. The commonly cultivated crops, vegetables, timber plants, fruit trees and fodder plants of these villages were documented through observations and interviews with the locals during field visits. The coordinates and elevations of the study sites were recorded with the help of GPS (Garmin eTrex 30x).

Amchi system of medicines

Amchi system of medicines is synonymous to Sowa-Rigpa or Tibetan medicine, as the fundamental concepts and basic practices that they follow are the same. The Sowa-Rigpa medicine system reveals a holistic way of thinking in which sickness is treated as a physical, emotional and spiritual whole. The rGyud-bZhi, or 'Four Tantras', is the holy scripts containing the body of medical knowledge.28,29 According to the Four Tantras, Sowa-Rigpa is based on the principles of Jung-wa-lna (five elements), and Nespa gsum (three humors). All living beings are formed by the five cosmo-physical elements- Sa (Earth), Chu (Water), May (Fire), rLung (Air or wind) and Nam-kha (Space). Therefore, all the diseases and their antidotes are five elements of origin and composition respectively.30 The three humours-rLung (wind), mKris-pa (bile) and Badkhan (phlegm) are considered the functional physiological units of the five cosmic-physical elements.31 These humoral created certain physical, physiological and emotional characteristics.32 The rGyud-bZhi states that the composition of our body is same as the universe. This relationship between the macrocosm (the universe) and the microcosm (body), clarifies the equal impacts that one element has on the others and the reliance that associates the individuals to the environment.31 In view of this connection, any changes in our environment may be it positive or negative brought comparable changes in our body system. The Law of Interdependence is a basic principle in Buddhist teaching and which can be seen in this medical system also. Every substance on the Earth believes to have medicinal properties and therapeutic value in Sowa-Rigpa,30 Medicinal substances are categorized into eight major category: Rinpoche sman (prized metal and stone), sa sman (drugs from mud and earth), rdo sman (stones), shing sman (drugs from trees), rtsi sman (essence and exudates medicines), thang sman (plant ingredient for decoction/shrub), sno sman (herb) and srog chags sman (animal parts). The constituents of medicine are used in both single and compound forms; compound medicine is based on two major combinations, ro (taste) and nus-pa (potencies). From, nearly seventeen different types of preparation, decoction, powder, paste, pills, medicated ghee, linctus, bhasmas, medicated wine and medicated bath are some of the main medicinal preparation.1

Results and discussion

The medicinal plants in Skuru watershed grow in the diverse range of habitats, such as valley plains, alpine pastures, rocky, dry slopes, boulders and alpine mountains. The Amchi system is totally dependent upon natural resources for the collection of plants and their parts.15 During the survey, 73 medicinal plant species belonging to 61 genera of 37 families from the area were recorded (Table 1). The uses of the collected medicinal plants for Acmchi medicine system were reviewed from secondary published sources. Asteraceae was the most dominant (19%) family with 14 plant species, followed by Fabaceae and Lamiaceae families (8%) with six species each. Polygonaceae was represented by five species (7%) and Amaryllidaceae by four species (5%). Ranunculaceae, Rosaceae and Scrophulariaceae were represented by three species each (4%). Amaranthaceae, Apiaceae, Chenopodiaceae Geraniaceae, Solanaceae and Utricaceae families were represented by 2 species each (3%). Remaining 17 families (Berberidaceae, Boraginaceae, Brassicaceae, Campanulaceae, Capparaceae, Convolvulaceae, Crassulaceae, Elaeagnaceae, Ephedraceae, Juglandaceae, Malvaceae, Orchidaceae, Orobanchaceae, Plantaginaceae, Plumbaginaceae, Salicaceae and Tamaricaceae) were monotypic (1%) used for traditional medicine system (Figure 2). The results of the present study revealed that from the recorded 73 species of medicinal plants, maximum (72.6%) plant species were used for ailments related to digestive system, followed by musculoskeletal (30.14%), respiratory system (27.4%) cardio-vascular system and blood related problems (24.66%), skin related problems (24.66%), renal system related problems (17.81%), nervous system (13.7%), gynaecological (10.96%) and men’s sexual health (5.48%). A bulk (45.21%) was used for other ailments (Table 2). Except for the seven plant species, all medicinal plants recorded were used for more than one ailment. The plant parts which were in maximum use for herbal medicines were leaves (33%) followed by whole plant (12%), flowers (12%), shoots (11%), roots (8%), stems (8%) seeds (7%), fruits (4%) bulbs (2%), bark (1%), rhizomes (1%) and tubers (1%) (Figure 3) Some of the most important medicinal plants photographs have also been given in Figure 4




Vernacular name

Part use

Medicinal properties



Acantholimon lycopodioides(Girard) Boiss.



