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Presumed extinct plant species rediscovered after 188 years in Himachal

By on July 1, 2022 0

Presumed extinct plant species rediscovered

Photo: IENS

shimla: Researchers from the Botanical Survey of India in Dehradun and the University of Himachal Pradesh in Shimla said on Thursday they had rediscovered a rare, threatened and presumed extinct species, Brachystelma attenuatum, after a hiatus of 188 years.
This species was first discovered and described in 1835 by British botanists – John Forbes Royle and Robert Wight – from the village of Doongie (now Hamirpur in Himachal Pradesh).

Since its first collection, the species has not been observed and has therefore been presumed extinct by scientists.

In 2020, during field investigations in the Western Himalayas, interesting tuberous plants were observed by Nishant Chauhan in the Bhoranj area of ​​Hamirpur.

These plants were brought to the Botanical Survey of India and there they were identified by Amber Srivastava as Brachystelma parviflorum, a species scientists believed to be extinct 186 years ago.

Recently, another presumed extinct species Brachystelma attenuatum was rediscovered in Hamirpur and Mandi districts.

The species was first observed last year in August 2021, but during this period the plants were in their last growth phase and the flowering period was over, making it difficult to confirm their identity, explained Chauhan.

This year, with the beginning of the flowering season, the researchers revisited the same localities in March and after examining the detailed characteristics of the flowering plants, they were able to identify it as Brachystelma attenuatum and the rediscovery was confirmed. .

The rediscovery of these two species is published in the international journal “Oryx” published by Cambridge University Press on behalf of Fauna and Flora International.

The rediscovery of Brachystelma parviflorum was published in May 2021 and that of Brachystelma attenuatum was recently published in the journal Oryx.

Brachystelma is a genus of over 100 species in the family Apocynaceae found in Africa, Asia and Australia, with the majority occurring in South Africa.

In India, the genus is represented by 40 species, mostly distributed in the Western Ghats, with only four species reported from northern India, Chauhan told IANS.

Of these, only two species, B. parviflorum and B. attenuatum, are reported from the Western Indian Himalayas.

Srivastava said: “The rediscovery of two rare species that were thought to be extinct from the Western Himalayas in such a short time indicates the need for more species-specific field surveys and explorations in this region so that many rare species can be discovered and their proper conservation should be done.”

He said that for the conservation of the species, it is necessary to conserve the specific habitat of a particular species and also to control the overexploitation of rare and endangered species from wild habitats.

Chauhan said that during research and field surveys, they found that the main threat to this species is from human activities, as people exploit it for its edible tubers and in localities where the population locale is either unable to identify it or unaware of its existence. presence there were more plants observed in these localities.

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