Soil Mineral Status, Plant Ionome and Agro-Morphological Traits of Schkuhria Pinnata (L.), An Antimalarial Herb: Implications for Cultivation
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Background: Schkuhria pinnata L., is an antimalarial plant that is highly threatened by the destructive harvesting methods and its collection largely relies on wild sources, that are also exposed to over-exploitation and habitat destruction.
Aim of the study: The study aimed at figuring out where S. pinnata grows best and what its growth requirements are; in order to promote the informed cultivation practices and soil selection as a viable alternative to wild harvesting. The agronomical soil nutrient status of S. pinnata, and how it relates to the agro-morphological traits and plant ionome, clues on fertiliser formulations for soils where S. pinnata does not shrive were reported.
Methods: A randomised complete block design was employed in agronomical experimental plots in different agro-ecological zones that host Bushenyi, Ntungamo and Kasese districts. Standard procedures for soil and plant analysis were used to analyse soil physicochemical and plant ionome parameters while agro-morphological traits were physically evaluated.
Results: Results demonstrated that soil physicochemical characteristics differed significantly across the study sites (p ≤.05). S. pinnata significantly performed better in slightly acidic to neutral soils (pH between 5.87-7.25) in Kasese than in other sites. S. pinnata harvested from Kasese had the largest total leaf area (mean = 31.43 ± 2.41cm2) and the highest plant biomass (mean = 7.65 ± 0.64 g).
Conclusion: The study concluded that S. pinnata grew best in slightly acidic to neutral, sandy loam, non-saline soils of Kasese in Western Medium-High Farmland