Ethnoecological studies on Acacia modesta Wall. (Mimosaceae) growing wild in Dargai area of Malakand District (Pakistan), demonstrated a great demand due to the medicinal value of its flowers oil, gum, resins and sticks for honey bee. The plant as a whole is also valuable as fuel-wood and as construction material for income. Locally, common folk used it as fodder, timber, fencing, and household items and as a source of honey bee production. The tree was found to be abundant in some villages of Dargai area. The frequency being: 35% in Jaban, 15% in Kot, 25% in Mehrdi, 10% in Wartair, and 15% in Qaldara villages of Dargai. Interestingly, a great variation was noticed in the local selling prices of the gum which were also found higher in national as well as international markets. Ecological studies showed that A. modesta trees growing on all ranges of soils including: dry to wet, sandy to calcareous and acidic soils along with association of Olea cuspidata, Ziziphus jujuba, Zizyphus nummularia, and Acacia arabica. Phonological studies revealed all the three stages of trees from juvenile, young and rare older trees, in the region under study. Market survey and interviews with local collectors showed that Dargai was the major trade route for medicinal plants. In general, there are locally well known centers where A. modesta is growing in abundance. Dargai is believed to be a regional herbal medicines market route where the transportation of A. modesta gum and other herbals to other areas, have well been recorded. During the current study, it was observed that major plant collectors in the area were local women and children, however, many workers were Afghan refugees. Local men were cornered from open field work, perhaps due to safety reasons. Men participate in cutting of bigger plants whenever demand arises. There is a need that, along with conservation of valuable timber by participatory approach, A. modesta must also be included in these efforts to make its availability in long term for poor local collectors whose one the major source of income is from gum and fuel wood collection.
Key words: Acacia modesta Wall. (Mimosaceae), Dargai, Malakand, Pakistan, useful plants for humans.
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