- Three new species of plants belonging to the Balsaminaceae family were identified in the Mukurthi National Park in the Nilgiris recently.
- The three, named Impatiens kawttyana ,Impatiens taihmushkulni and Impatiensnilgirica.
- “There are more than 135 endemic species of plants in the Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve, of which the Nilgiris in Tamil Nadu forms the core, with over 90 endemics,”
- Impatiens kawttyana , as described by Chhabra and Ramneek, is identifiable by its large, white flowers, glandular hairs followed by white hairs at the throat, and has been named after a Toda deity hill, ‘Kawtty’, commonly known asPechakal bettu .
- Similarly, the Impatiens taihmushkulni is named after the Toda deity hill, ‘Taihmushkuln’. Like the halls of Valhalla in Norse mythology, the Todas believe that their god ‘Aihhn’ resides and rules the Toda afterworld from the hill.
- Impatiens nilgirica variant nawttyana, differs slightly from a previously identified species, with the newly found variety having “longer scape (part of a stalk bearing flowers) and petioles (the stalk that joins the leaf to the stem), with white flowers,” among other small variations. This variety was named based on what the Todas call the members of the Balsaminaceae family — ‘Nawtty.’
- The naming of the three species after Toda deities isn’t coincidental.
- the names reflect the Todas’ crucial role in maintaining pristine ecosystems, especially in the Mukurthi National Park.
- 14 of the sacred deity hills of the Todas are located inside the park and they have played a tremendous role in protecting the area.
- The three new species were found in isolated pockets of the Mukurthi National Park and Porthimund reserve forests.
Source: The Hindu