Inula racemosa Hook.f., Fl. Brit. Ind. iii. 292. (Syn: Inula royleana C.B.Clarke [Illegitimate]);
Padma patra, Kashmira, Kushthabheda;
Inula racemosa from Herbal Garden, Kashmir: Inula racemosa Hook. f., ; Fl. Br. Ind. 3: 292 (1881)
English: Indian elecampane
A robust herb, up to 1.60 m tall, grooved; leaves rough above, densely hairy beneath, basal up to 45 cm long, elliptic lanceolate, petiole long, cauline leaves sessile, semi-amplexicaule, often lobed towards base; heads many, racemose, 4-6 cm across; outer involucre bracts broad with recurved triangular tips, inner narrower; ligules slender about 2.5 cm long.
Commonly distributed in Kashmir from 1600 m to 4500 m. Photographed from Herbal Garden in Kashmir, in August
Asteraceae Fortnight Part 1-Radiate Heads: Inula racemosa from Kashmir-GS88 : Attachments (3).
Inula racemosa photographed Herbal Garden in Kashmir
Important medicinal plant ‘Pushkar Mool’.
Fwd: Inula racemosa Part I: Kashmir : 3 posts by 3 authors. Attachments (8)
Here with 8 images of Inula racemosa taken when being shown around the Nehru Botanical Garden in Kashmir by Javed Ahmed Shah and other
Part II will cover Inula racemosa in Lahoul.
I disagree that this plant is ‘Critically Endangered’ having seen it grown by the hundreds of thousands, if not in much greater quantity in Lahoul.
I do not think anyone actually knows the true NATURAL distribution of this species since it may well have been cultivated for centuries.
I am not suggesting its populations may or indeed perhaps have reduced in size in recent decades (though I cannot see how quantitative comparisons could possibly have been made all over its range.
Since Inula racemosa is so EASY to cultivate in quite a number of places (not just Lahoul, though it flourishes there, albeit in cultivation), this must be a consideration.
You can see how readily it grows in the Nehru Botanical Garden.
What is known of its natural populations in Chitral? What about those in the Gurais and Kamri Valleys? Are these all in Indian territory? If not, what about those in Pakistan territory and for any populations close to the border with Pakistan, even now it is not straightforward to
undertake surveys. So who can really tell about its true status in Indian-controlled Kashmir let alone in Pakistan.
It is NOT a Kashmir endemic as I think some claim.
But just suppose this plant was one conservation bodies should be concerned about due to GENUINE rarity in the wild, surely there will always only be STRICTLY LIMITED resources for conservation efforts.
These should therefore be concentrated upon species not proving so amenable to cultivation, as Inula racemosa clearly is and has been, probably for centuries. It is certainly well established in cultivation in the West and when I was a consultant to The Royal Government of Bhutan, I was told (and shown a slide of) that this plant was even cultivated there.
According to ‘An Enumeration of the Flowering Plants of Nepal’ Inula racemosa is found WILD in that country (with a distribution of Afghanistan to Nepal). One of the records in Nepal was recognised as cultivated. Is the plant genuinely native or introduced into cultivation & an escape?
IF a native species this is further evidence that it should not be considered ‘Critically Endangered’.
I see this SO OFTEN that there are CLAIMS a plant species is CRITICALLY ENDANGERED (and this means it is in serious danger of becoming extinct) because of a reduction is size of population in a very small area.
The Himalaya is VAST. The number of botanists who venture out into the field, few and of those few can survey for many plants species whilst “in the field” i.e. identify the plants they see. So we just DO NOT KNOW how rare or abundant species are. Our ‘estimates’ are very rough estimates……
Nice to see this species in pictures showing different parts.
I agree that many of the assessment of threatened species are lacking field observations in entire distribution range of species. Himalayan terrain is such a difficult area that nobody can even see all the populations of a species; in such case how often people claim extinction of species! One simple example is of Nardostachys jatamansi (Valerianaceae, now Caprifoliaceae) which grows on steep slopes, rock crevices and often inaccessible. No matter how much it is exploited from nature the species will survive owing to its difficult habitat (however, it does not give us license to exploit it from nature).
You are absolutely right …that we have no right to EXPLOIT nature, just that resources and good-will from the more interested/concerned members of the public are strictly limited, so it is important to PRIORITISE those species genuinely under threat – not incorrectly direct concern and efforts to plants not under any IMMEDIATE threat.
And the world of conservation needs to appreciate that skilled FIELD BOTANISTS supported by quality herbaria (and staff) are ESSENTIAL in EVERY country. In these days of high-tech and evolutionary science, some seem to think such people and skills, are old-fashioned and do not matter.
Some wish to “play computer games” with existing data/records. But no matter how sophisticated/ advanced the analyses, it all comes down to the quality/reliability of the basic data/records inserted into such data bases in the first place.