Whole plant

Cardiac disorders



Aconogonum tortuosum (D. Don) H. Hara



Leaves & whole

Blood purifier & painful urination



Allium cepaL.



Bulb & leaves

Loss of appetite & vomiting



Allium humileKunth



Leaves & bulb

Stomach complaints & indigestion



Allium przewalskianumRegel


Skotse, Kangmar

Shoot & leaf

Dysentery & stomachache



Allium sativum L



Leaves & bulb

Indigestion & loss of appetite



Amaranthus spinosusL.



Roots & leaves

Spasm, gastric troubles, irregular menstruation & kidney problems



Arabidopsis wallichii(Hk. F. & Th.).N. Busch.







Arnebia euchroma(Royle) I.M.Johnst.



Leaves & roots

Hair tonic, backache, cough, cold, lungs & pulmonary problems, blood purifier, blood vomiting & kidney problems




Artemisia maritima L. ex Hook.f.



Leaves & stem

Skin diseases & intestinal parasites



Artemisia absinthium L



Whole plant

Rheumatism, malaria, anti-worm



Artemisia brevifolia Wall. Ex DC



Leaves & flowers

Gastrointestinal disorder, intestinal worm, aphrodisiac, antiseptic, laxative & blood purifier



Artemisia moorcroftiana Wall. Ex DC.



Whole plant

Malaria fever



Aster flaccidusBunge



Flowers & stem

Eye problem, liver disease, fever, cold & cough



Berberis ulcina Hk. f. & Th.


Khitser, shinnar

Stem, bark, roots & fruits

Arthritis, cough, fever, ring worm, skin diseases, constipation, antiseptic & tonic



Biebersteinia odora Stephan ex Fisch


Drakspos, Sari

Whole plant & roots

Urino-genital disorder,, peptic ulcer, diarrhea, blood purifier, cuts, wounds, & skin sore



Bistorta vivipara (L.) Gray



Flowers & stem

Abdominal pain & backache



Capparis spinosa L



Leaves & stem

Paralysis, rheumatism, gout, tonic, toothache, hyperacidity, liver, skin & stomach problem



Caragana versicolor Benth.



Whole plant

Food poisoning, fever & throat infection



Carum carviL.



Leaves, roots & seeds

Rheumatism, spasm, acidity, gastric troubles, indigestion, intestinal worm, stomache, irritable condition of bladder, promotes urination, cold, promote menstruation & tonic



Chenopodium albumL.



Leaves, seeds & flowers

Gastric troubles, painful urination & diuretic



Chenopodium botrys L



Flower & leaves

intestinal worm, constipation, stomach complaints



Chenopodium glaucum L







Chesneya cuneata (Benth.) Ali







Cicer microphyllum Benth.



Leaves & seed

Stress, fatigue, jaundice, tongue infections & sore throat



Cirsium arvense(L.) Scop




Vomiting & headache



Clematis orientalis L


rBisho, Emong





Clematis tibetana Kuntze


rBisho , Emong nakpo, Zakgic

Whole plant

Indigestion & scabies



Codonopsis ovata Benth



Shoot & leaves

Ulcer, lungs & liver problems, chest conjunction, blood purifier, rheumatism.



Convolvulus arvensis L.



Whole plant

Rheumatic, pain, cuts & wounds



Dactylorhiza hatagirea (D.Don) Soó


Angbo-lakpa, Sanchu


Round worm, asthma, lungs & pulmonary problems, hypoactive sexual desire disorder, nervine tonic , skin problems, wounds, kidney disorder, burning sensation of urine, regulation of urine discharge, sedative & restoring regenerative fluids



Datura stramonium L



Leaves & stem

Ear problems, impotence, intestinal worms & respiratory problems



Delphinium brunonianumRoyle



Leaf, flower & whole plant

Colic, malaria & throat pain



Dracocephalum heterophyllumBenth.


