Reviews of On-line articles

'Distribution and Current Conservation Status of Some Important Threatened Medicinal Plants of Ducksum-Kokernag (Kashmir Himalaya(s)'  B.A. Baig, T.R. Bhat and D.Ramamoorthy.  New York Science Journal 2012:5(11)

EXCEPT THAT MOST OF THESE 'MEDICINAL' PLANTS ARE NOT THREATENED AND HOW WOULD TWO ECOLOGISTS FROM SOUTH INDIA AND A LECTURER IN EDUCATION FROM KASHMIR ACTUALLY BE ABLE TO TELL WHETHER THEY ARE 'THREATENED' OR NOT, OTHER THAN BLINDLY COPYING FROM OTHER SOURCES (WHICH CANNOT BE RELIED UPON)! THE DESCRIPTION OF ONE OF THESE MEDICINAL PLANTS (PODOPHYLLUM HEXANDRUM - NOW SINOPODOPHYLLUM) WHICH IS FALSELY LISTED UNDER CITES (MAKING A MOCKERY OF CITIES), SUGGESTS IT IS NO SUCH THING (AT LEAST IN DUCKSUM-KOKERNAG) WHICH FITS WELL WITH MY EXPERIENCE IN MANY PLACES. THERE ARE STRICTLY LIMITED RESOURCES AVAILABLE TOWARDS CONSERVING, TO WASTE THEM ON SPECIES WHICH ARE IN REALITY, WIDESPREAD AND COMMON.  THIS SHOULD BE VIEWED AS A SCANDAL, WITH THE NATIONAL AND INTERNATIONAL BODIES RESPONSIBLE GUILTY OF FAILING TO ACT.  WHY IS MY EVIDENCE NOT BEING LISTENED TO?  THE UGLY TRUTH, APPEARS TO BE THAT 'CROCODILE TEARS' ARE BEING SHED ABOUT CONSERVATION, WHILST IN REALITY, THE VAST MAJORITY OF THOSE HOLDING POSITIONS OF POWER AND INFLUENCE COULD NOT CARE LESS.  CHRIS CHADWELL IS AN INCONVENIENT WHISTLE-BLOWER  AND NOBODY LIKES A WHISTLE-BLOWER!

ACCORDING TO TABLE 1 OF THIS ARTICLE, IUCN (INTERNATIONAL UNION OF CONSERVATION OF NATURE AND NATURAL RESOURCES) LIST PICRORHIZA KURROOA AND PODOPHYLLUM HEXANDRUM  AS 'ENDANGERED'; INULA RACEMOSA, ARNEBIA BENTHAMII, SAUSSUREA COSTUS AND MECONOPSIS ACULEATA.  I WONDER HOW THE IUCN KNOW THIS?  BECAUSE INDIAN BOTANISTS HAVE SUBMITTED THIS AND THEY BLINDLY TRUST SUCH CLAIMS - WHICH I CATEGORICALLY STATE ARE FALSE.

HOW CAN INDIAN BOTANISTS POSSIBLY KNOW THE STATUS OF THESE SPECIES WHEN THEY RARELY UNDERTAKE SURVEYS AT ALL AND IN THE CASE OF MECONOPSIS ACULEATA SELDOM REACH ITS MAIN HABITAT.  IF THEY DID, IT WOULD BE IMMEDIATELY APPARENT TO THEM IT IS NEITHER 'CRITICALLY' ENDANGERED NOR EVEN 'ENDANGERED'.  THE WHOLE MATTER IS A FARCE.

