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Pyrostria laljii: New Species from Andaman

  • 30 Jun 2021
  • 4 min read

Why in News

Recently, Pyrostria laljii, a new species which belongs to the genus of the coffee family has recently been discovered from the Andaman Islands.

  • A new species of pokeweed named Rivina andamanensis was also discovered.
  • Andaman and Nicobar is a group of 572 islands and islets that are rich and unique in terms of plant diversity in India.

Key Points

  • About:
    • It is the first record of the genus Pyrostria in India. It is a 15-meter-tall tree.
      • Plants belonging to genus Pyrostria are usually found in Madagascar but the recently discovered species is new to science.
      • While the genus Pyrostria is not found in India, there are several genera from the family Rubiaceae that are common in India.
      • These plants, including cinchona, coffee, adina, hamelia, ixora, gallium, gardenia, mussaenda, rubia, morinda, have high potential for economic value.
    • Named Pyrostria laljii after Lal Ji Singh, Joint Director, Andaman and Nicobar Regional Centre, Botanical Survey of India.
    • It has been assessed as ‘Critically Endangered’ based on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) Red List criteria.
  • Features:
    • Distinguished by a long stem with a whitish coating on the trunk, and oblong-ovate leaves with a cuneate base.
    • Another physical feature that distinguishes the tree from other species of the genus is its umbellate inflorescence with eight to 12 flowers.
  • Habitat in India:
    • First reported from South Andaman’s Wandoor forest. Other places in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands where the tree could be located are the Tirur forest near the Jarawa Reserve Forest and the Chidiya Tapu (Munda Pahar) forest.

Rivina andamanensis

  • Another new species of pokeweed named Rivina andamanensis was also discovered. It was found growing under large trees, shaded and rocky areas, along with herbs and shrubby plants.
    • Pokeweed is a strong-smelling plant with a poisonous root. The berries contain a red dye used to colour wine, candies, cloth, and paper.

  • This discovery of new species, representing the first record of the pokeweed family Petiveriaceae in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, adds one more family to the islands’ flora.

Botanical Survey of India

  • About:
    • It is the apex research organization under the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEFCC) for carrying out taxonomic and floristic studies on wild plant resources of the country.
    • It was established in 1890 with the objective to explore plant resources of the country and to identify plant species with economic virtues.
    • It has nine regional circles situated at different regions of the country. However the headquarter is located in Kolkata, West Bengal.
  • Functions:
    • Exploration, inventorying and documentation of phytodiversity in general and protected areas, hotspots and fragile ecosystems in particular
    • Publication of National, State and District Floras.
    • Identification of threatened and red list species and species rich areas needing conservation.
    • Ex-situ conservation of critically threatened species in botanical gardens.
    • Survey and documentation of traditional knowledge (ethno-botany) associated with plants.
    • Develop National database of Indian plants, including herbarium and live specimens, botanical paintings and illustrations, etc.

Source: TH

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