Assessment of Nursery Methods and Manures for Cultivation of Chirayita (Swertia chirayita Buch-Ham.) in Lauri Gewog, Bhutan

Jimba Rabgyal, Yadunath Bajgai, Karma Pelden, Tshering Tobgay & Sonam Rinchen

ABSTRACT

 Chirayita (Swertia chirayita) is a medicinal plant and is native to the temperate Himalayas. It is widely used in traditional and modern medicines with an increased global demand, leading to unsustainable harvesting, causing the decline, and critically endangering the species. Hence, we hypothesized that chirayita could be domesticated and tested this hypothesis at Lauri Gewog in southeastern Bhutan. Four nursery methods and four organic manure treatments were tested using Completely Randomized Design with three replicates. The average seedling density across the four treatments at mid altitude was 2356 seedlings/m2, and that of high altitude was 1202 seedlings/m2. The seedling density at mid altitude was 96% higher compared to that of high altitude; however, there were significant differences between the treatments only in high altitude (P = 0.003) and not in mid altitude. The methods were non-significant at mid altitude, mainly due to the large variability of data. Interestingly, the manure treatments were not significant compared to the control implying that the chirayita could be non-responsive to the application of manures in the study conditions. Fresh weight of chirayita in the control plot was 14, 19 and 29% higher than ‘compost’, ‘FYM’ and ‘compost+FYM (1:1)’ treatment plots. Further, this research provides an alternative low-cost nursery technique for adoption by chirayita farmers while also providing information for policymakers and environmental conservationists in developing strategies for conservation of a critically endangered species like chirayita.

Keywords: Swertia chirayita; Nursery methods; Manure application; Seedling density; Conservation; Domestication

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