Aconitum chasmanthum 

Scope: Global
Language: English

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Plantae Tracheophyta Magnoliopsida Ranunculales Ranunculaceae

Scientific Name: Aconitum chasmanthum Stapf ex Holmes

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Critically Endangered A2cd ver 3.1
Year Published: 2015
Date Assessed: 2014-07-18
Assessor(s): Ved, D., Saha, D., Ravikumar, K. & Haridasan, K.
Reviewer(s): Sayer, C.
Contributor(s): Samant, S., Nautiyal, M., Bhat, V., Murty, S., Kinhal, G., Vijaya Sankar, R., Patnaik, P., Seth, C., Dorjee, P., Sharma, O., Prabhakaran, V., Anu, V., Sarin, Y. & Naithani, H.
Aconitum chasmanthum is harvested for its tubers. These tubers constitute the Ayurvedic plant drug "Vatsanabha" which is included in the Ayurvedic Formulary of India. During collection the whole plant is uprooted. It has been observed, as well as inferred, that the trend of unsustainable collection practice is continuing. Inference has been drawn regarding the decline in area of occupancy (AOO) and habitat quality based on observations, as well as circumstantial evidence. The species has sizeable market demand on account of its commercial use as a plant drug and the level of exploitation is high. In the CAMP workshop organised at Shimla in 2003, it was collectively agreed by experts that more than 80% of the wild population in the Himalayan region of India had declined over the past 10 years. As the situation has not improved, it is inferred that this is still valid (D. Ved, D. Saha, K. Ravikumar and K. Haridasan pers. comm. 2015) and the species is therefore assessed as Critically Endangered (CR). Further, habitat loss continues due to construction of high altitude roads and avalanches (O.P. Sharma pers. comm. 2015). This species is endemic to the Himalayan region extending from northern Pakistan to Jammu and Kashmir and Himachal Pradesh in India and thus the majority of the wild population is in the Indian Himalaya. In Pakistan, it is distributed in Hazara and Citral area adjoining Jammu and Kashmir. The situation in India is therefore considered representative of the global population of the species.
Previously published Red List assessments:

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:This species is endemic to the Himalayan region of India and Pakistan. In India the wild population has been recorded in Kashmir and Himachal Pradesh (Bhatt et al. 2014, Jabeen et al. 2013, Ved et al. 2003).
Countries occurrence:
India (Himachal Pradesh, Jammu-Kashmir); Pakistan
Additional data:
Estimated area of occupancy (AOO) - km2:500-2000,500Continuing decline in area of occupancy (AOO):Yes
Estimated extent of occurrence (EOO) - km2:5000-20000,5000
Continuing decline in extent of occurrence (EOO):Yes
Lower elevation limit (metres):2100
Upper elevation limit (metres):3600
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]


This species has a restricted global distribution, occurring in the Himalayan region across Pakistan and India. It has been recorded in the sub-alpine and alpine zones of Western Himalaya from Chitral and Hazara to Kashmir and Himachal Pradesh (Ved et al. 2003, Jabeen et al. 2013)

Current Population Trend:Decreasing
Additional data:
Continuing decline of mature individuals:Yes
Extreme fluctuations:NoPopulation severely fragmented:No
Continuing decline in subpopulations:Yes

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:This species is found in alpine and sub-alpine meadows. It has a generation length of one year.
Continuing decline in area, extent and/or quality of habitat:Yes
Generation Length (years):1-2,1

Use and Trade [top]

Use and Trade: Aconitum chasmanthum is a highly traded medicinal plant in India. Raw drugs are collected from various Aconitum species available in the high altitude alpine and subalpine meadows in Western Himalaya. All Aconitum species are prohibited for export in India if the plants have been collected from the wild. Cultivated specimens can be exported from India. This species has been proposed for inclusion in the Convention of International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) appendices but is yet to be included. The roots and tubers, which contain alkaloids, are used in the Ayurvedic and Homeopathic systems of medicine. Roots are traded under the name of Vatsanabha and are collected and traded in huge quantities from alpine and subalpine meadows of Sonamarg and Baltal area of Jammu and Kashmir.

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): The population is declining due to over harvesting and loss of habitat. Regeneration of the species is hampered due to unsustainable collection of tubers and roots. Loss of habitat continues due to construction of high altitude roads and avalanches (O.P. Sharma pers. comm. 2015).

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: This particular species is threatened due to habitat loss and over exploitation. It needs immediate attention in terms of managing its habitat and sustainable collection practices. Since some of the subpopulations occur within protected areas such as Kistwar High Altitude National Park, Dachigam National Park, Overa-Aru Wild Life Sanctuary (WLS) and Baltal (Thajwas) WLS. Active in situ conservation may be undertaken in such areas. Surveying and monitoring is needed across the known range to ascertain the status of wild subpopulations.

Citation: Ved, D., Saha, D., Ravikumar, K. & Haridasan, K. 2015. Aconitum chasmanthum. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2015: e.T50126558A79578539. . Downloaded on 19 September 2018.
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