Kalchor tsa, Zypsi

Shoot, leaves flowers & whole plant

Peptic ulcer, hypertension, headache, cough & cold.



Echinops cornigerusDC


Aczema, Kaqtsaymaq

Leaves, seeds, flower & shoot

Food poisoning, tonic, septic wound & jaundice



Elsholtzia densaBenth.




Menorrhagia, pathogenic diseases of uterus, pain due to cuts & burns



Ephedra gerardiana Wall. Ex Stapf



Roots, stem, leave, branches, fruits & shoot

Bronchitis, asthma, rheumatism, syphilis, heart ailments, fever, hepatic diseases, irregular menstruation, bleeding, blood purification, liver disorders & tonic



Euphrasia himalayica Wettst




Eye problems & cardiac ailments



Geranium pratenseL.


 Gugchuk, Gadur,

 Leaves & whole

Fever, , pneumonia, influenza, inflammation of lungs & veins, swelling of limbs, dysentery, diarrhoea , analgesic, & tonic



Heracleum pinnatumC.B. Clarke



Shoot & root

Inflammation & pain caused by fever, leprosy, chicken pox, small pox, irregular menstruation, haemorrhage & abdominal cramps



Hippophae rhamnoides L.


Tsog, tSestalulu

Fruit, flower, seed & stems

 Anti-ageing, anti-cold, memory restoration, energy boosting, blood purifier, peptic ulcer, lung disorders, cuts, wounds, tonic for malnourished children & pregnant ladies & multi vitamins source especially ‘C’.



Juglans regia L



Seeds, leaf & bark

Itch, rheumatism, constipation, tooth & gums related problems



Lactuca lessertiana (Wall. Ex DC.Wall. Ex C.B.Clarke



Leaves & shoot

Rheumatism & skin diseases



Lactuca tatarica (L.) C.A.Mey




Headache, fever, internal wounds & vomiting



Lancea tibetica Hook. F. & Thomson


Raikse, Chagna, Spang-ali

Root, & Leaves

Tonic, wound, heart diseases, cough, & chest congestion



Leontopodium alpinum Colm. Ex Cass



Whole plant

Septic wounds



Malva verticillataL



Roots & stem

Liver tonic & piles



Melilotus officinalis(L.) Pall.



Whole plant

Relieves gas, induce urination, improve blood circulation, nervous tension, painful menstruation, insomnia, palpitations, wounds, cut & bruises.



Mentha longifolia (L.) Huds.



Leaves & shoot

 Abdominal pain, dysentery, diarrhoea, stimulant, vomiting, diuretic, headache & rheumatism.

 19,23, 24,27



Myricaria elegansRoyle




Blood purifier



Nepeta floccosa Benth.



Leaves & flowers

Fever, cough & cold



Oxyria digyna(L.) Hill


Changskur, Chu-lchum, Lamanchu

Leaves & shoot

Indigestion, loss of appetite & gastritis



Pedicularis cheilanthifolia var. Albida (Pennell) P.C.Tsoong 


Lugru-serpo, Landay-snumpo,

Whole plant

Stomachache, leucorrhoea & menorrhagia



Perovskia abrotanoidesKar.



 Leaves & flower

Cough, headache, infection, constipation, & painful urination



Physochlaina praealta(Decne.) Miers



Whole, leaves flowers, stem, seeds & oil

Rheumatic pains, toothache, ulcer & eye diseases



Plantago himalaica Pilg.


Tharum, Humbuksuk

Seeds & leaves

Diarrhoea, gastric disorder & liver related problems



Potentilla anserinaL



Rhizome & leaves

Diarrhoea, kidney stone & stomach complaints



Prunus armeniacaLinn.




Tonic & stimulate long and healthy hair



Rheum spiciformeRoyle



Roots & Leaves

Swellings, wounds, chronic bronchitis, piles, constipation & rheumatism.



