Among the basic requirements of humans, food is the most important one. The population of any part of the world is dependent on the food production capacity of that region. Triticum aestivum (wheat) and Zea mays (corn), which are the most important crops of Pakistan, are also cultivated in the Lesser Himalayas area. The local inhabitants use the fruits of various plant species, including Berberis lycium, Carissa opaca, Debregeasia saeneb, Diospyros lotus, Ficus spp., Myrsine africana, Pistacia chinensis, Punica granatum, Rhus chinensis, Rubus ellipticus, Segeratia brandrethi-ana, Solanum spp., Vitis lanata, Zanthoxylum armatum, and Zizyphus spp. in both fresh and dried forms. Most of these fruits are also sold in the local market. Presently these species are under pressure due to population stress and deforestation.
Among vegetables, Alysum desertorum, Amaranthus viridis, Bauhinia varie-gata, Brassica campestris, B. rapa, Chenopodium album, Cichorium intybus, Ficus spp., Lamimum amplexicaula, Lathyrus aphaca, Medicago polymorpha, Nasturtium officinale, Plantago lanceolata, Raphanus sativus, Rumex chalpensis, R. hastatus, Solanum spp., Taraxacum officinale, and Torilis leptophyla are commonly utilized species. Allium cepa, A. sativum, Coriandrum sativum, Capsicum annuum, Mentha spp., Oxalis corniculata, and Pimpinella diversifolia are used as condiments and spices. The season for collection varies. Allium cepa, A. sativum, Brassica campestris, B. rapa, Chenopodium album, Cichorium intybus, Ficus variegate, Nasturtium officinale, Raphanus sativus, and Taraxacum officinale, are collected in early spring, while Amaranthus viridis, Capsicum annuum, Medicago polymorpha, Mentha spp., Oxalis corniculta, Pimpinella diversifolia, Plantago lanceolata., and Rumex spp. are collected in early winter. Allium cepa, A. sativum, Amaranthus viridis, Brassica campestris, Coriandrum sativum, Ficus variegata, Mentha longifolia, Oxalis corniculata, Pimpinella diversifolia, Plantago major, Rumex spp., Solanum spp., and Taraxacum officinale are also for medicinal purposes, used, for example, to treat asthma, body swelling, body weakness, cholera, cold fever, cough, diarrhea, dysentery, earache, vision weakness, gas trouble, gleets, indigestion, internal pain, internal worms, intestinal and liver inflammation, leucorrhoea, loose stools, menstrual disorders, mouth and gum problems, skin infections, and stomach disorders, to kill germs, and to stop bleeding. The above-mentioned species are not specifically cultivated for diseases. Some species such as Allium sativum, A. cepa, Coriandrum sativum, Mentha spp., Pimpinella diversifolia, and Zanthoxylum armatum are dried in shade for 7-8 days and then stored. These species would be beneficial for the local people if they were cultivated on a large scale, as they provide food and treatment for diseases and could become a good source of income (Figs. 2.1 and 2.2).
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