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Saturday, May 19, 2012


This plant is known as Himalayan Arnebia, although there are at least four plants which could be called by this name. Like kuru it doesn’t really have an English name because it is indigenous to the Himalayas, so is found in Pakistan, India and Nepal. It is a member of the borage, Boraginaceae family, making it a relative of viper’s bugloss, lungwort, the alkanets, comfrey and fragrant manjack and its fruit, lasora among others.
  In India it is threatened because of its value in traditional medicine, so it is illegal to harvest it. Conservation efforts are underway to save this medicinal plant from extinction. It is used in a medicine Gule Kahzaban which is for heart diseases and is expensive. It is also used in other herbal preparations for cardiac troubles.
  The plant has antiseptic, antibacterial, antifungal and anti-inflammatory properties, as well as wound healing ones. In traditional medicine systems it is used as a stimulant, diuretic and expectorant as well as for throat and tongue problems.                                                                   
  The flowering shoots are harvested and made into a conserve or in the preparation of sharbat (syrup) and used for the throat, tongue and heart.
  As you can see from the pictures on this post, the flowers are in purple spikes with shaggy leaves which remind me of small Ents from Lord of the Rings. The roots have a very distinct red bark and this is soaked in oil which is then used as a hair dye - what a waste of an endangered plant!
  Clearly this plant needs protecting and one hopes that the conservation efforts are successful, but until people of the subcontinent can find jobs which pay a living wage, they will still harvest plants illegally for the extra cash they bring in (which is nowhere near the actual value of the plant of course).

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