Global warming and climate change increase the stressors that weaken plant resilience. The normal temperature and precipitation shift leads the plants to allocate more resources toward their survival and adjustment to the changing environment which in turn compromises their normal growth, development, and reproduction. A similar situation is faced by the medicinal plants in the Kashmir valley of Himalayas. The summer monsoon winds, which brought rain to the Indian subcontinent would previously stop at the southern border of the valley, but in recent years the winds are increasingly making their way inwards into the valley. This is the result of a strong change in the land use in the Kashmir region. Agricultural and horticultural land conversions into commercial areas, deforestation and concrete jungles have a strong influence by creating a heat island effect. Intense weather events (cloud bursts) especially with more than 10 centimeters (3.94 inches) of rainfall occurring within a 10 square kilometers (3.86 square miles) region in an hour are being witnessed. These cloud bursts have the potential to cause intense flooding and landslides . Our preliminary study attempted to check the impact of this intense form of erratic precipitation pattern and increased temperatures on Glycyrrhiza glabra also known as Licorice or Shanger (Kashmiri). Glycyrrhizin, the main ingredient in licorice, is also known as glycyrrhizinic acid, and it is roughly 50 times sweeter than sucrose. It is commonly used as a natural sweetener and herbal medicine. It is also helpful to relieve pain, phlegm, spasms, cough, and dyspnea. Glycyrrhizin, glycyrrhizinic acid, isoliquiritin, and glycyrrhizic acid are chemicals found in this plant with anti-atherogenic, anti-cancer, anti-diabetic, anti-microbial, antispasmodic, anti-inflammatory, and anti-asthmatic properties [2,3,4].
The frequent irrigation of this plant with gallons of water pouring at a time and with high temperature variation led to decrease in plant growth and the root size. Temperature and rainfall affected the intensity of leaching. Under high temperature and humid environment, soil pH decreased over time through acidification due to leaching from high amounts of water. The preferred soil pH for the plant is alkaline >8. The availability of phosphorus and nitrogen becomes limited because of the intense downpour. Although the plant is a legume and can fix atmospheric nitrogen, it would be interesting to see if the nodular growth in the roots got delayed due to high temperatures.
Although the recent focus based on climate change has been on the damage caused to the life and property of people, Kashmir also houses a treasure of medicinal plants and the recent changes in climate and precipitation patterns can be a threat to the floral biodiversity. Measures need to be taken to cultivate the plant samples in nurseries by providing them with the right amount of soil pH and growth conditions for a sustainable future gene bank while promoting measures to overcome the heat island effect at the same time.