Four species of Impatiens (Kasi Thumba) plants believed to have gone extinct were rediscovered from the Western Ghats recently.
A team of researchers led by K.M. Prabhukumar and Indira Balachandran, taxonomist and director respectively of the Centre for Medicinal Plants Research, Kottakkal Arya Vaidya Sala, made the rediscovery
during explorations at Dhoni Hills of Palakkad and Nelliampathy.
The rediscovered plants, Impatiens concinna, Impatiens sasidharanii, Impatiens neo-modesta , and Impatiens sasidharanii var hirsuta , were found to have great medicinal values.
Dr. Prabhukumar said that the Impatiens varieties of plants were found largely in tropical Asian and African regions. The four rediscovered species were believed to have gone extinct many decades ago. These plants were heavily dependent on the tropical rains. “It is possible that any slight change in weather could sound the death knell for these plants. They are so sensitive to climate,” he said.
According to the researchers, these plants, usually found 2,000 ft above sea level, are short-lived and will be seen only one quarter of a year.
Dr. Prabhukumar said that Impatiens concinna , found 6,000 ft above sea level, was discovered first time in Kerala. In an article published in the Current Science , the plant has been described as critically endangered.
Two other Impatiens species found from Nelliampathy forests have been named after N. Sasidharan, former scientist of the Kerala Forest Research Institute. They were published in a recent issue of the Phytotaxa , published from New Zealand.
Impatiens neo-modesta was found from the peaks of Nelliampathy recently. The findings were published in the Italian journal Webbia: Journal of Plant Taxonomy and Geography .
Concern over climate change
Expressing concern over the climate change, Dr. Indira and Dr. Prabhukumar said that special efforts had to be taken to conserve the new species of plants.
They were assisted by P.E. Sreejith, M.G. Prasad, A. Kabeer, V.S. Hareesh, V.B. Sreekumar, and T.K. Nirmesh.