MECONOPSIS  ACULEATA  © Chris Chadwell 2012

IN THESE STUDIES MUCH DEPENDS ON WHERE ONE DECIDES TO SURVEY ALONG WITH THE SKILL-LEVEL OF THE SURVEYORS.  IF LOCATIONS AND HABITATS ARE SELECTED (EVEN IF THE QUADRATS THEMSELVES WERE RANDOMLY DECIDED UPON) WHERE A SPECIES HAS NEVER BEEN KNOWN TO OCCUR, THEN LITTLE OR EVEN NONE WILL BE FOUND! TO THEN SUGGEST THE SPECIES IS SOMEHOW 'RARE' OR EVEN 'ENDANGERED' OVER THE WHOLE OF ITS RANGE, IS TOTALLY UNSCIENTIFIC. THE 'WEST HIMALAYAN BLUE-POPPY' (MECONOPSIS ACULEATA) IS A CASE IN POINT.  HOW WOULD A PLANT ECOLOGIST FROM PONDICHERRY OR A LECTURER FROM THE DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION, GOVERNMENT OF JAMMU & KASHMIR POSSIBLY UNDERSTAND THE TYPICAL HABITATS OF THIS SPECIES, WHICH IS RESTRICTED TO HIGHER ELEVATIONS IN THE WESTERN HIMALAYA?  NOT ONE BOTANIST IN KASHMIR KNOWS...  STEWART IN 'AN ANNOTATED CATALOGUE OF THE VASCULAR PLANTS OF WEST PAKISTAN & KASHMIR' (1972), DID.  HE OBSERVED IT HIMSELF AMONG ROCKS OR ON CLIFFS @ 3300-4500m. UNLIKE ALMOST ALL INDIAN BOTANISTS, HE WAS EXPERIENCED IN THE FIELD, COULD RECOGNISE MANY SPECIES WHILST IN THE WILD.  I KNOW WHERE M.ACULEATA GROWS. MOST INDIAN AUTHORS OF FLORAS OF REGIONS OF INDIA RELY ALMOST EXCLUSIVELY UPON PRESSED SPECIMENS IN HERBARIA - A SIGNFICANT PROPORTION OF WHICH BEING A CENTURY OR SO OLD, HAVING BEEN COLLECTED DURING THE DAYS OF THE BRITISH....  THIS SPECIES HAS NEVER BEEN FOUND IN FORESTS, ON OPEN SLOPES, IN FLAT TABLE LAND ABOVE TREE LINE, ON FLAT MEADOWS, IN MOIST MEADOW OR ON DRY SHADY SLOPES; IT PROBABLY WAS RECORDED BY THE AUTHORS OF THIS STUDY FROM MOIST ROCKY SLOPES - HARDLY SURPRISING THAT IT WAS THE LEAST OFTEN ENCOUNTERED OF THE 6 SIX SPECIES SURVEYED (ALBEIT THAT INULA RACEMOSA THEY THOUGHT THEY CAME ACROSS WAS DEFINITELY NOT THIS SPECIES BUT A DIFFERENT INULA SP.).   HAD THEY VISITED OTHER PARTS OF KASHMIR AND SPENT MORE TIME AT THE HIGHER ELEVATIONS, ESPECIALLY AMONGST BOULDERS AND ON CLIFFS, MECONOPSIS ACULEATA WOULD HAVE BEEN SEEN TO BE COMMON AND GROWING ABUNDANTLY.  SUGGESTIONS THAT THIS SPECIES IS IN ANY WAY RARE OR ENDANGERED IS FARCICAL BUT IF INDIAN BOTANISTS FAIL TO REACH 4-4000m, OTHER THAN SAT IN A JEEP, NEVER EXPLORING ON STEEP GROUND AMONGST BOULDERS, LET ALONE CLIFFS, THEY WILL MISS THIS AND MANY OTHER SPECIES WHICH THEY FALSELY CLAIM TO BE, 'INACCESSIBLE', 'RARE', 'ENDANGERED' OR EVEN 'CRITICALLY ENDANGERED' (WHICH ACTUALLY MEANS THE SPECIES IS IN DANGER OF BECOMING EXTINCT). MY UNDERSTANDING IS THAT MOST RARELY TREK AT ALL OR EVEN WALK FAR FROM VEHICLES ON MOUNTAIN TRACKS OR PASSES.  SUCH FRAUDULENT CLAIMS MUST BE CHALLENGED AND EXPOSED.  AS I REGULARLY OBSERVE, ONE CANNOT DISCOVER IF A PLANT IS RARE SAT IN A COMFORTABLE OFFICE OR EVEN A HERBARIUM (WHICH IS WHAT TENDS TO HAPPEN IN INDIA).  WITHOUT EXTENSIVE TREKS INTO THE MOUNTAINS WITH ACCOMPANYING SAMPLING OF STEEP TERRAIN, INSTEAD ONLY GATHERING THE ROAD-SIDE 'WEEDS', IT IS HARDLY SURPRISING THE 'WEST HIMALAYAN BLUE-POPPY' (AND NUMEROUS OTHER HIGHER-ELEVATION SPECIES) ARE LITTLE-KNOWN.  THERE IS EVEN THE RIDICULOUS (THOUGH WIDESPREAD, I UNDERSTAND) SITUATION OF UN-TRAINED ASSISTANTS COLLECTING THE VOUCHER PRESSED SPECIMENS - RATHER THAN THE BOTANISTS THEMSELVES. HOW CAN ONE FAMILIARISE THEMSELVES WITH FLORA WITHOUT COLLECTING QUALITY SPECIMENS AND EXAMINING THEM WITH A HAND LENS.  MY INQUIRIES SHOW THAT FEW INDIAN BOTANISTS EVEN POSSESS A HAND LENS.  IT IS OFTEN IMPOSSIBLE TO DISTINGUISH BETWEEN SOME SPECIES WITHIN A GENUS, WITHOUT EXAMINING SPECIMENS MORE CLOSELY THAN WITH THE 'NAKED EYE' ALONE.

