Threats and conservation of Paris polyphylla an endangered, highly exploited medicinal plant in the Himalayan Region

Paris Polyphylla, which farmers call ‘cordyceps of the south’, has been appearing in Bhutanese news for the past few years since people started its illegal trade. Known for its medicinal value, the collection of it has become rampant in all parts of the country where its occurrences are known.

Known as Dou Sethochem or Dochu Kewa in Dzongkha, Thoksampa in Sharchopkha and Satuwa in Lhotshamkha, it grows at an altitude up to 3,300 meters and is found in eastern, central, and western parts of the country.

Though, its collection has been legalised in May 2015 in Bhutan, not much study have been carried out to understand its ecological status and extent of contribution to the livelihood of people, for the sustainable management of this plant. Understanding this has become important, as collectors have to uproot the whole plant, as the perceived valuable part of Satuwa is rhizome.

The species is haphazardly and prematurely collected all over the country and exported through illegal traders. This can be detrimental to the species and there are high chances that the species may be wiped out if remedial measures such as domestication trials are not put in place.

The Department of Agriculture is trying to bring this high value and endangered species under domestication through trail and demonstration, generate cultivation packages. This small project is expected to reduce illegal collection of wild species ensuring it is conserved and protected from extinction.

The domestication trail is expected to find, if it is economically feasible to cultivate the satuwa found in Bhutan. The output of the project may also help to bring out the cultivation package of practices for adoption and replication by farmers and large-scale entrepreneurs in Bhutan. Also through this research it will be possible to devise amicable conservation strategies for the fast eroding population of the satuwa in Bhutan.

The Department of Agriculture with technical assistance from RDCOA Yusipang, MAP specialist and GIS expert, has completed site selection and planning. Two acres land at Lamperi near NRED nursery was found ideal for cultivation of this medicinal plant. Land development activities have already been initiated.

Bhutan Trust Fund for Environmental Conservation through its small grant is supporting activities like seed/rhizome collection and identification, chemical analysis, agronomic data compilation, and report printing and publication, conduct of marketing trial. While the department on its part has already undertaken major activities such as land development, fencing, construction of caretaker shed, installation of electricity and water facility.

The Project will be implemented by RDCOA Yusipang lead by MAP Specialists who has technical expertise and experience in the field of high and low altitude medicinal plants of Bhutan. The implementing agency was an implementing partner for EU MAP Project.

The genus Paris L. belongs to the family Liliaceae of monocots comprises rhizomatous herbaceous species. The genus comprises 24 species that are distributed in Bhutan, China, India, Japan, Korea, Laos, Mongolia, Myanmar, Nepal, Russia, Thailand, Vietnam and Europe.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *