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Research Article

Ethnomedicinal Plant Resources of Shawar Valley

Shujaul Mulk Khan, Habib Ahmad, M. Ramzan and Mian Mohib Jan
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Shawer Valley, District Swat was ethno-medicinally collated during summer, 2003. The study revealed that 88 species of 82 genera belonging to 58 families are traditionally used as medicinal plants. Thirty-two of these plants were medicinally used for the curing of Stomach or Gastric problems. Renal disorders are locally treated with 10 species. Jaundice and its associated fevers are healed with 7 species. For cough and cold 6 species are in practice. Skin diseases and wound healing are treated each with 4 species independently. Some of the plants are used as expectorant, anti diabetic and as general body tonic. Habitat fragmentation and unwise use of these plants are threatening them with extinction. Elaboration of conservation status for checking irreversible losses to the genetic resources of MAP’s and introduction of wise-use practices are imperative for effective conservation of the resources.

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  How to cite this article:

Shujaul Mulk Khan, Habib Ahmad, M. Ramzan and Mian Mohib Jan, 2007. Ethnomedicinal Plant Resources of Shawar Valley. Pakistan Journal of Biological Sciences, 10: 1743-1746.

DOI: 10.3923/pjbs.2007.1743.1746



Shawar Valley occupying an area of 4877 ha is located in the Mid of Hindu Raj series (Ahmad and Sirajuddin, 1996). It can be traced on 34 06-34 20 N and 72 30-72 40 E. The valley has almost 50% (2450 ha) of cultivated and forest/range lands of (2427 ha). It has population of 20163 individuals with an annual growth rate 3.9% and literacy rate of 16.6%. Topographically the area is rugged mountainous and varying in elevation from 1200 m at village Sigram to 3800 m at the lofty peak of Chotasar (Anonymous, 1999). Floristically the valley is a better representative of the western Himalayan Province (Takhtajan, 1988). Perennial springs, glaciers and rainfall are the principal sources of water (Ahmad and Ahmad, 2003). Timber and non-timber forest products are the main marginal sources of earnings in the valley. The ruthless exploitation of trees for Timber extraction from the natural forests during the last couple of decades has destroyed the watershed, which is appearing in the reduced NTFP’s production and accelerated soil erosion.

Medicinal plants are specifically under heavy collection stress, which has threatened their availability and decreased commercial production (Ahmad and Amin, 2005). Not only the medicinal plants but the traditional communities and their knowledge about plants use are also in accelerated decline. It was therefore necessary to collect and preserve not only the plant specimens used in the local healing system but also the traditional knowledge of the use of medicinal plants of the area.


Three collection sites of the Shawer valley viz. Kuz Shawer, Bar Shawer and Gat were analyzed during summer-2003 (Khan, 2003). Traditional healers and other informants of the area were frequently visited. Semi-structured questionnaires were used to document the traditional knowledge regarding gathering, processing, marketing and use of medicinal plants. Individuals having the knowledge about local uses, collection criteria, processing and recipes preparation were considered in sampling.

Plant specimens were collected, dried and mounted on the herbarium sheets. The identification was done with the help of Nasir and Ali (1971-1975) and Ali and Qaiser (1975-2005). The plant specimens were preserved in the Herbarium of Government Postgraduate Jahanzeb College Saidu Sharif, Swat.


Analysis of the data shows that 88 of MAP’S species belonging to 58 families were important ethno medicinally. Based upon the main divisions of plant Kingdom Dicot, Monocot, Gymnosperms, Pteridophytes and Fungi contributed 50, 3, 2, 2 and one families respectively to the medicinal flora of the Valley.

The family scored highest for number of medicinally important plants was family Lamiaceae with seven species. Rosaceae remained the second large scorer of MAP’S which is represented by six species. The remaining families were represented either by three, or less than three species of medicinal importance. Based upon plant habit, herbs, shrubs, trees and fungi have the percentage share of 68.1, 13.7, 21.8, 2.2 and 1.1%, respectively to medicinal flora of Shawar valley. The studies revealed that some plants are used singly while many others are used in combination with other plants, animal products and mineral combinations. Similarly some of the plant species are used for the treatment of only one disease while others have multiple uses (Table 1).

