Cross-cultural ethnobotanical exploration of diversity and utilization of medicinal plants in Karbi Anglong district, Assam, Northeast India
Northeastern region of India, with diverse human races and cultures coupled with enormous biodiversity, presents a fertile ground for ethnobotanical research. In the present communication, a comparative account of medicinal plants used among the Karbi, Tiwa and Pnar ethnic groups of Karbi Anglong, Assam is discussed. Field study was undertaken during May 2016 to December 2017 and data was collected following group discussion, semi-structured interview and participant observation methods. This study documented 201 medicinal plants under 173 genera and belonging to 74 botanical families. Cross-cultural analysis of results revealed the Karbis use 184 (91%) medicinal plants followed by the Pnar and Tiwa with 41 (20.4%) and 34 (16.9%) plants respectively. There is also overlapping in medicinal plant use- 23 (11.4%) plants between Karbi-Tiwa, 28 (13.9%) plants between Karbi-Pnar and 13 (6.5%) medicinal plants between Tiwa-Pnar. Thirteen medicinal plants are common among the three ethnic groups studied. The medicinal plants are used for treatment of 22 disease conditions/ailments. The result shows 85 (42.3%) medicinal plants are used for dietary purpose. Cross-cultural ethnobotanical study reflects the pattern of plant use in different societies and exchange of local knowledge (dynamism). It has implications for protection of intellectual property of vulnerable indigenous people.
KEYWORDS: Cross-cultural ethnobotany, medicinal plants, diversity, utilization.