Scientists from Agharkar Research Institute (ARI) have discovered two new species of pipeworts, a type of wetland plant, from areas along the Western Ghats in Maharashtra and Karnataka.
Some of the previously-discovered plant species, belonging to genus Eriocaulon, have proven to have medicinal values and have been in wide use for their anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial and anti-cancerous properties. However, the team is yet to trace the hidden medicinal applications of these two species.
Some 111 species exist in India, most of which are endemic to the Western Ghats and eastern Himalayas.
“The two newly-discovered species, from Sindhudurg in Maharashtra and Kumta in Karnataka, display different floral characters than previously known species,” said Ritesh Kumar Choudhary, who led the ARI study.
For its distinct minute inflorescence size, researchers have named the species found in Maharashtra as Eriocaulon parvicephalum, whereas the Karnataka counterpart has been named Eriocaulon karaavalense indicating the Karaavali coastal region in the state.
Identifying the species in the wild is a challenge, mainly due to their tiny size, said researchers. “Its tiny seeds and flowers make the identification of the species difficult. Besides, all species of Eriocaulon appear very similar to one another,” said Chaudhary.
The team has taken up DNA barcoding works of this species to understand the evolution of this genus in India.
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