The market survey shows that Shawar Valley contribute a lot in terms of species to the market. Out of 88 plants used traditionally as medicines 11 species are marketed for marginal earnings. Commercially important species include Berberis lyceum, Cichorium itybus, Diospyrus lotus, Dryopteris jaxtapostia, Mentha longifolia, Morchella conica, Morchella esculenta, Paeonia emodi, Pistacea integerima, Skimmea laureola and Viola serpens. These species are sold fresh or in dried form. The highest price is paid for Morchella conica and Viola serpen, which are Rs. 6000 and Rs. 200 per kg, respectively.

Table 1: Family wise inventory of the medicinal plants of Shwar valley

Table 2: Medicinal plants used for ethnoveterinary practices in Shawar valley

The plants could be used for human ailments (Table 1) and veterinary diseases (Table 2).

Communities of the valley get significant benefits from forests, in the form of forest products most of which are non-timber forest products especially medicinal plants. The studies concluded beside human health 24 species were also used for healing of livestock diseases. Similar reports are available for Afghanistan and parts of Pakistan (Davis et al., 1995; Ahmad and Waseem, 2004; Ahmad et al., 2002; Ahmad et al., 2004). Plant life in general and MAP’s in particular are exposed to variety of anthropogenic stresses in Pakistan. Habitat fragmentation, over collection, unwise uses, overgrazing and conflicts of variety of nature are the most visible threats (Ahmad and Amin, 2005; Ahmad et al., 2002; Ahmad, 2004; Davis et al., 1995; Khan, 2003). Shawer Valley remains no exception of the general trend. It is imperative to establish priorities and introduce best practices for the use of natural resources especially medicinal plants. A lot can be done in this regard. Comprehensive strategies and recommendations are given by Ahmad (2004) and Ahmad and Khan (2004), which needs to be implemented for sustainable uses of medicinal and aromatic plant resources.

1:  Ahmad, H. and Sirajuddin, 1996. Ethnobotanical profile of Swat. Proceedings of the 1st Training Workshop on Ethnobotany and its Application to Conservation, September 16-24, 1996, Islamabad, Pakistan, pp: 202-206.

2:  Ahmad, H., A. Ahmad and M.M. Jan, 2002. The medicinal plants of salt range. J. Biological Sci., 2: 175-177.
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3:  Ahmad, H. and R. Ahmad, 2003. Agroecology and biodiversity of the catchments area of Swat River. Nucleus, 40: 67-75.
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4:  Ahmad, H., 2004. Capacity building for cultivation and sustainable harvesting of medicinal and aromatic plants. Proceedings of the International Workshop Conservation and Sustainable use of Medicinal and Aromatic Plants of Pakistan, December 2-3, 2003, Islamabad, Pakistan, pp: 31-36.

5:  Ahmad, H. and A.A. Khan, 2004. Conservation and sustainable uses of medicinal and aromatic plants of Pakistan. Proceedings of the International Workshop Dec. 2-4, Islamabad.

6:  Ahmad, H. and F. Amin, 2005. Recovery plan for ten endangered species of Hindu Raj Mountains. WWFP, Ferozpur Lahore.

7:  Ali, S.I. and M. Qaiser, 2005. Flora of Pakistan. Department of Botany University of Karachi.

8:  Anonymous, 1999. Census report of District Swat. Population Census Organization, Statistics Division, Government of Pakistan, Islamabad.

9:  Davis, D., K. Quraish, K. Sherman and D.C. Stern, 1995. Ethnoveterinary medicines in Afghanistan, an over view of indigenous animal health care among Pashtoon Koochi Momands. J. Arid Environ., 31: 483-500.

10:  Khan, S.M., 2003. Ethnomedicinal plants of Shawer Valley district Swat Pakistan. M.Sc. Thesis. Government Postgraduate Jahanzeb College Saidu Sharif, Swat.

11:  Nasir, E. and S.I. Ali, 1971-1975. Flora of West Pakistan. National Herbarium Islamabad.

12:  Takhtajan, A., 1988. Florestic Regions of the World. The University of California Press, Berkley and Loss Angles, USA.

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