MECONOPSIS  ACULEATA  © Chris Chadwell 2012 - showing typical habitat amongst boulders

THE AUTHORS OF THIS STUDY CLAIM THAT THEIR FINDINGS CAN HELP TO FORMULATE A CONSERVATION STRATEGY FOR THE 'UNKNOWN' GRASSLANDS AND THE THREATENED 'VITAL' MEDICINAL PLANTS OF DUCKSUM.  I DISAGREE, IN THE STRONGEST POSSIBLE TERMS. RATHER DIFFICULT TO DO THIS WHEN E.G. INULA RACEMOSA THEY THOUGHT THEY HAD RECORDED WAS IN FACT A COMPLETELY DIFFERENT SPECIES OF INULA!

Rocky slopes beyond Sinthan Pass, Kashmir - I don't expect these were sampled by the plant ecologist who undertook this study.  Why not, he might have found more MECONOPSIS  ACULEATA  © Chris Chadwell 2012

Leaving aside the minor matter that it should be 'Himalaya' rather than 'Himalayas', two issues initially caught my eye within this brief and rudimentary article.  Firstly, that the corresponding author (and presumably the main field-worker) was a 'Research scholar' in the Department of Ecology and Environmental Sciences, Pondicherry University, Puducherry, India, whilst the final author who was in fact his supervisor, an Associate Professor in the same department, who may well not have visited Kashmir at all; the second author was a lecturer in the Department of Education, Government of Jammu and Kashmir.  Why on earth would an ecologist travel all the way from South India (more than 2500km) to study plants of the Kashmir Himalaya?  Are there no plant ecologists in Kashmir or the bordering state of Himachal Pradesh or even Uttaranachal for that matter, whose floras are much closer to that of Kashmir's than plants found in South India. It would be so much more cost-effective for such ecologists to have undertaken this study and they would be able to recognise Kashmir plants much better than those from S.India - in fact all of the 6 medicinal plants covered in this study are found in Himachal Pradesh, most in Uttaranachal.  Are there no medicinal plants in need of study closer to Pondicherry, which, presumably, this ecologist would be more familiar with or other parts of Southern India?  How could a plant ecologist exhibit expertise with the habitats and flora of the Kashmir Himalaya, unless they have already studied plants of that region?  Perhaps the second author, from Kashmir, provided this knowledge - though surely not, since they work in the Department of Education, so are neither botanist nor plant ecologist!  Maybe the explanation was that the ecologist fancied a holiday in Kashmir.....  There is certainly no scientific justification for the trip.  Strangely enough, there is no acknowledgement of how the survey was funded. Studies are normally funded, at least in part, by grants or awards.  Perhaps a rich parent made a financial contribution? 

