Assessment of wild leafy vegetables traditionally consumed by the ethnic communities of Manipur, northeast India.J Ethnobiol Ethnomed. 2016 Jan 29; 12:9.JE
The NE region of India falls in the global hotspot of biodiversity. Wild edible plants (WEPs) are widely consumed in the daily diet of the local people. WEPs are critical for the sustenance of ethnic communities and also as a source of income. However, WEPs received a little attention in research activities, economic development, biodiversity conservation and sustainable management. Many are largely ignored and remained unexplored. With a view of reducing the gap in traditional knowledge and tapping the hidden potential resources for proper utilization, exploitation, and sustainable management of WEPs are crucial.
Surveys were conducted at 20 major markets in all districts of Manipur throughout different seasons from August 2012 to March 2014. A total of 154 avid plant collectors and sellers were interviewed using semi-structured questionnaire, formal, informal and extensive interactions to gather detailed information about these species. An integrated assessment of 68 wild leafy vegetables was also carried out to prioritize them for proper exploitation, conservation, and sustainable management.
A total of 68 wild edible vegetables belonging to 42 families were documented which are being used by indigenous communities for nutritive and therapeutic purposes. Of these species, 54 are perennial (79 %) while others are annual (19 %). Herbaceous plants make up the highest proportion of edible plants. Leaves are dominant edible part followed by shoot and stem, and most are consumed through cooked food. Further, 57 species (84 %) are commonly available, and 11 (16 %) are rare. According to integrated assessment, 2 species have highest integrated value, 26 species have high value, 31 species have general value and 9 species are of low value. The majority of the species have a high or general value.
Manipur has rich wild vegetable resources. However, many of them are seldom collected or cultivated given their importance in sustaining and diversifying diet. A comprehensive assessment indicated that majority of these plants have high value. Priority species require further research into their nutritional components to understand the potential as a source of future food and nutritional security. They should be promoted for integration into the agricultural system and income generation for local sustenance.