New Plant Species Unveiled in Arunachal Pradesh

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A groundbreaking botanical discovery has been made in Arunachal Pradesh, as researchers from the University of Science and Technology Meghalaya (USTM) and CSIR-Northeast Institute of Science and Technology, Jorhat in Assam, identified a previously unknown flowering plant named “Begonia Narahari.”

Unveiling in Lohit District

The revelation occurred in the Lohit district of Arunachal Pradesh, where Dr. Nazir Ahmad Bhat from USTM and Bipankar Hajong, a PhD scholar at CSIR-NEIST, encountered captivating specimens of the Begonia genus from the Begoniaceae family.

Guided by Dr. Pankaj Bharali, a senior scientist at CSIR-NEIST, the researchers meticulously examined and compared the specimens with known Begonia species worldwide, conclusively determining it as a previously undiscovered species within the genus Begonia.

The newfound species, dubbed “Narahari,” pays homage to Prof. Garikapati Narahari Sastry, the former director of CSIR-Northeast Institute of Science and Technology (NEIST), Jorhat. Prof. Sastry’s efforts in establishing the Germplasm Conservation Centre for Northeast India’s bio-resources and his commitment to the region’s well-being inspired this recognition.

This momentous discovery has been documented in the latest issue of Phytotaxa, the world’s foremost journal in botanical taxonomy. The publication provides intricate details about Begonia Narahari, highlighting its unique feature of exhibiting a vibrant blue iridescence when exposed to direct light.

Begonia Narahari is currently known only from the Demwe locality in the Lohit district of Arunachal Pradesh. Due to limited data on its global population, the species is tentatively categorized as Data Deficient (DD) following IUCN species assessment guidelines (IUCN, 2022).

Considering its confined habitat and potential threats like agricultural and urban expansion, habitat loss from fires, and timber extraction, conservation initiatives are imperative. Specific Begonia species play a crucial role in maintaining ecological balance by providing habitat and sustenance for diverse fauna, underscoring the urgency of safeguarding Begonia Narahari and its habitat.

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