The Gist of Science Reporter: April 2016

The Gist of Science Reporter: April 2016

IUCN Red List-2015: INdian Medicinal Plants at Risk

The International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) Red List of threatened species is globally recognised as the most comprehensive, global approach for evaluating the conservation status of plant, fungi and animal species. The year 2015 updates of IUCN Red List of threatened plants reveals the addition of forty-four medicinal plant species from India.

The updated list of Indian medicinal threatened plants is categorized into vulnerable, endangered and critically endangered. Critically endangered indicates that the number of given species has reduced, or will reduce by 80% within three generations. In the endangered category, the number of given species has reduced, or will reduce by 50% within three generations. Vulnerable means the number of given species has reduced, or will reduce by 30% within three generations.

Lilium polypyllum is categorised as critically endangered due to unregulated collection, habitat loss, agricultural invasions and increased human habitation.

Its bulbs are used for medicinal purposes i.e. aphrodisiac, expectorant, astringent, antipyretic and general debility. Due to utilisation of underground part of the species i.e. bulb, the whole plant is uprooted during collection which nullifies the possibility of regeneration in nature.

Climate change has been assessed as a major threat for another herb called Gentiana kurrooo under this category. The species is reported from India, Nepal and Pakistan. The herb is collected from the wild with no available information on its cultivation. Hence, the species is under severe threat of extinction.

Safed musli (Chlorophytum bon villian um) is reported critically endangered due to high foreign demand estimated at 300-700 tons annually. Its roots are said to have high rejuvenating and aphrodisiac properties.
Saussurea costus is cultivated for its root which is used in perfume industry, incense, oil, medicinally antiseptic, controlling bronchial asthma, and leprosy treatment. Illegal trade, unregulated collection, over exploitation, habitat loss, expansion of recreational activities are major threats for the species.

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