Secondly, I had never heard of the 'New York Science Journal'.  Has anybody else? A highly prestigious publication!? Why would the authors submit their article for publication in such a journal and not a journal which specialises in ecology? Maybe they had submitted it but was rejected from all the prestigious/relevant journals? Not a lot of detail can readily be found about this journal, except that (revealing that it includes 'Science' in its name, suggesting to the uninformed, that it is, perhaps, somehow connected with 'Science' - the prestigious academic journal of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and being based in New York might imply greater status).  It is we are told, published bi-linguistically in Chinese and English for, "..the scientists and Engineers.... aims to present experimental and theoretical findings of science and engineering and to report on advances in technologies of multidisciplinary subjects.  Founded as recently as 2008 by Maryland Press.  Editor-in Chief is Chinese (or of Chinese descent) based in Brookyln.  As Editor of the 'Himalayan Plant Association Journal', perhaps I should set myself up along similar lines and charge to accept articles.  Maybe there is money to be made?

I looked up other articles 'published' in the same issue of this journal.  These included an extraordinary mix - a number of which surely did not qualify for such a journal: 'Studies on Chronic Diarrhoea Associated with Acute Traumatic Reticuloperitonitis in Cows and Buffaloes'; 'Peer observation of Teaching (POT) for Quality Assurance in EFL Context'; 'Internet in Supply Chain Management: A Review about Indian Companies'; 'Study of Protein Quality of Some Frost and Smoke-Dried Hill Stream Fishes from Manipur, India'.  Over the decades I have consulted quite a number of journals in different fields and cannot but judge some articles in the New York Science Journal would be better placed elsewhere, such as in Social Sciences.  Most peculiar.


Forest below the Sinthan Pass, Kashmir similar to that surveyed in during the study © Chris Chadwell 2012

Returning to the article on the so-called 'Threatened Medicinal Plants of Ducksum-Kokernag',  I cannot but wonder just how the plant ecologist from South India and the educationalist from Jammu & Kashmir were able to reliably identify the 6 species of plant they chose to survey, with confidence? There was no mention of collection of voucher reference specimens for depositing in a herbarium at Pondicherry University (assuming one exists) or duplicates at a herbarium in Kashmir, nor the necessity of gathering such material to confirm the field identifications.  If such specimens are not collected nor subsequently determined (meaning they were reliably identified by specialist botanists in a herbarium), how much confidence can we have in their findings?  And even if sample voucher pressed specimens of each species had been gathered and the field identifications made (which are always only provisional unless those undertaking the surveying are experienced and skilled field-botanists familiar with the local flora - which they are not), unless those recording the species in the quadrats could reliably identify, during the actual surveys, plant specimens not just in full flower but with only foliage present or at the fruiting stage, the results are questionable.  As I know of very few botanists in all of India that possess the necessary skills to undertake such a task, it is improbable that these two non-botanists could do so!  So my conclusion has to be that the findings of this study cannot be relied upon.

