Title : ETHNOBOTANICAL STUDIES, POPULATION ASSESSMENT DISTRIBUTION & ABUNDANCE OF Myrtus communis L. IN LOWER PARTS OF DISTRICT SWAT, PAKISTAN
The scientific discipline of ethnobotany is the study of human interactions with plants. Ethnobotany has applications in many fields of current global concern, including food security, climate change, biodiversity conservation and human health. Ethnobotanical studies can provide insights into the ways that societies interact locally with their environmental resources. A study on the ethnobotany, population ecology and distribution pattern of Myrtus communis was conducted during the summer 2020 in 11 localities of tehsil Babuzai and Barikot of district Swat, Pakistan. Quadrats of 10×10 m2, 5×5 m2, and 2×2 m2 were used for phytosociological analyses. Ethnobotanical data was collected using a semi-structured questionnaire and subsequent interviews with local inhabitants including hakims, collectors and traders. A total of 53 species were associated with M.communis. Among the associated species, Poaceae was the dominant family represented by 9 species, followed by Lamiaceae with 5 species and Asteracea and Rosaceae with 4 species each. A total of 11 communities were present among the 11 different localities studies. Myrtus communis dominated 4 communities as; Cymbopogon jwarancusa- Myrtus communis- Quercus baloot community, Smilex aspera- Myrtus communis- Cotoneaster microphyllus community, Myrtus communis- Cotonester nummularia- Ailanthus altissima community and Erigeron buneriencess- Myrtus communis- Cynodon dactylon community, while 7 cummunities were dominated by associated species as; Cynodon dactylon- Cymbopogon jwarancusa- Pinus ruxburghii community, Erigeron bonariensis- Origanum vulgare- Pinus ruxburghii community, Cynodon dectylon- Isodon regosus- Ailanthus altissima community, Erigeron buneriencess- Dicliptera bupleuroides- celtus cancasica community, Cymbopogon jwarancusa- Teurium royleanum- Olea fereguria community and Aristida cynantha- Teurium stocksenium- Pinus ruxberghii community. Soil with loamy texture and pH ranging from 7.0−7.5 was found to be favorable for M. communis population growth. Leaves, fruits and flowers were the main parts of Myrtle being used for treatment of common ailments and other uses like relieving stress and anxiety, hypertension, respiratory disorders, abdominal pain, diarrhea, hair fall control, diabetes, gastric ulcer, deep sinuses and cough. The population assessment of M. communis showed a decreasing trend due to; developmental works, urbanization, habitat destruction and human population increase, while, modernization was the main reason in depleting of dependency on medicinal plants. Proper conservation practices and sustainable use at community level are therefore recommended to population statistics of M. communis in the area.