UP botanists discover new plant species from Sikkim

Prayagraj (IANS) Botanists from the Botanical Survey of India (BSI) in Prayagraj have discovered a new hemi parasitic plant species, Pedicularis Revealiana, in the state of Sikkim.

Along with making its own food, it has the ability to gather nutrients from the roots of trees and plants located nearby.

The research was published in the July issue of International Nordic Journal of Botany.

“The new species Pedicularis revealiana, is described from Katao in Sikkim Himalaya and it possesses a combination of characters which makes it unique among all Pedicularis species. It is stout and has woody stems, bears minute flowers of pinkish-purple colour,” says the scientist from BSI, Arti Garg who along with Achutanand Shukla had spotted this new species of Pedicularis group in September 2019 while on way from Lachung to Katao of Sikkim Himalayan region.

After the discovery of this new species, scientists have now recommended finding out the medicinal properties of this plant.

Sikkim is known for its biodiversity as this state alone accounts for 45 per cent of the total plant diversity of the Indian Himalayan region, said Shukla, who now works with Ministry of Environment Forest and Climatic Changes, New Delhi.

“We have named this in honour of the eminent botanist James Lauritz Reveal of the University of Maryland, who was globally renowned for his botanical contributions and work on supra-generic names,” said Garg.

Garg and Shukla later brought this new species from the untouched forest of Katao to Prayagraj during their visit to Sikkim in the year 2019 and started identifying it with those which have already been reported.

It belongs to the species group of Pedicularis, with radical and opposite or whorled cauline leaves, hooded cilia and distinctly longer beaks. Plants around the world match species database after it was recognised as a new species.

Garg said, “This new flora is found in remote forests, which are covered with snow for most of the year. This species is hemi-parasitic (partially parasitic) and is unique among all Pedicularis species.”

This genus includes about 677 species worldwide, of which 82 species, 13 subspecies and nine varieties have been reported so far in India.

Pendicularis revealiana is the 83rd species reported and the plant is commonly known as a perennial herb.

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