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Three Himalayan medicinal plants enter IUCN Red List

Published: 15th Dec, 2022


In a recent assessment, three medicinal plant species found in the Himalayas have been added to the IUCN ‘Red List’ of Threatened Species, providing them conservation status.


About the species:

  • Species listed:
    • Meizotropispellitaas ‘critically endangered
    • Fritilloriacirrhosa as ‘vulnerable’
    • Dactylorhizahatagireaas ‘endangered’.
  • Found in:the Himalayan region spread across Nepal, India, China, Sikkim, Afghanistan, and Pakistan.
  • Threats:Deforestation, habitat loss, forest fires, illegal trade, and climate change.

Significance of the species:

  • Meizotropispellita, commonly known as ‘Patwa’, is a perennial shrubwith a restricted distribution that is endemic to Uttarakhand.
    • The species is listed as ‘critically endangered’ based on its limited area of occupancy (less than 10 sq. km).
    • The essential oil extracted from the leaves of the species possesses strong antioxidants and can be a promising natural substitute for synthetic antioxidants in pharmaceutical industries.
    • Fritillariacirrhosa(Himalayan fritillary), used for the treatment of bronchial disorders and pneumonia. The plant is also a strong cough suppressant and a source of expectorant drugs in traditional Chinese medicine.
  • Dactylorhizahatagirea(Salampanja),is extensively used in Ayurveda, Siddha, Unani, and other alternative systems of medicine to cure dysentery, gastritis, chronic fever, cough, and stomach aches.
  • It is a perennial tuberous species endemicto the Hindu Kush and Himalayan ranges of Afghanistan, Bhutan, China, India, Nepal, and Pakistan.

International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN)

  • IUCN is an international organization (NGO) working in the field of nature conservation and sustainable use of natural resources.
  • The organization is best known for compiling and publishing the IUCN Red List, which assesses the conservation status of species worldwide. Its headquarters are in Gland, Switzerland.
    • The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, founded in 1964, is the world’s most comprehensive inventory of the global conservation status of biological species.
  • When discussing the IUCN Red List, the official term “threatened” is a grouping of three categories: 
    • Critically Endangered
    • Endangered
    • Vulnerable

The pink pages in IUCN document include the critically endangered species. As the status of the species changes, new pages are sent to the subscribers. 

  • Green pages are used for those species that were formerly endangered but have now recovered to a point where they are no longer threatened.

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