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
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
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.