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Arunachal Pradesh's Floral Biodiversity: New Plant Species (Strobilanthes sunhangii; Lysionotus namchoomii; Lysionotus ziroensis)

06 Nov,2023 05:41 PM, by: Posy Lui
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Numerous botanical discoveries have been made in Arunachal Pradesh, a province that is so commonly ignored by mainstream research. This far-flung state in northeastern India has produced a large number of new plant species in recent years, demonstrating its unrealized potential for more research and botanical discoveries in its unexplored regions. These results highlight the necessity for ongoing study and conservation initiatives in addition to adding to our understanding of the distinctive flora of the area. In this blog, let us delve into the fascinating world of botanical discoveries in Arunachal Pradesh, focusing on three remarkable findings in the state: Lysionotus namchoomii, Lysionotus ziroensis, and Strobilanthes sunhangii.

 Strobilanthes sunhangii:

The flora catalogue of India has expanded with the discovery of Strobilanthes sunhangii. This species of plant, which is a member of the Acanthaceae family, was previously limited to the Medog county in Tibet, China. It has, however, just been identified in Indian flora, originating from the type locality in the Pakke Kesang district of Arunachal Pradesh.

While on expeditions in the Pakke Kessang area of Arunachal Pradesh, a population of Strobilanthes plants was discovered by a team of researchers from the Botanical Survey of India, comprising Krishna Chowlu, Akshath Shenoy and Ambrish Kumar. The researchers meticulously observed plants in their natural habitat, examined specimens in the herbarium, and reviewed relevant published material to give a thorough description, distribution analysis, and colour images for Strobilanthes sunhangii. In the course of studying Strobilanthes sunhangii, researchers noted some minor variations in calyx and stamen characteristics compared to those reported by previous researchers. These variations offer valuable insights into the species and its unique features, prompting further research and exploration. The discovery was revolutionary since this species had not been documented in India before

Strobilanthes sunhangii seems to thrive in tropical semi-evergreen forest areas at elevations ranging from 1300 to 1600 metres. Its spread spans both China and India, demonstrating the plant's ability to survive in a variety of settings. Strobilanthes sunhangii is in jeopardy due to its limited distribution and habitat degradation caused by anthropogenic activities and natural calamities. The IUCN Criteria classify it as "endangered," indicating the importance of conservation measures. The extent of occurrence (EOO) is predicted to be less than 5,000 km2, with a 12 km2 area of occupation (AOO). The challenges this species faces highlight the importance of ongoing monitoring and conservation efforts.

Strobilanthes sunhangii belongs to the Strobilanthes genus, which is the second-largest in the Acanthaceae family, with over 450 species. These plants are primarily found in the tropical regions of Asia. The genus has 167 species in India, with 41 of them flourishing in Arunachal Pradesh. The difficulty in studying this genus stems from its rare flowering and monocarpic character, which makes species identification difficult. As a result, many Strobilanthes species are still unnamed.

Lysionotus namchoomii:

A new species of epiphytic plant, Lysionotus namchoomii, was discovered in the Pakke-Kessang district by scientists from the Botanical Survey of India (BSI) and other foreign research organisations. Their ground-breaking research, titled "Lysionotus namchoomii (Gesneriaceae): A New Species from Arunachal Pradesh, India," has been published in the esteemed journal Turczaninowia. The new species has been named after the late Chau Phunkyoo Namchoom, a well-known social reformer from the Khampti community in Arunachal Pradesh, as a tribute to his unwavering commitment to healthcare, education, and environmental preservation.

Its epiphytic nature is what distinguishes Lysionotus namchoomii. Epiphytic plants, a common feature of tropical and subtropical woods, are distinguished by their extraordinary capacity to grow on other plants. The unusual adaptability with which the flora in these locations have evolved to flourish in their intricate ecosystems is better understood as a result of this finding. Despite just having recently been discovered, Lysionotus namchoomii is already threatened. According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature's (IUCN) Red List, it is currently listed as "Critically Endangered". The species had been identified only in two places, and there are only 60–100 members of the limited population, which is the reason for this categorization.

Lysionotus ziroensis:

In the same series of expeditions in Arunachal Pradesh, botanists stumbled upon another botanical wonder, Lysionotus ziroensis. It is a subshrub that is also epiphytic in nature. It was named after its type locality, Ziro, from where it was discovered. This epiphytic subshrub, found in the Lower Subansiri district, offers a glimpse into the remarkable diversity of Arunachal Pradesh's flora. It is a forest edge native that grows epiphytically on big trees with hanging branches. When Procris crenata and mosses are present, the roots of this plant take hold of damp branch clefts. As of right now, the species is restricted to Ziro, Lower Subansiri district, where it can be found between 2300 and 2430 metres above sea level.

Despite its unique habitat, Lysionotus ziroensis also faces a challenging future. There are just approximately 25 mature specimens of this species found in its type locality, indicating an extremely small population. Considering the impending dangers of deforestation and road construction in the area, this puts it at grave risk of being extinct. These difficulties are reflected in the IUCN Red List's tentative classification of this species as "data deficient," which emphasises the need for more research and conservation initiatives in similar areas throughout Northeastern India.

In conclusion, the amazing botanical finds in Arunachal Pradesh highlight how crucial it is to keep exploring unexplored areas in order to find nature's hidden gems. Not only are these results astounding in and of themselves, but they also show how much biodiversity there is in this far-flung region of India that still has to be discovered and recognised. We must take action to protect and preserve our forest and vegetation, which are home to hundreds of exotic and endemic species through continued exploration. As we continue to explore this region, we can only imagine the countless more discoveries that await us in the lush forests and uncharted territories of Arunachal Pradesh.


Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author's. They do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of The Critical Script or its editor.

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