Just as there is a major problem, no matter how advanced the laboratory equipment is nor accurate the investigation/analyses of metabolic constituents of plants, if when published, the plant had been wrongly identified…..
There remains a NEED for those who can reliably identify plants – all over the world and a respect for the associated skills particularly those willing and able to explore in the mountains.
Not easy in these days of “high-tech” science when herbarium staff are removed in major Institutions in N.America and largely replaced by evolutionary biologists. Nothing wrong with such science or scientists but traditional botanists STILL have an important role to play.
Fwd: Inula racemosa Part II: Cultivated in Lahoul – an UNEXPECTED EXAMPLE OF EX-SITU PLANT CONSERVATION! : 1 post by 1 author. Attachments (5)
Sharing a few images of ‘Manu’ being cultivated in Lahaul.
It was, a few years ago (and presumably still is, if the market remains) being grown in VAST quantity in numerous parts of Lahaul – certainly by the hundreds of thousands, if not millions?
Perhaps a member has access to the quantity of the plant exported annually these days?
My understanding is that the root has been used for centuries in Eastern cultures to treat coughs and support what is now known a healthy cardiovascular system. It’s found in many weight-loss pills in the U.S. such as LipoCut, LeptiSlim and Hydroxycut Hardcore! Just undertake an internet search.
There certainly appears to be considerable demand, which Lahouli ‘farmers’ are responding to.
Also widely cultivated in Lahaul is Saussurea costus (syn. S.lappa) which I shall be posting about – though not in quite the same quantity.
I do not think that Inula racemosa was grown in the same quantity in Lahaul in the 1980s, when I visited on 2 occasions to lead botanical tours up the Miyah Nullah but both those trips were in July – whereas the Inula flowers and is harvested in September. The casual visitor to Lahaul for most of the year would probably not be aware of Inula racemosa (or Saussurea lappa for that matter) – the latter has been a significant crop in Lahaul since at least the 1930s, though much has depended on the demand/ price of potatoes (introduced by Moravian Missionaries in the 19th Century).
Inula racemosa is cultivated in Ladakh as well, though only on a small-scale.
This plant certainly seems to be able to cope with being grown under a remarkable range of conditions. I mentioned in my previous post that it had been cultivated as a field crop in Bhutan (though is not mentioned in ‘Flora of Bhutan’) and has been cultivated in Nepal and presumably grows wild there). It is in cultivation in the West. I grow it myself in the Kohli Memorial Botanical Garden but cannot say that it has thrived here. Is it found in Uttarakhand, I wonder?
Hooker in FBI knew it from the borders of fields in Kashmir & Spiti.
Flora of Lahaul-Spiti says “cultivated through the valley” (though quite what is meant by this I do not know) occasionally met with as an escape. The authors says this was a substitute for “Kuth” (Saussurea costus).
Interestingly, although Koelz mentions this plant with its roots being used in incense, used for medicinal purposes and its flowers in ceremonials plus in Indian incense being sold across the mountains of Lahaul, Manu was not as significant or prominent as Kuth in the region back in the 1930s.
Thomson records Inula racemosa from Spiti in the 19th Century so was probably grown in Lahaul at that time. Being a useful plant with medicinal uses, it may have been cultivated for centuries making it difficult to say where it occurs naturally.
Regardless of this consideration, whether native or wild, the ‘species’ is self-evidently adaptable and currently exists in LARGE quantity (at least in cultivation). Who actually knows its true extent and quantity in the wild.
OTHER species MUST therefore represent a greater priority in terms of CONSEVATION concerns & measures.
Surely, local villagers are doing an awfully good job of EX-SITU PLANT CONSERVATION for this species in Lahaul, spurred on by COMMERCIAL CONSIDERATIONS.
I cannot help but wonder is it ONLY the species which have can be exploited COMMERCIALLY which attract the attention of concerns about ‘Conservation’, indeed are perhaps PRIORITISED over plants without medicinal or other CURRENT commercial uses, ahead of species which are GENUINELY ‘Rare & Endangered’? Surely, the FIRST consideration is finding out which plant species are GENUINELY RARE in the Himalaya as a whole (not just the Indian Himalaya)?
In the case of Inula racemosa, its commercial uses have led to a VAST increase in its population (certainly in ex-situ cultivation)….. HARDLY a plant which could be described as ‘Rare & Endangered’ with DECREASING population….
The situation may well be different for less adaptable species. But we need to know THE FACTS for all species.
Take care of your heart with pushkaramoola : 1 post by 1 author.
Inula racemosa root powder was investigated in patients with proven ischemic heart disease. The powder prevented ST-segment depression and T-wave inversion as observed in the post-exercise electrocardiogram.