New plant subspecies found in Shendurney sanctuary

Rungia longifolia subsp. keralensis was discovered by team from JNTBGRI and KU

Updated - June 07, 2021 06:58 pm IST

Published - June 07, 2021 05:43 pm IST - THIRUVANANTHAPURAM

The new plant subspecies discovered by Jawaharlal Nehru Tropical Botanic Garden and Research Institute and Kerala University researchers.

The new plant subspecies discovered by Jawaharlal Nehru Tropical Botanic Garden and Research Institute and Kerala University researchers.

Researchers from the Jawaharlal Nehru Tropical Botanic Garden and Research Institute (JNTBGRI) and the University of Kerala have discovered a new plant subspecies in the Shendurney Wildlife Sanctuary(SWS), Kollam.

Named after Kerala, the sub-species has found mention in the latest edition of Abrahamia, an international journal of plant sciences, published by the Department of Botany of Kerala University.

The flowering plant, Rungia longifolia subsp. keralensis , has been discovered from the Western Ghats by a team that comprised E.S. Santhosh Kumar and Sam P. Mathew of the JNTBRI, R. Jagadeesan of the Department of Botany at Kerala University, and A. Gangaprasad, Director of the Centre for Biodiversity Conservation that functions under the department.

The sub-species belongs to the Rungia longifolia herb species, endemic to Sri Lanka and coming under the Acanthaceae plant family. It was initially spotted in the Shendurney Wildlife Sanctuary in February 2016 and later in the Braemore forest in September 2016. Fewer than 100 mature individuals were located from both places.

According to Dr. Gangaprasad, 19 Rungia taxa were found in the country. Of these, 15, including seven species and eight varieties, are endemic to the Western Ghats. The new subspecies, known to have pinkish white flowers, usually flower and bear fruit between August and February.

He pointed out that the presence of such diverse plant varieties called for intensive conservation efforts in the Western Ghats, especially its southern parts. Research is being undertaken to ascertain the medicinal properties of the newly-discovered herb, Dr. Gangaprasad added.

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