Journal of Threatened Taxa | | 26 April 2017 | 9(4): 10089–10095





Conservation status assessment and new population record of the threatened Golden Himalayan Spike Phlomoides superba (Royle ex Benth.) Kamelin & Makhm. from Jammu & Kashmir, India

Amber Srivastava 1, Yash Pal Sharma 2, O.P. Sharma Vidyarthi 3 & Sunil Kumar Srivastava 4

1,4 Botanical Survey of India, Northern Regional Centre, 192 Kaulagarh Road, Dehradun, Uttarakhand 248195, India

2 Department of Botany, University of Jammu, Jammu, Jammu & Kashmir 180006, India

3 Department of Ecology, Environment and Remote Sensing, Paryavaran Bhawan
Transport Nagar, Gladni, Jammu & Kashmir, India

1, 2 (corresponding author), 3, 4








Editor: Vijayasankar Raman, University of Mississippi, USA. Date of publication: 26 April 2017 (online & print)


Manuscript details: Ms # 2875 | Received 26 June 2016 | Final received 10 February 2017 | Finally accepted 23 March 2017


Citation: Srivastava, A., Y.P. Sharma, O.P.S. Vidyarthi & S.K. Srivastava (2017). Conservation status assessment and new population record of the threatened Golden Himalayan Spike Phlomoides superba (Royle ex Benth.) Kamelin & Makhm. from Jammu & Kashmir, India. Journal of Threatened Taxa 9(4): 10089–10095;


Copyright: © Srivastava et al. 2017. Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. JoTT allows unrestricted use of this article in any medium, reproduction and distribution by providing adequate credit to the authors and the source of publication.


Funding: Department of Biotechnology (DBT), Govt. of India, University Grants Commission (UGC), New Delhi.


Competing interests: The authors declare no competing interests.


Acknowledgements: The authors are thankful to Dr. Paramjit Singh, Director, Botanical Survey of India for providing necessary facilities. The authors (AS and YPS) are also grateful to the Department of Biotechnology, Govt. of India, and University Grants Commission, New Delhi for financial assistance respectively.





Abstract: This paper deals with distribution and conservation status of the Golden Himalayan Spike Phlomoides superba (Royle ex Benth.) Kamelin & Makhm. (syn. Eremostachys superba Royle ex Benth.), an endangered herb in India. A new locality report from Jammu & Kashmir along with population status in previously reported localities of occurrence of this species is also provided. Since the species is reported from a very few localities in India and is facing critical threats in the wild, the addition of a new locality holds significance in terms of its declining population status.


Keywords: Conservation, endangered, endemic, Eremostachys superba, new locality, Phlomoides superba.





The Golden Himalayan Spike Phlomoides superba is a rare, handsome and threatened tuberous herb found in the lower Shiwalik belt of northwestern Himalaya. The species has attracted the interests of different workers due to its beautiful flowers, rarity and ethno-botanical uses. P. superba was first collected by J.F. Royle from Kheeree Pass (now Mohand Pass), Dehradun, Uttarakhand. As mentioned by Chowdhery & Wadhwa (1984) in the flora of Himachal Pradesh, Mukherjee (1940) found this species growing in the Kangra region of Himachal Pradesh while Sharma & Kachroo (1981) reported this species from Domel, Jammu & Kashmir. Later, a few populations were also located from Suketor and Khandel hamlets of Jammu (Koul et al. 1997) and Sunderbani area of Rajouri District (Verma et al. 2003). Interestingly, the alarming decline in its population led other workers to locate this species from other places resulting in the discovery of two more localities in Himachal Pradesh, one from Una (near Gujreda) and the other from Kangra (near Khundian) (Uniyal et al. 2012).



Materials and Methods

The data related to occurrence and distribution of Phlomoides superba was collected from available sources like herbaria, literature and personal communication to locate the population of the species in different regions of India. During the study on the population size and conservation status of the species in all the reported localities in India, the data related to GPS location and altitudes have also been recorded. The area of occupancy (AOO) and extent of occurrence (EOO) values of the taxon were obtained using the geo coordinates of the reported localities in online GeoCAT software ( and taking standard grid size (2km) for each site as per the guidelines developed by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN 2016).



Results and Discussion

During the field surveys conducted to locate the populations of P. superba in different regions of Indian Western Himalaya, the authors found a hitherto unreported population of this species in Udhampur District of Jammu & Kashmir. The locality is about 7 km from Ramnagar on the way to Udhampur in a small village Jallow near Kaghote. A luxuriantly growing population of nearly 200 mature plants with more than 300 saplings was found in an area of approximately 450m2. This new population is unique in itself due to its complete natural habitat growing along the sides of a small stream with few individuals scattered in the adjoining crop fields along the stream. The habitat is situated on a gentle rocky slope having sandy loam soil. Unlike other earlier reported populations from the state, growing on edges of crop fields, this population is relatively undisturbed.


Phlomoides superba (Royle ex Benth.)

Kamelin & Makhm. in Bot. Žurn. (Kiev) 75: 248. 1990.

