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J Ethnobiol Ethnomed. 2016 Sep 9;12(1):38. doi: 10.1186/s13002-016-0114-y.

Ethnobotany of the Balti community, Tormik valley, Karakorum range, Baltistan, Pakistan.

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Department of Botany, Hazara University, Mansehra, Pakistan.
Department of Plant Sciences, Quaid-i-Azam University, Islamabad, Pakistan.
Department of Environmental Sciences, COMSATS Institute of Information Technology, Abbottabad, Pakistan.
School of Light Industry and Food Sciences, South China University of Technology, Guanzhou, China.
University of Gastronomic Sciences, Bra/Pollenzo, Italy.
Center for Plant Sciences and Biodiversity, University of Swat, Swat, Pakistan.
Department of Plant Sciences, Quaid-i-Azam University, Islamabad, Pakistan.



Limited health facilities and malnutrition are major problems in the Karakorum Range of Northern Pakistan, often resulting in various human disorders. Since centuries, however, local communities in these areas have developed traditional methods for treating various ailments and local foods capes that can be significant for devising public health and nutritional policies. This study was intended to document the ethnobotanical knowledge of the local peoples in the Tormik Valley, especially in the medical and food domains.


Field trips were undertaken in 14 different villages of the study area from 2010 to 2012. Ethnobotanical data were gathered using semi-structured interviews and group conversation with 69 informants. Details about local uses of plant species were recorded along with demographic characteristics of the visited communities. Relative frequency citation index (RFCi) and preference ranking index (PRi) tools were applied to determine the cultural significance of the reported species.


Sixty-three plant species, with a predominance of Asteraceae and Fabaceae family members, as well as their detailed folk uses were documented. Forty-three percent of the species were used to treat various diseases, 21 % were consumed as wild fruits and vegetables and 53 % of the species had multipurpose applications. Thymus linearis Benth, Hippophae rhamnoides ssp. turkestanica L. and Convolvulus arvensis L. were found to be the most utilized medicinal plant species, i.e. those with significant RFCi values (0.54, 0.51 and 0.48, respectively). Betula utilis D. Don was the most versatile taxon (seven different ways of utilization); being this species a common and easily accessible subalpine tree and then under anthropogenic pressure, the implementation of concrete strategies aimed at its in-situ and ex-situ conservation is strongly recommended.


The valleys in the Karakorum Mountains in the Northern Pakistan host significant Traditional Knowledge on local food and medicinal plant species, which need to be reconsidered and cautiously re-evaluated by ethnopharmacologists, and public health/nutrition actors. Furthermore, germane trans-disciplinary investigations are suggested to ensure the dynamic conservation of precious local knowledge systems, as well as plant diversity in Pakistani mountain regions.


Ethnobotany; Indigenous knowledge; Karakorum; Medicinal plants; Pakistan

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