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New plant species discovered in Kakching

 Source: Chronicle News Service

Imphal, October 17 2023: A new flowering plant species named and described as 'Curcuma kakchingense' has been discovered in Kakching district.

A publication made by researchers from Department of Life Sciences, Manipur University namely Dr L Bidyaleima, Dr Rk Kishor and Prof GJ Sharma and Kwaklei and Khonggunmelei Orchids Pvt.

Ltd mentioned about the discovery of the new plant species in a reputed peer reviewed journal 'Nordic Journal of Botany' on October 11.A release issued by the lead author of the publication Dr L Bidyaleima informed that the plant belongs to the angiospermic family Zingiberaceae that includes curcuma, gingers, cardamom etc., Found growing along the bank of 'Sekmai' River of Kakching, Curcuma kakchingense is a robust plant, as tall as eight feet, having large terminal inflorescence and bitter taste lemon-yellow rhizomes which are subterranean in habitat.

It has close resemblance with Curcuma longa (local name: Yaingung) and Curcuma phrayawan (a species reported from Thailand).

As it is known only from a particular area and information regarding the distributions and number of mature individuals in the natural habitat is lacking, its conservation status remains Data Deficient (DD) under the IUCN Red List category.

Therefore possible threat of extinction to the plant is yet to be assessed, she maintained.

Despite extensive diversity and distribution of Curcuma plants in North East India their inventory work is at a relatively slow pace, she pointed out, while adding that there could be more undescribed plant species in the pristine forests of NE India and the chances of them getting extinct before discovery is very high.

It is known that several species of Curcuma are important for their use in cuisines, traditional medicines, spices, dyes, perfumes, cosmetics, and as ornamental plants, she stated and further continued the essential oil of Curcuma species possesses wide variety of pharmacological properties.

So, the discovery of new species of Curcuma will definitely open up new vistas for investigation of their phytochemistry, biological activity and application in development of new nutraceuticals or pharmaceutical novelties, she added.