The authors must have relied upon local people from Ducksum-Kokernag, Kashmir and nomadic tribesmen (Gujjars) passing through, to provide 'local' names of the plants utilised medicinally in herbal medicine - then, with these names, they consulted published articles and books covering the medicinal plants of Kashmir, so were able to discover the equivalent names in Latin.  At the end of the article are 6 small photos purporting to be examples of each of the species they studied - no accompanying details are provided, such as location, habitat, altitude, nor the photographer, so we cannot be certain they were taken by either of the main author(s) or even in the Ducksum-Kokernag area during the survey! Photographers should always be acknowledged in articles. Let us say, for argument sake, all 6 images had been identified correctly (in fact only 5 had - and in one case I am uncertain as to its identity due to the lack of close-up, in focus detail) this in no way guarantees the authors were able to consistently identify these species within the quadrats they surveyed.  It takes skill and experience to undertake such work, particularly recognising the foliage along or fruiting pods/capsules of each species at times even when a plant is in flower.  Just when would a relatively young research scholar from Southern India or a lecturer in a Department of Education, Kashmir have acquired such expertise?

Cliffs where I found some small seedlings of MECONOPSIS  ACULEATA on Sinthan Pass  © Chris Chadwell 2012

In one photograph, the species has definitely been misidentified: 'b' is not Inula racemosa; though it is an Inula.  Such errors do not inspire me to have confidence in the overall identification skills that would have been exhibited during the study and one must also remember that local villagers and tribesmen passing through are not expert botanists, so it is highly likely that at times, they misidentify plants (I do have evidence to support such a claim plus it is common-place for the nearest substitute to be found or if locals obtain supplies from others, deliberate fake material is often substituted).  So all-in-all, one has to be sceptical about the results of this study.  I do not know whether the 335 random quadrats (they did not tell us what size - does one assume 1m square) they say they sampled is typical in similar studies, how representative for the area covered or how long it took them?  We have to trust them. But I have my doubts.  As for the ecological science involved in this study, this is at a basic level - well within the capabilities of undergraduates at British Universities - NOT post-graduate, let alone post-doctoral standard.  My own comparison of vegetation in 3 British woodlands for my 'A' level Biology course (aged 16-17) was of comparable standard.  At that time I had not heard of IVI (Important Value Index) nor subsequently when studying plant ecology modules within a degree in botany at the University of Southampton in the late 1970s.  A quick glance at references on the internet about IVI appear to confirm my initial concerns as to the scientific value of such an index and how it is calculated. When done fully it is quite complex. In this example it seems too simplistic and may well have been misused, giving a FALSE impression.  Within this article, the authors CLAIM that IV provides an excellent marker for understanding the status of distribution and availability across varying environmental and biotic conditions.  Really?  I am not convinced.   I have read too many articles by Indian and other botanists, ecologists and conservationists where the authors do not seem to have grasped the basics of plant ecology - drawing misleading conclusions they were not entitled to. 


The presence, along with abundance or not of any given species depends, upon which habitats are sampled.  I am familiar with the habitats and occurrence of 5 of the 6 species; the sixth I only know from it being widely cultivated especially in vast quantity in Lahaul, Himachal Pradesh.  It comes as no surprise that Meconopsis aculeata was not found much during this study, not because it is in any way rare but few India botanists reach the terrain where it does flourish, often abundantly - it has never been known to occur much (if at all) in the main habitats surveyed.  A major problem with surveys by Indian botanists and ecologists is that they seldom venture up into the higher altitudes, having little appetite for exploring under the arduous conditions of 'altitude' or steep rocky slopes, amongst large boulders or on cliffs.  Species which mostly or exclusively inhabit such places are under-represented in their floras and check-lists, often, falsely, believed to be 'rare and endangered'.  This article, incorrectly states that their study was, "undertaken in the high altitude mountains of Ducksum".  I have been to the mountains of Ducksum - they are not high-altitude, as is the case for the majority of Kashmir mountains.....  Nor are there any 'high-altitude' forests..., which the incorrectly describe them as. Table 3 covers 'Distribution, density, frequency and IVI (Important Value Index) of these species in different habitat types' - the authors describe these as OS - open gentle slope; MR - moist rocky slope; FL - flat tableland above tree line; FM - flat meadow; DS - dry shady slope; MM - moist meadow - as can be seen, steep slopes or cliffs are not covered, not that such habitats are common in the Ducksum.

