Coimbatore

Critically endangered shrub endemic to Coimbatore reintroduced at Singanallur tank

Member of the Rajya Sabha N.R. Elango (left) planting a sapling of Kovai Manjack (Cordia diffusa), a critically endangered shrub that is endemic to Coimbatore, at Singanallur tank bund on Saturday.

Member of the Rajya Sabha N.R. Elango (left) planting a sapling of Kovai Manjack (Cordia diffusa), a critically endangered shrub that is endemic to Coimbatore, at Singanallur tank bund on Saturday.

Singanallur tank, an urban biodiversity hotspot in the city, is now home to Kovai Manjack (C ordia diffusa) , a shrub that is endemic to Coimbatore and is now classified as a ‘critically endangered’ species.

According to botanists, the species, known as Sirunaruvili in Tamil, is on the verge of extinction as only less than five plants are believed to be remaining in the natural environment in the city.

Kovai Manjack, which belongs to the Boraginaceae family, is a shrub that grows about one metre tall with many woody branches spreading in all directions. The shrub with creamy white flowers and orange berries was first discovered by K. Cherian Jacob in 1938, based on the collections from Nanjundapuram, about 8 km south of Coimbatore, and was later named as Cordia diffusa K.C. Jacob (1944).

In 1978, authors A.N. Henry et al. included this species in the enumeration of rare and threatened plants of southern India. In 1988, M. Chandrabose and N.C. Nair reported that the Kovai Manjack was on the verge of extinction due to rapid urbanisation, industrialisation and other anthropogenic activities.

The latest survey conducted by S. Arumugam, K. Sampath Kumar, B. Karthik and V. Ravichandran in May 2018 stated that a population of just 10 individuals were observed from its natural environment.

They observed that the habitat of the plant, which is endemic to Coimbatore, was highly disturbed by human interferences particularly the rapid urbanisation and other anthropogenic activities.

Another important factor was the lack of knowledge/awareness about this rare endemic plant of the Coimbatore city, which also resulted in the removal of this species in the wild.

Recent studies show that the leaves of this plant have antioxidant activity and phytochemical constituents.

N.R. Elango, member of the Rajya Sabha, launched the reintroduction of Kovai Manjack on Saturday by planting two saplings at the Singanallur tank bund, which is maintained by the Coimbatore Corporation and the Centre for Urban Biodiversity Conservation and Education (CUBE) as an urban biodiversity conservation zone.

C. Kunhikannan, Director of the Institute of Forest Genetics and Tree Breeding (IFGTB), Coimbatore; B. Nagarajan, Scientist G, IFGTB; P. Pramod, senior principal scientist with the Salim Ali Centre for Ornithology and Natural History, Coimbatore, and V. Sathish and his team from CUBE were present.


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Printable version | Jul 1, 2022 5:52:48 pm | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Coimbatore/critically-endangered-shrub-endemic-to-coimbatore-reintroduced-at-singanallur-tank/article38420896.ece