A team of scientists from the Botanical Survey of India (BSI) has discovered a new gin berry species from the Kanyakumari Wildlife Sanctuary in Tamil Nadu. The species, named Glycosmis albicarpa with a distinct large white fruit, is endemic to the southern Western Ghats. The species belongs to the Orange family, Rutaceae.
The findings have been published in the latest issue of Nordic Journal of Botany, published from Sweden .
Many of the related plants of these taxonomic groups are being utilised for their medicinal values and food. Most commonly related species of these plants are collected from the wild, mainly for local use as food and medicine.
Berries of Glycosmis species have the unique characteristic of ‘gin aroma’ and has gained in popularity as an edible fruit. The species is also a larval host plant for butterflies like other species of Glycosmis, said K. A. Sujana, the leader of the scientific team said.
The species, an evergreen small tree, was found as undergrowth in Tirunelveli semi-evergreen forests at the Panagudi forest section of the wildlife sanctuary as a single population that covers an area of approximately 2 sq.km., said Dr. Sujana.
“While exploring the study site, four sub-populations of the species were located in the valley between two hillocks, with each having three–seven mature individuals in groups,” she said. Though flowering, natural regeneration and seedling recruitment of this taxon is found to be fairly good within the locality, while habitat modification causes a major threat to the survival of this species, she added.
“A special conservation effort for this particular region is the need of the hour”, said Dr. Sujana.
The discovery not only re-emphasises the uniqueness and endemism in Western Ghats’ flora but also add to the growing inventory of the region’s flora, said Ragesh Gopala Vadhyar, co-author.
“Since the world is losing precious habitats that are home to many unique and endemic species, it is high time we protected the Western Ghats to conserve such species before they are lost forever,” said Dr. Vadhyar.