Kerala

Ghats has more in its lair

A team of scientists of the Botanical Survey of India (BSI) have discovered three new plant species from the evergreen forest patches of the southern Western Ghats in Kerala and Tamil Nadu.

The new lianas (woody climbing plants) Hiptage laxiflora and Argyreia lakshminarasimhanii have been discovered from the Kanyakumari Wildlife Sanctuary in Tamil Nadu and Phanera murthyi from the Kakkayam region of the Malabar Wildlife Sanctuary. The exploration has been led by BSI scientist K.A. Sujana.

Phanera murthyi, which is endemic to Kakkayam, has small flowers and medium-sized inflorescence compared to its relatives. The plant has high ornamental potential owing to its reddish flowers and red tint for its young foliages. The peculiarity of Hiptage laxiflora is its unique leaf characters and inflorescence compared to the other Hiptage species. Argyreia lakshminarasimhanii differs from its relatives in the family of Convolvulaceae by its peculiar features in habit, shape, and texture of leaves.

“The close relatives of all these plant species have medicinal and aromatic properties; hence, the newly discovered plants may also have such properties and it should be validated,” says Dr. Sujana.

“Woody climbing plants have a significant role in the health and functions of the ecosystem as they form 40% of the forest biomass. They also have species richness and are abundant. These plants also ensure food for the wildlife, especially for primates and birds, during the lean season,” says S. Shalini, a BSI researcher.

“Collection of the reproductive structures of the lianas is a concern for taxonomists as its flowers and fruits are seen on top of huge supporting trees,” says Dr. Sujana. As the plant species are yet to get deserving attention, a detailed study is the need of the hour, she says.

D. Maity, Assistant Professor, Department of Botany, Calcutta University, W. Arisdason, J.H. Franklin Benjamin, and Rakesh G. Vadhyar of the BSI were the other members of the team.

While the discovery of Hiptage laxiflora has been published in the latest edition of Annales Botanici Fennici, Finland, the discovery of Phanera murthyi has been published in Phytotaxa, New Zealand. The discovery of Argyreia lakshminarasimhanii has been published in the Rheedea Journal of the Indian Association for Angiosperm Taxonomy.


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Printable version | Oct 18, 2021 5:03:23 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/ghats-has-more-in-its-lair/article36654194.ece

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