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Rare plants found in Mizoram

Researchers from Botanical Survey of India have discovered the two species of Ceropegia belonging to the Asclepiadaceae plant family (Calotropis) from a part of the India-Myanmar biodiversity hotspot.

By ROOPAK GOSWAMI in Guwahati
  • Published 23.08.18
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Ceropegia murlensis and Ceropegia mizoramensis

Guwahati: Researchers from Botanical Survey of India have discovered the two species of Ceropegia belonging to the Asclepiadaceae plant family (Calotropis) from a part of the India-Myanmar biodiversity hotspot.

The climbing plants have been named Ceropegia mizoramensis and Ceropegia murlensis, named after the state and the locality of its existence, Murlen National Park, respectively.

The genus Ceropegia is known to have approximately 260 species, distributed mainly in the tropical regions of the world, while 52 species and seven varieties are distributed in India. Eleven species (including newly discovered species) have been reported from the Northeast so far.

A genus is a rank in the biological classification (or taxonomy). It stands above species, and below families. A genus can include more than one species.

The species had been found during a field survey under the annual action plan project of Botanical Survey of India, Eastern Regional Centre, Shillong, at the national park by scientist Ramesh Kumar and botanical assistant Sachin Sharma in September, 2014, when they were surveying a small lime stone quarry site in the buffer region of the protected area.

The findings have been published in the recent issue of Taiwania , an international journal of life sciences.

Ceropegia murlensis has a purple-coloured stem and its height is 2-3.5 metres. Ceropegia mizoramensis is a twining herb, up to 1-metre tall. It has a wiry stem. "Both the plant species are found growing in limestone quarry area along the margins of open forests at 1,100 metres elevation. There is an immediate threat to the existence of these plants," Ramesh Kumar of Botanical Survey of India, arid zone regional centre, Jodhpur, said. Kumar was in Shillong when the species was found.

Moreover, a tuber of each species has also been collected in live for ex-situ conservation. It has been flourishing well on the Woodland campus of Botanical Survey of India, Eastern Regional Centre, Shillong, for the past three years.

August to October is the flowering and fruiting season of the tuber.