Eremostachys superba Royle ex Benth.

in Hook., Bot. Misc. 3: 381. 1833; Lab. Gen. Sp. 637. 1833. (Image 1)

Family: Lamiaceae







Perennial, tuberous herbs, 0.5–1.5 m high. Stems erect, hairy, branched or unbranched. Basal leaves oblong to ovate in outline, simple and crenate to pinnatipartite or pinnatisect with lobed or serrated margins, with a sparse indumentum of simple hairs on both surfaces; lamina 10–20 x 5–10 cm; petioles upto 10cm long; cauline leaves sessile, pinnatifid. Roots thick, woody, vertical; collar woolly or scarcely. Verticillasters 5–17, each having 6–14 flowers, arranged distantly, white lanate. Bracts 1/2-2/3 length of calyx (6–10 mm), ovate-lanceolate to lanceolate, margins spinulose. Calyx broadly ovate-campanulate, 12–15 mm, subcoriaceous, with an indumentum of simple nonglandular hairs sometimes also with some shorter glandular hairs; teeth ending in 1–2 mm spines. Corolla 25–30 mm, yellow; upper lip villous and white-bearded with simple hairs only; lower lip subequal to or longer than upper lip, sometimes with a very broad median lobe; tube 0.5–1 cm long, included in calyx, without an annulus. Nutlets trigonous, 7x3.5 mm, brownish-black (Image 1).

Flowering & Fruiting: March–May

Vernacular Names: ‘Gajar-moola’ (Dogri - Jammu & Kashmir); ‘Gorein’ ‘Goreyan’ (Pahari, Kangri - Himachal Pradesh); Ban muli (Hindi)

Distribution: Western Himalaya [eastern Afghanistan, Pakistan, India (Jammu & Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand)] (Fig. 1)

Specimens examined: 120821 (BSD), Jammu & Kashmir, Ramnagar, Jallow Village, 32.794900N & 75.229420E, 640m altitude, coll. Amber Srivastava.



Conservation Status Assessment

This taxon has not yet been included in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species; however, different conservation status were proposed by previous workers, viz., ‘Vulnerable’ (Jain & Sastry 1980; Ved et al. 2003; Samant et al. 2007; Pant & Pant 2011), ‘Endangered’ (Jain & Sastry 1984; Garg & Rao 1997; Verma et al. 2007; Panwar & Srivastava 2015; Panwar et al. 2015; Pundir 2015), ‘Critically Endangered’ (Verma et al. 2007; Panwar 2014; Panwar et al. 2014) and ‘Near to Extinction’ (Som 1968; Rao & Garg 1994), which were based on the study of one or a few localities.

In India, the species is reported from only 10 localities occurring in the States of Jammu & Kashmir (seven locations), Himachal Pradesh (two locations) and Uttarakhand (one location). Maximum number of locations are reported from Jammu & Kashmir and only a single location is reported from the type locality Mohand, Uttarakhand (Table 1).

Since most of the reported localities of the species are near the cultivated fields or road sides, the magnitude of the threat has increased manyfolds owing to conversion of agricultural lands, road broadening etc. The population of the type locality though falls in the outer boundary of Rajaji Tiger Reserve but is located near road side adjacent to Saharanpur-Dehradun highway as a result of which this population it at the verge of extinction. The human interferences in terms of crop field extension, grazing by cattle, and exploitation for medicinal and veterinary uses are major threats to the species. Besides these, biotic factors such as low regeneration potential, insect infestation and forage of tubers by wild animals (porcupines, boars and rats) are the other causes of population decline.

Area of Occupancy (AOO): 40km2

Extent of Occurrence (EOO): 9,317.213km2

Conservation status: Endangered B2ab(ii,iii,v) version 3.1. The assessment is done as per the IUCN guidelines (IUCN 2016) and is based on the frequent field surveys carried out from 2013–2016 in all the reported localities of occurrence in India. The population decline of the species was also determined by comparing the earlier population records reported by different workers (Jain & Sastry 1980; Verma et al. 2007; Uniyal et al. 2012; Pundir 2015) with the present number of surviving individuals. Justification for the threat assessment is included in Appendix 1.






Economic Importance

Ornamental: The plant has high ornamental potential due to its beautiful yellow spikes of flowers that last for nearly one month. For the beauty of its flowers, well known botanist J.F. Duthie has called it an “extremely local and very handsome plant” (Duthie 1911).

Veterinary: The tuberous roots of Phlomoides superba are used for increasing lactation in cattle. Interviews with the people in the present locality revealed the use of its tubers for increasing lactation in cattle as also reported by earlier workers (Koul et al. 1997; Verma et al. 2003; Pant & Pant 2011). But presently, partially due to the rarity of this species and also due to the increasing use of chemical galactagogue drugs, only a few people use this for the purpose and that too it is only fed to buffaloes.

Medicinal: During the field surveys in different areas of Himachal Pradesh it is found that the tuberous roots of the species are also used by local herbal healers for treatment of human ailments related to liver, stomach, gout etc. Some of these medicine men used to cultivate it in their gardens for medicinal use while others generally exploit it from the wild habitats.




The natural populations of Phlomoides superba are declining at an alarming rate from all the reported localities of its occurrence in India and urgently need conservation measures both ex situ and in situ. Efforts have been made for ex situ conservation of this species and a large germplasm is being maintained at the Botanical Survey of India, Dehradun and the Botanical Garden of the Department of Botany, University of Jammu, Jammu. Saplings of this species raised at BSI are also distributed to various institutes and individuals (Yash Pal Sharma, pers. obs.) for planting; however, it is still lacking an in situ approach, as a result of which the species is nearing its extinction from its type locality Mohand, Uttarakhand. The high ornamental value of this species makes it suitable for planting in botanical gardens for both aesthetic value and ex situ conservation. In view of the ethno-botanical utilization of this species, further studies are needed to analyze its phytochemistry and its potential use in treating human ailments.





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