Table 5 provides a 'Comparative account of population status (density/square metre) of selected species in different Kashmir Himalayan regions' - this covers the 6 species surveyed for.  They say that in another study at Gulmarg, Picrorhiza kurroa and Meconopsis aculeata were recorded; I suspect they have misunderstood the location as having visited here a number of times myself, I know that the typical elevation of Gulmarg is a mere 2400m - far too low for either species.  No doubt, if one knew the study they quote from, it gives a location well above Gulmarg itself (Aphawat mountain, rising to some 3900m above Gulmarg, is much more likely). In 'Plants of Gulmarg.. (1984) the authors say Meconopsis aculeata has been recorded from Aphawat but appear not to have any specimens from there in the University of Kashmir herbarium to support this; I don't recollect observing it there during visits in 1983 & 1985 and was stopped from exploring the place in 2012. There is also an entry in table 5 for Menwarsar, Pahlgam; I do not know where that is but once again, these two species are recorded, so it must be well above the settlement of Pahlgam (located at c. 2200m), which I have also visited a number of times.  Cannot beat first-hand knowledge to challenge incorrect findings....

A cultivated field of SAUSSUREA  COSTUS  © Chris Chadwell 2012 - the authors of this article did not indicate whether the specimens they noted of this species were growing wild or grown in fields or perhaps naturalised?

As to the Discussion, I personally learnt almost nothing from this.  The findings were too generalised (as is the case in the introduction).  I could have drawn much more meaningful findings based upon my field experience in the Kashmir Himalaya and associated study in herbaria in the UK and US plus research in botanical libraries over 3 decades - without even going on a visit to Kashmir or surveying a single quadrat.  What seems to happen so frequently in articles about Himalayan flora is that one, strictly limited area is studied superficially (and in most cases the results of dubious quality), and then unjustified conclusions are drawn.  I don't know if the populations of these species are indeed "remnants" of what was there before, after all grazing by goats and sheep has taken place in Kashmir and bordering regions for centuries.  During the 1980s I undertook numerous extensive treks in the Kashmir Valley (involving camping, often lasting more than a week on each occasion, several times per summer visit lasting months at a time, over a number of years).  The impression that I got overall was that in many places, grazing pressure had increased and was damaging the populations of more delicate, less competitive species.  One likely explanation was that the area over which the migratory and nomadic 'Bakerwals' tribe could graze their animals had been reduced due to border tensions between Indian and Pakistan.  At that time, foreign visitors, including those trekking in the Kashmir Himalaya were generally safe.  The situation changed in the late 1980s, with the kidnap, initially release of those held by Kashmiri groups but then further kidnaps and killings by outside militants accustomed to executing outsiders in Afghanistan.  I did not return to Kashmir until 2012 (a visit was planned for 2010 but dangers re-surfaced, with a day-time (obviously also at night) curfews lasting weeks in Srinagar (Kashmir's capitals), such that I was advised against traveling there by the recently-retired Professor of Botany at the University of Kashmir. 

