Abbreviations used: T = Trees; Sh = Shrubs; Cl = Climbers; F & G = Forbs Grasses.
The distribution pattern of forage species along an altitudinal gradient is presented in Table 2. The maximum number of species in all the life forms are distributed in subtropical zone followed by temperate and subtropical zones respectively. The minimum number of species is distributed in alpine zone. Majority of woody species is distributed in forest habitat. Few of them are distributed in agroforestry systems. The Forbes and grasses are distributed in forests, grasslands, meadows and also in agroforestry system.
The nativity of a species reflects the origin/ place of first reports of the species. Of the total recorded species, 113 are native to Himalaya and 22 have originated in the Himalaya and other biogeograpical regions together. The nativity of the species is presented in Table 3. The high number of Himalaya natives is the indication of high percentage of endemic species in the area. Similarly, occurrence of non natives viz. species representing biogeorgraphical regions like Irano-Turanian, Mediterranean, Indo-Chinese, Indian, Malaysian, Eastern Asiatic, Circumboreal, Australian, Brazilian, North American, and others reflect the richness of the plant diversity (Samant and Dhar, 1997).
Table 3. Nativity of fodder species of west Himalaya
Inspite of the influence of non-native (exotic) species, the flora of Indian Himalaya includes about 46.20% of the total endemics reported from India (Chatterjee, 1939). In the present study, the taxa restricted to Indian Himalaya are considered as endemics and those extending their distribution to adjacent countries viz. Nepal, Bhutan, Tibet, Pakistan and Afghanistan are considered as near endemics. Of the total species, four (Chimonobambusa jaunsarensis, Strobilanthes atropurpureus, Goldfussia dalhousiana and Cobresia duthiei) are restricted to Indian Himalaya, hence, considered as endemics. On the other hand, 54 species showed their range extension to adjacent countries/ states are consider as near endemics (Table 1). In a broader sense (Sensu lato), these near endemics represent the endemics of whole Himalayan region. The notable near endemics are Acer caesium, Bauhinia retusa, Boehmeria rugulosa, Dalbergia sericeas, Brassaiopsis aculeata, Ficus nemoralis, Mours serrata, Persea duthiei, Pyrus lanata, Pyrus vestita, Ulmus wallichiana, Deutzia staminea, Cotoneaster obtusa, Osbeckia stellata, Leptodermis lanceolata, Abelia triflora, Premna interrupta, Taphidophora glauca etc. The restricted spatial distribution of endemics reflects their recent arrival in the area and or their poor regeneration and dispersal capacity (Dhar and Samant, 1993).
Nutritive value: The nutritive value of a fodder species is determined by its ability to provide a range of nutrients required by the animals for maintenance, growth, production and reproduction. It is related to intake, chemical composition, digestibility and the presence or absence of anti nutritional factors (Gutteridge, 1995). The nutritive value of some of the common species of west Himalaya is known. Leaves of Bauhinia variegata contain (% of dry matter) 28% dry matter, 19.03% ash, 3.39% calcium, phosphorus etc.; Celtis australis 14.9% crude protein, 45.8% nitrogen free extract, 4.1% ether extract, 20.2% crude fiber, 14.25% calcium, phosphorus etc.; Castanopsis tribuloieds nitrogen free extract 43%, ether extract, 2.5%, crude fibre, 30.6%, ash 3.6%; Ficus nemoralis dry matter 30%, crude protein 13.36%, nitrogen free extract 51.14%, ether extract 4.26%, crude fiber 19.04%, ash 12.20% and Persea sp. dry matter 35%, crude protein 10.90%, nitrogen free extract 55.43%, ether extract 2.89%, crude fiber 26.92%, ash 3.86%. Chemical composition, nutritive constituents and digestibility coefficients known for Bauhinia vahlii, Cordia obliqua, Desmodium elegans, Ficus benghalensis, Ficus religiosa, Ficus virens, F. religiosa, F. glomerata, Grewia oppositifolia, Indigofera gerardiana, Morus serrata, Prunus cerasoides, Quercus glauca, Q. leucotrichophora, Q. floribunda, Quercus semecarpifolia etc. suggests that these taxa are of a high value as fodder trees. However, there are still many other potential species whose nutritive values are not known and these merit detailed investigations.
Economic Value: Apart from the use of the Himalayan plant species as fodder, the various parts of these species are also used as food for humans medicine, fuel, timber and various other purposes (Table 1). Of the total species, 53 are used as medicine, 105 as food, 46 as fuel, 16 as timber and few species for other purposes. 74 species have more than two uses including their use as fodder. These species are classified as multipurpose species (Table 1). For example, the flowers of Bauhinia variegataare edible, petals have medicinal property and dry wood is used as fuel; Diploknema butyracea provides edible fruits, vegetable fat and fuel; Castanopsis tribuloidesprovides edible seeds, timber, and fuel. Similarly, species of Quercus provide excellent fuel and timber. Seeds of Corylus jacqenmotii, fruits of Zanthoxylum armatum, Terminalia chebula, Embica officinalis, Myrica esulenta; roots of Aparagus racemosus and flowers of Bauhinia variegata are traded and are source of income generation in the area (Samant and Dhar, 1997). Wood of Boehmeria rugulosa and Ougeinia oojeinensis is used for making various types of utensils and culms of Thamnocalamus spatheflorus for making mats (Locally known as Mosta) and other items and add to the income generation. The over exploitation of such species has caused decrease in local population size. Acer caesium is well known example. The over exploitation of this species for house building and fuel has placed this species in the Red Data Book of Indian Plants (Nayar and Sastry, 1987). Similarly, there are many other species whose regeneration potential is lost due to habitat degradation and their population is decreasing fast. Such species need proper conservation and management strategies.