DEHRADUN: Brahma Kamal also botanically known as Saussurea obvallata, the flower grows at altitudes between 3800-4600 meters has been facing shrinkage of its habitat in last few decades.
Sanjiv Chaturvedi, conservator of forests (Research) in forest research institute, Haldwani said," The state flower and it's sister species are facing threatens due to climatic factors and anthropogenic pressures such as over-extraction. The flower and its species have high religious and medicinal value. We are putting in efforts to save, conserve and propagate the species in natural settings."
In an effort to conserve and propagate the species which also holds religious value for devotees of Goddess Nanda Devi, the department has established a nursery in Mana village of Chamoli district to promote the flower and it's sister species too.
The flower is also used for special ritual in Kedarnath temple on the festival of Rakshabandhan. The whole plant is used in Tibetan medicine for treating paralysis of limbs. Locally the roots are used to treat cuts and bruises.
Plant is considered as sacred and is offered as a mark of respect to goddess Nandadevi.
Three other sister species are also being conserved and propagated by the department.
Saussurea gossipyphora (Kasturi Kamal), is considered as scared and the flowers are used in religious ceremonies
to keep evil eyes away. The wool of the flower is used in treating cuts and wounds by local populace. The plant is also used in the treatment of asthma, bronchitis, and skin diseases.
Saussurea graminifolia (Neel Kamal) is an excellent fodder species for livestocks as well as for wild animals.
It is also used in the treatment of irregular menses, excessive bleeding from the womb during delivery of a child, pain of waist due to loss of renal potency.
Roots of Saussurea simpsoniana (Phen Kamal) are used in the treatment of male sterility. Whole of the plant is also used in the treatment of boils in Kashmir.
These three species habitate at higher attitude between 3700-5700 meters in the Himalayan region.
The department identified 0.75 hectares of land in the border village and started efforts for in-situ conservation (conservation in natural habitat).
"We tried two methods- through seed collections and through rhizomes (Rootstalks). In initial phases, saplings from seeds were good but later could not survive. Rhizome method was fruitful enough and we developed healthy plants," added Chaturvedi.
Shekhar Pathak, Padam Shri awardee historian and activist, commenting on the issue said, "The flower has its instance in many spheres of life in the Himalayan states. It holds high religious importance as well as medicinal importance. This flower is Kohinoor of our Himalayan plant kingdom and should be conserved at any cost."