A multi-institutional team of researchers has reported the discovery of three new plant species from Kerala, throwing new light on the rich biodiversity of the Western Ghats.
The team led by C.N.Sunil, Associate Professor, SNM College, Maliankara, has published their findings in three international journals. One of the new species, named Phyllanthus balakrishnanii, was discovered from the rocky mountains of Shoolamudi hills, the highest peak in the Edamalayar forest range, Ernakulam. Belonging to the gooseberry family, the shrub is distinguished by its red warted fruits.
The plant was named after N.P.Balakrishnan, former scientist, Botanical Survey of India, who conducted the detailed survey of the gooseberry group of plants in India. The scientific description of the new species was published in the international journal Phytotaxa.
The second new species, Isachne edamalayarensis, was discovered from the marshy areas in the Variyam tribal colony in the Edamalayar forests and named after its habitat. The creeping perennial belongs to the grass family Poacaea. The finding has been reported in the Nordic Journal of Botany published from Sweden.
The third new species, Fimbristylis pokkudaniana, belonging to the sedge family Cyperaceae was reported from Madayipara, a biodiversity- rich laterite area in Kannur. Growing upto 16 cm high and marked by dark brown inflorescence, the species was named after Pokkudan, an environmental activist known for his efforts to protect and propagate mangroves in North Kerala. The discovery has been published in Botany Letters, an international journal published from France.