Sajad Ahmad Gangoo, Tahir Mushtaq and Parvaiz Ahmed Reshi
Millions of the people in developing countries don’t have enough food to meet their daily requirements and innumerable ones are deficient in one or more micronutrients (FAO, 2004). India, home to the second largest human population on this planet, is no exception. Many rural communities depend on wild resources including wild edible plants to meet their food needs in periods of food crisis, as well as for additional food supplements. The diversity in wild plant species offers variety in family diet and contributes to household food security. International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED) noted in its report that many wild edibles are nutritionally rich and can supplement nutritional requirements, especially vitamins and micronutrients. Moundu et al., 1999, found that nutritional analysis of same wild food plants demonstrates that in many cases the nutritional quality of wild plants is comparable and in some case even superior to domesticated varieties.
Significant work in the field of ethnobotany has been done in past 3-4 decades in the Himalayan state of J&K by many workers including Abrol and Chopra, 1962., Gupta et al., 1990., Kachroo and Nahvi, 1993., Kiran et al., 1999, Koul et al., 1986 and Gangoo et al., 2021. Here below we have mentioned 25 vegetables which are being used by the rural folk that the urban people must also have in their kitchen gardens for various nutritional benefits.
1. PUMBHAAK (Rheum webbiana): is a leafy perennial herb distributed in altitudes ranging from 2800 to 3800 m in the temperate regions of Himalayas from Kashmir to Sikkim in India containing around 40 disease-fighting and health promoting that have the potential for cultivation in Kitchen gardens in Kashmir.
2. WHATKRAM (Silene vulgaris): Its young leaves are sweet and edible raw as salad or cooked. It has a nutritional composition similar to other leafy vegetables and is a rich source of Vitamin C, carotenes and other photochemical compounds with health promoting and immunity boosting properties.
3. HAEND (Taraxacum officinalis): The leaves (called dandelion greens) can be eaten cooked or raw in various forms, such as in soup or salad. The leaves are high in vitamins A and C, as well as iron, phosphorus, and potassium. Many Kashmiris believe it as a vegetable irrigated by water from paradise.
4. SERI-CHENNA (Vicia tenuiflora): it accumulates an incredible amount of nutrients. Particularly protein, folate and several other vitamins and minerals. It is also loaded with soluble fiber that aids in digestion and lower cholesterol levels.
5. DRUBHAAK (Polygonum aviculare): It is harvested from the wild or grown on a small scale as a leaf vegetable and is a great source of vitamin A, vitamin C, phosphorus, zinc, potassium and manganese. It also provides. It is rich in resveratrol, which is the same substance in red wine that lowers cholesterol levels as well as reduces the risk of heart attack.
6. KRALMOND (Capsella-bursa pastoris): is a small annual and ruderal flowering plant gathered from the wild or cultivated. It is used as food, to supplement animal feed, for cosmetics, and in traditional medicine (reportedly to stop bleeding). The plant can be eaten raw, the leaves are best when gathered young. It is a good source of Vitamin C, is a folk remedy for cancer.
7. PREZDAR (Eremurus himalicus): It is cooked as fresh or used as spice in tribal areas of Kashmir. The species is rich in polyphenols and antioxidants. It also has antimicrobial properties and has capability of preventing the growth of bacteria.
8. KALVEUTH (Prunella valgaris): It is edible, and can be used in salads, soups, stews, and boiled as pot herb.The main components are ursolic acid, oleanolic acid, glycoside of oleanolic acid, rutin, hyperoside, caffeic acid, vitamins C and D, carotene, tannin, alkaloids, camphor, and fenchone.
9. NAG BABBER (Nasturtum officinalis): is a species of aquatic flowering plant. The new tips of its leaves can be eaten raw or cooked. It consists 95% water and has low contents of carbohydrates, protein, fat, and dietary fiber. It is particularly rich in vitamin K, vitamin A, vitamin C, riboflavin, vitamin B6, calcium, and manganese.
10. WOPAL HAAK (Dipsacus Inermis):.is an edible perennial herb which is extensively used in Kashmiri traditional medicine for treatment body ache, cough, swelling and sore throat. It is a good source of proteins, sulphur, carbonate, terpenes, saponin, tanic and phenolic compounds
11. JANGLI PRAN (Allium victoralis): It is a perennial plant that occurs widely in mountainous regions of Europe and parts of Asia . The plant, in past centuries in certain mountainous regions, “was cultivated as a medicinal and as spice”. It is a good source of Vit A, Vit K, Vit B1, Foliate and Vit C. It is utilized by local people as antiscorbutic and antithrombotic agent and for the treatment of cold and excessive menstruation.
