- Scientists from the Botanical Survey of India have identified a new plant species from two protected National Parks in West Bengal. Named Drypetes kalamii, it is a small shrub found to be shorter version of its close relative Drypetes ellisii.
- This adds to the rich floral wealth of India.
- Standing just 1 metre tall, the newly described plant is unisexual in nature, which means they have separate male and female plants.
- During the survey and documentation of the flora of Buxa National Park, West Bengal (core area of Buxa Tiger Reserve), in 2011,
- Another author of the paper had collected a new female plant with fruits from Jaldapara National Park, West Bengal.
- The fruiting specimen can be easily identified in Drypetes.
- We later found that both the plants belonged to the same species.
- Further consultations with plant biologists from India and abroad helped us confirm its new identity.
- The researchers compared the new plant with other Drypetes species and found differences in the leaf, flower and fruit structures.
- There are about 220 species of Drypetes identified across the globe of which 20 have been reported from India.
- The new species is a close relative of a medicinal plant known in Sanskrit as Putrajivah.
- NASA had recently named a new bacterium after Dr Kalam, and we also chose his name as he is a big inspiration for students and young researchers.
- The new species is found in wet, shaded areas of subtropical moist semi-evergreen forests, at a height ranging 50-100 metres.
- With pale yellow flowers in clusters and bright orange to red fruits, the plant is exclusive to the two national parks.
- By following the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) rules, the scientists have provisionally assessed the plant to be “Critically Endangered”.
- The report states forest fires and grazing as two plausible threats to the new species.