Rhodiola tibetica (Hook. F. & Thoms.Fu


Choango, Shrolo

Leaves & shoot

Headache, stress, memory loss, tonic



Rosa webbiana Wall. Ex Royle


Sai marpo

Flowers & fruits

Bleeding, hepatitis, jaundice, deficiency of vitamin C & liver problems



Rumex patientia L



Leave & shoot

Constipation, fever, skin disorder, rheumatism & backache



Salix alba L



Tender leaves

Knee, hip pain & fever



Stachys tibetica Vatke




Insecticide, mites & lice control



Tanacetum dolichophyllum (Kitam.Kitam.



Leaves & flower




Tanacetum gracile Hook. F. & Thomson


 Ribong-sburtsey, Khamchu,

Leaves & flower




Taraxacum officinaleWebb


Han, Khorkhorma

Roots, leaves & flower

Blisters, liver problems, digestive problems, intestinal worms, blood purifier, headache, weak immune system , kidney disorder, painful urination, diuretic, alcoholism, skin problems, back ache, stomache, hepatic stimulant, tonic, sedative & analgesic



Thermopsis inflata Cambess



Whole pant





Trigonella emodiBenth



Leaves & stem

Fever, anaemia & peptic ulcer



Urtica dioicaL.




Paralysed limbs & rheumatism.




Urtica hyperborea Jacq. ex Wedd.



Leaves & whole plant

Cold & cough, stomachache, rheumatism & joint pain



Verbascum thapsus L



Shoot, stem, leaves, flowers & fruit

Asthma , frost bite, aphrodisiac, impotency, amenorrhea, menorrhagia, chest problems, diarrhoea, bleeding, diuretic, blood disorder, sores, infections, bleeding wounds & cuts



Waldheimia tomentosa (Decne.) Regel 



 Leaves, seeds & whole plant

Acidity, headache, wound & arthritis


Table 1 Medicinal plants species, their vernacular names and parts used in treatment of ailments in Amchi system of medicines

Figure 2 Percentage of medicinal plants species recorded in each family.

Health problem related to main body parts

Specific conditions


Digestive system

Constipation, indigestion, dysentery, acidity, cramps, hepatic problems, food poisoning, peptic ulcer, diarrhoea, piles



Gout, arthritis, back pain, rheumatism


Respiratory system

Cough, cold, bronchitis, chest conjunction, sore throat, asthma


Cardiovescular system & blood related

Palpitation, haemorrhage, hypertension, malaria


Skin /dermatological

Wound, cuts, bruises, swelling, scabies, blister, frostbites


Renal/kidney system

Urinary retention, infection (pyelonephrtes), painful urination, stone (kidney/bladder)


Nervous system

Tension/anxiety, memory loss, paralysis, insomnia, headache



Painful menstruation, discharge, amenorrhea


Mens health




Toothache, aging, eye problems, weakness etc.


Table 2 Percentage of recorded plant species used against ailments of different human organ systems

 Figure 3 Percentage of plant parts of recorded species used in traditional medicines.

Figure 4 Medicinal plants: a. Acantholimon lycopodioides; b. Allium prezewalskianum; c. Arnebia euchroma; d. Aster tibeticus; e. Biebersteinia odora; f. Capparis spinosa; g. Cicer microphyllum; h. Dactylorhiza hatagirea; i. Delphinium brunonianum; j. Geranium pratense; k. Hippophae rhamnoides l. Lancea tibetica; m. Perovskia abrotanoides; n. Rhodiola tibetica; o. Urtica hyperborean.