12. UBAJ (Rumex nepelensis): Roots are rich in carbohydrates (48.62%) and fats (15.57%). The stem is excellent source of carbohydrates (24.50%) and dietary fiber (19.26%). Leaves are edible and contain oxalic acid, tannins and have astringent along with slightly purgative effects.
13. VAN WAGUN (Podophylum hexandrum): The species thrives best as undergrowth in forests in well drained humus rich soil in temperate and subalpine zones. The egg shaped fruit can be cooked as vegetable. The primary constituents are lignin glycosides, podophyllotoxin, podophyllic acid and picropodophyllin, α-peltalin and β-peltalin.
14. CHAKLADDER (Pleuropetropyrum polystachyum): Its roots are edible either raw or fire-roasted with a flavor resembling chestnuts. The seeds can be dried and ground into flour and used to make bread. They were also roasted and eaten as a cracked grain. The young leaves can be eaten raw or cooked. It is an excellent source of Vitamins A and C and contains potassium, zinc, phosphorus and manganese. It has been used in its native countries for treating respiratory infections
15. KAODACH (Berberis lyceum): The fruits are edible and are used for treatment of jaundice, diabetes, eye infections, fractured bones, internal wounds, diarrhea, rheumatism, stomachache, and its use as a general body tonic. Its fruits are rich source of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, anthocyanin etc
16. CHHANSH (Rubus ellipticus): Its roots are used to treat stomach pain and headaches, and its fruits are used to treat indigestion. It also contains small amounts of Vitamin A, thiamine, riboflavin, vitamin B6, calcium and zinc. Raspberries are a good source of fiber and vitamin C.
17. TEIAGH (Pyrus pashia): Fruits of this plant is best to eat when it is slightly decaying and contain various minerals like nitrogen, calcium, magnesium, potassium, phosphorus and iron (traces). The fruit is also rich in phytochemicals, such as gallic acid, chlorogenic acid and catechin.
18. TRINBAL (Ficus auriculata): Fresh fruit of this plant are consumed as food, and have diuretic, laxative and digestive regulating properties. It is an excellent source of crude protein 5.32%, carbohydrates 27.09%, crude fiber 16.96% and ash content 3.7% and minerals as calcium, magnesium, potassium and phosphorus.
19. KALAZEERA (Bunium persicum): The seeds are most valued as a garnish to high value, very special Indian dishes; they should not be ground, as their flavor would be reduced. It contains 20.3% protein, 45.4% fat, 7.1% moisture, 7.4% ash and the rest being total carbohydrate
20. DRILLI (Ranunculus lactus): is a widespread and common perennial in meadows and pastures, and is also found in parks, gardens and at woodland edges. People dry the parts that grow above the ground and use them for medicine. Despite safety concerns, it is used for arthritis, nerve pain, blisters, ongoing (chronic) skin problems, and bronchitis. Plants grown in meadows are a rich source of rutin, flavonoids and phenolics.
21. NUNAR (Portulaca oleraca): Purslane is used as vegetable and contains 93% water, 3% carbohydrates, 2% protein, and contains negligible fat. it is also a rich source of alpha-linolenic acid, an essential omega-3 fatty acid.
22. KRECH (Centuria ibbilaris: During spring the acropetal leaves appearing flat to the ground are lifted as whole plant and dried for use as vegetable. In the rosette stage protein content ranged between 10 and 13% and acid detergent fiber (ADF) between 26 and 28%. It is also used as ruminant food.
23. DADE (Aspelenium sp.) : The fern leaves are edible as fresh or dried form. It is a rich source of flavinoids, antioxidants and antibacterial compounds and is also useful for ailments of the spleen.
24. LEESE (Amaranthus caudatus): is edible is prepared and cooked like other vegetables. The It is a good source of energy and is a moderately rich source of dietary minerals, including phosphorus, manganese, and iron. It comprises of 75% water, 19% carbohydrates, 4% protein, and 2% fat.
25. GULE (Plantago lanceolate): is used frequently in herbal teas and other herbal remedies. In the traditional Austrian medicine leaves have been used internally (as syrup or tea) or externally (fresh leaves) for treatment of disorders of the respiratory tract, skin, insect bites, and infections. It contains phenylethanoids such as acteoside (verbascoside), cistanoside F, lavandulifolioside, plantamajoside and isoacteoside. It also contains the iridoid glycosides aucubin and catalpol.
Note: Those interested in the cultivation of the aforesaid vegetables may contact the Division of Forest Products & Utilization (FPU), Faculty of Forestry-Benhama, Ganderbal, SKUAST-Kashmir.