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An Assessment of some Ferns of the Polypodiaceae Family from Kinnaur district of Himachal Pradesh with Reference to their Morphological and Ethnobotanical Aspects

Heer Chander Negi, Nitesh Kumar, Ruchi Negi, Stuti Rawat, Neha Thakur


Pteridophytes represent a category of seedless plants that reproduce through spores. This group is divided into two lineages: lycophytes, characterized by fronds with no leaf gap in the stem stele (Lycophylls), and Monilophytes, commonly known as ferns, which have fronds with a leaf gap in the stem stele. The Himalayan Region in India stands out globally for its distinctive topography, extensive altitudinal range, diverse climate, and varied habitats. Pteridophytes play a crucial role in the region from an evolutionary perspective, showcasing the development of the vascular system and illustrating the emergence of seed habitats in plants. Despite the rich biodiversity of Himachal Pradesh, the pteridophytic flora is intriguing in both its diversity and distribution. However, there has been limited exploration of the economic aspects associated with these plants. Pteridophytes of Kinnaur are mostly terrestrial and prefer growing on the forest floor, on forest borders, or in crop fields. Many ravine ferns, epiphytic ferns, lithophytes, and wintergreen species have also been observed. The morphological investigation involves the systematic collection, identification, and characterization of fern specimens from different ecological niches within the Kinnaur district. Morphometric analysis, including leaf architecture, sporangia morphology, and reproductive structures, is employed to elucidate the taxonomic diversity and relationships among the identified species. Ethnobotanical aspects of the studied ferns are explored through interactions with local communities, traditional healers, and ethnobotanists. Traditional knowledge regarding the uses of ferns in indigenous medicinal practices, rituals, and daily life is documented. The study has been focused on the morphological study of ten fern species i.e., Drynaria mollis, Lepisorus contortus, Lepisorus morrisonensis, Lepisorus nudus, Lepisorus tenuipes, Phymatopteris malacodon, Phymatopteris oxyloba, Polypodiodes amoena, Polypodiodes microrhizoma and Pyrrosia stictica which have been recorded firstly from Kinnaur district in Himachal Pradesh.

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