Fodder quality assessment and morphological variation of Grewia optiva Drumm. ex. Burr. at three different altitudes in a part of Garhwal Himalaya

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College of Forestry, Ranichauri Campus , V.C.S.G. Uttarakhand University of Horticulture and Forestry
Grewia optiva Drumm. commonly known as Bhimal or Biul is an important fodder tree of the Garhwal Himalaya, belonging to the family Tiliaceae. It is a most popular tree among the farmers of Garhwal Himalaya. Inspite of having high nutritive value, the information regarding the effect of change in altitude on the nutritive value is sparse. Thus, the present study was conducted during November, 2014 at three different altitudes (A), each having three sites (S) and in each site, three diameter classes (D) (10-20, 20-30 and 30-40) and in each diameter class, three trees were selected with an aim to evaluate the variation in morphological characters and fodder quality of trees from different sites. The density of individuals of G. optiva was determined by laying out 20 quadrats at each site and numbers of individuals were enumerated. The traditional uses were gathered by interviewing 10 informants in each site. The morphometric characters i.e. height of tree, diameter at breast height, number of main branches, volume of tree etc. and leaf morphometric traits i.e. leaf area, petiole length, leaf length, leaf width were measured to evaluate variation in morphology along altitudinal gradient. The dried powder of the leaf samples collected was analyzed for proximate principles to determine extent of change in fodder quality. The outcome of the study revealed that the density, trees per hectare, frequency and abundance varied from 0.65 to 1.75 trees/100 m2, 65 to 175 trees/hectare, 50 to 80% and 1.25 to 2.5, among altitudes respectively. Traditional uses of G. optiva were almost similar in all altitudes but among all sites, farmers of S3 site of mid altitude give more preference to G. optiva as fodder, fuel and timber as compared to other species. The morphological variation showed that the height of tree was ranged from 4.17 m to 10 m, diameter at breast height from 12.86 cm to 36.94 cm, number of branches from 5 to 13.67, leaf area from 44.07 cm2 to 86.86 cm2, petiole length from 0.73 cm to 1.23 cm, leaf length from 10.74 cm to 14.87 cm, leaf width from 6.30 cm to 8.96 cm and volume of tree from 0.05 m3 to 0.81 m3. While in proximate principles, dry matter (%) (42.79 % to 59.57 %), ether extract (%) (1.62 % to 5.31 %), crude fibre (%) (14.05 % to 20.94 %), crude protein (%) (11.52 % to 17.35 %), total ash (%) (8.27 % to 11.48 %) and nitrogen free extract (%) (52.99 % to 59.60 %) were recorded in different trees at different sites. Overall, the population from mid altitude showed best results in morphological characters, fodder quality parameters, highest density, frequency and abundance for G. optiva, while among three diameter classes, the lower (10-20 cm) diameter class showed excellence. From the study, it can be concluded that the population of G. optiva from the altitude range of 1300 m to 1600 m above msl is best suited for its optimum growth and have higher nutritional potential. Hence, it can be used for the further multiplication, research and development work.