It was still unsafe (inadvisable) to trek in 2012 but thanks to new tracks/roads being opened, most suitable for 4WDs, it was possible to access higher areas incl. some of the ground covered by the authors of this article.  On a return to Aphawat above Gulmarg (which is risky in terms of sensitive Indian Army personnel stationed not far from the border with Pakistan - there are Kashmiris crossing the border, amongst them no doubt, a small number of militants) it was clear to me that grazing pressure here had been reduced compared to the 1980s.  This was entirely understandable with the 'Bakerwals' and other tribes who might have traditionally grazed these slopes with their goats and sheep being concerned as to their safety or being openly prohibited.  The result (in places) is an abundance of some more delicate species.  Without a thorough and extensive survey, which cannot happen at this time, one cannot be precise but  some species are obviously benefitting (though of course, as certain species increase, others will have their populations reduced).  In superficial terms currently, an 'unofficial' nature reserve exists, right along the disputed border with Pakistan.  This is a direct result of the dispute between India and Pakistan.  The cost of maintaining solders along the border is high for both countries with a death toll of them plus border police and civilians runs to tens of thousands - so the 'cost' of providing the restrictions upon grazing with 'unofficial' armed 'wardens' is naturally too great.  Despite being conservation-minded and delighted to view the wonderful display of alpine flowers on Aphawat in 2012, I naturally wish the dispute is resolved politically - even if it means over-grazing returns......

It was still unsafe (inadvisable) to trek in 2012 but thanks to new tracks/roads being opened, most suitable for 4WDs, it was possible to access higher areas incl. some of the ground covered by the authors of this article.  On a return to Aphawat above Gulmarg (which is risky in terms of sensitive Indian Army personnel stationed not far from the border with Pakistan - there are Kashmiris crossing the border, amongst them no doubt, a small number of militants) it was clear to me that grazing pressure here had been reduced compared to the 1980s.  This was entirely understandable with the 'Bakerwals' and other tribes who might have traditionally grazed these slopes with their goats and sheep being concerned as to their safety or being openly prohibited.  The result (in places) is an abundance of some more delicate species.  Without a thorough and extensive survey, which cannot happen at this time, one cannot be precise but  some species are obviously benefitting (though of course, as certain species increase, others will have their populations reduced).  In superficial terms currently, an 'unofficial' nature reserve exists, right along the disputed border with Pakistan.  This is a direct result of the dispute between India and Pakistan.  The cost of maintaining solders along the border is high for both countries with a death toll of them plus border police and civilians runs to tens of thousands - so the 'cost' of providing the restrictions upon grazing with 'unofficial' armed 'wardens' is naturally too great.  Despite being conservation-minded and delighted to view the wonderful display of alpine flowers on Aphawat in 2012, I naturally wish the dispute is resolved politically - even if it means over-grazing returns......

Flower of SINOPODOPHYLLUM  HEXANDRUM © Krishan Lal 2014

Large scarlet fruit of SINOPODOPHYLLUM  HEXANDRUM © Chris Chadwell 2012

I was amused, given how 'endangered' Podophyllum hexandrum (now considered to be Sinopodophyllum hexandrum) is reported to be (which I dispute, see: https://sites.google.com/a/shpa.org.uk/main/cites) that the authors of this article (on the assumption that this aspect of their study can be relied upon) state that this species is widely distributed in the different habitat types.  Furthermore, its "high frequency" in this district apparently stems from its ability to grow in different habitat types and complete the life cycle?  That does not tell us anything meaningful - merely stating the blindingly obvious!  The authors do not say that most grazing animals seem to avoid it, which certainly helps its abundance - though it cannot escape trampling by animals, whilst in Lahaul it is known as 'Olmose'(Bear's Apple).  I have come across this species in lots of places along the Himalaya; above Gulmarg, Kashmir it has survived extraordinary levels of trampling and pollution under and close to the 'Gondola' (chair-lift), with not just tens of thousands but perhaps hundreds of thousands of Indian tourists per year, fed up with the queues or not being able to afford the cost of the ride, tramping up, through forest, to Khelanmarg, where the plants still survives. Any species which can survive under such conditions, is not in any way 'endangered'.

Foliage of SINOPODOPHYLLUM  HEXANDRUM © Chris Chadwell 2012

Forest around Gulmarg, Kashmir, home to SINOPODOPHYLLUM  HEXANDRUMMECONOPSIS ACULEATA and PICRORHIZA KURROOA are not found in this habitat but are located on slopes above the tree-line; the former amongst boulders © Chris Chadwell 2012













































Comments