The Plant like Dactylorhiza hatagirea has been widely used to cure various health problems like asthma, lungs and pulmonary problems, hypoactive sexual desire disorder, neuro tonic, skin problems, wounds, kidney disorder, burning sensation of urine, regulation of urine discharge, roundworm, sedative and restoring regenerative fluids. It is also widely used in modern medicines. It has been categorized as critically endangered plant species (CAMP status), critically rare (IUCN status) and is listed under Appendix II of CITES.17,33,34 Acantholimon lycopodioides and Arnebia euchroma are endangered in both Jammu and Kashmir state and North West Himalaya. However, Hippophae rhamnoides is in low risk-near threatened in North West Himalaya and vulnerable in Jammu and Kashmir. Ephedra gerardian is vulnerable in North West Himalaya and endangered in Jammu and Kashmir. Threats to the species were determined by field study, visual estimation, literature and herbaria; the criterion for categorization of threatened species is based on the IUCN.21 Kumar et al.,21 observed that the frequency of presence of some important medicinal and aromatic plants of Ladakh, which were in abundant before, have greatly declined due to their unscientific exploitation, natural calamities, road construction, uprooting for fuel, overgrazing and other activities. This damage has left many species endangered and threatened. Such threatened plants need to be conserved in ex-situ or in-situ habitats.21 The government agencies like the Department Wildlife of Jammu and Kashmir, Defense Institute of High Altitude Research (DIHAR), Central Arid Zone Research Institute (CAZRI), Sher-e-Kashmir University of Agricultural Sciences and Technology (SKUAST) and NGO like World Wildlife Fund for Nature - India (WWF) are working for the conservation of medicinal plants through their research work and organizing workshops and trainings for the people. But, these are not enough; there is a need of focussing conservation activities in the rural areas. In the surveyed villages most of the inhabitants were of the opinion that there is no profit from traditional farming. They say that the investment amount is higher than the earned income. Earlier times, all the family members work together, the children were also involved in farming. But now, the children are studying in schools and colleges. Adult men are busy in armed forces, tourism-related activities, day labor in army camps and Border Road Organization (BRO). As all the children and most of the adults in most of the villages of Nubra valley are busy in their respective works, during the period of harvesting and threshing. Therefore, the villagers are forced to hire labors for the same. Only the women and senior citizens are involved all through the agricultural season in farming and harvesting. The transportation of manure from home to the field, ploughing fields, harvesting and threshing were earlier carried out on draught animal but now these activities are carried out with hired tractors and load vehicles. All the villagers pay for it in cash.35‒37 Money was not used earlier for these works. All these farming activities were performed by helping each other in the villages. Therefore, there is a dire need for sustainable alternate livelihoods like growing important medicinal plants other than traditional farming, dependent on tourism and armed forces. In the surveyed villages, growing of medicinal plants is not in practice. If the medicinal plants are obtained directly from the farmers for the traditional medicine system and herbal companies, then there will be less exploitation of medicinal plants in nature. It will certainly help to conserve these resources in wild. This will also help in conserving medicinal plants in wild. On 18 July 2016, M/S Dabur India Ltd signed a MoU with the Defence Institute of High Altitude Research (DIHAR), Leh. Under this, Dabur officials will impart training to the villagers on the sustainable cultivation of herbs with the primary focus on helping the local community and augmenting the population of medicinal herbs in the country. There is also a need of such more initiatives and also more focused research. The farmers should be given training for cultivation and marketing for medicinal plants by the Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council or State government or the Government of India through their respective departments for enhancing their livelihood and reducing pressure on the medicinal plants thriving in wild.


From the current research work, it has been concluded that the watershed of the Karakoram wildlife sanctuary was rich in Medicinal plant resources during the study period. Good knowledge of Amchi system of medicine about the uses of the local medicinal plants for different ailments was also found. The pressures to these medicinal plants were increasing from unscientific exploitation, uprooting for fuel, overgrazing, natural calamities and other activities in Ladakh region. So, to minimize the pressure on these resources, the villagers should be encouraged and well trained for growing medicinal plants. If medicinal plants are obtained directly from the farmers for the traditional medicine system and herbal companies, then there will be less exploitation of medicinal plants in nature and can also provide a sustainable alternative livelihood to the villagers. 


The authors are highly thankful to Mr. Padma Dadul, Mr. Rigzin Nurbu and local people of Rakuru and Skuru villages for rendering support during the field work. Authors are grateful to Mr. Sumit Mishra for his help in map digitization. One of the authors (Stanzin Namtak) thankfully acknowledge the University Grants Commission, New Delhi for providing Junior Research Fellowship (JRF) through H.N.B. Garhwal University, Srinagar-Garhwal, Uttarakhand for undertaking the present work. 

Conflict of interest

Authors declare that there is no conflict of interest.


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