Drying Willow (Salix fragilis L.) Population Under Agroforestry System in Cold Desert Region of trans-Himalaya: a Possible Consequence of Repeated Vegetative Propagation

Rajender Kumar Sharma, Deepa Sharma


Willow (Salix fragilis L.), a multipurpose tree introduced about 150 years ago in Lahaul, a part of cold desert in trans-Himalaya, adapted well under agroforestry system. The species was propagated by vegetative means throughout the region and it immensely contributed to the socio-economic status, ethno-botany, ecology and greenery of the cold desert. It proved to be a "wonder species" or “the life line plant” for the people and often cited as the best examples of agroforestry system in the Himalayan cold desert. Unfortunately, willow trees (S. frgalis) are drying in the region; above 80% mortality was recorded and is continuously increasing. Efforts from local people and by certain research institutes have been put forward but, no significant change was visible. Few reports indicated possible role of aphid infestation, fungal disease, monoculture plantations, old planting stocks and changing environmental conditions for the current population status. However, controlled studies are lacking to confirm the same. We discussed here in detail about the possible role of repeated vegetative propagation from same gene stock for many generations, which directly or indirectly responsible for the current population status. Introduction of new and improved varieties is recommended.


Himalayan-cold-desert; Lahaul; Vegetative propagation; Willow mortality


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