Dehra Dun: The Valley of Flowers, located in the west Himalayas of Uttarakhand, which has lured trekkers and tourists from the world over for many decades, may soon be lost forever, courtesy the weed, polygonum, which is spreading in the Valley dangerously.
The weed, which ironically is also an annually flowering weed, has a wiry stem and stem branches that grow out of the base of the plant in an open form, or laying on the ground soil. This prevents the seeds of the plants falling on the ground and germinating and thus propagating.
The Valley authorities said that they had been fighting a losing battle for containing the spread of the weed that is slowly but steadily spreading in the Valley and taking a toll of its rich flora. “We have spent lakhs of rupees during the past five years trying to contain the spread of the weed, but not with much success”, they claimed.
They said that they were spending on an average of Rs 5000 per hectare to contain the spread of the weed, but not with much success and had even sent requests to various agencies abroad, but an effective response was still awaited.
It may be recalled that because of its location, it had been lost as a tourist spot, till three British mountaineers, Frank Smythe, Eric Shipton and R L Holdsworth, who lost their way after a successful expedition to Mt Kamet in 1931, stumbles upon the Valley, which was full of flowers and called it the ‘Valley of Flower’. They also wrote a book by the same name, popularizing it.
It is renowned for its meadows of endemic Alpine flowers spread over an area of about 80 sq kms and was declared a national park in 1982. It is on the UNESCO World Network of Biosphere Reserves since 2004 and is World heritage Site.
Popular local belief was that the Valley, which abounds with Brahm Kamal (a flower in demand by devotees going to the Kedarnath shrine), poppies, specially blue poppy, cobra lily, orchids, daisies and primulas, used to be inhabited by fairies who survived on the nectar from the flowers.
Prof Chandra Prakash Kala, a botanist deputed by the Wildlife Institute of India, deputed by the Wildlife Institute of India carried out, a research study in the Valley for a decade beginning 1993 and made an inventory of 520 alpine plants, of which 498 are flowering plants.